by Amani Sawari
Prisoners have been staying strong throughout these weeks of the prison strike and have sent me a few requests, which are listed below, to forward to our endorsers.
Collaboration among endorsers
As I receive requests for support from groups and individuals around the country my response usually entails connecting them to endorsing organizations in their state. I receive questions every day from people asking how they can help and I love connecting people to resources and seeing how those connections unfold.
I am asking that as an endorser to the National Prison strike, if you are connected to an individual or another group via email please follow up with that request. A follow-up can begin with a simple list of the ways that you’re organizing in your state or an invite to an upcoming event.
It is imperative that we work together; this is the only way that we can reach the masses and influence national policies that affect prisoners. They are depending on us to work together.
We cannot afford to allow any of these requests to go untapped. Every single request to help deserves follow-through. Imagine what communities we lose having the opportunity to influence or help when we don’t follow through on a request for support.
It’s an incredible thing that people are asking for ways to help. Start off with something simple; one-time collaborations on simple projects can grow into lifelong bonds in the movement. Even if you can’t directly support a request, please at the very least respond with ideas, suggestions or leads for someone in need of support.
Update on inside actions
The following yellow states have submitted confirmed reports of National Prison Strike actions to Jailhouse Lawyers. Many actions will go unreported until after the strike’s end date when prisoners have more access to communication.
In addition to these state reports there have also been solidarity actions oversees:
- Nova Scotia, Canada: At Burnside County Jail in Halifax, prisoners went on strike and issued a protest statement in solidarity with the strike and naming local demands.
- Greece: At Larissa Prison in Greece, 127 prisoners of the A wing issued a statement in solidarity.
- Palestine: Imprisoned Palestinians of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine held in Israeli jails issued a statement in solidarity.
You all can find a full report on inside actions associated with the National Prison Strike here.
Call for strike tracking and solidarity actions
As we approach the halfway mark, prisoners are in need of a pick me up. In Seattle, we’ve been doing weekly noise demos at the Northwest Detention Center, where over 200 detainees are striking. Don’t get tired on prisoners!
I encourage you all to find new ways to continue raising awareness and giving prisoners support this week. I got a call from Nube from California Prison Focus with a great idea on how we can show up for prisoners.
This upcoming weekend on the day before the strike’s end there is a nationwide Climate Change March on Sept. 8. Check to see if there is a march happening in your area to see if you can show up there for prisoners in relation to Demand No. 1: Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
Prisoners, like marginalized communities, are most effected by the consequences of climate change. Often they do not even have the power to make a choice as to how they are affected.
Prisons are usually assigned to be located in rural areas where the soil, water and air quality is unfit. Prisoners deserve to be included in the conversation about climate change and it’s our responsibility to bring their concerns to the table.
I’m sure that this isn’t the only event where we can bring striking prisoners demands, so look in your area and see what’s going on and how you can tie prisoners’ demands to the regional concerns about human rights.
Solid Black Fist newsletter
The fifth edition of Solid Black Fist is ready for distribution. This issue includes an updated list of endorsers, a report back from the inside strike actions from prisoners, images from recent solidarity actions and uplifting messages from endorsers.
These newsletters going in are also a great way that we keep strikers informed and their spirits lifted throughout the strike. Please print and mail copies to prisoners and supporters on the outside. You can also print out copies to hand out at local events like pickets, protests, marches and rallies: http://sawarimi.org/npsnewsletter.
Organizing after the strike: Prisoner Initiatives Coalition
Jailhouse lawyers has put a call out for the organizing of an outside entity functioning under Jailhouse Lawyers’ leadership focused on pushing prisoner initiatives. Prisoners have demonstrated with strength and bravery over the strike time and this coalition will be dedicated to facilitating the achievement of the 10 demands of the National Prison Strike.
If you as an individual or on behalf of your organization are interested in being a part of this new outside group working on behalf of JLS’s prisoners’ initiatives, please let me know.
In response to JLS’ request a fundraising page has been created in support of JLS’s initiatives after the strikes end. We know that when the strike ends this work is not over, which is way we are committed to organizing in support of all of their demands until they are brought to fruition.
If you would like to learn more about, join or follow this coalition, click here: http://sawarimi.org/jls-prisoners-initiative-colition
- Send reports of strike action from incarcerated strikers or their family members.
- Print and distribute the fifth issue of the newsletter.
- Always respond to requests to collaborate with other groups.
- Follow the JLS Prisoner Initiatives Coalition.
- Donate to JLS Prisoners Initiatives.
Thank you all for your support in this movement to end mass incarceration and prison slavery as well as to bring livable conditions to the living and work spaces of incarcerated individuals in the United States. This has been a monumental effort and our success is being recorded as we speak.
Don’t get tired; don’t allow prisoners to get tired. We must continue to fill them with energy as they strike.
Remember some prisons are just now becoming aware of the strike and joining in with actions, so we must provide them with the same support throughout. You all are doing amazing work and I’m incredibly thankful and honored to be among you.
Amani Sawari, spokesperson for Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, who first conceived the strike, is a journalist committed to “writing to enlighten, engage and empower.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Sawarimi or by mail to 14419 Greenwood Ave. N., Ste A #132, Seattle WA 98133. These contacts can be used to report strike updates. Visit her website, http://sawarimi.org/, for the latest news on the strike.