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During early 2018 prisoners across Florida are gonna “laydown” in nonviolent protest of the intolerable conditions in Florida’s prisons. The objectionable conditions being protested include unpaid slave labor, compounded by outright price-gouging in the system’s commissary and package services, and the gain-time scam that replaced parole, which, coupled with extreme sentencing, has created overcrowding and inhumane conditions.
A while back, people might have argued that this was a statement of journalistic exaggeration, a way to grab the reader’s attention by fear mongering, but today it is an unfortunate statement of fact when one looks around the region. While the intensity and unrelenting nature of this year’s hurricane season has captured a great deal of media attention, the way these storms have intersected with the region’s indebtedness, vulnerable, dependent economies and correspondingly weakened state capacity has not.
What I loved this year was all the celebratory dancing from just before our ancestors crossed into the unknown territory to landing on these shores and celebrating life and the possibility of freedom, which remained physically just beyond reach for centuries. In small steps as we regained agency over ourselves, even if our bodies then and now continue to be exploited, liberation was a bit sweeter.
Dr. Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory, 84, joined the ancestors Aug. 19, the same day as the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C. A longtime advocate for human rights, Gregory ran for president of the United States, went to Iran to negotiate the release of Americans held hostage, is also known for his Bohemian diet and extensive fasts for human rights. Ten years ago he visited Oakland to honor the lives of the 918 adults and 305 children – including 40 infants – who lost their lives along with U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and a United Press International film crew.