The Largest Prison Strike in U.S. History

The Largest Prison Strike in U.S. History Enters Its Second Week

 

TheIntercept, Sept 16, 2016

The largest prison strike in U.S. history has been going on for nearly a week, but there’s a good chance you haven’t heard about it. For months, inmates at dozens of prisons across the country have been organizing through a network of smuggled cellphones, social media pages, and the support of allies on the outside. The effort culminated in a mass refusal to report to prison jobs on September 9, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising.

“This is a call to action against slavery in America,” organizers wrote in an announcement that for weeks circulated inside and outside prisons nationwide, and that sums up the strikers’ primary demand: an end to free prison labor. “Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand.”

 

Since Friday, details on the strike’s success have trickled out of prisons with some difficulty, but organizers and supporters have no doubt the scale of the action is unprecedented.

 

Prisoners in 24 states and 40 to 50 prisons pledged to join the strike, and as of Tuesday, prisoners in at least 11 states and 20 prisons continued the protest, according to outside supporters in Alabama. Tactics and specific demands varied locally, with some prisoners reportedly staging hunger strikes, and detainees in Florida protesting and destroying prison property ahead of the planned strike date.

 

Small rallies and demonstrations in support of the strikers were staged in dozens of U.S. cities and a couple of foreign countries, but so far the coordinated strike remains largely ignored on the outside.

 

The information blackout is largely due to prison officials’ ample discretion in the details they choose to disclose. As the strikes began, reports emerged of several facilities being put on lockdown, some preemptively, but the only way for outsiders to get updates would be to call each facility and ask, usually getting no explanation about the reasons for a lockdown. Reports also emerged claiming that prison leaders in Virginia, Ohio, California, and South Carolina were put in solitary confinement as a result of the strike.

 

While the most ambitious to date, the September 9 strike was hardly the first such effort by prisoners. Prison protests have been on the rise in recent years, following a 2010 strike during which thousands of prisoners in Georgia refused to work, an action that was followed by others in Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington. In 2013, California prisoners coordinated a hunger strike against the use of solitary confinement that at its peak involved 30,000 prisoners. And this year, prisoners rioted at Holman prison in Alabama — one of the facilities most actively involved in the current strike — and went on strike in Texas.

 

Pelican Bay State Prison, where inmates in long-term solitary confinement organized a hunger strike in 2013 that grew to include 30,000 prisoners at its peak.

 

Across the country, inmates are protesting a wide range of issues: from harsh parole systems and three-strike laws to the lack of educational services, medical neglect, and overcrowding. But the issue that has unified protesters is that of prison labor — a $2 billion a year industry that employs nearly 900,000 prisoners while paying them a few cents an hour in some states, and nothing at all in others. In addition to work for private companies, prisoners also cook, clean, and work on maintenance and construction in the prisons themselves.

 

That forced labor remains legal in prison is unknown to many Americans, and that’s something strikers hope to change with this action. But it’s also a sign of how little the general public knows about the country’s massive prison system. A nation that imprisons 1 percent of its population has an obligation to know what’s happening to those 2.4 million people,

 

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Правительство США жестоко нарушало мои права человека при проведении кампании террора, которая заставила меня покинуть свою родину и получить политическое убежище в СССР. См. книгу «Безмолвный террор — История политических гонений на семью в США» — «Silent Terror: One family’s history of political persecution in the United States» — http://arnoldlockshin.wordpress.com

Правительство США еще нарушает мои права, в течении более 12 лет отказывается от выплаты причитающейся мне пенсии по старости. Властители США воруют пенсию!! Всё это — ещё доказательство, что настоящий действующий закон в США — Закон джунглей.

ФСБ — Федеральная служба «безопасности» России — вслед за позорным, предавшим страну предшественником КГБ, выполняет приказы секретного, кровавого хозяина (boss) — американского ЦРУ (CIA). Среди таких «задач» — запретить меня выступать в СМИ и не пропускать отправленных мне комментариев. А это далеко не всё…

Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США

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