This is a list highlighting actions taken regionally in association with the September 9th nationwide prison strike. For a comprehensive, world-wide list of actions check out it It's Going Down's strike coverage.
USP Letcher is to be built on a strip mining site downstream from a coal slurry pond that the Bureau of Prisons has repeatedly denied the existence of. Prisoners at the location would likely be submitted to numerous environmental health hazards and the prison construction would only do further harm to the geographical and social landscape of eastern KY.
This largest-ever nationwide prison strike has been prompted by years of abuse, some environmental, and oppressive working conditions. To profit off of this slavery is immoral, but Hal Rogers has continued to push prisons on Eastern KY as a means of economic reform. If there is money coming in from the prisons, it sure isn’t going to those counties where they are built. Three other prisons have been constructed in Rogers’ region during his term, and none have experienced any significant positive changes from the prisons. Another prison in KY would only be a step back in the fight for justice.
We suggest Hal Rogers take on some of that “personal responsibility” his decade-old initiative touts: for the environment of his citizens, current and future, free and incarcerated. END PRISON SLAVERY!
On the evening of September 9th, thirteen folks convened at Menard “Correctional” Center in Chester, Illinois, along the mighty Mississippi. This past Friday would mark our fourth noise demonstration outside MCC since the hunger strike in 2014. MCC is a high security prison and is known to have the worst conditions in Illinois. After Tamms Correctional Center was successfully shut-down in 2013, because of its use of prolonged solitary confinement and beyond horrid conditions, many of the men were transferred to MCC. Those men who were transferred were forced into a nine month, three-phased program to regain privileges that they did nothing to lose in the first place. Folks who are being held hostage inside of Menard often spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. If the Sun cannot illuminate their lives, then we will with our passion.
Every time that we go back to MCC for a noise demo, we are met with new obstacles put in place by the guards as an attempt to suppress our action. In the past we could park about a couple hundred feet from the entrance in front of the prison but the last two times we have had to do this ridiculous dance of shuttling people and instruments from a parking spot nearly a mile away. As we dropped folks and their noise-makers off, about 20 guards circled everyone, demanding that we leave or they would call the Chester Police Department and have us all arrested for trespassing on railroad property.
A little background: allegedly, all the property on Menard’s side of the road is owned by the state and across the road is railroad property. So in theory, it’s not a public space, but over the years we have created somewhat of a “free speech zone” on the railroad property, positioned directly across from the cells. So folks on the inside are guaranteed to hear us.
Once everyone was shuttled over, we were given an ultimatum by the correctional officers: either we leave and the noise demo doesn’t happen, or we go through with the demo and the police show up. Luckily, our trusted friend who is a Civil Rights lawyer and a lawyer for over 50 folks inside of Menard joined, and naturally became our liaison. We decided to march onward to our “free speech zone.” It was a pursuit against time (before the cops would show up) and there was also a magnificant storm rising up from behind the prison; what a surreal scene the lightening was! We began playing our music and screaming at the top of our lungs, “freedom!” We would stop every few minutes and listen to what the folks on the inside had to say. They would scream “freedom!” back at us, while banging on the vents they yelled through.
Every time I hear a prisoner call back, it gives me insurmountable energy as I jump up-and-down, laughing and almost crying. It sends chills down the spine; it’s always a spiritually fulfilling experience.
We yelled out other chants that we heard back in full, like “Our passion, for freedom, is stronger than their prisons!” The prisoners also lead some of the chants, which is always divine and inspiring. After about 20 minutes, eight or so police vehicles showed up. As our trusted attorney spoke with the oppressors, we kept the noise rolling. In less than two minutes, we were threatened with arrest if we didn’t leave at once. Of course, we weren’t going to stay, our mission was already done. We were there for the warriors on the inside, we weren’t there for spectacle. There was plenty of action from both inside and outside the walls of Menard; the noise demonstration was a success! We walked down the road, with flashing lights parading us away from the prison, and a mighty storm that produced refreshing winds that hugged our bodies as we disappeared into the night.
We don’t know what kind of trouble the guards will bring next time we try and do a demo outside Menard but we will surely return. Solidarity is our strongest weapon and we must learn to live and breathe it, so that one day we might dance upon the ruins of prisons.
Radical love is something that nothing in our oppressor’s arsenal can take away from us.
This was my friend’s first noise demo and here are her beautiful words:
My first noise demo has filled me with fire.
I feel myself burning, transforming, growing
sometimes I catch glimpses
of the light that we will use to end this nightmare.
What is solidified for me now is that the police are solely thugs trained to protect/maintain capitalism and the state. At one point when I was isolated from the group, C.O.s and police officers started catcalling me. Even in my complete face mask, this group of mostly young men coded me as trans. This made me realize just how embedded patriarchy is within the police. Any deconstruction of patriarchy is an end to police, and to prisons. This is a simple realization, but I feel better equipped to continue this struggle.
There is something extremely powerful that happens to the relationships of people who collectively fight against the state. I continue to feel that I have found my path in life, and it is fulfilling to walk that path with others. Love and solidarity!
If I do not burn
If you do not burn
If we do not burn
How will darkness come to light?
Anti-police and anti-prison stickers and information were put up everywhere in the downtown Elgin area as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods, parks and public transit stations.
To the Elgin Police Department. We see what you are doing. “Pokemon Go Elgin – Catch’em with a Cop”. Your involvement in the Elgin Unity Peace Walk which attempts to bond Black Lives Matter with Blue Lives Matter. Or how about that short and secret Blue Lives Matter march that you nervously guarded a month ago? The All lives matter vs Black lives matter discussion event that glorified you was also another joke to us, but a clever and strategic attempt to keep the people in Elgin in good relations with you. But you aint foolin all of us. Some of us know your history too well. Good job quickly taking down that mural depicting an Indiana lynching from the 1930s to avoid any possible outrage in the streets. But we wonder what the people of Elgin would think if more of them knew about the Elgin police officers, Lt. Sean Rafferty and Internal Investigator James Barnes. These two, posed in front of a monument in Indiana that makes mention of the Ku Klux Klan and with their hands forming a “K” said “If you are looking for the Klan, we’re right here,” This incident was documented along with a laundry list of other things including accusations of racial slurs used daily, discrimination towards other black EPD officers and a hostile work environment. These accusations were made by Elgin Police officer Phillipp D. Brown in a federal lawsuit against this city and the Elgin Police Department. We can understand why you are working overtime in your attempts to cover up your racism, especially when someone from your own gang files a suit against you.
That was swift action firing Elgin police officer Jason Lentz after his blatant racist facebook post related to the murder of Michael Brown. And then (not surprisingly) you hired him back with back pay, full seniority and his pension intact. Do the people of Elgin know that EPD’s racism even dates back to 1925 with KKK members being exposed in its department during a funeral proceeding for a dead officer? Whether the people of Elgin knew before or not, they might know now. We have decided to disrupt your “friendly community police” campaign in memory of those murdered at the hands of police, and also in solidarity with The Attica Prisoner uprising and every other prison revolt. We know who our enemies are. All eyes on you and the prison world you protect.
– Elgin Anti-Police Brigade
The demonstration is to draw attention to the first ever nation-wide prison strike, organized by those trapped behind bars. September 9th is the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion where prisoners shut down New York state’s largest prison, Attica Correctional Facility. Now, 45 years later, prisoners across the country are coordinating a work stoppages, hunger strikes and non-cooperation protests to end prisons and modern day slavery. This demonstration is in solidarity with the prisoners’ resistance and to help amplify their message.
In 2013 the U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s seven to 10 times the prison population in other developed countries. 1-in-3 black men will be incarcerated at some point in their lives. U.S. prisons continue the racist legacy of Jim Crow and chattel slavery. Prisons allow society to “dispose” of people–of all races and genders–who are no longer “useful” to society. While 6 million people are under direct correctional supervision, all live in this inhumane environment of disposability, surveillance, and control. “Cages hide our conflicts rather than transform them,” says participant Zoe J. “Our humanity demands better.”
The protesters handed out flyers to those stuck in traffic that explained their reasons for shutting down the street. “Our goal is to make sure that while over 2 million caged people are out of sight, they’re not out of mind,” says participant Leon H. The protesters demanded not just better working conditions for prisoners, but an end to all prison slavery and an eventual end of prisons themselves.
A large banner that reads “PRISONERS ACROSS THE U.S. ARE ON STRIKE – Prisonstrike.com” was raised in the middle of the campus gateway. Using a speaker system, we read Chelsea Manning’s hunger strike statement and Free Alabama Movement’s “Let the Crops Rot in the Fields.”Sean Swain’s 9/9 statement from The Final Straw radio show and a segment from Crimethinc podcast about the history of prisoner resistance were also played.
People passed out handbills and had conversations with pedestrians and curious people who stopped to listen or ask what was going on. The demo lasted about an hour.
For Chelsea, fighting for her dignity against brutal transphobia and repressive confinement. For all striking and rebellious prisoners in revolt against their captors. And for all – behind bars or in the “free world” – who choose to act against this system of domination and control.
On the way to the jail, marchers handed out leaflets and talked to bystanders about the strike. There were also folks’ who related their times in prison or jail. A few people who’s relative or friends were or are currently locked up joined in at a few points.
Upon arriving at the jail, a good amount of fireworks were lit and protesters were able to communicate with prisoners in the notorious work house. A ruckus was made with pots and pans, a mobile sound system, a megaphone, a drum kit and voices. Visitation hours seemed to have just ended as we got there, so there were families heading to their cars when we showed up with our cacophony of noise. They started to contribute to the noise as well, honking their horns, waving to the their loved ones inside.
Prisoners crowded most of the windows we could see. At times, we quieted down and we could hear an incredibly loud chorus of screams, chants, banging, songs from their end. “We love you!” “God bless y'all!” “We need showers!” Prisoners told us about lack of showers and poor water quality among other miserable conditions.
Guards approached but no police showed up perhaps due to a more permissive approach to the policing of un-permitted demonstrations in the wake of the uprisings of 2014-2015. We learned later that a pig pen of them had staged on a street not far from us. The overall sentiment was positive and inspiring for participants. In the words of some of those locked up: “Burn this shit down!”
MDOC spokesperson Chris Gautz says 400 inmates began marching Saturday at 8:50 a.m. The protest was held to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Attica Correctional Facility riots in New York. Officials and staff at the prison had the inmates back in their housing units at 12:30 p.m.
According to the Detroit Free Press, 150 of the 1,200 inmates were transferred to other facilities. Some housing units were damaged and a small fire was reportedly set while prison staff removed these inmates.
Emergency response teams and officers from other prisons were sent to Kinross to help restore order. No injuries were reported.
Another report stated:
Inmates at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula turned violent Saturday and trashed their housing units, starting a small fire, smashing sinks, and breaking at least one window, Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz confirmed.
A spokeswoman for the Michigan Corrections Organization, the union representing corrections officers, said the incident was even more serious than that, with multiple fires set and two housing units left unlivable.
Gautz said the prison near Kincheloe was calmer this morning after about 150 of the roughly 1,200 inmates — those seen as instigators of the disturbances — were removed and bused away to other prisons.
No prison staff or inmates were injured, Gautz said, but non-custodial staff was evacuated Saturday afternoon and emergency response teams and other extra officers from nearby prisons were on the scene helping to restore order.
Anita Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Corrections Organization, said “this was not an average, peaceful demonstration that anyone can brush off.
There was discussion about the ventilation system in Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) being inadequate as well as the lack of contact with the outside world being another unique aspect seeing as MSDF really is a building inside of a building where those incarcerated there have no ability to see natural light. The protest took to the streets and marched from MSDF to the Starbucks at Red Arrow Park since their company actively utilizes incarcerated workers to fill their holiday gift bags with coffee grounds and that was when we ran into police opposition to our protest. We unfortunately had two I.W.W. members that were arrested and cited today for marching in the street and yet the very officers who did the arresting themselves were standing and mulling about in the street, they even claimed that “they would be out of the way shortly” kind of like the protesters in the street would have been out of the street shortly as well as soon as they were allowed to march to their demonstration. Those members were out before the march had even concluded but were cited for “standing in roadway,” to the tune of $73 each.
The struggle continues and for more information please contact the Milwaukee I.W.W., their I.W.O.C. members, and/or Ex-Prisoners Organizing.
Noise was made, smoke-flares set off, and fireworks lit, illuminating the air as chants echoed off the walls in tandem with the honking horns of the blocked traffic. 800 flyers advocating solidarity with striking prisoners and condemning prison slavery were both strewn about and passed to curious passersby/motorists.
When the state kidnaps people and throws them into these concrete tombs it is because they wish to isolate them from “the outside,” from their families, communities, and support networks – in other words, to bury them alive and erase them from our memory so that prison officials may do anything to their captives without fear of repercussions. But we will not and do not forget, and we do not forgive.
While we lament not taking full advantage of game-day policing strategies, small gestures against policing and the prison industrial complex such as these let those locked up know that they are NOT forgotten, that prison officials may NOT do what they please with impunity, that there are people out on the streets who understand that we are one small mistake from being locked away ourselves and thus choose to stand with those on the inside who have already fallen into the state’s clutches.
For a world without prisons and police!
For total liberation!
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. — This Is a Call to End Slavery in America, 2016
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