U.S.—Prisoners across the U.S. went on strike on September 9th, The 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. The strike took place in 24 states and about 40-50 prisons were involved.
The strike was organized by the Free Alabama Movement. The prisoners protested long-term isolation, inadequate healthcare, overcrowding, violent attacks and slave labor.
The prisoners stated the following:
“On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.
“To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside … When we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.”
They go on to state:
“Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities, is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution – as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to – but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.”
Prison strikes earlier this year
In March, thousands in Michigan prisons launched a hunger strike after private vendor Aramark Correctional Services served them unrefrigerated meat, and then the Trinity company, which was brought in to replace them, served small portions of watery food. The same company prompted protests in Georgia when it underfed prisoners to the point that one resorted to eating toothpaste.
On March 11, 2016, hundreds of prisoners took over the general population portion of Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama.
One imprisoned African described conditions of overcrowding, sending out pictures to accompany the description.
Another imprisoned African described it this way: “It has nothing to do with overcrowding, but with the practice of locking folks up for profit, control and subjugation. Things here are tense but festive. The CO and warden was stabbed…Fires were set, people got control of two cubicles, bust windows. The riot team came, shot gas, locked down, searched the dorms. Five have been shipped and two put in lockup.”
Yet another imprisoned African was blunt, “We’re tired of this shit, there’s only one way to deal with it: tear the prison down.”
Although the pigs attempted to gain control the following day, a second riot took place at Holman Prison early the following Monday morning involving about 70 prisoners. That morning prisoners built barricades and broke into other areas of the facility.
On April 4, 2016 “rolling strikes” began in multiple Texas prisons, with one unit already being put on lockdown by their administration at 9:30 a.m.
The strikes were not reported as such by the police, but were concealed as administrative lockdowns––a “de-escalation” tactic commonly used by prisons and their wardens. Prison administrations had been aware of and worried about the strike.
The Attica Prison Rebellion
The significant date of September 9th that the prisoners are referring to is the Attica Prison rebellion that happened in 1971.
Two weeks prior to the uprising, cops murdered George Jackson as he courageously attempted to escape San Quentin State Prison.
About 1,000 prisoners in Attica rebelled and took control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostages.
During four days of negotiations, pigs agreed to 28 of the demands set forth by the prisoners. However, the State would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica’s superintendent.
Nelson Rockefeller, the governor at the time, ordered police to take back the prison.
At 9:46 a.m. on Monday, September 13, 1971, tear gas was dropped into the yard and pigs opened fire non-stop for two minutes into the smoke. Among the weapons used by the troopers were shotguns, which led to the wounding and killing of hostages and inmates who were not resisting.
By the time the facility was retaken, 29 inmates had been killed.
APSP stands in solidarity with prisoners!
The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) has stood in solidarity with prisoners since its inception over 40 years ago.
The Party recognizes the dire need for all Africans and oppressed people to be free.
Point six of the APSP 14-point platform states, “We want the immediate and unconditional release of all black people who are presently locked down in U.S. prisons.”
The Party has organized Africans in the prison for decades. The Burning Spear newspaper is distributed by African inmates in prisons located throughout the U.S.
Uhuru Radio, a radio program for African people that operates under the leadership of the Uhuru Movement, has featured African prisoners and interviewed them on its show.
The APSP continues to stand with our brothers and sisters on lockdown and especially those who resisted their imprisonment during the protest, and continues to resist.
We will see freedom in our lifetime!
Touch one! Touch all!
Free all Africans locked down in U.S. concentration camps!
Sponsor a Prisoner: Send your family member behind bars a copy of The Spear!