The Georgia prisoner strike is still going strong after close to a week. Four prisons remain locked down according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Hays State Prison in Trion; Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe; Telfair State Prison in Helena and Smith State Prison, about an hour’s drive west of Savannah.” While the Department of Corrections maintains that they gained wind of the strike before it began and locked down these 4 of the state’s 30 prisons preemptively, the strikers beg to differ:
That’s wrong. We’ve locked ourselves down.
Inmates are relocking their doors, refusing to come out, refusing to work as unwaged laborers:
The inmates’ key concerns are that they are not paid for the work they do at the prison. With the exception of very few in a special program, the inmates also are not paid to work at prison factories, which make furniture, clothing, signs and other items that are sold to state or local governmental agencies.
“If they would start paying us, that would reduce crime behind the walls,” Mike said. “Inmates would have the means to get hygiene [items] and food from the commissary.”
While coverage of the strike remains sparse, prison advocate Elaine Brown appeared on Democracy Now! this morning and discussed reports of widespread police brutality against the strikers. You can also hear Brown speak about the first day of the strike on Thursday’s episode of Hard Knock Radio. Tune in around the 9:30 mark. And we’ve posted it before, but don’t miss Bruce Dixon’s account over at the Black Agenda Report.
So what do we do now given that we’re 3000 miles away?
Let’s organize a solidarity rally! Given the lack of media coverage and already egregiously violent police response, it’s only a matter of time before the strike is brutally suppressed. This is precisely why we need to do everything in our power to blast information about the largest prison strike in American history far and wide. What form should this take? Where should we be organizing? What would a solidarity rally even look like?
These are precisely the questions we need to be asking.
And we will be discussing them. Come out tomorrow, Wednesday, December 15 at 6 pm to the front of the Student Center at Laney College. This is just a stone’s throw from the Lake Merritt BART, so you have no excuse not to come out. For a map of the campus, click here. We’ll be building for a solidarity rally and/or action on Friday, so given the short notice, we need as many people as possible to come out and help get this off the ground. See you at Laney!