The rally is on! We will be gathering in front of North County Jail in Oakland at 7th & Clay this Friday (12/16) at 4 pm. Shortly thereafter we will march to 14th & Broadway armed with reams of flyers, at which point we will hold a larger rally and concert in front of City Hall beginning at 6 pm. If we are going to successfully challenge this veritable media blackout and get across our message — that demonstrating solidarity with prisoners is both legitimate and desirable — we will need as many people as possible. We need to show the corporate media and the world that the Georgia prison strikers’ struggle is our struggle. We feel a certain affinity with all of their demands, and in fact their demands are our demands. Our struggle against preposterously high levels of incarceration in California, against oppressive prison and jail conditions, against police violence, and against austerity measures and privatization is their struggle as well. Our struggles are one and the same!
You may have heard that the strike is over. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is claiming as much, and the folks over at Colorlines are saying that the prisoners are ending their strike in order to begin a protracted legal battle against the Georgia Department of Corrections. One striker interviewed by the AJC summarized this new phase of struggle:
We needed to come off lock down so we can go to the law library and start … the paperwork for a [prison conditions] lawsuit.
We are not so certain that this is the case. According to a New York Times interview with Elaine Brown, a prisoners’ rights advocate in consistent contact with the strikers, only a handful of inmates went back to work after the 6th day of the strike; a “significant number” remain committed to refusing their work assignments. Given the refusal of the corporate media to cover this multiracial strike — the longest prisoner strike in American history — as well as the active suppression of information by prison guards, it’s unsurprising that the facts are not clear. What is clear is that this is far from over. As one prisoner told the Times,
“Within the week we were locked down, we took over the prison in a nonviolent way,” Mike said. But, if changes are not in motion by some point in January, he warned, “the next way, it’s not going to be nonviolent.”
This means that it is all the more important that you bring all of your friends and comrades out to Friday’s rally. We haven’t heard reports of any solidarity rallies, and if we can spark a chain of such public gatherings, we can begin to influence public discourse and force the media to actually attempt to cover the strike. Until this is achieved, the strikers remain extremely vulnerable to violent suppression. We’ve already heard widespread reports of prisoners being gassed, beaten, and tossed into solitary confinement; who knows what’s next. We need to act now before it’s too late.
Until then, you can join Facebook solidarity groups here and here, read our solidarity letter, and officially RSVP for Friday’s rally here. Also check out this post from our comrades in AWaDU, the opposition caucus in UAW 2865, as well as this recently posted analysis by our comrades in Advance the Struggle.