A national prison strike has been called for August 21 to September 9, 2018. Jailhouse Lawyer’s Speak (JLS), a collective of jailhouse lawyers offering their services to others incarcerated, has put forth a call for this strike as an immediate response to the brutal uprisings at Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina earlier this year. The uprising led to 7 prisoners dead and 17 critically injured as a direct result of guard negligence, prison overcrowding, and general poor conditions. We must be clear — any death that transpires within the walls of a prison is murder at the hands of the state.
The dates of the proposed strike are no coincidence. August 21 is the day that George Jackson was murdered by San Quentin prison officials in 1971. That same year, on September 9, is when prisoners at Attica in New York took over their prison in direct response to Jackson’s assassination – over 1,000 of the prison’s 2,200 prisoners took part in the uprising which held 42 staff hostage as the prisoners fought for their demands and left 43 people dead including guards and those incarcerated.
One month after the horrendous incident at Lee Correctional, two prisons in Missouri and Louisiana took action against their facilities, the former leading to the destruction of prison equipment and the latter to massive strikes. It isn’t only the task of other prisoners to stand in solidarity with those incarcerated. Our freedom, our agency is inherently bound to those behind bars, locked in ICE detention centers, to those who are routinely harassed by police. We have a duty to carry these voices beyond the prison walls. We need to set fire to the church of self-righteous “law and order.” Those held captive by the state are deserving of vocality, and we have the opportunity to amplify their words and actions by acting with them from the outside, by sharing their stories, by reminding prison officials that they are not forgotten. It is compulsory for us to thwart attempts by guards and prisons to further isolate those they keep locked up. They are risking their lives to participate in this strike, and we have a responsibility to support it.
We are calling for a noise demonstration outside of the youth jail in downtown Minneapolis on August 21, the first day of the strike, in order to show prisoners that we stand with them, that we will be here, and that we are not backing down. Join us at Elliot Park at 8pm. Crew up. Bring the noise. Be there.