In solidarity with the Georgia prison strike.
Contact: DCabolition -at- gmail -dot- com
The Strikers Will be Heard. Georgia Abolition Rings in Governor’s DC Offices.
Visit Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s office in Washington, DC today and on the door you’ll find the 9 demands motivating thousands of Georgia prisoners who are on strike. Prisoners there have been refusing to do slave labor for the State since the strike began on December 9. Drop by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) downstairs and you’ll find a bewildered bunch who’d rather pretend they have nothing to do with Perdue and his peers than acknowledge what the prisoners have brought to the fore: so many years after emancipation many US Governors today are effective slave masters over their states’ incarcerated population.
“You’re in the wrong place to reach the governors,” Matt Malmo, Health and Human Services Director at the NGA told a group of DC locals who visited the office this morning in solidarity with the striking prisoners. Funny statement for an organization that calls itself, “The Collective Voice for the Nation’s Governors.” Malmo is not alone in his shamefully dismissive attitude towards the health and humanity of the prisoners. The Georgia Governor has yet to even acknowledge the strike and his Corrrections Department has outright denied that the strike is happening.
“We have a message for Sonny Perdue and all the governors. Slavery and injustice in the State of Georgia is an injustice to all of us.” Explained one of the visitors as they presented the prisoner’s demands aloud and submitted a letter. Indeed, unpaid or penny-wage coerced labor programs exist in prisons across the country. Georgia pays most of its prison laborers nothing, while typical wages in other states range between 21 cents and $2 an hour. In recent memory an Illinois governor unilaterally declared a moratorium on the death penalty. We expect the same responsible use of gubernatorial authority to halt prison slavery and initiate just labor policies.
Georgia Prisoners’ Demands Delivered to Sonny Perdue’s Offices in Washington, DC
December 20, 2010
George Jackson, (202) 642-3259, email@example.com
PHOTOS & LIVE VIDEO http://georgiasolidarity.tumblr.com/
This morning dozens of people crowded the office of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and the National Governor’s Association offices in Washington, DC, to present him with the demands set by prisoners in his state who have been on strike since December 9. The strikers are part of the largest prison strike in American history, which is entering its twelfth day.
At the Governor’s office, the visitors presented the demands and chanted and sang, “None of us are free if one of us is chained,” calling on Governor Perdue to freeze the slave labor program, pay prisoners fair wages for their work, and end the inhumane conditions in Georgia’s prisons.
Strikers are calling for: a living wage for work, educational opportunities, decent health care, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, decent living conditions, nutritional meals, vocational and self-improvement opportunities, access to families, and just parole decisions. They are with-holding their work, and many are refusing to leave their cells, until their demands are met. Currently the vast majority of Georgia prisoners work for no pay.
The strikers’ non-violent protest has been met with violent retaliation, with corrections officers assaulting prisoners, destroying their property, turning off heat and hot water, restricting food, isolating suspected leaders, and cutting prisoners off from their families.
Despite this prisoners have remained non-violent and united. They have been able to successfully organize across racial barriers that often keep people divided. Four prisons were completely locked down, with no prisoners leaving their cells, due to the strike.
“The governor must agree to investigate the way guards have responded to this strike and immediately begin negotiations with strike leaders to implement changes that will meet the reasonable demands of the strikers, and end the slavery and inhumane conditions in Georgia’s state prisons,” said John Brown, delivering demands to the governor.
If the governor refuses to meet with prisoners or address their concerns, more unrest in the prisons, and more solidarity actions at his offices are expected.
Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.
“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/us/12prison.html
Inmates in ten Georgia prisons, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, to name a few, went on strike last Thursday to protest their treatment and demand their human rights.
According to an article by Facing South, Department of Corrections have been nervous about deteriorating conditions in Georgia’s prisons since early 2010. Wardens started triple bunking prisoners in response to budget cuts—squeezing three prisoners into cells intended for one. Prison officials have kept a watchful eye out for prisoners meaning to riot, for prisoners’ rights lawyers to litigate, or both.
Poor conditions and substandard medical care are also on the inmates’ list of demands. However, the jailed’s main gripe seems to center on landing recognition as workers entitled to fair pay.
As it goes, prisoners in Georgia are forced to work without pay for their labor—seemingly a violation of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude. http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/41235/the-largest-prison-strike-in-american-history-goes-ignored-by-us-media/