It hardly seems necessary to summarize what has gone down inside U.S. prisons since September 9th. Hunger strikes, work stoppages, and riots have spread throughout the country on a scale that we likely aren’t even fully aware of yet.
Some uprisings appeared took us by surprise, such as in several Florida prisons, while others presumably grew from recent organizing endeavors on the inside, such as at Kinross in Michigan or Holman in Alabama. By rough estimates, over 20,000 prisoners were involved in some way. That’s huge.
On the outside, solidarity burned so brightly all over the world. Banner drops, graffiti slogans, noise demonstrations and more showed that we had the backs of all who would partake in the strike. It is worth noting however that the vast majority of this took place the first weekend of the strike.
But this prison strike—and the struggle against prisons more broadly—is about more than a day or a week. It didn’t start on September 9th and it isn’t ending any time soon. Some prisoners may return to work while others decide to stop working for the first time. It’s easier when there is a definitive date to take action on, to build momentum towards, but that’s not going to be enough.
Therefore, we would like to offer a call for renewed actions in solidarity with the prison strike and the struggle against prison society. Right now many are organizing anti-repression campaigns for striking prisoners and that is of course very necessary and not nearly as exciting work. But it would be a mistake to conceive of this struggle in a linear fashion—that is to say, a single wave where we demonstrate as it crests and write letters as it crashes.
How many prisoners hadn’t heard about the strike until after it had started? How many knew but didn’t think people would actually be there to support them? Three weeks after the start of the strike, inmates in Turbeville, South Carolina rebelled against a guard and took over their dorm. How can we stop while inmates are still risking their lives for freedom?
We propose the week of October 15th – 22nd for a concentration of actions to remind everyone locked up by the State that we will always have their back. Once again, it is important to take these dates with a grain of salt.
No one’s going to judge you if you take action on October 23rd, or in November, or even in 2017. Neither should anyone sit on their hands waiting for the 15th to get going. New Year’s Eve should also be kept in mind, which has traditionally seen noise demonstrations outside of prisons every year, despite being an equally arbitrary date.
“When times seem slow and uneventful we let ourselves stagnate, but imagination and revolt are like muscles: the less we use them the weaker they become. We can push back the boredom of less eventful times and point towards insurrection. Solidarity actions and struggling on our own timelines is a way we can create momentum and tension when there isn’t much.”
– “Our Own Timelines” Anathema, Vol 2 Issue 6
It is undeniable that many comrades exist outside of realities where organizing a protest or noise demonstration is tenable. Many of us are still searching for a few like-minded comrades, let alone attempting to bring out a crowd.
There are still opportunities to act, whether it is a one or two person team dropping a banner or putting up posters, or hosting a letter writing or informational event that can help connect future accomplices. It certainly can never be overstated how important writing letters of support and calling in to prisons is in and of itself, but why pass on an opportunity to build our capacity?
If nothing else, we should all feel ashamed that the most active city in terms of U.S. prison strike solidarity actions is Athens, Greece. They already have such a head start but we can at least give them a bit of challenge, can’t we?
– Some Restless Uncontrollables