On Eve of Prisoner Strikes:
Uprising in Hell – Prisoners Protest at Florida’s Holmes Correctional Institution
September 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On September 8, more than 400 inmates at Florida’s Holmes Correctional Institution rose up in a series of protests that spread throughout the compound, and lasted long into the night. There are reports that the immediate cause was that prisoners are locked down in hellish, hot dormitories and denied access to outdoor recreation. The uprising took place on the eve of prisoner strikes called for the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising.
The Miami Herald is reporting that authorities re-established control “using canisters of chemicals that made it hard for prisoners to breathe.” As we post this, there are reports that prisoners are confined to dorms, or being shipped to other locations. But prison authorities have imposed ominous censorship, denying prisoners access to the media to tell the truth about the conditions they face and the violence they were hit with.
In a nation of mass incarceration, Florida ranks 3rd—behind Texas and California—in the number of people locked up. Over the past two years, glimpses of the conditions in the Florida prison system have come to light including brutal or unexplained deaths of inmates, and a record number of use-of-force incidents by guards. Four years ago, Darren Rainey, a Black 50-year-old mentally ill prisoner serving a two-year term for drug possession at the Dade Correctional Center in Florida, was savagely murdered by prison guards—forced into a scalding hot shower and left there for more than an hour. When guards finally opened the door, Darren was dead, with his skin shriveled and peeling from his body. One inmate said he saw Darren’s “burnt dead body” go by his cell on a stretcher. Another was told to clean up the scene, and said he found chunks of Darren’s skin in the shower and on Darren’s shoe that he was told to throw in the trash.
It is unclear whether the uprising at Holmes was connected to the call for prison strikes on the anniversary of Attica, but it focused attention on the hell prisoners face in America, and the call for the strikes on September 9.
In 1971, prisoners at Attica rebelled, declaring: “We are men. We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten and driven as such... What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed...” (See American Crime: Case #81: September 13, 1971—Massacre of Heroic Attica Prisoners). Forty-five years later, the actual revolution that will end this kind of inhuman brutality is needed more urgently than ever.
As we go to press, there are reports that Chelsea Manning, in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes, began a hunger strike on September 9. A report from inside Holman prison in Alabama said that at “12:01 Sept 9th, all inmates at Holman Prison refused to report to their prison jobs without incident. With the rising of the sun came an eerie silence as the men at Holman laid on their racks reading or sleeping. Officers are performing all tasks.”
Stay tuned to Revolution/revcom.us for news on those strikes, and solidarity protests outside prisons.
Readers: Please send reports on solidarity protests supporting striking prisoners, including where revolutionary communists connected with the message “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” to email@example.com.
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