Revolution #221, January 9, 2011
We received the following from a reader:
Thousands of Georgia Prisoners Strike Against Repressive Conditions
On December 9, 2010 thousands of men in at least six Georgia prisons initiated the largest prisoner strike in U.S. history. For six days prison inmates refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs. Their demands included:
- A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC [Department of Corrections] demands prisoners work for free.
- EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
- DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
- AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
- DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
- NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
- VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
- ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
- JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Prisoners coordinated the simultaneous strike through "contraband" cell phone calls, text messages, and word of mouth. Despite racial divisions which are so often created and encouraged by the prison authorities, striking prisoners defied divisions, organizing across religious and color lines. Strikers included Blacks, Hispanics, whites, Muslims, Rastafarians, and Christians.
The system did not let this act go unpunished. In several prisons inmates were ripped from their cells and beaten, resulting in broken ribs for several men; some were beaten beyond recognition. Brutal guards placed some in isolation and ordered heat and hot water to cells turned off. At least four of the prisons were placed on lockdown, prisoners were ordered to remain in their cells. Prisoners responded defiantly saying, "We locked ourselves down!"
On December 15, prisoners ended the protest. One of the prison organizers told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "We needed to come off lock down so we can go to the law library and start ... the paperwork for a [prison conditions] lawsuit." Prisoners explain that this non-violent protest is only the beginning. They claim that they are allowing prison authorities time to meet their demands and if they are not, they will escalate their resistance in future actions.
This righteous act of resistance in Georgia's hellholes of incarceration is an inspiration for all those seeking justice! These prisoners have raised their heads, broken with the "dog-eat-dog" mentality encouraged by the system and set an example that should be learned from by everyone living under this system.
When oppressed people fight back, this system responds with even greater brutality. This system of capitalism-imperialism systematically confines, brutalizes, batters, humiliates, and rapes entire groups of people and justifies it! There is no good reason for it to continue one more day. For all those who say, "People are just too messed up... they'll never come together and struggle for a better world," take notice!
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