Update: IEB members participated in an August 25, 2018 rally at San Quentin in support of the National Prison Strike; stay tuned for a first-person report.
On August 21, 2018, prisoners around the US began a three-week strike “demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.” This strike, which involves work strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and hunger strikes, is in response to the April 2018 riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, during which seven prisoners died while guards waited hours to take action. The dates are significant: August 21st is the anniversary of the date on which Black Panther Party Field Marshal and prison activist George Jackson was killed by a prison guard in 1971; September 9th is the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion, which erupted two weeks after Jackson’s assassination.
Indivisible East Bay is endorsing the strike and stands in solidarity with incarcerated people who suffer through the American penal system. In particular, we appreciate those who work to fight the wildfires throughout California for as little as $2 per hour. California has argued in court against releasing prisoners because it finds their cheap labor so valuable, which philosophically aligns with the legality of slavery under the 13th amendment. We cannot stand by as these workers are undervalued simply because of their conviction of a crime and imprisonment without a voice or adequate rehabilitation programs.
Therefore, we urge all of our members and others to stand in solidarity with those striking through September 9. IEB will periodically publish events that members can attend to support this effort, including one on August 25 at San Quentin. We also encourage members to spread the word about the strike and to ask elected officials to meet the 10-point list of demands, and to investigate root causes for the increase in incarceration rates in the US since the 1970s.
Graphic credit Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee.