Prisons in the usa – The dark side of slavery in American society
In order to be in the position to understand the importance and necessity of the us prisoners’ struggle, we first need to analyze the role of slavery in the foundation and evolution of the American state and its historical and integral ,until today, link with the capital.
Slavery in its many forms was actually the foundation on which the omnipotence of american over lordship was gradually built. The root of this phenomenon can be traced back in the era when the Christian empires of europe started a race to conquest unknown lands, founding colonialism regimes, in the era of brutal genocides of the indigenous populations and the slave trade of the non-white African population.
Since then and until today, the social and political circumstances have rapidly changed, mainly because of a heavy blood tax that has been paid from beneath, towards the direction of the total shaking off of slavery as an institution. However, it continues up until today, more or less covered.
Today’s prisoners’ class and racial composition, the spreading of private prisons, the institutionalization of enforced labor as a form of criminal sanction, the exploitation of prisoners by big companies highlight the fundamental connection between state-capitalism-slavery and prison.
Slavery in the first colonial systems
During the first years of the “new world’s” colonization and until the early 18th century, most of the settlers were not free but were under a status of an idiotype slavery, known as “indentured servitude”, which aimed in equipping the colonies with cheap workforce. The “indentured servant” signed a contract according to which she/he was mortgaging her/his freedom and provide her/his work to a master for a period between 5 to 7 years and, in exchange, the latter covered her/his transportation expenses to the colony. In practice, it was happening by the signature of the contract between the “indentured servant” and the ship owner and the subsequent transferring of the contract to the new master, as soon as the ship arrived to the “new world”. The institution was initially introduced in 1619 through Virginia Company. It has been calculated that 80% of the refugees in the american colonies before american revolution were under this status, while only 40% managed to survive.
“Inter ventured servants” consisted of three categories : 1) poor immigrants seeking for a better life in the colonies 2)immigrants forced to leave their country because of religious prosecutions or other reasons 3) convicts. It constisted of both white and non-white population. More specifically, in the plantations of the south, the institution favored the further expansion of the land ownership, since it got connected to the headright system. Headright was the right of every coloneler in about 4 acres of land. The big landowners managed to expand the landownership since they were both subsidized with the 4 acres for every worker they brought in through the “inter ventured servitude” system and took profit on the workforce of the “inter ventured servant” that had in their ownership.
So, although slaves existed in the English colonies already since 1600, this constitution was preferred among plantation owners. But, when the “inter ventured servants” started to gradually regain their freedom somewhere in the middle of the 17th century, the land they were given was of bad quality and under the danger of indigenous raids, soon resulting in the creation of a poor and unsatisfied social layer, whose existence annoyed the bag landowners who later manned their plantations with permanent slaves.
Moreover, although european “interventured servants” were already under a status of transient slavery compared to the permanent slaves, many of them acted together with non white, african and american indigenous slaves in order to escape, resist to their masters or organize uprisals. The ruling class was displeased by this alliaance and answered with a tactic of separation between the white and the non white population, like happened, for example, in Virginia with the voting of Virginia Slave Codes in 1705. In an case, already during the 18th century, europeans willing to travel to the american continent under the status of “interventured servitude” had considerably decreased, especially after the disclosure of the conditions in the plantations. The ruling class, on the other hand, within the tactic of separation had started to grant privileges and lighter work to the white” inteventured servants” compared with the non-white, african and american indigenous slaves. In this way, the alliance between whites of all layers and racial discrimination gradually started to form a structure. The “interventured servitude” system was abolished after the civil war through the 13th amendment of american constitution in 1865.
First prisons and enforced labor until the end of the civil war
Imprisonment as a form of criminal sanction was established in america a little before the american revolution of 1765. The first period, during which imprisonment was massively used as a means to deal with offenders, the “mentally ill” and the poor, can be found in the early 1800, in the jackson era. During this period, imprisonment and enforced labor constituted the main sanctions for most crimes until the civil war. In the south, however, were slavery was widespread, imprisonment didn’t have much to offer to the sustainment of order, since slaves were in the mercy of their masters. Despite this fact, imprisonment of white people took place in some parts of the south.
The first occasion of enforced labor of prisoners in favor of private companies and of the state is found in 1820 in the prison Auborn in New York. The constitution quickly expanded to the north and, later, to the west. In 1825 in Kentucky, joel scott paid 1000 dollars in order to use the prisoners of the local prison as a work labor in construction projects. After that, he proceeded in building his own private prison to house them. Deals like this can be found in 1844 in Louisiana and in 1852 in California. Despite the above, the main exploitation of prisoners as a work labor and the evolution of the conception around the utilization of the excluded populations will take place after the end of the civil war.
The inclusion of enforced labor in the criminal system (convict leasing)
After the end of the american civil war (1861-1865), capitalism will dominate in the usa and will gradually highlight it into the superpower that is today. Between 1865-1920, corporate interests were served in all government levels. Governments obeyed almost completely to the big companies. In many occasions, industrial corporations were the ones to set the value of their own property for tax reasons, instead of tax inspectors. Private and public sectors were, in a great degree, undividable, for example, in 1880 the owner of the biggest bank in Montana was at the same time its governor. Capitalistic development, however, did not follow a straight line. Since the middle of the 1870s until the middle of the 1890s (a period named the “great depression”), economy wobbles from massive bankrupts, inflation and the merciless competition between the companies for the reduction of labor costs. Within this framework, the utilization of prisoners as a workforce constituted an ideal solution and the institution of “convict leasing” was spread in both the south and the north and the 2/3 of prisoners were assigned to private companies. Companies signed contracts with the state that the workforce would be replaced in case a prisoner got ill or was considered as unsuitable.
The explosive development of the industry and economy was, in a big degree, connected with the specific configuration of the criminal system. The need for cheap labor force leaded to massive criminalization of behaviors and massive arrests. People were sent to prison for insignificant excuses, like gambling and consuming alcohol. While capitalism was gradually evoluting towards its monopolistic form (which will reach after 1890) prisoners started to be assigned only to the most powerful corporations of every state.
The institutionalization of slavery as a criminal sanction through the 13th amendment of the us constitution served as the legal base for the institution. In the south, convict-lease system was spread everywhere and constituted the new way of utilization and disciplination of the recently libareted slaves who were now under a status of discrimination, imposed on them through jim crow’s laws, under the ideological construct of white supremacy. In the prisons of the south after 1985, 90% of the prisoners were non-white. Prisoners were assigned to the mines, to railway companies and to the iron and steel industry. All the extractive companies of the south, as well as the agricultural economy of cotton and sugar, was based on the prisoners’ labor. In the north, there was also a close cooperation between the industries, commercial and agricultural companies and all of the order enforcement authorities as well as the judicial system. Sheriffs, local magistrates, policemen, judges and governors were all working together for the systems’ conservation. Labor unions, syndicates and labor parties reacted to the institution, initially as far as the utilization of prisoners as specialized workforce was concerned, because it was against their interests.
Prison labor was also utilized as a counterweight against the workers’ effort to organize. Companies, in cases of strikes and claimings, could replace their workforce with prisoners who worked under harsh and lethal conditions. This way, a lot of mine strikes were broken.
But, in 1890, during a mine strike, TC&I company tried to use prisoners in order to break the strike. Strikers and their allies, friendly towards the workers’ movement “the knights of labor” started guerilla war with attacks to the prison’s fence and liberated prisoners. They after denied to obey to the governor’s order to return them back and armed conflicts followed. Since 1890, uprisals and prisoners’ strikes started to happen more and more often, especially in the north, where an important percentage of prisoners were veterans of the American civil war, but also, ex- workers.
The development of the prison-industrial complex
Since the 70s and until today, prisons continued to constitute a privileged field of profit and repression in the usa, while, at the same time, through the the prison-industrial complex, we are passing into new forms of social control and surveillance. The interaction and cooperation in the prison system between industry and private prisons, construction companies, prison supply companies, companies exploiting the enforced labor of the prisoners and of the political conservation in general, is conceived by this term.
This way, american state’s propaganda for the social legalization of the army-industrial complex, making huge profit during the cold war, was gradually replaced by the prison-industrial complex, this time, using the excuse of the “war on drugs”.
During the 60s, 70s and 80s, CIA, after secretly getting involved in the drug trade taking place in vietnam and nicaragua, channeled large quantities into the poor neighborhoods of people of color. During the 70s, a lot of companies got transferred out of the usa seeking cheaper workforce resulting in a rise of the unemployment in the poor neighborhoods and a big part of the non-specified unemployed turning to thefts and drug dealing. This phenomenon, offered the suitable political excuse in order for reagan to start, in the middle of the 80s, the campaign of “war on drugs”. A big wave of arrests of non-white people followed this tightening of the legal armory, leading to the overpopulation of prisons. While the expenses for the maintenance and building of new prisons overcame the abilities of the state’s budget, private prisons constituted an advantageous solution, not only for the state but, for the capital as well. In 1984, investors in Tennesee, having connections in the government, structured Corrections Corporations of America (CCA). The idea was to fοund private prisons and rend the bed to the government. The utilization of private prison reached its peak in the 90s during clinton’s presidency, when private prison companies took on the imprisonment of refugees without a residence permits and prisoners of “high risk”. In 2000, private prisons’ industry donated 1,2 millions to 830 candidates. Today, the largest of private prisons’ companies are CCA and GEO Group (ex Wackenhut), while the percentage of inmates in them in 2013 was calculated to be the 8% of the total population of prisoners in the usa.
Together with the institution of private prisons, prisoners’ enforced labor, based -as referred above- on the 13th amendment, is still a field of profit and management of the excluded populations.
Prisoners work without syndicate rights, days off or alliances, under miserable conditions. Their denial to work has as a consequence disciplinary punishments and privilege deprivations. The last 30 years more than 37 states allow private companies to use prisoners with the symbolic payment of between 0,93 and 4,73 dollars a day. Companies exploiting the work of prisoners are, among others, IBM, Boeing, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Nothern Telecom, TWA, Nordstorm’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, Starbucks and Honda.
Prisoners’ struggles – Resistance finds its ways and spaces to be manifested
As expected, the asphyxiating status of enforced labor as part of the penalty, this disguised form of modern slavery, compresses and crushes the prisoners so much that, little by little, the seed of resistance is being born, a seed growing on anger and desperation. Since quite some time, a series of fermentations inside the American hellhole, which are actually slave galleys, has led to the planning of a concerted struggle inside prisons, targeting towards the definitive abolition of this brutality which euphemistically calls itself “social contribution”. Despite the great difficulties in the communication among prisoners, the thirst for fighting managed to overcome all obstacles so to finally the struggle plan to be communicated in such a degree, that we can maybe be talking about one of the biggest concerted fighting campaigns form the prisoners themselves.
The starting point of such a struggle has been set by the commissions of prisoners themselves on 9/9/16, a date-symbol for the struggles of us prisoners since, 45 years ago, on September 9 1971, the uprisal in the Attica prison of New York took place which constituted the biggest and most dramatic prison uprisal in the usa history. The basic occasion was the murder of the inmate George Jackson from the Black Panthers by the jailers.
As Anarchist Black Cross, we consider that the peak of this struggle has a special importance, since it constitutes a collective scream of dignity form the inside of the modern hellholes of a state that has made imprisonment into a science, being a model and example for every ambitious totalitarian state.
The status of slavery in prisons is the epitome of brutality inside imprisonment conditions since it abolishes the individual status of every person and targets towards her/his total submission between the gears of multinational leviathans.
As anarchists, we cannot whistle with indifference in front of a struggle orienting from the damned of the social margin, being under an idiotype status of slavery and still claiming, even under the adverse conditions of imprisonment, a breath of dignity and self-determination.
The inmates will conduct their struggle by actually denying the procedure of enforced labor, carrying out an abstention of their predicted duties, actually a kind of strike from inside the prison, which is being punished with disciplinary punishments and isolation. A struggle in the root of which there is political disobedience and sabotaging to corporate interests which have identified themselves with the most ruthless forms of exploitation.
The prisoners have outwardly addressed a call for the support of their fight from whoever feels that this struggle has anything to do with her/him and finds a piece of herself/himself inside it.
Inside this framework, as Anarchist Black Cross-solidarity cell we had conducted an event and notification on 4/8 in the squat Themistocleous 58, together with comrades from the translating network of antireport Contra Info, during which, a comrade from Anarchist Black Cross of Portland had extensively spoken on these issues aiming to the notification of the domestic anarchist movement for the struggle that would follow from 9/9.
We are willing to manifest our solidarity to the inmates of us prisons by any means and for all the duration of their struggle. Towards this direction, we are calling all the collectives, all the Anarchist Black Cross cells internationally but also anyone wishing to support in her/his way, to concert our powers in an International Day of Solidarity which can be a point of reference for the international solidarity movement for that struggle and will constitute an occasion for further sharpening of our later actions. We propose that day to be the 1st of October.
We consider that the perspectives, the at-stake-issues, and the stockpile that this specific struggle can leave behind, constitute an open challenge for every fighter wanting to contribute to the conduct of an internationalized and concerted struggle inside and out of prisons, against the modern slavery and the economical dictatorship of multinational companies.
Solidarity and Strength to the struggle of the inmates in the us prisons!
Struggle is the only perspective in order to live with dignity!
Fire to the prisons!
Anarchist Black Cross- solidarity cell(atherns )
Ronald D. Castille was a senior Assistant District Attorney during Mumia’s 1982 trial and the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia’s direct appeal of conviction and death sentence. Ronald D. Castille was a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court during the entire period of Mumia’s appeals of his post-conviction proceedings from 1995-2008.
Mumia made motions to Justice Castille to recuse himself from his post-conviction appeals to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 1996-98 and again in 2002 on grounds of bias and conflict of interest, but Castille refused. Mumia raised Castille’s denial to recuse himself as an appeal issue in the federal courts, but it was ignored.
The District Attorney’s office and Justice Castille did not disclose, or denied or minimized any direct role District Attorney Castille had as a prosecutor in capital prosecutions, including jury selection and other prosecutorial trial conduct and appeal strategy and preparation. As stated in the new filing, “The high profile and political sensitivity of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case, increases the likelihood that Justice Castille’s minimization of his involvement in the case was not credible.”
Castille’s role as both prosecutor and judge in Mumia’s case, in light of the Williams decision, opens the door to a court decision vacating (overturning and dismissing) all Pennsylvania Supreme Court denials of Mumia’s post-conviction petitions. If this new legal action succeeds Mumia would get “do-overs” to the legal challenges he made to the racist frame-up conviction, for which he has now spent close to 35 years in prison, almost thirty in solitary confinement on death row.
This new legal action can lead to renewed challenges to all the state’s unconstitutional racial, political and class biased procedures and state misconduct that resulted in Mumia’s frame-up conviction before the pro-cop and racist judge Albert Sabo who declared before trial, “I’m going to help them fry the n—-r.”
Mumia’s other challenges to his conviction include: Ineffective assistance of trial counsel; The prosecution’s intentional exclusion of African-Americans from his jury; the Prosecution’s summation argument that Mumia would have “appeal after appeal” depriving Mumia of the constitutional standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the importance of the jury decision in determining guilt and a death sentence; Denying Mumia the right to self-representation and to be in the courtroom during his trial; Police and prosecutorial fabrication of evidence of guilt—false hospital confession, phony ballistics evidence, lying witnesses Cynthia White, Priscilla Durham, Robert Chobert—and suppression of evidence of Mumia’s innocence—Veronica Jones, Dessie Hightower, William Singletary, Ken Freeman, Arnold Howard and the confession of Arnold Beverly.
In other words, Mumia would be able to re-appeal the entirety of his frame-up conviction before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If the new appeal wins, Mumia will get a new trial, if not dismissal on grounds of gross state misconduct in prosecuting Mumia.
And should a new trial be ordered, the prosecution has no evidence to present against Mumia—the three legs of the case—eyewitnesses, confession and ballistics—are proven to be manufactured by police.
This is what should happen under the U.S. Supreme Court holding in Williams.
But Mumia’s case isn’t any case. There is no other case in the United States that has faced as much orchestrated hostility from the Fraternal Order of Police and both parties of U.S. capitalism as that of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The legal and political caveats for a winning strategy to free Mumia: Legal action that underscores Mumia is innocent and framed in a political and racist prosecution that denied every aspect of due process and a fair trial; and an intensified international campaign of publicity and protest demanding Mumia’s freedom now!
Mumia’s case embodies the police terror and shootings on the streets, the false and frame-up prosecutions in the courts, the dehumanization and warehousing of mass incarceration, and the ultimate act of “legal” lynching in the racist death penalty.
The state tried to kill Mumia on the street on December 9, 1981. They tried and failed to lynch him by state execution in 1995 and 1999. In December 2011 the state gave up trying to execute Mumia and instead put him on “slow death row”—life imprisonment without parole—and tried to silence him. Mumia has not been silenced, but has been subjected to medical mistreatment and the deliberate refusal to cure his hepatitis C.
Mumia was targeted for state extermination as a Black Panther Party member when he was 16-years-old, renewed when he became a renowned radio journalist, “the voice of the voiceless” and a supporter of the MOVE organization. In the face of execution and life imprisonment Mumia has never wavered in his opposition to and exposure of the racist oppression, class exploitation and murderous terror perpetrated across the globe by U.S. imperialism.
The combined forces of the capitalist state, its police, courts, supported by politicians in both parties of capitalism are united in keeping Mumia locked in prison.
Now is the time for a renewed international campaign to free Mumia! Winning Mumia’s freedom is a blow against the class and race biased American criminal injustice system, a win for all those in imprisoned nation and for us all.
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In the Name of Allah The Beneficent, The Compassionate
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint. (2:183Q)
Say: He is Allah, The One and Only. Allah, The Eternal, Absolute. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten and there is none like unto Him. (112 1-4Q)
The Community of the Messenger of Allah
Peace be upon you and the blessings of Ramadan.
The above Surah (Al-Ikhlas) is the root of our faith. And we bear witness that there is no God but Allah. He is One and alone, worthy of all praise and worship. And furthermore, we pray that Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His last prophet and messenger, Muhammad, son of Abdullah, and his family and those who follow him.
I seek Allah’s protection from Satan, the rejected. I ask Allah to guide my heart and to guide my tongue. I seek refuge in Allah from misleading and being misled, from betraying and being betrayed into ignorance by others.
May these few words that I offer be a warning to the heedless, a guide to the erring, an assurance to those in doubt, a solace to the suffering, a hope to the despair and glad tidings to the believers.
Blessed are those who struggle
Oppression is worse than the grave
It is better to die for a noble cause
Than to live and die a slave.
They are trying to get you to go against the Qur’an. There are no new answers to old problems. Tyranny and oppression is worse than slaughter, so fight them wherever you may find them. Common struggle (to get the money, etc) is not sufficient. We have to begin to be conscious in our struggle. Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is within themselves.
Say: The truth has arrived and falsehood neither creates anything new nor restores anything. (34:49Q)
Truth smashes the brains out of falsehood. Truth comes and falsehood is vanquished, for falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.
We live in a land that has said that freedom is the pinnacle of its moral argument… that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness its banner of moral authority, that there is free speech, but I am still gagged and prevented from declaring my innocence. They speak to me of religious freedom, but I am not allowed to pray according to my faith.
They say they guarantee life, except Roe v Wade, liberty is guaranteed, but not for the ex-slave and Native American. Their pursuit of happiness is always at the expense of the poor. Can you see? Justice and law march to two different drummers, two totally different conversations. Now, the rights you thought you had will be taken away. Huey P. Long, a former governor of Louisiana was asked, ” Will fascism come to America?” He replied, “Yes, but it will be called patriotism.” ” Shepherds may change, but sheep will always remain the same.”
We, the Muslim, should not complain about our situation. It is the decree(Qadr) of Allah. If Allah is not displeased with us, then we should be pleased with what Allah has decreed for us. We ask Allah to protect us from the evil that they bring and give us the good. We seek refuge in the honor of Allah and His power, from the evil, which we find and watch out for.
Nothing can or will happen except by Allah’s leave. He is the Lord who delivered Abraham from the fire, save Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah, sustained Noah through the flood; released Joseph from prison, saved Moses from Pharaoh, caused David to slay Goliath, cleared Jesus of the blasphemy of the disbelievers, and gave light to His prophet, Muhammad, so that his was a manifest victory. It is to this Lord that I turn.
Empires rise and fall, worldly powers can and do defy right, and misused intelligence (intellect) may obscure Allah’s light. but Allah in His good time separates good from evil. I believe, both by certain faith and by intuition, that there is no power and no might except with Allah, The High, The Mighty.
I pray that Allah The Almighty will number me among those whom He has chosen and elected, whom He has led to the truth and guided, whom He has inspired to remember Him and not forget Him, whom He has preserved from the evil in themselves so that they do not prefer anything to Him, and whom He has made His own so that I serve only Him, and that He give the grace to lead the righteous.
In Peace, Strong! In Battle, Strongest!
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ, 85734
Imam Jamil Action Network
P,O, Box 78187
Greensboro, N.C. 27427-8187
last week on abc four corners some shocking footage came out underlining the brutal torture of aboriginal teenagers, gassed by there oppressors then hosed down by force also a young aborigial teen put in a restraining chair with a spit hood placed over his head , this was like a seen from Guantanamo Bay but this was at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the northern territory as this shocking news come to light we also must remember that genocide of aboriginal people has been happening since colonisation in so-called australia and also aboriginal deaths in custody has increased since TheRoyal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody such as cases like miss dhu who had broken ribs, bleeding on the lungs and was in excruciating pain. Locked up for days without proper medical attention over $1000 in unpaid fines – at just 22 years of age she died in her cell as a result of her injuries. She begged for help mr ward who was placed in a police van causing death from a third degree burns in side the van
Cameron Doomadgee who died in police cells at palm island and many other aboriginal deaths in custody the action in narrm (melbourne ) was called Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance – WAR it started at 1pm at the state library there was a fire ceremony and several strong speakers about a 500 or more supporters , we matched down swanston street to bourke street where we occupied the intersection for about 15 minutes , we continue the the corner of flinders and swanston street a cage was set up in the middle of the intersection this cage was the same size as the cells at dondale detention centre where 4 womin lock on to the cage inside with bicycle locks and chains people sat around the cage demands where made to close down dondale detention centre and sack the Territory government at 730pm the occupation / sit in was still going then between 2am and 4am police came in to remove protesters some with brute-force was used the police remove protesters around the cage to get access to the cage so they can remove the 4 womin this is another example of state violence
this article was written on stolen land
What did they think?
Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Akai
Gurley, Trayvon Martin, Michael
Brown, life precious blood spelled
in the mud FREEDOM …
When will it come?
What did they think?
Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Sean
Bell, Amadou Diallo whose life
breath echoed the dreams deferred
from Afrikan ancestors through
the middle passage, to Denmark
Vesey and Nat Turner, do you
hear it, are you listening?
Micah heard the torturous
mourning echoing over
the ages forcing us to
remember Shaka Zulu, Queen
Nzinga, the Mau Mau to Steve
Biko and Nelson Mandela.
What did they think?
Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Medgar
Evers, Huey P. Newton, Fred
Hampton, George Jackson, from
the African Blood Brotherhood,
to the Deacons for Defense,
the Black Panther Party and
the Black Liberation Army, a
history of noble resistance.
What did they think?
Mark Essex, Zayd Shakur, Frank
Fields, Twyman Meyers, Anthony
” Kimu” White did not forget
Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth
or Rosa Parks, reminiscent of the
fugitive slave laws, Black Codes
and Jim Crow, while Martin L.
King, Jr., revered by all except
J. Edgar Hoover and James Earl Ray.
What did they think?
Freddy Gray, Antwon Shumpert,
Alton Sterling, Philando Castile
Let’s not forget Chicago teenager,
McDonald, 17 hot bullets spun
him like a drunken ballerina,
with Blue arrogance and hubris,
all around the world the same
song. Yet, they call the oppressed
terrorists when they fight back.
What did they think?
Yes, suffering is universal, it knows
no color, race, ethnicity, class or
status. No, they are not immune
to pain and loss, it does not
discriminate, despite their belief
in white supremacy. The racial
divide can not hide the common
blood inside us all, flowing scarlet
red life, they dismiss by the white
heat of hate.
What did they think?
After 430 years of racial strife
and mass incarceration, the 13th
Amendment a violation of international
law, in America — slavery still exists!
What did they think?
Time will absolve the evil within.
But we know time absolves nothing
without sacrifice. So, they trot
out apologetic House Negroes,
talking heads lacking historical
facts, to track the racial divide
that leads to the loss of Black
Micah destroyed the myth of Tarzan,
Captain America, and Superman.
What did he think?
That Black Lives Mattered???
They have demeaned you and call
you demented, saying you’re
delusional and insane; but, didn’t
they say the same about Nat Turner
and Nelson Mandela? Aren’t we all
a product of our environment? So,
isn’t suffering a racist environment
demented and insane? They called
the Panthers terrorists when they
fed our children with one hand
and fought Cointelpro with the
other. When Black people fight
back they automatically become
crazy; when Black people stand up,
demand justice, they are called
What did they think?
White supremacy in all of its subtle
and overt manifestations must prevail
to dispel Black Lives Matter. They
have to blow up this idea, Micah,
like the bomb on MOVE, and the
bomb on the L.A. office of the
BPP. But Chairman Fred said, you
can kill a revolutionary, but you
can’t kill the revolution. You can
imprison a freedom fighter but you
can’t imprison freedom.
What did they think?
We do not celebrate the loss of
life, we mourn as you mourn, we
lament as you lament. We salute
and honor the brave and courageous
whose ultimate sacrifice demands
recognition. It is our collective
shame, we meet at this crossroad, on
the divide of class and race. Yet,
the slow pace for healing is revealing,
our continuing to live a lie, that
Blue blood is more precious than
What did they think?
I urge you to read, to understand
my sensitivity to the matters at
hand, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”, “When
Police Die”, “A Mother’s Loss”
expressing our collective anguish
of a seemingly unrelenting war.
We need not keep score, death
is death, and we should not rest
until hate and racism are cast into
the abyss, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
Remember; We Are Our Own Liberators!
Jalil A. Muntaqim
From NYC Jericho Movement
July 11, 2016: Pittsburgh PA —A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.
In exchange for Shoatz ending the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has agreed that it will not place Shoatz back in solitary confinement based on his prior disciplinary record or activities; Shoatz will have a single-cell status for life, meaning he will not have to experience the extreme hardship of being forced to share a cell following decades of enforced isolation; a full mental health evaluation will be provided; and the DOC has paid a monetary settlement.
Russell Maroon Shoatz had the following to say about the settlement: “I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all of the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid 1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, said: “This settlement is a major contribution to the quest to outlaw prolonged solitary confinement in the US and around the world. I congratulate Mr. Shoatz and his family for not giving up and his team of lawyers for a committed and highly professional approach to justice.”
Shoatz had been held in solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) since 1983. For 19 months between 1989 and 1991 he was held in the general population of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Upon return to the PADOC in 1991 he was immediately placed back in solitary confinement and held there until February 20, 2014, when he was released to the general population at State Correctional Institution Graterford, 10 months after he filed suit in Shoatz v. Wetzel.
The case challenged the more than 22 consecutive years that Shoatz spent in conditions of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment due to the severe deprivations of basic human needs imposed on Shoatz, including mental health, environmental stimulation, social interaction, sleep, physical health, and exercise. Shoatz also challenged violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights.
As noted by Judge Eddy in her February 2016 decision ordering a trial in the case, plaintiff’s expert, psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan, stated in his report in the case that Shoatz has spent “virtually his entire adult life in complete and coerced social isolation (and sensory deprivation) – which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments in which it is possible to place a human being.”
The decision also quoted United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, who was another expert for the plaintiff:
The conditions of detention of Mr. Russell Shoatz, in particular his indefinite solitary confinement eventually lasting 29 years, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under customary international law standards. . . . [E]ven if isolation of inmates is not per se contrary to those practices, indefinite or excessively prolonged regimes of solitary confinement like the one suffered by Mr. Shoatz certainly do. In addition to the excessive duration and indefinite nature, his isolation contradicts the trend of all civilized Nations in that it was imposed on the basis of status determinations unrelated to any conduct in his part, and through a meaningless procedure that did not afford him a serious chance to challenge the outcome.
Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after an international campaign led by his family and supporters. The campaign to release Shoatz included the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations also endorsed his release from isolation.
In March 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoat[z].” (see Democracy Now! interview with Juan Mendez and Matt Meyer discussing Maroon at this link).
Shoatz was represented in this case by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Harold J. Engel; and Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt.
posted by firstname.lastname@example.org
In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement,
echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we
prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.
On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New
York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will
begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will
not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by
ceasing to be slaves.
In the 1970s the US prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San
Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, people were standing
up, fighting and taking ownership of their lives and bodies back from
the plantation prisons. For the last six years we have remembered and
renewed that struggle. In the interim, the prisoner population has
ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed
into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons
have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their
Prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay. That is slavery. The
13th amendment to the US constitution maintains a legal exception for
continued slavery in US prisons. It states “neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States.” Overseers watch over our every move, and if we do not perform
our appointed tasks to their liking, we are punished. They may have
replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments
remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and
investigating our bodies as though we are animals.
Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this
year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America.
This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making
demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action.
To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this
land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the
plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the
institutions of your confinement.
This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison
slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these
facilities without us.
Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals
to participate in prison routines and needs have increased in recent
years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California
hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have
gathered the most attention, but they are far from the only
demonstrations of prisoner power. Large, sometimes effective hunger
strikes have broken out at Ohio State Penitentiary, at Menard
Correctional in Illinois, at Red Onion in Virginia as well as many other
prisons. The burgeoning resistance movement is diverse and
interconnected, including immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons
and juvenile facilities. Last fall, women prisoners at Yuba County Jail
in California joined a hunger strike initiated by women held in
immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado and Texas.
Prisoners all across the country regularly engage in myriad
demonstrations of power on the inside. They have most often done so with
convict solidarity, building coalitions across race lines and gang lines
to confront the common oppressor.
Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to
America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize
these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the
American prison system cannot ignore or withstand. We hope to end prison
slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.
To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A
prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and
confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain
link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities,
they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from
the outside. Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run
facilities is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and
monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on
the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on
the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat
of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike
Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long
overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being
thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.
Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to
prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against
post-release controls. When we abolish slavery, they’ll lose much of
their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to
pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive
and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire
structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift
to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves.
Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th,
2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside
will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of
organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity
and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.
Step up, stand up, and join us.
Against prison slavery.
For liberation of all.
Find more information, updates and organizing materials and
opportunities at the following websites:
More info on the Sept. 9th Day of action.