we receive and transmit:
On September 9 2016, prisoners took action in 46 prisons for a nationally-coordinated prisoner strike. Of those facilities, 31 experienced a lock-down, suspension, or full strike for at least 24 hours, affecting around 57,000 people. By not showing up for work, prisoners shut down the regular operations of prisons like Kinross in Michigan and Holman in Alabama. By rioting and through other combative tactics, they disrupted normalized routines and operations for even longer. It was the largest action ever taken by prisoners in the United States, and anarchists took part both inside and outside the prison walls.
The strike has primarily been framed as a battle against prison slavery, an institution codified into law “as a punishment for crime” in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Prisoners are often employed for pennies an hour, performing not only the various tasks that keep the prison running, but sometimes producing commodities such as Starbucks cups or even putting out wildfires in California. No doubt, people participated in the strike for a variety of reasons, but the element of prison slavery was the narrative that stuck.
In Bloomington and elsewhere, anarchists helped lay down the infrastructure of the strike for a year prior to September’s actions, longer if you consider informal prisoner support and solidarity projects anarchists have been regularly engaging in. We’ve created free zine distros and started correspondences with prisoners directly, organized conferences to facilitate our activities, spread the call for the strike to prisons nation-wide, put up flyers and posters about the strike throughout the cities where we live, and come to the aid of prisoners facing retaliatory repression. Continue reading “Prison Strike Retrospective”