Two years ago, a nationwide prison strike on the anniversary of the Attica Uprising lead by prisoners behind the “Free Alabama Movement” put the inhumane conditions of America’s prisons in the national spotlight.
It’s clear now that was just the beginning.
On Martin Luther King Day this year, Florida inmates - part of the third largest prison system in the country - began a work stoppage and commissary boycott called Operation PUSH. Florida, like many other states, relies on prisoners to grow food, do laundry, cook, clean and handle maintenance in the prisons - work that would cost millions of dollars if contracted out to companies. Prisoners also do work outside the prison, performing 3.15 million hours of work valued at more than $38 million statewide in 2017, including cleanup work after Hurricane Irma. Just like workers in labor unions - which prisoners are not allowed to be part of - the prisoners are withholding their work to amplify their value and get Governor Rick Scott’s attention.
The Operation PUSH campaign demands are simple:
- They want payment for prison labor, rather than the current slave arrangement;
- an end to outrageous canteen prices;
- and reintroduction of parole incentives to lifers and those with parole or release dates unimaginably far in the future, also called “Buck Rogers dates.”
In addition to the three primary demands, the prisoners are also fighting to stop overcrowding and acts of brutality by prison officers; expose dangerous environmental living conditions; stop the state from executing prisoners by using a legal loophole to get around the execution moratorium, and restore voting rights as a basic human right regardless of criminal convictions.
It’s been two months now and this campaign is still active, despite retaliation on both the prisoners and their families. In response to the protest, the Florida Department of Corrections cancelled weekend visitations at several state institutions and have excused this act by claiming family members are bringing contraband into the prisons. Family members and activists have been rallying outside the public visitors entrance this week in response.
For more information on Operation Push and details on how you can support it, visit the Industrial Workers of the World's Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee website at incarcerated workers dot org. There you will find out how to attend or organize an upcoming event, have your organization officially endorse the campaign, write to a striking prisoner to show your support, and donate to the fundraiser to support the prisoners during their strike.
You can also follow Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee on Twitter at @IWW_IWOC and use the hashtag #OperationPUSH on social media to spread the word.
Whenever this strike ends, the fight will still be far from over. You can help carry the torch and raise awareness about the shameful state of American incarceration and the modern slavery it condones by joining the Juneteenth 2018 Call to End Prison Slavery.
This call to action for international organizing and solidarity on or around June 19th, or Juneteenth, a day commemorating the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas three years after it was actually signed, comes from a prisoner activist in Texas, Keith ‘Malik’ Washington. Washington, along with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and the New African Black Panther Party’s Prison Chapter, asks for “mutual aid in raising the public’s awareness in regard to the movement which seeks to abolish prison slavery and Amend the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” Currently, he is advocating for organized viewings of Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th,” which if you haven’t seen, you must. You can learn more about this action by going to the Fight Toxic Prisons website.
So, if fighting mass incarceration and modern day slavery in America is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Support #OperationPUSH and Join the Juneteenth 2018 Call to End Prison Slavery via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Tell them to recognize the human rights of prisoners:— IWOC (@IWW_IWOC) March 8, 2018
Oppose the plan to cut visitation
Stop price gouging families for goods and services
Pay prisoners a fair wage for their labor
Bring back parole
End repression against prisoners organizing to improve conditions
Support Operation PUSH - Incarcerated Worker’s Organizing Committee
Support Juneteenth 2018 Call to End Prison Slavery - Fight Toxic Prisons
Both Red and Blue States Rely on Prison Labor (via The American Prospect)
Enlisting Prison Labor to Close Budget Gaps (via The New York Times, 2011)
Posted March 16, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1171: Debt, profit and modern-day slavery (Injustice System)
As if there weren’t enough reasons not to have a car, here’s one more.
Automated License Plate Readers, or ALPRs, are high-speed, computer controlled camera systems that automatically collect all license plate numbers that come into view along with location, date and time data. These cameras are bolted on traffic lights, telephone polls, overpasses, and squad cars, in towns and cities across America. Think of it like browser cookies, but instead of your web history, ALPRs track your whereabouts as you live your life in your community using your license plate as an ID. Local law enforcement agencies then purchase this data from ALPR providers to use as they see fit.
When ALPRs came on the scene, the civil liberty concerns were glaring. This was yet another surveillance technology with zero accountability or regulation disproportionately impacting communities of color and other unjustly targeted groups.
To help communities fight back, two months before the 2016 presidential election, the ACLU formed the Community Control Over Police Surveillance, or CCOPS, coalition effort, providing guiding principles for local anti-surveillance legislation, as well as a C COPS model bill. In short, these principles and the model bill emphasize the right for the people and City Councils to be notified and engaged at every turn when it comes to proposed adoption of surveillance technology in their community. Nothing will be grandfathered in, every approval will be specific, every technology will be thoroughly reviewed at all angles, and the process must be entirely transparent and well-informed.
Then came Trump, and the necessity for cities to protect themselves at the local level became even more urgent with the pending implementation of his racist, deportation-heavy agenda. Not to mention the attacks on First Amendment rights as the people immediately began resisting.
By the summer of 2017, cities like Seattle; Nashville; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Santa Clara County, California - yes, the home of Silicon Valley - had all passed CCOPS laws. As of that time, nineteen other cities had C COPS laws in the works with Maine and California working on passing statewide CCOPS measures.
But it is more important than ever to keep the anti-surveillance movement alive.
Last month, ICE announced that they have entered into a contract with an ALPR provider, giving them agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database and the ability to conduct real-time location tracking. ICE has claimed they will not collect or contribute any data to a national public or private database, but somehow that doesn’t make you feel any better, does it?
The Verge reported that the contract is with Vigilant Solutions, the largest ALPR provider in the country. According to The Verge, Vigilant has collected data on 2 billion license plate photos by partnering with vehicle repossession agencies and local law enforcement agencies. The photos come tagged with a date, time and GPS coordinates of the sighting. They know where you have been, where you came from, and they can even find out if other vehicles are associated with your location trends. I don’t think I have to spell out for you what that means.
Because Vigilant and other ALPR providers are private companies operating in the Wild West of mass surveillance technology culture, there are no regulations or oversight to reign them in. Contracting out this work makes it easy for ICE to violate civil liberties without having their hands directly dirtied.
Protecting your community and your most vulnerable neighbors, coworkers and friends must include stopping ALPRs, and therefore limiting the data available to Federal agencies like ICE. Go to www.CommunityCTRL.com for the CCOPS guiding principles and model bill. You can also contact the ACLU through the same page to get help passing a CCOPS law where you live.
So, if defending civil liberties in your community and across the country is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about #TakeCTRL: Stop ALPR Surveillance in Your Community with CCOPS Laws via @ACLU via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Go to ACLU's Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) for guidance principles and a model bill for your community
Check out the #TakeCTRL hashtag for more actions and information
Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) (EFF.org)
Posted January 26, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1161: Privacy, what is it good for? (Privacy Rights)
In the wake of the Alabama Senate race heard round the world, there has been a lot of well-deserved and overdue thanks going out to black women. According to exit polls, black turnout surged and 98 percent of Alabama black women who cast ballots voted for Doug Jones, helping deliver a sound victory against Roy Moore.
And while words of thanks are important, it’s time to turn those words into actions of support for a community that has been at the forefront of critical elections and movements throughout history.
Activist and writer Brittney Packet wrote a widely shared article in The Cut that highlights organizations you can support to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to thanking black women. In it she writes…
“Give because our power has been proven time and again — despite movements silencing us, funders forgetting us, and voter suppression restricting us. Give because Black women show up to save the country time and again.”
Another article along these lines was published in The Little Rock Sun with the title “15 Ways to Thank Black Women for Carrying the Country on Their Backs.”
We encourage you to check out both articles which we’ve linked to in the show notes, but we also wanted to highlight a few of these authors’ suggestions on the show today.
Black women are still underrepresented in politics. Higher Heights Leadership Fund seeks to elevate Black women’s voices to shape and advance progressive policies and to provide opportunities for these women to build their leadership skills. Check out their hashtag Black Women Lead campaign to help amplify and go to higherheightsleadershipfund.org to learn more.
Black voters in Alabama cast votes at a higher rate than white voters despite new strict voter ID laws and the closing of DMV offices in predominantly black parts of the state. The organization Woke Vote, a collaborative of grassroots organizers in the south, was part of that success. They heavily canvassed black neighborhoods to register voters and get out the vote for Jones. Go to WokeVote.us to learn more.
The all-black team at Stay Woke is working with Rock the Vote in Florida to restore the right to vote for those banned from voting due to a prior conviction. Because Florida has laws like that. Stay Woke is getting signatures for a petition to get an initiative on the ballot in 2018 that could restore 1.6 million Floridians ability to vote if passed. Floridians can sign petitions and volunteer and non-Floridians can donate petitions to be mailed and spread the word. The petition must be completed by February 1st. Go to Florida.ourstates.org to get involved.
We’re only skimming the surface here, of course. We need to work on closing the wage gap, reproductive rights, fighting voter suppression laws, fighting for a living wage, helping to reverse the alarming mortality rate for black mothers, and reading black publications and following black activists on social media to understand the issues that are important to the black community.
It’s the least we can do and the fact is all of society will benefit when we do.
So, if thanking black women in a tangible way is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Thanking Black Women with Actions Not Just Words via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Read: 15 Real Ways to Thank Black Women for Carrying the Country on Their Backs (The Little Rock Sun)
Learn About: Higher Heights Leadership Fund
Learn About: Woke Vote
Learn About: Stay Woke Florida Voting Initiative Petition (February 1st petition deadline!)
Learn About: Color of Change PAC
Black Turnout in Alabama Complicates Debate on Voting Laws (The New York Times)
After Alabama: Say ‘Thank You’ to Black Women, and Mean It (LA Progressive)
Posted January 5, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1156: Women of color get the job done (Racism and Elections)
Tell Senators to Support the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017 via @PrisonPolicy
Prisons across the country are replacing in-person visitation with video calls. According to a 2015 report from the Prison Policy Institute, 74% of local jails banned in-person visits when they implemented video visitation.
Of course, as you might have guessed, this is all about money. The video visitation industry has been working hard under the radar to nail down contracts, shut down traditional in-person visitation rooms and require families to pay up to $1.50 per minute. Meanwhile, millions of people use video calling every day for free via companies like Skype. The video visitation technology in prisons is typically poorly designed, does not work well, and makes a trying and limited time for families even more challenging. And ironically, the visitor will still need to take the time to fly/drive to a facility to sit at a terminal to talk to their loved one if they do not own a personal computer.
To address this injustice, this month Senator Tammy Duckworth introduced an updated version of the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017. The bill would require the FCC to regulate the use of video visitation and inmate calling services in correctional facilities; protecting incarcerated people from the elimination of in-person visits, the high costs of calling services, and substandard video calling technologies.
Call your Senators today and ask them to support this bill, and spread the word about the video visitation industry within your networks and on social media. For more information on this bill and the impact of the video visitation industry on the prison system, visit the Prison Policy Initiative at prison policy dot org slash visitation.
Technology has come a long way, but the intimacy of talking face to face still cannot be replaced. Children, especially, need that face time with their parent or loved one to ensure bonds and connections are not lost during the time apart. But right now, an unregulated cottage industry trying to milk the system can take that away.
So, if stopping the corporate abuse of families and inmates caught up in our injustice system is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Call your Senators to tell them to support the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017
Learn about and share facts on video visitation at PrisonPolicy.org/visitation
Video Calls Are Replacing In-Person Visits at Some Prisons (Smithsonian Magazine)
Posted July 28, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1122: Real-Life Alternatives to the Prison/Industrial Complex
Remember that time before the election when politicians on both sides of the aisle were finally talking about - and actually agreeing on - criminal justice reform legislation? It may feel like a distant memory, but it really wasn’t that long ago and it’s still in the works.
As of April of this year, Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul’s REDEEM Act has been re-introduced in the House and Senate. The REDEEM Act would seal or expunge records relating to Federal non-violent criminal offenses.
But Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has other plans. His recent memo directed prosecutors to seek the toughest possible sentences, even for non-violent drug offenders. In response, Senators Rand Paul and Patrick Leahy introduced new legislation to stop Sessions from taking us back to the Drug War years of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The legislation, known as the Justice Safety Valve Act, is not new. But a 2017 version was reintroduced in the Senate as S. 1127, with companion legislation H.R. 2435 reintroduced by Representatives Bobby Scott and Thomas Massie in the House.
The Justice Safety Valve Act is simple: it would empower federal judges to give out sentences below the mandatory minimum in certain cases. And, as Rolling Stone put it this week, it would effectively neutralize the memo from Sessions.
So, your action today is twofold: First, call, write, fax and leave voicemails for your Representatives and Senators telling them that you support passage of the Justice Safety Valve Act and the REDEEM Act, and that you oppose Jeff Sessions’ extreme, expensive and racist directives. And second, get involved with the organization Drug Policy Alliance, which works to promote drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health & human rights. Visit DrugPolicy.org and follow them on Twitter @DrugPolicyOrg.
Sessions has a long, well-known history of racism and a bizarre hatred for those who do what they want with their own bodies. At a time when the right is calling the Movement for Black Lives domestic terrorists and stoking fear of immigrants, it’s all too clear that Sessions is abusing his new position of authority to target people of color and advance a political agenda.
He must be stopped.
So, if stopping America from returning to some of its darkest days of injustice is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Supporting the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2017 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Call your Reps and Senators and tell them to support the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2017
Drug War Part 2: When the sequel is as bad as the original (The Hill, Opinion)
Posted May 19, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1105: The Surge comes to the War on Drugs
For those of you not living the day to day oppression of black people in America, it’s possible you didn’t notice right away that The Movement for Black Lives has almost entirely dropped from the mainstream media headlines since November.
There is no question that this is a direct casualty of the election of Donald Trump. Maybe things will change as Jeff Sessions begins flexing his Attorney General powers, but it’s important to remember that nothing has changed for black people in America since November. Unarmed black people of all ages and walks of life are still dying at the hands of police and the police are still getting away with it.
So if you have found yourself unengaged from the movement, your first action is to jump back in. Visit the websites and social media pages of organizations like Advancement Project, Alliance for Educational Justice, Color of Change, Dream Defenders, Law for Black Lives, and of course, The Movement for Black Lives.
Your next action is to get involved this week with Mama’s Bail Out Day, leading up to and happening on Mother’s Day, this Sunday, May 14th. The day is organized by National Bail Out, a partnership with Color of Change and The Movement for Black Lives, with the goal of reuniting families, resisting mass incarceration and ending the cash bail system once and for all.
The idea is simple: Local and national organizations participating in National Mama’s Bail Out Day are raising money to pay the bail of as many incarcerated mothers as possible, in all of their varieties - queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant - and give them an opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with their families. Additionally, the organizations plan to build community through gatherings that highlight the impact of inhumane and destructive bail practices on our communities, particularly communities of color.
Why the focus on mothers? Women held in local jails represent the fastest growing group of incarcerated people in the United States. Since 1970, the number of women in US jails has increased by 14 times. Nearly 80% of women in jails are mothers and nearly half are in local jails for crimes they haven’t been convicted of. According to National Bail Out, we spend $9 billion on pre-trial incarceration in this country and the results are devastating. Even a few days in jail can catastrophically impact a woman’s family and community by putting her job, housing and even the custody of her children at risk. But if she can’t pay bail, she has no way out.
The idea of paying bail to release these women comes from the tradition of enslaved black people who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom before slavery was abolished. The National Bail Out website states, “Until we abolish bail and mass incarceration, we’re gonna free ourselves.”
The more money National Bail Out can raise, the more women can be brought home for Mother’s Day and reengage with their communities. Visit NoMoreMoneyBail.org to donate and find the cities and organizations taking part in this action. You can also follow the movement on Twitter @NationalBailOut and engage with the hashtags #EndMoneyBail and #FreeBlackMamas.
So, if resisting the devastating impacts of mass incarceration and bail practices on people of color is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Supporting Mama’s Bail Out Day This Mother’s Day via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Locked Up for Being Poor (New York Times)
Federal judge: Harris Co. bail system unfair to poor, low-level defendants (Houston Chronicle)
Incarcerated Women and Girls (The Sentencing Project)
Posted May 9, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1102: Racism built a system we all suffer under
Just a couple years ago, we were defending Net Neutrality from the Obama administration. Millions took action and raised their voices, and the battle was won. For the moment.
Today, in the upside-down world of the Trump administration, we have a former Verizon lawyer heading up the FCC. As his first order of business, Chairman Ajit Pai took steps to halt updates to Lifeline - an existing FCC program providing affordable telephone service that was in the process of expanding to provide affordable broadband to those in need. That’s just a taste of who this guy is.
Last week, after Congress voted to let internet service providers have their way with your data, Press Secretary Sean Spicer formally announced that next on the administration’s hit list is net neutrality. As a minority Republican member of the FCC in 2015, Pai voted against net neutrality, so we know where he stands.
But just as it was for Democrats, having the FCC revisit the net neutrality issue is going to be a political nightmare for Trump and Republicans. Pai has already said he will decline to enforce many of the consumer protections created during the Obama administration and that includes net neutrality, but he can only go so far with the rules still in place.
So here’s what you can do. Get involved right now with the organizations that will be at the forefront of this re-match. Head over to FreePress.net and the Electronic Frontier Foundation at EFF.org, and subscribe to these organizations’ email lists and follow them on social media (@FreePress and @EFF) so that you’ll get the latest updates and the calls to action. In the mean time, you should keep calling your Senators and Representatives and letting them know how upset you are about the latest attack on your privacy and how critical an open internet is to our democracy and a fair, just society. Let them know your vote depends on their response.
It’s infuriating to fight the same battles over and over again, but remember that this fight is not only about privacy. The fate of The Resistance may rest on this issue. FreePress.net put it more plainly than anyone else: “Everything people have been fighting for will be in jeopardy if we lose access to the open internet. The Trump administration will continue to threaten civil liberties, undermine a free press and strip away environmental protections. And we will be helpless to organize and resist without Net Neutrality.”
So, if saving a pillar of modern democracy is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Preparing to Save the Internet….Again via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Stay up to date on all the latest proposed legislation related to privacy on Countable.us
Net Neutrality Is Trump’s Next Target, Administration Says (The New York Times)
They Attacked Privacy. Net Neutrality is Next. (FreePress.net)The inventor of the Web predicts ‘a massive outcry’ over online privacy (The Washington Post)
The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor (The Washington Post)
Posted April 4, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communication Director, Amanda Hoffman.
Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1092: Under surveillance from all angles (Privacy Rights)
Jeff Sessions has been around for a long time. In the 1980s, Reagan tapped Sessions for a judgeship, but the Republican Congress at the time rejected him due to his long history of racist comments and questions surrounding his unfounded prosecution of a black civil rights activist for voter fraud. Yea, he was too racist for 1980s Republicans.
Since then, Sessions has only revealed more about himself that proves he is in no way fit to fairly uphold the law or the constitution of this country. In fact, he has really gone out of his way to target or offend nearly everyone, while advocating for authoritarianism at every turn.
Here are just some of his views: He is opposed to key provisions of the voting rights act. He is anti bi-partisan sentencing reform, pro police militarization and thinks America is experiencing an all time crime high, despite all evidence to the contrary. He is pro boarder wall and the National Immigration Forum said, “Sessions is opposed to immigration as we know it. Full stop.” He is anti marijuana, and only disavowed the KKK when he learned its members smoked. He is anti-LGBT rights and has actively tried to protect discrimination against LGBT people. He is anti-abortion, voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and said that calling Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the genitals sexual assault was “a stretch.” He believes Islam is a “toxic ideology” and a “threat” and supports Trump’s proposed ban on immigration from Muslim countries. Oh, and he is also pro-torture.
And then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, there are his feelings about privacy. Even though many of his Republican colleagues supported it, Jeff Sessions fought against the bi-partisan bill to end the bulk collection of phone records. According to the ACLU, he has repeatedly pushed for greater surveillance authorities than law enforcement and intelligence agencies have even asked for. And when it comes to end-to-end encryption, Sessions is perhaps one of the fiercest critics out there - strongly backing the FBI in its case against Apple to force them to create back door access to the iPhone.
But despite all of this, on January 10th Sessions will yet again sit in front of members of Congress at his confirmation hearing - this time as Trump’s pick for Attorney General, the most powerful law enforcement office in the land. You can make sure every single bit of his dirty, anti-civil rights and anti-privacy laundry is exposed during this hearing by calling your Senators today, and often, to tell them how you feel about Sessions’ record, and to demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee leave no stone unturned when questioning Sessions at his hearing. Go to ACLU.org to read about Sessions record issue by issue, and then go to Senate.gov to find out how to reach your senator.
So if stopping a racist man with a long, documented history of fighting against your rights from becoming Attorney General is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Telling Your Senators to Expose Jeff Sessions’ Anti-Civil Rights and Anti-Privacy History via social media so that others in your network can take action too.
Stand up. Fight back. There is no time to lose.
Getting to know Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's attorney general nominee pic.twitter.com/oKxWxQQABz— ACLU National (@ACLU) November 18, 2016
Call your Senators today and tell them why you oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
Read ACLU’s “The Confirmation Sessions” for Jeff Sessions history, issue-by-issue
Call Senate Judiciary Committee Members who will question Sessions on January 10th.
Corporate Accountability Blunders Taint Sessions Record (Public Citizen)
Trump's pick for attorney general: 'Good people don't smoke marijuana' (The Washington Post)
Posted January 6, 20167; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1069: Trump and our National Security State (Civil Rights)
As you’ve heard today, the largest prison strike in history is happening right now. And if you’re listening to this wondering why you haven’t heard much of anything about it, you’re not alone. The mainstream media is hardly covering it.
For the last month, inmates at prisons around the US refused to show up for their prison mandated jobs, where they make pennies by the hour - or in some states nothing - at the benefit of major companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart. They have nothing in the way of worker’s rights or worker protections or the ability to form unions….and our 13th amendment says that’s okay.
FreeAlabamaMovement.wordpress.com is the website run by the inmates at the Alabama prison spearheading this aptly named “Freedom Movement.” The site’s announcement of the strike proclaimed, “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.”
These inmates are striking in the face of retaliation. We already know that some have been put in isolation for their actions, but a few have been able to bravely speak to reporters via contraband phones. But while the rest of the media largely ignores the strike and prison wardens deny that anything serious is going on, calls for more public support are surfacing.
ItsGoingDown.org is a citizen-driven, repository of news and analysis on all kinds of acts of rebellion and revolt in North America. A post on this site is calling for a resurgence of actions in our communities October 15th to 22nd to show support for the inmates and amplify their message. You can find an action near you at the bottom of that post, or create an action and submit it to ItsGoingDown.org to be posted.
The New Yorker is one of the few major publications talking about the strike. In their article, an Alabama inmate said, “I want to clarify that it is not ‘slave-like conditions’ in prison labor—this is actually institutional slavery. Slavery was always about exploiting the labor of lower-class people in this country.”
From private prisons, to the school to prison pipeline, to the rights of prisoners and former prisoners, to criminal justice reform, we have a long way to go when it comes to upending our state of incarceration rooted in America’s institutional racism. So make these issues part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like The Advancement Project, the ACLU, the Brennan Center for Justice, Fair Vote, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations working to achieve racial justice.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” So if you want to work toward a society we can all be proud of, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting prison strikers by joining actions around the country via social media so that others in your network can take action too.
Read the call to action post on ItsGoingDown.org and find an event near you at the bottom of the post.
Create your own local action to support the prison strikes and submit it to be posted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Prisoners Across the Country Have Gone on Strike (via Mother Jones)
A National Strike Against "Prison Slavery" (via The New Yorker)
DOJ Launches Investigation of Alabama Mens' Prison (via AL.com)
Free Alabama Movement (website of the inmates spearheading the strike in Alabama)
IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (unrecognized union for incarcerated prison workers)
Posted October 7, 2016 * Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1048: Slavery in America is alive and well (prison labor)
Tell Your Legislators to Sign the “Pledge to Preserve & Protect Our Lives” via @NAACP #StayWokeandVote
Colin Kaepernick is successfully keeping a difficult conversation in the spotlight that many Americans would rather just ignore. The best way to show support for Kaepernick and his resilience under intense public ridicule is to directly support reforms to correct the systemic racial injustice in this country.
In the wake of the recent police shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was waiting for help on the side of the road in Tulsa, Oklahoma after his car broke down, the NAACP released a statement encouraging people to take to the streets and the polls with a clear path for reform.
The statement went on to say, “The video footage of Crutcher’s death tragically and horrifically shows us the futility of our cry: 'Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.'"
In the statement, the NAACP asked all elected officials and candidates to sign their “Pledge to Preserve and Protect Our Lives,” which acts as a promise to:
- cut off funding to law enforcement agencies that discriminate
- ensure independent investigation of law enforcement agencies,
- support detailed data reporting about police stops and uses of force,
- support comprehensive standards governing the use of force,
- and support civilian oversight of policing.
Ask your legislator or candidates to sign this pledge before November. Tell them your vote depends on it. Just go to this link (or go to NAACP.org and click on their “News” section in the side menu to find the organization’s statement on Terence Crutcher and the link to the pledge within the statement.)
You can also show your own support for racial justice on social media by using the NAACP hashtag #StayWokeAndVote to remind people that the stakes are high in this election.
Make fighting for racial justice and reigning in abuse of power by police part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like NAACP, SURJ - Showing Up for Racial Justice, Million Hoodies for Justice, and other organizations fighting to change the status quo.
So if fighting systemic racism is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about telling legislators to sign the NAACP Pledge via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.
Send the NAACP's "Pledge to Preserve and Protect Our Lives to your legislators and candidates
Get involved with the NAACP's #StayWokeandVote campaign and use the hashtag on Twitter
"Tulsa police chief on fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher: 'There was no gun'" (Tulsaworld.com)
Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1045: "Systemic forces and how to fight them" (Racism)