Historic Strike in Georgia
Protesting decrepit conditions, brutal treatment, and unpaid work tantamount to “slave labor,” prisoners in six Georgia facilities organized a sit-down strike. Prisoners refused to leave their cells to work early December 9, and continued their non-violent protest for a week. There are reports that the strike is ending today after Georgia’s commissioner of the Department of Corrections agreed to meet with coordinators of outside support, including Elaine Brown, former chairperson of the Black Panther Party.
I am especially inspired by this historic moment because the strike has brought together prisoners of many backgrounds, colors and creeds. Books Not Bars families and allies know too well how often prison guards actively promote gangs and racial segregation inside prisons. Youth and adults who do time report that they enter an environment where you are essentially required to choose a gang or stick with your own racial group, and that guards promote this division while fomenting conflict between groups. The prisoner’s strike in Georgia was coordinated across racial, ethnic, and other lines that often separate potential allies.
In a recent conversation with some Books Not Bars families, I asked what people thought about the Georgia prisoner’s strike. Their response was- "Prison populations have become so large that prisoners have the power to change conditions inside if they could just overcome their divisions and get organized."
America’s sick addiction to incarceration must be stopped. We must support the strikers as best we can and demonstrate how powerful we are when we join together, united, to demand fairness and change.
As expected, prison officials and guards have been retaliating against prisoners. As a small step, consider calling Georgia corrections officials to express support for their demands and concern about retaliation.
Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner: (404) 656-9772
Macon State Prison (978) 472-3900
Hays State Prison (706) 857-0400
Telfair State prison (229) 868-7721
Smith State Prison (912) 654-5000
Baldwin State Prison (478) 445-5218
Valdosta State Prison (229) 333-7900
You can also take action online here.
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