230 people were mass arrested during demonstrations against Donald Trump’s Inauguration.
The arrests were made by use of a “kettle” technique on the corners of 12th and L Streets, after no orders to disperse. 214 of these arrestees were charged under the Federal Riot Statute. On April 27th, multiple additional felony charges were added. In December 2017, one trial group was acquitted of all charges. The Attorney’s Office dropped charges against an additional 129 defendants on January 18, 2018. In May, a jury ended up in a deadlock amidst revelations that the prosecution had committed large Brady violations.
The attorney’s office dropped all remaining charges in this case on July 6th, 2018. It could not have been achieved without solidarity amongst defendants, extensive logistical support, and the hard work of sympathetic defense lawyers.
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
These are the NATIONAL DEMANDS of the men and women in federal, immigration, and state prisons:
1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!
We all agree to spread this strike throughout the prisons of Ameri$$$a! From August 21st to September 9th, 2018, men and women in prisons across the nation will strike in the following manner:
1. Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
2. Sit-ins : In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit – in protests.
3. Boycotts: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the in side will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
4. Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat.
We support the call of Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018 as Bennu Hannibal Ra – Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray has laid out (with the exception of refusing visitation). See these principles described here:
Mobilize Tuesday, May 1
Rally on the Boston Common, Parkman Bandstand @ 5:00 PM
Followed by a 6:30 March to Copley Square
Immediate Permanent Legal Residence for All Undocumented Migrants!
Permanent Residence for All DACA and TPS Recipients!
Driver’s Licenses for All Undocumented MA Residents!
$15 Minimum Wage!
Stop Racist Attacks!
End Mass Incarceration!
Equal Pay for Equal Work!
Full Union Rights for All Workers!
Free Day Care for All Workers!
Full Labor Rights for So Called “Independent Contractors”!
End Military Intervention, Bring All US Troops Home Now!
Defend Transgender Rights!
Unions for All Workers! Organize the Unorganized!
Workers’ Control in the Workplace!
Jobs, Pensions, Healthcare, and Education for All Workers and Youth!
The government in Washington and the billionaire class are leading a generalized assault on our lives, rights, and living conditions. The wealth gap today continues to grow. From the racist attacks on Muslims, Migrants, and African-Americans to attacks on healthcare, women, and LGBT folks, and from attacks on our environment and education, to perpetual wars, working people are under fire.
The leading edge of this assault today is the stepped up attacks against migrants. Deportations are accelerating. As US wars have created massive debt and refugees internationally, the consequences of corporate greed at home have created refugees within our own borders. The war on the poor continues. Student debt stands at over a trillion dollars! The recent tax cuts for the rich will be at the expense of our living standards. They will be going after affordable housing, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Millions of youth and decent hard working people are under attack!
Claiming that human caused climate change is a “hoax”, the Trump Administration pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. The falsehood of this claim was yet again demonstrated by the horrendous hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. Enough is enough! An injury to one is an injury to all! Let us stand together and build a united, fighting movement. Please join us on May Day where our program will address: Migration, Labor Rights, Systemic Oppression, Threats to Human Survival, and the role of capitalism, US imperialism, and war in the current crisis.
Anarchist Black Cross
ANSWER – Boston
Bay State Red Sentinels
Bishop Filipe C. Teixeira- Immigration Pastoral Center, Brockton
Boston Education Justice Alliance
Boston Labor Solidarity Committee
Boston May Day Coalition
Boston Socialist Alternative
Boston Socialist Party
Boston Teachers Union
Community Church of Boston
Cosecha Merrimack Valley
Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston
Food for Activists
Greater Boston Chapter: Green-Rainbow Party
Party for Socialism and Liberation – Boston
Refuse Fascism, Metro Boston
UAW Local 1596
Veterans For Peace – Boston, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
Note: I want to express my condolences to the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, including the family and friends of those who lost their lives. May this event be a lesson to us all of the dangers and terrible tragedies which result from senseless violence. Yet, we must remember that this acute pain is nothing compared to the social ills that plague our everyday lives throughout the country. The construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is gearing up. Things are about to get tense here in Pennsylvania. Remain strong.
The Philadelphia Worker’s World Branch confirmed via email on Friday that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections is enforcing a ban on the August 31 issue (pdf) of their socialist newspaper Worker’s World. In a letter to Worker’s World dated September 11, Pennsylvania DOC said that it banned the issue because it “contains articles that call for people to join the fight against white supremacy.” Joe Piette of the Philadelphia Worker’s World Branch explained to me in the email that they believe this reason to be overly broad, and claimed that the DOC is violating the 1st Amendment rights of 300 prisoners. Piette claims that this is the fourth time this year that their publication has been censored.
According to a 2007 article published by legal scholar Emily Chiang (pdf), the Supreme Court clearly laid out that prisoners retain their First Amendment rights during incarceration and that they need to be balanced with the legitimate security needs of prison administrators. So just how threatening are the words published in the Aug. 31 issue of Worker’s World?
Two of the articles on the pages the DOC cites included articles on the justified taking down of the confederate statue in Durham. They also cite page 2, which features an article entitled “AFL-CIO’s Trumka leaves Trump council – He never should have joined!” The DOC seems to be offended by this paragraph: “The bigger question for labor is, of course, the conduct of Trumka. How could he justify taking a seat on this hideous council, knowing all about Trump’s bigoted rhetoric and the presence of open white supremacists in the cabinet?”
There is nothing there that justifies the denial of Workers World into this State’s prisons. The DOC’s action is nothing short of censorship in defense of white supremacy.
The Trumka-Trump article ends by encouraging the “rank and file” to “revive labor’s proud legacy of militant, class-conscious and anti-racist unionism,” which I suspect may have contributed to the ban. However, the use of the word “militant” does not mean the ban can be justified on the basis of being a security risk in prison. The words expressed within the pages of Worker’s World do no more than honor those who we are encouraged to honor every Labor Day, those men and women who struggled for their right to organize against the brutality of their oppressors.
The article on page seven encourages anti-racist activists to learn how to defend themselves from attacks by white supremacists, while the last article cited by the PA DOC pleas with readers to contact the Sheriff of Durham, NC over the arrest of over 40 anti-racist activists on August 14.
After reading the paper, though there are some inflammatory remarks (many of which I don’t agree with), I can’t discount Worker’s World’s conclusion that the PA DOC had ulterior motives for this ban. There are no calls to violence. No condemnation of white people as a group. And, given the nature of our founding documents, it is absurd to deny a prisoner’s right to read revolutionary literature from any time period, especially literature that is far less inflammatory than our own Declaration of Independence and most of the world’s major religious texts. After all, it is prisoners who are most likely to be victims to the tyranny of the status quo. And, if we are to protect our freedom, we need to stand up for the rights of all those charged and convicted of crimes. Our justice system is supposed to be a bulwark against tyranny, not an extension of it.
Perhaps the PA DOC does not want prisoners tear down racial divisions within the Pennsylvania corrections system. Perhaps they have an invested interest in discouraging solidarity between inmates. If this is the case, the PA DOC’s interests are completely at odds with the principles of justice. The Supreme Court, according to Chiang, makes it clear that prison policies “must address a valid issue of prison security or rehabilitation.” Are we really supposed to think that a publication which advocates for solidarity between all ethnicities is more of a security and rehabilitation risk than the segregation endemic to the state prison system today? Wouldn’t we want prisoners to develop pro-social opinions of people that are different from them? That sounds almost rehabilitative.
In these times of mass incarceration, dragnet surveillance, and the criminalization of activism, prisoners’ rights are of fundamental importance. Censorship of the movement against pipeline expansions in Pennsylvania is a real and tangible risk.
Last week, the Intercept published an article describing the evidence that police and private security firms leveraged their power over the FAA to gain control of the airspace above the Standing Rock protest camp, preventing protesters and journalists from documenting the excessive use of force by police and private security.
Documents obtained via open records requests, as well as material from court cases, reveal new details about how the FAA and state agencies helped police and private security companies wrest control of the airspace above the NoDAPL resistance from indigenous water protectors.
We need to act now to put a stop to these over-bearing policies that aim to restrict our right to be freely informed, in and out of prison. One can only be reminded of the words of John F. Kennedy, that those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable. This is no threat. It’s a warning. After what was witnessed in the twentieth century, I think all reasonable people must come to an agreement that revolutions of aggression pose a great risk to revolutionary aims, and that violence between political factions must be mitigated at every turn.
But we must act, and we must be prepared to commit to self-determination, radical organization, and direct action. Turn your very life into an act of rebellion and inspire others to do the same. We should implore the PA DOC to rescind the ban and allow our state’s prison population have access to facts and opinions regarding social and environmental movements. In doing so, we protect ourselves from similar violations.
You can contact the PA DOC here:
Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050