Alice Speri <>

Sep. 16 2016, 9:19 a.m.


THE LARGEST PRISON strike in U.S. history has been going on for nearly a
week, but there’s a good chance you haven’t heard about it. For months
inmates at dozens of prisons across the country have been organizing
through a network of smuggled cellphones, social media pages, and the
support of allies on the outside. The effort culminated in a mass refusal
to report to prison jobs on September 9, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica
prison uprising.

“This is a call to action against slavery in America,” organizers wrote in
an announcement
for weeks circulated inside and outside prisons nationwide, and that sums
up the strikers’ primary demand: an end to free prison labor. “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.”

Since Friday, details on the strike’s success have trickled out of prisons
with some difficulty, but organizers and supporters have no doubt the scale
of the action is unprecedented, though their assessment is difficult to
verify and some corrections departments denied reports of strike-related
activities in their states.

Prisoners in 24 states and 40 to 50 prisons pledged to join the strike, and
as of Tuesday, prisoners in at least 11 states and 20 prisons continued the
protest, according to outside supporters in Alabama. Tactics and specific
demands varied locally, with some prisoners reportedly staging hunger
and detainees in Florida protesting and destroying prison property
<> ahead
of the planned strike date. <*SNIP>*

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