Georgia’s prisoners STRIKE!

From the Jan.-Feb. 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Georgia’s prisoners STRIKE!

On Dec. 9, prisoners throughout Georgia began the largest prisoner strike in U.S. history. They refused to leave their cells for work or other activities, dubbed their strike a “Lockdown for Liberty,” and released a humanist statement of demands. These included: a living wage for work done; educational opportunities; humane health care; an end to cruel and unusual punishments; decent living conditions; nutritional food; vocational and self-improvement opportunities; access to their families; and just parole opportunities.

The prisoners who initiated the strike represented the spectrum of ethnic and religious groups that make up the prison population. They stated clearly, “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all.”

Prisoners at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware state prisons participated. In response, authorities in a number of prisons forcibly removed prisoners from cells and administered punishment beatings.

It was a profound and inspiring accomplishment for a coordinated strike involving over ten prisons (four remained on strike for over a week) to be organized using only such media as were available. Just as great was the way it crossed the divide-and-conquer boundaries of racism which the prison system aims to reinforce. It was truly the voice of the most oppressed among the working class making itself heard. We invite discussion of the strike and all issues from our readers.

–G.E.

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