For several weeks now, Georgia has been the site of some of the largest prison protests in years. Prisoners throughout the state, using smuggled cell phones, have coordinated self-initiated lock-ins, where they refuse to leave their cells to work or recreate.
One would think that such an action would please prison officials, but when prisoners organize, even to <i>lock themselves</i> up, prison officials get worried, and they bring out the tools with which they are too accustomed: violence, beatings, retaliatory transfers and isolation cells.
On Dec. 9th, prisoners began their actions, seeking what sounds like pretty standard demands and reforms: access to educational opportunities, fair parole procedures, decent medical care, nutritional meals, pay for their labor and an end to cruel and unusual treatment by staff.
Thousands of men; Black, Latino, Whites, Muslims, Rastas, Christians, at Georgia’s Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware state prisons joined in this nonviolent protest. No staff members nor prison property has been either threatened, damage or harmed.
Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panther Party, has helped these men through the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, and has spoken out in their support, as have Georgia’s NAACP, Nation of Islam and a host of other groups. Some Coalition members have visited Macon prison, near Atlanta, to get a first hand look at conditions.
Black Agenda Radio’s Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford have carried the story, via the Internet, around the world, and the world is responding with support, by emailing and phoning prison officials and GA politicians to support these just and modest demands.
At last report, despite government repression, the strike is spreading by leaps and bounds –as it should!
© Mumia Abu-Jamal December 29, 2010