By Gainesville IWW and Fight Toxic Prisons
Last year prisoners from around the country participated in the Sept. 9 National Prisoner Strike, the first of its size and scope in U.S. history. The wave of prisoner labor strikes and other resistance actions on and around that day were led by organized groups of prisoners such as the Free Alabama Movement, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union (IWW), as well as a large number of unaffiliated prisoners.
The strike was supported on the outside by the IWW, Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP), Anarchist Black Cross chapters and other grassroots groups. Numerous rallies and demonstrations were held at prisons around the country. In Florida, the Gainesville branch of the IWW, FTP, the Green Party and others held a demonstration at the gates of the Coleman Federal Corrections Complex near Wildwood in support.
Although there were a variety of demands, depending on the conditions at each facility, most centered around prison labor conditions. Demands included compensation for uncompensated forced labor, higher wages for a range of different types of low-pay work, and improvements in safety and other job conditions. These demands were summed up by the slogan stencilled on many banners and signs: “End Prison Slavery!”
On August 19, there is a call for another prisoner-led show of resistance supported by folks on the outside as well. A coalition of organizations are calling for a “Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March” on Washington, D.C., to be accompanied by actions inside and outside of prisons throughout the United States. The principal demand of this march and the associated actions is the full and final abolition of slavery in the United States, by way of removing the “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” clause from the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Other demands include Congressional action to curb or eliminate prison labor exploitation, price gouging on goods and services for prisoners and their families, the private, for-profit incarceration industry, including immigration detention facilities; police impunity for the murder of people of color and general over-policing of communities of color, and the ICE detention system’s quotas.
If you can’t make it to Washington D.C., join Gainesville IWW, FTP, and others for a demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 1-4pm at Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, Florida. This demonstration is called to show support and solidarity for the Millions for Prisoners March, as well for prisoners inside Franklin and other Florida institutions who are organizing to fight back against prison slavery and other forms of abuse. Meet at the Civic Media Center (433 S. Main St. in Gainesville) at 9:45a.m. to carpool and caravan up to FCI, about 3 hours away in the Panhandle.
For more information, please check out Fight Toxic Prisons on Facebook, or visit the following web pages: