The ANSWER Coalition has been mobilizing in solidarity with the heroic nationwide prison strike officially held from August 21 to Sept. 9. Below are some of the latest photos from solidarity actions as well as an update from the prison strike media team.
September 9th has passed, but it is up to the people in each prison who are participating in boycotts, hunger strikes, work strikes or sit-ins to determine the right day and time to close out their actions — from the outset, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and national organizers have endorsed local strikers to set their own end dates, or strike indefinitely.
With ongoing communication repression (including heightened censorship of mail, lockdowns, and constant searches and seizures of prisoner property), there is undoubtedly a great deal of information on strike activity that has not yet traveled outside. As organizers have said from the beginning of this process, there is a wall of silence around prisons in the US, which should itself be of great concern for the human rights of those held inside. Actions to further restrict and surveill contact with prisoners, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland’s “drug elimination efforts” which curtail access to reading materials under the false pretext of guard safety, would be a huge loss for the already extremely limited freedoms of US prisoners.
Repression against strikers by prison authorities continues to be fought with phone zaps and letter-writing campaigns: reporting on these issues will directly prevent harm to inside organizers, particularly as coverage of the strike itself winds down. The next step for Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is the endorsement of a campaign to pressure politicians to enact legislative change; both JLS and IWOC will be taking stock of the strike with their members over the coming weeks to consider what other future actions will be necessary to build a movement strong enough to push for the rights of incarcerated peoples. For now, the most urgent tasks for anyone following the strike are to continue to push the demands inside and out, highlight ongoing or previously-unreported strike activity, and work to prevent or limit retaliation against strikers wherever possible.
Incarcerated organizers never believed that their demands would be met a negotiating table during the past three weeks; it has been a huge success of the 2018 prison strike that the 10 points have been pushed into the national and international consciousness. The work of spreading and fighting for these demands will continue on all fronts until they are actualized, and then beyond that onto what JLS aptly calls “the dismantling process,” as we build a movement toward abolition.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak will be releasing an official statement from inside organizers this week.