The following email was sent to endorsers of the National Prison Strike by organizer Amani Sawari, and in it, she outlines some very specific actions YOU can take to help support the strike. You can also donate much needed funding of activity at https://fundly.com/2018-prisoner-strike
Amani Sawari <amanisawari@>
Hello Excited and Motivated Endorsers,
This movement has already been a success as mainstream media have picked up the movement and there have already been several confirmed actions happening on the inside. We know for every action that comes in there are so many more that go unreported until prisoners have more access to communication after the strike’s end. However I want to share the ones that have come in so far, a developing list can be found at: http://sawarimi.org/participating-states
- 200 ICE detainees at NWDC, Tacoma WA initiate hunger strike and work stoppage
- David Easley and James Ward are on hunger strike in Toledo CI, OH
- 100 prisoners organized rally, displaying banners on the yard at Hyde Correctional Institution
- Work stoppage of all prisoners, except 12-15 prisoners from the “privilege unit”, in McCormick CI, S.Carolina
- ~100 prisoners rallied in yard with banners “Parole”, “Better Food”, “In Solidarity” in North Carolina
- Palestinian political prisoners gave a statement of solidarity from their prisons in occupied Palestine
- Revolutionary artist Heriberto Sharky Garcia declares a hunger strike at Folsom Prison in Represa, California
- Non-violent protest at Burnside Jail in Halifax, CA and publish their demands in solidarity
We know that for each one of these reports prison officials have denied strike activity in their facilities. Mainly due to the fact that they want to protect the illusion that prisoners are not living in conditions that are inhumane. However now the world knows do to prisoners own leadership that something must be done on the inside. Officials are doing all they can to suppress prisoners actions so it is our job to take the lead on documenting this historical movement. One of the ways that we document prisoners actions is through Strike Tracking. No one would have known that the 2016 strike was the largest in history had volunteers not taken the initiative to track prisoners’ efforts. Strike Tracking can be tedious if there are not enough people working together to do this which is why I’m putting a call out for assistance with this.
Strike tracking requires teams of individuals to do research on the prisons in their area, or in another area, about which prisons are taking strike actions and trackers collect as many details about the actions occurring there as possible. This can be done in a multitude of ways from calling facilities, to asking loved ones or directly reaching out to prisoners, some states have websites where they post the disturbance that are happening in the prison. This is easier to do for individuals that have connections to the inside through prisoners or through family and friends of prisoners but can also be done by people who do not have those connections. This is a critical aspect of the work that we are doing and because the strike has been spreading rapidly across the country it is something that we want to make sure we have covered in every single participating region. For those that are interested in doing this type of work I can send more instructions. The more people that we have doing this the easier it will be to complete our comprehensive list of prisons that are striking.
Fighting Against Retaliation
Another important aspect of the strike is supporting prisoners who are suffering from retaliation. One way that we do this is through forming Phone Clusters. A phone cluster is made up of a group of people who are committed to participating in phones zapps. Phones zapps are a tactic that we have been using to call into prisons that are engaging in acts of retaliation against prisoners. Phones zapps can be Statewide which would require everyone committed to a phone cluster in that state to call into a facility they can also be Regional or Nationwide. During the strike about four phones zapps have gone out so far, only two of them may have been national. You can also do this as an individual, the best way to participate is by following the IWOC Twitter page where they post scheduled phones zapps usually one day in advance and coordinate to happen on a specific time so that the facility being Zapped is heavily overwhelmed by the number of calls they are receiving and aware that people are engaged in prisoners well-being and the strike.
Last week I also mentioned the importance of participating in boycotts and assigned the task of selecting around three companies for each state to focus on in boycotting. So far I’ve gotten responses back from multiple States but not from everyone and the list has grown so many people are not aware of this tactic. We want to shine a light on the businesses and companies that are participating in the prison industrial complex by publicizing our intention to boycott certain companies in each region. This sort of public shaming and economic punishment would encourage companies to pull out of exploiting prisoners labor. This also supports prisoners who are boycotting on the inside that have taken the risk to do so with no access to any alternatives. Along with this we are also supporting those prisoners who have been performing work stoppages and committed to not working in their job assignments during the strike. We know that in a capitalist democracy our dollar is our vote in many ways and this is a way that we will be actively voting against the use of dehumanization and prison slave labor.
- Select an area that you’re interested in Strike Tracking in (some states have hundreds of prisons so the more, the merrier in every area)
- Follow the IWOC page if you’re interested in doing phone zapps or being in a state or national Phone Cluster
- Select companies to Boycott, this resource was put up to assist with finding companies: http://sawarimi.org/end-legalized-slavery/exploitative-prison-labor-company-search
I want to commend each and every one of you for taking the step towards bringing a resolution to this very complex form of human warehousing and dehumanization. There are so many aspects that go into each demand that prisoners are calling for and there is no one-size-fits-all answer but the fact that there are hundreds, now over 300, organizations that have committed to supporting prisoners’ demands and shining a light on this issue I know that we have already been successful in raising awareness and supporting our cages communities during this critical time.
Thank you for your commitment and support in amplifying prisoners voices in this prisoner led movement!