Today, prisoners across Alabama have ended a 10-day strike that started May 1 (International Workers’ Day) to protest unpaid labor and horrendous conditions, already reporting retaliation by prison officials. On September 9, 2016, the National Lawyers Guild will join Support Prisoner Resistance, The Free Alabama Movement and The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) in a Call to Action Against Slavery in America. On that day—exactly 45 years after the Attica uprisings—we will support a national work stoppage led by prisoners across the nation. Join us in supporting their freedom from forced labor!
This Call to Action was written by prisoners in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, and Virginia who are calling attention to contemporary exploitation of their labor as prisoners. Their choice in using the language of slavery reminds us that the Thirteenth Amendment did not abolish slavery and involuntary servitude when used “as punishment for a crime.” Acknowledging that slavery invokes a specific history of oppression and anti-Blackness in the United States, the prisoners consciously address the racism of contemporary policing and prisons, which disproportionately impact communities of color and especially Black and Native American communities. The IWOC Call to Action reminds us all that “Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.”
In order to achieve their goals this fall, the IWW’s IWOC needs additional free world support. They write, “A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside.”
The National Lawyers Guild is proud to support IWOC’s Call to Action, and we hope you will join us in lending your support to incarcerated organizers. As part of our 2015 Resolution Supporting the Abolition of Prisons, the NLG is committed to working towards a world in which prisons are obsolete. This work includes supporting the rights and organizing of prisoners, including calls to support their strategies and demands. Please join us in supporting the Call to Action Against Slavery in America this September.
Read more about the upcoming national prison strike in this pamphlet.