The largest prisoner strike in history happened last week and you didn’t hear anything about it from the corporate-owned media, who don’t want you to know – prison labor is the new American slavery.
Earlier this summer I wrote an article explaining how American slavery never ended – the laborers just moved from plantations to prisons. Black men are still in the fields picking cotton, and black women are still assembling women’s undergarments for no pay, in both private and public prisons who rent out their inmates’ free or super cheap labor to private corporations. The article above gives a full list of corporations who benefit from this labor.
The modern abolition movement has begun. Prisoners across 40 prison facilities in 24 states – most of them African American – went on labor and hunger strikes Friday to protest forced labor, inadequate food, lack of healthcare, overcrowding, extended stays in solitary confinement and guard brutality.
The strike took place September 9 – the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising – in which prisoners in New York rebelled against racism, officer beatings, rancid food and forced labor. The rebellion was quelled by state police who killed 33 prisoners, after stripping them all naked and brutally beating and burning many of them. As punishment, prisoners were tortured for months after:
Friday’s nationwide strike follows similar strikes earlier this year.
In March thousands protested in Michigan, where Aramark served prisoners unrefrigerated meat and small portions of watery food, and in Georgia, where prisoners were so underfed that one resorted to eating toothpaste.
In May, there was a 10-day strike in several Alabama prisons over unpaid labor and poor conditions. Guards retaliated by serving significantly smaller meals, a practice called “bird feeding” and putting the facilities on lockdown, while they performed the jobs normally carried out by prisoners. Unlike the prisoners, the guards were paid for their work.
During Friday’s strike Democracy Now interviewed an Alabama prisoner nicknamed Kinetik Justice from solitary confinement, where he’s been locked away for 28 months for organizing a similar strike in 2014:
“We understand the prison system is a a continuation of the slave system, which is our economic system,” Kinetik Justice said. “We’ve tried petitioning through the courts, we’ve tried to get in touch with legislators, and we haven’t had any recourse. Therefore, we understood our incarceration was pretty much about our labor and the money that was being generated from the prison system. So we began organizing around our labor and used it as a means to bring about reform in the Alabama prison system.”
Sign this petition to end tax-dollar support of private prisons (slave labor plantations) and this petition to amend the 13th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, which abolishes slavery “except as a punishment for crimes.”
RELATED: How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support It