Barbara Becnel Occupy4Prisoners
Jabari Shaw Occupy4Prisoners
National Day of Occupy In Support of Prisoners - San Quentin, CA
video by Jim Geraghty [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSf4fKj23No]:
Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd talk about their experiences in an Iranian Prison and the horrors of solitary confinement. Their call for an end to solitary confinement was echoed by other speakers as well.
"This is Modern Slavery - Occupy4Prisoners"
by lucaswolfvideo [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8gdrvT25c0]:
Jabari Shaw and Timbuktu Akaamka performing at OCCUPY4PRISONERS National Day of Action!
video by Maximus Kennedy [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMQLmtlddfQ]:
2012-02-20 National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners
Demonstration at San Quentin Prison - East Gate - 12noon-3pm
END MASS INCARCERATION
*Abolish Inhumane Conditions and Torture
*Abolish Unjust Sentences including the Death Penalty, Life Without Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes
*Solidarity with Prisoner Movements for Human Rights
*Free Political Prisoners
*End Repression of Activists
*Development of People Not Prisons
Join us in listening to the voices of people in prisons and those who have had first-hand experiences within the prison industry. There will be a full program based on the reading of statements written by people in prisons, presentations and music. Bring banners, bring solidarity, bring a willingness to listen and learn about what is happening inside and why we need to stand up and demand change. We ask that the spirit of solidarity with people in prisons, their loved ones and formerly incarcerated people create a safe space for all on February 20th.
Called for by Prisoners
Sponsored by Occupy Oakland
Angela Davis * Elaine Brown * All of Us or None * Critical Resistance * Campaign to End the Death Penalty * California Coalition for Women Prisoners * Kevin Cooper Defense Committee * Oscar Grant Committee * Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal * Iraq Veterans Against the War - SF Bay Area Chapter * STW Legacy Network * San Francisco Bay View Newspaper * and many others
Actions in Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Fresno, CA; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC and the list is growing:
Meet-up at 10am for bus/carpool: 14th & Broadway, Oakland and 1540 Market @ Van Ness, SF. SIGN-UP for bus/carpool or get public transportation/driving/parking directions - PLEASE READ - at http://occupy4prisoners.org/occupy-san-quentin/
"Occupy Day in support of prisoners" photographs created 2012-02-20 by "blauart"
Build up of guards after a few hours. They stood motionless all day.
Notice the guards on the top of the hill.
O4P REPORT ON OCCUPY SAN QUENTIN
The Feb. 20 Occupy Day for Prisoners marked the historic merging of the Occupy movement with prison abolition organizations working in the trenches for decades. We believe it was crucial to join these forces, to further consciousness among Occupy activists about the other 1%, the 2.5 million incarcerated people. As the Occupy movement has brought economic injustice to the forefront of the political conversation, we envision Occupy for Prisoners expanding awareness of the racialized caste system of mass incarceration as both a foundational element and an outcome of centuries-old US racism and economic injustice.
Although human rights have never been consistently respected in American prisons, in the last few decades of explosive mass incarceration there has been a drastic decline in humane treatment. Activists in the Bay Area chose to demonstrate at San Quentin, which houses California’s Death Row and is representative of inhumane conditions nationwide. Imprisoned people are now more clearly included amongst Occupy zones – places that need to be reclaimed by a humanitarian and liberatory consciousness.
In the lead-up to the event formerly incarcerated people, led by All of Us or None, called for the day to be peaceful and non-violent, in order to protect formerly incarcerated people and families of those currently imprisoned attending. In response Occupy Oakland Non-Violent Caucus ran trainings in peaceful non-violent presence early on Feb. 20, prior to loading people on buses from downtown Oakland. During the rally Occupy For Prisoners activists, including clergy, formed a human buffer between protestors and heavily-armed San Quentin snipers and guards. In addition, the Connection Action Project set up a sacred prayer/empathy circle near the prison gate to offer emotional support. The day was entirely peaceful, with many opportunities for those most affected by the prison industrial complex to speak their truth, as well as for those relatively less impacted to act in solidarity.
The crowd that day, combining formerly incarcerated people, loved ones of those currently inside, Occupy activists and prison abolitionists, was family-friendly and included children and elders. Crowd estimates averaged around 800, and the colorful banners, artwork, and passionate speakers created a liberated zone even in the “valley of the shadow of death” that is San Quentin. Having an opening invocation by First Nation activist Lenny Foster and drumming by youth firmly established the peaceful and sacred intent of the gathering – to show that with the consciousness of unity and liberation we have the power to make great changes. This unity was also reflected in the words chanted as Occupy Oakland arrived – “Inside, outside, we’re all on the same side.”
The program provided a rarely seen public space for amplifying the voices of incarcerated people. Throughout the day, words from well-known political and politicized prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Kevin Cooper, the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, and Yassin Aref in addition to less well-known voices from inside the walls filled the air. devorah major, former San Francisco poet laureate, shared a powerful spoken word piece, and Jabari Shaw performed a rap on the prison system as modern day slavery . Linda Evans and Dorsey Nunn from All of Us or None and Barbara Bechnel from the STW Legacy Network were the emcees, and most of the speakers were formerly incarcerated people and their families.
The topics covered a wide range of struggles around human rights for imprisoned people: the abolishment of unjust sentences and inhumane conditions (especially solitary confinement), solidarity with hunger strikers, the needs of women in prison, freeing political prisoners, ending the repression of activists, and spending our taxes on the needs of our communities rather than prisons.
Mumia Abu-Jamal and Michelle Alexander among many others have called for a massive social justice movement to end mass incarceration in the US, and Occupy for Prisoners will continue to respond to those calls by organizing, politicizing, identifying the issues and building solidarity with all imprisoned, oppressed people. We will provide an energetic presence of movement-building outside the walls to reflect and support the dynamic and visionary organizing already occurring within the walls. The success of the national day of protest on Feb. 20 lends a militant optimism to the moment – LA LUCHA CONTINUA!
(For more about the day, see Wanda Sabir’s detailed article – with pictures – at [http://wandasabir.blogspot.com/2012/02/occupy-san-quentin.html])
Jericho Amnesty Movement to Free All Political Prisoners
National Meeting in Los Angeles, February 18-19
Southern CA Library for Social Studies
6120 S.Vermont Ave., LA
Jericho Amnesty Movement, L.A. chapter [323-901-4269] [email@example.com] [www.thejerichomovement.com] [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jerichoamnestycoalitionla]
Sat. Feb. 18. 7-9:00pm
Danza Cuauhtemoc, Theater by ex-PP Jihad Abdulmumit, Son Real (jarocho music), Hip-Hop/Spoken Word
Sun. Feb. 19 12-4:00 pm
Come meet national & local leaders in the struggle to free political prisoners and help shape campaigns in CA and on the West Coast for Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald, Ruchell Magee, Dr. Mulutu Shaker, General T.A.C.O. of the Black Riders, Patrice Lumumba Ford and other political prisoners in this region.
Donation requested for program and meals.
(Following is published in 2012-02 "Turning the Tide" newspaper)
"Jericho Amnesty Movement to Free All Political Prisoners" -
Even as political prisoners are being released in Burma (Myanmar) and Egypt, even Palestinians held by Israel, and elsewhere around the world, the U.S. continues to hold freedom fighters and political dissidents in state and federal prisons. Some of the longest held political prisoners in the world are being held captive here in the U.S. and in California. These unjust imprisonments have not only resulted in suffering and even torture for the individuals held, but they have served to damage the liberation movements and freedom struggles from which effective, principled leaders have been removed and isolated.
The targets of COINTELPRO (the FBI-led Counter-Intelligence Program that sought to destroy the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement and other revolutionary forces) like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal have been joined by a new generation of prisoners from the radical environmental movement, the Black Riders Liberation Party, the Occupy movement, and others. In addition, the assassination, incarceration of principled of principled grassroots leaders in the 1960s and '70s disoriented the transformational social and political struggle of that era.
The state's counter-revolutionary and counter-insurgency operations then began to spread to preemptive mass incarceration, particularly of Black and Brown youth, through the drug war, Three Strikes, gang injunctions and other repressive measures. Prison-within-a-prison control units and 24-hour isolation, originally designed to isolate resisters and political activists from the general population, spread and became the norm in both state and federal systems. When COINTELPRO killed Fred Hampton and framed up Geronimo ji Jaga, there were about 200,000 locked up in all the prisons and jails in the U.S. Today, there are over 2,200,000 one-fourth of all the prisoners in the world are incarcerated in the U.S.
Thus, the struggle to free political prisoners is integral to any movement for social and economic justice, particularly here in the US. Every such movement is inevitably greeted with repression, surveillance and infiltration by the state and attacks by other reactionary forces and elements in society. The situation of the political prisoners also focuses attention on the injustice of the entire "criminal justice" system and the prison-industrial complex of preemptive mass incarceration of youth of color. But in freeing our prisoners and resisting such attacks, we create a dynamic that strengthens the forces of liberation and builds communities of resistance. In recent months, we have overturned the death penalty against Mumia, won acquittals and dismissal of charges in the case against the San Francisco Eight, and built active legal/political defense campaigns around those arrested in the Occupy movement here in southern CA and nationally.
The Jericho Amnesty Movement to free all political prisoners invites your participation in this vital work, in writing to and materially aiding the prisoners, and in building survival programs like the Family Transport to Prisoners program and the Break the Lock prisoners' literature project. Jericho is holding its annual national meeting in Los Angeles this year, where LaaLaa Shakur, National Youth Coordinator of Jericho, serves as Chief of Staff of the Black Riders Liberation Party (BRLP). L.A. has one of the largest, most youthful and dynamic chapters of Jericho. Through the BRLP and Anti-Racist Action, which both participate in the local chapter, Jericho reaches out to hundreds and hundreds of prisoners throughout California and across the U.S.
The national Jericho meeting will also provide opportunities for local community people to participate. On Saturday evening, February 18 from 7-9:00 PM, Jericho will hold a political/cultural evening at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, 6120 S. Vermont Avenue between Slauson and Gage in south L.A. The program will feature theater by former political prisoner Jihad Abdulmumit, the national co-chair of Jericho, along with Danza Cuauhtemoc, and performances by Son Real, a jarocho (Afro-Mexican) band, and hip-hop/spoken word artists from the Black community. The event will be a fundraiser for Jericho. A dinner will be served for an additional donation.
The next day, Sunday February 19 from noon to 4:00 PM, also at the Southern California Library, Jericho will host a local and regional gathering and community speak-out. People can learn more about and help shape campaigns on behalf of political prisoners in this region, including Dr. Mutula Shakur, Ruchell Magee, Gen. T.A.C.O. of the Black Riders, and Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald, a former Black Panther who is one of the longest-held political prisoners in the world. There will also be opportunities to write to political prisoners, and to find out more about the Family Transport to Prisoners program and the Break the Locks literature to prisoners program. Lunch will be served for a donation.
For more information about those and other campaigns, including an educational film series about the political prisoners, letter-writing, visiting and providing educational resources and material support to political prisoners, contact us.
List of National Actions
Do you have an event planned? Email us at occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com!
Albany, NY -
The Radical Caucus of Occupy Albany and the Albany team of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network collaborated to create 2 events for National Occupy Day in Albany, NY
Special Film Showing: The Last Graduation, a heartbreaking account of the ending of college programs for prisoners, with an appearance by one of the program’s graduates.
People’s Mic Action and March in Support of Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim and Against Solitary Confinement.
Austin, TX -
Student Activities Center, 3.116 Balcony Room C
University of Texas, Austin
This national day of action is called for by prisoners and inspired by the Occupy movement which has united so many people across the country over the last several months. Prisoners and their loved ones are a big part of the 99% and many have been inspired by the call for economic justice and justice for the oppressed.
People all over the country will unite on February 20th to show solidarity with those behind prison walls, their loved ones, and formerly incarcerated people. Prisoners and their allies are demanding an end to inhumane conditions and unjust sentences, for political prisoners to be freed and for an end to retributive repression of prison activists, and for the positive development of people NOT prisons!
Dr. Simone Browne: assistant professor in the Departments of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Kevin Cokley: Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and of African and African Diaspora Studies
Delia Perez Meyer: sister of Texas death row prisoner Louis Castro Perez
Also featuring video of Texas death row prisoner and activist Robert Will occupying his cell, and with statements from prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kevin Cooper and Rob Will about the Occupy movement and what it means for prisoners.
Hosted by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Austin Chapter. firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/AustinCEDP
Baltimore, MD -
WHAT: Baltimore Anti-prison Noise Demonstration
WHEN: Monday, February 20th. 8pm
WHERE: Meet at William F. Sugar Cain Athletic Field (E. Madison & Ensor)
BRING FRIENDS, BRING THINGS TO MAKE NOISE.
SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE HELD CAPTIVE IN BALTIMORE CITY DETENTION FACILITY.
See Materials page for flyers.
Bay Area, CA -
Occupy San Quentin . East Gate, San Quentin. Monday, February 20, 2012, 12 noon – 3pm. Carpool/meet-up – 10am at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th and Broadway, Oakland) and 10am at 1540 Market @ Van Ness in San Francisco. Email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.
See http://occupy4prisoners.org/occupy-san-quentin/ for transportation information, including to sign up for a ride or volunteer for carpool.
See Materials page for flyers.
Boston, MA -
On Monday, February 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM, the Occupy Boston People of Color Working Group, Ocupemos El Barrio, Jericho Movement, and many other individuals and organizations will be taking part in the National Occupy Day for Prisoners. We will meet at 3pm at the North Station MBTA Stop at Causeway St. and Friend St. and then march to the Nashua Street Jail on 200 Nashua Street in Boston. Answering the call from Occupy Oakland, we will stand in solidarity with the people confined within prison walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.
Chicago, IL -
Monday, February 20th
5pm March from Chicago Board of Trade (Jackson and Lasalle)
5:30p Rally outside Metropolitan Correctional Center (Clark and Van Buren)
Why are we holding this action?
This action is part of the national call –initiated in California, to call attention to the plight of prisoners across the country that make up the 99%.
What is the purpose of the action?
This action will bring together a broad section of prison activists, former prisoners, occupy activists and other social justice fighters to bring forth the message that the mass incarceration of poor people, who are disproportionately people of color, is misdirected, racist and inhumane. We will emphasize that the drug war targets people of color and is responsible for locking up half a million people, most of whom are non violent drug offenders. We will call for end to the drug war, to mass incarceration, to the death penalty and other harsh sentences like life sentences without the possibility of parole. We will call for a redirection of money to be allocated for mental health services and drug treatment programs in an effort to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
Columbus, OH -
America is the Prisonhouse of Nations, holding 2.3 million people behind bars. This is by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. The US police and surveillance forces are expanding every day. We live in the most sophisticated police state history has ever known. The state of Ohio houses over 50,000 prisoners and kills people on death row at a rate exceeded only by the state of Texas.
If Occupy is any kind of movement for the 99% then it must shine light on america’s prisoners, and resist the further expansion of the US police state.
On the afternoon of Monday Feb 20th, we will be visiting the offices of the following politicians and officials involved in the prison system, delivering polite letters, in the traditional form of democratic process.
-Governor John Kasich, who has the rarely used ability to pardon death row prisoners, and often used ability to appoint corporate cronies to positions of power.
-Senator Robert Portman, who was paid $272,853 by special interests to support the NDAA (the law allowing indefinite detention of US citizens).
-Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Retribution and Corruption (and former managing director of Corrections Corporation of America- the largest private prison corp in the country).
-Walter Distelzweig, chief of the Columbus Police Department.
Please attend. This action will be non-violent, low arrest risk, very proper and polite. We want to make sure these fascists can’t ever say that we didn’t ask them nicely.
Invite your friends to the facebook event- http://www.facebook.com/events/343754312313460/?context=create
Press Release from Ohio
Ohio Prisoners Fast in Solidarity
At least 20 prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP- Ohio’s Super-Max prison) will refuse food on Monday February 20th in Solidarity with the National Occupy for Prisoners Day of Action.
The fast was called by Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a Muslim Imam on death row at OSP for his alleged involvement in the 1993 Lucasville Uprising. In January of 2011 Hasan and other death row prisoners wrongfully convicted in relation to the Lucasville Uprising staged a successful hunger strike, winning their demands for improved conditions and access to legal resources.
Outside supporters in Columbus OH will be staging a demonstration downtown, delivering symbolic letters to politicians and officials involved in maintaining, managing and expanding the prison system in Columbus, in Ohio and across America. They will demand increased state pay and reduced commissary and telephone prices in Ohio prisons. The continuous rise of commissary and telephone prices, while prisoner pay remains the same creates an artificial economy and living conditions akin to modern slavery.
More information about the protest can be found online at RedBird Prison Abolition’s website: http://www.redbirdprisonabolition.org/2012/02/occupy-for-prisoners.html
Denver, CO -
Monday February 20th has been designated as a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners” by the Occupy Oakland general assembly. In solidarity with the call from Oakland, the Denver Anarchist Black Cross and members of Occupy Denver are calling for a night time of action in Denver on February 20th.
Monday February 20th, 6:30pm
Meet at 30th and Peoria, outside the GEO ICE Detention Center
Bring noisemakers, drums, banners, signs, candles, your friends and families
Durham, NC -
Please come join us to show solidarity with North Carolina prison rebels and all those affected by the legal and prison system.
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm Noise Demonstration and Community Speak Out
In front of Durham…County Jail (219 South Mangum Street, Durham, NC 27701)
6:30 pm – 9 pm Food and Fellowship : Continuing the Conversation
At the Stanford L. Warren Library (1201 Fayetteville Street Durham, North Carolina 27707)
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/events/270391239697134/.
Eureka, CA -
Occupy Eureka answers the call to action in solidarity with the Pelican Bay hunger strike, with our sisters and brothers who are stolen by the criminal INJUSTICE system, and with political prisoners everywhere.
Demonstration at 12/noon
Humboldt Courthouse & Jail
5th & I, Eureka
(Flyer on materials page)
Fresno, CA -
Rally to Stop Jail Expansion
LET’S TELL FRESNO COUNTY “NO” TO MORE JAIL BEDS, WE NEED MORE… COMMUNITY BASED REHABILITATION EXPAND NEW AND EXISTING COMMUNITY BASED TREATMENT PROGRAMS MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES USE ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION BY REDUCING PRE-TRIAL INMATES THROUGH O.R. IMPLEMENT RESTORTATIVE JUSTICE
MONDAY – FEB 20, Beginning: 11:00 A.M.
IN FRONT OF THE
FRESNO COUNTY JAIL
M STREET & FRESNO STREET
JOIN: CALIFORNIA PRISON MORATORIUM PROJECT, CALIFORNIANS UNITED FOR RESPONSIBLE BUDGET (c.u.r.b.) NNIA, and MANY MORE COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND ORGANIZATIONS
Indio, CA -
9am to 9pm at 111 and Oasis, Indio Courthouse by Date Festival – Presidents’ Day Parade at 9:30am
Los Angeles, CA -
Join California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement – CFASC at 3:00pm on Monday, February 20th as we unite with others across the nation for a National Day of Occupation in Support of Prisoners We are gathering in front of LA’s own House of Torture
The Los Angeles County Jail
441 Bauchet Street
(corner of Vines and Bauchet)
Los Angeles, CA 90012
We are their voices!!
New York, NY -
Protest Monday Feb. 20 – 2pm
Lincoln Correctional Facility
31 West 110th Street, NYC
The Prisoner Solidarity Subcommittee of Occupy Wall Street answers Occupy Oakland’s call to action and march in solidarity with the Pelican Bay hunger strike, with brothers and sisters who are dispossessed by the criminal INJUSTICE system, and with political prisoners everywhere.
Philadelphia, PA -
Decarcerate PA, with the support of Occupy Philly, is planning an event on February 20th, at 4 pm at Heery International, an agency that is contracting to build more prisons in PA, the action will be a rally focusing on voices of those on the inside and formerly incarcerated folks. It will begin at 4:15 pm.
Decarcerate PA has a three point platform:
1. No new prisons, Enough is enough!
2. Decarceration. Prison overcrowding can be solved only by reducing the number of people in prison
3. Community Reinvestment. Imprisonment guts local resources and destroys families. We need to build communities, not prisons.
Portland, OR -
Solidarity statement and film showing event info here: http://decolonizepdx.weebly.com/
San Luis Obispo, CA -
Occupy San Luis Obispo, in solidarity with other Occupations across the country, will demonstrate at the California Men’s Colony on National Occupy Day in support of prisoners. We will raise awareness of human rights violations, prisoner abuse, substandard living conditions, unjust sentences, racism and economic discrimination of the prison system.
Information is as follows:Monday February 20th12 noon – meet at Courthouse to make signs
1 PM – leave Courthouse for the Men’s Colony
3 PM – return to the courthouse
Seattle, WA -
There will be a noise demonstration held at the King County Juvenile Detention Center in the Central District (Seattle) at 8PM.
This is organized to respond to the California prisoners call for solidarity with prisoners which was endorsed by Occupy Oakland. Occupy Oakland will be going out to the San Quentin Prison. Other cities including LA, Baltimore, Chicago and others will be joining in on the call as well.
Things to bring: anything to make noise! (so the youth can hear us) banners, flags, signs, fliers, etc.
Washington, DC -
What: Rally in Support of Prisoners & Protest Against New Visitation Rules at DC Jail
When: Feb. 20th, 12 Noon
Where: 1901 D St. SE, Washington, DC
Who: Occupy DC, Criminal InJustice Committee
Contact: jtuzcu [at] gmail [dot] com
Why: Feb. 20th is National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners day. Actions are planned around the country in support prisoners and against mass incarceration. In DC, we will also be protesting newly planned visitation procedures for prisoners and their families. These procedures will replace the already inhuman practice of placing thick glass between prisoners and their families during visits with a new video teleconference system in which contact will be conducted through a television screen. Adding to this outrage, the DC jail is spending millions on this new inhumane form of isolation and control
2012-02-24 "'Occupy for Prisoners' national day of action; Liberation reports from the streets"
from "Liberation News" [http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/occupy-for-prisoners.html]:
San Francisco/Bay Area -
In front of the notorious San Quentin prison, 10 miles north of San Francisco, 800 people came out to Occupy for Prisoners on February 20. San Quentin has the largest population of death row prisoners – 648 – in the United States. The protest demands included freedom for political prisoners, abolition of the death penalty and the “three strikes” rule (the California law that requires life sentences for a third felony conviction, regardless of the offense) and real rehabilitation programs for prisoners.
There was a great spirit of solidarity and unity among all the prisoners’ rights organizations, families of prisoners and activists from many movements. Large contingents were present from Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco, and the majority were youth.
Moving accounts were given by former prisoners who spoke of the traumas of incarceration, torture, lengthy sentences and the difficulties of finding a job and housing after release. In an historic encounter, Luis Talamántez and Sundiata Tate, members of the San Quentin 6, returned to the prison 35 years after their acquittal in a political trial. They and four other comrades had been brutally tortured and put on trial after prison guards murdered prisoner-revolutionary George Jackson on Aug. 21, 1971 (known as Black August.) Holding up a large picture of Jackson in tribute, Talamántez said, “Those of us who are free owe it to prisoners to share our freedom. Let’s not stop fighting for their liberation.”
Gloria La Riva spoke for the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. She highlighted the struggle of the five Cubans wrongfully imprisoned in the United States for protecting Cuba from U.S.-sponsored terrorist attacks. Both La Riva and Claude Marks of Freedom Archive read statements from the Cuban Five’s Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Hernández. La Riva ended by urging the crowd to be alert and oppose U.S. sanctions and war against Iran and Syria.
Mumia Abu-Jamal sent a ringing message of solidarity to Occupy for Prisoners. Other prisoners highlighted were Leonard Peltier, Bradley Manning, Oscar López Rivera, Hugo Pinell (who San Quentin has held in complete isolation for 41 years,) the Angola 3 and Lynne Stewart. The Party for Socialism and Liberation provided the sound system and other logistical support.
Outside San Quentin, Calif. Feb. 20, Photo: Krissana Limlamai
New York City -
Protesters from diverse organizations across the city gathered at Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters behind bars. Members from the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and the PSL (including vice-presidential candidate Yari Osorio) joined the demonstration on the south side of 110th Street, across from the correctional facility.
Around 250 activists, students and organizers attended, starting off by holding a “teach-in” using the people’s mic. One person would shout “The U.S prison industry is!” and then point to someone else who would complete the sentence with something like “a tool of the 1 percent to keep us oppressed!”
After the teach-in, protesters chanted “Let the 99 percent out! Put the 1 percent in!” referring to our common desire to see our brother and sisters free while we incarcerate the real thieves and murderers who sit on Wall Street.
After that, protesters marched up Malcolm X Boulevard chanting “We don’t want a prison nation! Stop mass incarceration!” and “Stop and Frisk! Prison Gates! They don’t keep our city safe!” among many other crowd favorites.
Protesters marched to 117th and Malcolm X, where they stopped in front of a Wells Fargo bank and used the people’s mic to talk about Wells Fargo’s investment in the GEO group and other private prison corporations that profit from seeing people languish behind bars. The last stop was the State Office Building on 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, where a final mini-speakout was held. Speakers emphasized that this Day of Action was proposed by our brothers inside Pelican Bay prison and reaffirmed the commitment to fight the prison industrial complex and all its manifestations.
Outside Lincoln Correctional Facility, Harlem, Feb. 20, Photo: Karina Garcia
Washington, D.C. -
Around 100 people gathered in front of the District of Columbia Jail on Feb. 20 chanting “DC say no to the new Jim Crow,” and “Jobs not jails.” The spirited crowd, which included many former prisoners, marched, rallied and held a press conference in solidarity with prisoners and against mass incarceration.
Organizers highlighted the weekly pickets promoting a local boycott of Wells Fargo, a major investor in private prisons that hold DC prisoners. PSL member and member of the Jobs not Jails coalition Eugene Puryear highlighted past efforts supporting the human rights of the incarcerated in the District including a mass rally against mass incarceration held Jan. 14.
A number of family members of those incarcerated at the DC Jail also shared their stories, highlighting the challenges faced by loved ones of DC inmates.
Speakers came from a wide variety of groups in the Washington, D.C., area including Cease Fire: Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters, Returning Citizens United, PSL, Supporting Prisoners Acting for Radical Change and the Occupy DC Criminal Justice Committee.
Outside District of Columbia Jail, Feb. 20, Photo: Sarah Sloan
2012-02-21 "700 gather outside San Quentin for Occupy protest" by John Wildermuth from "San Francisco Chronicle"
(02-20) 15:42 PST San Quentin -- As many as 700 peaceful Occupy demonstrators gathered outside San Quentin State Prison this afternoon as part of a nationwide effort to call for prison reform.
"It's been an amazing day," said Crystal Bybee, a spokeswoman for the local Occupy 4 Prisoners group. "We've had hundreds of people out here reading messages from prisoners and speaking out about issues that are important to us."
Among the reforms protest organizers are calling for are elimination of solitary confinement, a ban on the death penalty and an end to California's "three-strikes" law. The protest was one of about 15 taking place at prisons across the country today.
San Quentin was placed on lockdown in anticipation of the protest, with prisoners being kept in their cells. On-ramps and off-ramps from Interstate 580 at East Francisco Boulevard were closed during the protest.
The demonstration, outside the prison's East Gate, ran from about noon to about 3:30 p.m. A spokesman for the Marin County Sheriff's Office described the protest as peaceful.
2012-02-20 "Occupy Oakland rallies at San Quentin, turning Presidents Day into Prisoners' Day"
by Paul Liberatore from "Marin Independent Journal" [http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_20006939]:
The Occupy Movement turned Monday's Presidents Day holiday into Prisoners' Day.
As part of a national "day of solidarity" with inmates, about 700 Occupy demonstrators rallied peacefully outside San Quentin State Prison's East Gate on Monday in support of prison hunger strikers protesting solitary confinement and other human rights issues.
Many of the demonstrators were from Occupy Oakland, whose members clashed with police in January, when 400 were arrested.
As San Quentin guards stared from inside the prison gate and the California Highway Patrol sealed off the roads leading into San Quentin Village, Occupy organizers stressed the importance of demonstrating peacefully.
"Please, let's keep it cool," pleaded activist Jack Bryson, 50, speaking on a makeshift stage over a booming public address system. "Anything you do out here, the prisoners will be retaliated against. Lets not have the prisoners turn against Occupy Oakland."
Monday's demonstration was the first Occupy gathering at any prison.
"We want to expand the issues that Occupy Oakland is dealing with," explained Scott Johnson, a 34-year-old Oakland computer programmer. "We started talking about Wall Street. We've been talking about local police harassment. Now we want to expand it to the criminal justice system."
Because police banned parking on stretches of Sir Francis Drake and East Francisco boulevards, the main thoroughfares leading to the prison, demonstrators had to walk a mile or more to get to the noontime rally. Some arrived from Oakland on a bus, chanting, "Here comes Oakland."
As protesters streamed onto San Quentin Village's Main Street, they were greeted by the Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald, a professor at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, who pointed the way to the East Gate. He had on a black baseball cap with "Pastor" in white letters on the front.
"The prison system clearly reflects a part of the economic disaster we're in," he said. "We are the most imprisoned country in the world. What we're saying is that we need to reorganize our priorities, because arresting people isn't making us safer. It's costing us economically and creating a new class of people who are disenfranchised."
Speakers at the three-hour-long rally included Shane Bauer, 29, Sarah Shourd, 33, and Josh Fattal, 29, the much-publicized American hikers accused of being spies and imprisoned in Iran in 2009, Shourd for 14 months, Bauer and Fattal for more than two years, including periods of solitary confinement. Bauer and Fattal staged a hunger strike to win the right to read letters from their friends and family.
"The issue of prison conditions is important to all of us," Bauer said. "We lived in prison and when we hear of people being held in solitary confinement, either in Iran or here, it's something we feel very deeply. The fact that there are so many people in solitary confinement in this country is terrible."
Demonstrators carried signs and banners with such slogans as "Stop the war on working people, jobs not jail" and "mass incarceration profits the 1 percent." They chanted, "Inside, outside, all on the same side."
Ron Greene of Greebrae, a 77-year-old former clinical psychologist who worked at San Quentin and Soledad prisons, mingled with the crowd, taking photos.
"I support the general principles of Occupy and I care about the conditions at San Quentin," he said. "That's not to say I want to release all the prisoners, but there are many who could do very well on the street."
Sixty-nine-year-old Elaine Brown, the first woman chairperson of the Oakland Black Panther Party in the 1960s, spoke last. From the stage, she looked out on the many young faces in the crowd, estimated by police at 600 to 700.
"I am happy and proud to see all you young people," she said before belting out several verses of the gospel song "O Freedom."
2012-02-22 "Occupy for Prisoners Comes Out Against Mass Incarceration"
by Yana Kunichoff from Truthout [http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/6843:occupy-for-prisoners-comes-out-against-mass-incarceration]:
Each time the 100-strong crowd assembled for the national Occupy for Prisoners day roared below the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago on Monday evening, the lights in a couple of windows would flicker on and off - prisoners up above, responding to the chants of "build schools, not prisons" and "we're with you, brothers and sisters."
"I can only imagine how excited they might have been to see that there are people in the free world that are concerned about them." said Christan Bufford, an organizer for juvenile justice with the Southwest Youth Collaborative. "When you are in there [detention], you feel like you are the only person in the world."
Bufford would know - he spent four months in the Illinois Youth Department of Corrected at the age of 16 after an aggravated gun charge and a probation violation. The statistics on mass incarceration for juveniles are bleak. For the more than 93,000 young people in the juvenile justice system in 2008, about 80 percent went on to have contact with the adult criminal justice system, found the MacArthur Foundation [http://www.macfound.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lkLXJ8MQKrH&b=4294207&ct=2954733].
And the stigma that comes with being part of the juvenile justice system is constant, says Bufford. "Even if it is supposed to go away when you are 17, all you hear is 'this will follow you forever, [you've] messed up your life,'" said Bufford. "The juvenile justice system is not the solution, we really need to be focusing on restorative community based alternatives."
Juvenile justice was one part of the criminal justice system (or injustice system, as some activists call it) that was highlighted in Chicago's Occupy for Prisoners event on Monday, February 20. Eighteen other cities around the country came together as well to bring attention to the plight of a section of the 99 percent - prisoners.
In the United States, more than 2.2 million people sit behind bars, according to the Justice Policy Institute. Some of the most oft-cited statistics are that more people are incarcerated today than in China or Stalin's Russia, giving America the dubious honor of being the largest jailer.
But behind the shocking statistics are harsh sentencing laws and lucrative contracts for private prison firms that continue to drive the mass incarceration system, say the protesters at Occupy for Prisons, and they are calling for a fundamental change to the system.
"Softer sheets and fluffier pillows will not do for change," said Yasmin Nair, an academic and writer in Chicago, with the group Gender Just. "Prison has become a way to increase systemic injustice."
The protests call for an end to a variety of ills that activists see in the system: three strikes bills, which mandate the harshest prison term for anyone with three criminal convictions; solitary confinement; overcrowding; the death penalty; jail time for drug offenses; adult sentencing for children; and for-profit prisons, among other issues [http://www.wbur.org/2012/01/25/three-strikes-bill].
"In several different places around the country, Occupiers have organically taken up this work," said Brit Schulte, an activists with Occupy Chicago and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Occupy's movement against injustice in the banking system, and the massive profits of corporations, are exactly what Occupy for Prisoners is pushing for, said Schulte.
Wells Fargo, a target of Occupy events in the past, has heavily invested in the private prison industry and owns 3.5 million shares in the second-largest private prison operator in the country, GEO Group, as Truthout previously reported [http://www.truth-out.org/occupy-joins-fight-against-private-prisons/1329245021].
Meanwhile, prisons make "enormous amounts of profit off the backs of black and brown people in our country," said Schulte. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the maximum wage for prisoners working at UNICOR, the federal agency that employs prisoners, is $1.15 an hour. The minimum wage for prisoners is $0.23 [http://www.prisonpolicy.org/prisonindex/prisonlabor.html].
The current prison population falls sharply along racial lines - African-Americans only make up 12 percent of the US population, while they make up about 40 percent of the prison population [http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestoryamericas/2012/01/20121318318540671.html].
In fact, "there are more African Americans under correctional control today - in prison or jail, on probation or parole - than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began," points out Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-alexander/the-new-jim-crow_b_454469.html]
"The New Jim Crows" calls out these racial disparities as a modern-day counterpart to the old Jim Crow laws, arguing that the prison system and the difficulty for felons to find jobs or get public aid disenfranchise the black community much the same way that segregation laws did before they were abolished in 1965.
The book itself calls for a human rights movement to end the new Jim Crow, and Schulte says that the Occupy for Prisoners day was only the start of a spike in this movement [http://suppleradio.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/michelle-alexanders-the-new-jim-crow-mass-incarceration-in-the-age-of-colorblindness-is-reissued-in-paperback/]. "We are in a very special place right now with this movement, because it's just getting going," said Schulte.
The National Prison Divestment Campaign was launched less than a year ago, to pressure corporations to divest from private prisons [http://www.truth-out.org/occupy-joins-fight-against-private-prisons/1329245021], and, so far, the United Methodist Church Board of Pension and Health Benefits has withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from the two largest private prison companies, GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America [http://www.salon.com/2012/02/20/the_end_of_the_for_profit_prison_era/].
Occupy for Prisoners itself was sparked by an article Kevin Cooper, a death row prisoner in California, called "Occupy Death Row." [http://occupy4prisoners.org/2012/01/06/occupy-death-row-by-kevin-cooper/]
And last summer, prisoners at Pelican Bay State's Secure Housing Unit went on a three-week hunger strike for demands, including that staff stop using food as punishment, "adequate natural sunlight", one photo a year, and brought the plight of prisoners to national attention [http://www.thenation.com/blog/162036/support-pelican-bay-hunger-strikers].
"When we set out to do these demonstrations," said Schulte, "we didn't want to just call for better conditions, but also give voice to the people that have been affected by this system."
Occupy For Prisoners demonstration in Harlem, New York, February 19, 2012. (Photo: samglewis)
2013-02-20 "Fresno jail protesters call for more rehabilitation programs"
by Gene Haagenson [http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=8551343]:
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Protestors rallied outside the Fresno County jail on Monday. They were asking county leaders to dedicate more money to drug treatment and mental health programs as an alternative to jail.
This protest outside the Fresno County Jail was aimed at getting the attention of the Board of Supervisors. Under legislation called AB 109 board members will have discretion in how to spend state realignment funds.
The protesters want less of the money spent on jailing people and more on rehabilitating them.
"Many people have been caught up in the system because they have mental illness, or because they have drug addiction and AB109 calls for using evidence based programs that can deal with those, solve those, and get them back on their feet," Pam Whalen of the ACLU said.
Realignment under AB 109 is designed to keep low-level offenders out of the state prison system. But so far realignment has created crowding at the cash strapped Fresno County Jail.
The first thing AB109 money will likely do is open a closed floor of the jail. County Supervisor Henry Perea believes more jail space is needed first.
"We have money in the budget now to open another jail floor and I believe we will," Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said.
In a written statement to Action News Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said "our most immediate need is jail beds."
She adds that rehabilitation programs are underway but said jail beds are needed so "offenders know there are consequences if they do not complete the programs."
Perea sees the age old argument between punishment and rehabilitation dividing the board of Supervisors.
"I think there's some folks that may think rehab programs are not the way to go. Others think it might be and I think that's the way the debate is going to be," Perea said.
Whalen is hoping it's time to end the lock 'em up and throw away the key mentality.
"We've been doing that for 30 years and its not working and its bankrupting the state," Whalen said.
The following newspaper article is meant to be read by upper-class people, and it is propaganda against human rights. It is provided here to show the reader how the message of "Occupy for Prisoners" is related to a hostile audience.
2012-02-21 "Occupy 4 Prisoners misses point of punishment"
by Chip Johnson from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Occupy-4-Prisoners-misses-point-of-punishment-3345063.php]:
When it began in October, the message of the Occupy movement focused on corporate greed and the disproportionate wealth it creates.
Five months later, a new branch has taken up the cause of prison reform, calling for an end to the current system of punishment and execution. Occupy 4 Prisoners held demonstrations outside San Quentin and more than a dozen state prisons around the nation on Monday "to speak out against the destructive impacts of imprisonment for people behind bars, their families and their communities."
The new group is the merger of Occupy supporters and prison reform activists, said Barbara Becnel, a reform advocate and member of the local Occupy movement.
Becnel, a Bay Area resident, co-wrote "Life in Prison" and eight other children's books with convicted killer and former gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who was executed at San Quentin in 2005. She was one of the speakers at the demonstration.
The new group represents a broad coalition of organizations, some pushing for prison reform within the walls, and others who want the walls torn down, she said.
"We contend that our current system largely violates the human rights of prisoners," Becnel said.
"We don't want unjust sentences, children tried as adults, 'three strikes,' life without parole or the death penalty," she said.
Now there is another school of thought on incarceration that was best summed up in a stand-up routine by the late Richard Pryor.
The comedian spent six weeks on location at Arizona State Penitentiary while making the 1980 film "Stir Crazy" and described getting to know some of the inmates.
"I talked to 'em and - thank God we got penitentiaries," Pryor quipped.
I'm with Richard on this one.
Now I know it's all the rage among the radical chic to turn the plight of a Death Row inmate into a popular cause, especially if he's written a children's book. Writing a children's book apparently transforms convicted killers into misunderstood, mistreated souls who've found redemption waiting for their sentence to be carried out. Mumia Abu Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer, and Williams are among the most well-known converts.
Becnel, it should be noted, said she does not support abolishing the entire prison system.
"There's no argument being made here that everybody should walk free without support, without some form of needed treatment or without a re-entry plan," she said.
What Occupy 4 Prisoners fails to acknowledge is that incarceration - whether it's the incarceration of those determined criminally insane by the courts or others who've repeatedly committed violent acts against others - is a valid form of punishment in any society. There are some inmates who by dint of their actions have forfeited their freedom, and they should never be allowed to walk free among law-abiding citizens.
There is no acceptable re-entry plan for a serial murderer or rapist, for men such as Charles Ng, who raped, tortured and killed up to 25 people. There isn't a community in this state that would welcome Richard Ramirez, Scott Peterson or Cary Stayner with anything but vitriol.
And if you thought finding new communities where convicted child molesters or fallen Catholic priests could live was tough, wait till you try selling this idea.
"Occupy for Prisoners" archive -
2012-01-06 "Occupy Death Row"
by Kevin Cooper [http://occupy4prisoners.org/2012/01/06/occupy-death-row-by-kevin-cooper/]
It seems that many people are glad, and in some cases downright happy, that the Occupy movements have taken place across this country. Many people around the world are asking, “What took so long?” All of them want it to grow, and to include all of the people who are being affected by the one percent and their policies.
One cannot live on this planet and not know the bed capitalism lays here within this country. The roots from the tree of greed have spread to damn near every part of this world. They have had an impact, directly or indirectly, on every person in this world, to one degree or another.
Capitalism, and the capitalists who run and control it, need very important ingredients to make it work. They need “The Haves” and “The Have Nots!”
These days, as it once was when this country was first formed, it is very easy to tell the difference between the two. Some of the people, who for most of their lives considered themselves the “Haves,” are finding out that they were living a lie. That now, they are part of the “Have Nots.” This reality is causing them, or at least some of them, to become part of this Occupy movement, and understandably so.
I have never considered myself to be a “Have”, nor has this country ever treated me as a “Have!” No man or woman on death row in this state, or any other state, is a “Have.” We are also the “Have Nots.” We are the bottom one percent, who damn near everyone shits on. We are scapegoated, ignored, humiliated, disowned, and ritually tortured and murdered by, and at the hands of, the top one percent, and some of the 99 percent as well!
Those people who are truly the “Haves” within this country have not made it to any death row. For the most part, they never have and they never will. America has a deep seeded philosophy in which it only allows for the execution of its poorest people. These seeds have taken root and have grown in such a way that no person who this system sees as a “Have Not” is safe from its death machine. Whether they are within this building, or on a BART platform.
It seems that the one percent are immune from the sentence of death, even when their policies in war, or peace, have killed untold numbers of people around the world. The bottom one percent is not immune, and seems to be used as part of entertainment, from the media to the politicians.
While these truths must be known to the 99 percent who are now saying that they are the “Have Nots,” these truths are not acknowledged by the majority of them. We who are the bottom one percent, the historical “Have Nots,” the ones who are paraded before the public and humiliated, strapped to a gurney, tortured and murdered by the powers that be; we ask, “Why aren’t we included in this Occupy movement?”
While people are, and should be, occupying Wall Street and every other money street in the country, as well as occupying every city that they can, I ain’t hearing no one say, “Occupy death row!”
Nonetheless, I have been doing so since 1985. And death row itself has been occupying this country since even before this land became a country. Executions, and the various ways that poor people, have been executed throughout the years proves that executions are part of this country’s DNA.
So, I now respectfully ask this to those of you who are part of this occupy movement: Will you please not make the same mistake that was made by previous movements seeking civil, or any other type of rights? That mistake was not to include the ending of capital punishment as part of the demands.
Our fight, and our plight from here on death row is just as important to us, as your fight and your plight is to you! We understand this and respect this. All we ask, and all we have the right to ask, is that you not leave us behind, and/or out of the conversation. Any house, even a house full of “Have Nots,” divided upon itself cannot, and will not stand. We must unite!
In Struggle and Solidarity
From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,
[signed] Kevin Cooper
for more information about Kevin Cooper: [www.freekevincooper.org]
for more information about the plans for the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners,
2012-01-09 "Proposal to Occupy Oakland General Assembly"
This proposal that was passed at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly, on Monday, January 9th
We are calling for February 20th, 2012 to be a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.”
In the Bay Area we will “Occupy San Quentin,” to stand in solidarity with the people confined within its walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.
Prisons have become a central institution in American society, integral to our politics, economy and our culture.
Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.
Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people—who are disproportionately people of color—currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.
Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.
Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2/3 of all prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. While the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free.
In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.
We call on Occupies across the country to support:
1. Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.
2. Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.
3. Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.
4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.
5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.
6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care and other human services which contribute to the public good.
Bay Area -
On February 20th, 2012 we will organize in front of San Quentin, where male death-row prisoners are housed, where Stanley Tookie Williams was immorally executed by the State of California in 2005, and where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned.
At this demonstration, through prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We will contact social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.
National and International Outreach -
We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate. We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.
We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012 at San Quentin, because it is a non-weekend day. Presidents’ Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners’ visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.
2012-02-16 "A statement from Formerly-Incarcerated People (members of All of Us or None and Occupy for Prisoners)"
To the Occupy Oakland family, all supporters of Occupy Oakland, and the larger Occupy Wall Street movement:
We are writing to appreciate everyone who has ever supported PEOPLE inside jails, prisons, and detention facilities throughout the country. We are also writing to ask for support from everyone planning to participate in February 20th National Day of Occupy in Support of Prisoners. PEOPLE in prisons – a nice name for cages – as well as formerly imprisoned PEOPLE, are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in our society. We have been labeled as “offenders”, “criminals”, “convicts”, “ex-offenders”, “ex-cons”, and many other dehumanizing terms, and are scapegoated for causing society’s fundamental problems. We are PEOPLE, and not the labels they use. The real “criminals” are those who run Wall Street, who are responsible for genocide, racism, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimination. They lead the attacks against communities throughout America.
Feb 20th is a National Day to support PEOPLE inside cages who express their solidarity with the 99% and to support PEOPLE seeking social, economic, and other forms of justice. With the help of our supporters, allies, and larger communities, we aim to create a safe space to allow the voices of PEOPLE in captivity to be heard.
Many of us inside as well as out in the “free” world live by a code of conduct and support self-determination. We strive to build and follow leadership in our collective and public actions. We do not advance individual agendas over our collective needs. We further pledge to treat each other with respect and not allow differences to divide us, to accept responsibility for any acts that may have caused harm to our families, our communities or ourselves, and to play an active role in making our communities safe for everyone.
Seldom if ever, are people inside asked or given a safe space to tell their stories. The broader Occupy Oakland and general public need to know what is going on inside these cages, how the bottom of the 99% are treated by the 1%, and the need to meaningfully include people inside as we build our collective efforts.
We ask everyone reading these words to support our efforts to create a safe, secure and genuinely inclusive space for people inside, and to build a genuine role for their voices in the February 20th National Day of Occupy in Support of Prisoners. We do not want to create or exacerbate conditions that endanger anyone’s freedom. We know police have attacked our sisters and brothers at Occupy encampments all over the country. We ask everyone participating to remember that for many of us even a mass arrest could escalate to a parole violation and a return to prison. We also want to guarantee the safety of family members with loved ones inside because they are the lifeline for PEOPLE in cages.
We ask you to be our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers!
Formerly-Incarcerated People from All of Us or None and Occupy for Prisoners
2012-02-23 "OSP Prisoners Declare Victory After Three Day Hunger Strike"
Contact: Ben Turk
On Wednesday evening, twenty-five prisoners at Ohio’s super-max prison ate their first meal since Sunday night. The hunger strike was inspired by the Occupy4Prisoners National Day of Action called by Occupy Oakland. According to Siddique Abdullah Hasan, one of the hunger strikers, they initially intended a one day fast as a “symbolic gesture, a way of locking arms with the people on the outside.”
By Monday evening, the prisoners had decided to issue demands and continue refusing food. Their demands included specific changes in the conditions of their confinement at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) as well as calls for broader reforms. They resumed eating after Warden David Bobby agreed to grant a number of their demands including:
1. Reversing the recent decision to reduce outdoor recreation time for prisoners to a schedule alternating between 3 and 4 hours per week
2. Improving enrichment programming, including new movies and religious movies for the prison television station.
3. Bringing the head dietitian from Central Office in Columbus to review OSP food policies and hear prisoner complaints about inedible and scorched food.
4. A number of specific instances of price-gouging, skimping and lack of variety in the commissary.
Hasan said “Warden Bobby has been a man of his word in the past, so we don’t anticipate the kind of situation going on in California” referring to slow response to negotiations during last years large prisoner hunger strikes in California.
The prisoners consider their hunger strike a victory because they won these specific demands and also because they helped raise awareness of state and even nation-wide issues regarding the artificial economy of state pay and commissary prices.
Prisoners from across the institution participated in the hunger strike, including Siddique Abdullah Hasan a Muslim Imam who has been on death row fighting what he says is a wrongful conviction following the 1993 Lucasville Uprising. More information about the Lucasville Uprising is available on a new website Hasan and other prisoners helped create at LucasvilleAmnesty.org
2013-03-04 "Report on March 1st Benefit"
by Organizer Rachel Victoria [http://occupy4prisoners.org/2012/03/04/report-on-march-1st-benefit/]:
What a night! A benefit fundraiser for Occupy4Prisoners brought in a crowd of between 300-350 people. In addition to the screening of newly released documentary, Broken On All Sides, the program consisted of music, an introduction by the Truth Mob, and a line up of eloquent speakers, including Barbara Becnel, Elaine Brown, and Angela Davis. Statements from incarcerated individuals, giving voice to those behind walls, included a call-in from from Kevin Cooper from San Quentin’s death row. it was an amazingly successful night that exceeded our expectations, and left me breathless with hope and amazement.
Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Allen Michaan. His longstanding generosity and support of the movement is legendary. He made this event possible.
A huge thank you to everyone who attended last night’s event and/or supported it in any way. Special thanks to Crystal and Barbara for their efforts to help create the program, and to Denise for bringing the Message Wall and organizing the Truth Mob. And thanks to each of the musicians, speakers, readers, assistants, and other individuals who contributed to the program, publicity, and/or logistics.
For those who could not be there, the program portion of the event is available on ustream at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20818490
The film itself was a serous eye opener about the Prison Industrial Complex, and it got rave reviews. Here’s one, posted on twitter, by OakFoSho:
What an EPIC documentary. Tears in my eyes. Everyone see “Broken on all Sides.” Wow. #Occupy4Prisoners #OO #OWS
One of the highlights of the evening was an stunning vocal performance by Elaine Brown after the screening. Tributes to the Jackson brothers, one each to George and Jonathan, were moving and powerful.
Elaine ended the program with “We Shall Overcome.”
The glow of this night will will linger for some time. I had previewed the film twice before on a small screen. But seeing it in a theater with over 300 clapping, cheering activists was a completely different experience! Scenes such as an Occupy Philadelphia march with a speaker calling ”We Need a Movement! “ or “Let us believe that if Harriet Tubman could organize slaves without an ipad, email, cell phones… that surely we can organize people across the United States of America now!” were moments not to be forgotten.
We do have a Movement, and we are organizing. That is clear.
Truly blessed and honored to do this, in solidarity with each of you.
2012-03-06 "Thank You" from Kevin Cooper
(This is the message that Kevin Cooper prepared for the March 1st benefit for Occupy4Prisoners)
This is Kevin Cooper, and I’m calling you to say something to each and everyone of you who is fighting for our collective human rights.
Especially to those of you who on February 20th came to this modern day plantation called San Quentin prison to show your support for, and solidarity with people like me.
That something I want to say is “Thank You”!
What you have shown, and continue to show is the truth, there is no power greater than the power of the people!
The late Malcolm X once stated that “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression!”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Peace to you, and thank you again.
In Struggle & Solidarity,
From Death Row at San Quentin Plantation,
I’m Kevin Cooper
"Occupy the Justice Department – April 24th"
“On April 24, 2012, Mumia’s 58th birthday, we will gather at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, DC. A large-scale, vibrant and colorful rally will amplify our formal request that Eric Holder immediately meet with a delegation to discuss police corruption and civil rights violations in Mumia’s case and in the cases of hundreds of other defendants in Philadelphia. Some demonstrators will engage in acts of civil disobedience to draw greater attention to these injustices.”
Occupy4Prisoners endorses this action, and will be planning a solidarity action in the Bay Area – will update this site with more information soon.
“As one of the organizers of National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners and Occupy San Quentin, we are very excited to support Occupy the Justice Department and will send people from California to attend. We encourage all who know about this important effort to be there on April 24, 2012, to stand side-by-side with Occupiers and others who are no longer willing to accept injustice that we, the citizens of this country, suffer through the loss of family members and communities left decimated by policies of mass incarceration.”
Founder of Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network
OCCUPY THE INJUSTICE DEPARTMENT
TUESDAY, APRIL 24TH – OAKLAND
End Mass Incarceration! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and ALL political prisoners!
4PM – Rally and Truth Mob at Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway
5PM – March to Federal Building, then to:
6PM – Putting the Injustice System on Trial at 19th and Telegraph. Charges include: Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder, Inhumane Treatment of People in Prison, and more.
This action is in solidarity with the Occupy the Justice Department protest happening in Washington DC on April 24th, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday. Occupy4Prisoners joins the growing list of endorsers.
DC Action website: www.occupythejusticedepartment.com
O4P: www.occupy4prisoners.org /email@example.com
Tuesday, April 24th – Occupy the Justice Department – Oakland – Rally, March and the INJustice System on Trial
OCCUPY4PRISONERS PRESENTS -
In Solidarity with the Occupy the Justice Department protest in Washington, DC
End Mass Incarceration! Tuesday, APRIL 24th
4PM – RALLY at 14th and Broadway, Oakland -
Occupy4Prisoners and supporters will rally at Oscar Grant Plaza, where awareness and understanding regarding the brutality and corruption within the United States INjustice system will begin to rise up. We will be doing educational outreach about the prison system with music, speakers, a “Truth Mob” and amplifying the voices of people inside of prisons.
5PM – MARCH to Federal Building and Obama Headquarters -
We will take to the streets to march as an expression of our solidarity with the 2.5 million people incarcerated in the country. The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country, with 743 people in prison per 100,000 of national population. Occupy4Prisoners brings to the attention of the greater Occupy Movement how we cannot forget the bottom 1% of the 99% in our greater struggle for justice and equality.
The march will continue past the Federal Building (13th and Clay) where representatives from the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia and the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal will speak. Folks from the Bradley Manning Support Network will share information about Bradley’s plight when we reach the Obama Headquarters (17th and Telegraph.) Then we will march to…
6PM – THE INJUSTICE SYSTEM ON TRIAL – 19th and Telegraph -
Once we arrive at the 19th and Telegraph Plaza, we will be putting the Injustice System on trial. Powerful local activists will preside over a trial that is actually about the truth.
The prosecutor will be Anita Wills, (Oscar Grant Committee and Occupy4Prisoners), the defense attorney will be Deborah Small, (Break the Chains), and the judge will be Jerry Elster (All of Us or None). The system will be played by Dan Siegel (National Lawyers Guild).
The jury will be YOU!
These witnesses will be bringing evidence against the system regarding the following charges:
1. Targeting youth of color
* Chris M, Occupy Oakland
* Sagnicthe Salazar, Youth Together and Xicana Moratorium Coalition
2. Allowing murder and assault by police to go unpunished
* Denika Chatman, Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation
* Carey Downs & Dionne Smith Downs, A Mother’s Cry for Justice
3. Enforcing racism at every level
* Jabari Shaw, Rapper, Laney College Black Student Union
* Manuel La Fontaine, All of Us or None and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
4. Holding political prisoners hostage
* Kiilu Nyasha, Independent journalist and former Black Panther
* Aaron Mirmalek, Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee Oakland
5. Torturing people inside the prisons
* Sharena Curley, Oscar Grant Committee
* Luis “Bato” Talamantez, California Prison Focus and one of the San Quentin Six
6. Conspiring to commit mass incarceration
* Linda Evans, All of Us or None and former political prisoner
* Ghetto Prophet, Onyx Organizing Committee and spoken word artist