• The Control Issue

    “Defiant, Disobedient, and Verbally Threatening”

    The Control Issue

    With a decade of organizing experience corresponding with and providing support for incarcerated folks, Neal Shirley gives us the scoop on struggles on both sides of the wall with Prisons are for Burning.

    Nealshirley web

    Neal Shirley has been involved in a range of (anti) prison related groups for about eight years. Most recently he’s been involved with a project that corresponds with prisoners and solicits and disseminates their news and analysis across North Carolina's prison system. He co-authored the book Dixie Be Damned: 300 Years of Insurrection in the American South. He makes a living doing food service work and teaching mixed martial arts to kids of all ages, and spends his free time fighting in cages and scheming new ways to deep-fry southern delicacies.


    Art by Jenny Marks

    Prisons are for Burning

    “Defiant, Disobedient, and Verbally Threatening”

    A national prison strike will begin on September 9, on the anniversary of the Attica uprising. Neal Shirley highlights some of the key anti-prison actions that have taken place in anticipation of the strike.

    A nationally coordinated prisoner worker strike on the 45th anniversary of Attica is less than a month away, and there’s barely enough time and space to digest all the news. Amidst the absurdity, inanity, and spectacle of the elections – by the way, can one of Trump’s “second amendment-types” just deal with both of these clowns so we don’t have to listen to their shit anymore? – is a serious uptick in organizing and tactical innovation against prisons and policing. Here is some of the relevant news on prison resistance from both sides of the wall.

    The badasses of Holman Correctional’s C-Block are at it – again. According to reports from prisoners, members of the prison’s CERT team entered the block to break up a fight, but were repelled by prisoners, who erected a barricade. The struggle over the dorm, which has been declared a “cop-free zone,” lasted six hours.

    In March of this year, the facility erupted in several rounds of riots and a stabbing of the warden, as inmates set fire to guard towers and took over dorm areas. The riots took place over several days and brought a spotlight to the horrible conditions in the facility. It also helped grow the radical movement of prisoners to organize against their conditions, which includes groups like the Free Alabama Movement. Some people are amazed that Alabama is leading the way with this shit, but other people already know what’s up.

    Unfortunately, part of the administration’s response to this most recent conflict was to send anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble, along with nine others, to segregation. A statement from Kimble on the conflict can be found here.

    Another vocal supporter of the September 9 national prison strike, Siddique Hasan of the Lucasville 5 and the Free Ohio Movement, is also facing repression. On August 2, Hasan was paid a visit by an Ohio State Highway Patrolman and asked questions about the upcoming prison strike and plans to “blow up buildings.” Roughly a week later, Hasan was thrown in the hole, presumably as retaliation for his activity and to isolate him from his supporters. He’s asked people to call the warden at 330-743-0700 and demand that Hasan be released from segregation and given back his property. He’s also asked for lots of mail to demonstrate support, and specifically extra envelopes with pre-printed postage.

    In response to new rules restricting the number of inmates allowed to eat in the cafeteria at any given time, prisoners at the Nebraska State Penitentiary have become “defiant, disobedient and verbally threatening, particularly during mealtimes,” according to staff. Prisoners broke the rules on August 2 and were only forced back to their cells when a CO fired a warning shot with live ammunition.

    Eric King is in the process of being transferred. In the meantime he released a sweet video message to his supporters and to other political prisoners Bill Dunne and Chelsea Manning. Eric turns 30 on August 20, so please write him a letter or send him a birthday card at:

    Eric King 27090045
    LITTLETON, CO 80123

    On the other side of the walls, things have definitely been picking up steam for September 9th. Just in the last week, ne’r-do-wells on the outside tagged walls with messages of strike solidarity in Philly, Denver, Oakland, and Bloomington, and
    support demos occurred in Atlanta, Durham, and Houston, with more planned in the next few days in Texas and Wisconsin. Anti-prison folks in the Midwest have organized a convergence in Columbus, OH, August 26-28 to scheme and dream.

    22 mothers, all of which have been held for between 270 and 365 days in detention together with their children between the ages two to 16 years old, have launched an indefinite hunger strike from inside Berks Family Residential Center. The hunger strikers released a statement saying: “If it is necessary to sacrifice our lives so that our children can have freedom: WE WILL DO IT!“

    Fight2Live (F2L) is an emerging support network for queer and trans people of color who are currently incarcerated or have pending legal charges in New York. F2L is currently fundraising for Edwin Faulkner and Cici aka Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera, both who are serving 25 years to life. Throw down some money if you can.

    ItsGoingDown.org also just released a handy-dandy list of things folks can do to support strike organizing in the upcoming weeks and beyond, and y’all should stay tuned to SupportPrisonerResistance.net for daily updates from both sides of the wall.

    It seems that, regardless of how many facilities engage in work stoppages or protests in September, the push for a national strike has invigorated prisoners’ own networks as well as coordination with the outside, and undoubtedly raised the bar for future actions. Keeping alive the relationships, publications, organizing bodies, and informal networks that come out of this activity will be crucial.

    On that note, check out the newest issue of Wildfire, a journal of anarchist prisoners’ writings and commentary. It’s fucking great.

    Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the #FreedomSquare occupation which will soon enter its fourth week in Chicago. Started by the #LetUsBreathe Collective, among other BLM and anti-policing groups and individuals, the occupation is taking place directly across the street from the Homan jail, a “blacksite” into which over 5,000, mostly Black Chicagoans have been disappeared incommunicado for months at a time. The occupation represents a clever synthesis of an Occupy-style encampment with the new wave of #BlackLivesMatter activity, drawing direct attention to a location the Prison State of Chicago has tried to keep hidden, all while serving as a lightning rod for anti-police sentiment in one of Chicago’s most oppressed neighborhoods. The organizers of a recent anti-cop block party in Carbondale, IL as well as those occupying #AbolitionSquare in NYC, seem to be on a similar tip, playing with a tactic of occupation and cop-free space-holding that offers new opportunities for social experimentation and political encounter.

    That’s all for now, y’all.

    Stay sharp, buck the system / Roll damn tide and burn the prisons

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