Posts filed under Smash the State

Holman Prison Strike and Shutdown

Here is a note that I received through the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee about the prisoners’ strike at Holman Prison in Alabama, as well as (probably) a number of other prisons in the Southeast and across the U.S. For some context on the ongoing struggle over prison conditions and prison labor in Holman, see also GT 2016-04-10: Alabama Corrections and GT 2016-03-13: Prisoner Uprising in the Slaughterhouse. Anyway, here’s a reprint of the press release I received via e-mail from the IWOC yesterday evening at 10:36PM:

PRESS RELEASE Monday Sept 12th, 2016

Contact: Azzurra Crispino Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) Media Co-Chair
512-300-5559, iwoc@riseup.net

Prisoner Strikes and Supporter Protests Sweep the Nation

ATMORE, AL – Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the September 9th nation-wide prisoner work stoppage and protest. Mothers and Families, the outside support organization for the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) rallied with drums and noisemakers outside of Holman Prison while workers kicked off their strike inside. “Officers are performing all tasks” a prisoner texted outside supporters indicating the prisoner work stoppage was successful.

Although the full extent of facilities participating in the strike will not be known for another two weeks, we have received early reports of work stoppage and resistance from Holmes, Gulf and Mayo units in FL, Fluvanna prison in Troy VA, and unnamed units in North Carolina and South Carolina. Central California Women’s Facility, Oregon State Penitentiary and St Cloud Correctional Facility in Minnesota were on lockdown in response to organizing on Friday. Hundreds of prisoners started fires, attacked surveillance cameras and damaged the facilities at Kinross Correctional in Northern Michigan and Holmes Correctional in Florida. No one was seriously injured and prisoners are refusing to work.

There are confirmed hunger strikes underway in Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Guantanamo Bay. At Merced County Jail in Central California family of inmates have reported that the hunger strikers were threatened with shotguns and dogs. In Ohio there are at least two prisons, Lucasville and Ohio State Penitentiary, where prisoners went on hunger strike beginning September 9th. Prisoners at both Ohio prisons have reported being threatened with being stripped of their contact visits in retaliation for going on strike. We stand in solidarity with prominent US Army whistle blower Chelsea Manning, who initiated a hunger strike on September 9th to protest lack of adequate medical care for trans prisoners.

In Greece and across the US, protests occurred outside of jail, prison and immigrant detention centers. Three large banners were held up facing the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville Ohio, the site of a massive and deadly prisoner uprising in 1993. The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons rallied outside Buckeye State Prison in Arizona, one of many prisons where pollution and contaminated water harm prisoners.

US Embassy protests occurred in England, Australia, Sweden and Germany. From Oregon to Florida and in between, companies profiting off prison were targeted by outside protesters, including Bank of America, McDonalds, Aramark, AT&T and Starbucks. In Lansing Michigan protesters blocked a downtown intersection for hours with a large UHaul truck. In New York City and Durham North Carolina they blocked freeways. In Portland OR protesters disrupted an AT&T and McDonalds, both corporations which use prison labor, as well as held a noise demonstration outside a local jail, then they shut down traffic. There were arrests in: Oakland, CA; Milwaukee Wisconsin; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. Most were quickly released, but at least three protesters in GA are facing multiple felonies.

Additional Information

Up-to-date list of institutions striking and solidarity actions here: https://itsgoingdown.org/prisonstrike-resistance-to-slavery-across-the-world/

Organizations Endorsing the Strike here: https://supportprisonerresistance.noblogs.org/endorsements/

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Prisoners, formerly incarcerated workers, family members, and local activists are available for interviews with local and national media.

See also.

On. Every. Corner.

Anarchy is and always has been literally taco trucks on every corner.

This past weekend at FEE, me.[1]

Shared Article from fee.org

Why Are There Not Taco Trucks on Every Corner? | Foundation for …

What people do not know is how hard government has worked for years to prevent this from happening. The War on Street Food been going on for more than…

Charles Johnson @ fee.org


When Marco Gutierrez, a founder and spokesman for the little-known and sparsely populated advocacy group “Latinos for Trump” recently tried to warn America of the grave dangers of open borders and free migration with the image of “taco trucks on every corner,” most viewers, Latino and Anglo alike, seem to have experienced a vision of a possible new utopia. The tag immediately trended on Twitter, not in panic but in near-universal celebration of the possibility.

What people do not know is how hard government has worked for years to prevent this from happening. The War on Street Food been going on for more than 100 years….

— Why Are There Not Taco Trucks on Every Corner?

See also.

  1. [1]Thanks to Jeffrey Tucker for prodding me to write this up, based on stitching together a news hook with bit of my previous writing on immigration, racial panics, and Anglo government’s perennial, ludicrous war on Mexican-American street food vendors.

Reclamatio Plebis

Campaign to reclaim plebes as a term of praise rather than an insult.

Of course people use plebe as an insult because our entire perspective on the ancient world is deeply deformed to favor the worldview of the ruling class and its pretensions to aristocracy, and hence we assume without much question the contempt that they constantly expressed for plebeians, and most of all for those plebeians who were self-conscious of their lower-class position and made it a basis for solidarity and disruptive action in the politics of the City.

But then, the fact is that like most “aristocracies,” the Patrician Order was little more than a worthless, parasitic, petulant band of thugs, extracting wealth from the rest of the population and from the imperial periphery. They looked down on the plebeians because plebeians worked for a living instead of beating a living out of slaves and endlessly crowing about the inviolable sacred honor of their system of military-extractive complex oligarchy and ludicrously rigged “elections.”[1]

Patricians were pretty awful. Plebeians did what they could to get along with this regime, but when it got too bad, they had a habit of declaring a general strike, lighting off into the hills and saying “Oh yeah? Well, we’ll make our own Rome, with blackjack, and hookers,” and waiting until the patricians got sick enough of carrying their own hods that they begged the plebes to come back. That’s pretty rad.

Shared Article from en.wikipedia.org

Secessio plebis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org


Disdain for patricians. To hell with those dudes. Up the plebes.

  1. [1]You could say, “Oh, the patrician order was morally very bad, but at least with their wealth they had culture, and refinement.” But this is actually an anachronistic view. If you look at the elite culture of the late Republic and the Empire, that had plenty of culture and learning in the midst of appalling cruelty, political sadism and moral callousness. But the ruling elite of the late Republic and the Empire were not mainly patricians; the political power (and most of the actual members) of the patrician order had mostly been wiped out in the last century of civil war. Cicero was a plebeian, Virgil was a plebeian, Ovid was a plebeian. If we go back to the older Republican Rome where the patrician order was a functioning political aristocracy, the great cultural achievements of Patrician Rome, as far as we know of them, basically consist of animal sacrifice, liturgical dance, usually involving some weird blood-play or little bundles of grain, the introduction of gladiatorial combat (around the time of the Punic Wars) and public killing of animals for entertainment, and a theater apparently consisting of a bunch of bad slapstick comedies translated or adapted or ripped off of Greek New Comedy plays. (Here, let me summarize 90% of Plautus for you: “Ha ha, look, there’s a slave, let’s beat him! Ha ha ha, that tricky slave, he dressed one character up so they’d look like another character, now everbody is confused!” This was **** comedy in the golden age of the Roman Republic.) Meanwhile elite figures like Cato the Censor spent their time denouncing modern conveniences, beating slaves, and actively trying to combat the spread of Greek learning and culture.

Sprawl as Social Engineering

Shared Article from Forbes

America's Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation

Why concentrate all the fast food chains?

forbes.com


America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation

Scott Beyer, Forbes

There is a common architectural language that I’ve found while traveling America. . . . Major roadways turn into strip malls fronted with parking lots and endless stretches of chain retail. These strip-mall arterials exist nationwide . . . . The common wisdom is that they result from “the market,” as monuments to American capitalism and consumerism. But that is a big fat myth—they have been forced into existence by government regulations.

Indeed, many of the regulations that prevent livelier downtown areas also harm the potential of low-density, outlying, suburban ones, by mandating that retail stay confined into this strip mall model. Below is a list of these regulations, which are enforced to various degrees across America, explaining the uniform look of our municipalities from coast to coast.

  • Single Use Zoning . . .
  • Minimum Parking Requirements . . .
  • Setback Requirements . . .
  • Density Limits . . .

Read more at Forbes

–Scott Beyer, America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation
Forbes (August 26, 2016)

See also

Now Available: full text of “Slavery in Auburn, Alabama” (1907)

Shared Article from Fair Use Blog

Now available: full text of “Slavery in Auburn, Alabama” (19…

Now available on the Fair Use Repository website: I have just made available the full, transcribed text of Slavery in Auburn, Alabama, a small 18pp bo…

Charles Johnson @ blog.fair-use.org


From the Fair Use Repository blog:

Now available on the Fair Use Repository website: I have just made available the full, transcribed text of Slavery in Auburn, Alabama, a small 18pp booklet from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute Historical Studies (published by Auburn University, then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute) written by Meriwether Harvey.

I found the booklet on the shelves at the Auburn University RBD Library, an aging, decaying reprint booklet carefully tucked into a protective grey cover, and decided that this document of local history deserved preserving. So I have spent the past couple days reading and transcribing the text into digital form.

The booklet was written in 1907, and its viewpoint very emphatically reflects the views common among wealthy white families and former slaveholders (like the Harveys) in and around Auburn, Alabama, a small college town in what was then rural East Alabama. It is romanticized, although concerned enough with points of detail and description that that only causes a problem in some parts of the booklet. At times, the text is oblivious, or frankly racist. It makes some blanket claims about the local slave trade that are almost certainly self-serving lies told by the author’s sources. However, the booklet seems to have been based primarily on first-hand interviews with slaveholding white families and a few interviews with African-American residents who had been born under slavery, and whether intentionally or unintentionally provides fascinating points of detail, and anecdotes reflecting the reminiscences, the self-justifying fantasies, and also the anxieties of white slaveholders in East Alabama, as well as some of the range of experiences of slavery in east Alabama, and the operation of the slaves’ economy, despite its frustrating limitations.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about over at the Fair Use Blog. The first several pages of the booklet are concerned with fairly minute descriptions of typical slave quarters on a large plantation in the Auburn area — based, apparently, on the recollection of local planters — and the schedule of the customary workday, as well as some scattered observations on different planters’ different practices about garden patches, hiring out, self-hiring, and the economy of slaves’ own market activities. Then, toward the end, we get some observations on religion and literacy and some fascinating, sometimes eerie glimpses of plantation life:

Corn shucking was another great occasion in the negro’s life. The owner would have all his corn hauled up and thrown on the ground at the crib door in a big pile; then he would invite his neighbors’ negroes to come to his house on a certain night to a corn shucking. Only the men were invited; as they came they could be heard in the distance singing corn songs. I have tried to record some of these songs, but I find they were a jargon; they had no real words, only a tune. Some disinterested man would lay a long pole in the middle of the pile; then two negro men would choose sides, as is done today in spelling matches, and the two sides would enter into a contest to see which could first finish their side of the pile. The leader, dressed in a stove pipe hat and feather, walked up and down on the pile and gave out the corn song. The whole crowd answered him in the chorus. As they shucked, they would throw the corn into the barn in front of them and the shucks behind. When they had finished about half of the pile, corn whiskey was passed; thus they worked till eleven o’clock, when [13] they had a big plain supper. After eating the put the shucks in pens made for the purpose. By twelve they had finished, and then the frolic began. They danced about the great bonfire that had been burning all the time behind them, so that they might have sufficient light to shuck the corn, the lights and shadows making a strange and ghostly scene. After the supper the owner of the plantation, the giver of the corn shucking, or sometimes the overseer, was seized and carried about on the shoulders of some of the negroes. The other negroes followed, all singing at the top of their voices. About two or three o’clock in the morning they all went home.

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)

And Harvey finishes up with a de rigeur white slaveholder-centric discussion of the treatment of local slaves and their apparent loyalty. Leading into the topic, we have the bland assertion of the good old Moonlight and Magnolias propaganda line:

The treatment of slaves was generally good because the negro was property and was cared for as such. I have interviewed only one man who ever saw a slave unmercifully beaten. . . .

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)

But then there’s the part where you say it, and then there’s the part where you take it back:

. . . A great many negroes would run away; some of them were chronic runaways, and were so seemingly without any cause whatever. A few of these chronic runaways were chained at night. Certain people all through the country kept fox hounds for tracking runaway negroes, who would go off into the swamps and woods. It was often impossible to catch them in any way except with dogs. They were seldom bitten by the dogs when over taken; they would climb a tree if one was near at hand, but if they were caught on the ground, the dogs were so trained that they circled around the negroes, without going close to them. Negroes always aided a runaway by slipping to him something to eat. Mr. H. never had a negro to lie out more than three days, and never offered more than ten dollars as a reward for his return. Mr. B., with the aid of another man, caught a negro who had been in the woods seven years. He advertised the negro, and in due time returned him to his master. . . .

. . . The overseers were men selected for their practical farming ability, and their business was to oversee the negroes and look after the farm and the planting. Sometimes an overseer was discharged, or brought to trial, when he mistreated a negro. One of Mr. W. H.’s overseers whipped two of his negroes, who hid in the swamp. Some of the other negroes came from the plantation to Auburn to tell their master. He decided the whipping unjust and paid the overseer up and let him go.

When an overseer was hired it was understood that he was to ride the country as a patrol; also the young white slave-owners of the neighborhood patrolled on certain nights. A negro was not allowed to leave his master’s plantation without a pass stating where he was going and when he was to return. This had to be signed, either by the overseer or the master. If the negro was caught away from home without a pass, he was whipped with a leather strap by these patrols. The usual punishment for being away from home without a pass was ten to twenty lashes, but in exceptional cases thirty-nine lashes might be given. These patrols went usually Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons and nights, but they also went out any night when they thought they might catch negroes roving about. They patrolled the roads, visited the plantations, and searched the cabins; if a negro was caught in a cabin away from home, he was taken off a good way from the negro quarters and whipped. Of course the whipping depended upon the offense, the mood of the patrol, and the negro whipped. Sometimes people who did not own negroes would catch a negro without a pass and beat him badly, but the regular patrol did not do this.

The negroes were punished as a rule, by whipping; the whip was a leather strap so that it would not cut the skin. The foreman was the boss and did the whipping, but the owner, or overseer, was there to witness it. On some plantations the overseer did the whipping, but the master was usually present. . . .

Slavery was not without its dark side. There were near Auburn several instances of cruel treatment to slaves. In one case they were not properly fed, in another, they were not sufficiently clothed. How far this was due to the lack of means of the masters is now hard to determine. In some cases they seem to have been overworked. In one or two they were treated roughly and punished severely. In one case a slave stabbed his master, but did not kill him. The slave was tried and hanged. Public opinion disapproved of cruelty on the part of masters. One man was indicted three times for ill treatment of his slaves, especially for failing to supply them with sufficient food and clothing. He was fined each time.

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)