Posts tagged The South

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.

Disobey

Here's a black and white  photo of a group of black youths, standing in a park with their arms outstretched, facing the blast of a water cannon from the right.
Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Ala.
3 May 1963

Fifty-three years ago today, — one day after the start of the Children’s Crusade marches, — black youth were in the streets in Birmingham to march on City Hall and protest Jim Crow in one of the best-known protest marches in American history. They stood up against Mayor Art Haynes and Public Safety Commissioner Eugene Connor and his police and his fire department and the whole violent system of Jim Crow. They filled the jails and they kept marching. Desperate, Bull Connor ordered police and firemen to turn police dogs and water cannons on the kids in the street.

In the end, the kids in the street won, and the white power establishment, the segregationist politicians and the Public Safety Commissioners and the police lost.

This photograph is from Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama, May 3, 1963. It was taken by Bob Adelman.

“Are Mose and Minerva Less Distinctive than Lakisha and Jamal?” Mississippi State SHUR presentation

So over the past two semesters, I’ve been working on a long-term research project on black naming practices in the Alabama Black Belt during the period of slavery. As it turns out, I’ll be presenting some preliminary findings from my research later this month at the Mississippi State University Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR), April 29-30. I’ll be presenting Saturday morning, April 30, on a panel running from 8:30-9:50. Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

“Are Mose and Minerva Less Distinctive than Lakisha and Jamal? The Use and Abuse of Distinctively Black Names in Slavery and in Freedom”

Charles W. Johnson
Auburn University

Abstract:

Black and white Americans have different names. Names like “Keisha” or “Darnell” are widely and instantly perceived as ‘black,’ and names like “Brad,” “Meredith” and “Todd” as ‘white.’ The perception reflects a statistical reality: white and black Americans’ naming choices do systematically differ. Racialized naming differences can carry social and economic baggage for people with names that are perceived as distinctively black, including discrimination in education and during job searches. Economists such as Fryer and Levitt (2004) or Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) devote several recent studies to possible causes and consequences of distinctively black naming patterns in the post-Civil Rights era. Yet distinctively black names, and social stigma against them, are not recent developments. In 1870 there were eight men named “Pompey,” or “Pomp” for short, living in Macon County, Alabama. All were black farm-hands, born under the Black Belt’s system of plantation slavery. Local whites included “Leonidas” and “Alexander,” but none were named after Caesar’s rival. “Pompey” was no outlier: in 1870 the Pompeys of Macon County lived alongside Livy Pinckard, Cato Brown, Romulus Dowdell and Remus Rainey – all exclusively black names, never seen among Macon County whites. Generally, the particular names marked as black or white have changed throughout American history, as the period of slavery receded and names like Mose or Minerva were replaced by Lakisha and Jamal. But divergent black and white naming systems are a long-standing, continuous phenomenon of America’s biracial culture, with their earliest roots in conflicts and negotiations between white slaveholders and black slaves over control of naming under slavery.

In this paper I offer a new analysis of quantitative data on naming patterns, based on the 1870 Census for Alabama Black Belt counties. Previous studies of slave naming practices have focused either on single plantations or on distinctive regions such as the South Carolina coast or Caribbean, with comparatively little attention to the Black Belt. Analysis of the Alabama data, using techniques from recent studies on contemporary naming practices, reveals distinctively black naming patterns in the Black Belt and a large pool of distinctively or uniquely African-American names dating back to the period of slavery. Contrary to Herbert Gutman’s suggestion that lexically distinctive black names (e.g. from classical or traditional African sources) were rare or marginal by the late antebellum period, I find that the data from the Black Belt counties demonstrate the persistence of significant, ongoing distinctively or uniquely black naming pools throughout the last decades of slavery and the first decade of emancipation.

Black Belt naming practices reveal elements both of planters’ impositions and slaves’ adaptation and resistance. Moreover, discrimination today against distinctively black names parallel the repetitive rhetorical use and abuse of ‘black’ names in antebellum writing as tropes standing for derisive or stereotyped images of blackness; but their use by freed black Alabamians also reveal the powerful personal and cultural meanings that they conveyed. Distinctively black names under slavery are like scars: visible signs of deep wounds, but also of the body’s effort to adapt and to heal.

Alabama Corrections

Shared Article from The Intercept

Alabama's Solution to Prison Riots: Build More Prisons

Alabama hopes to solve its prison crisis by building new prisons. Critics warn that more riots are likely.

theintercept.com


In addition to its lawsuit, the SPLC issued a damning report exposing widespread neglect and denial of medical care. In particular, the SPLC found that to cut costs inmates were regularly denied medical treatment, which in several cases resulted in death. The report described requests for medical help that were ignored, derided, or met with beatings or segregation. It found that inmates were unwillingly or unknowingly signed up for “do not resuscitate” orders, that poor diabetes care led to frequent amputations, and contagious diseases like hepatitis C spread untreated. The SPLC also found that surgeries were denied for sometimes as long as a decade, broken bones were often ignored for weeks, and prisoners suffering from burns and strokes were at times denied care for days.

The inmate interviewed by The Intercept said that in one instance, a fellow prisoner repeatedly tried to gain admission to the infirmary but was turned away. When he finally saw a doctor, he was diagnosed with cancer, had five tumors removed, and died weeks later. “I felt like they killed him,” the inmate said. “We really have no value.”

. . .

Glasgow and others in close contact with prisoners told The Intercept that more protests across Alabama prisons are imminent, and they listed a long catalogue of abuses compounding prisoners’ anger over their living conditions, including rat infestations, inedible food they dubbed “road kill,” and guards forcing inmates to fight each other in laundry rooms while betting on the outcome.

“When we look at how our prisons run, it’s really not a criminal justice system. It’s a criminal enterprise. A legal, criminal, enterprise,” the Holman inmate said. “If you make a felon out of a man, you take away his rights as a human being.”

. . .

Alabama’s new prison plan, if enacted, will add approximately 3,000 beds to the system, reducing overcrowding to 125 percent. In order to pay for it, the state will authorize an $800 million bond, which will be serviced by up to $50 million a year redirected from what the state already spends to maintain its decrepit prisons. “We were already solving this problem long before this took place,” Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, said in a press conference following the riots. He called the proposal “transformational thinking.”

Prisoner advocates were less impressed. “That would just move the problem,” said Watson. “In Alabama, we have a history: If we build them, then we overfill them.” Morrison, of EJI, said the state consulted several experts about its prison problems, and none had recommended building new prisons as a solution. “A multi-year prison construction does not address the immediate crisis they have,” she said.

Prisoners and their advocates say the only way to make incarceration humane — and legal — is to drastically cut the population of prisons, not build new prisons.

–Alice Speri, Alabama’s Solution to Prison Riots: Build More Prisons
The Intercept, 8 April 2016.

First annual New Orleans Anarchist Bookfair, October 19-20, 2013

Poster by Jolly Armada and Erin Wilson.

I was happy to see this in my mailbox this morning. From the New Orleans bookfair collective (emphasis added):

Comrades,

We are writing to let you know that the First Annual New Orleans Anarchist Book Fair will take place on October 19-20, 2013. We are now accepting vendor applications for tabling. Please visit our website for more information on the book fair in general and registration in particular.

We are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Solidarity,

The New Orleans Anarchist Book Fair Organizing Committee

N.O.A.B.
1631 Elysian Fields #282
New Orleans, LA 70117
http://www.nolaanarchistbookfair.org/

From the website:

We’d like to invite you to an exciting experiment in books, tables and Gulf Coast Anarchism, The First Annual New Orleans Anarchist Book Fair! Our collective has been hard at work securing a wonderful list of tablers and events for our book-based autonomist free-for-all on October 19th and 2013, 2013. The Book Fair will take place at the cavernous Zeitgeist Multi-disciplenary Arts Center and include events, shows and readings all around the city. For more information feel free to browse around the site or contact us directly. We are also helping to coordinate rideshares and housing for those coming into the city from out of town.

— About New Orleans Anarchist Bookfair

Their Facebook page is at facebook.com/NewOrleansAnarchistBookfair. Their website is at nolaanarchistbookfair.org. Mark your calendars! A.L.L. Distro just sent in an application for a table; more on this, hopefully, soon.