All over the world prisons are toxic environments causing social and ecological harm. Folks from the US have been organising resistance at the intersection of mass incarceration and the environment, successfully delaying the only current Federal prison construction for over 2 years!
Through grassroots organizing, advocacy and direct action they have been challenging the prison system which is putting prisoners at risk of dangerous environmental conditions, as well as impacting surrounding communities and ecosystems by their construction and operation. Learn about their strategy and tactics, as well as broader struggles of prison abolition, anti-racism, and environmental justice.
Information will then be shared about resistance to the six new mega-prisons in England and Wales, which themselves are proposed for toxic sites, including radiological contamination and asbestos pollution, as well as habitat destruction at every site. Learn how you can get involved!
We received word recently from a friend of Sean’s that Sean is currently on hunger strike and has been placed in a suicide cell.
Although details are still murky, we know that Sean has been without food since December 26th 2016. He was charged with extortion of a deputy warden and had begun a disciplinary process when he began his hunger strike and was placed in a suicide cell.
We know that the prison is recognizing his hunger strike and following the associated procedures, which include taking him to the medical unit every day and weighing him and taking his vital signs. It is unclear whether they are attempting to negotiate with him in any way.
Please take a moment to write a letter of encouragement to Sean:
Sean Swain #243-205
Warren CI, P.O. Box 120, 5787 State Route 63
Lebanon, Ohio 45036 [USA]
Below is a statement that longterm anarchist prisoner Sean Swain sent for the presentation by comrades from Bloomington ABC on November 23rd 2016 at Gini building of the Athens Polytechnic School in Exarchia, Athens. The comrade’s words were read out loud in English and Greek, and printouts of his text were shared during the discussion against prison society, organized by Themistokleous 58 Squat and Contra Info.
Greece and the Dignity of Rebellion
Before I give you the wrong impression that I’m placing undeserved blame on you, I think I should probably begin by revealing that I am a big fan of Greek anarchists. It seems like every single photographic image I see of rebels with bandanas covering their faces or donning black ski masks, every snapshot of police cars tipped onto their tops and blazing away, all come from Greece. In fact, I am such a fan that I consider it the biggest achievement of my life that I wrote a statement in support of Black December posted on 8 December last year, and 5 days later Greek rebels burned down a military building and quoted me. That is a benchmark in my life. I brag about it. I’m impossible to be around. I tell everyone who will listen to me that I wrote a statement and Greek anarchists quoted me after torching a military building.
It makes me want to write a thousand more statements in hopes that you will burn a thousand more buildings.
So, I say all that as context so what I say next won’t hurt your feelings…
Greece brought about swivilization. It all started in Greece. You Greeks refined this hierarchy program, developed democracy as its most appealing form, fashioned great works of art to decorate it—mostly depicting naked people, which really attracted the attention of the rest of the world—and you exported the program on great fleets of sailing vessels.
Fastforward, we now have a global slavery system where we all drag stones up the side of some rich asshole’s pyramid and the vast majority of us do not have the imagination to think that there could be anything better than democracy. We live in a world run by banksters and industrial sociopaths engaged in the mass destruction of everything living, including us.
So, it seems more than appropriate to me that, in the birthplace of swivilization, we now witness its assassination. In Greece, out of all the geographic spaces of the world, we now find the most determined, the most energized, the most radical resistance to swivilization, to this program that distorts and murders us in installments.
It started in Greece. It’s ending in Greece.
Please don’t think I say this in an effort to flatter you. I’m terrible at flattery. I’m great at talking myself into trouble. So, this isn’t flattery, but, I think, a fairly objective observation: The experiments in resistance that you have pushed forward, the strategies and tactics, the theories you have explored, all of this has become communal property for the rest of the world. Even now, as we just begin to find our own way, stumbling along, anarchists in the United States and other places in the world, divided as it is into artificial nation-states, we look to you. We see what you have done.
Not to make excuses for us in the United States, but part of our inaction, I think, is as a consequence of seeing what you have accomplished, how far you have pushed, and we think, whether correctly or otherwise, that such resistance isn’t possible here. We are paralyzed, I think, by a sense that we cannot do what you have done, that somehow the situation or the “conditions” in the United States are different, that the surveillance is too pervasive, the potential sanctions too overwhelming, the social climate too pacified. And so, we sit in front of our computers and log on to watch the footage of Greeks wild-eyed and screaming, chasing the bewildered pigs who run for their lives, the hierarch order trembling at the knees, and we dream.
You must be wondering, Where are the Americans?
We’re coming. I’m certain that we are.
Just this month, millions of Americans voted against the established order that has failed them for their lifetimes. By the millions, they cast ballots, ostensibly for the candidate who will “change” everything, who will “shake things up,” because that candidate seemed to be talking for them, expressing their frustrations.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt that most of them are stupid rather than evil, they unknowingly voted in the most virulent fascist sociopath since Hitler and Mussolini, a fascist of the highest order whose lip service to the forgotten majority will yield to policies of war-mongering and corporate give-aways and “austerity” for the people. Those voters will soon have “buyer’s remorse,” when the fascist in whom they pinned their hopes betrays them thoroughly.
And where will the Americans turn? Will they turn back to the corporate parties that they rejected by the tens of millions, the same parties with the same failed ideas? Will they find a new hero with promises of glory and greatness, speaking much like the hero who drove the knife into their back?
No. They will turn to the example set elsewhere, the example of rejecting the imposed order, the images and ideas exported not on fleets of sea vessels but transmitted electronically via satellite, demonstrating the true dignity of rebellion.
The Americans are coming.
In just a matter of months, this docile and pacified population will be transformed by rage and fury, and will find voice in flames and blood. They will follow into a battle against this common enemy, going where many of you have already gone, and you will see faces covered in bandanas, concealed under ski masks, and you will see the police cars turned and burning, maybe even see the pillars of smoke rising as you look to the western horizon.
The Americans are coming. And when we do, we will be walking in the footprints left by Greek rebels who went before us.
On that day, the day of victory over our common enemy, we will all be Greek.
And we will all be free.
This is Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain from Warren Correctional in Lebanon, Ohio, in the Fascist States of America. If you’re listening, you ARE the resistance.
Constantly inspired by Sean’s words and his stance against prisoncrats, constantly feeling the warmth of his rebellion, on November 21st 2016 we pasted posters in the neighborhood of Exarchia (downtown Athens) that read:
“And we attack, wherever we are, whatever our situation, until we get the world we deserve. We’re not going to vote them out or petition them out or protest them out or sue them out.”
Uncompromising complicity with indomitable anarchist Sean Swain, still held captive in Ohio prisons in the US
On 16th of October a banner was dropped on a house at Hermannplatz in Berlin: „Let us destroy the Prison System – inside or outside – until all are free!”1000 fliers were spread at Hermannplatz and the metro-entrances.
On the fliers was written:
The rebellious prisoners need our solidarity. In a call of US-prisoners we can read: „If we fight against the power, they will fight back and the only protection we have, is the solidarity from outside.”
Against the prison slavery! Solidarity with the resistance of the imprisoned in the USA and everywhere!
Freedom for the imprisoned people who where arrested, because of bank robberies in Aachen.
Every act of expropriation of the rich and the banks is desirable.
Solidarity with the people from Switzerland who are hit by repression! Blamed for crippling of the metropolis traffic and angry demonstrations through the city of the rich.
No security for the rich and the rulers, until all are free.
Freedom for Aaron and Balu! Caught because they shall have demonstrated for a solidarity life, against the destruction of the neighbourhood and the police state.
Peace to the hovels, war to the palaces – against all institutions and prisons!
School – Clinic – Prison – Factory
Disciplined at school, brainwashed at university, exploited at the job, broken in the prison – against the Prison Society!
Hello Neighbour! In the prison of Plötzensee in Berlin in Germany nearly every third prisoner is imprisoned because of fare-dodge.
Prisons to empty sits!
Burn all prisons – until all are free!
Freedom for all!
Do you still believe in law and order? It works also without!
For a society without prisons!
Our passion for freedom is stronger than every authority!
Life in the modern civilized world comprises false representations, false patterns, and false formalities. Formalities that determine our upbringing within a family, our education, our professional career, our relationships, our emotions, our smiles or tears. Patterns that castrate the scope of our perception so that our thoughts are directed onto a moving walkway going only one direction. Representations that disguise the system’s functions and pathogenies so that we see life unfold only on stage, and never wonder what’s hidden backstage. So, the thousands of suicides of desperate debtors is just another statistic among the unpleasant consequences of the economic crisis, the impoverishment of the so-called third world is just an unfortunate fact, and its wounds will heal by charity organizations, the countless dead of modern crusades, the unfortunate victims of the absurdity of war, and the convict slaves in American prisons are simply antisocial elements that provide social services to Democracy.
Prison itself is exile from life; a non-place and non-time behind the screen of a decent society, to make the ugliness that bothers the eyes of reputable citizens unseeable. Prisons are a proof of the perverse intelligence of authoritarian minds. They’re built onto walls echoing the screaming and weeping of thousands of people who’ve learned to sleep with anguish and despair. Prison is the country of captivity, the country where one learns to kneel before the “Forbidden”, a landfill for the disposal of human waste, an industrial dump where the social machine’s hazardous waste ends up. For most people, however, for all those who never learned to doubt, to question, to look beyond the obvious, prison is a security wall necessary to protect their peaceful and quiet life.
It’s certainly hypocritical on the part of a society to display the supremacy of its democratic civilization, its humanitarian values and social sensitivities so vulgarly, when those deemed unfit to exist within the same society are piled up in souls’ warehouses. But it’s infinitely more hypocritical, and infuriating at the same time, to turn these imprisoned existences, these living dead, into a marketable value through a modern and sophisticated slave trade.
Yet this is the reality for nearly 2.5 million inmates in US prisons, whom the modern Empire has turned into slaves. These prisoners-slaves are the lowest caste of social margins. They don’t only experience the cruelty of captivity, but are condemned to lose their human beingness altogether; to become slaves in the modern galleys of American hellholes to the financial benefit of privatized prisons and multinationals that, using part of this dirty money, support election campaigns of various politicians who promise order and security to their voters. In turn, the voters—predefined coefficients in a rigged equation—fulfill their role, and the solution is always obedience. That’s exactly why the happiest slaves are the greatest enemies of freedom.
But there are other slaves who aren’t so happy. They are the “fallen angels” in a society whose authoritarian perversion treats humans as cogs. But these human cogs are slowly turning against this very society. Throughout the US and the prisons in that territory, an increasingly growing whisper starts to spread. On September 9th, this whisper is transformed into an angry cry of freedom, screaming in the face of the almighty corrections system the ancient cry of rebellion: “Non serviam – I will not serve.”
September 9th is a landmark day for inmates in American prisons because 45 years ago, on September 9th 1971, the fire of Attica prison was lit. Nearly 1,500 prisoners rioted, took jailers hostage, and put forward a series of radical demands. Power replied with zero tolerance: four days later, on September 13th 1971, New York state troops stormed and retook the prison. The crackdown took a heavy toll, killing almost 40 (about 30 inmates and 10 hostages) and wounding 89 others. Because of this exact symbolic character, September 9th is a landmark day for the new coordinated prisoner mobilization, too.
Struggles as this one, despite their intermediary nature, are qualitatively upgraded—compared, for example, to strictly personal claims or unionist demands. Because this particular struggle concerns the total abolition of an institution that’s a pillar of repression and economy, social control and the security doctrine policy. Moreover, prisoners are waging a struggle under extreme and multifaceted oppression, so even calling it an intermediate struggle is something that may not eventually apply to the situation. Because forced labor in prisons is an institution that serves the system in many parallel ways. This is precisely the institution that defines a gray-zone status of millions of slaves for a limited or lifetime tenure. The fact that these are humans designated criminals one way or another, legitimizes this gray zone in the eyes of the rest of society, that don’t care to express some moral or values-related objection and, worse still, benefit from its existence. A struggle for the abolition and the denial of such an institution, a fight which also includes a form of sabotage against the interests served by this very institution, is nothing but a barricade of the most basic dignity against the cruelest face of Power. Certainly, this struggle alone will not determine the entirety of the repression policies that domination may adopt. Regardless of its outcome though, this struggle can be a civil disobedience beacon against the system, and the fact that this beacon will owe its strength to all the damned, the outcast, the socially disinherited—who nowadays receive “revolutionary” anathemas on some occasions—has its own special meaning.
Of course, we don’t seek to make any idealization or embellishment of the entirety of prisoners. Being exiled in the country of captivity for several years already, we’ve seen the composition of a prison population up close, and we don’t harbor any illusion whatsoever that they’re deterministically some kind of revolutionary subjects. In most cases, in fact, an abyss of values separates us from other inmates because of their choices or contradictions over the course of their lives. However, being captives ourselves, we cannot but feel the agony of all those prisoners in the US.
Beyond all this, it’s also a lucid political composure that allows us to put aside any differences we feel we may have with the subject of detainees, as these differences are not enough to make us stand indifferent and unmoved in front of the size, the moral implications, the stakes, the historical and political legacy of such a struggle. In other words, our solidarity reflexes haven’t been activated by emotional and experiential criteria only, but also originate in a political consistency. For all these reasons, we feel the need to express our support to the concerted campaign that began inside the US prisons from September 9th onwards, during which prisoners deny the role of the slave imposed upon them by the democratic society, and factually demonstrate defiance and disobedience. And, as has been said: “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”
The internationalization of this struggle through callouts of prisoners themselves, who ask support from every solidarity initiative, enhances the dynamics of international solidarity in total, making it, even coincidentally, another piece in the mosaic of international solidarity calls such as June 11th or the International Solidarity Week every August. But, for us, it’s not about limiting solidarity to dates marked on the calendar; instead, it’s about highlighting the beauty and authenticity of an informal anarchist coordination. That’s why we’ve endorsed the proposal of ABC Anarchist Solidarity Cell, to coordinate solidarity gestures on an International Solidarity Day (October 1st), as we believe their callout contributes to this direction.
Finally, we want to send our warm greetings to all anarchists and all politicized prisoners willing to be part of this struggle, regardless of their reasons for doing so.
PS: Words are sometimes not enough to capture all the intensity of one’s emotions in certain circumstances. The truth is we were struck at the news that the filth of the Italian counterterrorism unit (DIGOS) launched yet another anti-anarchist attack against comrades in Italy, under the imaginative name “Scripta Manent” (written words remain). Raids, house searches, persecutions, suspect lists, arrests, pretrial detentions…
Once again the target of repression is the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), but now they remembered to dig up cases concerning the placement of explosive devices back in 2006 and 2007. Anna Beniamino, Marco Bisesti, Emiliano Danilo Cremonese, Valentina Speziale and Alessandro Mercogliano passed the prison threshold, while a new detention order was issued against our incarcerated brothers Alfredo Cospito and Nicola Gai, members of FAI’s Olga Cell (that claimed responsibility for the shooting of Roberto Adinolfi, the chief executive of Ansaldo Nucleare). In a separate investigation, during a house search where police found an electrician’s manual and some batteries, another comrade, Daniele Cortelli, who’s active in Croce Nera Anarchica (Italian Anarchist Black Cross), was charged with possessing materials for potential manufacture of explosive devices, and then sent to custody, too. We may be familiar with the notion of captivity, but we will never be able to accept the bad news of comrades’ arrest, no matter how far they are, without feeling tightness in our heart. Our thoughts are with them and everyone else who’ve abruptly entered into a new chapter in their life—the prison chapter.
Finally, we send our warmest salute to our brother Alfredo Cospito. On August 30th 2016, with complete disregard for any consequences, he smashed the glass partition window of the visitations room in the security wing of Ferrara prison in solidarity with the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire in Greece, after the 115-year prison sentence that was recently imposed on all of its imprisoned members.
Comrade, your act brightened our hearts and filled us with emotion. Such fraternal gestures prove the real beauty of authentic anarchist solidarity. We wish you strength to go through whatever might come next.
The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire members: Haris Hadjimihelakis
September 12th 2016
Koridallos prison (Athens, Greece)
Anarchist prisoner Lukáš Borl, currently held in a remand prison in the Czech Republic, has expressed his solidarity with all oppressed and exploited people around the world regardless their origin, sexual orientation or gender. From this perspective, he decided to send a few words of solidarity to every striking person in prisons across the US.
“I wish for you and for myself also that the strike will grow and resist the repression. I wish for you and for myself also to be able to connect it with other important struggles in prisons and outside of them. I wish for you and for myself also that the strike is not misled to fall into the mud of social-democratic politics and the social peace with the exploiters. Because the way to freedom is not through reforming exploitation but only through abolishing it. I wish for you and for myself also that the strike will go further than reformist demands for changing the prison regime and for better working conditions. All the prisons of the world, and all the paid and unpaid work in those prisons and outside them, are all part of the dictatorship of capital. Let’s struggle to abolish it, not to reform these prisons and forms of exploitation. Let’s not ask for anything. Let’s take what belongs to us. Our lives and human dignity. Prisons, states, and capitalism—all must fall.”
“Gentlemen, the Dragon Will Fly Out” In Support of September 9th Mobilization in US Prisons
“Gentlemen, the dragon will fly out” is a saying attributed to prisoner George Jackson. On August 21st 1971, holding a pistol, he opened all the cells in an adjustment unit, taking jailers hostage. George Jackson was killed in his attempt to escape…
A multitude of “invisible” slaves (there are about 2.5 million prisoners in the United States) are condemned to forced labor, or as jailers of their own selves (internal work in prisons, cleaning, repairs, technical operations), or as cheap meat in the service of corporate behemoths (Honda, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, and many others). Besides, the 13th amendment to the US constitution clearly states: “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted…” To put it simply, detainees are considered slaves as part of their punishment.
Prisons in America—and not just there–aren’t only bars, walls, surveillance cameras or lockdowns. They’re also an enormous lucrative business. Prisons are a dirty dealing for continuously supplied shackled labor force without name and without voice. They represent a modern slave trade, making billion-dollar profit, that not only supplies the companies-caretakers but also the industry of lawyers, judges, cops, corrections officers, private prisons.
Not long ago yet another judicial scandal, the “kids for cash” case, was revealed. President Judge Mark Ciavarella convicted juveniles (from 10 to 18 years of age) for the slightest offense, taking million-dollar kickbacks from the owners of private prisons Powell and Mericle with the purpose of supplying them with thousands of children prison slaves.
In Greece, incarceration is much more “velvet”, but it doesn’t cease to be incarceration. Greek prisons may not supply multinational companies with slaves, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a well-staged business operation. Not only do prisons fund an army of leeches (lawyers, cops, corrections officers, judges), but they make big business with construction companies (through overpriced contracts), pharmaceutical companies (after Greek hospitals, Greek prisons are the second best customer of the pharmaceutical industry, since handfuls of psychiatric drugs are administered to prisoners to keep them asleep), and large supermarket chains (always making sure to overprice items sold to prisoners).
Throughout America, massive arrests of suspects—that include humiliations, beatings, and shootings in the back—do not just serve “the restoration of the law”, but are a modern slave hunt for exploitation.
“Let the crops rot in the plantation fields,” write the prisoners in their callout against slavery, recalling the history of slaves in America; because sometimes, to move forward, you must go back to the roots, into the past. For every story of slaves there’s a story of a Spartacus.
Prisoners didn’t randomly choose the date of September 9th to begin their struggle. Forty five years ago, on September 9th 1971, a unique day was written in the calendar of dignity and struggle. It was on the fourth day of Attica riots that 1,000 cops stormed the prison, leaving behind 43 dead, including 33 inmates and 10 hostages (corrections officers and civilian employees), and 250 wounded. Back then, prisoners demanded amnesty, the release of political prisoners, and an end to torture. Now, they want to stop being slaves.
The Attica prison rebellion wasn’t a firework but the culmination of a decision taken by prisoners, expressed through slogans like: “If we cannot live as human beings, we will at least try to die as humans.” With so much blood already shed in a tide of events and acts, they had ruled out any possibility of making a return to prison normalcy.
Prisoners George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette, known as the “Soledad Brothers”, were accused of killing a prison guard at Soledad prison on January 16th 1970, in retaliation for the murder of three fellow prisoners by a corrections officer during a fight between inmates three days prior.
On August 7th 1970, George Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, stormed the Marin County courthouse armed with a shotgun and revolvers and alongside three prisoners, who attended a trial inside, took the Judge, the District Attorney and three jurors hostage. Jonathan and the prisoners demanded the release of the “Soledad Brothers”. The court was surrounded, and a shootout with cops and jailers ensued. Two of the prisoners, Jonathan Jackson and the judge held hostage were gunned down.
On August 21st 1971, George Jackson was shot to death by a guard at San Quentin prison. Jackson was carrying a gun and intended to escape. A disturbance in the prison occurred just before the killing, when three guards and two inmates-snitches were executed.
All these individual acts of rebellion were not detached from the collective power that the prisoners had begun to develop. These actions exceeded the prison walls and nurtured, and were nurtured by, the rebellions of blacks against racism and the movement against the Vietnam War at the time. Nowadays, the struggle of prisoners in the US against slavery is also tied to the movement in protest of police violence and shootings against black people.
Naturally, such struggles are closer to civil rights movements rather than total liberation movements. However, the prisoners themselves state: “We are not making demands or requests of our captors.”
Oftentimes in these struggles, such as we’ve experienced in Greek prisons, there’s a large portion of the prison population who insist on non-violence and “negotiating unionism” logic that leads to wire-pulling and emergence of representatives with personal ambitions. We therefore don’t want to falsify the characteristics of an intermediate struggle to make it appear as anarchic.
Anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble, apparently designated as a “ringleader” of rebellions, has criticized the pacifism that lurks in such mobilizations, stating: “I struggle within F.A.M. (Free Alabama Movement) not because I believe in the system, but because it causes pain to the state, but in no way do I think F.A.M. or any of the Freedom movements are going to topple the state.”
Intermediate struggles, when restricted in sectional demands, maim any total liberation perspective. The interest of an anarchist towards intermediate struggles is, through their intervention, to turn them into the accelerator of insurgency and revolution. There were plenty of moments when instances of prison struggle and armed urban guerrilla experiences mutually fed into one another. In the US, the Weather Underground organization attacked courts (Marin County courthouse, Long Island courthouse, and corrections offices) in solidarity with rebellious prisoners. In Germany, the RAF attacked several judicial officers and prosecutors in retaliation for the isolation of their imprisoned comrades, while in 1993 they literally blew up the Weiterstadt prison. In Italy, the Red Brigades, NAP (organization originating within prison walls), Prima Linea and many more armed cells organized escapes and kidnappings to release their comrades, and executed judges. On October 2nd 1979, political prisoners revolted and set fire to the Asinara maximum security prison. In Spain, GRAPO targeted prison governors and prison doctors.
In Greece, Conspiracy of Cells of Fire blew up the Thessaloniki courthouse and the Athens administrative court of first instance, placed a bomb outside Koridallos prison in 2010, and in cooperation with the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) attacked interrogating judges, prison directors and corrections officers.
In every part of the Earth, prisons are a monument of people’s enslavement. Prisons are the most concentrated form of tyranny; the face of Power, without any makeup; the punitive nature of democracy; the vengeful sense of its justice. Every attack, every act of rebellion, every mobilization that disturbs the operation of prisons is a kick in the guts of oppression. It challenges its omnipotence, within its own walls. Certainly, the September 9th mobilization against slavery in US prisons may not be the anarchic utopia of freedom we wish for, but it can be a pebble in the pond that creates small ripples in the water. And oftentimes these ripples precede the outbreak of an enormous tide…
For nine months before the state police came
and opened fire at Attica penitentiary
prison doctors said to sick Puerto Ricans
who understood only Spanish
“First learn English, then you can come back.”
It’s difficult to learn English when you’re dead
but they will come back for sure… (Erich Fried, “The Return: Attica State Prison”)
Conspiracy of Cells of Fire / Urban Guerrilla Cell
FAI/FRI Gerasimos Tsakalos Christos Tsakalos Giorgos Polidoros Olga Ekonomidou
September 9th 2016
Koridallos prisons (Athens, Greece)
We send our solidarity to all prison rebels!
Strength to the striking prisoners in the US and beyond!
Text from the poster:
THE BEST SLAVES ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE FREE
Every institution that tries to turn us into oppressed or handcuffed slaves are our enemy: fascism, patriarchy, authority, borders, the state and the capital!
Against Prison! Against Slavery!
Prison was created by a social order based on domination and exploitation. The aim is to create a structure to segregate, repress and confine all undesirables. Until today the bosses make capital with forced labor in prisons, and control is increasing with little difficulty, while the politicians speak about liberty, equality and democracy.
Oppression, subtle and violent, is always inherent in a capitalist society. Acceptance of a miserable life among the exploited and oppressed makes capitalist production possible. An anti-nationalist consciousness, the rejection of democratic dictatorship and the fight against every polluted aspect of life is therefore vital.
The starting point for truly explosive struggles is taking position, attacking the exploitation machinery, exposing cannibalistic governments, destroying militarized borders, intensifying social conflicts and building fertile structures for anarchist and non-anarchist people with common enemies and common targets on a global scale.
Given that it is not a revolutionary tactic to spread fairy tales, we can’t just talk about getting away from it all. We must position ourselves along lines of various anarchist tendencies. The struggle we want to intensify includes revolutionary attacks and armed resistance. Above all we express our solidarity with anarchist and rebellious prisoners through attacks for the total destruction of prisons and the prison society!
SUPPORT PRISON REBELS!
FIRE TO THE PRISONS!
LONG LIVE ANARCHY! ANARCHISTS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PRISON STRIKE AGAINST SLAVERY
It hardly seems necessary to summarize what has gone down inside U.S. prisons since September 9th. Hunger strikes, work stoppages, and riots have spread throughout the country on a scale that we likely aren’t even fully aware of yet. Some uprisings appeared took us by surprise, such as in several Florida prisons, while others presumably grew from recent organizing endeavors on the inside, such as at Kinross in Michigan or Holman in Alabama. By rough estimates, over 20,000 prisoners were involved in some way. That’s huge.
On the outside, solidarity burned so brightly all over the world. Banner drops, graffiti slogans, noise demonstrations and more showed that we had the backs of all who would partake in the strike. It is worth noting however that the vast majority of this took place the first weekend of the strike. But this prison strike—and the struggle against prisons more broadly—is about more than a day or a week. It didn’t start on September 9th and it isn’t ending any time soon. Some prisoners may return to work while others decide to stop working for the first time. It’s easier when there is a definitive date to take action on, to build momentum towards, but that’s not going to be enough.
Therefore, we would like to offer a call for renewed actions in solidarity with the prison strike and the struggle against prison society. Right now many are organizing anti-repression campaigns for striking prisoners and that is of course very necessary and not nearly as exciting work. But it would be a mistake to conceive of this struggle in a linear fashion—that is to say, a single wave where we demonstrate as it crests and write letters as it crashes. How many prisoners hadn’t heard about the strike until after it had started? How many knew but didn’t think people would actually be there to support them? Three weeks after the start of the strike, inmates in Turbeville, South Carolina rebelled against a guard and took over their dorm. How can we stop while inmates are still risking their lives for freedom?
We propose the week of October 15th – 22nd for a concentration of actions to remind everyone locked up by the State that we will always have their back. Once again, it is important to take these dates with a grain of salt. No one’s going to judge you if you take action on October 23rd, or in November, or even in 2017. Neither should anyone sit on their hands waiting for the 15th to get going. New Year’s Eve should also be kept in mind, which has traditionally seen noise demonstrations outside of prisons every year, despite being an equally arbitrary date.
“When times seem slow and uneventful we let ourselves stagnate, but imagination and revolt are like muscles: the less we use them the weaker they become. We can push back the boredom of less eventful times and point towards insurrection. Solidarity actions and struggling on our own timelines is a way we can create momentum and tension when there isn’t much.”
– “Our Own Timelines” Anathema, Vol 2 Issue 6
It is undeniable that many comrades exist outside of realities where organizing a protest or noise demonstration is tenable. Many of us are still searching for a few like-minded comrades, let alone attempting to bring out a crowd. There are still opportunities to act, whether it is a one or two person team dropping a banner or putting up posters, or hosting a letter writing or informational event that can help connect future accomplices. It certainly can never be overstated how important writing letters of support and calling in to prisons is in and of itself, but why pass on an opportunity to build our capacity?
If nothing else, we should all feel ashamed that the most active city in terms of U.S. prison strike solidarity actions is Athens, Greece. They already have such a head start but we can at least give them a bit of challenge, can’t we?
Since September 28th 2016, the imprisoned compañerosFernando Bárcenas, Abraham Cortés (in Mexico City’s Reclusorio Norte) and Luis Fernando Sotelo (in Mexico City’s Reclusorio Sur) have undertaken hunger strike, while Miguel Peralta (in Oaxaca’s Cuicatlán prison) abstains from prison meals.
Their joint struggle, marking three years since the imprisonment of Abraham Cortés (on October 2nd 2013), is also in solidarity with Luis Fernando Sotelo, who was recently sentenced to 33 years and 5 months. It’s also their way of supporting the US prisoner struggle and showing solidarity with African-American compas who experience the drug genocide.
Read a statement by comrades Fernando Bárcenas and Abraham Cortés in Spanish & English.
About 12:00am a prisoner was stabbed by another prisoner while in the bed asleep. The disturbance came after the perpetrator ran out the dorm. The pigs let the prisoner in C-dorm even after being told earlier not let anyone in C-dorm by prisoners who are housed in C-dorm. Prisoners ran after the prisoner who committed the stabbing, got out the dorm, surrounded one pig who came out the control cubicle, but was asked to wait before doing anything and just help the injured prisoner to the infirmary.
What you are seeing in this short clip is a bunch of angry prisoners who see the pigs as facilitators of violence against one another.
State Can’t Crush Prison Rebels | September 29th 2016
It is being reported that last week while at the prison, after attending the funeral of the pig who was stabbed here on September 1st and died from his injuries, the regional Coordinator Grantt Culliver stated to several prisoners that he was going to bring the CERT, the department of corrections’ special response squad, to Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama on the 1st of October and that they will be here for the next ninety days to search the prison for every knife and cell phone, and that are going to take the prison apart piece by piece until they have found every weapon and phone.
This is an attempt at intimidation and move to reestablish authority and total control. Control over human beings who have been resisting and saying fuck your authority! Humans who no longer accept the narrative that they are worthless and that the state has a right to punish and use violence without it being returned. No longer will we allow the gross injustices to go unchecked.
We want you all out there in the open air prison called the free world to keep an eye on what happens here. We know that the pigs are angry about the death of their colleague at the hands of a prisoner and all the resistance that has sprung up here within the last year, and have / are planning to crush the resistance. Keep an eye on Holman and continue to show solidarity through direct action.
No gods, no masters! Death to the state! Long live anarchy!
We stand in total and unreserved solidarity with the struggle of prisoners in America against slavery, and as a response to the call for support and solidarity to their resistance we hung two banners in downtown Athens, Greece.
Fight against prison slavery. Until the demolishment of every cage. Until the death of authority.
Support the resistance in US prisons, against slavery and exploitation of prisoners. Brothers/sisters, in this struggle you’re not alone!
From the wing 58 of this open air prison called Athens we send our warmest greetings to the U.$. prison rebels and all those taking action in solidarity with them around the globe. We understand your fight to end prison slavery as a call to end prison society as a whole. We understand mass imprisonment behind tones of concrete and iron as a reflection of the mass society that shackles us all and as an inevitable consequence of the techno-industrial kingdom that determines our lives daily in all possible ways.
We know that contexts might be different from place to place and that some times we get lost into the partiality of our small or big fights against this or that expression of domination and Power. Nevertheless, we believe this is a good opportunity to build up the so much needed intersectionality, to foment it with a borderless perception of the struggle for total self-determination and liberation from hierarchies and authorities that chain us all.
We salute all means of struggle deployed so far against the murderous apparatus of the U.$. prison-industrial complex, and we are happy to know that at least one jailer got what he deserved. While bars of steel and walls of stone may physically contain those in prison, the recent uprisings all over the U.$. have shown that they can never take away the fighting spirit from countless rebels.
As small tokens of our solidarity, on September 11th we hung a banner in Kamara, downtown Thessaloniki, that reads “Victory to the prisoners’ strike in the U.$. // Fire to the prison society” and on September 20th we participated alongside ABC Solidarity Cell and other comrades in a 2 hour blockade at the McDonald’s in the Athenian district of Ilion, holding a banner that reads “Solidarity with the U.$. prison uprising”. After the blockade we dropped the banner from the 58 in Exarchia, where it can be seen daily by hundreds passing by.
As the strike continues, so will our actions. As prisons exist, so will our fight to destroy them.
Banners read: “From Koridallos to Lucasville, fight against prison slavery” / “Solidarity with the struggle of US prison inmates against slavery”
On Saturday evening September 10th 2016, McDonald’s at Syntagma Square was blockaded for two hours in solidarity with the struggle against slavery which has already begun in American prisons, as of September 9th.
McDonald’s is one of the key companies that exploit the regime of slavery imposed on prisoners in the United States, a regime securing the multinational giant more profits.
During the 2-hour blockade we distributed many texts to passersby, in both Greek and English, and threw flyers. We ended our action without incident when demonstrators from hot spots (migrant camps) and migrants housing squats arrived in Syntagma. We joined their demonstration, chanting slogans in solidarity with migrants.
The US prison operation relies heavily on the work of the prisoners themselves, while many prisons have now been privatized. Also, prison labor is being exploited by multinational companies (Honda, McDonald’s, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, etc.). Payment that prisoner-workers receive for their labor varies from minimal to nonexistent. Furthermore, surveillance, inhumane conditions of detention, discipline, various methods of torture, etc., are traditionally the first choices for the smooth operation of these prisons.
Prisoners in the US, experiencing and realizing their exploitation, have taken part in many different mobilizations over the years, often linking their struggle to the oppression of women and juveniles who are in other prisons, and with migrants in the many immigration detention centers throughout the US.
Since September 9th, prisoners across the country, knowing that the prison facilities cannot function without them, have started abstaining from work in order to put an “end to prison slavery.”
Sweatshop labor in US prisons is a link in the long chain of modern slavery. A chain that starts by modern slaves (“invisible” migrants), child labor, forced prostitution, and reaches to the conditions of modern “formal” paid employment (unemployed, precarious, black-market workers, uninsured, resilient, temps, etc.). These areas of slavery are important building blocks of capitalism. The armies of modern slaves are producing enormous amounts of surplus value for capital, which is a prerequisite to its expansion. And the capitalist “underworld” of US prisons is an invisible but massive piece of this capitalist puzzle. It is no coincidence that the institutionalization of imprisonment, which was founded beside the ashes of burned “witches” of the Inquisition, to discipline body and spirit, coincides with the beginning of the capitalist mode of production…
Right now, female detainees in Koridallos prison have launched protests (since August 26th 2016) denouncing overcrowding and demanding humane living conditions and full medical care and nutritional support for HIV-positive prisoners. We can only stand in solidarity with the struggle for dignity waged by prisoners anywhere on Earth, considering that resistance to the barbarity of incarceration is an integral part of social and class struggles taking place everywhere.
AGAINST THE RESTRUCTURING, TIGHTENING OF SECURITY, AND PRIVATIZATION OF PRISONS
THE ROAD TO FREEDOM PASSES OVER THE DEBRIS OF EVERY PRISON
On August 25th, anarchist communist Tasos Theofilou, currently incarcerated in Koridallos prison (Athens), released a text explaining what September 9th mobilization in the US is all about. Excerpt from his writing: “Since 2010 there have been a number of mobilizations in US prisons, from hunger strikes and work stoppages to rebellions, for either elimination of solitary confinement or betterment of prison conditions, or the improvement of working conditions and remuneration.”
On September 8th, ABC Solidarity Cell published a statement regarding “US Prisons – The Dark Side of Slavery in American Society”. Excerpt from their text: “We are willing to manifest our solidarity in every possible way with US prison inmates throughout the duration of their struggle. In this direction, we call every collective, every cell of Anarchist Black Cross internationally, but also whoever wishes to support in their own way, to coordinate our forces on an International Solidarity Day that will be a point of reference for the international solidarity movement to supporting this struggle and will provide an opportunity for further intensification of our actions in the coming period. We propose this day to be October 1st. We consider the prospects, stakes and legacies that this particular struggle in US prisons may create to be an open challenge for every fighter who wants to contribute to waging an internationalized and coordinated struggle inside and outside prisons against modern slavery and the economic dictatorship of multinationals. Solidarity and strength to the struggle of prisoners in US prisons! Struggle is the only prospect of living with dignity! Fire to the prisons!”
On September 9th, the Urban Guerrilla Cell of Conspiracy of Cells of Fire FAI/FRI, namely Christos Tsakalos, Gerasimos Tsakalos, Giorgos Polidoros and Olga Ekonomidou, anarchists incarcerated in Koridallos prisons, released a revolutionary statement titled “Gentlemen, the Dragon Will Fly Out” in support of the US prison mobilization as of September 9th, and in memory of Jonathan P. Jackson, George L. Jackson, and Attica prison rebels. Excerpt from their writing: “In every part of the Earth, prisons are a monument of people’s enslavement. Prisons are the most concentrated form of tyranny; the face of Power, without any makeup; the punitive nature of democracy; the vengeful sense of its justice. Every attack, every act of rebellion, every mobilization that disturbs the operation of prisons is a kick in the guts of oppression. It challenges its omnipotence, within its own walls. Certainly, the September 9th mobilization against slavery in US prisons may not be the anarchist utopia of freedom we wish for, but it can be a pebble in the pond that creates small ripples in the water. And oftentimes these ripples precede the outbreak of an enormous tide…”
On September 9th, some anarchist prisoners in the 4th wing of Koridallos men’s prison published a collective writing in support of the US prison strike. Excerpt from their text: “We know how hard it is to fight capitalism there where it’s most powerful, in the US; we also know that depriving it of a part of its profits is the only thing that can inflict substantial damage. That’s why this prisoner strike is so important. That’s why we send our solidarity and greetings to the rebellious dignity of prisoners in the US.” (Full text translation here.)
On Friday night September 9th, ABC Solidarity Cell hung a banner at the gate of the Polytechnic School, on Patission Street (downtown Athens), reading: “Solidarity with the struggle of prisoners in the US as of September 9th – We are not made by history; we create history”.
In Agrinio (western Greece), comrades of Apertus squat expressed their solidarity with the US prison mobilization, as well as with inmates at Koridallos women’s prison: “(…) resistance to the barbarity of incarceration is an integral part of social and class struggles taking place everywhere; against the restructuring, tightening of security, and privatization of prisons; the road to freedom passes over the debris of every prison.” (Full text translation here.)
Now is the time for uncompromising complicity with prison rebels in the US, Mexico, and all over the world!
In the early hours of September 9th, some anarchists of Barcelona went to McDonald’s on Travessera de Gràcia Street to show our solidarity with the imprisoned comrades on strike in the United States.
A small action with which we intend to manifest that solidarity between the oppressed knows no borders or nations.
We also took advantage of this occasion to point to this multinational as responsible for the assassination and exploitation of countless human and nonhuman beings, making it clear that we won’t allow them to continue their criminal work without encountering resistance from the oppressed.
Against every authority!
Death to the State and its false opponents.
On April 1st 2016, prisoners in US hellholes released a call to action against prison slavery, announcing a coordinated prisoner workstoppage all across the country to take place on September 9th 2016 – date that marks the 45th anniversary of the bloody Attica prison rebellion.
Inmates at various US prisons have already undertaken workstoppages and hunger strikes ahead of September 9th.
We call for an open assembly on Monday September 5th at 19:00 in the Athens Polytechnic School (Gini building, entrance from Stournari Street, Exarchia) to share updates and prepare interventions-actions in view of the US prisoner mobilization.
Solidarity Assembly for political prisoners & imprisoned and prosecuted fighters
“(…) This is a call for revolutionary solidarity against the slavery and extermination imposed by economic plunder… in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and all other places touched by civilization, know that we are preparing ourselves within Mexican prisons; but that will continue to be demonstrated through actions… To war alongside our imprisoned brothers and sisters, slaves of the United States, who are rising up and coordinating a nationwide strike in North America’s prisons on September 9th 2016, and with all other captives and slaves in the rest of the world… Until we are all free.”
– Fernando Bárcenas Castillo.
On September 9th [the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison rebellion], prisoners across the United States will begin a strike that will be a general work stoppage against prison slavery. In short, prisoners will refuse to work; they will refuse to keep the prisons running by their own labors. Prisoners are striking not just for better conditions or changes in parole rules, but against prison slavery. Prisoners state that under the 13th Amendment which abolished racial slavery, at the same time it allowed human beings to be worked for free or next to nothing as long as they were prisoners. Prisoners see the current system of prison slavery to thus be a continuation of racial slavery, which is a system that generates billions of dollars in profits each year for major corporations in key industries such as fossil fuels, fast food, banking, and the US military.
Soon after the passing of the 13th Amendment, many former slaves were soon locked up in prisons on petty offenses, quickly returned to their former roles as slaves. Over a century later, the Drug War sought to deal with the growing unemployment rate brought on by changes in the economy (outsourcing, financialization, deregulation, etc.), as well as the threat of black insurrection which grew in the 1960s and 70s, by throwing more and more people in prison. At the same time, the state and corporations continued to look towards prison labor as a source to generate massive profits.
Due to all of these factors, at the present time round 1 in 100 American adults is locked behind bars, and many more are on probation, parole, house arrest, or in immigrant detention facilities. While African-Americans, Native, Latino, and poor whites make up the bulk of the prison population, black, brown, and red convicts make up much a higher percentage of inmates than their white counter-parts. For instance, there are currently more African-American people locked within the prison industrial complex than were held in racialized slavery prior to the American civil war in the 1860s. It is in this climate that prison rebels have organized themselves to carry out the strike.
It is also important to state that September 9th is being called by a wide variety of groups, but in general comes out of such organizations such as the Free Alabama Movement (FAM), which is a self-organized prison group that has spread to states across the US. Anarchists have played a key role in supporting this organizing, and the various hunger strikes, work strikes, and prison riots which have also broken out in facilities such as Holman Prison. Support has come from various prison groups, Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) Chapters, and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a section of the IWW, which currently has about 1,000 members across the US in prison. To help build capacity around the strike, anarchists have also organized several conferences and carried out a wide variety of actions, from noise demonstrations, to banner drops, to graffiti campaigns.
But we need the help of the international anarchist movement to build this momentum. We are calling on comrades across the world to help us. We are asking all groups, federations, unions, networks, cells, and individuals to consider taking action, organize an event, and spread the strike. Ideas for actions are as follows:
1.) Organize a demonstration outside a US embassy, military base, or US government outpost. Let them know that people across the world are in solidarity with the strike.
2.) Organize a noise demonstration outside of a local jail, prison, detention facility, or juvenile hall.
3.) Organize an action that draws a connection to the corporations that makes money off of prison labor in the US. Worldwide targets include McDonald’s and Wendy’s fast food chains, Starbucks coffee chain, BP (British Petroleum), Victoria’s Secret lingerie stores, American Airlines (which flies into many international airports), and many more.
[While almost every business in America uses some form of prison labor, here are just a few more of these companies: Avis, Walmart, Microsoft, Nike, Nintendo, Honda, Pfizer, Whole Foods, Aramark, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Fidelity Investments, Saks Fifth Avenue, JCPenney, Kmart, Macy’s, and of course UNICOR, the corporation created and owned by the federal government to oversee penal labor.]
4.) Drop banners, write graffiti, wheat paste flyers, and get up news of the strike around your town.
Lastly, we will add that the strike will begin on September 9th, and will go for a long time. Prisoners are already expecting to face repression, and some organizers have already been place in solitary and harassed by the FBI. It is up to us to have their backs on the outside and build support for the strike and make it part of struggles everywhere. Strike will not end on September 10th, but continue, so help us prepare for the long haul.
Long Live Anarchy!
Fire to the Prisons!
More information, updates and organizing materials:
Support Prisoner Resistance – supportprisonerresistance.noblogs.org
Free Alabama Movement – freealabamamovement.wordpress.com
IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee – iwoc.noblogs.org
IT’S GOING DOWN – itsgoingdown.org
Portland ABC – pdxabc.org
Anti-State STL – antistatestl.noblogs.org
325 – 325.nostate.net/tag/prison-labour-strike
“We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such… What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.” – L. D. Barkley, participant in Attica rebellion
On September 9, 1971, the inmates of Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York seized control of the prison. The Attica uprising, which lasted for five days, was not the first and certainly not the last prison rebellion. And yet its importance is indelibly marked within the history of the struggle against white supremacy and the prison society we still inhabit today.
In the forty years since Attica, prisons have swelled to bursting with the tragedies of disrupted lives, fractured families, and broken communities. In the last decade, resistance movements have steadily grown behind the prison walls. From the statewide work stoppage in Georgia prisons of 2010 to the hunger strike that spread throughout the California prison system in 2013; from fires lit in I.C.E. detention centers in Texas to riots and prison takeovers in Nebraska and Alabama, prisoners across the country are wide awake and on the move.
This September, prisoners, their families, and supporters on the outside are coordinating a nationwide prisoner strike to take place on the 45th anniversary of the Attica rebellion. This historic effort holds within it the potential to expand and embolden the movement against the horrific conditions of confinement, the prisons themselves and the society that creates them.
Towards the destruction of all prisons and the creation of a free and genuine human community!
On September 9th 1971, prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious hellhole.
On September 9th 2016, prisoners in struggle will launch work stoppages and other actions to shut down prisons all across the U.S., to push for a final end to prison slavery.
That the fires of solidarity spread across the world!
Presentation & discussion about the prisoner strike with a comrade from Portland ABC (USA)
Thursday August 4th at 20:00 at the terrace of the anarchist squat on 58, Themistokleous Street, Exarchia, Athens