|Prison bosses have retaliated against organiser Melvin Ray|
Prisoners in Alabama have started to organise as workers, in conjunction with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The group of hundreds of inmates, called the Free Alabama Movement, approached the IWW some months ago in order to held them organise and get the word out about their struggle.
“This is the second peaceful and nonviolent protest initiated by the brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.) this year building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010. They aim to build a mass movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others. The Free Alabama Movement is waging a non-violent and peaceful protest for their civil, economic, and human rights.
“The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.
“In response, the Free Alabama Movement is pushing a comprehensive “Freedom Bill” (Alabama’s Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill) designed to end these horrors and create a much reduced correctional system actually intended to achieve rehabilitation and a secure, just, anti-racist society.
“While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. We advance their struggle by building our own, and working together for an end to this “system that crushes people and penalizes them for not being able to stand the weight”.
Together with FAM, the IWW is asking supporters to:
- Create a Incarcerated Workers Solidarity Committee in their area.
- Amplify the voices of incarcerated workers by posting this and future updates to websites, Facebook, email lists etc.
- Join the mailing list email@example.com and like on Facebook www.facebook.com/incarceratedworkers for further updates
- Donate money to the Free Alabama Movement & Incarcerated Workers Organizing committee: https://fundly.com/iww-incarcerated-workers-organizing-committee-support-the-free-alabama-movement
On Sunday, Erik Forman of the IWW claimed that: “There is some participation in the strike, but the Alabama Department of Corrections is doing everything it can to prevent communication between the prisoners and the outside world.”
Meanwhile, FAM have announced that: “[spokesman and organiser] Melvin Ray was taken out of his cell today and placed in solitary, without clothing or a bed, in retaliation for Free Alabama Movement #prisonstrike. Call St. Clair prison warden Carter Davenport at 205-467-6111 to demand end to retaliations. Let’s flood the phone lines. Show ’em that we’re watching!”
People can also copy and paste or adapt this email for the Alabama Department of Corrections.