On Saturday, March 12th, the same day as a national call-in to the NC Division of Prisons, about two dozen anarchists amassed outside Bertie CI in Windsor, NC, a prison facing a tense upswing in radical thought and action. Facing two layers of barbed wire fencing and a row of solitary confinement cells, we banged on drums, blew whistles, screamed chants, and held up several gigantic banners reading “Against Prisons” and “Hands Off James Graham.” (Graham is one of several prisoners in Windsor facing punishment for his role in organizing there.)
We managed to stay at the rural prison for over a half an hour before being warned that we were trespassing and would soon be arrested. Over the course of our time there, many family members who were exiting the prison at the end of visitation hours ended smiled and gave encouraging words, asking us to keep it up.
This demo was a small part of a larger trajectory of recent anti-prison activity in NC, including demos at the Buncombe County Jail and Central Prison in Raleigh, as well as a number of prisoner support and publishing endeavors, reading groups, and hunger strikes. It is also the product of specific relationships between anarchists and other radicals on both sides of the wall; folks on the inside at Windsor have called for outside support specifically, and demos like these are part of that. These demos tie in to a longer history of prisoner struggles in North Carolina, going back to the massive six-day riot and strike at Raleigh’s Women’s Correctional in 1975, as well as the more recent riot at the Polk Youth Center in the late 90’s.
As we left the prison property, the words “Cops, Pigs, Murderers!” reverberated off of the prison walls in time to a heavy drum beat. That sound continues ringing in our ears as we go home and think about those we left behind. We’ll be back.