Occupy activists from around Upstate NY will descend on Cortland on Friday August 3rd at 3:00pm for a picket and demonstration outside the headquarters of prison profiteer JM Murray Center Inc. The picket will be in solidarity with prisoners at three North Carolina prisons on hunger strike since July 16th. The hunger strikers, who are calling themselves the Freedom Riders Movement, asked supporters on the outside to boycott and take actions against several companies profiting off of the mass incarceration of North Carolina prisoners. Other companies that the prisoners listed for supporters to boycott or demonstrate at include Heinz, New Balance and Coca Cola.
The hunger strikes started as a desperate measure for much needed prison reforms, including having law libraries in prison, an end to physical and mental abuse by guards and an end to torture. It is unclear how many prisoners are on strike but it was reported that 100 prisoners from the three prisons initiated the strike. Occupy Utica called to have the peaceful picket under the name Occupy For Prisoners, which started from the combined effort of prisoner rights activists, the Occupy movement and prisoners in California in November 2011. The North Carolina prison hunger strikes are part of a national prisoner justice movement and similar hunger strikes and actions that have taken place in the last year in prisons in Georgia, California and Ohio.