Tag Archive: prisoner unity

Demand Medical Care for Free Alabama Movement Prisoner Activist!


This came in 2 days ago, but calls are needed even more now! Please call in! Call in campaigns save lives!

Black Autonomy Federation received this report from Ann Brooks, the mother of Spokesperson Ray.


We are receiving reports from St. Clair prison that my son, Melvin Ray,[one of the leaders of the Free Alabama Movement prison organization] is ill. Yesterday after lunch, Melvin indicated that he wasn’t feeling well. (As you may know, when we went to March at St Clair yesterday, officers were already aware that we would be arriving).

At around 9 p.m., Melvin began having problems urinating and was experiencing pain in his lower abdomen and bladder. At around 11 p.m., Melvin began passing excessive blood through his urinary tract. Melvin has been in isolation since January, and we believe that someone introduced something through his food yesterday.

Melvin informed Off. Cosby of his condition and was told that the medical staff said that he should fill out a sick-call form and that he would be seen by the nurse at pill-call.When pill-call came around at 3 a.m. (4 hours later), the nurse (Holcombe) and officer refused to stop at his door. Melvin banged on his door until Officer Mackesy appeared at 3:10 and informed Melvin that he would have to fill out a sick-call slip (which Melvin had already done, but Nurse Holcomb and Off. Humphries refused to pick up), and that he could turn it in at 12 p.m. and wait to be called by the doctor. (more…)

Time to Speak Up: Women’s Prison Resistance in Alabama

tutwilerBy Victoria Law

Both incarcerated women and the U.S. Department of Justice agree: The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., is a hellish place. In a 36-page letter that the DOJ issued to the Alabama State Governor Robert Brentley in January, the agency declared, “The State of Alabama violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by failing to protect women prisoners at Tutwiler from harm due to sexual abuse and harassment from correctional staff.”

Federal investigators found that, for nearly two decades, staff members at Tutwiler have sexually assaulted women and compelled them into sex to obtain necessities, such as feminine hygiene products and laundry service. Women who report sexual abuse are placed in solitary confinement, where they are given lie detector tests and are frequently threatened by other staff.

But while the DOJ’s letter — and conditions in Tutwiler — made headlines, less attention has been paid to the activism and organizing by women inside Alabama’s prisons. During the department’s investigation, for example, it received 233 letters from women currently incarcerated at Tutwiler detailing a host of concerns about the sexual abuse they’ve either personally experienced or witnessed. This figure does not include the letters that women have been sending to the Department of Justice and other government entities for years before the investigation was launched. When incarcerated, sending testimony letters is a potentially dangerous action. Women risked prison staff opening their letters and reading their complaints — and retaliating against them. Two hundred thirty-three women decided to take that risk. (more…)

A Year After Mass Hunger Strike in California Prisons, What’s Changed?

hungerstrikeFrom Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

On July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners launched what became a 60-day mass hunger strike. One year later, however, Luis Esquivel is still sitting in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. “Right now, my uncle is in his cell with no windows,” said his niece, Maribel Herrera. “It’s like sitting in a bathroom – your sink is there, your toilet is there, your bed is there. And you’re just sitting there. I can only think about that for so long because it hurts.”

Herrera’s uncle has been in solitary confinement for 15 years. “I hadn’t seen my uncle since I was a child,” said Herrera. “I can’t even remember hugging him.” When she visited him in 2012, her first-ever visit to Pelican Bay, more than 850 miles away from her family’s home in San Diego, hers was the first visit Esquivel had received in seven years. (more…)

Radical Philosophy and the Free Alabama Movement

famBy Lisa Guenther/From Truth Out

Last summer, thousands of prisoners in California launched a 60-day hunger strike to protest and transform oppressive policies in the California Department of Corrections. One member of the organizing team called their strike action a “multi-racial, multi–regional Human Rights Movement to challenge torture.”

This weekend, another prisoner-led human rights movement is gaining momentum in Alabama. The Free Alabama Movement (FAM) seeks to analyze, resist, and transform prison slavery from within the Prison Industrial Complex.

Both of these movements challenge us, as philosophers and as people, to interrogate the meaning of slavery, torture, human rights, and political action. What does it mean to struggle for one’s human rights as an “offender” in the world’s first prison society? What can philosophers and political theorists learn from the example of incarcerated intellectuals and political actors whose everyday lives are situated at the dangerous intersection of racism, economic exploitation, sexual violence, and civil death? What would it mean to respect the specificity of the Free Alabama Movement, and at the same time to recognize that even the freedom of non-incarcerated philosophers may be bound up with the freedom of Alabama? What is freedom, after all? What – and where – and who – is Alabama?

In what follows, I will share what I have learned about the Free Alabama Movement over the last couple of days. But don’t take my word for it! Check out the FAM website, which includes photos and videos of degrading prison conditions, as well as this brilliant spoken word analysis of prison slavery. Follow the movement on Facebook and Twitter. And read the 100-page manifesto written by prisoner-organizers about the situation in Alabama prisons and the movement to end prison slavery. (more…)

Inmates to strike in Alabama, declare prison is “running a slave empire”

Melvin Ray

Melvin Ray

Breaking: Reached in his cell, Free Alabama Movement leader tells Salon inmates will refuse work to end free labor

From Salon

Inmates at an Alabama prison plan to stage a work stoppage this weekend and hope to spur an escalating strike wave, a leader of the effort told Salon in a Thursday phone call from his jail cell.

“We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here,” said Melvin Ray, an inmate at the St. Clair correctional facility and founder of the prison-based group Free Alabama Movement. “They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” Spokespeople for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Department of Corrections did not respond to midday inquiries Thursday. Jobs done by inmates include kitchen and laundry work, chemical and license plate production, and furniture-making. In 2011, Alabama’s Department of Agriculture reportedly discussed using inmates to replace immigrants for agricultural work; in 2012, the state Senate passed a bill to let private businesses employ prison labor.

Inmates at St. Clair and two other prisons, Holman and Elmore, previously refused to work for several days in January. A Department of Corrections spokesperson told the Associated Press at the time that those protests were peaceful, and told AL.com that some of the inmates’ demands were outside the authority of the department to address. The state told the AP that a handful of inmates refused work, and others were prevented from working by safety or weather issues. In contrast, Ray told Salon the January effort drew the participation of all of St. Clair’s roughly 1,300 inmates and nearly all of Holman’s roughly 1,100. He predicted this weekend’s work stoppage would spread further and grow larger than that one, but also accused prison officials of hampering F.A.M.’s organizing by wielding threats and sending him and other leaders to solitary confinement. “It’s a hellhole,” he told Salon. “That’s what they created these things for: to destroy men.”

To grow the movement, said Ray, “We have to get them to understand: You’re not giving up anything. You don’t have anything. And you’re going to gain your freedom right here.” (more…)

Call-in to Support Missouri Hunger-strikers

call-inFrom South Brooklyn Anarchist Black Cross

From: Shyheim El-Mumin

I am a prisoner being held captive here in the state of Missouri at the Potosi Correctional Center’s Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation, a form of solitary confinement) unit. Since my arrival here on Aug. 9, 2012, I’ve been a target for harassment. This is my fourth time here. This is a maximum security prison, Level 5. This is the prison where they house Missouri’s death row prisoners. If I’m not mistaken, it is the only place where death row prisoners are allowed in general population. That alone says a lot about this prison.

We [the hunger-strikers] are asking that you all who are reading this contact Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Director George A. Lumbardi at (573) 526-6607, P.O. Box 236, Jefferson City, MO 65102, http://www.doc.mo.gov; Warden Troy Steele, (573) 438-6000, 11593 State Hwy O, Mineral Point, MO 63660; as well as the ACLU in St. Louis, Missouri, and ask for John Chasenoff, Civil Rights Division, ACLU Eastern Missouri, 454 Whittier, St. Louis, MO 63108, (314) 652-3111. PCC prisoners are in desperate need of assistance from any and all outside organizations, politicians, agencies, state representatives, officials, media, investigative agencies, etc. Please assist us to make prison officials cease their transgressions and malicious violations of our federally and state-protected rights and cease continuing restrictions of confinement. (more…)

Hasan of the Lucasville Prisoner Uprising

lucasville1from AshevilleFM

This week, we spoke with Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan who is facing the death penalty for his role as a negotiator during the prisoner uprising at the SOCF facility in Lucasville in April of 1993. Hasan, as well as 4 other prisoners, are facing the death penalty for participation as “leaders” in the uprising. 4 of them are charged with the death of a prison guard by the name of Bobby Vallandingham as well as 9 inmates considered to be snitches.

The riot began as negotiations between Sunni prisoners, of which Hasan was one of the leaders, took guards hostage in hopes of bringing state attention to the problems at the prison. In particular among their concerns was the imposition of a TB test that was in contradiction to their religious beliefs and for which an alternative was readily available. Soon, other prisoners began to take space and control. Fearing a bloody outcome like was seen at Attica in New York, representatives of the Sunni community, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Black Gangster Disciplanes at Lucasville began negotiations with the state to bring a peaceful resolution to the uprising. Graffiti displayed within the prison began speaking of “Convict Race” and “Black and White Unity”.

After the end of the uprising, the state, under pressure from Vallandingham’s family, railroaded the five. The call for blood was great, but since the Lucasville Disturbance, so have been the calls for justice in the case of the prisoners punished in relation to the Lucasville Disturbance. (more…)

Hunger striker considers where we go from here, wonders, ‘Will the Legislature dupe us too’?

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

From San Francisco Bay View

Written Sept. 8, 2013 – First and foremost we want to give a lot of respect and love to all the human beings who made their voices heard and the countless dedicated supporters and organizations who beat the drum as well as the pavement demanding an end to solitary confinement, LONG TERM solitary confinement.

To the 30,000 hunger strikers who courageously stood up, we commend each and every one of you, no matter if you did one day or the whole 60 days. We have had three hunger strikes in which none of us could imagine such courage would stem from such a peaceful protest. But as I have written in an article called, “Because I’ve seen men,”* my own personal strength and resolve has been improved on. I could not have ever expected to be amongst such courageous individuals. I salute each and every one of you.

We want to always give much respect and love to the six prisoners who sacrificed their lives despite what CDCr propagated against you. We know each and every one of you died for a cause that’s more honorable than anything, especially in a world where men and women die every day for nothing. We also know none of you were suicidal. We will forever hold you all in our memory, high before the world. (more…)

Prisoners at Foothills Show Support For Central Prison Strikers

Three inmates in Foothills Prison recently expressed their support in writing for the “Strong 8,” eight prisoners who work in kitchens at Central Prison and were recently sentenced to I-Con (solitary) for their participation in a brief sit-down strike in December.

They declare,

“To whom this may concern,

I am writing in support for the working inmates whom exercised their constitutional right, in December 2011, of peaceful assembly. However, these workers have been unlawfully placed on Intensive Control Status.

This punishment is NOT only constitutionally wrong, but morally wrong due to the requests for better work wages and gain time issues. This letter is a modest request to have these working inmates punishment overturned and that they be released from segregation to regular population. I support the exercise of constitutional rights!


Karon Moses

Adrian “Hakim” Jordan

Dakarai McGowan

A Message for Unity: Hunger Striker Speaks Out on Prisoner Unity

(The following was written by one of the hunger strikers at Foothills, as a general message to folks on both sides of the wall across the US. Feel free to spread this far and wide to prisoners and prisoners’ family members across the country. Please repost this!)

As you and I speak, walk, sleep, eat and everything else we are busy doing, the establishment is busy stuffing slave cages with 2.3 million people in the US – almost 2.4 million. The vast majority are black and brown lower-class “citizens,” many of which have formed subcultures as street tribes. Almost all of these tribes originally began with the purpose of uplifting and serving their communities, and fighting the oppression they have been receiving since the Europeans came to this continent.

Somehow, this original purpose of existence has faded to the rearview and become obsolete. The confusing part about it is that the majority of the street tribes do not have a clue how or why it has happened. It is this ignorance to our history that has us doing what we are doing now: fratricidal suicide (with warfare between each other), killing over material things and property we don’t own, and most of all, oppressing and destroying ourselves. These effects need clarity and explanations on the causes. I will try to do so in a concise manner while trying to give a full understanding of our history. (more…)