Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Georgia - Stop Violence Against Striking Prisoners

Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

Coalition of NAACP, Nation of Islam, Elected Officials, Prisoner

Demand Governor Perdue and DOC Commissioner Brian Owens

Stop Violence Against Striking Prisoners

December 13, 2010, 3:30 p.m.
State Capitol
100 Washington Street
Atlanta, Georgia

NAACP State Chairman Edward Dubose joined by representatives from the
Nation of Islam, elected officials and others, who have formed the
Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, will hold a press
conference at 3:30 p.m. today at the Capitol to urge Governor Perdue
and Department of Corrections Commissioner Owens to halt the violent
tactics being employed by guards against thousands of striking
prisoners. They have reached out to Perdue and Owens for meetings
earlier in the day.

Begun on December 9, 2010, the prisoners’ peaceful protest has been
historic in scope and in the unity of thousands of black, brown,
white, Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian prisoners, including those at
Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith,
Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons. For five days, now, these
men have shut down all activity at most of these facilities.

The prisoners are petitioning the DOC for their human
rights, including being paid for their labor, provided educational
opportunities, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to
cruel and unusual punishments, and just parole decisions.

While the prisoners’ protest has remained non-violent, the DOC has
used violent measures to force the men back to work under the banner
of law, despite the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery. At
Augusta State Prison, several inmates were brutally ripped from their
cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs, one
man beaten beyond recognition. At Telfair, the Tactical Squad
roughed up prisoners and destroyed all their property. At Macon and
Hays State Prisons, Tactical Squads have menaced the men for days,
removing some to the “hole,” the wardens ordering heat and hot water
turned off. Tear gas has been used to force men out of their cells
at various prisons, while guards patrol grounds with assault rifles.

The DOC has made itself unavailable to the press and prisoner family
members, creating fears that, behind closed doors, the Department
will escalate this peaceful protest to a violent confrontation. The
Coalition is urging the DOC to come to the table in peace to address
the prisoners’ concerns.

“Due to the harsh conditions faced behind bars and the need for
prison reform, the men are staying in their cells as a form of
peaceful protest. No officials or staff have been threatened and no
property has been damaged. These men’s requests are reasonable and
in accord with the basic respect and treatment every human being
deserves,” said Elaine Brown, a social activist and former Black
Panther Party leader. Brown is spearheading the Concerned Coalition
to Respect Prisoners’ Rights. More information about the Coalition
can be found on its Facebook page.

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Contact: Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

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