Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Support Georgia prison strikers

It is our understanding that as of today the strike is ongoing and 
deserves all of our complete support. Please see the list of numbers
to call. Also see below for Democracy Now interview with Elaine Brown
on the situation.

Resistance in Brooklyn (RnB)


GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today

By Bruce A. Dixon
Created 12/09/2010 - 13:41

Source URL:

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown
and white inmates of Georgia's notorious state prison system are
standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today,
during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and
other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not
only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own
human rights, but because prisoners are setting an example by
reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have
historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other.

The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of
Georgia's more than one hundred state prisons, correctional
facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional
facilities. We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon
State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending
tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to
stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with
reckless and brutal aggression. So calls to the warden's office of
the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the
welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.
Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721
Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900
Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000

The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http:// [3] and their phone number is 478-992-5246

This is all the news we have for now, more coming.

One in every thirteen adults in the state of Georgia is in prison, on
parole or probation or some form of court or correctional supervision.


Press Release


Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010ŠAtlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,
[4];Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, [5]; Faye
Sanders, 478-550-7046, [6]

Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia
prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain
in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human
rights. The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest
prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays,
Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are
striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections ("DOC") to
stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs
that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the
following demands:

· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment
to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude,
the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

· EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of
prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the
GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

· DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies
adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the
most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and

violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel
prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined
in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter
and oppressive heat in summer.

· NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short
supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training,
self-improvement and proper exercise.

· ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of
prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges
and innumerable barriers to visitation.

· JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and
regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence
of eligibility.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: "No more slavery.
Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to
support our cause. Lock down for liberty!"

Source URL:



At 10:37 PM +0000 12/14/10, wrote:

> From:
> Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 22:37:15 -0000
> Reply-To:
> Macon State Prison is 478-472-3900.
> Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
> Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721
> Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000
> The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://
> and their phone number is 478-992-5246
> ============
> prisoner_advocate_elaine_brown_on_georgia
> AMY GOODMAN: "Seize the Time" by Elaine Brown, who is our next
> guest. That's right.
> At least four prisons in Georgia remain in lockdown five days after
> prisoners went on strike in protest of poor living and working
> conditions. Using cell phones purchased from the guards, the
> prisoners were able to coordinate the protests across Georgia. On
> Monday, Georgia officials confirmed four prisons are still in
> lockdown: Hays State Prison in Trion, Macon State Prison in
> Oglethorpe, Telfair State Prison in Helena, and Smith State Prison
> in Glennville. There have also been reports of prisoners going on
> strike in several other facilities.
> The prisoners say they'll continue refusing to leave their cells or
> perform their jobs until they receive better medical care and
> nutrition, more educational opportunities, payment for the work
> they do in the prisons. In addition, they're demanding just parole
> decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better
> access to their families.
> Well, joining us now is the longtime prison activist Elaine Brown.
> She's a member of the newly formed group Concerned Coalition to
> Respect Prisoners' Rights. She's the former chair of the Black
> Panther Party. She's joining us from Berkeley, California. Up until
> recently she lived in Atlanta, Georgia.
> Elaine Brown, it`s being called the biggest prison strike in U.S.
> history. Explain what's happening.
> ELAINE BROWN: These men created what is effectively a spontaneous
> decision by networking with each other and saying, you know, "We're
> tired of all of the abuse we've been suffering here," as so many
> other prisoners before them have said. "We're going to do
> something, but the something we're going to do is not to try to
> initiate a violent response or initiate violence, but to simply say
> we will not work until we're paid," and the other demands and
> petitions that they have made, as you've outlined. And t hey made a
> decision that that would be on December 9th.
> I have no idea why they picked that date and how they ended up
> getting perhaps ten prisons involved. But at that point, of course,
> the guards and the administration became aware of their intention.
> And so, when they locked down on the night of the 8th, their
> decision was to not get up. And they didn't. But the prison
> pretends, and the administration has pretended, that they locked
> the men down. But they're talking about four prisons, and there
> were probably ten in the initial one-day strike, as it was slated
> to be. They have refused—we're in day six, and they are still
> holding out and saying they will not come out and work unless they
> can sit down at the table and begin to get their demands met and
> their issues dealt with.
> AMY GOODMAN: Elaine Brown, your son is in the Macon State Prison?
> He is there, still on lockdown there?
> ELAINE BROWN: Not only is he on lockdown, but he's in the hole
> right now, because from almost day one or so, I was informed that
> he was taken off to the hole, deemed some sort of leader. Just for
> the sake of the record, because somebody asked—well, said, "Well, I
> understand Elaine Brown doesn't have a son." Well, I didn't give
> birth to this boy. I have known him for 15 years, and I have been
> with him for that long, since he was incarcerated and put into an
> adult facility at 14 years old. And he's done 14 years now. And so,
> he is my son for all—in all meaningful ways.
> AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe the conditions in the Georgia state
> prison system, Elaine Brown?
> ELAINE BROWN: Well, I'm sure they're not very much different from
> other prisons, I mean, or as the men would say, the chain gang or
> the camp they're in. You know, you have overcrowded conditions.
> There is no activity other than the work tasks that they're
> assigned to do. In other words, there's no real educational
> opportunities. There's no exercise. There's nothing else. The food
> is bad. They have poor nutrition. They have crowded—overcrowded
> cells. A lot of the day-to-day thing, I think the most important
> part is that, as it was outlined many years ago in a Stanford study
> conducted by Dr. Phil Zimbardo, one of the most important things is
> that the constant violence being perpetrated against them by
> guards, who with their own idle time look to try and instigate an
> incident here or there, so there's a lot of screaming, hollering,
> you know, aggressive behaviors that go on. And so, there's always
> some incident jumping off, as it were, and so forth and so on. It's
> just a life of idle—idleness and violence and a lack of any basic
> human condition.
> AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what they do in their work. I mean, among
> the conditions, the demands of the prisoners are a living wage for
> work, talking about being a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment
> of the Constitution that prohibits slavery and involuntary
> servitude. What are the work conditions? What are they paid? Are
> they paid? What are they—
> ELAINE BROWN: No, in Georgia, they're not even paid. They're not
> paid one dime in the state of Georgia. I mean, the State Department
> of Corrections would like to say they have some workers that are
> paid. There are probably some people doing life without parole who
> work at the Governor's mansion, maybe 15 of them who might be
> getting some money. But the prisoners in the state of Georgia are
> paid nothing at all.
> Now, that's not to say that the prisoners in other states are being
> paid. They're mostly being paid a dollar a day to 50 cents an hour.
> That would probably be the maximum. So they're not exactly being
> paid enough money to accumulate anything over the years of their
> incarceration and maybe come out of the prison with more than the
> $25 check they give them upon release in the state of Georgia. So,
> they are not paid one single dime, and they are required to clean
> the floors, clean the showers, do the yard work, do the dishes,
> cook the food—in other words, to maintain the prison itself.
> AMY GOODMAN: I'm looking at a report out of the Black Agenda
> Report, and it talks about how there's no educational programs
> available beyond GED with the exception of a single program that
> trains inmates to be Baptist ministers.
> ELAINE BROWN: That's absolutely correct. I believe that's at
> Phillips State Prison, and it's a school out of Louisiana. And I
> think there are about 20 people even enrolled in that program. So,
> it's almost pointless to even mention it.
> AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how this largest prison strike in U.S.
> history was organized, sort of redefining the term "cell phone,"
> Elaine Brown.
> ELAINE BROWN: Well, you know, a lot of people have been fascinated
> by this, and I'm glad that you made note immediately that—you know,
> so many people say, "Well, these guys have contraband." Well, the
> greatest avenue for their obtaining these cell phones is by sales
> from guards, and these guards are selling these phones at
> exorbitant prices. I learned the other day that one guy said he
> paid $800 to a guard for a cell phone that was probably worth about
> 50 bucks. So, that's the first point that has to be made, because
> people imagine that there's all this smuggling going on—and there
> is, but it's on the part of—in the main, on the part of guards that
> are inside these facilities.
> The cell phone played a part, but the other part was that there are
> leaders of different factions in the prison, and they were able to
> sort of discuss what could they do. Instead of fighting among
> themselves, is there anything that they could do to try to change
> the conditions of being just constantly bombarded with violent
> attacks, with, you know, idle time, and so forth and so on? And they
> —at some point, a number of them just decided, "Well, we just
> shouldn't work." And it just became a prairie fire. It was truly
> the spark that lit the prairie fire. And everybody was saying,
> "Well, I'm down with that. We're not going to get up." And each
> group—you know, you have blacks in various subsets, and you have
> Muslims, you have Mexicans and other Latinos, Hispanics, you have
> Whites, you have Rastafarians, you have Christians—all of them, for
> reasons that I cannot explain how they suddenly understood how to
> be unified, decided, "Yeah, we're not working, and we're down with
> this, and we're not going to get up, and we're going to stay
> united." And across the prisons, in the various sets, they called
> each other, sent text messages, and they all agreed to do it. And
> they agreed on the date, and that was December 9.
> AMY GOODMAN: Elaine, I interviewed you a long time ago when your
> memoir came out, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. You're
> the former chair of the Black Panther Party. Can you tell us a
> little bit about your life and how you came to be a prison activist
> today?
> ELAINE BROWN: Well, it's pretty—you know, it's sort of organic,
> very much like this prisoner strike. You know, we used to say in
> the Black Panther Party, "Repression breeds resistance." Pardon me.
> I was born in the ghettos of North Philadelphia—I was raised,
> rather, in the ghettos of North Philadelphia. Even though I went to
> sort of privileged schools and so forth and so on, I was very
> conscious of that. When I ultimately joined the Black Panther Party
> at around 24 years old, I knew then that I was fully conscious that
> the things that I experienced in my life were a part of a larger
> picture and that I was a part of a group of people who were an
> oppressed group. From that point on, the question was liberation.
> The aspects of our—of liberation and the ending of all
> exploitation, as we would say it, was just a matter of looking at
> all the various aspects of our oppression and how it played itself
> out. In the Black Panther Party, there was a 10-point platform and
> program that articulated some of the manifestations of our general
> oppression, talking about lack of education, as a matter of fact,
> not having enough food and housing. In essence, what we called for
> was freedom and right of self-determination.
> We recognized that our plight was not much different as black
> people than other oppressed people, and we joined arms and forces
> with a variety of other groups like the Brown Berets, the Red
> Guard, the Young Lords, the Young Patriots, and so forth. And then
> we linked ourselves to the international struggle of people around
> the world for national liberation in Vietnam, throughout the
> continent of Africa, and in Latin America, South America. So, we
> became internationalists.
> And I remain that person. So it isn't complicated to draw the line
> from that struggle to the struggle of the most oppressed group in
> America: the prisoner class. The prisoners in this country, as you
> know, make up the largest prisoner group in the world. America
> confines more people than any single country at a higher rate and a
> higher—and the largest number. Fifty percent of those prisoners, or
> nearly 50 percent of them, are black men. And so, we have to ask
> the question, how did that come to be? Either the black men are the
> only people—when we consider that we black people make up
> approximately 12 to 13 percent of the overall population and yet
> almost 50 percent of the prison population, we have to ask the
> question, is this the result of some genetic flaw in black people?
> Are we obviously some sort of criminally minded? Or is there
> something wrong in the scheme of things? Obviously, the latter is
> what I would say. And so, I've committed myself to bringing people
> out of prison.
> I have a very close friend who was a member of the Black Panther
> Party here in California, who has been in prison since 1969, over
> 41 years, Chip Fitzgerald. So I helped to organize the Committee to
> Free Chip Fitzgerald. These people have been buried in prison for
> their political beliefs, and they've been buried in prison for
> their poverty. There are no rich people languishing in the prisons
> of America. So, there's a class question. There's a race question.
> And this is just a continuation of expressing my efforts or of
> continuing my efforts toward the goal of the liberation of all
> oppressed people.
> AMY GOODMAN: Elaine Brown, I want to thank you very much for being
> with us and just ask you a final question about what you expect the
> outcome of—it was planned as a one-day strike, December 9th,
> biggest strike in U.S. history in prisons. But with the lockdown
> continuing in a number of the state prisons in Georgia, what's
> going to happen?
> ELAINE BROWN: Well, we—this coalition that you have mentioned, the
> Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner Rights, which includes
> everything from the NAACP national office and the state office to
> the Nation of Islam and a number of other organizations, All of Us
> or None, so forth, across the country, we've been talking in
> conference calls over the last two days. We are having a meeting at
> this point with either the commissioner or deputy commissioner of
> the Department of Corrections. We plan on imploring them to first
> stop instigating the situation and trying to escalate it to a
> violent confrontation, which is what they are doing by prodding men
> with everything, turning off the heat, beating people, forcing them
> out of their cells, turning off the hot water, destroying and
> trashing people's property, not feeding them, and so forth and so
> on, all kinds of tactics to instigate a violent response. So our
> first goal is to make sure this does not become Attica, although it
> is not like Attica because the prisoners have not taken hostages or
> anything of this sort. They are simply not leaving their cells.
> AMY GOODMAN: Elaine Brown, we're going to have to leave it there.
> ELAINE BROWN: And then the next step—
> AMY GOODMAN: But I thank you very much for being with us.
> ELAINE BROWN: Alright, thank you.
> AMY GOODMAN: Longtime prison activist—
> ELAINE BROWN: OK, thank you.
> AMY GOODMAN:—former chair of the Black Panther Party. Thank you so
> much. We'll continue to follow the Georgia strike.
> =

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