Beginning Aug. 21 and continuing to Sept. 9, prisoners in state institutions and for-profit prison facilities across the U.S. are expected to conduct a series of work stoppages and hunger strikes to bring attention to their demands.
Among the issues driving them to take the risk of severe repression are demands to be paid for their labor; immediate improvements in their living conditions, such as decent food and medical care, access to rehabilitation programs and education; and the end to brutality at the hands of guards.
The first Atlanta support event is a pre-strike cookout on Aug. 18 to reach out to families of prisoners and formerly incarcerated people in an expression of solidarity. When a father, mother, sibling or child is imprisoned, the chains of incarceration wrap around the family and strangle the community.
Women on the Rise, an organization of formerly incarcerated women of color, are key organizers of this gathering, and will be bringing their members and contacts to the neighborhood Westside Park for food, music and socializing.
On Aug. 21, the first day of the strike and the date of the murder of famed prisoner writer and Black Panther Party leader George Jackson, the coalition will direct messages of solidarity through words, music, poetry and drumming to those caged in the Atlanta City Detention Center.
The ACDC is already the target of grassroots organizers demanding an end to its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold im/migrants there. Community demands further call for closing the entire facility and using the tens of millions of dollars spent on its operation for services to alleviate homelessness, poverty and addiction.
Additional programs planned to expose the inhumanity and class oppression of prisons are a film night and a Sept. 9 teach-in tracing the history of prison rebellions from Attica to the resistance of today’s imprisoned liberation fighters. The Attica Uprising by those imprisoned in the maximum security facility near Buffalo, N.Y., began Sept. 9, 1971.
The organizations taking part in the coalition keep growing and, in addition to Workers World Party, include Georgia Detention Watch, World Without Police, the New Jim Crow Action Group, Uplifting People, the Industrial Workers of the World, Black Lives Matter, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Food Not Bombs and The Tear Down.