Occupied Muscogee Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Shawnee, Yuchi lands
The Free Alabama Movement, led primarily by Black men who are incarcerated in the state of Alabama, has declared a 30-day economic blackout — a boycott of for-profit prison services and a work strike — to protest inhumane conditions at prisons across Alabama.
The Jan. 1-31 protest focuses on the inaction of the Alabama Department of Corrections in tackling COVID-19 statewide, as well as ADOC attempts to institute video calls throughout its prisons. That would effectively end in-person visitation between those incarcerated and their family and friends.
During the January blackout, FAM is asking for a total boycott of the following corporations: JPay, Union Supply Company, Access Corrections, Securus Technologies and Alabama Correctional Industries. These five companies are directly responsible for the worsening conditions for those incarcerated in Alabama.
FAM is also calling for incarcerated people to refuse to go to work at the prisons during January.
The blackout is responding to the outright negligence of the ADOC in handling COVID cases. Recently a spike in positive cases occurred at Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent, Ala. Retesting is being done on those incarcerated, with no explanation given, amid many accusations that test results are being tampered with and skewed. (tinyurl.com/y5fknj5y)
With a few exceptions, Alabama authorities remain steadfast in refusing to release anyone due to the rising number of cases within ADOC prisons, though Etowah County is releasing some incarcerated workers in the coming weeks. Those still incarcerated are forced to sit by and wait, possibly infected, but without knowing and not being given an answer.
Why a blackout of prisons?
In a Nov. 16 video press release from FAM, co-founder Kinetik Justice Amun explained the reasoning for the blackout:
In January of 2014, we made a lot of allegations under the banner of the Free Alabama Movement. We released over 60 videos showing the horrid conditions of what was going on inside the Alabama Department of Corrections. We released interviews and stories of people who are incarcerated to show how white supremacy affects the criminal justice system throughout the state. How so many people were overcharged, and how many were over-sentenced, the majority of which are young Black men [who] have been trapped inside the Alabama Department of Corrections for decades.
These allegations made by the Free Alabama Movement were justified and verified by the Department of Justice’s investigation into all male prisons in the Alabama prison system. Therefore, for the last six months, we have been waiting on some type of accountability, somebody to have to pay some type of consequence for the violations of [the rights of] all prisoners in the state of Alabama, for the violations of their Eighth Amendment right [to have “no cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”].
There have been no consequences forthcoming, and no one has been accountable. Therefore, we at Free Alabama Movement, in order to establish that we will no longer accept being dehumanized and we will no longer accept being victims of white supremacy, we are calling for a 30-day economic blackout of the entire Alabama Department of orrections.
We’re asking that all brothers [who] are incarcerated in the state of Alabama not to go to work January 1st through January 31st. We’re asking all family members and loved ones to support these brothers in boycotting Securus, with their video visitation, because once Securus establishes their video visitation, they plan to do away permanently with all contact visits. So if you ever want to touch your loved one again, help and support the brothers as we boycott Securus and their phone services. We’re also boycotting Access Corrections, as they continue to exploit the family members and loved ones with exorbitant prices of things they sell to those incarcerated.
We’re asking you to join us and support us in calling for a 30-day economic blackout of the entire Alabama Department of Corrections. [View video at tinyurl.com/y4gw574k.)
Support resistance in the prisons!
It is imperative that incarcerated people all across the Alabama prison system be supported in their economic blackout and work strike of the cruel and inhumane Alabama Department of Corrections. The fascistic prison system must be abolished, and these comrades behind the walls are leading the way in doing just that.
For more, visit freealabamamovement.wordpress.com/
Devin C is a transgender Marxist organizer and writer. They are the president of Strive (Socialist Trans Initiative), a transgender advocacy organization, and member of the Workers World Party – Central Gulf Coast (Alabama, Florida and Mississippi) branch.