How to Support Striking Prisoners

Starting August 21st, prisoners nationwide went on strike, demanding better working and living conditions. There are currently strike actions confirmed at: Northwest Detention Center, Georgia State Prison, Broad River Correctional Institution, Lee Correctional Institution, McCormick Correctional Institution, Turbeville Correctional Institute, Kershaw Correctional Institution, Lieber Correctional Institution, Hyde Correctional Institution, New Folsom Prison, Toledo Correctional Institution, Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, Lea County Correctional Institution, Charlotte Correctional Institution, Dade Correctional Institution, Franklin Correctional Institution, Holmes Correctional Institution, Apalachee Correctional, Burnside County Jail, Stiles Unit, and Michael Unit, with more suspected prisoner strike activities being silenced to outsiders, and hundreds of solidarity actions continuing to happen nationwide among outside supporters. Going into week three it is important to assess where we are at and how we can help efforts moving forward.

Aside from solidarity actions such as banner drops, leafleting, business boycotts, divestment campaigns, noise demos, and other forms of solidarity protest, we can also provide much needed resources behind the scenes. Write letters to striking prisoners, coordinate and participate in phone zaps, and support the strike fund.

One of the most important forms of communication in this campaign has been letter writing. Most of the work of groups like the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) consists of corresponding with inmate organizers via mail, and checking in on them and their needs as they organize behind bars. On their website, IWOC has a list of prisoners who are currently striking and would love to hear from you. Write them and let them know they are not alone. Let them know that you are here to help however you can. Knowing they have the support of those on the outside keeps them strong and regular correspondence lets guards know that people are keeping tabs on them.

Phone zaps have also been an indispensable tactic during this strike and others before it. Phone zaps let their targets know that folks are paying attention and are outraged. It lets them know that there is public support for these demands and that they are not going away anytime soon. Phone zaps have been used to halt the torture of prisoners, convince politicians to change their stances, and harass business owners and other public figures into amending their practices. An updated list of phone zap campaigns can be found here.

Finally, if nothing else, throw a few dollars into the official strike fund and/or spread it around to those who will. In the aftermath of these types of actions, many prisoners face state repression and will need things like legal help and other resources. The groups involved in the fundraiser include not only IWOC but also Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, San Francisco Bay View, and the Anarchist Black Cross who will use that money to continue to organize to support prisoner efforts to organize for their own freedom.

These three simple actions provide endless amounts of support and all play their part in helping make this a sustainable movement that can reach its goals. Together we can make a difference. So let’s stand in solidarity with our comrades behind bars.

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