• The Fling Issue

    July Prison Updates: Riots, Hunger Strikes, and Hillary Clinton’s Hollow Prison Reform Rhetoric

    The Fling Issue

    With a decade of organizing experience corresponding with and providing support for incarcerated folks, Neal Shirley gives us the scoop on struggles on both sides of the wall with Prisons are for Burning.

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    Neal Shirley has been involved in a range of (anti) prison related groups for about eight years. Most recently he’s been involved with a project that corresponds with prisoners and solicits and disseminates their news and analysis across North Carolina's prison system. He co-authored the book Dixie Be Damned: 300 Years of Insurrection in the American South. He makes a living doing food service work and teaching mixed martial arts to kids of all ages, and spends his free time fighting in cages and scheming new ways to deep-fry southern delicacies.

    July column

    Prisons are for Burning

    Riots, Hunger Strikes, and a Critique of Hillary’s Prison Reform Rhetoric

    Hey y’all! Let me take a minute to sum up some of the prison and anti-prison-related happenings around North America. The past couple of months have seen everything from American prison riots to attacks on Mexican polling stations in solidarity with prisoners. Please spread the news far and wide via the spacebook and twumbler or whatever, and by all means throw some love and letters in the direction of the prisoners mentioned here.

    The always entertaining and insightful anarchist prisoner Sean Swain wrote a review of the recently translated book, To Our Friends, a follow-up by the Invisible Committee to their highly influential The Coming Insurrection. Swain has this to say about the new text: “Having read it, I have a prediction to make: If just half of the people who read The Coming Insurrection read To Our Friends, the entire control system that exploits us right now will collapse within 5 days. We have to give it 5 days, you know. Some people read slower than others.”

    Presumably in celebration of the freedom and independence that our great country stands for, prisoners staged a riot over July 4 weekend at a private prison in Kingman, AZ. The state was forced to send in nearly 100 extra guards to put down the “major disturbance,” which rendered two housing units totally uninhabitable. The Utah-based company, Management and Training Corp, now has to pay to relocate over 700 prisoners.

    Mexican police have been harassing members of the prisoner solidarity group Anarchist Black Cross outside of their houses and workplaces. Other anarchists in Mexico declared the month of June to be “Junio Negro,” a time to undermine the country’s mid-term electoral farce, show solidarity with prisoners, and step up combative efforts against the Mexican State. In some areas students have erected flaming barricades, and another group launched an incendiary attack against the seat of the Federal Ministry of Social Development in Jalapa, Veracruz. In the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero, crowds of people have seen through the voting bullshit and attacked and destroyed polling stations. This is what democracy looks like!

    Prisoners in Georgia are protesting a new disciplinary program called TIER. In response to the conditions at Georgia State Prison, numerous prisoners initiated a hunger strike back in April, with one continuing to this day. You can hear an interview with the mom of one of those prisoners here.

    Kalief Browder, a young man incarcerated without trial at the New York prison of Rikers Island from the age of 16-19, on the accusation of stealing a fucking backpack, committed suicide in June. On June 11, protesters attempting to get onto the bridge to Riker’s Island were stopped by officers and police dogs.

    Animal rights activist Kevin Oliff took a non-cooperating guilty plea for violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a piece of legislation designed to protect puppy, bunny, and kitten-torturing murderers from righteous acts of sabotage and liberation, and now faces a sentence of up to three years in prison. You can send him a letter or donate to his commissary here

    On May 10, nearly one hundred prisoners fed up with their conditions at Nebraska’s Tecumseh Correctional Facility set fires and fought with guards. One prisoner was shot with a live round in the leg. Once guards regained control and had the prisoners handcuffed, they began to shoot them in the back with less-lethal ammunition, because prison guards are professional fucking cowards. According to one prisoner, “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has threatened to sue because of the overcrowding and current living conditions. The inmate population has tried many times to get programming that would help us upon release, and time and again: nothing.” 

    The assholes at the Pennsylvania Parole Board denied parole to Delbert Africa of the MOVE 9, because bombing a dude’s neighborhood and jailing his family apparently isn’t enough punishment for having struggled for black self-determination. One of the reasons they cited for Delbert being denied is that, in their own words he is a “risk to the safety of the community.” 

    Eco-prisoner Marius Mason has been transferred to the Special Housing Unity (SHU), aka solitary confinement, for an alleged violation of prison disciplinary rules. Letters of solidarity and support are encouraged. Marius also recently wrote a piece to commemorate World Oceans Day. Seriously y’all, write to Marius.

    Pennsylvania prisoner Robert Saleem Holbrook penned an excellent critique of Hillary Clinton’s hollow rhetoric around prison reform.

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