A week has passed since the beginning of one of the most important prison movements in U.S. recent history, but it’s difficult to understand its importance inside the walls, as the very same nature of prisons limits communication with the outside world.
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) issued a press release on Tuesday stating that the movement has spread through different states.
On Thursday, August 23, Newsweek reported that about 60 immigrants were being held at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington, and they were taking part in a hunger strike in support of the inmates. ICE denied the report, but it reconfirmed by Rewire.News on Tuesday that indeed six people were taking part in the protest and NWDC Resistance confirmed they had been placed in solitary confinement.
“We are acting with solidarity for all those people who are being detained wrongfully and stand together to help support all those women who have been separated from their children,” said a handwritten letter posted at the NWDC Resistance Facebook page, “and to stop all the family separations happening today for a lot of us are also being separated and we have U.S. citizen children.”
The IWOC expected a higher number of striking inmates, but fear of retaliation has made them have a second thoughts. The NWDC Resistance reported that the NWDC has been known for threatening to force-feed detained immigrants who are on hunger strike, among other retaliation actions.
According to the IWOC, there are seven detainees still refusing to eat.
In South Carolina, prisoners from the Broad River Correctional Institution, Lee Correctional Institution, McCormick Correctional Institution, Turbeville Correctional Institute, Kershaw Correctional Institution, and Lieber Correctional Institution are on strike, some of them refusing to buy supplies from the commissary.
They also registered strikes at Georgia’s State Prison; the Hyde Correctional Institution in Swanquarter, North Carolina; the New Folsom Prison in California; the Wabash Valley Correctional Institution in Indiana; the Toledo Correctional Institution in Ohio; the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, New Mexico; the Charlotte CI, the Dade Correctional, the Franklin Correctional, the Holmes Correctional, and the Apalachee Correctional in Florida; and the Stiles Unit and the Michael Unit in Texas.
Also, prisoners in the Burnside County Jail in Halifax, Canada, went on strike and issued a solidarity statement, including their own local demands.
Some of the institutions deny any strike activity or retaliation, but communication between inmates has been strong enough to provide inter-state information on the movement.
Even though the strikes have earned widespread coverage by local and international media, the IWOC will now on be careful with the way media treats the movement, as there is sensitive information that shouldn't be published.
"We have had incidents where media have had the opportunity to interview imprisoned prison strike leadership and have refused to print their words because the prisoner refused to give out his government name out of an understanding of the very real dangers of reprisal," says the press release.
The strike has extended through different states and has earned the support of other outside-of-the-walls movements and individuals in their struggle to end up modern slavery and improve indoor conditions.
The strike began on August 21, marking the 47th anniversary of the murder of Black Panther member, George Jackson, by correctional officers in San Quentin. On that day, about 50 people brought a marching band in front of the Juvenile Detention Center in Minneapolis, held banners in support of their struggle and shot off fireworks for the delight of the inmates.
Similar scenes were seen in other counties and states. In Boston, over 100 people protested at Suffolk County Jail in support of the strike.Suffolk County Jail
On Saturday 25, about 300 protesters gathered outside the San Quentin State Prison in California in support of the national strike. On that day as well, relatives of prisoners and supportive people protested in front of the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, where seven prisoners were killed in April, moving forward the planned strike.
In a match against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on August 26, defender Joey Farrel of the Phoenix Rising FC waved a red and black flag in support of the prison strike after scoring a goal.