On Monday, February 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM, the Occupy Boston People of Color Working Group, Ocupemos El Barrio, and many other individuals and organizations will be taking party the National Occupy Day for Prisoners at the Nashua Street Jail on 200 Nashua Street in Boston. Answering the call from Occupy Oakland, we will stand in solidarity with the people confined within prison walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies. We will meet at 3pm at the North Station MBTA Stop at Causeway St. and Friend St. and then march to the Nashua Street Jail.
Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.
Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people—who are disproportionately people of color—currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.
Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.
Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2/3 of all prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. While the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free.
In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.
We call on Occupies across the country to support:
1. Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.
2. Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.
3. Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.
4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.
5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.
6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care, jobs and other human services which contribute to the public good. In Massachusetts, it costs farmore on average a year to house a prisoner compared to the price for a year of higher education at most state and local colleges.
In Massachusetts and Boston, people including youth are held in prisons and jails, including Nashua Street Jail and Suffolk County House of Corrections (South Bay). State prisons across Massachusetts are 142% overcrowded and ICE is detaining people on immigration cases at South Bay. We also call for:
· The end to the current attempt to pass a three strikes bill in Massachusetts
· The unjust detention and treatment of prisoners, including Tarek Mehanna and Arnold King. Tarek Mehanna is an example of the targeting of young Muslim men around the country for First Amendment protected activities under the Patriot Act’s new provisions. Arnold King is 59 years old and has been locked up since he was 18. He has been continually denied commutation even after receiving two votes by the parole board to “favorable” status.
· Research and reporting on racial disparities within the juvenile justice system
· Trans women in prison to have access to services and hormones, and HIV+ to be allowed to keep their medications on their person
· A visitor bill of rights that reflects humane and just practices
· An end to police brutality and stop and frisk policies targeting communities of color, and the establishment of a civilian review board in Boston with real power to hold the police department accountable
On February 20th, 2012 we will organize in front of San Quentin, where male death-row prisoners are housed, where Stanley Tookie Williams was immorally executed by the State of California in 2005, and where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned.
At this demonstration, through prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We will contact social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.
National and International Outreach
We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate. We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.
We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012, because it is a non-weekend day. Presidents’ Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners’ visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.
For more information and/or to endorse, email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com.
ENDORSERS (listed alphabetically)
All of Us or None
ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism Coalition)
Arizona Prison Watch
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Chicago PIC Teaching Collective
Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald
Community Futures Collective
December 9th Georgia and International Prisoners’ Movement
Free Tarek Mehanna Campaign
Hope for Freedom Paralegal Services
International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
International Socialist Organization
Kevin Cooper Defense Committee
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
Labor for Palestine
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Life Support Alliance
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Nevada Prison Watch
NYC Labor Against the War
Occupied Oakland Tribune
Ocupemos El Barrio
Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression
Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Watch Network
Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. (Buffalo, NY)
Real Cost of Prisons
Redwood Curtain CopWatch
San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
Solitary Watch News
Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network
Through Barbed Wire
Anne Weills, National Lawyers Guild (NLG).
Barbara Becnel, founder, STW Legacy Network
Carole Seligman, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jeffrey Alan Masko, tutor and media coordinator, Second Chance Program at CCSF
Michael Letwin, Former President, Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Noelle Hanrahan, Project Director, Prison Radio
Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, former hostages in Iran and human rights activists
Stanley Tookie Williams IV