Prison strike actions

On August 21, the 187th anniversary of Nat Turner’s Rebellion, prisoners around the country will participate in an all-out wildcat strike to demand an end to prison slavery. This will involve walk-outs, sit-ins, work strikes and boycotts. The strike will last until September 9th, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising. The strike is being endorsed by over 140 different organizations from around the world, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) via their Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). This strike is a massive showing of prisoner power and all organizations involved must take direction explicitly from people inside. Please see #DeeperThanWater’s endorsement here.

On August 21st, the Boston May Day Coalition will kick off the strike locally with a vigil at South Bay Detention Center. Those of you that have been following Cosecha Boston’s work will know that this site reprehensibly doubles as an ICE detention facility. We strongly encourage everyone to turn out to this event, to kick off what promises to be one of the most important strikes in worker history.

On the 23rd, Deeper Than Water will be holding a second rally and action outside of the Nashua Street Jail in conjunction with the Massachusetts National Lawyer’s Guild. Our local organizers inside have stated that one of the biggest problems facing prisoners right now in MA is the extensive use solitary confinement, particularly against prisoners who speak to the press. The 23rd has historically been chosen as an action date to draw attention to the barbarity of the practice, where prisoners are kept in a miniscule closet for 23 hours a day, only let out for a maximum of 1 hr to walk (in a different cage) to keep blood clots from forming due to inactivity.

Please reach out if your organization is interested in endorsing the Aug. 23rd rally. See below:

to endorse email

Endorsing means:

  • your organization must accept the national strike demands (below)
  • call for the total end of solitary confinement in any circumstance
  • committing to turn out 4-10 (or 100, or 1000…) of your members
  • share this event on your email, social media, etc lists

Coalition members:

Black Lives Matter Boston
Black and Pink
SURJ Boston – Showing Up for Racial Justice
Toxics Action Center
PSL Boston – Party for Socialism and Liberation
Young Abolitionists
individual current and formerly incarcerated organizers

Endorsing organizations [8/23]:

National Lawyers Guild – Massachusetts Chapter
Boston Democratic Socialists of America
FIRE Boston
Workers World Party-Boston
Jericho Movement: Boston Branch
Harvard TPS Coalition

Official endorsement of the #August21 National Prison Strike



#DeeperThanWater is proud to endorse the National Prison Strike and their associated demands called for August 21, 2018. Read the full call and list of demands here.

We recognize prison, police, and parole as primary tools in the machine of white supremacy and white supremacist capitalism. The animating spirit of prison, police, and parole is the idea that Black and brown and poor people are not human, thus paving the road for the reprehensible practice of caging our fellow humans and the specific atrocities that inexorably follow.

Workers held captive in state, federal, and immigration prisons have called on us to support them in withdrawing their labor from the system that grinds down their humanity. As we draw on 500 years of abolitionist movement building from Beacon Hill to MCI Norfolk, we oppose this modern day system of slavery and segregation. In the demands put forward by these held captive  illustrate, there is so much we can do to keep building toward abolition.

To our supporters on the outside, look for an action during the strike (August 21-September 9), follow the strike online and wherever possible direct mainstream media attention to it.

Write to prisoners. There will be retaliation, when there is – show up and hold the jailers accountable.

As one of our beloved friends and incarcerated organizers is fond of saying – we see this strike as the loosening of nuts and bolts in the prison system. Eventually, it will collapse.

And with it, so will one more leg of white supremacy.


Demands as laid out by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, April 23, 2018:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Download demands: PDF

NPS resources:

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) – A revolutionary arm of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) comprised of formerly and currently incarcerated workers collaborating to abolish prisons and the prison state. Statement on @IGD_News here.
[ site: | twitter: @IWW_IWOC ]

Amani Sawari/Sawari MI – Organizer with the #August21 movement, home of the Solid Black Fist newsletter, the official National Prison Strike newsletter (see issue 1 for a recap of May 19 rally in honor of Malcolm X). Listen to an interview with Amani talking about the strike on Final Straw Radio here.
[  site: | twitter: @sawarimi ]




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