Official press release from Jill2016.com, September 10th, 2016 – statement by Ajamu Baraka, Green VP candidate:
Today, inmates are beginning a nationwide strike to abolish slavery in the prison system. With the largest prisoner population in the world, it is a strike that forces us to challenge the United States’ domestic human rights record. Forcing people to work for little to no pay is slavery. Plain and simple. The barbaric treatment of inmates reflects the backwardness of a system that has refused to recognize the inherent dignity of all people.
To be treated with a minimum standard of basic human rights (regardless of whether or not you have been convicted of a crime) is a birthright that ALL of us must fight to guarantee. Hoping to make this strike one of the biggest in history, prisoners around the country are taking their power back and I stand fully in support of the strike.
If you value human life and the struggle for freedom, then our liberation cannot be limited to those of us outside of the prison system.
While this resistance is taking place behind the walls of prisons in over 20 states and hundreds of inmates refusing to go to work, it will not be successful without support from the outside. I encourage everyone to show your support however you can.
If that involves calling to encourage your family members who are in prison, then call; if it means sharing information on social media so that more people become aware of these issues, then share; if it means submitting op-eds to your local paper, then write; if it means standing outside the walls of a prison with signs of support, then stand; if it’s bombarding the local prison’s warden’s office with calls, emails, faxes–do that too. But do not remain silent.
We cannot afford to ignore those in the shadows. In many of our communities there are few who haven’t been affected by the stench of prison slavery, oppression and impacts of policing. Today marks the beginning of the strike, but we have a long way to go and I intend to be on the side of those who fight for freedom until we’ve won.
Additionally, Baraka published the following on his website, AjamuBaraka.com:
Thousands of incarcerated men and women throughout the United States are participating in a coordinated strike to protest the inhumane conditions in U.S. prisons. The United States currently imprisons over 2.4 million people — far more than any other country in the world. Structural racism in the U.S. criminal justice system ensures that people of color disproportionately fill these jails. In 2005, an Amnesty International report referred to the U.S. prison system as the “gulag of our times.” This strike reveals how conditions have only gotten worse.
I have worked for prisoner rights at many capacities throughout my life. For more than a decade, I worked tirelessly against the death penalty meeting with prisoners on death row and their families. I can attest to the ruthless violations of their human rights. Solitary confinement. Psychological and physical abuse. Systematic racism. Slave labor. The state is responsible for these criminal activities and must be held accountable.
Today, strikers commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, where 33 inmates were executed for protesting similar conditions. Then and now, U.S. politicians routinely exploit prisoners and expect people not to notice. They are wrong. We stand in solidarity with the strikers as they struggle against injustice and a system that continues to fail them.