Prisons and the struggles against them
This page will be subject to regular updates, most notably in the chronology , but also in giving references to interesting texts. So far (22/8/15), in addition to the chronology , I’ve only put in a couple of minor personal experiences related to prison which follows the chronology, and some other reading material , which will be added to bit by bit. But I wanted to put this out in time for this week’s “solidarity with anarchist prisoners”.
This is dedicated to Keith LaMar, who in 1993 took part in a prison uprising which united blacks with white “nazis” 1 against the prison system, in which 9 prisoners and one guard died. Keith LaMar has just had his final appeal against the death penalty turned down, and it looks very likely that, after over 22 years, he will be murdered by the state (look here).
Pictures of the Gordon riots in London 1780, when several prisons were liberated and the buildings set on fire
I’ve put this out as a kind of contribution to the International week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners (23-30 August). A bit tokenistic maybe – as it’s only an internet page, but if there’s something going on in my part of the world (Montpellier, France) I’ll probably participate.
And whilst I really like, for instance, this from Emma Sheppard, why limit this solidarity to “anarchist prisoners”? Though obviously people who call themselves anarchists (I’m not one) are more in a position to express practical solidarity with prisoners who they know, do all those prisoners that they know call themselves anarchists? And on the most general level of information and propaganda, it seems far more worthwhile to address all prisoners, considering the necessity for the abolition of prisons and of the society that requires them. Addressing only anarchist prisoners does not contribute to the necessity to overcome separations between “political” prisoners and other class war prisoners (and the vast majority of those in prison are because of class society, especially property laws). It seems to make a hierarchy between apparently “politically conscious” prisoners and others, even though most anarchists want the abolition of prisons. Which is why below I’ve listed a chronology of all prison-related riots, escapes and other things taken from my News of Opposition page, dating back to March 2013, regardless of whether they involved anarchists or not.
Amongst those who claim to want an anti-state revolution, there have been some who believe that “after the revolution” there will still be specialists-in-order (anarcho-cops) and prisons. For instance, leading Libcom admin member Fall Back once called for, “far more complex, modern, well resourced kinds of ‘prisons’ with more progressive aims than currently exist…”communist prisons” …would be a place where people had broken laws would be forcibly detained”. 2 To talk about communist prisons being entirely different from capitalist prisons is like saying the communist State will be entirely different from the capitalist State: here so-called “anarchism” joins Leninism. Incarcerating anti-social leftovers of the mad alienation of class society (the recalcitrant ex-cops, ex-screws, mass-murdering politicians, mass-thieving bourgeoises, rapists, paedophiles, etc.) all in the same hellhole is obviously idiotic. If elements of communal constraint are necessary they will have nothing to do with the brutal repressive reality of prisons throughout history. To think that we’d call such forcible restraint a ‘prison’ is like calling ‘workers’ councils’ (or whatever term you’d like to imagine the future fantasy society to be) ‘the State’ or ‘the government’. This is not just a question of semantic terms but of a break with hierarchical notions and practices of social control. Killing scum is not the same as capital punishment. Forcible restraint is not the same as prison. A margin of rationing (where scarcity is not forced by capitalist property relations but comes about because of, for example, differences between different geographical areas) is not money. Obviously in this future possibility there will be some way of punishing people who act in ways the community they’re part of find unbearable. But it’s not just semantics that separates, say, “grounding” a teenage kid from the idea of putting him/her in prison, but a general attitude that you want social relations to constantly experiment with changes that have some healthy result. If we talk about the abolition of the State that also means abolishing specialists in social control; the task of determining the methods of making it clear to people that certain behaviour is unacceptable will be the task of the whole of the anti-hierarchical community. To ground this in the past and present: what punishments have we received or given that we considered changed a situation for the good? What punishments during intense moments of class struggle have changed situations for the good? What punishments are we prepared to mete out to those we consider beyond the pale? To anyone not clogged up with dominant perspectives, prison isn’t an answer to any of these.
This is a chronology of prison riots, hunger strikes and other prison-related matter taken from the News of Opposition page, going back to March 2013.
Syria, Hama: hundreds of prisoners riot against conditions “…furniture and equipment ransacked and beds turned into barricades to sealed iron gates…. inmates, mostly held on terror-related charges and for joining protests against the state, took control of several major wards and ransacked prison quarters.“
US, California: riot follows prisoner’s killing of Hugo Pinell, one of the San Quentin 6 politicised prisoners of 1971, a man who’d killed a screw Though this is pure speculation – maybe this was manipulated by screws…? And this seems to confirm something like that…More here “This is revenge,” declared his close friend, fellow Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha, on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 13. “They hated him as much as George Jackson. They beat him constantly, kept him totally isolated for 46 years – no window, no sunlight – but they could never break him, and that’s why they hated him. “The only way he survived was that this man was full of love….He participated in the hunger strikes and applauded the Agreement to End Hostilities, authored by 16 of his comrades, Black, Brown and White, and dated Aug. 12, 2012, three years to the day before he was killed. It has nearly erased racial violence from California prisons.“
Eire, Dublin: prisoners take to the roof, riot “…two inmates remained on the prison roof staging a protest. They accessed the roof at around 11am, followed some time later by a linked protest at the B Yard in the west Dublin prison. Some 60 inmates in the yard refused to leave at 12pm. Prison authorities identified a core of 15 ringleaders, who …demolished soccer goals and used the metal posts, along with security razor wiring, as improvised weapons.” At the same time some of the prisoners take hostage and beat up an Afghani refugee.
France, Yvelines: report of designer clothes manufacturer-cum-prisoner using his past to gain street cred and trying to calm down angry youths after constant on-off mini-riots “This man in his thirties is known to all here. He is extremely active on social networks and in recent months has launched his clothing brand called “For youv”. All this from … his prison cell where he’s been incarcerated for almost thirteen years after a series of robberies. “My past allows me to be credible to those kids”, says youv, who was given permission to organise a barbecue [presumably outside prison] “Burning cars, throwing stones at the police, I did it! And today I am in prison. And believe me, prison is not really an example. ” Sitting in the middle of a group of teenagers consuming a merguez sausage or emptying a coke, the young man commands respect. The kids listen in silence, in awe…. The discussion continues for several minutes. The tone is never preachy. He warns, pacifies, without pointing the finger at one youth or another. “I do not want to appoint blame, I do not want to be in a confrontation. I just use my little notoriety to make things happen in my own way, ” insists youv. An intervention that could possibly bear fruit amongst this very young audience who are not very sensitive to traditional prevention messages.“
Algeria, Ouargla: youths attack courtroom and cops after arrests on previous day’s riot “…Comrades [of those previously arrested] … moved to Ouargla Court demanding their immediate release, without further ado …Young people decided to throw stones and other objects at the windows of the court in a sudden escalation of violence which sparked a forceful intervention from the security forces to deter attackers from crossing the boundary wall of the court and to protect the public building. The clashes lasted a good half hour before the youths were pushed outside the perimeter of the court which also has several banks, tax management, the headquarters of the wilaya [kind of prefecture] and the operational area of the army ….The authorities had to close their doors, several businesses pulled down their shutters before the street regained its composure.“
Argentina, Tucuman: 20 youths attack police station with sticks and stones, burn or smash 3 cars belonging privately to cops and 2 hijacked vehicles According to this, this attack was made by friends and family of someone who died of asphyxiation in a prison.
US, Arizona: July 4th celebrations prison-style “Problems began July 2 in the medium-security Hualapai Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman when inmates were “non-compliant and caused significant damage” in two housing areas”
US: Arizona: 2nd night of riot in prison “In Wednesday’s incident, a small group of minimum security inmates were chasing down an inmate when prison staff intervened to stop the assault, Wilder said. The inmates assaulted the officers, and six officers suffered minor injuries.,.. it took a couple of hours to get the prisoners back to their housing units…Thursday’s incident involved many more inmates and turned into a full-blown riot involving an unknown number of inmates…. It took many hours for prison staff and Department of Corrections officers to bring the situation under control, and the prison wasn’t secured until early Friday morning, Wilder said. Three guards were hurt.”
Mexico, Mexico City: prisoners’ hunger strike now in 6th day Pi writes: “A declaration on the sixth day of hunger strike of the “Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance” by Fernando Bárcenas, an anarchist jailed and accused of having burnt a coca-cola tree during a movement against the rise of metro ticket prices. What is pretty interesting is that this new declaration (several have been issued during these last days) clearly states they’re against all prisons and the distinction between “political prisoners” and others.” See 27/6/15 for original declaration.
Australia, Melbourne: there’s no smoking ban without fire “Fire crews have returned to the scene of a blaze at the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall, a day after inmates rioted and lit fires at the prison. At least nine CFA and MFB crews were dispatched to the prison about 11am on Wednesday. The incident was declared over and the fire labelled “safe” about 12.20pm…Five inmates were injured when police clashed with as many as 50 armed prisoners in an operation to end the riot about 3am. Heavily armed police used tear gas, the dog squad and other tactics to quell the riot. Rampaging inmates lit fires, rammed an exit door, and penetrated a control room after guards came under attack at 12.20pm on Tuesday at the prison, 20 kilometres west of Melbourne. …Guards first came under attack at 12.20pm on Tuesday. Up to 300 inmates are believed to have been involved in the riot, but many surrendered to police or prison staff as the situation escalated. More than 100 were still on the loose in the centre at nightfall. They had armed themselves with makeshift weapons found in prison workshops, including metal bars and planks of wood….Several vehicles were believed to have been torched in the rampage, while a fence that divided rival outlaw motorcycle gangs was ripped down at the prison, 20 kilometres west of Melbourne.” More here. “Heavily-armed police quelled a riot involving up to 300 inmates at an Australian jail on Wednesday over the introduction of a smoking ban, with a handful of prisoners injured. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Remand Centre remains in lockdown after the 15-hour disturbance when doors were smashed, fires lit and some inmates armed themselves with sticks and iron bars from the jail’s agricultural sheds. Three prison staff received minor injuries and five inmates were taken to hospital, some with dog bites, after police moved in during the early hours of the morning, reportedly using tear gas. Brett Collins, a former prisoner and spokesman for Justice Action, an advocacy group targeting abuse of authority, called the ban “bullying” and “a denial of their rights”. “People are just totally outraged… they have very little to lose” Nearly $8m. worth of damage to state infrastructure “The protest… has on Thursday been described as causing the biggest damage bill from a jail outbreak in Australia….”Everything in there is destroyed, including prisoner files over 20 years old,” the source said. “From what I understand, there is not one thing in that prison that didn’t get broken. I think it was well thought out.”” This report shows that authorities knew that prisoners would riot
“Today, June 27th, a hunger strike of several prisoners in different prisons of Mexico City has begun. Strike demands focus on…torture and abuse in prisons and the actions of the Commission on Human Rights in the City, the institution which is the prison authorities’ accomplice . Likewise the business conducted with inmates through their sexual exploitation is denounced.
Beyond the differences in methods and strategies (for us prison should not be improved or reformed, but it must be destroyed), in solidarity with the comrades in struggle they …call upon all related organizations, groups and individuals to express solidarity.
Collective Hunger Strike
Informal coordination of Prisoners in Resistance.
For the following demands:
1) Cease the abuse and torture in all prisons either by word or deed.
2) Termination of the silent repression exercised by the institution in collaboration with the CDHDF (Human Rights Commission of the Federal District)
3) For the people to stop all contact with jailers and / or officials who have been denounced for mistreatment.
4) Total rejection of the austerity measures that are being implemented worldwide, in prisons by various tendencies of economic and political interests.
5) Application of the Istanbul Protocol on torture to all inmates.
6) Clarification and withdrawal of penal article 148/201H from the sentenced comrade Jose Santiago Hernández who was sentenced and imprisoned for eight months before reaching his age of majority.
7) That due respect and consideration to the families of the prisoners when they are in the prisons is maintained.
8) No more illicit enrichment, based on the exploitation of prisoners.
9) No more illicit enrichment by officials based on the sexual exploitation of women and men interned in prisons.
10) Breaking the relationship of complicity between the administration and the medical unit; no more neglect and inhuman treatment.
11) Open more opportunities for cultural recreation and artistic projection and paid work for prisoners; the few that exist are elitist and conditioned by the administration.
12) Waiver of staff who actively shapes the Technical Board in all prisons in Mexico City and generate the necessary mechanisms to eliminate corruption and authoritarianism of management and custody.
13) Let us not be judged or repressed for the activities that we protest about because we have always been incited by the malfunction of the penal institution.
14) No more violations of personal data and correspondence for the purpose of extortion, kidnapping, intimidation and confiscation of information material.
Also we denounce the confinement and incommunicado detention that is practiced against fellow prisoner Jessi Alejandro Montaño and we’ll carry out a day of struggle and resistance to make our mark against ignorance and our rejection of prison authority. Side by side with our brothers and sisters, face to face with the enemy!”
Belgium, Nivelles: 7 prisoners in rooftop protest “Their anger is linked to the recent arrival of a fellow prisoner, who enjoys the favours of the prison governor.”
Canada, Ontario: 6 hour riot in maximum insecurity prison ” Inmates at the maximum security facility in Penetanguishene, Ont., erupted into a random riot Thursday, destroying meal hatch doors, cell doors, phones, duct work and garbage bins in a six-hour incident that was only resolved when a tactical team used pepper spray.”
French Guyana: 2nd prison mutiny in 2 days Prisoners refuse to return to their cells, demand improved health conditions (there are rats and coackroaches in the cells), more interesting social activity, end of abuse by guards. More prisoners (189) in protest than Tuesday’s (see 16/6/15).
Trinidad & Tobago, Arouca: prison riot “Five officers were badly beaten … Officers were stabbed and one officer’s teeth were broken. T&T Guardian was informed that the prisoners were in possession of weapons crafted by the prisoners. These include shanks made out of tooth brushes and metal objects. The prisoners have barricaded themselves in an area in the prison. The officer said the prisoners have created shields to prevent the officers from harming them if the riot police were to enter. …many prison officers do not want to engage with the prisoners because they fear for their lives. Members of the Riot squad are standing by at Golden Grove to assist if prison officers are unable to contain the situation. A prisoner informed T&T Guardian that the riot ensued following an incident where the prisoners were soaked with water and an Imam was badly beaten inside the prison”
UK, Rutland: 6 hour riot by about 100 prisoners “Up to 60 prison inmates attacked officers and started fires during a six hour riot at the weekend…It would appear there were over 100 prisoners involved in the riot”……More here “A prison officer has been hurt in a riot in Rutland involving scores of inmates. Police and fire crews were called in after small blazes were lit during the disturbance. Order was not restored until screws specially-trained in brutal methods of inflicitng pain intervened. The defender of ruling class “justice” who was assaulted was treated in hospital and discharged on Sunday night, while four prisoners were taken to hospital after a savage beating, and two screws were treated for smoke inhalation. Around 30 inmates have been transferred to other prisons far away from friends and relatives to be beaten by cowards in uniform. A Prison Service PR manipulator said: “A serious incident of insubordinate lack of servilitiy on one wing at HMP Stocken was resolved by a specially trained gang of ruling class protection racketeers. ….” [translated from the original Massmediatese]
US, Missouri: 31 railway wagons carrying coal derailed – part of solidarity with anarchist prisoners, apparently (see discussion below this latter article on how useful/stupidly dangerous such actions are/could be)
France, Val d’Oise: small deliberate fire, screws attacked, in prison…Limoges: 10 Eurovia-Vinci construction engines destroyed by arson Damage is estimated at over a million euros. Threats have been made and sent to various companies involved in building the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Among the listed companies, there were Eurovia and Vinci. Vinci is particularly involved in the construction of prisons.
Brazil, Rio: 2 die in prison riot over overcrowding More here “The riot broke out in the Governador Valadares prison of the Minas Gerais state during visiting hours on Saturday morning and ended after a 21-hour standoff, leaving two inmates dead, according to the local Social Defense Secretariat. During the incident, a group of inmates broke security railings and invaded administration offices to protest the overcrowding of the prison, which, with a capacity for 290, holds some 800 inmates. In the end police launched an operation to regain control, using tear gas bombs and a helicopter”
US, Florida: riot in teenage girls’ detention centre “One of the girls managed to steal keys from a member of the detention staff, enabling them to open doors inside the facility and allowing the other defendants to engage in multiple counts of battery”
US, California: 200 prisoners riot (not at all clear what this was about or what happened)
UK, Wrexham: engines of construction equipment for site of proposed new prison (Europe’s 2nd largest) destroyed “The mega-prison, if built, will cage more than 2100 human beings at any one time. Multiple large diggers and construction equipment had their engines destroyed. Slogans were sprayed on the half-built prison fences including ‘Fuck Lend Lease’ and ‘Fire to the Prisons’. This is a warning to any company large or small that that is involved in the North Wales Prison Project, or any other prison building scheme that the state initiates. You are a target and you will feel the venom of the working classes fighting back.”
Russia, Bashkortostan: 2nd prison riot against phoney enquiry into 1st “More than 100 inmates held at a maximum-security prison in the city of Salavat in Bashkortostan, also known as Bashkiria, broke windows and wreaked havoc, some of them climbing onto the roof on the security guards’ dormitory”
US, Nebraska: prison riot as 2 prisoners are found dead“Several disruptions followed in various housing units, resulting in small fires and property damage, prison officials said. … “The inmates have taken over the prison.” More here“We’ve pretty much taken the whole prison,” Frank told the newspaper. He said that no prison employees were inside the housing unit and described the scene, saying: “The ceilings are fallen. There’s drywall on fire. There’s cameras torn down,” according to the Journal Star.Foster told the Omaha World-Herald that inmates had gained access to an office with a phone. At some point during the disturbance, a second inmate was injured by a rubber projectile”
Russia, Nizhny Novgorod: riot of prisoners with TB “…at least one prisoner has been killed and 15 injured as a result of a riot at a prison facility for inmates with tuberculosis…eight inmates were seriously injured….Authorities said about 100 inmates set fire to two facilities on May 6, smashed security cameras, broke furniture, and attacked other prisoners…. tuberculosis-afflicted prisoners have been forced to work up to 12 hours a day there.”
Lebanon, Beirut: prison riot “…Asked about what triggered the riots, he replied: “The inhumane overcrowding at the block is one of the reasons.” The block is harboring 1,100 prisoners, while it only has the capacity for 400, he revealed. …. “The riot is over and it will not reoccur,” he pledged. The first riot at block D took place on Friday where inmates seized the master key at the facility and opened all doors at the building. They also briefly held hostage a number of officers. Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon’s overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks and escalating riots in recent years as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.”
Greece: various public buildings occupied by anarchists in different parts of the country “Around 20 people entered the courtyard of the parliament building in central Syntagma square…. they left after about five minutes. They scattered flyers and chanted slogans including for the immediate release of “Xiros”. Savas Xiros is serving multiple life terms for his role in the November 17 group, which killed Greek, US and British diplomats before being dismantled in 2002. …Protesters also called for the end to high security prisons, which the new Syriza government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has vowed to scrap. Small groups took over Syriza offices in the southern town of Patras, the office of a governing lawmaker in the Cretan capital Heraklion as well as the town hall in a suburb of Athens…Protesters also occupied part of a university in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and have been occupying the offices of one of Athens’ main universities since Monday.” (video here) It should be pointed out that there are many currents of “anarchism” in Greece, including Leninoid-type shitheads who totally oppose looting. Also, seethis mainstream journalistic take on these occupations “…there are signs government patience with the protests is finally wearing thin. The prolonged seizure of the Athens’ administrative building since March 30 prompted exasperated employees to stage a march last Wednesday outside their occupied offices. …”This hasn’t happened for years now — not in this manner,” said university vice-rector Thomas Sphicopoulos of the occupation. “We can’t work, and the university was already in a very difficult situation due to budget cuts.” Other demonstrating employees were more pointed in their anger at the government for not intervening. “Where is the respect for liberty, and where is the state?” fumed one university staffer who asked to remain anonymous.”
A friend in Greece wrote, referring to the above link: “The demonstration of the “exasperated university employees” against the main university occupation mentioned in the link you sent was actually very small. Most of the employees were either indifferent or supportive of the anarchists (without taking part in the occupation).”
Greece, Athens: anarchists torch cars, fight cops in movement supporting anarchist prisoners (video here – tasteless, horrifying, shocking, nauseating …but music aside, interesting) “Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Giannis Panousis requested Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ intervention in order to address the riots issue, while he even hinted that he may resign if Tsipras does not take any action. “The Prime Minister must decide which side he wishes to support and which he will leave behind,” he said. Panousis also stressed that the anti-authoritarians want someone to die so that they will be able to repeat the episodes that occurred in 2008 after the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos.”
Australia, New South Wales: small riot at detention centre “Thursday’s resolution to the disruption inside the centre came after several days of rising tension. TVs were ripped from wall mountings and at least one fire lit in a rubbish bin.”
Honduras, Tegicigalpa: 3 prisoners killed by cops etc. during prison riot “About 400 officers and military troops sent to the San Pedro Sula prison to restore order were met by gunfire from within the facility and pelted with stones and other projectiles, said a spokesman for the Honduras National Police”
UK, Durham: mini-riot in young offenders prison “…inmates reportedly began throwing pool balls and lighting fires during the disturbance….prison guards had to withdraw because of the trouble….”The prisoners began throwing pool balls at them. A couple of inmates were injured and also a considerable amount of damage caused.”
US, Texas: 100s of prisoners make prison “uninhabitable” after seizing part of the prison “An official says as many as 2,800 inmates will be moved to other facilities one day after several hundred prisoners seized control of part of a federal prison in South Texas. Inmates were participating in a protest that escalated into throwing objects, burning bedding, and destroying bullet-proof tent structures…In addition, correctional officers released a “chemical agent” to disperse the unruly crowd that were ineffective due to wind conditions…..U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross says in a statement that the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville is now “uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population.” … a peaceful resolution may take days or weeks to resolve….The inmates being held at the facility are described as “low-level” offenders who are primarily immigrants in the U.S. illegally.” More information here….And here
US, Texas: about 2000 prisoners “riot” “The disturbance began Friday morning when inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center refused to report to work or appear for breakfast…some of the prisoners were protesting medical services at the facility. The prison, located in Raymondville, about 40 miles northeast of the border town of McAllen, has been used to hold immigrant detainees…Soon after that, several inmates broke out of their housing units and went out into the recreation yard. About 2,000 prisoners are believed to have joined the protest…Officers deployed tear gas, and two officers and three inmates sustained minor injuries…“We are attempting to speak with the offenders to bring a peaceful solution to this incident,” Arnita said late Friday night. “The facility remains secured with no danger to the public.”…Earlier in the day, the riot prompted school officials to place three nearby schools on lockdown.” More here “Spence said the situation could last the whole weekend. “It’s calm right now, but with caution,” Spence said. “It could explode any minute.”…many offenders broke out of the housing structures and went to the recreation yard. Inmates set fire to three of the 10 prison tents, causing minor damage, officials said. …“There’s been some shots fired. Guards on top of the tower were firing. What they were using as ammunition, I have no idea,” Spence told the Valley Morning Star….In June 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union released a study that found inmates of these little-known prisons suffer from a lack of medical care….Prisoners interviewed by the ACLU complained of delayed medical care, guards using solitary confinement to punish those who are ill or who complained about squalid and cramped living conditions, and interference by prison officials with inmates trying to correspond with or meet with lawyers, the report says. Most of those in custody are charged either with illegally re-entering the country or with nonviolent drug crimes”
France, Bordeaux: 45 JCDecaux advertising panels smashed (JCDecaux is a company involved directly in the super-exploitation of prisoners)
Brazil, Recife: prisoner and prison guard killed during riot “The violence erupted in a Recife jail when an orderly protest broke down, and was brought under control only after police arrived. One officer died of a bullet wound in hospital, while details surrounding the inmate’s death were not released. ….Gunfire and explosions were heard coming from inside the prison, and G1 Globo newsportal showed a helicopter with an armed official flying overhead. Brazilian jails have faced a string of riots in recent months. The system’s 563,000 inmates make Brazil’s prison population the fourth-largest after the United States, China and Russia, according Amnesty International….”
Spain, Barcelona: demonstration against state arrests of anarchists – windows of banks, hotels and posh shops broken, barricades of containers; demos in several other cities, including Madrid, Zaragoza, Burgos, Castellón and Segovia
Greece, Athens: anti-state riot in support of anarchist hunger striking prisoner (slightly absurd but kind of funny video here)
One of the reasons bus shelters are constantly attacked is the fact that they’re constructed by JCDecaux, which exploits prisoners (JCDecaux also use the bus shelters for advertising other commodities, from where they obviously make massive profits)
Nigeria, Lagos: major prison protest against governor; 5 escaped prisoners killed “… five inmates of the prison who managed to escape through the fence were killed….the aggrieved inmates started agitating against the way the out going Deputy Controller managed their affairs. They reportedly accused him of being high-handed. It was learnt that during the process, the inmates started stoning their top officials, leading to pandemonium in and around the prison. Eyewitnesses said they also held some of the officials hostage before embarking on the destruction of some offices inside the prison including that of the chief warder which was looted and razed down.” (more here)
US, Nashville: riot in juvenile prison, 6 escape (video) “Juvenile offenders, armed with sticks and poles, busted out of their dorms. Six teens became a mob of two-dozen. Swat teams posted outside watched some rioters shoot off fire extinguishers. Others chased away and attacked unarmed guards. Two staff members were hurt…. James Henry is the commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services. He said for the second time this week, teens got loose by kicking out aluminum panels under windows….”When they came out of their rooms they breached the door and they got out. They were able to knock those doors out again because they’d done it the night before very quickly.” On Monday night, thirty-two teens escaped the same facility. They busted out of their dorms, pulled up a section of chain link fence, and ran for a nearby highway. Six of those escapees remain at large.”
Brazil, Parana: prison rioters take 2 guards hostage, apparently kill 4 prisoners, beheading 2 of them “the food is bad, there are no lawyers to work their trials, no basic hygiene materials”
prison rooftop protest, Parana, Brazil
Brazil, Bahia, Amargosa: after cops kill a 1 year-old girl, crowds seize the police station, take the cops’ weapons, liberate the 16 prisoners there, torch the station, then burn 30 motorbikes and 19 other vehicles “The violence forced the police chief, judge and prosecutor of Amargosa, located in Bahia state, to take refuge in a hotel.”
Greece: hunger strike against maximum security jail by 3800 prisoners...solidarity demo…here it claims that the strike is being followed by 90% of prisoners, though I suspect that’s an exaggeration; it also mentions that a banking agency was attacked in Volos in solidarity with the prisoners (June 6th) …list of videos concerning Greek prisons
Australia, Christmas Island: week-long protest by asylum seekers shut down by authorities (more here)…for more about asylum seekers in Australia, see this
US, Alabama: prisoner trying to organise prison strike “taken out of his cell … placed in solitary, without clothing or a bed, in retaliation… ” Phone warden Carter Davenport on (001) 205-467-6111 to tell him what you think of his slave empire…though one has to wonder what kind of tactical considerations this prisoner was thinking of by announcing the proposed strike on the internet before it was supposed to take place, as if it wasn’t obvious that this would allow the authorities to make sure it never happened and to victimise him.
US, Alabama: prisoners announce impending strike against “slave empire” “We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here…They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” (article here on some aspects of why prison rate is so high in Alabama…and this IWW statement shows some of the horrendous miseries of prison life there: “The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.” However, it has this bizarre sentence: “the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within.”, which implies that “black”, “brown” and “working class” are separate categories., though perhaps it’s a typo – maybe they unintentionally missed out “white” before “working class”.
UK, Wolverhampton: riot in prison previously known for rooftop protest (“incident resolved“) …more detailed information here and here
Israel: 100s of undocumented African migrants flee detention centre (Sunday) to march and demonstrate (Monday)…..and next day (today) dozens of them demonstrate in Jerusalem outside PM’s office (more here)
UK: report of 189 prison uprisings in 2012; screws moan about their lack of monopoly of violence… It’s only by the grace of the Devil that a guard hasn’t been killed ….
Brazil: prison uprising repressed – at least 10 prisoners killed (some reports say that these killings were caused by gang rivalries…who knows? but this report implies that it was a mixture of both the authorities and the gangs that did it, but claims that in the local town where the prison is situated, 7 buses were set alight in relation to this riot )
At the age of 19, I had my only very short-lived experience of being imprisoned. I’d been arrested for “insulting behaviour” putting on a “guerrillla theatre”-type agit-prop play outside a school in Kings Cross, which caused a semi-riot. We were packed off to Ashford Remand Centre, even though our parents had turned up in court to put up surety for the bail which most of us had been granted (the only one of us that wasn’t was a couple of years older than us, the only one of us who was from a working class background – he went to Brixton for a week before bail was granted). Ashford, though technically a “remand centre” was no different from an ordinary prison – prison gate, barbed wire on the fencing, etc. There we were made to have a public cough ‘n’ drop medical inspection. In fact, this was the most humiliating moment for me – being forced to undress in a hallway surrounded by cells consisting solely of bars (no walls) and being examined naked whilst being stared at by several screws and prisoners whilst my balls were held by a doctor to see if I’d had a hernia or something (being a virgin probably made me feel even more anxious about being naked in front of so many people). And then made to have a semi-public bath. We then had to wear prison clothes: my trousers were far too big – I had to permanently hold them to stop them falling down (no belts allowed), and my shoes were far too small, cramping my toes.
The cell smelled half the time of piss – someone had thrown out his slpping out pot out of the cell above and the piss had hit the outward opening window, hinged at the bottom, and the piss had run back down into my cell. Unable to sleep due to the proximity of London airport and a railway line (though the window was too far up to look out of), plus the ever-echoing sound of slamming doors or footsteps along the concrete corridor, I somehow half-composed the following in my mind (no pens or paper and only a Western, with half the pages torn out, to read) and wrote it up properly as soon as I got out – a slightly pretentious poetic-type of attempt at something influenced by the surrealists, but which, despite its literary rhetorical style, also genuinely expresses some life-affirming emotions:
SOCIETY IS A PRISON – OPEN UP THE PRISONS!
There is no freedom for the enemies of freedom, the slaves of their hate and fear of freedom. Inside the corridors of tyranny the jackboots, the truncheons, the barred windows, the barred wire, the barbed wire, the 40 foot high double electrified fencing – are all screaming out the admittance of THEIR failure to exterminate OUR minds. Their judgements, their amnesties, their reprieves, their mercy – are the judgements, the amnesties, the reprieves, the mercy of the dead to the living – the dead beckoning the living to join them in the graveyard. Soon, from the warm comfort of their coffins, six foot under, they will wake up to find their nightmares becoming reality – obscene words painted on their gravestones, shit smeared over the epitaph, and finally their coffins disinterred and thrown into the burning astreets. Soon freedom, the imagination, bruised, castrated, decapitated, buried alive in the dungeons of Pentonville and Ashford – soon, the imagination running riot, shall rise up, shatter the walls and gates, smash the locks, burn down the factories of pain and misery, and seize total power! The dictatorship of the imagination!
It was only 24 hours, but when it’s your first time in prison and you’ve got no idea how long you’ll be there, and you’ve never known anyone who’s been inside, it was a little worrying, though it was the boredom I remember most, because we were kept isolated for most of the time. I was so naïve, I remember being really outraged at the fact that teenagers were kept in prison without bail for 6 months or more before trial, at which they were often let off. (see this, for the context of this arrest and the subsequent trial).
2. On July 14th 2013, I was in St.Louis with my daughter at a demo called the day after George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, was found “not guilty”. This happened at the end of the demo:
So it’s pissing down and we all loudly head back toward what I somehow thought was the town courthouse, and I go first into the little vestibule banging a saucepan very noisily. Everybody else seemed a little hesitant, like I’d stepped over an invisible barrier that everybody normally respected. But then this was the vestibule of the city jail, and not merely a courthouse as I’d assumed. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. The noise we were making was deafening, and seemed to echo into the area beyond the glass doors we were not going through. I suggested going further than the vestibule. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, urging others to join them. Ignorance is bliss. A masked guy (Zorro? the Lone Ranger? Billy the Kid?) ran in and chucked the only thing that moved – a floor mat. When he returned a bit later, and threw in some flowers that he’d just picked from outside the jail, a black woman got upset – “This is meant to be a peaceful demonstration – Trayvon Martin’s family insisted it should be peaceful”. What sad/mad times these are when throwing flowers is somehow thought of as not peaceful enough.
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Angels never go to war – they masturbate instead”
We then retreat from the jail as we get pushed out by armed guards. A few minutes later the courthouse is surrounded by heavily armoured riot cops with their sticks at the ready, the TV cameras reappearing for the first time since the downpour. We all go off back to our cars, and then off to a birthday party of a woman friend of my friends. She was born on July 14th, famous in France for what happened in 1789 – Bastille Day – appropriate, since we’d “stormed” the city jail. Well, almost – the vestibule…still, it sounds good – “WE STORMED THE CITY JAIL!!! – ON BASTILLE DAY!!!!!”
– from here