Week of Action: Day Two – Birmingham
A Day of Action took place in Birmingham on Tuesday 3rd November as part of the Week of Action against the North Wales Prison and the Prison Industrial Complex. The day began with a visit to HMP Oakwood, one of the UK’s most notorious jails. This prison, run for profit by G4S, cages more than 1,605 people. It is right next to HMP Featherstone and HMYOI Brinsford making for an absolutely huge prison complex with miles of fences and barbed wire.
We set up a stall, started leafleting and had multiple conversations with families and partners who were visiting loved ones in the jail.
We met one mother who’s son had received a 2 year sentence with an IPP. He’s now done over 12 years behind bars. The Smash IPP campaign aims to support families facing this violence of the state to campaign for their loved ones and build increasing pressure to abolish the sentence retrospectively.
Next up was Lend Lease, the Australian multinational building the North Wales Prison. Their local office is based on Solihull High Street, creating the perfect opportunity to expose their profit-making projects which are harming communities everywhere. These include building prisons, gentrifying neighbourhoods (especially in Elephant & Castle, South London), and even in Solihull, where Lend Lease hope to ‘re-develop’ the local highstreet, destroying the livelihoods of small business owners and bribing the council for planning permission with new offices. Local people were shaking in anger at the sound of their name and weren’t surprise by their involvement in a the prison construction.
Hundreds more leaflets were distributed and tens of conversations took place questioning the role of prisons and the state in our society. We then moved on to URS (now Aecom), who are consulting engineers for the North Wales Prison. A fast and aggressive demo took place inside the building. Finally, we went to HMP Birmingham to meet visitors of the prisoners, once again finding more people affected by the IPP sentence. The van driving prisoners into the jail was blockaded, prisoners were banging the windows of the sweatbox in solidarity and one indicated they are an IPP. It was nice to see staff on the backfoot and know that people didn’t feel alone.