May Day Strike in Ohio Gained Small Reforms

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[Organizing] [Control Units] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 33]
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May Day Strike in Ohio Gained Small Reforms

Greetings to all revolutionary comrades who are captives in the gulags of these United $nakes of Amurderer. In light of the many struggles that have come to the forefront in these past few years I was dismayed at the lack of attention May Day received this year.

Inside the gulag called Ohio State Penitentiary, 30 days prior to May Day 2012 [this was originally published as 2013 - editor] several captives began planning what was hoped to become a massive hunger strike. This was to take place in C-Block where captives considered to be the most violent in the state are held.

The plan was to begin the strike on May 1 to coincide with the general May Day strikes taking place all over the world.

There were about 30 who had decided to go for the long run, but because some paperwork detailing some of our demands and our prospected start date was confiscated haphazardly by an escort pig, we decided on a whim to start a day early. This took the pig-overseers by surprise as some had taken that Monday off work anticipating confronting us at the onset of our demonstration.

So our core began a day early and we were joined by the rest on May Day, giving us a total of about 60 out of 140. By day 6 we were beginning to lose numbers but our point had been made: solidarity and organization can happen inside 23-hour lockdown, even on short notice.

Several pieces were run in the local newspapers. We had the attention of the bourgeoisie who responded negatively to a captive's article on how austerity has caused smaller food portions.

Our main demand was for the ending of the hopelessness of an indefinite classification to level 5-A & 5-B, better known as supermax, of "3 years or more." For so-called lesser offenses, one can receive this same classification for a period of "less than 3 years."

As we began to lose participants Warden D. Bobby decided to address the demands by adding good behavior incentives: extra phone calls, photos every three months, extra visit per month, etc. Basically they were saying that it is our negative behavior that keeps us here. They also began showing 3 new-release movies per week as well as offering lots more mental health and drug abuse programs.

As California has learned, not much changes without massive efforts and solidarity. This attests to our need for further acts of solidarity and organization for struggle, and the development of leadership backed by science to bring about a movement for change.

Thursday, May 23 at 11pm, 20 or so captives began flooding the ranges as backlash to the enforcement of an old rule stating "no loan, borrow, or trading" amongst captives. We remain on lockdown 23/7 while there is one person allowed out of our cell at a time for recreation. In an attempt to stop the passing and sharing of coffee, literature and photos, this captive's rec is terminated if caught passing. Because rec is a so-called guarantee, and it's our only out-of-cell time besides a shower, many rallied to address this. Some even swore to battle the captors if need be to prove their unwillingness to stop passing or give up rec.

A meeting with D. Bobby led to a promise to back off the rule and also give a few more behavioral incentives, and add a few more TV stations; pacification, no real change, and proof for the need of protests on May Day and beyond.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The persecution of prisoners who share literature and coffee is akin to the recent persecution of prisoners for participating in group exercise in California. These policies oppose peace and unity among the prison population. The criminalizing of the passing of literature also helps keep prisoners ignorant and supresses their ability to gain outside support. So we stand in solidarity with these comrades' struggle to oppose such repression. For our take on May Day in North America see our article "Big Fat Elephant in the May Day Dialogue," where we expose the double standard applied by those in the left-wing of white nationalism to workers in the First World compared to those in the Third World.

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