Organizing Strikes for Lasting Change
I read with a smile the article in ULK 16 titled Mass Hunger Strike in California and it reminded me of a similar event in Colorado at the Limon Correctional Facility(LCF) facility in June 2002, when close to 850 of the 975 POWs refused to go to the chow hall for three full days. The first morning a few people ate but were quickly shown the error of that. The only ones who had our blessings were the diabetics and sick who needed to eat. Word came down from the Warden, put your complaints and issues in writing and I will personally address them.
That was done and a "few" minor things actually changed for the better. Over the next several days and even months the line staff flat-out told us that what shook up the LCF management team administration was the fact that 850 plus "inmates" stood together for three days. That was an act of defiance and passive aggressive rebellion almost unheard of in the Colorado DOC for almost 20 years. This is a system where the "inmates" regularly laid down rather than even contemplate doing without their TVs, coffee and ramen soups for a few weeks, or months. This is a prison system where about 30% or so are lifers doing life without parole or 40 calendar years before their first parole date.
The Colorado DOC has mimicked other states with the total removal or severe restriction of use of free weights, out door and indoor recreation time, and demolition of programs that actually help the prisoners. And once the administration saw there was no resistance, then the pay was cut by 50 to 80%, depending on what type of assignment you had. In June 2003 the CDOC not only cut the pay they raised canteen prices, and the indigent level. So although there is on paper, such a thing as being "indigent" and showing the DOCs obligation to provide a minimum of hygiene and writing material, the DOC "paid" everyone, every month, at least a few cents more than the indigent amount. So, even though the DOC most often debited this entire amount immediately after posting it on your prison account, under their interpretation of their rules, no one can actually be indigent. Therefore the DOC does not have to supply hygiene items or writing material.
The purpose of the above is to point out that sporadic and specific acts of organized non-violent protest are well and good to get momentary attention for a few minor particular issues or complaints, but in order for POWs across the U$ to truly become men and women worthy of what you seek and deserve, each of you have to educate yourself! Make that your number one goal.
We as POWs can have all the outside help, but we need to develop the inside help and come to grips with the reality we as a group will probably have to suffer through some very lean and mean times due to long term work strikes, but it is in these work strikes that we have our power! A few weeks won't hurt the bank roll of the profiteers, but several months of no product and the prison officials will be told by the politicians (who are controlled by those with $$) to give us what we need, deserve, and want, to get production back on line at all costs.
Sure we will be subjected to the strip cells and frequent strip searches and mishandling and/or destruction of our property, but you can prepare for some of that. Send out photos and documents that are important, stock up on certain items. Only order bare hygiene items and writing material for 6 to 8 months, leave the junk food alone. Maybe no phone calls unless an emergency.
Hit them where they harm us, in their pocketbooks. Above all, do not resort to violence or destruction tactics. Although this gets media and outside attention, it does not engender the type of serious attention we, as POWs, want or need because we need to retain legitimacy for our cause.
As was plainly pointed out by an old convict back in the 70s in Texas: "Them guards can only do to us what we let em do."