September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity: Lessons and Future Plans
9 September 2017 marked the sixth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates. On this day we commemorated the anniversary of the Attica uprising, drawing attention to abuse of prisoners across the country through peaceful protests, unity events, and educational work. This demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization participating in United Struggle for Peace in Prisons and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people participating in prisons across the country.
In ULK58 we printed some reports about September 9 actions. While we were inspired by those who stood up and protested, educated, and organized around this annual commemoration, we saw relatively low participation this year. As a result we have asked the leadership council of United Struggle from Within to consider whether this is the right action to focus our energy on in coming years. There are many ways to organize and we should not get stuck in just one path because it is what we did in the past.
We call on all readers to submit your thoughts on the September 9 protest. Should we continue next year, or if not, do you have an idea for a campaign or action we should take up instead? We will pass your comments on to the USW leadership council.
Below is one more report we received on September 9 organizing from Georgia. - MIM(Prisons)
This history lesson was posted on the dorm wall for two weeks preceding September 9 in Macon State Prison in Georgia:
[email protected]* Sept 11th, we got Sept 9th!
Sept 9th marks an important date in the history of mistreated prisoners across the U.S. It is the date of what is referred to as 'The Attica Rebellion.' Here's a synopsis of the event and I pray to the revolution gods that my recollection serves me correct. Unity in Peace.
Sept 9, 1971 prisoners at Attica Correctional Institution in the state of New York got tired of prison guards harassing them and abusing them mentally and physically, so they decided to take a stand. The prisoners negotiated with the prison commissioner and when he refused to meet requests, the prisoners, for the betterment, health care and food, then turned to a full scale riot and eventual takeover of the prison and staff. The men spoke over a land line to then-governor Nelson Rockefeller about the conditions of confinement and he too refused to meet demands. On Sept 13th after a four-day standoff governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered local law enforcement and the National Guard to take back the prison with deadly force. About 50 deaths in all from around 30 prisoners and 10 guards with hundreds more injured and disabled and disfigured to this date.
This is a tremendous day in our fight for justice and courage and a loss of many lives. Always remember Sept 9th as a sad but heroic sacrifice made for the betterment of you and me.
MIM(Prisons) responds: A beautiful aspect of the Attica Uprising was how the prisoners interacted with each other. They ran the facility themselves, and there was peace on the yard. They were able to feed themselves, deliver meds, and even did count, all without the overseers breathing down their necks. For more of the history on the Attica Uprising, ask for the September 9 study pack.