The strike called for and supported by multiple prisoner and support organizations kicks off on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising. Dozens of facilities experience some kind of disturbance or lockdown. Accurate numbers are difficult to gather because of uncooperative prison staff, but between 20,000 and 60,000 prisoners participate or are effected. The work strike is especially impactful in Florida, Texas, South Carolina and parts of Michigan. There are also hunger strikes in Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as smaller protests on the West Coast and across the country. Outside support includes many solidarity actions, media attention and support calls/letter writing campaigns.
The call for the strike originated with Free Alabama Movement, The Incarcerated Worker’s Organizing Committee, and other anti-prison organizations, but is quickly picked up by other prisoner and activist groups. More than 60 organizations endorse the strike, including the National Lawyers Guild, some Black Lives Matter and social justice organizations and one United Auto Workers union.
The strike is widely recognized and covered in alternative and left leaning press, but also gets some coverage in establishment newspapers, National Public Radio, and international press.
More than a hundred solidarity actions outside of prisons take place before and during the strike, ranging from blockades and rowdy marches to community and cultural events. A handful of protesters are arrested, including three charged with attacking and vandalizing a Starbucks,who uses prison labor to package some of it’s products, in Atlanta.
“Inmates Are Kicking Off a Nationwide Prison Strike Today”, Mother Jones, September 9, 2016.
“PrisonStrike Resistance to Slavery Across the World”, ItsGoingDown.org, September 8, 2016.
“Spreading the Strike”, ItsGoingDown.org, August 16, 2016.
“This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America”, IncarceratedWorkers.org, January 11, 2017.
“Prisons Are Erupting and Why It Matters“, The Daily Beast, October 21, 2016.
“U.S. Prisoner Protest: Why Listening to the Voices of the Incarcerated Matters“, Newsweek, October 25, 2016.
“September 9, 2016 strike”, SupportPrisonerResistance.net, September 2016.
“America must listen to its prisoners before we make a major mistake“, The Washington Post, September 8, 2017.