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Live Blog: Occupy Movement’s National Day of Action for Prisoners

UPDATE – 8:30 PM ET From Occupy Chicago’s rally: Fred Hampton Jr., son of Fred Hampton,who was a Black Panther assassinated by the FBI and the Chicago police over forty years ago.

UPDATE – 7:05 PM ET March left San Quentin prison some time ago. Now, reading reports that police gave many who drove to the event parking tickets.

UPDATE – 5:44 PM ET Moment of silence for Pelican Bay prisoners who died while on hunger strike. More here.

UPDATE – 5:30 PM ET Occupy the Criminal Justice System

UPDATE – 5:15 PM ET Audio from Shane, one of the US hikers imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He addressed  the rally for prisoners outside San Quentin. (My apologies. Error with audio means I only have Shane’s speech to post.)


UPDATE – 4:45 PM ET US hikers who were imprisoned in Iran – Shane, Josh and Sarah – give speeches at the action on their raw experiences in solitary confinement. (Uploading audio.)

UPDATE – 4:27 PM ET Now playing audio recording of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s statement in support of today’s action. You can hear it and read it here.

As it shifted the discussion and paradigm on economic issues, it must turn the wheel of the so- called ‘Criminal Justice System’ in America, that is, in fact, a destructive, counter-productive, annual $69 billion boondoggle of repression, better-known by activists as the Prison-Industrial-Complex.

That means more than a one-day event, no matter how massive or impressive. It means building a mass movement that demands and fights for real change, and eventually abolition of structures that do far more social damage than good.

It means the abolition of solitary confinement, for it is no more than modern-day torture chambers for the poor.

It means the repeal of repressive laws that support such structures.

It means social change–or it means nothing.

UPDATE – 4:13 PM ET Statement from Kevin Cooper is read. (Cooper is believed to have been wrongfully convicted of murders that occurred in 1983. He is on death row.):

…The Occupy Movement as a whole is another form of the universal umbrella for human rights. From within this movement, we dissenters can speak the truth as to how the status quo, the ruler’s agenda, has a negative effect on “We the People” and this one planet we all must live on, and share.

Something must be seriously wrong and it is not us! The system is wrong and it’s has always been wrong and will always be wrong!

Some in the top 1% use their subordinates to ask, “What is it that they want?” Each movement within Occupy may want different things, especially since we all come from different places and have different real life and death experiences.

So while I can’t speak to what any one movement wants per se, I can speak to what all these different occupy movements don’t want.

We don’t want terrorism of any kind, against any people. We don’t want pollution of the air or water and other natural resources that Mother Earth produces; We don’t want a government that uses the mainstream news media to help a President send its people to war based on lies; We don’t want war in any of its forms; We don’t want sexism, racism, classism, or poverty!

We don’t want corruption, the death penalty, the prison industrial complex — either public or private prisons. We don’t want unions to be busted, nor do we want jobs sent overseas to other countries. We don’t want to go without healthcare or a good education. We don’t want police brutality or intimidation of any kind!…

UPDATE – 4:12 PM ET Call at demonstrations to abolish death penalty, end the three strikes law and stop sentencing people to life without parole.

UPDATE – 4:05 PM ET Statement of support from Pelican Bay prisoners (@OakFoSho)

Here is a copy of a statement submitted in support (I don’t know if it is the same statement that was read during the rally or not):

Corporate Amerika has coalesced its efforts around the exploitation of Human Beings, while using the political apparatus of the U.S. government, federal, state and local to institute policies that set in motion the creation of a corporate police state, which has targeted the poor as a surplus for incarceration and exploitation.

Those of us housed in solitary confinement throughout California and Amerika, support “Occupy Wall Street” and understand the necessity to resist against corporate greed. We will no longer willingly accept the subjugation, oppression and exploitation of Humanity.

Banks and the “prison industrial complex” are corporate empires that prey on the souls of Humanity. Therefore we officially join you all in Struggle.

One Love, One Struggle
Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement

UPDATE – 3:54 PM ET Report that prisoners in San Quentin are on lockdown because Occupy Oakland is out protesting.

UPDATE – 3:42 PM ET From earlier, Occupy Wall Street protests Wells Fargo (via @CarrieM213). “Private prisons we say no! Wells Fargo has got to go!”

And, here’s a photo of a solidarity group in Harlem.

UPDATE – 3:41 PM ET Statement made at rally: “We know that there’s a two-track system: A just-us system, and a justice system.”

UPDATE – 3:39 PM ET Photo of Occupy Oakland’s action outside San Quentin prison right now (via @OakFoSho)

Original Post

The Occupy movement is holding a national day of action in support of prisoners. This post will be following the actions as they unfold. Updates will be posted regularly through the rest of the afternoon and evening.

The national day of action appears to have started with a call to Occupy San Quentin that was put out by Occupy Oakland. A handbill said the action would be “in solidarity with those behind prison walls, their loved ones, and formerly incarcerated people.” Additionally, it said, “These communities ask that the spirit of solidarity create a safe space for all on February 20th.”

The action received several endorsements from Michelle Alexander, Angela Davis, Elaine Brown, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, the Oscar Grant Committee, etc. It inspired other Occupy groups to plan their own actions.

Here is a list of many of the actions that were planned for today.

Baltimore has planned a “noise demonstration” at 8 pm tonight. Chicago will march from the Chicago Board of Trade to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to push the message that the “mass incarceration of poor people, who are disproportionately people of color, is misdirected, racist and inhumane.” Fresno will call for more community-based rehabilitation for prisoners. New York will march in solidarity with the prisoners of Pelican Bay, who have engaged in hunger strikes throughout the past year.

Statements from prisoners were collected. They received a statement of support from Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner who is serving two life sentences for shooting two FBI agents and who Amnesty International believes received an unfair trial:

…Today in the shadow of San Quentin, the belly of the beast housing 700 men the state wants to kill, you come together to speak of injustice and reform. While they will not come out and say it, I have been given a life sentence for a crime I did not commit. I defended my people from a government waging war on defenseless elders and traditional believers. Many friends of mine died in that war, and because two FBI agents also died, I have been in jail for 36 years. I have been held despite evidence the government withheld and manipulated evidence, coerced witnesses, and did all they could do to keep me from proving my innocence. I have been held longer than their own laws say I should be. All because I am a symbol and a reminder of what they will do to anyone who stands up against their authority. But all this shows is that they only have violent access to authority. They do not have righteousness or decency or even legality on their side. Throughout history all such systems that ignored justice and rights to rule by force eventually fell…

Below is a live stream of Occupy Oakland’s action currently unfolding outside San Quentin prison. Watch occupiers take a stand for prisoners and stay tuned to this blog for updates on the action:


Stay tuned for updates, which will appear at the top of the post.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."