Despite the inauguration of Donald Trump overshadowing many social movements and struggles, in recent memory there remains few other examples that can match the level of building, agitation, and organizing within the anarchist movement that went into the #PrisonStrike. The strike was launched on September 9th, 2016, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, and led by the Free Alabama Movement, and supported by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), Anarchist Black Cross (ABC), various prison formations, and many other groups. It drew participation from tens of thousands of people across many countries, and from diverse sections of the anarchist movement; from labor unions to clandestine direct action groups.
Wanting to create a space to not only look back on the #PrisonStrike, but also discuss what has gone down since September 9th, we were lucky enough to have an amazing group of people talk to us about just that. Joining us on the podcast includes Ben Turk, an anarchist organizer in Milwaukee working with IWOC, Bailey, a member of the Twin Cities IWOC chapter who just released their own amazing podcast, and Firehawk who is involved in the publication Unstoppable, and who was interviewed in Bloc Party and the Final Straw recently.
In our interview we talk about Siddique Hasan, one of the current leaders of both the #PrisonStrike as well as the incarcerated worker movement in general, about his current hunger strike and ways to support him. We then switch gears and discuss the #PrisonStrike, how anarchists in various formations have done in dealing with repression, the need to push anti-prison organizing beyond just concepts of labor exploitation, the role of women and trans people in the strike, the issue of water quality in prison, continuing forward after the strike, retaining people to our movement, and also not allowing ourselves to get derailed by simply fighting Trump and the current regime.
Looking back on the #PrisonStrike is a much needed thing, (which is why we are glad that Bloomington comrades have written this reflection), and we are excited to learn in recording this podcast that more critique and reflection is on the way. Hopefully this podcast will get us all thinking about September 9th and about continuing to build our numbers, our strength, and our capacity – as well as the day to day struggles that lie ahead.