Atlanta, GA: Defend Inmates, Destroy Carceral Capitalism

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Report back from rally at Dekalb County Jail, located outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in response to prisoner led protest against horrific conditions

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On April 12, 2019, around 50 people responded to the call for solidarity with inmates at the Dekalb County Jail.

Dekalb County Jail is a notorious pit of inefficiency, moldy food, mildew, and violence. Earlier this week, leaked photos circulated on Instagram of inmates crying out for help. These photos were taken during a video call and used also as the basis to further humiliate and abuse the prisoners.

Upon arrival, the group of demonstrators — multi-generational and mostly masked — approached the entrance to the facility. Correctional Officers attempted to block the doors but were unable to stop the tide of determined people who pushed their way into the vestibule, utilizing their bodies and trash cans. On August 28th, 2018, a much smaller group of prison abolitionists had also transgressed the vestibule of this jail but with less determination to stay or defend themselves. This time masked protesters shoved a trash can into the metal detector and generally overtook the space, joined by inmates processing out, and confidently disturbing the floor-level of the facility by linking arms, chanting, and banging drums , pots, and pans. After ten minutes, the Correctional Officers managed to removed the crowd by shoving and forcing them back out of the doors and into the lawn outside, where anonymous people threw smoke bombs, traffic cones, and firecrackers at them. The crowd defended themselves repeatedly from arrest attempts and maintained a positive and caring affect. Attacks against the police emerged from a larger ensemble prepared to support them emotionally and physically. Above, prisoners loudly banged on the glass windows, as detainees at the Atlanta City Detention Center had last summer when anti-ICE protesters clashed with police in the city center.

Later, Dekalb Sheriffs and police arrived and made four vicious and opportunistic arrests from the crowd. Without losing a sense of solidarity, demonstrators encircled the police vehicles for twenty minutes, demanding the release of the detained. Using their cars to nudge passive resisters, the police eventually removed the detained protesters and brought them to jail, where they face multiple charges each, including some felonies. Support for the accused is being organized in a collective fashion: donate to their legal defense.

AGAINST NEW CARCERAL TECH

The photos released by Dekalb County inmates came from a video call made to one of their mothers. This video call was made using the infrastructure contracted by Securus Technologies. Securus is based in Dallas, Texas with regional offices in Atlanta and elsewhere. Together with Global TelLink, they control a hyper-majority of contracts governing phone call services in the jails, prisons, and detention centers in the United States. Their contracts are extremely lucrative for the carceral facilities and the counties they serve, as well as for the companies in question who also receive funding and investment from large banks and financial institutions. As a general principle, these contracts typically dictate that in-person visitation be phased out completely, in favor of “video visitation” and email sessions. As a result of the photographs captured from this video call, the Dekalb inmates have been beaten by guards, have had their heads shoved into toilets, and have generally had their communications restricted.

Securus is just one company in a massive carceral tech industry that is spreading itself out across the country and the globe. As loss prevention companies such as 3-Alarm continue to refine their use of new anti-shoplifting equipment, companies such as Tazer continue to rake in fortunes with police weaponry and body-cameras, AT&T and Palantir contract with ICE and the Department of Corrections to facilitate server maintanence and communications systems, and new license-plate scanners and high definition drones inoculate themselves discreetly into working class areas of cities like Atlanta and Houston, it is the task of determined, affirmative, and free people to subvert and undermine the general carceral atmosphere.

Breaking the isolating secrecy of the jails with noise demonstrations and letter-writing is one such effort in this process, but other, physical, and social practices must proliferate against the prison society. Studying the concrete machinations of the apparatus, short-circuiting, outpacing, and even destroying these infrastructures and their manufacturers should not be off the table. In the coming years, resentful and cowardly discourses surrounding migrants and climate refugees will compound with existing Islamophobic, anti-black, and anti-communist discourses to justify a technological despotism without historical parallel. The construction of that despotism should come at a high price, even if it cannot be stopped everywhere.

PHYSICAL RESISTANCE IS NECESSARY

If we are to build a world of communal health and thriving, of joyous creativity stripped of economic imperatives, of good will between neighbors, and life-affirming resolution of conflicts, we will have to fight against the new carceral technologies. If we believe that authority and exploitation will always be an impulse or a mood on this earth, and that communities capable and willing to resist it together should always exist, then we can live the lives we believe in only by attacking and subverting those processes as they materialize today. Simple research, prisoner support, and cultural activity must continue to expand and mutate as a reflex in the broader society, and in subversive networks across the country.

Popular music and art should be associated in some way with anti-border, anti-surveillance, and anti-prison discourses and feelings, as much rap and punk music is already anti-police. Information leaks should proliferate about jails and jailers – as anti-fascist groups are already illustrating is possible and effective – but they should also target manufacturers, funders, and carceral researchers.

In the end, physical resistance should spread against these infrastructures, against the offices, the board meetings, and the general maintenance of these industries, such as the November 2018 sabotage of a $77 million Adult Detention and Law Enforcement center in Paulding County, Georgia.

As the economy continues to grasp for reliable income streams and investment returns, many investors and companies are turning to police, militaries, border agencies, and carceral instutions including probation, ankle monitors, and youth detention camps to guarantee a profit. In the coming decades, as the planet continues to be ravaged by fossil fuel industries and heavy industry, the climate disasters will continue to displace desperate people from the global south, and the nationalist and life-denying orchestration of the economy will take on greater and greater importance.

The sooner we create a material disincentive to incarceration, the less likely we are to depend on more dangerous and illegal forms of rebellion later, although such actions are already commanded of us today.


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