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Jun 19, 18

Austin, TX: Juneteenth Actions in Solidarity with the End Prison Slavery Movement

Report back from anarchists and prison abolitionists in Austin, Texas who rallied against prison slavery on Juneteenth.

On June 18, the day before Juneteenth, anarchists in Austin, TX held two separate actions in solidarity with prisoners, as part of the end prison slavery movement.

We chose to target the Texas Parole Board Office because they are the gatekeepers of prisoners‘ freedom, and prisoners rarely make their first parole hearing due to bogus write ups that could be something as trivial as “talking back” to a guard. We correspond with prisoners across Texas and we’re aware of the conditions they’re under, as well as the the violence they experience behind enemy lines every day.

Texas is one of the few states where prisoners receive no paid compensation for their labor, yet are expected to afford commissary items, $100 medical copays, and post-release expenses. Instead, they supposedly earn “good time credit” which in theory, should lead to a reduced sentence – but countless prisoners claim otherwise – with good time being outright disregarded, or as mentioned before, write up’s from prison pigs keep folks in the same vicious cycle.

As our incarcerated comrade, Malik Washington put it – “The current conditions in Texas dictate that we must address our treatment as slaves and the inability of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recognize our good time and work credits. We want these credits directly applied to our sentences, so we can return to our families and communities. What Texas has engaged in is a form of sophisticated deception. The main individuals being deceived are our family members. Most of us prisoners are well aware of the deceptive practices perpetrated by the Parole Board. Their actions are promoted, sanctioned and condoned by the Legislature and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. Prison officials and legislators say TCI is providing valuable job skills and training for free. All right then, if that is the case, why won’t the Parole Board recognize the good time and work time credits of all Texas prisoners?”

We did a banner drop (or perhaps we should call it a banner raise?) by attaching a 20 foot banner between two flag poles located in front of their building. We raised the banner in place of the “Amerikkkan” and TX state flags, with the banner reading “Slave Masters Work Here. Abolition Prisons!” We hope this act of solidarity with prisoners sent a message to the TDCJ workers that they are under watch and they will always be considered an enemy so long as they hold our comrades in cages and force them to work for state profit under the thin veil of slavery.

Our next action took place at the TCI Showroom, which stands for Texas Correctional Industries. Here, the slave model is perpetuated by selling goods made off the backs of prisoners, under the guise of “rehabilitative skill building”. Per TCI’s website, “TCI manufactures goods and provides services for sale, on a for-profit basis, to city, county, state and federal agencies, public schools, public and private institutions of higher education, public hospitals and political subdivisions.” 

Two comrades posed as students doing a research project, and asked for a tour of the showroom. When they were denied a tour, they threw “confetti” (strips of paper with printed statements from prisoners about their slave conditions, prison abolition essays, demands, as well as some “friendly” messages to the TDCJ board members. Once the office was littered in hundreds of messages from prisoners, the two comrades left and a group of about 20 protestors showed up to hold down space with banners and noise.

The disruption took place over the course of 2 hours – as folks chalked the driveways and every inch of concrete with messages such as “Prisons are for burning!”, “Slavery Still Exists!”, “End Prison Slavery”, “Fuck TCI”,etc. Several people drove by with raised fists and honked their horns in solidarity. A young woman who lived in the apartment complex across the street brought over a case of bottled water and said “Thank you for doing this, I didn’t know how else to help but thank you”. Several folks held banners in the driveway in hopes of preventing vehicles from passing through, but were met by police who threatened arrest. 

Before we left, we were sure to leave some more reading material scattered in the front lawn for the TDCJ/TCI pigs by leaving a zines we composed with an essay written by Comrade Malik and Norris Hicks – “Bamboozled! Hoodwinked!! Duped!!! and Tricked!!!: The Fraudulent “Good Time” System!” – which can be read here: https://comrademalik.com/2016/01/06/bamboozled-hoodwinked-duped-and-tricked-the-fraudulent-good-time-system/

If folks want to join the fight and keep up the pressure on TDCJ, don’t rely on reforms. Build direct relationships with folks who are locked up. There are countless TDCJ offices across TX, especially in Austin – wouldn’t it suck for them if their phone lines were flooded with hundreds of calls one day? Spread anti-prison and end prison slavery propaganda in the form of zines, graffiti, or wheatpasting. Organize with people you deeply trust and start your own affinity group. Get creative – direct action gets the goods. Stay dangerous. There was a time when prisons didn’t exist. Nothing is impossible.

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