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Sep 6, 16

Why Environmentalists Should Stand with Prisoners on September 9th

By Panagioti from Earth First! Newswire

September 9th is the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising in New York, where national attention was drawn to the problem of prisons in this country. This year there will public demonstrations in support of prisoners who have a called for a coordinated national work strike in response to extreme abuses they face, including toxic environments, discrimination, censorship, and literal slavery based on the 13th Amendment’s exemption of prisoners.

Prisoner-led groups like the Free Alabama Movement and the Free Ohio Movement have issued calls for “No School, No Work, No Shopping” on September 9, both to disrupt business as usual for the day and to encourage students and workers to participate in solidarity events.

The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) is calling for action in solidarity with the IWW Union’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and other prisoner-led groups in planning activities around Sept 9th.

As I have expounded on in a series of recent articles published over the Earth First! Newswire, Prisons all over the country are coupled with environmentally hazardous land uses that threaten prisoner’s health. (Check out this map for a visual representation of the chronic prison pollution problem.)

At federal prisons, for example, UNICOR factories have been cited for unsafe working conditions and environmental hazards across the nation. For this reason, FTP is planning a demo at the Coleman prison complex, where over 7,000 people are locked up and subjected to slavery at the largest federal prison factory in the US.

In another prison/ecology example, the federal Bureau of Prisons is proposing to build a new maximum-security prison and slave factory on top of a former strip mine site in the coalfields of Letcher County, Kentucky. Any federal prisoner could, at any time, find themselves transferred to this prison, subjected to the health risks associated with a site where the air, water and soil are polluted by decades of coal mining and processing, which is still ongoing in the surrounding mountains.

Along with putting prisoners on a toxic site, that prison would also impact local people who live nearby, turning their community into a prison town. Construction alone will waste $444 million of federal tax dollars which could be used to address the crushing poverty that so often forces people into prisons in the first place.

The proposed site also sits a mile from a rare pocket of eastern old-growth forest that is home to dozens of Appalachian plant and animal species listed as threatened or endangered.

For more information on Sept 9th, Letcher County and other related issues, visit

Also, for additional info on the topic of toxic prison slavery, check out these recent writings of Texas prisoner organizer Malik Washington.

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The Earth First! Journal is the voice of the radical environmental movement. Published quarterly, it contains reports on direct action; articles on the preservation of wilderness and biological diversity; news and announcements about EF! and other radical environmental groups; investigative articles; critiques of the entire environmental movement; book and music reviews; essays exploring ecological theory and a sometimes-lively letters to the editor section. The Earth First! Journal is an essential forum for discussion within the Earth First! movement. It is meant to be bold, controversial, amusing and diverse in content and style. You won’t find hard-hitting news like this anywhere else.

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