Submitted to It’s Going Down
Around 5:15pm, during the height of rush hour, a group of about 25 people took to the streets in East Lansing. They drove a massive U-Haul truck across five lanes of traffic at Northwind and Grand River, effectively blocking a major intersection. The participants held several banners that read “Solidarity with Striking Prisoners Nationwide” and “Freedom will Blossom in the Ashes of the Prisons” and at one point, two protesters took a banner on top of the truck. Several protesters were hit by cars trying to break through the barricade. No injuries were sustained. The protesters immediately relocated to M.A.C. and Grand River in downtown East Lansing and held banners and signs, blocking traffic for 30 minutes.
The demonstration is to draw attention to the first ever nation-wide prison strike, organized by those trapped behind bars. September 9th is the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion where prisoners shut down New York state’s largest prison, Attica Correctional Facility. Now, 45 years later, prisoners across the country are coordinating a work stoppages, hunger strikes and non-cooperation protests to end prisons and modern day slavery. This demonstration is in solidarity with the prisoners’ resistance and to help amplify their message.
In 2013 the U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s seven to 10 times the prison population in other developed countries. 1-in-3 black men will be incarcerated at some point in their lives. U.S. prisons continue the racist legacy of Jim Crow and chattel slavery. Prisons allow society to “dispose” of people–of all races and genders–who are no longer “useful” to society. While 6 million people are under direct correctional supervision, all live in this inhumane environment of disposability, surveillance, and control. “Cages hide our conflicts rather than transform them,” says participant Zoe J. “Our humanity demands better.”
The protesters handed out flyers to those stuck in traffic that explained their reasons for shutting down the street. “Our goal is to make sure that while over 2 million caged people are out of sight, they’re not out of mind,” says participant Leon H. The protesters demanded not just better working conditions for prisoners, but an end to all prison slavery and an eventual end of prisons themselves.