Demonstrators in Lansing, MI blocked lunch hour traffic surrounding the main office of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on Friday, August 18. Their action was in solidarity with the Millions for Prisoners March, a nationwide weekend of action against mass incarceration and prison slavery.
Shortly before noon, demonstrators gathered at a small public park across the street from the MDOC office with banners, and resources and flyers regarding prison slavery, mass incarceration and abolition. It kicked off with “Fuck Donald Trump” being played through an amp, which was then followed by members Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS) speaking about this history of the anti-prison struggle in Michigan and around the country. They explained their action was in solidarity with the Millions for Prisoners March, a Washington DC-based weekend of action against mass incarceration and prison slavery, called for by the grassroots organization iamWE Prisoner Solidarity Network. They shared with the gathered group about the historic root of this action: Black August, a month of action and study to honor the anniversary of George Jackson’s death and other Black revolutionaries. The members of MAPS also spoke about how prisons are sites of fascism, racism and slavery and compared the prison system to the neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville.
RAW VIDEO: Prison protest in downtown Lansing https://t.co/K9f0FxcYR3
— Lansing State Journal (@LSJNews) August 19, 2017
Speakers included those formerly caged by the MDOC and other long-time prison abolitionists. They shared painful stories of the conditions of the Michigan prisons and the hardships faced by both the prisoners and the families of those locked up. The group of 40 demonstrators listened to accounts of disgusting food, isolation and the painful loss of loved ones. One of those speakers urged those assembled: “Either we fight back now without handcuffs, or we fight back later with handcuffs.”
The demonstrators, holding multiple banners including “Fire to the prisons, freedom to the prisoners,” then took to both Michigan and Grand Avenues and blocked the traffic surrounding the MDOC office. A smoke bomb was set off while the group drummed and chanted in the streets. Hundreds of flyers were widely distributed to those in cars stopped by the action, as well as to the curious MDOC employees and other state capitol workers out on their lunch break. Around 1 pm, the demonstration ended with the crowd re-gathering in the park, and the organizers playing “Fuck the Police.”