from Atlanta Black Cross,

Georgia Prisoner Hunger Strike Update

 

Since June 10th, 2012 prisoners at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center (commonly known as GDC or Jackson State Prison) have been on hunger strike. The numbers have fluctuated, as men have joined and men have had to drop out.  The ones that joined sought to strengthen the resistance against their treatment and imprisonment, while the men who had to stop did so, not because they lacked the will to fight, but because of the toll their starvation was taking on their bodies. After weeks of no food, these men could no longer tolerate the mental, physical and emotional traumathey were forced to endure in order to get the attention of those on the outside.

Here in Atlanta, we have heard the cries of our brothers trapped behind bars and have begun to wage a campaign against the prison and the officials that are making the lives of these prisoners unbearable. While it appears that Warden Humphrey and Brian Owens, the Commissioner of the Department of Correctionsin Georgia ignored them, we choose to not let the decisions of these 14 men to subject themselves to death, in the fight for respect and better treatment, to go unnoticed.

Inspired by the courage and bravery of these men, as well as the work of Delma Jackson (wife of Miguel Jackson), families, friends, activists, revolutionaries and the like joined together in solidarity with the prisoners.

Several solidarity events were planned such as rallies, speak outs, noise demonstrations, letter writing sessions, etc. all to send them love and support from the outside.  Inspired by the men, some Atliens also sprayed graffiti throughout the city to help spread the word about their hunger strike.

Update

As of last week, Miguel Jackson, Delma’s partner, ended his 45-day strike after receiving commitments on video and in writing that his demands would in fact be met. There is some controversy about whether or not those who agreed to the demands will only give them to him; therefore, KJ decided to stay on strike even after the other men ended theirs to confirm that not only will Miguel’s demands be met but that the changes will be implemented for all the men in Jackson State. At this time, the attorneys and those involved with the families are still working to see what the outcome will be.

The Fight Continues…

Despite the fact that most of the men have had to end their hunger strikes and that there is uncertainty as to whether or not their demands will be met, we know that the fight against Jackson State (and all prisons) is not over.  The more we confront the power of the State, the more it lashes back. As evidenced by the posturing of local law enforcement at recent demonstrations and rallies, the State no longer wishes to give us a platform from which to criticize it. We will not let them intimidate us or keep us from achieving the freedom that we so rightfully desire. For every person locked behind bars, murdered by the State, hunted down and killed by the police, we find more reasons to resist.  The fight against Jackson State Prison is not over and the fight against the State has only just begun.

From Atlanta Black Cross,

 

On Monday, July 16th, 2012 there was a rally held in Forsyth, Georgia to show solidarity with Hunger Strikers in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center (also known as GDC or Jackson State Prison).  About 80 people attended the event, which was organized and coordinated by many local radical organizations and members of the Hunger Strikers’ families. Some of the groups involved included Project South, The Ordinary People’s Society, Prodigal Child Project, Take Back the Block, Industrial Workers of the World – Atlanta Chapter, and the Atlanta Black Cross to name a few.

The rally began with demonstrators on the public sidewalk dancing, chanting, and drumming right in front of Georgia’s Department of Corrections. After about a half an hour or so the crowd became emboldened by the lack of response by the police and enraged by the lack of concern shown by the on looking Department of Corrections officials. The crowd then proceeded to move onto the private grounds and right in front of the building where Commissioner Brian Owens’s office is located in order to show their lack of fear and their passion and solidarity for the strikers who have led this fight.

Delma Jackson, Wife of Miguel Jackson (currently on Hunger Strike) speaking to the crowd.

 

At the rally’s peak, about 80 people rallied for the prisoners in a successful display of inter-racial solidarity that is often not seen in Atlanta.

 

The rally allowed us to make connections with organizations and members of the Atlanta community with whom our bonds have often been weak. It also allowed us all to see that the struggle against prisons is struggle we do not have to fight alone. We are able to work together and organize against the oppressive prison system and the State.

 

There were many groups there with many different perspectives and this diversity of approaches will allow us to fight the battle against prisons on multiple fronts.

We acknowledge the shortcomings of the rally as a tactic and even debate amongst ourselves the effectiveness of such demonstrations and appeals to the power structure that we fight against. However, we also realize the necessity of showing solidarity with other individuals and organizations that have a similar passion for justice and freedom. As well as sending strong messages of support to those currently kept away from us behind bars.

As the Atlanta Black Cross, we stand in solidarity with all prisoners. We envision a world without prisons, free from oppression- and work to create that world.

As long as a soul remains behind bars, no one can be free.

Atlanta Black Cross

Photo Credit: Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report

From the MSM,

About 80 supporters of hunger-striking prison inmates took their complaints directly to the Department of Corrections Monday, staging a protest outside the agency’s Forysth headquarters and demanding a meeting with Commissioner Brian Owens.

The demonstration came as the hunger strike by as many as 14 inmates at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison entered what protesters said was its 36th day. The Department of Corrections, however, disputes that claim and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that the strike ended on July 6.

“I personally spoke to [inmates] Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson on Wednesday, July 11, and they are still on the hunger strike, along with other inmates,” said attorney Mario Williams, who represents Jackson, an inmate at the prison in Jackson.

Part of the confusion may have arisen because two of the original hunger strikers did stop on July 6, Williams said. But supporters insisted that the other inmates, led by Jackson, have been “starving for change” continuously since June 10.

John Eric Berry, an activist and friend of inmate Dexter Shaw, also said the hunger strike was ongoing as of July 12.

“I last spoke to Shaw on Thursday,” Berry said. “He told me that he was still on the hunger strike, and that [the prison] had separated all the inmates so they couldn’t easly communicate with each other.”

Delma Jackson, Jackson’s wife and the leader of a protest at the State Capitol last Monday, said she received a letter from inmate Kelvin Stevenson dated July 12 in which he wrote that the hunger strike was ongoing, and that four new inmates had joined the strike.

In an interview with the AJC, Jackson accused the prison system of attempting to conceal the hunger strike.

“I think they’re being deceptive,” she said. “I think they’re trying to get people thrown off track. They know it’s in full force.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has contacted the Department of Corrections, which said it would look into claims that the hunger strike is ongoing.

The inmates — at least 12 and as many as 14, according to the family and supporters — are refusing to eat until prison officials meet their demands.

“Adequate medical care, 30-day review [of their imprisonment in the Special Management Unit], access to the commissary and personal hygiene items, restored visitation, being able to call home more than once a month, exercise once per day,” Jackson said, listing the demands.

She added, “All the things he’s asking for are in their standard procedure. He’s not asking for anything out of the unusual.”

Protesters also say that Jackson, in particular, needs “medical treatment for … numerous and severe injuries, many of which were inflicted 18 months ago.”

Jackson’s family alleges that he was wrongfully beaten by prison guards in December 2010 at Smith State Prison, his home before being transferred to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in 2011.

But the Department of Corrections denied that claim.

“[The Georgia Bureau of Investigation] investigated the claim filed by inmate Miguel Jackson regarding the 2010 Smith State Prison incident and found no validity to the inmate’s complaint,” said spokesman Dabney Weems.

Protesters at the DOC headquarters Monday called on Commissioner Owens to meet with inmate representatives.

“He needs to sit down and discuss this, and come to some sort of reasonable agreement,” Jackson said. “If he has their best interests at heart, he needs to…call the warden, and tell him to follow its prison regualations by the book. All we’re asking is that he make the warden enforce standard operating procedure and we want it in writing.”

Earlier reports that Dexter Shaw has ended his participation in the hunger strike are not correct. According to family members, Shaw has been moved away from the other hunger strikers, but is still on hunger strike.

It is unacceptable for the prison officials to move Dexter in his present condition.

Although he may not receive letters you send him, please feel free to send him encouraging words:

 

Dexter Shaw
GDC 0000429768
Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center
HWY 36 West – P.O. Box 3877
Jackson, GA 30233

Delma Jackson is the spouse of Miguel Jackson, who is currently on hunger strike.

From AFSC,

My husband Miguel and nine other inmates declared a hunger Strike on Sunday, June 10, 2012 and they are now entering their 29th day.  Miguel, has been seeking medical treatment for the injuries he sustained due to being beaten with hammers by prison officials. He has been suffering for over 18 months and hasn’t had the proper medical treatment. Miguel and other inmates at Georgia Diagnostics have been denied  access to proper hygiene, medical treatment for their numerous and severe injuries, many of which were inflicted 18 months ago, status reviews every 30 days as stated in the SOP, restoration of their visiting and communications rights, and access to their meager personal property. They have filed numerous grievances and their requests have been ignored.

1. They are asking that the Georgia Department of Corrections follow its own published procedures requiring a status review of every inmate in punitive isolation every 30 days.
 2. They further insist that such evaluations be public and transparent so as to preclude the possibility of prejudicial conduct on the party of prison officials.
3, These men are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights.  After 18 months of being in constant pain and being ignored these men felt they had been left with no other alternative but go on a hunger strike.
4.  They are demanding access to proper hygiene, medical treatment, the restoration of their visiting and communications rights, and access to their meager personal property.
 5. They are asking that the Georgia Department of Corrections follow its own published procedures requiring a status review of every inmate in punitive isolation every 30 days. These men are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights.
6. The right to have one hour per day for outside exercise

Georgia is the most locked up state in the country, per ca pita. This is ground zero for injustice in the prison industrial complex considering the the US makes up 5% of the worlds population and 25% of it’s prisoners.
These men are more than inmates they are human beings.  They are someone’s son, husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather. Imagine if it were your loved one that was being treated worst than an animal. Please show your humanity and sign the petition.
Make the calls:
Warden, GA Diagnostic & Classification Prison, Butts County GA
770-504-2000
770-504-2006
GA Department of Corrections Ombudsman
478-992-5367 or 478-992-5358
No fax, but you can email them atOmbudsman@dcor.state.ga.us. Please add a cc to the email, info@georgiagreenparty.org.
Brian Owens, Commissioner, GA Department of Corrections, ask for his administrative assistant Peggy Chapman
478-992-5258
Georgia governor Nathan Deal
404-656-1776
Fax the governor at 404-657-7332

 

Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
  • Call: 404-656-1776
Sincerely,
Delma Jackson
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