Organizer Krystal Roundtree says this is a call to end legalized slavery in the United States
Rattling the Bars, hosted by former Black Panther and political prisoner Marshall “Eddie” Conway, puts the voices of the people most harmed by our system of mass incarceration at the center of our reporting on the fight to end it.
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EDDIE CONWAY: Welcome to The Real News. I’m Eddie Conway coming to you from Baltimore. Thanks for joining me again for rather than the bars. This is part two of a segment and we are going to look at the national prison strike that was organized in the national prison and march … being organized. And joining me is Krystal Rountree, one of the organizers. Krystal, thanks for joining me. The last thing segment we talked about your organization and what you were doing. Now I need to know what is it that you all plan to do networking through the country for this March in Washington, D.C. Kind of explain it to me, what the march is about and who’s involved? KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. The Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington will be taking place August 19th of this year. We’re so excited. August is just around the corner from now. This has been something that has been in the works for over a year and a half at this point. This was the idea directly from the prisoners themselves. The idea is to address issues that the prison class face. Specifically, as it relates to prison slavery, allowed by the 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution. You know, the goals of the march, we have two demands specifically. The first demand is that the exception clause be removed from the 13th amendment. The second demand of ours is to demand a congressional hearing take place to recognize that, as it stands, this is currently a human rights violation. So, we’re working with legislators, lobbyists, etcetera, to take this where it needs to go so we can be successful. It is important to note that this is not just a march, we have goals, tangible goals, that we are trying to accomplish. We’re trying to change the Constitution and, as you can imagine, this is a huge, humongous undertaking. This is a people- powered grassroots movement. And so it really has required of the people to get involved, to do their part to support this. And I’m proud to say that this is growing. It is turning into a national movement at this point. It’s long overdue. And as I mentioned before in your first segment, this is not a new issue. But it is something in 2017 there’s absolutely no reason why slavery is still legal in this country for certain classes of people, particularly the prison class. EDDIE CONWAY: Well, tell me, Krystal, what other organizations is helping you? I know you have the support of IAMWE, which is your organization. Who else is involved? Who’s helping you? KRYSTALROUNTREE: At this point, there are over 50 organizations that have joined our solidarity list. Feel free to check out our website iamWE …com. That entire list is listed there on our website, and that list continues to grow. Some of the people that have been involved right from the start, for instance, would be George Jackson University. We also have the support of the Black Lives Matter Charleston Chapter involved in this. We have the support of the U.S. Criminal Rights Network involved with this. And the list goes on, and it does continue to grow. We’ve actually been amazed by the organizations, the groups, and the individuals that have come out in support of this. I think something about this march is that this specific issue is something that we all can rally around. We can all agree on this call. And so, our allies are a diverse collective of individuals from all races, from all backgrounds, united in this cause to end legal slavery here in this country. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay well, where in Washington, D.C. are you going to be and what time? The date is the 19th obviously, but what time are you going to be there? And exactly where are you going to be? KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: We will be hosting this demonstration on the National Mall. It is slated to begin at 12 noon through 5PM. In addition to the march taking place in Washington D.C., there are several solidarity demonstrations that will be taking place throughout the country and, we hope, internationally as well. August the 19th we want the entire world to know, regardless of where you ware, that this is a day that we collectively stand up for the prisoners and address the human rights violations that are taking place in this country and, now, internationally. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. Well, is it possible that maybe in a week or two I could talk to somebody that’s working with you that could kind of explain the details of the 13th Amendment, and what’s actually involved in trying to get that exclusionary clause removed? KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. You know, my hat is off to all of the abolitionists, to all of the individuals and we have some really great and knowledgeable people involved here in this movement. And so, it would be wonderful if we could highlight some of those individuals to give a deeper understanding into the 13th Amendment, and what it is, specifically, that we are fighting for, and why. EDDIE CONWAY: I guess one final question is the Free Alabama movement, which played a key role in that national strike last year. Are they involved, engaged, working with you? KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, there is an inside component and there is an outside component to this movement. And, as I mentioned in the beginning, it was originated by the prisoners and so we have a collective of prisoners, including the Free Alabama Movement, that are organizing and in solidarity with this event. Some of those groups include Free Alabama, The Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Free Ohio Movement, Unheard Voices, Amend the 13th. And so, we’re at a point in history, as we call it, this is the evolution of the prison resistance movement. This is the new face here where we are working together the inside forces with the outside forces to really make this happen. And so, I’m super excited to be a part of this. I’m humbled by the opportunity to represent the prisoners in this fashion. And, again, this is a march with a goal, and a mission, and a purpose. A majority of the work will actually take place after the march. So, I just wanted to share that with you. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. All right well, I’m going to try to follow this. And I’m certainly going to get back in touch with you and see if we can have somebody that can explain the details of the 13th Amendment issue, and why it needs to be changed. But if something comes up before then can you kind of keep me posted and we can look at it? KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. We’ll keep you posted and with this movement things are changing often, and new people are coming along often, and new faces are coming along often, and so things do change rapidly. But I will certainly keep you and the folks at The Real News informed of what’s going on with the Millions for Prisoners Civil Rights March. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. Thanks for joining me. KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Thank you so much. EDDIE CONWAY: And thank you for joining The Real News. ————————- END