Many prisoners are on hunger strikes and there are signs of discontent among officers with the prison administrations, says Pastor Kenneth Glasgow
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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.
EDDIE CONWAY, TRNN: I’m Eddie Conway coming to you from Baltimore. Welcome to this special edition of Rattling the Bars. In the last couple of weeks since September the 9th, there has been a national prison strike going on in several states in the United States. Last week I talked to the outside national spokesperson Kenneth Glasgow, Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, from the Ordinary People’s Society. So I’m back this week to find out what the latest information is on the national prison strike. Reverend Kenneth, thank you for joining me. KENNETH GLASGOW: Yes sir, yes sir. First of all, let’s get it straight, I’m not no reverend. You know Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, those the reverends. I’m the Pastor. I stay low to the ground. But anyway what’s going on now is that there’s a real big turn of that tides and what I mean by that is that you have some officers, a lot of the–two officers quit this morning. One officer quit last night. A couple of other officers are coming forth talking about the hostile environment and it’s not so much that they’re siding in order to riot, to have the strike with the inmates, but what they’re doing is agreeing with the inmates that the administration has created a hostile environment and that their lives are endanger too. They also seem to agree with the inmates on that fact that they should be getting paid for the work that they’re doing because otherwise the officers should be doing it. There should be anywhere from what I understand from a former officer who wants to remain anonymous right now because he’s got family that’s still there, there should be anywhere from 35 to 50 officers on each shift. They actually only have anywhere from 7 to 12 officers on each shift at this particular time. With those that have quit in the last few weeks, they only have about 7 on each shift. Last Saturday, none of them showed up. So these are the things that’s happening. The next phase of the strike, you have some people still on homeless strikes. They have [subsided] from doing the work stoppage and went to homeless strikes being just as effective but they’re also depending on the outside people to be very very aggressive and be boycotting. We will be boycotting those industries and companies that claim they’ve been outsourcing but they’re really insourcing using prison labor, prison slavery. CONWAY: Step back with me for a minute. When I talked to you the last time, this strike was occurring in about a dozen states with maybe 20 prisons involved. Since then how has that changed? Is there more prisons involved in it but in a different way? On a hunger strike as opposed to a work strike? Bring us up to date about what’s been happening in the last two weeks with the prisoners. GLASGOW: Oh man, a lots been happening. So what has happened is, you still have 11 states and about 20 different prisons. They are all doing hunger strikes now, they’re doing more aggression is going on in Alabama where they’re doing lawsuits and rule 32s about the 1901 constitution. In South Carolina they’re holding a strike. California, Michigan, you heard about the retaliation and they’re doing homeless strikes there. Virginia, some of those are still locked up but they’re doing homeless strikes there. Different places are starting to do the homeless strikes and starting to address it in a different way and calling on the outside to start addressing in a more aggressive way. CONWAY: Does this mean that they’re going to work or they’re not working and they’re not eating? GLASGOW: Well some of them are going to work now, more so than they were in the past 3 weeks. But in order for them not to get [disciplinaries] and be retaliated against. So they asked some of the people that are veterans, some of them that have life without parole, have no family, have no other means of any kind of resources, you know that’s no family or support to send them money in, they have asked them to go back to work. But they’re also joining in the homeless strike as well. CONWAY: Okay one of the things I was looking at, it seems that there’s been several incidents also around the world in relationship to this strike. This strike was called in a celebration, not celebration but remembrance of the Attica strike, is that right? GLASGOW: That’s most definitely right. It was called on the 45th day of the Attica strike. It was called by, initiated by, and it was organized by those Free Alabama movement inmates that’s in Holman’s prisons that initiated, organized it, and are carrying it out, and it went across the 24 states, 40-50 different prisons still carrying still carrying on with another state, about 18 different prisons. CONWAY: Well one of the things that I see in Australia which I didn’t expect to see that, there was a juvenile activity in the juvenile prison in Australia, in support of the strike. I also see that there’s also activities in jails in France and in other places. I mean how widespread is this outside of the United States. GLASGOW: It’s widespread all over the United States. As a matter of fact, what we’re asking the people to do on the outside is also go to their jails. And not only to look at their life without parole and their states, look at their habitual offender act laws in their states, look at their juvenile laws pertaining to, juveniles being adjudicated as adults. Not only look at innocence inquiry commissions, should be in each one of your states that extend beyond those on death row but those in prison period. We’re also asking people, requesting, and strongly suggesting to people to go to each and every jail, their local city jails, local county jails and tell them that they have the right to vote and if they don’t then they can call me at (334)-791-2433. They can go to our website, TheOrdinaryPeopleSociety.org for support to find out where there’s going to be another rally, another demonstration, another actions, and also sign up for support against the 13th amendment. To sign up in support of those that are in prison that are doing the work stoppage and all and also sign up for people to have their voting rights that still have them whether they’re incarcerated or not, if they have not been sentenced before the courts. CONWAY: How will you respond to just–one of the things I’ve seen is in the number of jails in cases where they have actually had lockdowns and in other cases the officer saying that there’s a volatile and dangerous situation, that seems to be coming from the guard forces. How do you respond to that? GLASGOW: Okay so what we have is a couple of officers have called me, gotten in touch with me, they wish to remain anonymous right now but they will be coming forward as of next week or so as they have told us. Two officers done already quit. There’s more than–one officer quit last night. I made a call to administration to ask them for us to go in and do a fact finding mission. That’s exactly what we did in Georgia in 2012, when they had the prison strike across 10 prisons in Georgia. We took a fact finding commission inside, about me and 6 others who had never stepped foot in prisons. Most of them was lawyers, couple of them were activists and about 1 preacher besides myself and that’s what we’re going to do here. The way we’re addressing it, we have also any officer that is listening or will be listening to Real News is going to hear what we have told them privately that we have reached out to the unions AFLCIO, reached out to them. They have unions all across America for correctional officers. And we have reached out to lawyers for their protection against any retaliation. CONWAY: Okay. Now what’s the status though in–it’s vague in my mind, in Alabama of the jail ground zero, the prison that actually started this. Is it open again or what’s the status? Holman is not on lockdown. It’s open again. However, it has become hostile, especially since there’s not enough officers there in order to maintain any kind of security. And what has been happening. A lot of people don’t want to give credit to people that are incarcerated for committing crimes of course, but because of the inmates there they are totally keeping the peace. They have been keeping the peace, a couple of people have got stabbed but because of and during the prison strike, the peaceful prison strike, there was no violence whatsoever, there was no violence that they could attribute to it. But let’s be very, very honest, administration, what really got the officers to make them really start agreeing with the inmates and the administration creating a hostile environment was the fact that an officer got stabbed. The warden got stabbed and they told him don’t worry about it, didn’t do anything about it. So that really let the officers know they didn’t care about them either because what they looked at was the fact that this administration is trying to allow these hostile activities to go on in order to advance its political agenda. And that political agenda is to get four new state of the art prisons. But a former officer told me yesterday, how are they going to get state of the art prisons which are going to take about 150 officers to run that whole big gigantic prison when they can’t get enough officers now to run the small prisons that they have. So these are the things that we’ve got to look at. We’ve also got to look at when the person is getting paid, the average person in prison is only getting paid maybe 5 cents a day which is really maybe $12 a month. Something like that. So what we’re going to look at is, we’re going to appeal to these private companies and industries as well as boycott them. We’re also going to sit down to the table and appeal to them that they may need to be the ones that are paying these prisoners that are inside. CONWAY: Well now I understand that this nationwide strike kicked off with the major demand to end prison slavery. Where does that movement to end slavery in prisons from here? GLASGOW: It goes to the boycott. Boycotting industries and companies that claim they’ve been outsourcing but they are really insourcing using free prison slavery. It goes to us locking at all those different laws I named, life without parole in each and every state. Habitual offender laws, juvenile justice laws, adjudicating juveniles and innocence inquiry commissions as well as [actionary] body and strongly suggesting again that they go to their jails and get everybody registered to vote that’s got a misdemeanor and have not been before the court and been convicted in any of your jails before the 23rd of October and then it goes even further to appealing to the constitution of the United States. The president changing the 13th amendment which has the exception clause of someone being held in slavery, involuntary servitude by felony conviction. CONWAY: Okay well thanks for joining me. GLASGOW: Alright god bless. Thank you so much Eddie Conway. CONWAY: And thank you for joining this episode of Rattling the Bars.
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