Before the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas,
Whereas the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas stands in support of Occupy Wall Street which started September 17, 2011 at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. The movement has now spread across the country and is influencing the world. Occupy Dallas is a horizontally organized resistance movement to counteract the unprecedented consolidation of wealth and power in the world today. The Occupy movement does not have a hierarchy or a formalized structure. The Occupy movement represents those that feel disenfranchised from the current socioeconomic system because of policy passed by our political institutions and the actions of those in control of the unprecedented consolidation of wealth;
Whereas by consensus we view that for the first time in American history, current generations will not be as prosperous as preceding generations. This denial of the American Dream is at the heart of Occupy Movement.
Whereas by consensus we view that the social system has become tilted against us by:
1. Unfair treatment and discrimination against individuals based on Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Race, National Origin, Physical Ability or any other factor that minimizes any person’s individual worth
2. The commoditization of individual privacy
3. Profit driven news sources with individual agendas
4. Narrow definitions of what constitutes a family;
Whereas by consensus we view that the Political system has become tilted against us by:
1. Widespread deregulation that has eliminated common sense regulations that have insured long term prosperity and protection from predatory business practices
2. A Tax code that is cumbersome and rife with loopholes and language that favors an economic minority at the expense of the majority of wage earners
3. A Supreme Court decision that has put into place the unprecedented concept of extending first amendment protections to political donations
4. Jeopardizing the future of social security through investiture and privatization schemes
5. By reducing funding to our education system our future generations are provided a lesser education that previous generations received because of increased class size and reduced resources
6. Because of decreasing funding individuals are saddled with higher student loan debt
7. A political system where even the most perfunctory tasks of government are partisan battles;
Whereas by consensus we view that the Economic system has become tilted against us by:
1. A general degradation of the employer and employee relationship namely
a. the practice referred to as “dead peasants” insurance policies where by companies profit from the death of individuals.
b. the elimination of traditional pension and retirement arrangements in favor of 401 (k) investment vehicles.
c. outsourcing of jobs
d. failing or eliminating paid sick leave
e. failing or eliminating paid maternity leave
f. relying on part-time workers rather than investing in full time employees
g. scheduling work hours to insure that employees cannot obtain offered benefits
h. failing to provide a livable wage
i. reducing and eliminating employer based health care coverage
2. Incredible income disparity between management and employees.
3. Active discouragement and intimidation of unionization of the workforce
4. Instituting illogical accounting practices
5. Engaging in unethical business practices that jeopardize the long term financial stability of the country
6. Viewing financial profit as more important than the individual worth of a people.
Then let it them be resolved by the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas through consensus on Date (___________________) that we call upon all people to engage in a General Strike on November 30th, 2011. We implore all people to:
1. Refrain from Buying or Selling any goods or services including but not limited to, any petroleum products, consumer goods or bank transactions; starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011.
2. Refrain from working for a wage starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011 excluding those individuals that provide emergency and necessary functions including but not limited to Police, Fire and Medical personnel.
3. Join or form local groups to peacefully protest against the above stated elements.
Please join us in solidarity to make known our grievances and demand substantive change to insure our future.
Category Archives: strike
By: Eugene Puryear
Download the new poster in support of the strike!
Originally published on www.PSLweb.org.
Georgia inmates’ eight-day strike in December to improve prison conditions was a historic and powerful example that struggle is possible, even in the most unfavorable conditions.
|Click here to download and distribute the poster|
The strike drew in six separate prisons, making it the largest such action in U.S. history. It will undoubtedly have a large impact on the consciousness and organization of the thousands of inmates who participated.
Beyond the direct participants, the news of the strike could have a profound effect on prisoners elsewhere. If history is any guide, prison actions tend to come in waves, as inmate struggles in one facility lend confidence to those elsewhere. This is precisely why the state and corporate media attempted to keep the strike quiet.
While the strike has ended, the inmates clearly got their point across. The newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights was able to enter at least one prison on Dec. 20 and is currently preparing a report on prison conditions and on retaliatory measures taken against striking prisoners.
The very fact that advocates for the striking prisoners were allowed to enter even one prison to investigate conditions is a reflection of the inmates’ determination. The Georgia Correctional authorities had attempted to create a media blockade, giving out vague information, or none at all.
They also attempted to engage in a disinformation campaign against the strike, declaring they had “locked-down” the striking prisons, when those who were striking, were already refusing to leave their cells. The statements about lock-downs were meant to imply control, and minimize the impression on the outside that the strike was having an impact.
In fact, the striking inmates put the prison on “lock-down” themselves, and the prison officials had lost a significant amount, if not all, of their control for extended periods, across a number of facilities.
The striking prisoners broke through two of the biggest obstacles to political action faced by those in prison systems: the repressive control of armed guards, and vicious race and gang-based factionalism.
Anyone familiar with the U.S. penal system knows that violent division between various nationalities is a fact of prison life, creating a multi-tiered system of segregation amongst prisoners. Despite the message they attempt to send in cable news channel documentaries, prison officials prefer this state of affairs. Over and above anything else, it keeps cliques focused on hating each other, as opposed to focusing their hatred on the prison authorities and their oppressive practices.
Concomitantly with division, prisoners have very little control over their own persons. Forced to work for a pittance—or, in the case of Georgia, for no pay whatsoever—told when to wake up, sleep, eat, exercise, with whom they can communicate and when; prisoners are even further deprived of basic freedoms that aid the type of association crucial to building political movements.
The significance of this action by prisoners is that it even happened. The last 30 years have been characterized mostly by setbacks and defeats for the poor and working peopple—to the point that very few have ever witnessed, let alone experienced, collective action.
The prison strike in Georgia is one sign, however, that this can change, and quickly. Even under the most difficult conditions it is possible for human beings to connect based on their common oppressions, to invent ways to communicate and organize. As with the undocumented workers’ struggle, which exploded in 2006, apparent passivity one day can tranform into mass resistance the next.
For the Georgia prisoners’ struggle to move forward, solidarity and support is crucial from those on the outside. Progressives and revolutionaries should popularize their demands, and spread the word of their action, including to inmates elsewhere.
The prison population is overwhelmingly working-class, drawn largely from areas left destitute by de-industrialization, systematic discrimination and the drug epidemic. The time-honored slogan of the labor movement is needed for these brothers and sisters behind bars: An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
by KurtFF8 (Mike C)
There have been various stories relating the the conditions of the prison system in the United States in the news recently. From the under reported (yet perhaps most significant) recent Georgia Prisoner’s strike to the high profile solitary confinement of Bradley Manning who gained notoriety for his involvement in leaking a video to Wikileaks. This attention should be seen as an opportunity to open up space for debate on the very structure of our prisons.
There is also the case of Cornelius Dupree, Jr.who was just freed in Texas after 30 years of being in prison when DNA evidence showed that he was actually innocent. According to his attorney, Texas has had the most DNA exonerations of any state, and Dallas the most within Texas. This is of course a disturbing trend that may certainly be seen as yet another case of institutional racism that has a strong tradition (especially in the South, but of course not limited to the South) and seems to be rather obvious in these cases as according to the Innocence Project, almost 60% of those exonerated post-conviction via DNA are African American.
Bradley Manning’s conditions have been highlighted in the international press recently, with an emphasis on his mental health as a result of being in solitary confinement for a long period of time. The interesting thing about the Manning case is that it is being portrayed in the media as a sort of political imprisonment by the United States, while the majority of cases that activists consider to be clear cases of political imprisonment tend to be portrayed as seen that way only by a small fringe. Thus the case offers yet another example for the Left to call into question this system.
The most bizarre incident is the Georgia Prisoner’s strike. I say bizarre because of the relative silence (or at least not much emphasis) by the “mainstream media” on what has been labeled the largest prisoner’s strike in the history of the United States. For example, if you compare two New York Times articles that came out within a day of each other, you’ll find one long article about the new “problem” of smart phones in prisons (and it does detail the strike). The NAACP recently claimed that there was violent retaliation against striking prisoners which was certainly anticipated by prisoner rights activists, yet this story got one paragraph in the NYT.
Taking these various stories together, and how they were covered by the media makes for an interesting trend that reveals a small bit of ideology that dominates our conversations here. The cases of Cornelius Dupree, Jr. and Bradley Manning received more attention than the Georgia prisoner’s strike. Why is this the case? One part of the answer can certainly be traced to ideology: when an individual is treated poorly by the system, this is a miscarriage of justice that simply needs to be corrected. When prisoners from across an entire state come together and challenge the system itself, this calls into question the system itself. The strike also defied stereotypes of prisons divided along racial lines, when all prisoners of different races worked together to demand better conditions. This ideological reasoning can at least help us understand why events like the Georgia strike are not emphasized by the media.
There are many problems about the American prison system. The United States has the largest prison population on Earth (in terms of raw numbers and as a percentage of our population); the United States has increasingly allow private corporations to run prisons for profit, which includes free labor from their inmates (which some people rightfully equate to modern day slavery); Racism continues to play an important roll . And the biggest problem of all: There is not a national debate about this, these issues are not constantly being discussed on CNN every night, we’re not having town hall meetings about it.
This is an important issues, especially in the US South where prison populations seem to be particularly large (For example, New Orleans having the biggest incarceration rate in the World). It’s time we start reframing these issues and start organizing.
YouTube Clip – Angela Davis discusses Prison Industrial Complex
YouTube Clip – Prison Industrial Complex (clip from documentary)
[Originally posted to pslweb.org on Wednesday, December 15, 2010]
By: Eugene Puryear
Black, white, Latino: united for justice!
On Dec. 9, prisoners in Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair state prisons in Georgia went on strike. Prisoners are demanding to be paid for the work they do, to receive adequate healthcare and nutritious food and to have access to educational opportunities. They are calling for and end to “cruel and unusual” punishment.
In a move almost unprecedented inside prisons, convicts have reached across the often violent divide between nationalities. Based on contact with the striking prisoners a supporter and press spokesperson told Liberation: “Blacks, whites, Mexicans, Rastafarians, Muslims, Christians, you name it, they are united.”
Additionally, the prisoners have overcome oppressive communication restrictions, using various means including texting via contraband cell phones in order to continue to keep facilities connected.
According to a press release issued by strike supporters, prisoners refused to work, stopped all other activities and remained in their cells. What originally began as a one day protest has continued. As of Dec. 14 prisoners continue to fight for their rights, and have turned their strike into an open ended action. The spokesperson related a message from one prisoner: “We’re not going to break.”
Despite attempts by the Georgia Department of Corrections to create a media blockade, reports have leaked out describing retaliatory treatment in some of the prisons. In Telfair state prison it was reported that guards and prison officials beat inmates, destroyed their personal effects and turned off the heat in 30-degree weather.
In Macon State Prison, authorities are said to have cut off hot water for inmates. Inmates have told their contacts on the outside of threats to use dogs as well.
Despite the violence and repression at other prisons, inmates at Rogers State Prison have now also joined the strike.
Georgia state inmates are subject to inhumane treatment, with cruel punishments and sub-standard medical care. They are not able to pursue any meaningful educational opportunities, and if released are equipped only to become part of the low wage work force if they can get any job at all. Prison families also face additional hardship when they try to support their loved ones which charge exorbitant rates for their “services.” Prisoners in the Georgia prison system do not receive any pay for the work they do.
High rates of incarceration are a fact of life in Black communities around the country. De-industrialization and skyrocketing unemployment hit the Black working class harder than any other sector. Combined with the over 30-year assault on working-class living standards in general, poverty and destitution also skyrocketed.
As a result, millions of members of the “reserve army of the unemployed” have been thrown in prison on non-violent drug charges, and those incarcerated are treated like unredeemable monsters, forced to work for free or for a pittance, and denied educational opportunities almost universally.
Dealing with the root cause of this “prison population explosion,” would reveal that it is of the capitalists’ own making. Their anti-working class policies created the social context for crime, and their racist drug laws have created a demonized “criminal” population of millions of working class, Black and Latino youth to whom they have already denied any option for a decent standard of living.
The Georgia prisoners have issued a set of demands to improve the onerous and oppressive living conditions in which they are forced to exist, demands that speak to all thoses trapped in the so-called criminal justice system. According to the press release issued by supporters, Georgia prisoners are demanding:
“A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
“EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
“DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
“AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
“DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
“NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
“VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
“ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
“JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility. Prisoner leaders issued the following call: ‘No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!’”
All revolutionary and progressive people should support the Georgia prisoners’ demands for just treatment.
Victory to the Georgia prisoners’ strike!
Down with the racist, anti-worker prison system!
Please call the prison authorities and demand no reprisals or punishments for striking prisoners!
Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.
Telfair State Prison is 229-868-7721
Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900
Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000
GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment
[Originally posted to blackagendareport.com, Saturday, September 11, 2010]
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The peaceful strike begun by inmates of several Georgia state prisons continued for a second day on Friday, according to family members of some of the participants. Copyrighted news stories by AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local TV stations in Macon and Atlanta quote state corrections who say several institutions were placed on lockdown beginning Thursday in anticipation of the inmate protest, on the initiative of wardens of those prisons.
GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Offices of the wardens at Hay’s, Macon State, Telfair, and Augusta state all referred our inquiries to the Department of Corrections public affairs officer, who so far has declined to return our repeated calls.
The prisoner strike in Georgia is unique, sources among inmates and their families say, because it includes not just black prisoners, but Latinos and whites too, a departure from the usual sharp racial divisions that exist behind prison walls. Inmate families and other sources claim that when thousands of prisoners remained in their cells Thursday, authorities responded with violence and intimidation. Tactical officers rampaged through Telfair State Prison destroying inmate personal effects and severely beating at least six prisoners. Inmates in Macon State Prison say authorities cut the prisoners’ hot water, and at Telfair the administration shut off heat Thursday when daytime temperatures were in the 30s. Prisoners responded by screening their cells with blankets, keeping prison authorities from performing an accurate count, a crucial aspect of prison operations.
As of Friday, inmates at several prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. “We are going to ride it,” the inmate press release quotes one, “till the wheels fall off. We want our human rights.”
The peaceful inmate strike is being led from within the prison. Some of those thought to be its leaders have been placed under close confinement.
The nine specific demands made by Georgia’s striking prisoners in two press releases pointedly reflect many of the systemic failures of the U.S. regime of mass incarceration, and the utter disconnection of U.S. prisons from any notions of protecting or serving the public interest. Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families.
It’s a fact that Georgia prisons skimp on medical care and nutrition behind the walls, and that in Georgia’s prisons recreational facilities are non-existent, and there are no educational programs available beyond GED, with the exception of a single program that trains inmates to be Baptist ministers. Inmates know that upon their release they will have no more education than they did when they went in, and will be legally excluded from Pell Grants and most kinds of educational assistance, they and their families potentially locked into a disadvantaged economic status for life.
Despite the single biggest predictor of successful reintegration into society being sustained contact with family and community, Georgia’s prison
authorities make visits and family contact needlessly difficult and expensive. Georgia no longer allows families to send funds via US postal money orders to inmates. It requires families to send money through J-Pay, a private company that rakes off nearly ten percent of all transfers. Telephone conversations between Georgia prisoners and their families are also a profit centers for another prison contractor, Global Tel-Link which extracts about $55 a month for a weekly 15 minute phone call from cash-strapped families. It’s hard to imagine why the state cannot operate reliable payment and phone systems for inmates and their families with public employees at lower cost, except that this would put contractors, who probably make hefty contributions to local politicians out of business.
Besides being big business, prisons are public policy. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but accounts for almost a quarter of its prisoners. African Americans are one eighth this nation’s population, but make up almost half the locked down. The nation’s prison population increased more than 450% in a generation beginning about 1981. It wasn’t about crime rates, because those went up, and then back down. It wasn’t about rates of drug use, since African Americans have the same rates of drug use as whites and Latinos. Since the 1980s, the nation has undertaken a well-documented policy of mass incarceration, focused primarily though not exclusively on African Americans. The good news is that public policies are ultimately the responsibility of the public to alter, to change or do do away with. America’s policy of mass incarceration is overdue for real and sustained public scrutiny. A movement has to be built on both sides of the walls that will demand an end to the prison industry and to the American policy of mass incarceration. That movement will have to be outside the Republican and Democratic parties. Both are responsible for building this system, and both rely on it to sustain their careers. The best Democrats could do on the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine disparity this year, with a black president in the White House and thumping majorities in the House and Senate was to reduce it to 18 to 1, and then only by lengthening the sentences for powder cocaine. On this issue, Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem, not the solution.
As this article goes to print Saturday morning, it’s not known whether the strike will continue a third day. With prison officials not talking, and corporate media ignoring prisoners not just this week but every day, outlets like Black Agenda Report and the web site upon which you’re reading this are among the chief means inmates and their families have of communicating with the public. The prisoners are asking the public to continue to call the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the individual prisons listed below to express concern for the welfare of the prisoners.
Prison is about corruption, power and isolation. You can help break the isolation by calling the wardens’ offices at the following prisons. Prisons, naturally , are open Saturdays and Sundays too.
|Macon State Prison is 478-472-3900.||Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400|
|Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721||Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218|
|Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900||Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000|
|The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is 478-992-5246|
Roughly 600 employees of Delta Pride Catfish, Inc., mostly African-American women, may go on strike soon. If the contract the company has offered — using a notorious union-busting legal firm at the negotiating table — is rejected, this would be the second strike against Delta Pride Catfish. The first strike in 1990 is looked upon as a landmark in labor history.
Delta Pride Catfish, a Mississippi company, is paying employees a mere $8 to $9 an hour. They haven’t had an increase in four years.
But that’s not the worst of it.
The company has offered a contract that is atrocious. It would establish a seven-day work week, reduce seniority benefits, eliminate overtime, abolish severance pay should the company close, triple employee contributions to company health insurance over three years, and allow the company to outsource jobs and double the new hire probationary period — among other things. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1529 has been in contract negotiations with the company for more than a year.
This isn’t the first time the company has received attention for its highly despicable, racist and sexist treatment of Black women employees in the mostly poor Delta region. In 1990 a successful three-month strike took place against the company. The issues then were adverse health effects of speed-up, a five-minute time limit on lavatory use, low wages and 10- to 13-hour workdays.
The strike was the largest of Black workers in Mississippi history and saw the civil rights and labor movements join together. Boycotts were called and scabs were brought in. A company official even threatened a striker with a gun.
The small gains achieved at the time, such as a 75-cent raise, were enough to create a lasting tension between Delta Pride Catfish and its employees.
Although earlier reports suggested a vote on the contract in the third week of May, union representative Leon Sheppard Jr. spoke with Workers World by phone on May 17 and confirmed that a contract ratification vote as well as a strike vote would take place on either May 26 or 27 and that there have been no further negotiations.
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