Monday Feb 20: National Occupy Day for Prisoners

On Monday, February 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM, the Occupy Boston People of Color Working Group, Ocupemos El Barrio, Jericho Movement, and many other individuals and organizations will be taking part in the National Occupy Day for Prisoners. We will meet at 3pm at the North Station MBTA Stop at Causeway St. and Friend St. and then march to the Nashua Street Jail on 200 Nashua Street in Boston. Answering the call from Occupy Oakland, we will stand in solidarity with the people confined within prison walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.

*Action agreements for Occupy 4 Prisoners Boston prisoner solidarity march, February 20th:

* This protest will be a peaceful action. We are creating a space for our entire community, including formerly incarcerated people and their families, to feel free to speak out and build together to take on the prison system.

*We will not engage in property destruction, civil disobedience, or arrest-able direct action. Many groups participating in this march, including some of the march organizers, the OB People of Color Working Group, Jericho Movement, Ocupemos El Barrio, and other organizations have members who are former prisoners or whose immigration status makes them vulnerable. Please show solidarity with the march and these groups by respecting this request.

*We are here to march and protest the prison industrial complex. During the march, we will refrain from provoking the police so as not to raise the risk of arrest for those who participate. Any disagreement regarding the direction of the day will be resolved within our community, and not with law enforcement.

*This march will be safe for people of all backgrounds, creeds, sexualities, genders, races, ethnicities and immigration status.

*By following these agreements, you are respecting the wishes of those who planned this event and the community taking part in it. Please respect the tactics we have chosen for the march.

Reasons for this protest:

Prisons have become a central institution in American society, integral to our politics, economy and our culture.

Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.

Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people—who are disproportionately people of color—currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.

Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2 out of 3 prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. Yet the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free, or get re-elected.

In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.

At a national level, we call on Occupies across the country to support:

1. Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.

2. Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.

3. Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.

4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely  charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.

5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.

6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care, jobs and other human services which contribute to the public good. (In Massachusetts, it costs $45,917 a year to house a prisoner compared to $6,613 in a semester of tuition and fees at UMass Boston or $13,055 a year per public school student.)


At a local level in Massachusetts and Boston, about 24,000 people are held any given day in state and county prisons and jails; about 59% serving criminal sentences in state facilities are people of color, and about 6% are women. This includes about 2,150 people in Nashua Street Jail and Suffolk County House of Corrections (“South Bay”), including people detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement(ICE) in immigration cases. State prison facilities are overcrowded; South Bay is at 126% and Nashua Street is at 163%. Among county facilities, Norfolk, Essex Middleton, Middlesex Cambridge, and Bristol Dartmouth are at more than 200% capacity, with Bristol Dartmouth at 367%; among state facilities, MCI Concord and MCI Framingham’s Awaiting Trial Unit are at more than 200% capacity, with MCI Framingham’s Awaiting Trial Unit at 359%. In addition, about 3000 youth per year are detained in juvenile facilities, and 1288 youth are placed under the custody of the Department of Youth Services. On average, state prisons across Massachusetts are 142% overcrowded.

Though Black and Latino communities are only 16% of the population of Massachusetts, they comprise a full 56% of the prison population in the Bay State. We also call for:

·         The end to the current attempt to pass a three strikes bill or mandatory post-release supervision laws in Massachusetts

·         An end to the unjust detention and treatment of prisoners, including Tarek Mehanna and Arnold King. Tarek Mehanna is an example of the racist scapegoating, and relentless persecution and targeting under the Patriot Act’s new provisions of young Muslim men around the country for speaking out against US foreign policy and other activities that are supposedly protected by the First Amendment.

·         Arnold King is 59 years old and has been locked up since he was 18.  He has been continually denied commutation even after receiving two votes by the parole board of “favorable” status.

·         Research and reporting on racial disparities within the juvenile justice system

·         Granting Trans people, particularly Trans women, in prison access to services and hormones, and HIV+ people to be allowed to keep their medications on their person

·         A visitor bill of rights that reflects humane and just practices

·         An end to police brutality and stop and frisk policies targeting communities of color, and the establishment of a civilian review board in Boston with real power to hold the police department accountable

·         An end to all state and local cooperation with the “Secure Communities” program,  and an end to the practice of honoring the federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s requests to detain suspected undocumented immigrants in jail for extra time so that ICE can initiate deportation proceedings.

Local Action

On February 20th, 2012 we will join the National Occupy Day for Prisoners by protesting in front of Nashua Street Jail, which is just one of the many oppressive, racist, and overcrowded prison facilities in the Bay State. At this demonstration, through prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We are contacting social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.

National and International Outreach

We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate. We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.

We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012, because it is a non-weekend day. Presidents’ Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners’ visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.


For more information and/or to endorse, email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com.

ENDORSERS (listed alphabetically)


All of Us or None
ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism Coalition)
Arizona Prison Watch
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Chicago PIC Teaching Collective
Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald
Community Futures Collective
Critical Resistance
December 9th Georgia and International Prisoners’ Movement
Freedom Archives
Free Tarek Mehanna Campaign
Hope for Freedom Paralegal Services
International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
International Socialist Organization
Jericho Movement
Justice Now
Kevin Cooper Defense Committee
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
Labor for Palestine
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Life Support Alliance
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Nevada CURE
Nevada Prison Watch
NYC Labor Against the War
Occupied Oakland Tribune
Ocupemos El Barrio
Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression
Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Radio
Prison Watch Network
Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. (Buffalo, NY)
Project NIA
Real Cost of Prisons
Redwood Curtain CopWatch
San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
Solitary Watch News
Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network
Through Barbed Wire


Angela Davis
Anne Weills, National Lawyers Guild (NLG).
Barbara Becnel, founder, STW Legacy Network
Carole Seligman, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee
Elaine Brown
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Jack Bryson
Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jeffrey Alan Masko, tutor and media coordinator, Second Chance Program at CCSF

Kazi Toure
Kevin Cooper
Kiilu Nyasha

Michael Letwin, Former President, Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Noelle Hanrahan, Project Director, Prison Radio
Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, former hostages in Iran and human rights activists
Stanley Tookie Williams IV