Statement on Anniversary of Attica Rebellion and Prison Strikes

Forty-eight years ago today, prisoners at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York made history by beginning a days-long riot against their captors, demanding better living conditions and respect of their basic humanity. The rebellion occurred just two weeks after the murder of Soledad Brother George Jackson at San Quentin prison, while he made a bid for his freedom. This uprising forms a critical part of revolutionary history and serves as a constant source of inspiration as we continue to fight against the same horrific institutions that have kept people in bondage for centuries.

The spirit of Attica lives on in anti-prison struggles of today, including the nationwide prison strikes that occurred in both 2016 and 2018. These strikes began on August 21st, a day on which both George Jackson’s escape attempt and the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831 are commemorated; and ended on September 9th, the final day of the Attica uprising. Prisoners all over the U.S. participated through such actions as hunger-striking, refusing to buy items at commissary, and refusing to report for work. Folks on the outside expressed solidarity with those behind the walls via actions like noise demos, motorcades, statements, letter writing campaigns, fundraising and banner drops.

Nearly half a century after the Attica uprising, prisoner demands of today very closely mirror those of the 1970s. In other words, nothing has changed. Prisoners are still regularly subjected to solitary confinement and beatings; lack access not just to “healthful” food full of nutrients, but often, even sanitary food that isn’t covered in mold; and have what few “privileges” are allowed, such as visitation, regularly revoked without any explanation.   Last winter saw mass mobilization around Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York as word got out that prisoners there had gone without consistent light and without consistent heat for weeks— during one of the coldest winters in recent history, with record-breaking lows and ferocious winds rattling the region.

These details only fuel the fire sparked by the very act of putting someone in a cage. Whatever such a person is fed, whatever “privileges” such a person is allowed, locking someone in a cage is an inherently violent attack by the State against our friends, neighbors, and communities. This social, political, and economic situation is the continuation of slavery in the US and abolition of prisons and all the institutions making this situation tenable is an immediate goal. Such attacks cannot be tolerated! In the spirit of Attica! Solidarity with revolutionary comrades behind the walls!

Sept 2019