Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Immediate Release: Joining to Decarcerate NJ and End Prison Enslavement on September 9

Decarcerate the Garden State and Peoples Organization for Progress,
Other Organizations Joining to Decarcerate NJ and End Prison Enslavement on September 9

For Immediate Release
Contact Bob Witanek 908-881-5275
Charles Boyer 856-318-4829

In a statement jointly issued and signed by Bob Witanek of Decarcerate the Garden State and Larry Adams of Peoples Organization for Progress, the groups announced support for the call for a national shut down of US prison enslavement operations scheduled to begin September 9, 2016, the 45th Anniversary of the Attica State Prisoner Uprising.

They have decided to issue this press release immediately in response to the reports that NJ has the very worse racial breakdown in its prisonsystems compared to every other state in the US.

According to the statement calling for the September 9 actions:
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“Peoples Organization for Progress and Decarcerate the Garden State are joining together to call upon freedom and justice loving organizations and individuals throughout New Jersey and throughout the U.S.A. to develop events and activities in solidarity and support of a multi-state coordinated strike at prisons aimed at ending enslavement inside U.S. prison and detention systems.  Prisoners across multiple states have issued a call for a strike on September 9, 2016, which is the 45th anniversary of the Attica State Prison uprising.
According to an article from the news site The Intercept, "On April 1, a group of prisoners from Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, and Mississippi called for anationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison riot. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves,
 that announcement reads. They cannot run these facilities without us.’”

We would like to demonstrate solidarity with the coordinated action in NJ by having a solidarity action or actions on the outside in support of demands fordecarcerating legislation in NJ (we call for 50% reduction in NJ’s incarcerated population), freedom for political prisoners and improved conditions for the incarcerated inside NJ facilities. We are not suggesting any specific actions inside NJ’s facilities but should there be participation on the inside in NJ we will offer solidarity to the demands of NJ’s incarcerated men and women.

We would like to invite all of the justice seeking groups in NJ to:
1. Formerly co-sponsor or endorse in principal the idea of NJ solidarity action or actions on or around September 9.
2. Begin the process of deciding what kinds of activity (or activities) will be organized and where – the sentiment of some of the inside organizations like Free Alabama Movement is for there to be actions directly outside the facilities. The challenge of that is the remote locations of many of the facilities making transportation an issue. It is ultimately up to us in NJ exactly what kind of activities at what locations best suits our goals to effectively advance our demands for decarceration and for better conditions inside NJ facilities. There has been a suggestion that there be 3 regional events across the state though the locationsThe number of events, timing etc. will all be determined by the locations where people are prepared to act.”

One of the national organizers, a member of the Free Alabama Movement, when he heard about the activities in NJ, he stated:

According to Kinetic, of the Free Alabama Movement, “IF ANYONE IS ASKING ‘WHAT CAN I DO?’ Start doing like Decarcerate the Garden State / POP - Start Organizing Events in your City to SHOW SOLIDARITY not just say I STAND IN SOLIDARITY. Educational Rallies , Marches, Protest, Walk-Outs, Boycott Complicit Corporations. It's Time to let our ACTIONS show our dissatisfaction. FREE ALABAMA FREE MISSISSIPPI FREE OHIO FREE VIRGINIA FREE GEORGIA FREE CALIFORNIA. ..FREE YOUR STATE. .. BECAUSE IT'S A FREEDOM STRUGGLE!"

So far the organizations are planning 3 major events on September 9, one in Trenton, one in Newark and one in Camden.  They also plan to have a presence on that date on every college campus in the state distributing information on the cafeteria lines about the issue and actions.  There is also a scheduled panel discussion in Highland Park ob Sepdember 19  and will likely be youth oriented topical park festivals demanding Decarceration on September 10 .  There will likely be leafleting and newspaper distribution at prisoner visit days on September 10 and 11.  The organizers plan to hold meetings and discussions in cities and towns throughout the state between now and September 9.  More activities are expected to be announced as the dates get closer.

The effort has received a statement of support nationally from Cindy Sheehan, a national leader of anti-war efforts:

She states, “The United States incarcerates its own people at a rate that is 4 times the rate as the rest of the countries on the planet.  Yet whenever the US decides to start bombing another country – slaughtering civilians – it fraudulently invokes the word “freedom”.  This word is devoid of all meaning when invoked by the elected officials that govern the US – the incarceration leader of the world.  Accompanying every occupation is the construction of new prisons and the takeover of the existing ones and converting them to torture chambers – the likes of Abu Graib in Iraq and the facility at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, not to mention the illegal detention facility in Guantanamo.  The crimes against humanity that have occurred in these facilities – only some of which have come to the surface – belies any claim of bringing freedom to the counties the US bombs.
While many believe that enslavement was eliminated in the United States, we need to continue to point out that the 13th. Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly states:
                 “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The effort has also received statements of support from Rev. Charles Boyer who leads social concerns efforts for NJ’s African Methodist Episcopalian Churches, The BATS, a statewide activist teacher organization, 15 NOW NJ and the Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War.

According to Witanek, dozens of other organizations are working on statements and preparing to participate.

He states, “NJ politicians like to pat themselves on the back for reductions in the prison rolls in NJ since 2000.  Be that as it may – NJ is the very worse in the nation in deploying incarceration against the Black community here.  However the state is uniting to say enough to false promises and phony schemes from the elected officials of both major political parties.  The times they are a changing and the communities most directly impacted by mass incarceration will be driving the changes.”

The group holds weekly phone conferences on Tuesday nights at 6:30 pm.

Minutes of meetings and much of the developing project is documented at the blogsite of Decarcerate the Garden State :

For more information or to get involved, contact Decarcerate the Garden State at 908-881-5275 or by e-mail at .

Sample tweet:

Immed RLS: NJ worse racial breakdown for prisoners in USA- mobilizing for Sept 9

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