Saturday marked the first anniversary of the largest prison work strike in U.S. history. On September 9, 2016, prisoners launched a nationwide work strike that spread across 29 prisons to include more than 24,000 prisoners. Last year’s strike, launched on the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, sparked widespread retaliation by prison guards, including in Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility. This is prisoner, poet and abolitionist Fred Williams, speaking about the strike and the retaliation in an interview just released by Rustbelt Abolition Radio.
Fred Williams: “They decided that they were going to stand out and protest—protest the food, protest health service, protest the ventilation, protest the living conditions overall. And so, these few guys stood outside, walking in circles, protesting, chanting, you know, ‘Equal work, equal pay,’ chanting. And they were also calling for other guys inside the housing units to come out and stand with them in solidarity. And it worked. They walked in circles in the common area, chanting, and the crowd just grew larger and larger and larger, until the point where, when I looked out the window, it looked like it was maybe 500-600 guys out there. And so, the ERT was called in; the emergency response team was called in. It took four or five hours. And from what I understand, this is either the first or second time the government allowed for live ammunition to be entered onto the prison compound in Michigan.”
That was prisoner Fred Williams at Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility in an audio archive just released because some prisoners were isolated in solitary confinement as retaliation for the strike for nearly a year.