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Related Categories: U.S. | Labor & Workers | Police State & Prisons | Racial Justice
Florida prisoners begin Operation PUSH to grind prison system to a halt w/ non-cooperation
by Critical Resistance
Monday Jan 15th, 2018 2:09 PM
The Gainesville Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) have received a statement from prisoners organizing in institutions across the state announcing a new wave of strikes by incarcerated workers in Florida beginning on January 15th, 2018. This action follows on the heels of Florida prisoners' participation in the national strike against prison slavery initiated on September 9th, 2016, and a similar wave of strikes by prisoners on August 19th of this year.
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According to their statement, prisoners in at least eight facilities around the state plan to initiate a work stoppage or "laydown" coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, in nonviolent protest of conditions in FL prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.

Their primary demands: end prison slavery, stop price gouging, and fully return parole. They believe these issues have directly created the overcrowding that is responsible for the deplorable and deadly conditions in Florida prisons.

While the prisoners are choosing to remain anonymous about their identities and locations, the recent history of prisoner organizing in Florida has shown cause to take the plan seriously.

In September 2016, prisoners around the country, with the help of family and friends on the outside, launched the largest coordinated prison strike in the country’s history. The strike occurred in 24 states, and over 24,000 prisoners participated. The series of strikes began with an uprising at Holmes C.I. on September 7 in Florida’s panhandle. Within a week, at least 10 prisons inFlorida had strikes or disturbances of some sort, making it one of the most active states in country.
On August 19 this year, prisoners around the country expressed similar intentions to coincide with a march in DC for prisoners’ human rights. In anticipation, the Florida Department of Corrections put the whole system on lockdown, including over 100,000 prisoners in 143 facilities statewide, citing security concerns.

The Operation PUSH call to action was compiled from a series of correspondences received on November 26 and 27 and posted on SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Real Change), a social media page for Florida prisoners and their families, affiliated with prisoner Kevin “Rashid” Johnson.

Their statement also raises other major issues that need to be grappled with, including the death penalty, voting rights and environmental health conditions, such as the proposed phosphate mine which would surround the state’s Reception and Medical Center (RMC) prison near Lake Butler.

The prisoners have said they are preparing to “stay down indefinitely” until someone addresses their concerns.

Their message regarding Operation PUSH can be found in its entirety here: https://fighttoxicprisons.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/fl-prisoners-announce-operation-push-starting-jan-15-to-cripple-prison-system/

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This press release is being circulated on behalf of the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons.