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LANSING – A group of community members, formerly incarcerated people and anti-prison activists, marched through downtown Lansing to raise awareness about the beginning of a nationwide prisoner strike. They marched from the city’s Durant Park to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) building, where they held a rally. The march was organized to coincide with the first week of a nationwide prisoner strike, and march participants stressed the importance of paying attention to the demands of the prisoners.
“Prisoners around the country are putting a lot at risk to organize this strike, and we’re here to make sure that their demands can’t be ignored,” said Alejo Stark, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan and the spokesperson for Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS).
The group has compared this strike to the September 2016 rebellion at Kinross Correctional Facility.
“At Kinross you saw a situation where prisoners peacefully presented a set of extremely reasonable demands, but the prison officials, instead of engaging in dialogue, called in a tactical team that started a riot and cost the state almost $1 million,” Stark said. “This August we have another opportunity to listen to what prisoners are saying about why prisons do not solve our society’s problems.”
The 2018 national prisoner strike began on August 21, and will continue through Sept. 9. The national action is organized and led by prisoners around the country who have already begun engaging in hunger strikes, work stoppages and other actions to protest their living conditions. Their demands include “an immediate end to prison slavery” as well as various other demands related to sentencing reform and racism.
Find out more about MAPS and a full list of prisoner demands at michiganabolition.org.