The Real Dragons Rise: Prisoners Across the US and World Engage in Uprisings in Midst of Pandemic

By: Huey Dessalines

UNITED STATES: Militant incarcerated workers across the country ushered in April with a series of riots, strikes, and standoffs with correctional authorities in response to lack of response to stated demands. Naturally, ruling class lackey COs and officials responded with brutality and violence. Wednesday night saw a demonstration of 100 inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington State after six inmates tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Bourgeois news source Yakima Herald reports:

Corrections officers used verbal orders, pepper spray and rubber pellets to get the demonstrators under control, but the inmates ignored those efforts, officials said. Both housing units were evacuated and the situation was under control soon afterward.

At Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas, Thursday evening saw a mass rebellion, with microwaves, windows, computers, and other breakable apparatus being smashed and the guards’ station being destroyed. Notably, the ruling class lackies who manage the prison were at a loss for a response in the face of the militant people, and simply stated that they hoped the inmates would “soon stop”. Overseas, we have seen deadly prison riots in Colombia, and mass escapes in Brazil and Italy. The very environment of a prison is a death camp, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Prison activists have been monitoring the situation and demonstrating how critical it is that demands for immediate release from jails and prisons of immunocompromised and other at risk inmates be met to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the accompanying death rate. In Alabama, the State has reopened a filthy hellhole at Draper C.F. with the purpose of using it as a ward for infected inmates. Fight Toxic Prisons reports the abominable conditions found therein:

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Corrections is re-opening the solitary confinement wing of Draper Correctional Facility. At least 300 cots are being added to the dilapidated prison in order to house incarcerated people infected by the virus. This information was brought to us by an anonymous person incarcerated at Elmore C.C., who was told of the plan by a correctional officer. As usual, the ADOC has refused to confirm, deny, or give any comment on the situation. 

Draper C.F., built in 1938, was condemned by the public health department and decommissioned in March 2018 due to structural and environmental concerns including severe black mold, open sewage running throughout the facility, and toxic fumes. This was described by the DOJ’s April 2019 report on the Alabama prison system. Since then, part of the facility has still been used for vocational and educational programming. Our inside correspondent explained his fear that “you will have inmates with a deadly respiratory disease living in toxic conditions with no medical care. So bottomline, that’s a deathzone”. 

Prisons in the US are severely overcrowded, thanks to the War on Drugs war on oppressed nations and the working class. Incarcerated workers have correctly risen in righteous rebellion against being forced to live in unsanitary, crowded facilities where “social distancing” and other prescriptions of health authorities are impossible. There is very little soap, no disinfectant, no clean sheets, no clean clothes, open sewage in many facilities, and bunks/cells are within arms’ reach of each other in open dorms. We unite with progressive demands from incarcerated workers and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, older prisoners, immunocompromised people and others, along with the building of unity of the incarcerated and outside movement. As Ho Chi Minh said and George Jackson repeated, when the prison gates fly open, the real dragons fly out.

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