SAINT LOUIS: There was yet another uprising in Saint Louis City’s notorious Justice Center Saturday morning. This continues the vein of militant resistance begun in December, when incarcerated Black people being held at the CJC rose up to demand adequate COVID-19 safety measures be taken. To attempt to stanch the people’s resistance and prevent organizing for other demands, the City, represented by uncle tom Department of Public Safety head Jimmy Edwards, has been simply shuffling inmates around from the CJC to the even more hellish Workhouse. Though the Workhouse has been slated for closure, reactionaries are arguing for the maintenance of this medieval dungeon claiming that it makes social distancing easier.
Around 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, inmates once again rose in the maroon, slave rebel tradition, following in the footsteps of the Attica rebels of 1971, who rose and demanded to be treated as human beings, not as beasts. Reactionary governor Nelson Rockefeller mobilized the National Guard to suppress that uprising, resulting in several dead. On Saturday morning in the heart of Saint Louis, windows were smashed, items were thrown from windows, fires were lit, and banners/signs demanding “Freedom for 57” were made and displayed. “Free 57” refers to the 50 odd rebel inmates who were transferred to the Workhouse after previous demonstrations. This is a solidarity uprising and an uprising for human rights, and a natural response to state repression. A sign asking “What about Anthony Smith” was also seen. Anthony Smith was a Black man murdered by Police Officer Jason Stockley on December 20, 2011. The failure to indict Stockley touched off weeks of protests in 2017, which were met with brutal repression ordered by Mayor Lyda Krewson (D).
Agents of the city government say that 117 incarcerated people were involved on the 4th Floor uprising, and the group was “extremely violent and non compliant”. City officials infantilized the inmates, saying that they were “acting out”, as if a righteous rebellion against arbitrary removal and negligence regarding a deadly pandemic is on the same level as a childish temper tantrum.
It is important for all revolutionaries to study the work of prison rebels such as George Jackson and Kevin Rashid Johnson to understand the importance of prison and jail struggles and the merging of the struggle behind bars with the struggle on the street. Prison labor is the most exploited labor in the United States and the vast majority of incarcerated people are also colonized. We highlight the account of an incarcerated individual published on Expo Saint Louis. Inmates are going without food and PPE, and are being forcibly exposed to fellow inmates with COVID-19, who belong in the hospital.
The solidarity demonstration organized by FTP-STL on Monday drew a crowd of between 30-40 people in the bitter cold. The song which inmates sang during the uprising, Boosie’s “Betrayed”, was played and the speech given by FTPSTL cadre after the reading of the inmate account is below:
Revolution is the only way to end the atrocities of the prison system. The capitalist-imperialist system profits off of the incarceration of large numbers of Black people. Black people were moved from slavery to sharecropping to mass incarceration. Over 500 years of existence as a people in this country, we have never tasted freedom. We have always been exploited mercilessly, abused, kicked, beaten, tortured, and now in this building behind us several hundred of us are subjected to medical abuse and starvation. Inmates have gone for two days without food, as has just been described. Prisoners are workers, the Constitutional amendment that supposedly liberated Black slaves in this country has a special provision that those who are in prison can be made to work for free against their will. Prisoners make clothes, guided missile parts, grow food, produce electronics, and make telemarketing calls. All for little to no pay. This is slavery.
For the People STL and all For the People branches stand firmly against this fascist regime which bears strong resemblance to apartheid South Africa. Anti-imperialism and prison abolition are key points of unity It is known that very few of the white fascists that stormed the Capitol building, which I might add was built by the slave labor of my ancestors and the ancestors of the majority of the men in the building behind me. These white people who stormed the Capitol building and threatened to lynch the Vice President of the United States along with several members of the United States Congress are, by and large, walking away scot free. They are being allowed organic diets in cells by themselves, or being allowed to take unmonitored trips out of the country to Mexico. Meanwhile, in the CJC, men who have not been convicted of any crimes yet are described by our Uncle Tom so-called director of public safety as being “extremely dangerous” are forced to share cells with fellow inmates who have COVID-19. I have had COVID. I can not imagine having it in jail. The incompetent and sadistic corrections officers walk around in hazmat suits while these innocent men are allowed one mask every two weeks. That one flimsy mask has to last you for fourteen days. Men have gone without food for two days. Hence the Saturday uprising. Now we are here three days afterwards in solidarity with these brave rebels.
It is essential to merge the prison struggle with the struggle outside. As a Black man I live every day of my life with prison hanging over my head because that is the only place that this country sees fit to put people such as myself. Through observation, I and countless others have come to the conclusion that this country has a vested interest in the extinction of myself and my people and as an individual who really likes living, I am ready to fight to defy the tomb this country built for me and my people. This is no moral posture but basic human self-preservation. In closing I would like to say all power to the people, all power to the rebels of the CJC and onward to people’s war, the destruction of the United States which has caused so much misery and death across the world, and the creation of a Communist society.