On the evening of September 1st a coalition group of various anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-fascist, Prison-Strike supporters gathered outside the Richmond, VA city jail to fulfill a promise made to prisoners during a noise demonstration August 25th: “We’ll be back.” Word is bond and despite the heavy rainfall, 20 members of the Central VA radical scene gathered for a second noise demonstration September 1st.
Equipped with drums, fireworks, and a banner reading, “You are not alone!” demonstrators connected with the individuals currently incarcerated within the facility in continued solidarity with the on-going Prison Strike. While the previous demonstration had larger numbers and was able to sustain itself for over an hour, the subsequent demo allowed radicals and prisoners to dialogue directly about conditions within the jail. Individuals from the demo were able to update and inform the incarcerated folks about the nation-wide Prison Strike.
The prisoners, having gathered and collectively agreed upon the issues they were facing, were able to communicate a list of grievances:
- They served uncooked and spoiled food in small portions. Packaged products are served beyond expiration dates and taste bad or spoiled.
- Many prisoners have been exposed to scabies and staph infections that are being inadequately treated. Others have been affected by MRSA (an antibiotic resistant infection) that has cost one prisoner their toe.
- The showers & bathroom facilities are not properly maintained by the jail. At times there are worms and maggots within the showers.
- They have not be allowed into the quad areas.
- They are required to do labor without being paid. The prisoners are not given adequate materials to perform the work required of them. These jobs include cleaning the facilities as well as the correctional officers’ & sheriff’s vehicles, preparing food, laundry, and barber shop. Due to the lack of materials the prisoners are exposed to unsafe conditions.
After dialoguing with the individuals in the jail, the group of outside continued their noise demonstration until the weather made holding the space untenable. These small acts of symbolic solidarity are not only focused on the 2018 Prison Strike, but also the injustices of the incarceration & policing system specifically affecting Richmond, VA.
On August 31st the Richmond’s Commonwealth Attorney, Michael Herring, determined that the police officer, Michael Nyantakyi, was ‘justified,’ in killing 24 year-old high school teacher, Marcus Davis Peters, during a mental health crisis. This tragedy among many is not isolated, but rather connected deeply to the explicit history of white supremacy and violence experienced by black and brown people daily in the former seat of the so-called confederacy.
It is the intention of radicals living Richmond, VA to continue acting in solidarity with those oppressed by the new tools of white supremacy and class violence. As it was said before, “We will be back,” before too much time has passed.