Prisoner resistance and rebellion is on the rise in the US. Last fall saw a new peak in this struggle with the largest nationally coordinated prisoner protest and work strike in history kicking off on September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion. Planning this action took years of effort and outreach, and brought together diverse coalitions both of prisoners and radical groups on the outside. In the spirit of this coalition The Fire Inside Collective have set out to collect and distribute reportbacks from both sides of the fences. We solicited responses from as wide an array as possible and compiled them into a 63 page report that we hope will help develop strategy and carry prisoner-led struggles forward.
The Fire Inside zine goes in-depth with organizing strategy and tactics, identifies successes and shortcomings and aims to establish a throughline between this peak of prisoner resistance and future efforts that will surely exceed it. This August, we’re expecting another large mobilization. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and other inside/outside networks have called for A Millions for Prisoners March. Unlike the Sept 9 call, Aug 19 focuses on marches and rallies on the outside, rather than inside actions. The biggest challenge of prisoner organizing is communication, particularly about support levels. Demonstrations of robust outside support, like those being called for on Aug 19, are opportunities to show prisoners that they do not act alone, which helps them expectations and confidence that they are not acting alone.
Prisoners voices and perspectives are essential to radical organizing against prison. We must influence the narrative around high profile prisoner activities- whether they be revolts or sit-down strikes. The Fire Inside zine includes contributions from 25 prisoners and 3 solidarity organizations. It is available for download online at IncarceratedWorkers.com, and FireInside.noblogs.org, where you can also find a list of tour dates and speaking events between Denver and Massachusetts. These events will include call-ins from prisoner participants in the Sep 9 actions and a strong focus on the organizing needs of local groups.
The current iteration of The Fire Inside tour and zine are primarily organized by Ben Turk and Firehawk, who have been involved in unstoppable!, IWOC, Webs of Support, Lucasville Amnesty, The North American Anarchist Black Cross Conference and various other abolitionist projects over the years.
In the future, we hope to do more regional tours with the zine, and are requesting other anti-prison organizers to assist and bring the zine and discussions to locations we are not able to reach. With help, we hope to gather more information, perspectives and responses to the zine and speaking events, eventually even creating a second volume to include reports from August 19 and other resistance activities.
The Fire Inside tour and site are also opportunities to distribute other abolitionist publications we have been involved in or that we appreciate, including Freedom First, another new zine examining the role of prisoner resistance in prison abolition efforts.