On the 20th of September, relatives and former prison inmates from Alabama backed by DC area activists held a rally in Pershing Park demanding that the Dept of Justice sue the Alabama Dept of Corrections over prison slavery as well as assaults and murders by guards. The main banner had the slogan “We Are Men” used in the 1971 Attica prison Uprising (mens’ prison) to indicate inmates were people not animals on somebody’s factory farm.
Any invocation of Attica in the context of resistance by prisoners to abuse is no joke at all, and the Alabama Dept of Corrections had better listen unless they want history to repeat itself. The Attica prison uprising was the bloodiest in US history for BOTH sides, with ten guards and contractors dead plus 33 inmates. Today, the Alabama Dept of Corrections is considered the worst prison system in the entire United Snakes, and Trump’s Dept of “Just-Us” naturally is refusing to sue or prosecute anyone responsible for the rapes, the beatings, and murders by guards, or for the intense and inescapable heat so many inmates there are subjected to.
At Attica in 1971, Elliot James “L.D” Barkley has been quoted as having said:
“We are men! We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace, that means each and every one of us here, have set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed. We will not compromise on any terms except those terms that are agreeable to us. We’ve called upon all the conscientious citizens of America to assist us in putting an end to this situation that threatens the lives of not only us, but of each and every one of you, as well.”
Today, organizers inside Alabama’s prisons and their supporters on the outside of the walls are putting forth nearly the same demands that were made so long ago and at such high cost at Attica.
The slogan “We are Men” on the banner was used at the 1971 Attica uprising
A flier for the rally in Pershing Park