“Next week is the 30th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising. To me, this is very important because Lucasville’s lessons are as valuable today as they were then.
One of the interesting things about Lucasville is that it even happened. Every day in almost every prison in America, there exist, to a certain extent, the conditions that lead to the uprising: cold, rotten, vile food; communication either over-priced, delayed, or prevented altogether; families being disrespected or denied access when they try to visit; subhuman and totally negligent medical care; old decrepit facilities that are falling apart, moldy and dangerous; a complete lack of jobs or meaningful activities and the existing jobs paying peanuts; and administrations who totally disregard prisoners’ physical and mental well-being while enacting policies that make life much worse and much more violent…those conditions haven’t vanished. (See Thomson SMU and every USP)
What the Lucasville uprisers had was bravery, dignity, and a collective mindset that what would come was worth it to stand up for themselves. Organizing any level of resistance inside prison is incredibly difficult. At USP Lee, we couldn’t get 10 people to join a peaceful ‘Grievance Process Protest’…the reasons it is so hard can be summed up as 1) Apathy 2) Extreme Repression. For even discussing the ‘Grievance Protest’ I was forcibly stripped by 5 USP Lee guards and forced to wear ONLY paper underwear in a completely empty cell for a week. Imagine the bravery of the Lucasville revolters. They knew with 100% certainty that whatever comforts, family contact, and safety they felt was absolutely finished. They knew death was a possibility, either at the hands of self-serving prisoners looking to settle scores or at the more likely hands of the cops who would be acting with rage-fueled impunity. They had the foresightedness to know and accept that there would be extreme brutality now and the chance for dignified treatment in the future. They played the long game with the hopes of feeling human and being treated as such.
I’ve been very blessed to be friends with people who still support some of the Lucasville uprisers. This is amazing and priceless work… The abolition movement cannot succeed without inside action, and knowing the fierce repression that they will face, inside people need to know support is there. Two hands to climb the rope out of the pit of oppression.
Horrible, tragic things happen during revolts, and they happened during Lucasville… this is not a celebration of or glorification of violence, absolutely not. It is a reminder of bravery, that some were willing to face their oppressor head-on… knowing they were living in their oppressors’ dwellings, knowing there was no retreat and no way out… we need to remember them and support them and everyone who put their dignity first and play the long game.
Free Joe-Joe, free Kojo… free all our elders
EK @ always
(Featured art in solidarity by Taller Ahuehuete)