[Marxism] Grassroots prison campaign

Mike Kramer mkramer666 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 31 15:38:05 MST 2004

Friends and comrades, 

The Bring the Ruckus website has been updated with the
following articles on Palestine:

-Sharon's Gaza Pullout: Not Gonna Happen!
A talk given by Tanya Reinhart at the Euro/Palestine
concert, Paris, November 6, 2004

-Dispatch from Palestine
By Sami

-The Jewish Caste in Palestine
By Adam Sabra

-Letters on the Arab-Israeli Dispute in James Forman's
The Making of Black Revolutionaries
By Matthew Quest

Also included in this update is information about our
upcoming Grassroots Prison Campaign, which will send
Bring the Ruckus members and interested others to
Atlanta, Georgia for up to two weeks in January and
February to assist with organizing efforts around
specific prison-related issues--and gain valuable
political experience in the process. More information
about this campaign follows below.

Grass Roots Prison Campaign

In January 2004, Bring the Ruckus (BtR) adopted the
Grassroots Prison Campaign (GPC) as a national
project. This campaign will bring BtR cadre members
and interested others to Atlanta in early 2005 to
assist the newly formed coalition Communities United
for Action, Power & Justice with organizing efforts
around specific prison-related issues. The project
offers a chance for people to learn or hone practical
organizing skills through on-the-ground political
work. It's also a good place for us to test our
abstract theories and see how they hold up in reality.

Why Atlanta?

In Georgia, 400,000 people either have been or are in
prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole. According
to the Georgia Department of Corrections, there are
600,000 people on state prison visitation lists. This
means 1 million people are directly affected by the
criminal justice system in Georgia--a significant
potential organizing base, considering that the
population in greater Atlanta is 4 million, and there
are only 8.6 million people in the entire state.

Who are the organizers, and what is the campaign?

Communities United for Action, Power & Justice is a
coalition of organizations and individuals that works
to put justice in the criminal justice system. It is a
statewide criminal justice reform coalition that keeps
those most affected by the criminal justice system
(the currently/formerly incarcerated, family members &
survivors) at the center of the movement. Communities
United is participating in Operation Open Book, the
campaign to remove Georgia's state secret status on
parole files. Georgia has an exemption in the open
records law that keeps all parole information a secret
unless the parole board votes to release it, which
means the Board doesn't have to justify any of its
decisions or even explain how and why those decisions
were made. Operation Open Book is about breaking down
that wall of secrecy. This demand is the foundation
for a larger reform effort, as it isn't possible to
hold the Pardon and Parole Board accountable without
access to its information.

Bring the Ruckus’s participation, by way of the
Grassroots Prison Campaign, will help Communities
United build an organizational base early on, of
people most affected by the prison system. To do this,
we are borrowing a labor tactic called The Blitz. In
labor organizing, a mass of organizers visits every
worker in a shop in one weekend. The workers can build
an organizational base before the boss has a chance to
react. We're going to do the same thing but in the
community instead of a workplace.

BtR members and other participants will come to
Georgia for a minimum of four days and a maximum of
two weeks. The dates for the Grassroots Prison
Campaign are January 29 through February 13. The
tangible goal is to get people most affected by the
criminal justice system to turn out for Poor People’s
Day on February 9 and 10, which in turn will get them
involved in the Open Book Campaign and Communities
United. To do this, the ‘blitzers’ will visit prisons
to talk to folks coming to visitations as well as
parole offices. They’ll go to beauty parlors and check
cashing stores. They’ll hang flyers and make phone
calls. In short, they’ll organize a good turn-out.

What is Poor People's Day?

Poor People's Day (PPD) is an education and action
gathering of low-income people from around the state
held the 2nd week of February for the last 24 years.
The gathering has a strong education component which
explores the links between different issues of
coalition members.

PPD is divided into 2 days: Education Day and Action
Day. Education Day features a key speaker, plenary
gatherings, and workshops on key issues facing
Georgians. On Action Day we take it to the streets and
speak truth to power. We meet directly with decision
makers to move a program that meets the needs of poor

The gathering will include a community meeting where
those who’ve been reached out to through the ‘blitz’
of the Grassroots Prison Campaign will be plugged into
the Open Book Campaign. Recruiting around Poor
People’s Day will allow Communities United to rapidly
expand its organizing base before the parole board has
a chance to react.

Who Organizes Poor People's Day?

The Up & Out of Poverty NOW! Campaign, staffed by the
Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger (Hunger
Coalition) and Project South, is the umbrella group
organizing the event. Beginning in the fall
individuals and organizations from across Georgia are
invited to planning meetings where all decisions about
Poor People's Day are made. These meetings choose
speakers, themes, workshop topics, as well as the
action for Action Day. The meetings are held at the
Hunger Coalition's office and everyone is invited to

Communities United for Action, Power & Justice is part
of the Up & Out of Poverty NOW! Campaign because
criminal justice reform is an expansion of the
struggle for economic justice.

Why is Bring the Ruckus involved?

This project was proposed and accepted by BtR for the
same reason anti-prison and anti-police work was
proposed and accepted — because we believe this is a
point of revolutionary struggle. 65% of those
incarcerated in Georgia are poor black men. This
campaign involves organizing a strong base of poor
people of color. The prison system puts women on the
outside trying to survive economic strangulation and
men on the inside trying to survive being brutalized.
Race and class are front and center. Furthermore,
there is nothing abstract about this work. How does
the state use the intersection of oppression to
advance social control? Look to people’s lived
experiences with prisons, the police, etc., and we
have a concrete answer. This is a point of
revolutionary struggle because it’s a concrete fight
that, taken to its logical conclusion, ends in prison
abolition. Through a very intentional educational
process, people are able to articulate the larger
system of social control, analyze its weaknesses, and
effectively organize to take advantage of those
weaknesses. And they stay involved because they have a
good, real reason: the life of someone they love.

Who can participate in the Grassroots Prison Campaign?

Activists who want to gain experience organizing
around prison issues are invited to contact
Communities United for Peace & Justice to learn more
about how to get involved. Keep in mind, however,
these three criteria for participating:

1. No drugs, no violence, no exceptions.

2. Participants need to take direction from local
This is a Georgia-based campaign. This means taking
direction from the local organization about anything
from dress to what tasks need to be done to manner.

3. Participants need to commit to campaign first while
in Georgia.
We want to make sure that all participants have a good
experience. However, the campaign comes first. Each
participants must agree to put ego aside and put the
needs of the campaign first.

Do you want more information?
Contact Communities United at
communitiesunited at riseup.net or 404-223-6773 or the
Atlanta chapter of Bring the Ruckus at
atlanta at agitatorindex.org. 

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