Many Expected to Rally at San Quentin Prison on Monday
PRESS CONFERENCE ON FRIDAY
What: Press Conference
When: Friday, February 17th, 1:30pm
Where: Oakland City Hall
Who: Occupy 4 Prisoners, Occupy Oakland
CONTACT: Crystal Bybee, 510-333-7966
Oakland —Organizers of the upcoming Occupy 4 Prisoners demonstration will hold a press conference on Friday, February 17th at 1:30pm. Many are expected to attend rally at San Quentin State Prison on Monday, February 20, with over a dozen similar demonstrations happening throughout the US on what is being called National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners. The purpose of this day is to speak out against the destructive impacts of imprisonment for people behind bars, their families and their communities. (See Occupy4Prisoners.org.) Organizers are working with a large coalition of groups and individuals to create a safe space for all to speak out, including formerly incarcerated people, on February 20th.
“Thousands and thousands of people have been coming out into the street as part of the Occupy Movement to protest terrible social and economic inequality in this country. There are very few people who feel the brunt of these problems more than prisoners and their families,” says Manuel La Fontaine, a former prisoner and one of the organizers of Monday’s action. “Occupy 4 Prisoners gives us a powerful opportunity to amplify the voices of prisoners and their loved ones to help understand the connections between imprisonment and the loss of jobs, racism, the denial of good education and decent healthcare. This will be all the more important because those making these connections are those who have been systematically denied a voice for far too long.”
Organizers of the event will be busing and carpooling community members from all over the Bay Area to the East Gate of San Quentin Prison, where a three-hour program will include music, a variety of speakers, and letters and recorded messages from prisoners across the country. “The last historic protest at San Quentin was the night of the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams on December 13, 2005,” says Barbara Becnel, one of the organizers of Monday’s demonstration. “I was in the death chamber with Stan that night. It was a tragic day. But now, from the ashes of that horrific experience and so much other sacrifice and work against the prison system, thousands of our loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors will return to San Quentin and join people from all over the country, inside prisons and out, to say enough is enough.”
At the same time the Occupy movement was gaining steam in October of last year, 12,000 prisoners were participating in the second wave of a massive hunger strike that rocked California’s notorious prison system. As strike actions continue inside California prisons, one participant at Corcoran State Prison recently wrote, “The struggle that is being fought in this prison is only a small part of a bigger struggle that is being fought, and that will be continuously fought, against the oppression that is evident in all parts of the world today.” The US has the world’s largest prison population with nearly 2.5 million people locked behind bars. For updates and more information, visit: occupy4prisoners.org.