On Sunday, February 11th, the TRUTH MOB gave it's first performance. What's a Truth Mob,
you might ask?
The TRUTH MOB is a creative outreach action by Oakland-based Occupy For Prisoners organizers. Participants appear in public places throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with bullhorns, speaking truth about mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Each action ends with outreach for the Feb. 20 National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.The performance they gave on the 11th at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly at 18th & Telegraph was truly moving. This video, an amalgam of a few local performances, can only capture part of the feeling of being there -- and still it is awesome. Listen as some Occupy Oaklanders and members of Causa Justica : Just Cause "Speak Truth" about the prison-industrial complex here in the United States.
Speakers communicate in two ways about what's going on with the US prison system: stating some basic facts, and then reading the words of current and former imprisoned people, including political prisoners. The fundamental principle is from the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee: amplifying the voices of imprisoned people.
(approximate transcript below the squiggle)
February 20th, this coming Monday, has been endorsed by Occupations around the country as "A National Day in Support of Prisoners."
You can find a list of national actions here.
If you are in the Bay Area you can find more information and how you can participate here. The Bay Area action is called "Occupy San Quentin" and will begin at 12:00 noon. Rides are available at 10:00 AM from Oakland and San Francisco. Don't worry, no one's going to be storming the gates of California's most notorious prison; protests will take place along one of the access roads and are intended to be safe for all.
Occupy San Quentin will feature reading of statements by people in prisons, art, music and bringing together our movements. This demonstration is in solidarity with those behind prison walls, their loved ones, and formerly incarcerated people. These communities ask that the spirit of solidarity create a safe space for all on February 20th.Here's the transcript of the video. This may not be exact; I believe it is the transcript from the February 11th performance. But I think it is reasonably close.
TRUTH MOB ScriptA beautiful piece of artwork created for February 20th by Kevin Rashid Johnson, in prison in Virgina:
Each person speaks this line, one after another:
We're here to speak truth... (3x, start w/ speaker 1, then quickly 2 & 3)
About the prison industrial complex!
Let's start with some facts:
The United States is 5% of the world's population & has 25% of the world's prison population.
Speaker 2: Almost 2.5 million people are incarcerated here, the highest rate of imprisonment in the world.
The US imprisons more of its ethnic minorities than any other country.
The US imprisons more Black men today than were enslaved in 1850.
Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses are Black or Latino.
In major cities wracked by the drug war, as many as 80 percent of young African American men now have criminal records and are subject to legalized discrimination -- in terms of voting, jury participation & employment, among other things -- for the rest of their lives.
And now for truth from those inside the walls.
A very significant outcome of mass incarceration is how it contributes to preventing an effective revolutionary mass movement from emerging. Not only have prisons been enormously successful in separating communities from their leaders, but modern prison conditions -- more than in the past -- have also succeeded in undermining the potential to develop new leaders in Black and Latino communities.
-- Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner
Settle your quarrels, come together, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people.
-- George Jackson, author, political prisoner, executed by guards at San Quentin
While I can't speak to what any one movement wants per se, I can speak to what all these different Occupy movements don't want.
We don't want terrorism of any kind, against any people. We don't want pollution of the air or water and other natural resources that Mother Earth produces; We don't want war in any of its forms; We don't want sexism, racism, classism, or poverty!
We don't want corruption, the death penalty, the prison industrial complex -- either public or private prisons. We don't want unions to be busted, or jobs sent overseas. We don't want police brutality or intimidation of any kind!
-- Kevin Cooper, San Quentin Death Row
We've got to awaken from our colorblind slumber to the realities of race in America. Nothing less than a major social movement has any hope of ending mass incarceration in the US and inspiring a recommitment to Martin Luther King's dream.
-- Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
It's important to remember our victories -- Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved to general population, a prison media access bill has just passed the CA general assembly, and Oakland activists have stopped further expansion of gang injunctions, disrupting the prison pipeline.
Come to the Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners at San Quentin, this February 20 to learn more.
We say no to mass incarceration and the new Jim Crow!