Demonstrators protest racism, fascism at Michigan Department of Corrections headquarters
LANSING, MI – Demonstrators from across the state of Michigan will gather Friday at 11:30 a.m. for a protest at the Lansing headquarters of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). In light of the national dialogue about the rise of fascism, sparked by the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Lansing protest points to the imprisonment of 44,000 people in Michigan—disproportionately people of color—as evidence of fascism here and now.
The Lansing protest is in conjunction with Saturday’s Millions for Prisoners March in Washington, D.C., and a nationwide week of action against mass incarceration and prison slavery. The Washington march is being organized by grassroots groups Prison Advocacy Network, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, and many others. Marchers will demand the abolishment of slavery in prisons, which is legal under the 13th Amendment.
Michigan demonstrators will also underscore the horrors of solitary confinement in Michigan. The United Nations deems solitary confinement torture, especially for those with mental illness. In FY 2007-2008, the daily average number of people held in solitary in Michigan was 1,294. Michigan ranks worst out of all 50 states for rates of Black men held in solitary.
Friday’s action at MDOC headquarters follows on a June 12 “solitary is torture” demonstration outside the East Lansing home of MDOC Director Heidi Washington. Amidst a heavy police presence, protestors demanded that Washington immediately release a group of about 70 people who had spent nine months in solitary confinement in retaliation for a protest against abhorrent conditions at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan.
Pulitzer Prize-winning University of Michigan historian Heather Ann Thompson said, “No human being should be placed in solitary confinement, and it is particularly brutal to keep people in isolation because they were crying out for officials to improve basic conditions in a prison.”
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Family members, imprisoned people, and local organizers are available for interviews.
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