Oregon Department of Corrections officials say incarcerated people throughout Oregon’s 14 prisons did not participate in the National Prison Strike that officially ended Sept. 9.
Throughout the U.S. and in Canada, people incarcerated in prisons have been holding hunger strikes, withholding their labor and boycotting commissaries. According to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the strike arose in response to a riot at a maximum-security prison in South Carolina where seven prisoners died.
The National Prison Strike was held to raise public awareness of a list of 10 demands, which were designed by prisoners. These demands included reinstating the right to vote, ending prison slavery and establishing immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons in the U.S.
Jennifer Black, communications manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections, says state prisons had normal operations throughout the two-week strike, which began Aug. 21. Black says she did not hear of any major occurrences in prisons, such as labor strikes or protesting.
She adds that prisons are spread throughout Oregon, but the system is run centrally. If any prison experienced a big change, such as participation in the national strike, she says she would be aware of it.
Organizers for the strike said in their Aug. 22 telephone press conference they weren’t aware of anyone in Oregon participating in the strike, though they are skeptical of any official statement from government agencies.
The National Prison Strike did have activity on the West Coast. A California state prison in Lancaster has a group hunger strike, and New Folsom Prison experienced a hunger strike started by Heriberto Garcia, described by organizers as a political prisoner.
In Washington state more than 200 immigrant detainees in an ICE facility have declared a hunger strike. Due to fears of retaliation, the hunger strike has decreased to seven inmates.
When asked if Oregon Department of Corrections had any comment on the list of demands, Black did not comment.
More information at incarceratedworkers.org.