Occupation Highlights Local Slave Contracts and National Prisoner Strike
As of Saturday, September 1, members of Gainesville IWOC/IWW, Fight Toxic Prisons and Occupy ICE Tampa kicked off a full-time encampment in response to a call for an escalation of prisoner strike solidarity over the Labor Day weekend.
Video produced by #OccupyPrisonsGNV supporter
The site is directly across from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Gainesville Prison Work Camp, located at 1000 NE 55th Blvd, Gainesville. The goal of the camp, which backs up to Newnans Lake State Forest, is to maintain a 24/7 presence protesting slave labor contracts with the City, County and University of Florida as well as express solidarity with the nationwide prisoner strike occurring from August 21 through September 9.
The group says it plans to remain until the slave labor contracts with FDOC are severed and national prison strike demands have been met.
Since its inception last week, there have been over a hundred people participate in demonstrations launched from the site. These have included soft blockades of City-owned vehicles leaving for contract assignments, as well as people following labor crews to document and demonstrate at the work locations. This has resulted in overseers calling crews back into vans and departing, presumably to avoid proximity to the vocal protests.
Prisoners have repeatedly given consistent signs of appreciation for the protests, including nods, smiles and throwing up power fists, even in the face of overseers and guards. Activists affiliated with the camp have sent mail into prisoners to establish direct contact, but have repeatedly gotten their mail censored in a clear attempt to reduce inside/outside communication.
The camp has garnered local media attention, been featured on national activist news outlets, and has also been visited frequently by family members and former prisoners interested in supporting the effort.
The camp has also experienced a threats and attacks, including a reckless-driving CO clipping a protestor with the rear-view mirror and a suspected off-duty guard driving off road to plow over signs and banners of the camp. Additionally, state and local law enforcement have attempted to intimidate protestors with threat of eviction and have pulled over participants on minor traffic issues, such as driving with a bike rack that could obstruct view of license plate.