How A Fight Between Inmates And Guards At This Louisiana Prison Triggered A Movement To 'End Legalized Slavery'
The prison is referred to as "Angola Prison" after the former slave plantation it sits on.
May 09, 2018 at 6:47 pm
A brief fight between two inmates, Emanuel Williams, 51, and Earl Harris, 44, and two guards at Louisiana State Penitentiary, has spawned a movement that hopes to rewrite the 13th Amendment, Newsweek reports.
The penitentiary is also known as Angola, because it sits on the site of the former slave plantation named after the African country where many Louisianian slaves originated. A prison farm, many of Angola's prisoners do hard manual labor. The 13th Amendment states that the government can use prisoners as slaves.
After the fight, 40-year-old prisoner Roy Walker got down on the ground and refused to work any longer. Twenty-seven other prisoners joined him.
Following the break-up of Walker's protest, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a union that represents prisoners across the United States, issued a work stoppage. The stoppage included the union's demands that state and federal government officials “end legalized slavery."
To this, the prisoners at Angola added that they want a national conversation about "how state prison farms across the country came to hold hundreds of thousands of people of African descent against their will."
The union also asked how a government can condone slavery with a clean conscience: "We are urging that local, state and federal governments who currently hold hundreds of thousands of African-Americans on prison farms across the country be investigated for antebellum criminality, involuntary servitude and slavery."
BREAKING - Work Stoppage at Largest Maximum Security Prison in the U.S.
C-Block prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary launched a non-violent work stoppage to demand an end to prison slavery. Prison administrators transported prisoners refusing to work to an unknown location pic.twitter.com/FOf46EE3nz— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 8, 2018
In a separate report, a fight broke out today at Angola prison after the assistant warden called an "inmate a nigger" and "hit two inmate with a wooden stick."— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 8, 2018
A prisoner at Angola said, “they just pulled up with buses, with lots of orange jump suits" in response to the work stoppage. #August21 pic.twitter.com/QBJCYe4fXG— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 8, 2018
This is a list of demands from prisoners at Angola pic.twitter.com/WNckkD1SeS— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 9, 2018
"according to a press release from Department of Corrections spokesman Ken Pastorick.. he did not know what prompted the inmates to stop working" https://t.co/uJmDrssjb0 via @theadvocatebr— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 9, 2018
Press Release on the work stoppage at Louisiana State Penitentiary / Angola Prison via Decarcerate Louisiana #PrisonStrike pic.twitter.com/L0e8bhx2eK— Central Ohio IWOC (@CentralOhioIWOC) May 9, 2018
The strike and demands are the latest actions of a movement known as the "Decarcerate Movement," which seeks to lobby the government to prevent “the circumstances and conditions that have been allowed to fester in the oppressive environment, do not allow for rehabilitation, but make sinking further into oppression [inevitable].”
Louisiana Department of Corrections Communications Director Ken Pastorick confirmed the fight and strike took place but said that work has continued as normal on the prison farm following the two events.
Williams is serving a 55-year sentence for a 1991 armed robbery. Harris is serving a life sentence for aggravated second-degree battery conviction with no possibility of parole, probation or suspension. Walker is serving a 50-year sentence for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and an attempted manslaughter conviction. All three were "disciplinary segregated" following the fight and strike.