An interview with Kevin Steele, Organizer with Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World
By Danielle Corcione
Danielle: Are you involved with the IWW incarcerated branch? What’s your involvement or like position?
Kevin: I work with IWOC, and I work with the IWW media team.
Danielle: What are the important take-backs of this strike?
Kevin: The importance of the prison strike is to bring awareness to the prison slavery that’s still be going on, the hidden slavery. We’re really trying to bring more awareness to the people that don’t know that slavery was never abolished, and that they just go about it through a different way the incarceration of men and women and children. We’ve done prison strikes on August 21 in the past year that was successful, but now we are trying to make it more of a unity block all over the United States.
Danielle: Do you have an approximate estimate of how many incarcerated people are participating?
Kevin: In New York, as of now we have about six male facilities and I know for sure one female facility. I don’t know how many enslaved people that’s inside are going to be part of it. These are the different facilities that we’re in contact with in New York that are willing to sacrifice on that day. I know these facilities specifically, I just don’t know how many inside organizers are actually joining. Basically, we’re trying to get a strong brother or sister that’s inside and have them do the counting. These are outside organizers that’s helping the insider organizers, so it’s really up to the inside organizers, because they the ones making the big sacrifice. We’re supporting what they’re doing. If we can get a few of them to gain as much trust as possible for the other ones that are out there, that’s a plus for us.
Danielle: This strike is going to last for a few weeks, starting August 21 on the anniversary of the assassination of George Jackson and ending September 9 on the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. But what’s kind of the goal after that two weeks?
Kevin: The main goal is abolishing prison slavery, but we have a list of demands that certain facilities sent to us, some inmates sent to us, so the short-term goal is to meet their demands. For example, in Philly, the water out there is horrible. You got the same problem in New York. I’m guessing across the whole nation, the water facilities is bad. That’s like a big issue, that’s a short-term goal for us to try to address that, and prove that the water system is bad to see if we can make a change on that. Different short-term demands that people are coming up with like the commissary, the phone. Pricing on the phone. We’re going to continue to work on these demands that each facility have on their own and fight there….
Danielle: What can folks on the outside do to support people inside, during and after the strike?
Kevin: I was paroled in the end of January. Since I’ve been home, social media is so big and impactful. Like Junior, the kid from the Bronx, when he died, social media really helped his case and get him real justice. I see social media has a big impact on everyday life, so if you can repost, because we are posting things and we doing hashtags, eventually post pictures and videos. You just post and constantly bring awareness to people that on August 21 we’re doing this prison strike. You don’t have to actually reach out to people in prison, you don’t have to be part of our organization to repost and retweet. That’s the least anyone can do that’s not a part of any organization, is to constantly remind people about what’s going on.
Danielle: Is there anything that I haven’t asked about that you’d like to mention?
Kevin: This has nothing to do with the prison strike, but has to do with political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. On August 30, he goes back to court.
To support the National Prison Strike, spread the word on social media by sharing this article and the strike’s demands, using the hashtag #August21, as well as following and sharing content from IWOC on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to also follow Jailhouse Lawyers Speak on Twitter and Facebook. For more resources on supporting our incarcerated comrades, visit supportprisonerresistance.noblogs.org.
Additionally, support Mumia Abu-Jamal by packing the court house for his upcoming court date at 8 a.m. August 30 at the Center City courthouse, located on 13th Street and Filbert Street by City Hall.
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Consider donating to comrade Alyssa’s book fund on GoFundMe. Advocacy for comrade Alyssa is being organized by Danielle, who also conducted this interview and serves on the editorial collective of the Philadelphia Partisan.