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FREE ALL MOTHERS: A Reportback from the Mother’s Day Demo

img_1311From Prison Books:

On Mother’s Day, May 12th, between 50 and 75 people met up in Raleigh to show their solidarity with women at NCCIW and RCCW, two of the largest women’s facilities in the state. The demo was part of a national call-out initiated by the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective. Noise Demonstrations also happened outside prisons and jails in Bloomington IN, Pittsburgh PA, New York City and Muskegon MI. In Raleigh anti-prison activists, anarchists, Catholic Workers, and others, ranging in age from 5 to at least 70, banged on drums and pots and pans, carried signs and black flags, and lofted banners that read “Free All Mothers,” “ACAB,” and “Love for All Prison Rebels.”

The crowd initially marched up to the fence bordering the dorm buildings of the minimum custody RCCW. We were greeted by women waving and banging on their cell windows, before being pushed back by newly arriving police and panicking guards. We then proceeded to march to and around most of NCCIW, a huge medium custody facility that houses most of North Carolina’s female prison population. NCCIW has been subject to increased scrutiny in the media lately, as joint lawsuits have been filed by women against rapist guards. The facility was the site of a major riot in June 1975, when for five days women prisoners fought guards with broken concrete, metal poles, and landscaping tools.

On numerous occasions we tried to get on to the prison property to be in better view of the prisoners. Though we were prevented from doing so by guards, and had few plans for direct confrontation, we did manage to make contact with several women waving from their cells. Earlier correspondence with several women prisoners involved in radical study groups had already insured that prisoners would be aware of the demo. Handbills were also given out to curious onlookers in the yards and sidewalks of the heavily policed, working-class neighborhood that surrounds the two facilities, and the ACAB banner got special love from drivers and pedestrians alike.

All in all the demo seems to have been a success. The crowd was broader and more age-diverse than previous demos; feeling relatively low-risk and high reward, such demos have been a good place to invite new friends and potential comrades to meet up for the first time. Several conversations with neighbors reinforced the fact that these prisons were surrounded on three sides by a population that detests the constant police presence. In retrospect, given the interest and support received from the area, far more outreach could have been done ahead of time in the immediately adjacent neighborhood, and we hope to do more in the future.

For mainstream coverage of the event, check out: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/12/2888689/group-bangs-the-drums-for-imprisoned.html