Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine and CUNY Prison Divest organized a speakout on mass incarceration and prison divestment marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and the beginning of the National Prison Divestment Week of Action on Sunday, 17 April at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, New York.
Several dozen participants from a number of endorsing groups, including HDK New York, the International Action Center, Al-Awda New York, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, CCNY Students without Borders and the National Lawyers Guild at NYU participated in the event, as did participants from Queens Neighborhoods United and Copwatch groups based in Queens and the Progressive Youth Organization of Kansas City.
Participants denounced the massive public investments and subsidies for private prison companies that profit from social repression and mass incarceration from New York to Palestine. They called for boycotts and divestments against G4S and other prison contractors, and fight the tax breaks that help some of these companies, like the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, buy elections and own politicians through tax-free Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) status for their private prisons, and called for participation in Samidoun’s Friday protests, every week at 4:00 pm outside the New York City office of G4S on 19 W. 44th St. G4S is involved in profiting from incarceration in Palestine, the US, the UK and around the world; it has pledged to exit “reputationally damaging” businesses such as its entire Israeli subsidiary and youth incarceration in the US and UK, but remains subject to a global call for boycott so long as it is profiting from imprisonment.
Speakers addressed the criminalization and incarceration of Black and other oppressed community youth in the United States, of Palestinians in occupied Palestine, and in international struggles for justice and liberation. HDK New York presented their statement for Prisoners Day, saying that “the Kurdish and Palestinian liberation movements have been comrades in arms during the Lebanese civil war, and their organizations there continue to act in common struggle and solidarity to this day…Free all political prisoners, whether they are Kurds imprisoned for the struggle for Kurdish liberation, Afro-Americans imprisoned for the struggle for Black liberation in the US, whether they are revolutionaries in Turkey, or whether they are patriots and revolutionaries of Palestine fighting against the US-backed Zionist occupation.”
In its statement for Prisoners Day, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine said, “We cannot call for a liberated Palestine without the defeat of US imperialism. We, as solidarity organizers for the Palestinian cause in the United States, must connect the struggles of all oppressed peoples here in the States and around the world. We must call out the US’ mass incarceration for what it is: genocide. Like Zionism, national oppression in the United States against Black people, Chicanos, First Nations and others is not something that can be voted away or changed by shifting the political narrative in popular media. Only by revolutionary struggle can these systems of oppression not only be managed, but they can be ended.”
Marchers then proceeded to a march against US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly expressed her support for Israeli occupation and wars and rejection of justice for Palestine, appearing in New York prior to the Democratic primary elections on 19 April.
Photos by Joe Catron and NYC Students for Justice in Palestine