A Statement from Formerly-Incarcerated People

Posted on 18 February 2012 by Cami Graves

A statement from Formerly-Incarcerated People (members of All of Us or None and Occupy for Prisoners)

To the Occupy Oakland family, all supports of Occupy Oakland, and the larger Occupy Wall Street movement:

We are writing to appreciate everyone who has ever supported PEOPLE inside jails, prisons, and detention facilities throughout the country.  We are also writing to ask for support from everyone planning to participate in February 20th, National Day of Occupy in Support of Prisoners.  PEOPLE in prisons–a nice name for cages–as well as formerly imprisoned PEOPLE, are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in our society.  We have been labeled “offenders”, “criminals”, “convicts”, “ex-offenders”, “ex-cons”, and many other dehumanizing terms, and are scapegoated for causing society’s fundamental problems.  We are PEOPLE, and not the labels they use.  The real “criminals” are those who run Wall Street, who are responsible for genocide, racism, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimination.  They lead the attacks against communities throughoutAmerica.

February 20th is a National Day to support PEOPLE inside cages who express their solidarity with the 99% and to support PEOPLE seeking social, economic, and other forms of justice.  With the help of our supporters, allies, and larger communities, we aim to create a safe space to allow the voices of PEOPLE in captivity to be heard.

Many of us inside as well as out in the “free” world live by a code of conduct and support self-determination.  We strive to build and follow leadership in our collective and public actions.  We do not advance individual agendas over our collective needs. We further pledge to treat each other with respect and not allow differences to divide us, to accept responsibility for any acts that may have caused harm to our families, our communities, or ourselves, and to play an active role in making our communities safe for everyone.

Seldom, if ever, are people inside asked or given a safe space to tell their stories.  The broader Occupy Oakland and general public need to know what is going on inside these cages, how the bottom of the 99% are treated by the 1%, and the need to meaningfully include people inside as we build our collective efforts.

We ask everyone reading these words to support our efforts to create a safe, secure, and genuinely inclusive space for people inside, and to build a genuine role for their voices in the February 20th National Day of Occupy in Support of Prisoners.  We do not want to create or exacerbate conditions that endanger anyone’s freedom.  We know police have attacked our sisters and brothers at Occupy encampments all over the country.  We ask everyone participating to remember that for many of us even a mass arrest could escalate to a parole violation and a return to prison.  We also want to guarantee the safety of family members with loved ones inside because they are the lifeline of PEOPLE in cages.

We ask you to be our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers!

With Humility,

Formerly-Incarcerated People from All of Us or None and Occupy for Prisoners.