My time to write is still extremely limited these days, but I wanted to signal boost two activist campaigns.
The first is from Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN). They need to raise $600 more to cover the $6,200 cost of their full-page LA Times ad promoting an end to long-term solitary confinement, in solidarity with the hunger strikers in prisons across the nation. The ad can be viewed here (pdf). Please contribute a couple bucks if you can. From the ad:
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez told the UN General Assembly in 2011 “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique… and indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should also be subject to an absolute prohibition.”
In a provocative and visceral form of activism, two weeks ago SMIN set up a scale replica of a solitary isolation unit outside the California state capitol in Sacramento to draw attention to the nationwide prisoners hunger strike. The mental and physical effects long-term solitary confinement are extremely well-documented, and you can investigate them for yourself (the SMIN site is good place to start). Presently approximately 80,000 U.S. prisoners are subject to long-term solitary confinement, although exact numbers are difficult to determine, in part because inmates in long-term solitary are frequently barred or highly restricted from contact with the outside world.
The United States has by far the most prisoners in the world, and it is a near certainty that many of them are wrongly convicted and guilty of no crime whatsoever. Guards and wardens have used solitary with the petty capriciousness one would expect from third world tyrants. It does not matter what these people may have done, although it is without question that many have done nothing violent. These are human beings, and there is no justification to destroy peoples’ humanity under the dubious justification of Keeping Us Safe.
Imagine yourself or someone you love in here for days, weeks, months and years on end, your only human contact when a guard silently shoves (inadequate) food through a slot in the door. Learn more. Then do something about it.
The second campaign is Fast Food Forward’s national food worker’s strike. Please sign the open letter in support if you are so inclined:
Open Letter to Fast Food Chains
To McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s:
We have a huge economic problem in this country. It’s you and the rest of the fast food industry.
Together, your restaurants employ millions of people. Millions of people, mostly adults, who can’t afford rent if they want to eat. Who can’t afford health care if they want to pay their bus fare. Millions of people, and more than 25% of them are parents who can’t afford school supplies if they have to buy school shoes.
Last year your combined profits were $7.35 billion. Yet you still paid most of your workers less than $11,200 a year – poverty wages. It’s shameful. And outrageous.
We’re speaking out together because it has to change. We’re rising up as Americans to say it’s no longer a matter of WHETHER you will raise wages; it’s a matter of WHEN. Your companies can do this right now – you have the power to raise wages for your workers today.
Please sign the letter and thereby do your small part to piss off America’s Owners—today.