In the aftermath of the historic prison strike in Georgia, inmate activists are facing systematic violence and repression. On December 9, inmates across six Georgia prisons staged a week-long strike to demand an end to endemic human rights abuses, arbitrary violence, slave-like labor conditions, profiteering and corruption, inadequate food and medical care, among other abuses.
On January 12, 2011 inmate activist Shawn Whatley was handcuffed by prison guards as his cell was searched for a contraband cell phone. When he briefly spoke to his mother, Shawn reported he had been put in solitary confinement and was severely beaten, suffering broken bones and facial injuries. He was then transferred from Telfair State Prison to Ware State Prison. At least 37 other inmates were already missing and transferred to other prisons, Shawn reported.
Shawn explained that he was targeted, in part, for his communications with outside support groups, which included an extensive interview with SocialistAlternative.org recorded shortly before his beating.
This physical brutality and retaliation by the Georgia State Department of Corrections is their response to the historic prisoner strike last month, which they characterized as a “riot.” However, despite provocations, the strike was a completely non-violent mass civil disobedience. Prisoners simply stayed in their cells, refusing to participate in the regular routine of forced labor.
For More Info on the Strike and Shawn Whatley see:
- Interview (audio file) with Shawn Whatley.
- Bruce Dixon’s blog on Black Agenda Report.
- Eljeer Hawkins' articles here and here on SocialistAlternative.org.
Urgent Action Needed!
We must demand justice for Shawn Whatley and other Georgia State prisoners who are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights.
Please immediately make phone calls and send emails and/or letters to Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens, as well as Georgia’s new Governor Nathan Deal (contact info listed below), demanding “Hands off Shawn Whatley.” Also, help spread the word by re-posting this solidarity appeal on blogs, emails lists, social media, etc. If you are part of an organization, send letters and make calls in the name of your group.
SAMPLE Protest Letter:
To: Georgia Corrections Commissioner Brain Owen
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
I want to express my concern and my condemnation for the brutal attack by Telfair state prison guards on January 12, 2011 on Georgia State prisoner Shawn Whatley.
It has become clear that this incident is just one among numerous unjust and retaliatory acts of violence by the Georgia State Corrections authorities against inmates in response to their just and historic strike for basic human rights.
I urge an immediate end to violence and retaliations against prisoners who participated in the strike. Until there is a clear public acknowledgement of unjust abuses already made and a commitment to end them, I commit to spread the word and take action against the injustice in your prisons.
The violence and abuse by the Georgia state penal system will not be hidden from family, friends, people of conscience, or social justice activists.
We are demanding an immediate end to the persecution of Shawn Whatley, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. We demand the same for all Georgia State prisoners who have been brutalized for standing up for the most basic human rights.
The world is watching you!
Register Your Protest to:
Brian Owens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections
- Call: 478-992-5258 (This is the number for Owens’ administrative assistant Peggy Chapman. Urge her to give him the message.)
- Call: 478-992-5367 (This is the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official channel for raising concerns over prisoner treatment)
Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
- Call: 404-656-1776
- Send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.
Letters can also be mailed or faxed:
Office of the Governor Nathan Deal, State of Georgia
203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
WARE STATE PRISON
(Where Shawn was recently transferred)
3620 HARRIS ROAD
WAYCROSS, GA 31501
Phone: (912) 285-6400
Fax: (912) 287-6520
TELFAIR STATE PRISON / MILAN UNIT
(Where Shawn was previously held and beaten)
210 LONGBRIDGE ROAD / 410 PICKERTON STREET
POST OFFICE BOX 549
HELENA, GA 31037
Phone: (229) 868-7721 / (229) 362-4900
Fax: (229) 868-6509 / (229) 362-4939/ (404)-636-5418