Students Take on Mass Incarceration

Photo courtesy of sami-national.org

Photo courtesy of sami-national.org

Despite the countless articles detailing the supposed apathy of the millennial generation, political activism is still alive and well on today’s college campuses. Of note is the growing number of chapters of Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI). SAMI first started at Howard University in 2011 and has since expanded to schools throughout the U.S., including Columbia University, Mount Holyoke College and Morgan State University.

While much of SAMI’s early activism organized around the execution of Troy Davis, more recent efforts are focused on getting its anti-prison message out through alternative mass media, including spots on BlogTalkRadio, the production of “mix tapes” and a “radio takeover” for Voxunion. According to an article in The Daily Collegian, “(SAMI) is a student organization dedicated to exploring issues of political prisoners and promotes awareness on the controversial structure of the United States prison system.” Furthermore, SAMI links the practice of mass incarceration “to both the attempt to socially control people of color and to accumulate profits for both private and public prison institutions.”

Howard University student protesters at Troy Davis rally. Image courtesy of the Guardian UK

Howard University students at Troy Davis rally. Image courtesy of the Guardian UK

Through its activism and organizing, SAMI champions the abolition of the current prison system, favoring a restorative approach, which addresses those issues which contribute to the economic and social disenfranchisement of African Americans. To learn more about SAMI’s work and how to create a local chapter visit their website: http://sami-national.org.

by Ian Morlan

Stop Shootin’

A few days ago, an old friend from London came to New York for a visit.  Cora’s trip was brief, but we managed to sneak in a dinner and catch up since our last lunch date 4 years ago.  After chatting about the usual things–school, family, love–I asked her to fill me in on her experiences with the London Riots that swept the country for 4 days last August.  She had much to say, but one thing stood out:

It was a really beautiful thing.  This guy was shot by the police, and I mean, I know here in the US that type of thing happens all the time, it’s common.  But in London, it started something.

I sat there quietly listening to the rest of her description of the riots, but I couldn’t move past her statement that state-sanctioned violence toward a person of color “is common” in the United States.  Unfortunately she was right, and the past year has done nothing to suggest that this is changing.

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