After over two years of a protracted legal process, all charges against the Graterford 7 have been withdrawn. On November 19, 2012, we blocked the construction access road to a prison construction site in Montgomery County using school desks, notebooks, a model little red schoolhouse, and our own bodies, temporarily halting construction of the $400 million prison expansion project (for more info on the action see http://decarceratepa.info/content/protest). We were subsequently arrested and charged with Defiant Trespass, Failure of Disorderly Persons to Disperse upon Official Order, and Persistent Disorderly Conduct. To our knowledge, this was the first civil disobedience action at a prison construction site in Pennsylvania history.
While construction on Phoenix I & II continues, we hope that this action played a role in building public opposition to prison expansion and mass incarceration in the state. We believe that it will take multiple strategies and diverse tactics to end mass imprisonment in Pennsylvania, and we continue to adamantly oppose the expansion of the state prison system and the policies and practices that keep over 51,000 people behind it’s walls.
We want to thank all the members of Decarcerate PA, as well as friends, family, and allied organizations inside and outside of prison, who have supported us through the legal process. We especially want to thank our lawyers, Mike Lee, Ben Perez, and George Griffith, Jr. for defending us at no cost and much inconvenience.
While we are very happy to put our court case behind us, we know this action was just one piece of the larger struggle to end mass incarceration in PA. Every day, people inside and outside of PA’s prisons take a stand for justice and human rights, often at great risk to themselves. We are committed to continuing this fight until the day that we as a society recognize that we must invest in liberation and healing rather than confinement.
In love and struggle,
the Graterford 7