On Friday about 40 protesters at Iowa State University demonstrated against the school’s use of prison labor “to acquire furniture.”
According to the Iowa State Daily, the group ISU Student Action organized the event because “prisoners may be paid as little as 15 cents per hour” … apparently not considering the fact that these laborers are incarcerated.
“Iowa prison industries should be more interested in reform and community change, but are instead interested in profiting off nearly-free labor,” said biology major Apple Amos.
Amos and fellow activists said prison labor is “modern day slavery” and demanded ISU students “hold [the school] accountable” for its relationship with state hoosegows.
The protesters’ charges broadened as they directed their attention to racial problems within Iowa Prison Industries. African Americans make up around 3 percent of Iowa’s population, but nearly 26 percent of all Iowa prisoners are black, according to participants in the protest.
“If we’re really concerned with creating a better future, we need to start on college campuses by ending these injustices,” David Karayof, vice president of the Iowa State Young Democratic Socialists said. Amos then led the group in a march to Beardshear Hall, chanting as they went.
“The people’s rights are under attack! We stand up and we fight back!” the protesters chanted. …
“The profit prison industry needs to be destroyed,” [ISU alumnus and Black Lives Matter activist Sean] Carlton-Appleton said. “They go after people who can’t afford good lawyers; Poor people, poor black people, poor brown people, trans people, people who society doesn’t really care too much about.”
“That ain’t right!” protesters said, in unison, in response to Carlton-Appleton.
Carlton-Appleton and other protesters accused the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) of “profit[ing] from the deliberate misfortune of America’s disenfranchised”:
“[Corporations] pay legislators… and give them financial incentives to target certain demographics of people… to police and incarcerate them at alarmingly high rates,” Carlton-Appleton said.