Georgia experienced what could be described as the first viral prison protest this weekend, as inmates in at least seven penitentiaries coordinated a mass strike using contraband cell phones. The inmates have refused to work until the state starts paying them to do so and provides them with more educational opportunities, among other demands. The protest began on Thursday, but inmates tell the New York Times they’ve been coordinating it via text messages for months.
“They took the cigarettes away in August or September, and a bunch of us just got to talking,” says one inmate. Organizers managed to make sure that every dormitory in every participating prison had at least one prisoner with a cell phone who could keep everyone up to speed on the plan. “We text very frequently,” said another prisoner. “Those are our voices.” Georgia hasn’t officially acknowledged the strike, but news reports indicate that several facilities have been placed on indefinite lockdown, with prisoners complaining of lack of heat and hot water. (Read more Georgia stories.)