Posted 2 years ago on Sept. 9, 2012, 1:13 a.m. EST by Forrester
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
*This article was taken from the newspaper, Metroccupied which is put out by an affinity group of OWS. There is no set schedule as to when the paper appears (money being the main factor), and this is only their second issue which dealt mostly with the prison industrial complex.*
The urban-rural divide in New York State can seem stark. "Downstaters ae snobs. Upstaters are hicks." The convential wisdom states that the two groups couldn't be more separate.
The two are connected in surprising ways. New York city residents make up most of the people in state prisons, but 90% of the prisons are located outside the five boroughs. When New York City ships people upstate to be locked up - mostly for non-violent and drug offenses - it creates prison jobs in rural towns and subsidizes the rural economy. However this subsidy comes at a cost: urban neighborhoods lose able-bodied workers, community members, and family members.
New York City could instead be supporting a just and healthy industry--milk. Dairy farming is New York State's largest agricultural sector, accounting for over half of all food produced in the state. If urban New Yorkers, building on the vibrant "buy local" movement, purchase milk from local dairy farmers, New York state could build food jobs, not corrections jobs.
Milk Not Jails is a grassroots, volunteer-run campaign that works towards this goal in two ways. They work with up-state farmers who have signed a statement in support of prison reform and distribute and market their dairy products here in New York City (visit milknotjails.org and click on "shop" to learn how to buy). They also partner with food justice and prison justice activists to demand an incarceration policy that considers all residents of New York State.
Their work reveals that the divide between urban and rural communities is not so stark, afterall: both farmers and city dwellers would like to see an economy based on sending healthy milk into cities, instead of taking healthy young people out of them. Casimer Trybuskiewicz, a dairy farmer thirty miles outside of Buffalo, put it this way. "I hope for some kind of prison reform. To throw these young people in jail for 20 to 25 years for things like pot posession, it doesn't seem cost efficient. Maybe you could achieve the same ends in a different way."
The Metoccupied is a free paper which is distibuted in NYC, and it relies on donations of which 100% go towards production costs. To donate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web-site, metroccupied.com is not up yet, but they are also on facebook and Twitter.