Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arcata / Eureka Solidarity with Prisoner Hunger Strike

Statewide Prisoner Hunger Strike to Stop Torture, Long-Term Isolation & Indefinite Solitary Confinement in Prisons [link]

"Residents of Arcata / Eureka Acting In Solidarity with Historic CA Prisoner Hunger Strike"by Verbena Lea [707-442-7465] []:
“Monolithic, fortress mentality- right out of the dark ages.” This reflection on the gulags of CA was proclaimed by one local participant in the Monday July 8, 2013 solidarity demo outside of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) in Crescent City, CA. On July 8, prisoners inside PBSP's extreme isolation cells resumed a peaceful protest hunger strike, in continued and last resort efforts to pressure the CA prison system to stop entombing people for years in concrete windowless cells- in long term solitary confinement. Responding to PBSP prisoners' call for solidarity and because many more people in CA prisons live in similarly unbearable conditions, at least 30, 000 prisoners refused food in hunger strike. More than 2,300 prisoners, who slave in prisons, refused to work or attend classes. In several OR and WA state prisons, one a juvenile facility, prisoners began striking. The purpose of the demo in front of PBSP was to honor Basic Human Rights, Oppose Torture, and Show Solidarity with prisoners held in prolonged and extreme isolation. Simultaneously, all over CA, in OR and WA, Canada, and various sites throughout the U.S. people on the outside gathered to support the historical prisoner protest. The Humboldt group's primary visual was a 22 foot banner, “END Long Term Solitary Confinement.”
On the 6th strike day, July 13, 2013, local residents rallied with that banner and 400 people in the sweltering 105 degree heat outside of Corcoran Prison, in solidarity with the prisoners and their demands. With ventilation “not functional” inside the prison, rallyers could only imagine how painfully hot it is inside. Part of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, a growing group of Arcata & Eureka residents have been educating, organizing, speaking on the radio, writing letters, and participating in mobilizations to “amplify the voices of the prisoners.” In 2011, residents organized rallies in Eureka and traveled to Sacramento, for protests with west coast supporters and for the first CA Public Safety Committee Hearing on SHU's, Security Housing Units (August 23, 2011). Local Redwood Curtain CopWatch created an informational video in 2011 [], slightly updated in 2013, [].
For years, Arcata-based Bar None and KHSU radio host Sista Soul have been in letter communication with prisoners in extreme isolation, sharing their words and struggles with the outside world. As someone locked in PBSP solitary recently said during an hour visit, handcuffed, behind thick glass, “They say we are the worst of the worst, but really its the conditions here that are the worst.” There is a righteous & immense, building pressure on the State to meet the 5 human rights demands of strikers, formally put forth in April 2011: End Long Term Solitary Confinement, Abolish Debriefing Policy and Modify Gang Status Criteria, Provide Adequate Food, End Group Punishment, and Provide Constructive Programming (allow phone calls, education, etc.). “Some people are in Solitary Confinement for 30 or more years, and the U.N. says after 15 days, it's torture.” explained local student demonstrator, Brandy Molein. Today is Day 9 of the largest prisoner protest in U.S. history. Amnesty International, National Lawyer's Guild, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Center for Constitutional Rights, & CA Catholic Conference of Bishops are some of the many groups supporting the striking prisoners' demands. Recently, Veterans for Peace Chapter 56 (Humboldt Bay) sent a letter to Gov. Brown and the CA Dept. of Corrections urging the demands of the strikers be met.
Every Thursday, for the past 6 weeks, local residents set up an informational demo on the Arcata Plaza- “Five PM for the Five Demands.” The CA prison system is retaliating against hunger strikers, including moving some to different concrete cells with no personal property and refusing to send mail out. In a recent post on PrisonerHungerStrikeSolidarity post, local organizers from PARC wrote “...End California's horrendous practice of entombing people in concrete cells with no natural light, no human contact, and no programs- no religious programs, no rehabilitative programs, education, nothing. END Long Term Solitary Confinement.”

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