Statewide Prisoner Hunger Strike to Stop Torture, Long-Term Isolation & Indefinite Solitary Confinement in Prisons [link]
WRITE HUNGER STRIKE PRISONERS NOW! [link]
The Human Rights Movement of the SHU Short
Corridor Collective at PBSP organized a non-violent civil-disobedience
actions in their campaign against extreme torture in prison!
People are organizing in communities across the USA. People living under siege of the american Drug War
have something in common with those people who are tortured in prison,
that is, the non-recognition of Human & Civil Rights by the
so-called authorities and monopolist corporations who service these
When Prisons Retaliate: Calif. Inmates Still Paying Price for Demanding Rights; 'We demand an end to retaliation, and those demands are entwined with continued political organizing work to change the system', 2013-11-04 by Sarah Lazare from "CommonDreams.org" [link]
For more info, contact:
* "Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition" Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros [510 517 6612]
* "Peoples' Action for Rights and Community (PARC)" [707-442-7465], "Redwood Curtain Copwatch" [redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net], both groups have been organizing the “5 O'clock for the Five Demands” Info-Demonstrations, held nearly weekly every Thursday at 5pm since June 20th, at the Arcata Plaza in Humboldt County. The people work together in solidarity because, according to a June 22nd people's call for Local Organizing from Verbena, "Given that Pelican Bay State Prison, the "leading model" of this kind of government torture, is and has always existed only about 70 miles from Humboldt, we need to show strong Solidarity with the Prisoners and strong Opposition to the Torture. Many of you may have been silent during the building of the monstrosity, Pelican Bay State Prison, in the late 1980's... and since, but after 24 years of horrendous torture in our name and in our bioregion, it is time to speak up. (Big Thanks to those of you who have not been silent.)"
Calling on Artists, Human Rights Advocates, Youth, Filmmakers, Radio Voices, Lovers of Justice, People of Faith, Students, Educators, Musicians, Laborers, Former Prisoners, Loved Ones of Someone Locked Up & Anyone OPPOSED TO TORTURE! Please pass this message on to more people!!
As the planned prisoner hunger strike and work stoppage approaches, to begin on July 8th, there is much work to do to prepare how we can best support those on the inside.
The courage that prisoners continue to demonstrate—after leading two hunger strikes in fall 2011—while upholding their agreement to end hostilities across racial lines should give us all the strength to organize in our own communities.
Some of the things to discuss:
* Trip to Pelican Bay on Monday, July 8th (the start of the Hunger Strike)
* Art, stencils, t-shirts, letters to the editor, and other ways to get the word out and show Solidarity
* Making radio and TV (including Public Access TV) messages to Amplify the Voices of the Hunger Striking Prisoners (see one made in 2011 [youtube.com/watch?v=Azi4VELiufI])
* Mass Mobilization to Corcoran, planned by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition for Saturday, July 13 (a week into the Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage) [facebook.com/events/527808370589772/]
* Work Stoppage(s) OUTSIDE the prisons in Solidarity
Agreement to End Hostilities at Pelican Bay SHU (2012-10-10)
posted at [redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/14296]
THE PRISONERS' 5 DEMANDS!
1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to long-term isolation (SHU). They can escape these torturous conditions only if they "debrief," that is, become informants on other prisoners. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to "make segregation a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation." Yet CA keeps thousands of prisoners in isolation units. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than 30 years.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food. Prisoners receive tiny quantities of spoiled or undercooked food on dirty trays. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.
5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities “to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities..." The prisoners also listed other specific needs. Since the 2011 hunger strike, they have won some of these, including: correspondence courses, if they pay for them themselves; wool caps; the right to buy sweatsuits (the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold); the right to buy some art supplies. They still do not have the right to worship together, talk to each other, receive vocational training or education from the prison, or hug or talk on the phone with their families.
VISIT the Prisoner Hunger Strike website [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com]
SIGN THE PETITION! [www.change.org/petitions/support-pelican-bay-shu-prisoners-five-core-demands-hunger-strike]
READ why prisoners demand Human Rights: [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/peaceful-protest-to-resume-july-8th-2013-if-demands-are-not-met]
WRITE a letter to your local newspaper, or for your neighborhood online journal!
WATCH a short documentary about the 2011 Pelican Bay Prisoner Hunger Strike for Human Rights, Not Torture! [www.youtube.com/watch?v=Azi4VELiufI]
STAND-UP for the 5 Demands!
V3 N1, 2013-07-04 [link]
V3 N2, 2013-07-05 [link], re-posted at
* Memorial to Billy 'Guero' Sell, dead while taking part in California Prisoner Hunger Strike for Human Rights [link]
* California Prisoner Hunger Strike: Day 44 [link]
* 2013-08-05 "Activists Lock Down at State Building, Call for Brown, CDCR to Negotiate with Prison Hunger Strikers" [link]
* Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity Action in Oakland [link]
* Personal account of permanent prison torture in California [link]
* Mike Farrell promoting Hunger for Justice, July 31, 2013: [link]
* Arcata / Eureka Solidarity with Prisoner Hunger Strike [link]
* An Open Letter to Jerry Brown: Stop the Torture of Solitary Confinement [link]
July 25th Observation from Charles R.:
The silence of the labor movement which has yet to stand firmly against the ongoing torture at Pelican Bay and in all our prisons is due to the collusion between the labor leadership and the Democratic Party. While "their boy" Brown runs the show the labor movement will continue to be silenced by the labor fakers. They do not want labor to stand for the interests of the entire working class they promote a strategy of following each bargaining units separated interests and thus atomize the working class. This atomization is the bosses ideology not the workers!
The bosses promote separatism, individualism, and indifference to the plight of others. These capitalist ideologies infect the workers movement and destroy solidarity, blind workers to their class interests, and turn the workers and oppressed against their brothers and sisters over the superficialities of skin color, gender, sexual or spiritual preference.
It is the inherent failure of capitalism, observed by classical political economy as a tendency of the rate of profit to decline (it gets harder and harder to make a dime on a dollar), and explained by Karl Marx a law of crisis in the capitalist system, which creates, maintains and promotes the crime of poverty and a permanent under class over represented in the USA by Black and Brown people.
Capitalism offers either slave wage jobs, no jobs and future for millions 46 million of whom live in poverty in the USA today. Yet in its frenzy to accumulate capital at the public expense the capitalists have found ways to commodify the poor in the prison industrial complex and the criminal injustice system. The militarization of the police and the proliferation of the prisons (2.5 million behind bars in the US largest per capita in the world-WE ARE #1) and their ongoing privatization with the creation of corporate owned prisons, security forces (mercenaries), and private intelligence agencies, the prisoners inside and the community on the outside have become the fodder processed by a prison industrial complex for the profit and advancement of those playing 18 holes at Pebble Beach.
By allowing the prison guards unions and police unions into the labor movement the labor movement has tied itself to the state enforcement agencies on one side and the politicians via their Democratic Party affiliation n the other. It is the duty of every honest, humane, and social minded worker to fight in their unions to throw the police and prison guards unions out of labor federations, and for the unions to break with the Democratic Party and form our own workers party which builds a workers government which will abolish the crime of poverty by expropriating the capitalist class and resolving the contradiction of the capitalist system: the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Decline.
END THE COMMODIFICATION OF PEOPLE!
FREE THEM ALL!
PUT THE PIG IN THE POKIE AND THE PEOPLE ON THE STREET!
ALL POWER TO THE WORKERS AND OPPRESSED!
“From Dachau with Love” solidarity from Germany
from "German Network against the Death Penalty and Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal" [www.freiheit-fuer-mumia.de], re-posted at [https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/from-dachau-with-love-solidarity-from-germany/]:
“Understand that … people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act.” - George L. Jackson, former Black Panther activist (September 23, 1941 – shot to death by prison wardens on August 21, 1971)
The German “Network against the Death Penalty” and the “Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal” wish the Californian Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown a pleasant and instructive sojourn in the Federal Republic of Germany, which as we have heard will include a visit to the memorial at the concentration camp of Dachau. We also ask him to learn from German history and to see to the imposition of humane prison conditions in California immediately upon his return to the United States.
We welcome the Californian Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown, his wife Anne Gust Brown and their entourage in our country. We very much welcome the fact that Governor Brown is interested in his German roots. We also very much welcome that he is not only interested in the German conditions in 1848 – the time when his grand-grandfather emigrated – but also in Germany’s more recent history. At any rate, that is what we conclude from his planned visit to the KZ Memorial Dachau.
But there is one thing we would welcome even more, namely, if his visit in Dachau would cause Governor Brown to ensure, immediately after his return to the U.S., decent present conditions in the prisons under his authority, to put an end to solitary confinement, to decree the immediate release of about 10,000 prisoners already ordered by the courts, to give the prisoners access to appropriate medical care, and to end enforced sterilization of female prisoners. And moreover, to take action to end the death penalty, to end life imprisonment, and to end the current wave of mass incarceration in the U.S.
More than 43 years ago, the imprisoned Black Panther activist George Jackson used to sign his letters from the Californian San Quentin Prison with the words “from Dachau with love.” The concentration camp Dachau existed from March 22, 1933 until its liberation by U.S. troops on April 29, 1945. At first, it was exclusively used for political prisoners, which is one of the reasons for George Jackson’s allusion to this darkest chapter of German history. But most of all, he wanted to use this provocative salute to direct attention to the inhumane prison conditions he and thousands of other prisoners were subjected to.
Today, the prison conditions in California and the U.S. are far worse than even almost half a century ago! In California and nationwide, more than 80,000 prisoners are in prolonged or permanent solitary confinement, a condition which diverse UN human rights institutions say constitutes torture. For these reasons, at present about 30,000 prisoners in California prisons are on a hunger strike and refuse to work.
For these very same reasons, California is now the scene of the largest prison revolt in the history of mankind.
And Governor Brown is the man politically responsible for the root causes of this strike.
We ask you, Governor Brown, to set an example. In their time, the U.S. Army consigned the inhumane prison conditions at Dachau to the trash heap of history. The same thing should happen now to the unbearable prison conditions in the prisons of the United States – and especially the prisons in the State of California, which you govern. Act! Put an end to these prison conditions!
"Dangerous Retaliation Against Prisoner Hunger Strikers; Please Write To Them!"
information collected 2013-07-21 by "Peoples' Action for Rights and Community":
REPORTS OF RETALIATION BY CA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (details from various letters below, links at bottom of email):
* FREEZING PRISONERS;
BANNING ATTORNEY ADVOCATE;
TAKING PELICAN BAY PRISONERS' LEGAL DOCUMENTS;
STOPPING SHOWERS, YARD, VISITS, AND MEDICATIONS;
FALSIFYING INFO ON NUMBERS OF HUNGER STRIKERS;
REFUSING PRISONERS THEIR NEWSPAPERS;
IGNORING SERIOUS MEDICAL NEEDS;
More info at "Attempting to Break Hunger Strike, CDCR Increases Retaliation, SHUTS OUT ATTORNEY ADVOCATE" [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/attempting-to-break-hunger-strike-cdcr-increases-retaliation-shuts-out-attorney-advocate/]
MEDIA FALSE PROPAGANDA (parroting Dept of Corrections) -
“...channel 3 [KIEM] news coverage changed the manner in which the strike representatives are referenced. Instead of using “prisoners’ representatives” as it has often been previously done, all of a sudden they became “gang leaders,” an outright attack on the credibility of the hunger strike itself."
Prisoners want to make clear that not everyone in the SHU is a leader or even a member of a gang. Apparently this information is being said in the media, and they are sick of hearing or being referred to as leaders of a gang in media reports. This is really upsetting them- they are regular people, often times falsely accused of being member or associate of a gang, and not necessarily in there for killing or having committed any acts.
MEDICAL ABUSE OF HUNGER STRIKERS -
Many stories like this one...
From Pelican Bay: They stopped my [medicine] that I take for my heart condition... The stoppage of my medications is life-threatening and Dr. Sayre is well aware of his actions. Hunger Striker's medications were being changed because some cannot be taken if he’s dehydrated. However, he is refusing only food and is drinking lots of water. While they are decreasing dosages of other meds, they are cutting his pain medicine completely. He has severe, incapacitating pain without them. Also, they are addictive substances so he will suffer withdrawal symptoms, all while not eating. In the past, not liking the dependency, he wanted to discontinue the pain medicine, and medical staff told him that in his condition [he has chronic illness] discontinuing it could cause stroke, ruptures of diseased veins, and could even be fatal. On July 10 prisoners on various kinds of medications received a form from M. Sayre, M.D. letting them know that they have been subjected to a stop medication order. This can have very detrimental consequences for prisoners who suffer from serious illnesses like diabetes. Reportedly, medical staff at San Quentin were weighing people, making a joke out of the situation, and making bets on how long people would last.
from Corcoran: One doctor said “Unless you’re dying or seriously bleeding, we can’t do anything for you. Sacramento has ordered us to only provide the most minute of medical care.” Hunger striker with chronic back pain has taken pain reliever since 2010. Medical staff stopped it abruptly. He writes that this particular medicine "is not supposed to just be stopped. You are supposed to be tapered off. I have been going through lots of pain, sweats, I can't sleep, etc." When he asked for his medication, the doctor just laughed at him. Hunger Striker was hospitalized in June for high blood pressure (“225”), but even he is not getting his blood pressure checked now, during the hunger strike. Many have been trying to obtain med. release forms to allow lawyer advocates access to their files, but Medical is blocking this process. On July 14, it was reported that 4 guys “fell out” and had to be taken to the hospital, the writer heard rumors that this was happening in other buildings as well.
HUNGER STRIKERS AT PELICAN BAY ARE BEING FROZEN -
The prisoners who have been moved to Ad-Seg, as well as prisoners still in SHU, reported yesterday that it is "freezing cold" in their cells. The prison is pumping in cold air and keeping doors to the outside open. People who are fasting are already cold. SHU prisoners have very thin clothes and thin blankets. [You may recall that their incidental demands back in 2011 were for 'watch caps' and for the right to purchase thermal underwear, because of how cold their concrete cells are.] Extreme temperatures are a torture method.
CDCR IS MANIPULATING THE NUMBERS OF HUNGER STRIKERS -
In Pelican Bay, there is a new, unwritten rule of "no passing of anything from cell to cell.” If you pass, non-hunger strikers will get a 115 write-up and hunger strikers will get a 128G chrono “removing them from the hunger strike." So, a hunger striker who passes something will be designated as a "non-participant."
Similar report from San Quentin Adjustment Center: There were no cell searches and no food confiscated, just bags with spare containers. However, guards took the containers, claimed the prisoners had food, and took them off the official hunger strike list; they and now have to “start over.” Another prisoner was written up and taken off the strike list for having chewable protein pills. He is "starting over" on Tuesday. 40 or more people are still striking, + 6 who are "starting over."
CDCR's strategic purpose may be to depress the numbers reported to the media. But the consequence is that prisoners on Hunger Strike are removed from lists given to the medical team and may be considered to be not as far along in the process as they really are -- further risking their condition.
NO YARD, NO VISITS, NO LAW LIBRARY, NO SHOWERS, LESS BOOKS -
from Corcoran: Even prisoners with active legal cases did not get their law library time. The prisoners identified as "hunger strike leaders" were moved, seemingly to a SNY (Special Needs Yard) where debriefers/informants are. Also, their family visits have been stopped. Prisoners have been denied showers and opportunity to shave since 7/7--even those who are not hunger striking. Yard is only for those eating. If you want to go to yard, you have to eat first.
from Pelican Bay: On first day of strike, a signed memorandum went out stating that prisoners will only be allowed to have 5 books/publications instead of the previous 10 limit. Yard time is not being given to those who are on hunger strike, and rarely to those who are not.
Pelican Bay SHU prisoner urges us to write often to the prisoners who have been put in Ad Seg as "leaders" of the hunger strike. It's important for lots of mail to be sent. Please write them all! (even a small note!) Send stamps and envelopes, paper too please!
To write folks locked in Pelican Bay:
Name and number for prisoner
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
The prisoners put in Ad Seg are:
Todd Ashker C58191
Paul Redd B72683
Arturo Castellanos C17275
James Baridi Williamson D34288
Sitawa/R.N. Dewberry C35671
Alfred Sandoval D61000
Antonio Guillen P81948
Louis Powell B59864
Danny Troxell B76578
Alex Yrigollen H32421
George Franco D46556
Gabriel Huerta C80766
Ronnie Yandell V27927
Frank Clement D07919
To write folks locked in Corcoran:
Name and number for prisoner
Corcoran State Prison
P.O. Box 3481 cell location
Corcoran, CA 93212
cell location for the 7 men listed here: 4A-3R
* Michael R. Dorrough #D83611
Heshima Denham #J38283
Raul 'Mando' Cuen #J07549
Richard Hurtado #V64077
Arturo Estrada #V26050
* Francisco McGann #P21818
Micah Holland #K42141
Other guys who are know to be in 4A-3R or 4A-3L, we don't have their cell #'s at this time
* Heshima Denham #J38283
Raul 'Mando' Cuen #J07549
Richard Hurtado #V64077
Arturo Estrada #V26050
Francisco McGann #P21818
Micah Holland #K42141
J. Kramer #G62856
Name and #
CSP-Cor SHU 4A-3R or 4A-3L
P.O. Box 3476
Corcoran, CA 93212
* TAKE ACTION. Letter to Gov Brown: Tell him to end the abuse of solitary confinement: [capwiz.com/fclca/utr/1/GROUTFURBK/LJQVTFURUM/9756059251] [There's already a letter at the link, or you can type in your own words.]
* Here is a link to our Emergency Response request: [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/pledge-of-resistance-emergency-alert/]
* Link to the August issue of “Rock! Working to Extend Democracy to All”: [app.box.com/s/rd9ckjztfu7vd370ylez]
* Please stay informed and active! [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com]
2013-07-14 Letter from Zaharibu Kambon, prisoner in Corcoran State Prison:
Michael Zaharibu Dorrough # D83611
P.O. Box 3476
Corcoran, CA 93212
Forgive me for not being able to write sooner. It has been very, very tiresome. [Thinking of you all has been quite the motivator]
On Thursday, 7-11-13, the warden here ordered the supposed leaders of the protest be isolated from good people. That meant that the reps from each cultural group from the section that we were in: 4B-1L, C section have been moved. Myself, Heshima, two Southern Hispanics [‘Sneaky’ McGann and ‘Turi’ Estrada (Arturo)], one white [Micah Holland], and two Northern Hispanics [I don’t want to misspell their names, but the legal had been up to visit one of them a couple times] ------I think this may be Raul ‘Mando’ Cuen----------. We are now housed in: 4A-3R. [And three of the guys have been housed in 4A-3L] These blocks are designated as SNY/PC buildings . All of the guys in this building [as well as 4A-3L] are informants. They have debriefed.
A day after we were moved here, mattresses were placed in front of our cell. This we designed to reenforce, psychologically, the feeling of being isolated. And, I guess, to prevent us from receiving food or beverages from anyone. It’s so silly that is borders on being offensive. We have absolutely nothing at all in common with any of the people housed in the building. There is no reason at all to communicate with or accept anything from them. As is said, it’s a building full of stool pigeons. This is the CDCR’s version of sending us to a black site. The conduct of these guys would be comical were it not so disrespectful. You cannot help but hear the idiot shit that is directed at us. And it’s not just daily, it’s all day.
It’s an Absolute Madhouse.
Moving us down here was an extremely tense situation. The warden did authorize that force be used to move us. And it came very close to that happening. It was incredibly irresponsible of the warden. And a clear case of trying to provoke us into a military posture.
We were naturally stripped of our property. And, just as predictable, some of our personal property items came up missing. Thermals, photos [they took the only two copies of the photo I had of me], dictionary, stationary. I’ll have to replace some of it when I am eligible for my package. The Prison Focus, Bayview, gone! At this point it’s the kind of thing that causes you to think and say-when it’s too hot for everyone else, it’s just right for us!-
We have not been to yard in almost 2 weeks. We have not been allowed to shower in a week. We received no medical attention. NO WEIGH-INS, NO vital signs checks-nothing. A nurse came to the cell this morning, stood approximately 3-4 feet from the cell, stated “drink plenty of water”, wrote something down and walked away. I called her several times in an effort to explain to her that we are both experiencing [assuming this is Zaharibu and Heshima] light headedness, extreme fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, cold chills, dizziness. The nurse just ignored me and kept walking. It was very obvious that she was reading from a script that she, perhaps all of them have been given. And it is either to not say anything at all to us-or only the bare minimum….
Ordinarily, efforts such as those being made by the state now [Everyone was issued a 128, a Chrono alleging that our participation in a statewide hunger strike with gang members and associates in support of “perceived overly harsh SHU issues”, is gang related activity. And our continued participation will result in progressive disciplinary action] occur in response to efforts, just as enthusiastic, by those of us who have been under the yoke of tyranny for far too long, resisting.
I know that it has been said before, but it is worth saying a thousand times …you all are amazing, brave and inspiring people. Whatever victories that result from this struggle will, in no small measure, be because of your contributions, support, and commitment.
Please take care, Always with you, Love, hugs Zaharibu Kambon [Zah]
2013-07-17 "CDCR PUNISHES HUNGER STRIKERS, BROWN GOES ON VACATION"
from "Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition"
At least 14 prisoners being held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison were forcibly removed from their cells and placed in more punitive isolation late last week, according to lawyers who visited their clients on Tuesday. “They have been singled out for their participation in the ongoing California prisoner hunger strike and targeted because they are outspoken prisoner activists,” according to Kamau Walton of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. The 14 were placed in Administrative Segregation last Thursday. Prison officials, also confiscated legal material from the prisoners, including attorney-client protected documents relating to a highly publicized federal class action lawsuit against the state of California.
The lawsuit contends solitary confinement is a violation of prisoners’ 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as their rights to due process. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to lowball strike participation numbers – on the 10th day of the strike thousands are still participating throughout the California prison system, with at least 30,000 participating last week. Prisoners continue to call on the CDCR to negotiate over their demands. “This is a clear attack against a non-violent protest,” says Anne Weills, attorney for several hunger strikers. “It is pathetic that in response to prisoners’ calls for basic human and civil rights, the CDCR responds by violating those rights.” Weills also notes that all 14 prisoners retaliated against had signed onto last summer’s Agreement to End Hostilities Among Racial Groups–a document issued from the Pelican Bay SHU, urging prisoners to resolve conflicts peacefully amongst themselves and to work to end wider violence in the prison system. The CDCR has refused to distribute the Agreement among prisoners.
In a statement issued this morning, strike representatives said, “on July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed to our cause and will end our peaceful action when the CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands.”
Governor Jerry Brown has been completely silent on the strike that has gained international news attention. He remains mired in multiple scandals in the California prison system. Brown will be taking a European vacation, visiting among other places, Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Family members and loved ones of the strikers are outraged.
2013-07-12 "Prisoner Hunger Strikes from California to Guantanamo"
by Mutawally, correspondent for "The Revolutionary Hip-Hop Report" and inmate in Pelican Bay’s S.H.U. [http://rhhr.org/2013/07/12/prisoner-hunger-strikes-from-california-to-guantanamo/]:
In March of this year R.H.H.R. received a letter from Mutawally, long-term correspondent of ours and current prisoner in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU). The letter stated: “July 8, 2013 is the deadline given to Governor Jerry Brown to adhere to the 5 core demands as well as the 40 supplemental demands. We will resume a peaceful protest by way of Hunger Strike and Prison Work-Stoppage, this protest is indefinite! Everyone here in Pelican Bay Prison remains 100% committed to these demands. To date three California prisoners have sacrificed their lives and many more of us have suffered some type of permanent damage.” We hopped that there would be some concrete changes made by the Governor and the California Department of Correction that would keep further sacrificing and suffering from happening, but sadly as the deadline neared we realized that the Hunger Strike was eventual.
Starting on Monday, July 8th about 30,000 of California’s inmates in 22 of the state’s 33 jails, and four jails outside of the state, refused their meals, to work, or go to classes. The movement was spear-headed by prisoners held in the S.H.U. of Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California due to their infamous use of long-term and indefinite solitary confinement as punishment (California holds an average of 12,000 inmates in extreme isolation on any given day, some in windowless for decades, allowed out for an hour a day to exercise, some outside, others in another cage).
The original hunger strike started, according to a letter from a group of S.H.U. prisoners, “in July 2011, over 6,600 prisoners went on Hunger Strike to protest our torture. We suspended the Hunger Strike after 3 weeks to give the Department of Corrections time to make the changes promised. When they failed to respond, we resumed the Hunger Strike. This time we were joined by 12,000 prisoners. Again, the Hunger Strike was suspended when the Department of Corrections signed a statement about the changes they intended to make. It’s been almost two years now and our conditions have not changed.” In the last few days the number of current strikers went down to 20,000, then 12,500, but has resulted in growing support for their cause.
The cause revolves around five core demands: 1) End Group Punishment: punishing many because of the actions of a few or one. 2) Abolish the Debriefing Policy/Modify Gang Status Criteria: Inmates are put into solitary for not debriefing (snitching) and considered gang members for having Black and Chicano cultural artwork and liberation literature. 3) End Long-Term Solitary Confinement: Laura Downton, of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, told The Guardian the policy caused psychological harm and worsened violence and ”after 15 days in isolation the chemistry of the brain begins to change, leading to increasing rates of hallucinations, paranoia and self-mutilation. It has become a default management tool rather than a tool of last resort.” 4) Adequate and Nutritious Food: Enough said! 5) Expand Constructive Programs for S.H.U. Inmates: Along with ending the torturous solitary practices in the S.H.U. the prisoners being held there need constructive and educational activities and reading materials. The movement also lead to the “Agreement to End Hostilities” in August 2012 which called for a halt to all race and gang related violence in all of California’s prisons and jails.
R.H.H.R. stands in solidarity with all striking prisoners, especially those in Pelican Bay’s SHU like our friend Mutawally. Recent attempts to contact Mutawally and get an update from inside have gone unanswered, with the assumption that either our letters are being withheld from him, or his letter to us is being withheld by prison officials, as they have stated they would do as punishment for those participating in the protest and strike. More reports from Mutawally can be read at: http://rhhr.org/2011/02/28/join-the-hip-hop-on-lockdown-correspondence-connection/ & http://rhhr.org/2012/02/25/rhhr-receives-letter-from-pelican-bay-while-hunger-strike-continuR.H.H.R. stands in solidarity with all striking prisoners, especially those in Pelican Bay’s SHU like our friend Mutawally. Recent attempts to contact Mutawally and get an update from inside have gone unanswered, with the assumption that either our letters are being withheld from him, or his letter to us is being withheld by prison officials, as they have stated they would do as punishment for those participating in the protest and strike. More reports from Mutawally can be read at: [http://rhhr.org/2011/02/28/join-the-hip-hop-on-lockdown-correspondence-connection/] & [http://rhhr.org/2012/02/25/rhhr-receives-letter-from-pelican-bay-while-hunger-strike-continues/]
On the other side of the hemisphere about 120 detainees, being held in the “legal-limbo” prison known as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, have been on a Hunger Strike for more than 150 days now. Guards and personnel in Guantanamo have resorted to force-feeding some prisoners through tube inserted through the detainees nose, known to be extremely painful and considered by some experts as another form of torture.On the other side of the hemisphere about 120 detainees, being held in the “legal-limbo” prison known as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, have been on a Hunger Strike for more than 150 days now. Guards and personnel in Guantanamo have resorted to force-feeding some prisoners through tube inserted through the detainees nose, known to be extremely painful and considered by some experts as another form of torture.
Recently Hip-Hop artist and actor Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos-Def) brought attention to the force-feeding methods used in Guantanamo by voluntarily undergoing the process and recording it on video.Recently Hip-Hop artist and actor Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos-Def) brought attention to the force-feeding methods used in Guantanamo by voluntarily undergoing the process and recording it on video.
Colonel Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo recently told Democracy Now: “you’ve got a majority of the detainee population that has been cleared for transfer out, you know, people that the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the military has unanimously agreed we do not want to detain, we don’t need to detain, because they’re not a threat. And as John McCain said a few weeks ago, that we’re spending $1.5 million per year per person to keep them at Guantánamo. So it’s regrettable that it’s taking them putting their lives at risk to get us to pay attention, that they’ve been cleared for transfer, yet they’re still in prison. And we’ve got to—we’ve got to make this right. And, unfortunately, with the president, you know, we’ve gotten lectures when we needed a leader, and he needs to stand up and be a leader on this and bring this to an end.”
2013-07-12 "Solidarity From the Outside as Calif. Prisoners Face Retaliation On the Inside; Supporters of hunger striking prisoners mobilize for Saturday state-wide California rally; corrections authorities levy threats of cell searches and solitary"
by Sarah Lazare from "Common Dreams" [www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/12-3]:
As over 12,000 prisoners continue their hunger strike at prisons across California, supporters gear up for a state-wide rally at the 'maximum security' Corcoran State Prison Saturday to stand with those on the inside who are putting their bodies on the line [http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/all-out-for-ca-prisoner-hunger-strike-2013/]. Prisoners at two thirds of California's 33 prisons are going without food to demand an end to the 'state-sanctioned torture' that plagues the California prison system, including long-term solitary confinement spanning decades [http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/]. "This moment is historic in the ability of comunities inside prison to work with communities outside of prison towards common goals," Isaac Ontiveros of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition [http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/]—which includes scores of prisoner advocacy and prison abolition groups, loved ones, and civil rights lawyers—told Common Dreams. "[The mobilization] is really profound. It pushes forward the spirit of humanity prisons are meant to crush and opens a wide range of possibilities in which winning the demands of hunger strikers is something we can do together," he adds.
Organizers with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition—which formed in collaboration with California state prisoners during the 2011 hunger strikes—expect supporters from across the state to converge at the Saturday solidarity protest that is open to anyone who wishes to show support for the hunger strikers. This mobilization is part of an outpouring of public support for the over 12,000 prisoners nearing the end of their first week without food, with a thousand also on a prison work and school strike [http://www.democracynow.org/2013/7/12/a_hunger_strike_against_solitary_confinement]. Supporters have also signed pledges of support, circulated petitions, levied pressure on California governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and organized solidarity events across the United States, pressure that organizers say is crucial for victory on the inside. Yet corrections authorities on the inside are threatening retaliation against the hunger strikers, including destructive cell searches, mental health evaluations, and more harsh solitary confinement measures for those who go without food, the LA Times reports.
The hunger strike, which launched July 8 in Pelican Bay State Prison, is the third major prisoner hunger strike in the state since 2011. In addition to demanding an end to solitary confinement, prisoners are calling for a halt to collective punishments, harsh crackdowns under the auspices of 'stopping gang activies,' and access to education, healthcare, and healthy food. Over 10,000 California prisoners currently sit in solitary confinement units, and dozens have spent over 20 years of their lives in solitary cells. In a June 20 statement, Pelican Bay prisoners declared: "We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement [to our demands]? The world is watching!"
ALL OUT FOR CA PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE 2013!
Here is a 5 minute VIDEO CALL TO ACTION that tells a short history of the 2011 hunger strike and the 2013 call to action. Featuring Marie Levin, Steven Czifra, Hamdiya Cooks, Samantha Rogers, and Dolores Canales. Edited by Lucas Guilkey & Nicole Deane. Music: Fatgums 'Kill the Vultures" & The Coup 'My Favorite Mutiny
Update, July 9th, 2013: California Peace and Freedom Party's State Executive Committee passed a resolution in support of the hunger strikers and their 5 demands!
2013-07-08 "Today This Ride Stops"
from Jose Villarreal, a hunger-striking prisoner at Pelican Bay SHU
Today me and thousands of other prisoners in California and beyond have begun our peaceful protest against the inhumane conditions that we have been living under for so many years. This hunger/work strike is an act of desperation that we have chosen where our health is put on the line – even those prisoners with known medical conditions have decided there simply is no other choice for us to stop the injustice that has been the norm in so many U.S. prisons for so very long.
Here in Pelican Bay SHU human beings have been held in living conditions that are sadly unfit for a dog. We are held in solitary confinement, in windowless cells with no human contact for years and decades and for many the rest of their lives will be in this state of perpetual psychological waterboarding. We are being tortured en masse and yet there is no mention of this Amerikan torture, we are given as much notice as some weeds on the side of a highway. But we are living breathing people with families, friends, ideas and aspirations. Some have done bad things and yet many have committed no crimes to be placed in this supermax, our “crime” is having ideas that do not conform to the state. Many are placed in the state’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) for having revolutionary ideas or attempting to learn the history of the colonized people in Amerikkka. For this “crime” we are labeled as “gang members” and locked forever in SHU.
What the people of the world must know is that the false label of “gang member” is used to whitewash the reality of the U.S. holding political prisoners in its prisons. It is precisely the reality of us being locked in these isolation torture chambers for thought crimes that defines us as political prisoners. The purpose of us being tortured is to compel us to snitch and compromise others, make up accusations or simply end our resistance against this beast and yet we continue to defy the lash and stand on the same path as others took to resist the oppressor before us. Those prisoners who were captured under an occupied state and who continued to struggle for a better life for future generations and who suffered dearly for this and even gave the ultimate sacrifice, we follow this tradition of refusing to be tortured no matter how strong our captors may be today or what force controls them to do the unthinkable to us. We use the only weapon we have in our separate isolation chambers and that weapon is our will to go on as human beings even if this means our breaths are shortened, if being human means to enact that inherent survival mode that exists in every person on Earth, even if this survival mode leads to our demise then we shall live our last days, minutes and seconds of our lives as humans until our last breath.
A hunger strike is not taken lightly by us, we are not suicidal, rather we hope to save lives. We may not be able to save our lives. But we have come to identify our existence in SHU as a conveyor belt leading into an oven of inferno. And we may indeed by strapped onto this conveyor belt with no way out as we have continued for years to watch our comrades fall into the abyss of the oven in psychosis, suicide or other chronic illness. And we may not be able to stop our ride from dropping us into the abyss but we will stop this conveyor belt for future generations to come. Today this ride stops!
History will decide what side of the battle we fell on, but no longer will we stay silent to this torture. Chicanos today are held in SHU at higher rates than any other peoples in California SHUs, i.e. Chicanos are being tortured moreso than any other prisoners in California. Just as Arab men are being tortured in Guantanamo Bay at higher rates than any other peoples. This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by Chicano prisoners here in Pelican Bay, it is a part of many conversations going on here and many have drawn strength and inspiration from the hunger strike currently in Guantanamo Bay. We hope to shine the light on U.S. torture a little brighter for the world to see that U.S. “democracy” is really U.S. lynchocracy and we as colonized people, as U.S. prisoners and thus as survivors of capitalism stand with other torture survivors in our common march toward liberation, no matter what form this liberation takes.
What the SHU has done for prisoners is it has made it possible for us to understand where our oppression comes from. This horrific repression has created a reason for us to dig deep and search for the reason why we are held in such unnatural living conditions. Our discovery has led to the realization that our oppression like throughout the U.S. empire and worldwide has a class character, that is as prisoners we exist as a class, a prison class. This realization took years for it to finally be grasped by all prisoners being tortured here. This realization crept cell to cell, torture chamber to torture chamber until after much debate and discussion prisoners finally understand that our oppression unites us and only via a united front will we make progress. Only when we act as a class in a class struggle will we make advances as a class.
It is essential that the public understands that at the heart of our nonviolent peaceful protest lies not some cries for a piece of the pie, we are not wanting in with some corporate parasite or other nonsense, rather at the core of our demands are to stop the torture! At the heart of our efforts is the demand to be treated as human. We are demanding our human rights and not just picketing for this to come to fruition, we are putting our very lives on the line for our demands. It is expected that there will be more strike-related deaths just as there was in 2011. It is also possible that any one of us will not see the fruits of our peaceful protest but we all are going into this fully understanding what this all entails and are at peace knowing that our fellow prisoners will see and experience the changes we know are coming.
Our resistance will never stop, this is a matter of us stopping the torture or dying. If we must continue to resist torture again and many more fall to strike-related deaths then this is the price but our resistance will never stop!
Pains of hunger have now become my companion but this hunger and the pains i feel are nothing compared to my pains and hunger for freedom and justice. And no matter what the future brings from this struggle it’s known that we will never be the same because of these strikes, nor will California prisons ever be the same because of these strikes. These strikes because of their very nature have helped to raise the consciousness of thousands of prisoners who yesterday saw the prisoner next to them as the problem but today see the state as the problem and rightly so.
The development coming out of these SHU strikes is enabling a qualitative leap to arise within the prisoners’ rights movement and prisoners are growing politically because of it.
Today we throw ourselves to the barricades because we are the ones who suffer the most and have nothing to lose but our torture, we are currently the ones targeted like our counterparts in Guantanamo and others throughout the Third World but the future is on our side and one day we, the most oppressed, will lead in making our liberation a reality just as we are leading in ending our current torture. Our struggles today are practice runs, drills for future struggles for justice. We may be help in these concentration kamps like hulls of old slave ships, but even in these hulls shackled by the foot without food or water, without sunlight or freedom even here we serve the people and resist the oppressor!
Dare to Struggle and Dare to Win!
Free the people! Free the Land!
Jose H. Villarreal #H84098
PBSP – SHU-C11-106
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
2013-07-08 "California prison officials say 30,000 inmates refuse meals"
by Paige St. John [www.latimes.com/news/local/political/la-me-pc-ff-california-prison-officials-acknowledge-hunger-strike-20130708,0,3234974.story]:
California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.
Inmates in two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.
The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday's numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.
Despite the widespread work stoppages and meal refusals, Thornton said state prisons operated as usual through the day. "Everything has been running smoothly," she said. "It was normal. There were no incidents."
The protest, announced for months, is organized by a small group of inmates held in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their list of demands, reiterated Monday, center on state policies that allow inmates to be held in isolation indefinitely, in some cases for decades, for ties to prison gangs.
Though prison officials contend those gang ties are validated, the state last year began releasing inmates from segregation who had no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of those reviewed have been returned to the general population.
The protest involves the same issues and many of the same inmates who led a series of protests in California prisons two years ago. At the height of those 2011 hunger strikes, more than 11,600 inmates at one point refused meals. The correction department's official tally, which counts only those inmates on any given day who have skipped nine consecutive meals, never rose above 6,600.
2013-06-26 "Prisoners in Washington state to join July 8 strike called by California prisoners"
by Diana George from "Free Us All Coalition" [sfbayview.com/2013/prisoners-in-washington-state-to-join-july-8-strike-called-by-california-prisoners]:
As in the rest of the country, prisoners in Washington state are largely Black and Brown. Here, Ted Williams, Kimonti Carter, Rashad Babbs and Mickeil Silvera, prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory at Monroe, receive certificates for completing courses at the University Beyond Bars. – Photo: Stacey Reeh
Seattle, Washington (June 26, 2013) – Prisoners in the state of Washington will go on strike on July 8, 2013, refusing to work on that day. Some prisoners in Washington, including some in juvenile facilities, have vowed to join the nonviolent strike. The strike’s aim is two-fold: to show support for the hunger strikers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to join California prisoners in protesting long-term solitary confinement and other human rights abuses in U.S. prisons.
The Washington prison strike on July 8 will coincide with hunger strikes and work stoppages at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, and at least four other prisons in California. The California prisoners’ demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement and to such practices as “gang debriefing.”
To gain release from solitary confinement, California prisoners are pressured to “debrief,” denouncing fellow prisoners as gang members, who are then punished with solitary confinement. Some California prisoners have been held in isolation for more than 30 years; the strike’s aim is to end this torture.
The California prison strikes will be the third such strike to occur in the last three years. On July, 1, 2011, 6,600 prisoners in the state of California went on a nonviolent hunger strike that began in Pelican Bay State Prison and spread to other facilities in the state. Later that year, their demands still unmet, nearly 12,000 California prisoners resumed the hunger strike in September and October 2011.
This year’s call for a strike includes nonviolent work stoppage by prisoners in the general population, alongside the hunger strikes of those prisoners in solitary confinement. In California, as in Washington, work stoppages are slated to include all work, including tasks essential to the day-to-day functioning of the prisons, increasing the strike’s impact.
Diana George of the Free Us All Coalition in Washington can be reached at email@example.com. To learn more, she recommends [prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com] and [solitarywatch.com/2013/06/01/gao-report-questions-widespread-use-of-solitary-confinement-in-federal-prisons].
END LONG TERM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN CA PRISONS!
PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE BEGINS AT PELICAN BAY 7/8
On July 8th, people locked in CA prisons will put their lives on the line to stop the torture.
United across race lines, prisoners in isolation units 70 mi. north at Pelican Bay State Prison, have called for a peaceful Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage in CA prisons.
Prolonged extreme isolation is inhumane and debilitating- Indefinitely locked in a small concrete, windowless cell, with no natural light or human contact!
Many people have been entombed this way for DECADES.
CA inflicts this torture, based merely on a prisoner’s alleged association with a prison gang, whether or not they are – or ever were – actually involved in gang activity.
Learn, Organize & show Solidarity with these folks who are being robbed of their humanity & are taking courageous, historic steps to insure no one else will experience that hell.
It is our job on the “outside” to bring out the voices of prisoners from behind the concrete walls.
United across race lines, prisoners in isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison, have called for a peaceful Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage in CA prisons.
Prolonged extreme isolation is inhumane and debilitating- Indefinitely locked in a small concrete, windowless cell, with no natural light or human contact!
Many people have been entombed this way for DECADES.
How does someone get an INDETERMINATE (INDEFINITE) SOLITARY TERM?
CA prisons inflict this torture, based merely on a prisoner’s alleged association with a prison gang, whether or not they are – or ever were – actually involved in gang activity. For instance, prison officials will put a person in the SHU [Security Housing Unit], INDEFINETLEY, for possessing Mexican cultural art or reading the "wrong" historical or political literature. CDCR calls having that art or literature "gang behavior"!
Nearly 12,000 prisoners at Pelican Bay and other CA prisons went on hunger strike in 2011 -some refusing food for a total of 6 weeks- to protest prisoners being kept secluded under torturous conditions in extreme isolation units (SHUs). Prisoners formally submitted to the Department of Corrections FIVE DEMANDS, and those of us on the outside supported and applied pressure for those Five Demands to be met, in tandem with the prisoners' actions.
Two years later, with none of their major demands met, they are again resorting to this painful, peaceful form of protest on July 8th. We must pressure CA to stop its practice of long-term extreme isolation!
The prisoners ended the 2011 strike when the corrections department (CDCR) promised new policies. But in 2013, the promises appear empty. A "pilot program" has introduced new (temporary) rules, but prisoners and their advocates say that the new rules are worse in some respects and no better in others. For example, the new rules potentially let prison officials put even more prisoners in the SHU.
There is still nothing to prevent CDCR from keeping a person in solitary for the rest of his life!
Bring your drums, whistles, horns etc...BRING THE NOISE!
Rally at Reagan State Building
Monday, July 8, Noon-2:00 PM
3rd & Spring Sts. Downtown L.A.
Rally Norwalk City Hall
Monday, July 8, 7:PM
12700 Norwalk Blvd. Norwalk, CA 90650
Corner of Norwalk and Imperial Hwy
Statewide Rally at Corcoran State Prison
Saturday, July 13, 3:00 PM
(Bus and car pool 8:30 AM),
Chuco's Justice Center,1137 E. Redondo, Inglewood
On Monday, July 8, 2013, a group from Humboldt (the county below Del Norte-Crescent City), will do a simple demonstration outside Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City …This is one action to honor Basic Human Rights, oppose Torture, and show our Solidarity with prisoners who have been held in prolonged and extreme isolation in California prisons.
*** FOR TRAVEL FROM THE BAY AREA: carpools are leaving from MacArthur BART in Oakland on SUNDAY JULY 7 at 7 PM. Contact Stop Mass Incarceration Network at 510-926-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
*** FOR THOSE CLOSER TO CRESCENT CITY: Contact PARC at (707) 442-7465 or email@example.com about rideshares leaving Eureka and Arcata (approx 75 miles south of Crescent City) in the morning, returning that night. If you are coming from North of Crescent City, please meet us at 12:30 PM at the Safeway parking lot in Crescent City.
*** For all friends anywhere in California or beyond, the action organizers welcome you and can be contacted at (707) 442-7465 or firstname.lastname@example.org for rideshare and other information -- and please spread the word!
Mobilization to Support the Prisoner Hunger Strikes / Hunger Strike Solidarity Rally at Corcoran State Prison
July 13th, Saturday, 9am
Contact [email@example.com] [510-444-0484]
Rides available by bus and carpool.
Caravans will leave from MacArthur BART in Oakland at 9:00 AM and Chuco’s Justice Center in Inglewood at 9:00AM. We will gather at Cesar Chavez Park in Corcoran (1500 Oregon) at 2PM and then march to Corcoran State Prison where our demands will be heard!
In 2011, over 12,000 California state prisoners engaged in a hunger strike to end long term solitary confinement and to demand changes to the way that prisoners are assigned to torturous cells, known as the SHU (security housing units). Although the Department of Corrections acknowledged that their demands were reasonable and would be addressed – very little has changed for California prisoners since 2011. California is still spending millions of dollars a year to keep people in solitary confinement for decades!
Statewide Hunger Strikes Resume
On July 8, 2013 California Prisoners will begin an indefinite hunger strike and work strike until meaningful changes are made within the Department of Corrections.
On July 13, 2013 we will rally at Corcoran State Prison to show our support for the prisoners and pressure Jerry Brown to meet their demands! Like Pelican Bay, Corcoran isolates nearly 2,000 people in solitary confinement.
How You Can Support -
We need your support now more than ever! Please consider making a donation to our coalition so that we can continue to fight for the human rights of people in extreme isolation in California prisons. Funds collected will be used for the July 13th mobilization in addition to other coalition expenses such as monthly mailings to prisoners, legal visits to Pelican Bay and Corcoran and other printing expenses.
Donations can be made online at www.prisons.org; be sure to click the “Special Instructions” link and write “PHSS” to direct your donation to us. Or you can write a check to California Prison Focus/PHSS and mail it to PHSS 1904 Franklin Street #507, Oakland, CA 94612. We could also use donations of such as food and water for the July 13 mobilization, as well as vans or buses for the caravan to Corcoran. Please contact Rachel Herzing, rachel-at-criticalresistance.org or call 510-444-0484 if you would like to offer assistance in these areas.
Call to action from "Peoples' Action for Rights and Community" [PeoplesARC@gmail.com].
Going to Pelican Bay on July 8th for PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE SOLIDARITY!!
A group of us from Humboldt (county below Del Norte- Crescent City) are going to do a simple demo outside Pelican Bay on July 8th, the day that the Prisoner Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage will begin at Pelican Bay and several other CA prisons!
If anyone is interested in joining us, please email or call (707) 442-7465. It seems right, to be there on that day. And we're so close. I am going to see if folks from further north are interested also.
If any of you knows the names or contact info for the Yurok supporters who were drumming and present in Sacramento in August 2011, please tell me so I can invite them too.
Those of us organizing this trip/demo on the 8th have a common affiliation with Peoples' Action for Rights and Community, but our only messages will be PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE SOLIDARITY!! Meet the Five Demands. End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Stop the Torture.
Please pass this on to more people who might want to do the demo with on on July 8th.
Call to action from "Hunger Strike Solidarity So Cal Coalition"
SOLIDARITY WITH THE CA PRISONERS’ HUNGER STRIKE & WORK STOPPAGE AGAINST TORTURE/ISOLATION! SUPPORT THEIR FIVE CORE DEMANDS!
Monday, July 8, Noon-2:00 PM, at the Reagan State Building, 3rd & Spring Sts. Downtown L.A.
Saturday, July 13, 3:00 PM, Statewide Rally at Corcoran State Prison
(van and car pool 8:30 AM, Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E. Redondo, Inglewood)
Hunger Strike Solidarity So Cal Coalition (in formation) includes families, ex-prisoners & others. To get involved, 213-858-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org Meet @ Chuco’s 6-29, 3:00 PM
The inhumane conditions inside CA dungeons, particularly in isolation - a form of torture -, brought prisoners together across racial, geographic, and political lines. They united to end hostilities and fight for changes in SHU conditions. These men have suffered injustice and torture for decades. Governors, wardens, courts, and media have disregarded all previous attempts to change conditions. As a result, the hunger-strikers have placed their lives on the line and developed five core demands.
Yet even these simple proposals, and the unity behind them, are so threatening to the 21st century camps and plantations, that they have been met with punitive transfers, repeated cell searches and theft of prisoners’ books and possessions, stonewalling and unmet phony promises. As a result, the prisoners have launched a work stoppage and new hunger strike, possibly to death, until the state agrees to a supervised consent decree to comply with the prisoners’ demands. They are setting an example of multi-ethnic, inter-national unity and resistance to oppression and injustice that can inspire us to equal efforts for liberation on the outside.
Join the Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and bring in your school, union, community or co-religionists.
Call to action from "Stop Mass Incarceration Network Bay Area" [www.stopmassincarceration.org]
"Days of Solidarity with Prison Hunger Strikers; Support California Prison Hunger Strikers and their 5 Demands"
Long-Term Solitary Confinement = Torture!
Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide!
People imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called for a Nationwide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons. People who are locked down in segregation units of this society's prisons, condemned as the "worst of the worst," are standing up against unjust conditions amounting to torture, asserting their humanity in the process. We must amplify their voices with powerful support!
Stop Mass Incarceration Network is launching a nationwide campaign to support the just struggle of California Prisoners and their 5 demands, and end the torture of 80,000 prisoners in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. We must act now with urgency - to change public opinion and organize mass political resistance so the prisoners' 5 demands are met and they are not forced to take the desperate step of going on hunger strike and putting their lives on the line!
Nationwide, on the Weekend of June 21, 22 and 23 there will be events in solidarity with the courageous California Prisoners.
In the SF Bay Area also join us:
* Friday, June 21, 4pm, Rally at Powell & Market in San Francisco
* Saturday, June 22nd, 11am at the Juneteenth Celebration, Nicholl Park on 31st & MacDonald in Richmond
* Sunday, June 23rd, Take the Hunger Strike to the faith community for sermons, prayers and other events.
Other things you can do:
* Join the Stop Mass Incarceration Network
* Spread this flyer and pass the word on social media to build support for the Hunger Strikers
* Organize your school, neighborhood, or church to stand with these courageous prisoners
* Go to www.stopmassincarceration.org for latest news, and events and the dialogue between Cornel West and Carl Dix
* Donate money at [www.stopmassincarceration.org]
June 20 Statement From Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective!
The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms). Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we’ve patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR’s failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they’ve acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.
On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.
Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what’s right.
We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The world is watching!
Onward in Struggle and Solidarity.
* Todd Ashker
* Arturo Castellanos
* Ronald Dewberry, aka Sitawa
* Antonio Guillen
"WHY CALIFORNIA’S NEW SOLITARY CONFINEMENT POLICY IS A HUMAN RIGHTS DISASTER"
In 2011, thousands of California state prisoners engaged in a hunger strike to end long term solitary confinement and to demand changes to the way that prisoners are assigned to these torturous units, known as SHUs (security housing units). The corrections department (CDCR) agreed to make changes, which it rolled out in November, 2012. CDCR’s public relations strategy is to persuade lawmakers, judges and the general public that its new program is a vast improvement . However, the new program keeps most of the objectionable elements of the old program and adds some new elements which make it even worse.
The Step Down Program: a new way to perpetuate long term solitary confinement: Under the old rules, the only way to get out of the SHU was to “parole, snitch or die”, or be found “inactive” as a gang member or associate (a rare finding). The new policy offers a new way out: the Step Down Program, a 4 step program which takes a minimum of three or four years. The first 2-3 years are spent in solitary confinement, with no education or other programming. The prisoner is required to demonstrate “progress” by, among other things, filling out workbooks showing changed attitudes. The one workbook we have seen is condescending and judgmental. Whether a prisoner progresses to the next step is a discretionary decision; a prisoner can also be sent back to an earlier step. As a result, release from the SHU is still a discretionary and arbitrary decision of prison administrators; lifetime solitary confinement remains possible.
Coerced secret evidence: alive and well: The hated “debriefing” program remains alive and well under the new rules. Under this program, a SHU prisoner can get out of the SHU by confessing his/her own gang involvement and identifying other prisoners’ gang involvement. This information is used to place other prisoners in the SHU or retain them there. Targeted prisoners are not entitled to know who has named them, or the specifics of the accusation. It is almost impossible to defend oneself against secret charges.
Guilt by association: alive and well: Under the old policies, prisoners were assigned a six year SHU term for simply being affiliated (as a member or associate) with a prison gang. The prisoner did not have to break any prison rule. Prisoners were validated for possessing art work or political readings, signing a greeting card, exercising with other prisoners or saying hello to another prisoner. Under the new rules, this same evidence can be used to prove a prisoner is a member, and membership alone justifies a SHU term.
New disciplinary program: association evidence becomes cite-able behavior: Under the old rules, possessing certain artwork or literature was used as evidence of gang association. Prisoners and advocates objected, saying that SHU placement should only be for gang behavior. CDCR’s responded in its new program by labeling such evidence as gang “behavior” in its new rules. Guards can now cite prisoners for rules violations for possessing these items and punishment can be imposed. Citations for serious rules violations (115s) can extend prisoners’ SHU term and harm their chance of being paroled.
Widening the net: Under the old policies, a prisoner could be placed in the SHU for affiliation with any of seven prison gangs. Under the new rules, any grouping of three or more prisoners can be added to the list as a “security threat group”, membership in which can result in a SHU term. The coining of this new provocative term, with nuanced reference to terrorism, is deeply troubling; the expansion of the SHU-eligible population is of grave concern.
Rubber-stamping: alive and well: Although CDCR has inserted a new stage of review for SHU placements, this review is still within the confines of the prison system, where the dominant culture is to rubber-stamp the gang unit’s decisions. CDCR has not changed its culture. Publicly and internally, CDCR still considers SHU prisoners to be “the worst of the worst” and continues to justify the SHU’s torturous conditions as necessary for the “safety and security of the institution.” Independent oversight is necessary to curtail CDCR’s excesses.
Re-evaluations of current SHU prisoners : shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic: As part of the resolution of the 2011 hunger strikes, CDCR agreed to re-evaluate the SHU placement of current SHU prisoners, using its new criteria. CDCR is reviewing associates first and reports that over half of its initial reviews are resulting in assignments to general population. This reclassification is a huge victory and is proof of the unfairness of the old SHU policies, but is no proof of fairness of the new policies. While we celebrate each prisoner’s return to general population, there is no guarantee that these prisoners will not be returned to the SHU in the future. Meanwhile, each prisoner’s SHU cell will immediately be filled by another prisoner. CDCR has no plans to reduce SHU beds.
Too little has changed for California prisoners under CDCR’s “new and improved” gang management policy. Other strategies would be more successful in addressing the concerns about prison gangs. In 2012, SHU prisoners themselves issued a call to end hostilities between prisoner groups, which has resulted in reduced prisoner violence throughout the prison system. Expansion of educational and vocational opportunities inside all prisons, as the prisoners are demanding, would reduce conflict and stress. We call on all people of good will to support the prisoners’ demands.
Excerpt from "The Crime of Punishment: Pelican Bay Maximum Security Prison"
by Corey Weinstein and Eric Cummins from the book Criminal Injustice edited by Elihu Rosenblatt, South End Press, 1996: [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Prison_System/CrimePunish_Pelican.html]
“The Institutional Classification Committee at Pelican Bay-essentially a kangaroo court-decides which prisoners are confined in the SHU. Their decisions range from vindictive to arbitrary, and are often based on vague information from confidential informants. Some SHU inmates have attacked guards and participated in fights (often after deliberate provocation), or have been caught with weapons. Other prisoners are consigned to the SHU as punishment for exercising their legal rights, such as filing suits against the CDoC or engaging in political activity and resistance. Still others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In about half the cases, however, the decision to send a man to a SHU is based on a charge of gang affiliation or membership. Consistent with the CDoC's intent to make the Pelican Bay SHU its first-line weapon against prison gangs, all gang-linked inmates receive an indeterminate sentence. Once linked to a gang, the prisoner's only hope for release from the SHU is to snitch, wait to be paroled [unlikely given the total lack of programs, education, etc in the SHU], or die. Snitching requires that a prisoner confess violations of prison rules to the Criminal Activities Coordinator and implicate gang members in illegal acts. Since it is illegal, even in wartime, to isolate a prisoner to extract information, this policy violates not only U.S. law but the Geneva Convention.”
"Prison Photography -Solitary Confinement"
Check this out. Lots of photos [prisonphotography.org/tag/solitary-confinement].
One written excerpt from the site: “With 1 in 100 adults behind bars, America incarcerates more people than any other modern society. Of the 2.3 million men, women and children locked up in the U.S., 80,000 prisoners are in solitary. That number includes hundreds of children. The rapid adoption of solitary by prison authorities as a means to discipline and segregate has led Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, to call it one of the “greatest social experiments of our time.” For some sociologists, the parallels that Gielen drew between housing and prisons go beyond visual similarity. Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab goes so far to ask, “Have prisons and jails become the mass housing of our time?”
"Ashker v. Brown" Class Action Lawsuit
The Center for Constitutional Rights has helped bring a Class Action Lawsuit for the prisoners,
Ashker v. Brown. Here is a link to the Compliant/Lawsuit: [www.box.com/s/n5z60llabpxp9jrfhgds].
Here are some short excerpts from the lawsuit:
“California’s uniquely harsh regime of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is inhumane and debilitating. Plaintiffs and class members languish, typically alone, in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell, for 22 and one-half to 24 hours a day. They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational or educational programming. Defendants persistently deny these men the normal human contact necessary for a person’s mental and physical well-being. These tormenting and prolonged conditions of confinement have produced harmful and predictable psychological deterioration among Plaintiffs and class members.”
“The solitary confinement regime at Pelican Bay, which renders California an outlier in this country and in the civilized world, violates the US Constitution’s requirement of due process and prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, as well as the most basic human rights prohibitions against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Indeed, the prolonged conditions of brutal confinement and isolation at Pelican Bay cross over from having any valid penological purpose into a system rightly condemned as torture by the international community.”
“California, alone among all 50 states and most other jurisdictions in the world, imposes this type of extremely prolonged solitary confinement based merely on a prisoner’s alleged association with a prison gang. While defendants purport to release “inactive” gang members after six years in the SHU, in reality their so-called gang validation and retention decisions (and resulting indefinite SHU placement) are made without considering whether plaintiffs and class members have ever undertaken an illegal act on behalf of a gang, or whether they are – or ever were – actually involved in gang activity. As one example, defendants continue to detain ...George Ruiz in the Pelican Bay SHU after 22 years, based on nothing more than his appearance on lists of alleged gang members discovered in some unnamed prisoners’ cells and his possession of allegedly gang-related drawings.”
“One of the plaintiff prisoners in the case: Plaintiff RICHARD JOHNSON is a 61-year-old prisoner who has spent almost 15 years in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay SHU due to his validation as a Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) member. Under California’s “three strikes” law, Johnson is currently serving 33 years to life for drug-related offenses. Johnson has never incurred a major disciplinary offense, yet continues to languish in the Pelican Bay SHU.”
“Plaintiff PAUL REDD is a 55-year-old prisoner who has spent almost 33 of the past 35 years in solitary confinement in CA and has spent the last 11 and one-half years in Pelican Bay’s SHU. Redd was first validated as a BGF gang member in 1980 based on six confidential memoranda stating that he had communicated with other BGF prisoners and that his name was on a coded roster found in a validated BGF member’s possession. Over 30 years later, he continues to be labeled a gang member based merely on association.”