by Gabriel A. Huerta
Written July 17, postmarked Oct. 24, 2011 – Sitting here on my 17th day of a hunger strike in protest of the inhumane and torturous treatment of our confinement in the SHU of Pelican Bay State Prison, my heart races at 126 beats per minute – at rest! Am I soon going to have a heart attack? Am I mad for risking my health – my life! – or am I just “fed up” with having spent 25 years of my life in SHU for non-disciplinary reasons?
My mind is racing just as fast if not faster as my heart. A fog has settled in on my thoughts; everything seems hazy and I’m not sure if I’m even thinking logically anymore.
This morning I was dozing in and out of a dream. I usually don’t remember my dreams any more, so I’m not even sure if I was actually dreaming or if I was awake just thinking in the fog. But this is what I remember: I was in this big ol’ boat along with a whole lot of other guys and we were rowing this boat. It was hard work – and maybe that’s what got my heart pumping so hard – and if any of us slowed down or fell out of sync, these overseers would come over and whip us something awful. So we all had an incentive to keep rowing.
Then an old man a few rows in front of me stopped rowing. He started to sway from side to side as the overseers whipped him. Regardless of the pain, the old man just continued to sway from side to side and all he would say is “rock.” Everyone thought the guy was mad, that he had lost his mind or something.
Then another guy, a few rows back, threw his oar down and began to sway in the same way as the old man. Everyone was confused. Then a few more people started throwing down their oars and swaying in sync to each other. Nothing was said except “rock!”
The boat started to sway just a little from side to side and the overseers were frantic to stop the swaying. They were whipping guys viciously, but no one would pick up the oars. In fact more and more people were refusing to row, and the boat was rocking dangerously close to capsizing.
The overseers were terrified and all that was heard was “rock!” The oars, with the words “industries,” “shirt factory,” “wood products,” “shoe factory,” “dairy,” “kitchen workers,” “cooks” engraved into them, were all just lying there, idle, and we told the overseers, “You want this boat rowed, then YOU do the rowing.”
About this time I either woke up or I snapped out of the fog I was in. My heart was racing. Am I mad? Is that really such a crazy, irrational thought? Or is it the most sane, common sense thing that should have taken place years ago?
I thought about this as I drank my tea and the C/Os (correctional officers) passed out breakfast. “Are you gonna eat?” the C/O asked. “No,” I replied. And with my heart still racing, I thought to myself, crazy or not, I say, “Let’s rock!”
Send our brother some love and light: Gabriel A. Huerta, C-80766, D3-222, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532. During the long delay from the time this story was written, July 17, until the date in the postmark, Oct. 24, it must have been held by Pelican Bay prison authorities. It was written three days before and end of the first round of the hunger strike and mailed only after the second round had ended.