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No justice, no food, no 4th of July celebration

July 4, 2011

by Manuel La Fontaine

It has been 83 hours since I last chewed on anything. Many people who are celebrating the Fourth of July do not have the slightest idea that they are celebrating more than just “independence” day for the European immigrants who defended the foreign land they had settled in from their fellow countrymen back home in Europe.

They are also celebrating the massacre of millions of Native people who inhabited the lands we call USA. They are celebrating the kidnapping of millions of Africans from their homeland and their transportation throughout the world, but particularly to the land we now call America, into a life of slavery.

They are celebrating the decimation of culture, tradition and people in countries throughout the world where America and its military troops have transcended upon and unleashed their genocidal practices upon the people of those lands. They are celebrating the inhumane conditions many of America’s own “citizens” have to endure in intentionally impoverished areas caused by its own exploitative economic and corrupt political system that spread outside of her physical boundaries.

They celebrate torture caused by its own military pawns abroad in places America has troops in when seeking intelligence and subordination from its captives, as well as domestically, in their own maximum security units or, better put, concrete torture chambers in America’s prisons. Some of us WILL NEVER celebrate a date that desecrates our ancestors and our history and undermines our resistance.

I stand with all my brothers still on hunger strike inside the SHUs at Pelican Bay and Corcoran and on the mainlines in Centinela and Folsom and all other prisoners throughout California and the nation in solidarity with the hunger strike.

I stand with all my brothers still on hunger strike inside the SHUs at Pelican Bay and Corcoran and on the mainlines in Centinela and Folsom and all other prisoners throughout California and the nation in solidarity with the hunger strike.

Imagine being caged up alone for 23 hours a day in a 6-by-10-foot concrete chamber. Imagine that your only human contact in the last 10 or 15 years is that of guards putting shackles on you, or a vague recollection of someone who told you she was from the medical field.

Imagine if you had not seen or talked to another African-American person in months, years or even decades.

These brothers are not asking to be released. They are demanding their human rights. They are demanding an end to torture.

Please help me raise awareness. If you haven’t already, please sign the petition. Call your local legislator, CDC (California Department of Corrections) warden and other targets that are worried about the publicity, but need to protect their image. Spread the word. Talk to your friends, co-workers and others you meet.

Below is a link to the petition. Below that link are links on how to do more.

http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison

http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/take-action/

http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/take-action/cdcr-and-california-elected-officials-contact-informaion/

No justice, no food!

Manuel La Fontaine is an organizer for All of Us or None, a national organizing initiative started by formerly incarcerated people to fight against discrimination faced after release and to fight for the human rights of prisoners. He can be reached at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, 1540 Market St., Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 255-7036, ext. 328, www.prisonerswithchildren.org, manuel@prisonerswithchildren.org.

 

8 thoughts on “No justice, no food, no 4th of July celebration

  1. Richard's Angel

    It is heart wrenching to know that we have decided that these citizens don't deserve to be treated like human beings. They are broken people that need to be restored, instead we torture them. Punish them further and shove them deeper into darkness to the point that there isn't any healing to be had in a dark concrete coffin. I have seen our loved one fade physically to a shadow of the man he once was. He has lost his hearing, and now his sight is dimming. His sentence was 25 to Life for possession of an empty bag of meth. Treatment would have served him, and society, better than to rot in a dark hole for the rest of his life. At 28, now 45, as a society we threw him away. The only crime that has kept him in darkness for 17 years is gang affiliation, although I doubt if anyone knows who he is after 17 years in the dark. In the past in prison eventually everyone ends up being loyal to his race. This strike shows that has changed they have come together as a group. On their own they have found away to fill the gap that has been the design of the prison as a society.

    Reply
  2. Think B4 you speak

    Write ups for talking-saying hello-to another prisoner are what they use as evidence. I am sure I have said hello to some people that might be members of street gangs but that doesn’t mean I know them. It doesn’t mean my morals and values are in alignment with theirs. It is a greeting used in America when passing or seeing someone. When and where do we draw the line in punishment? They are not asking to be released; they are asking for a picture to send home, a call once a week so that their family doesn't have to drive 24 hours to see them for 1.5 hours on a Sat and Sun to say hello and how you are. A package of food to supplement the sickening diet they call food. No one wants to eat something that resembles cold vomit. Guards have agreed on many occasions that they wouldn't eat it either; luckily they don't have to, but our loved one has no choice.

    Reply
  3. Think B4 you speak

    He has lost about 20-30 pounds; his cheeks sunken in as the bones of his face show perfectly. A package doesn't cost the prison money; the family pays for the package. They used to get paper to draw on, that is gone. Would art supplies at their own expense hurt anyone? They are asking for basic things; not wild ridiculous demands. PBSB has gotten away with a lot of things because they are so isolated that many of the families can not afford to visit and there are guys that have been there so long their mothers and fathers have died and no one remembers them. They are in their 50, 60, and 70’s. After 40 and a long prison sentence the rate of people that return to prison goes way down. These are the men that could safely return to their families and become tax paying citizens. Why does that mean nothing?

    Reply
  4. Think B4 you speak

    At 40 they can still work and be Fathers, Husbands, Sons, Uncles, Grandfathers, and a member of a family that would support and encourage them. Turning a blind eye and pretending that we are doing the right thing for those incarcerated for the non violent, non serious, victimless crimes based on the CDCR’s theory that they MIGHT or COULD do something that MIGHT affect the security of the institution has to end. When does a "might" or "could" mean that they would? It is crazy to think that we need these guys locked in a dark cold hole in a concrete jungle without light; purposely causing sensory deprivation because they "might "do something bad. It is worse than crazy is insane and unacceptable.

    Reply
  5. Think B4 you speak

    Do you get a speeding ticket because you own a car and you MIGHT go over the speed limit? Or MIGHT run a red light? Or you MIGHT make an illegal U-turn? We have lost sight of the fact that a punishment should fit the crime. All for money, for sake of the prison guards union and job security. Enough is enough we must stand up and tell the legislators, governor, CDCR (R means rehabilitation-there is none of that!!) that we are fed up and want to see proof of why we have so many men and women in prison. Going back to 1994 we need to look at the crime that triggered 3X. If only 800 are in for non serious or non violent 3X and they have done 15 years or more-release them. If they get in trouble again for a serious or violent crime then give them life and be done. But it has to be a real crime, not a drug possession or a DUI without hurting anyone. Not that I believe in driving drunk; if it is victimless and no one or property is damaged, then punish them and chances are they won't do it again.

    Reply
  6. Think B4 you speak

    If they do those things punish them according to the laws we already have on the books. We don’t need to get meaner and harsher because we don’t want to deal with such a large group of people. There are more people in our society so there is going to be a bigger number of people going through the courts, but stuffing them into prisons is like a mother with too many kids that shoves those that are in need of more discipline in the basement and forgetting about them because they bother us. We have lost our patience and don’t have the time or money to get them proper treatment for what is causing them to act like that. It might be counseling, or treatment, or education. The only ones that benefit from stuffing our needy citizens into prisons is the CCPO-the prison guards union that the Governor Brown gave a 3% wage increase too while the rest of us are taking furlough days, pay cuts, losing jobs, paying more for college, and struggling to survive as a small business in a rough economy so we can keep families fed and our taxes paid. It all needs to change. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

    Reply
  7. Think B4 you speak

    The formula has to change; the way we deal with our citizens in crisis has to be different and paying for more prisons and guards isn’t the answer. We are warehousing too many people that could be productive in society but will not be in another 10 or 20 years of being kept in concrete coffins without any natural light. They are killing our loved ones one day at a time, one year at a time, one decade after another after another. They are driving them to the edge of sanity and pushing them into insanity and complete psychological destruction. Is that better for us a society? Change of mind is what we need. If you don't teach those who do not know how to accomplish success they never will. Teach them and they can be the teacher for those watching and it will create a perpetual motion. It is nice to see all the races united for such a worthy cause. Fighting for those that have no voice and no family to speak on their behalf. Take care of each other and my prayers are with you.

    Reply
  8. No more Turmoil

    The effort to keep the racism alive in this country is going on at full blast . This hunger strike shows us that Racial unity comes not from discord , but from acceptance of each others problems and compassion towards the fact that were all in this together . For me , an ex gang member , to hear that all races are united in the battle for humane treatment , it brings joy to me for the fact is that we alone can bring about change for our youth and our elders . I am of Mexican decent and i stand with my African brothers , From southern CAlifornia to Northern CAlifornia all of us , as one . We must unite and show the world that we are in fact Their brothers as well , wether they accpet us or continue to stereotype us into the same categories that hold us back , its been going on since the days of segration , cartoons such as speedy gonzales and others , made us look like we were all the same , somehow we became the cartoons and now do the work for them . We must stand with real pride for our communities and show what we really are about .

    Reply

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