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California prisoners inspire the world

July 3, 2013

Corcoran mobilization '30,000 Cali prisoners are on hunger strike' 0713SUPPORT THE STRIKE SATURDAY, JULY 13: Since the hunger and work strike began Monday, July 8, 30,000 prisoners have refused food and work. Our opportunity to stand in solidarity comes this Saturday, July 13: All out for a MASS STATEWIDE RALLY at Corcoran, where 2,000 prisoners are locked in solitary confinement. Caravan leaves MacArthur BART in Oakland and Chuco’s in Inglewood at 8:30 a.m.; rally at 2 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park, 1500 Oregon Ave., Corcoran, then march to the prison. Join the revolution! All power to the people!

Editorial by Willie Ratcliff

All eyes are on Pelican Bay SHU, the shame of California, where men who have been locked in concrete coffins for decades have called for a hunger strike and work stoppage to begin Monday, July 8, to last until their Five Core Demands are met. Pelican Bay is, among the world’s prisons, one of the worst of the worst; it’s the prison where Black prisoner Vaughn Dortch, 29, was boiled alive until his skin fell down around his ankles. (See Madrid v. Gomez.)

Bay View readers know the strike leaders well and see them as the pride of California, daring at the cost of their lives to challenge the government and corporate powers that are impoverishing the people to build a prison nation. We wish them a speedy and total victory.

Hunger Strike 0713, webJudging from these announcements from Washington state prisoners, “Prisoners in Washington state to join July 8 strike called by California prisoners” and “Youth prisoners in Washington state will join the California prison strike on July 8,” and letters to the Bay View from prisons around the country, the strike is likely to spread statewide and even nationwide and beyond. (Links to additional pledges of solidarity from prisoners outside of California will be listed below as they are received.)

In Ireland, where hunger striking prisoners were largely responsible for winning their nation’s independence, a story ran June 20 in the Irish Times headlined “Californian prisoners prepare for hunger strike.” It begins:

“Of the 10.1 million people held in penal institutions across the world, 2.29 million are held in the U.S. Of those, 80 percent are poor, more than 60 percent are members of racial minorities and more than 50 percent have mental-health problems.

“Across the U.S. almost 7 million people are in prison, on probation, on parole or in county jails. The numbers represent a 379 percent increase from 1980, when the number was not quite 2 million.

“Children are not immune from imprisonment. There are 250,000 children in adult jails and prisons across the U.S., some as young as 8 and 9, of whom 3,000 have been sentenced to life without parole. Of these, 74 percent are African-American or Latino.

“In prison they are 10 times more likely to be sexually and physically abused than are adult prisoners. Many of these adults and young people did not have proper legal representation at the time of their trials despite the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Gideon v. Wainwright case that entitles all defendants to legal counsel irrespective of income.

All eyes are on Pelican Bay SHU, the shame of California, where men who have been locked in concrete coffins for decades have called for a hunger strike and work stoppage to begin Monday, July 8, to last until their Five Core Demands are met.

“Even in the U.S., California stands out. Recent decades have seen rapid growth in the state’s prison population – greater than the combined numbers of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – although the state’s overall population is just a fifth of those countries’. …

“(A)lthough the Supreme Court has ordered the state to bring its prisoner population into line with capacity, the state has failed to do so.

“The Supreme Court is not alone is its dissatisfaction with how prisoners are being treated; the prisoners don’t like it either. There were two hunger strikes in 2011: The first involved 6,600 prisoners; the second 11,898 prisoners. Now prisoners are set for a repeat strike, with July 8 as the target date.

Bay View readers know the strike leaders well and see them as the pride of California, daring at the cost of their lives to challenge the government and corporate powers that are impoverishing the people to build a prison nation. We wish them a speedy and total victory.

“Although the prisoners have five demands, life in ‘secure housing units’ and the extensive use of solitary confinement are at the heart of the dispute. About 10,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement in California at any one time. Some have been in solitary for up to 40 years, and the average time is seven and a half years.

“Pelican Bay State Prison, a supermax, or super-maximum-security jail, holds 1,111 prisoners in isolation. There, in an area designed to minimize human contact and reduce visual stimulation, the windowless units in which the prisoners spend 23 hours a day measure 11 feet by 7 feet.”

The power of the people ended slavery and lynching, and now we will end the torture of solitary confinement! Support our imprisoned freedom fighters! Write to a brother or sister behind enemy lines today.

Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff can be reached at publisher@sfbayview.com or (415) 671-0789.

Pledges of solidarity with California hunger and work strikers

Prisoners in Washington state to join July 8 strike called by California prisoners

Youth prisoners in Washington state will join the California prison strike on July 8

California prisoners’ hunger strike: Oregon joins the fight

Palestinian prisoners pledge solidarity with California prisoners on hunger strike!

Stand behind striking prisoners, from Palestine to California

‘We are grateful,’ say hunger strike reps, as 30,000 join strike and support pours in from around the world

 

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