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In conjunction with our formal introduction of Free Alabama Movement to the world, I spoke of “a flicker becoming a flame.” And, the threat of that flame blazing into a wildfire for change. To be in balance with the Universal Order, myself and hundreds of men confined within the Alabama DOC decided to become the change we wanted to see. From ‘14 throughout ‘15 and ‘16 we worked, tirelessly, fanning that flicker – networking, mobilizing, organizing and educating – into a flame.
A swift salute to all of the supporters and those concerned with the ongoing fight to reform CDCR’s ASUs. As of June 19, the hunger strike has been suspended until further notice. It is unfortunate that we as prisoners must use this process in order to shine light on CDCR’s unwillingness to oversee its ASU conditions. CDCR allowed Folsom State Prison administration to retaliate, isolate and condone the poor conditions in its ASU. Now I’ve been transferred to even more extreme conditions.
On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25 in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
The Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement wrote 40 supplemental demands to detail what prisoners are entitled to and need to have re-instated. In responding to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitaion’s response to our 40 supplemental demands, I would like to get into the actual details of what the CDCr is and is not saying in response to prisoners.
California prisoner hunger strike advocates and supporters continue their efforts to compel state decision makers to negotiate with hunger strikers as they endure their 52nd day without food. Meanwhile, legal observers at Corcoran State Prison say that the 70 people still on strike at that facility are facing harsh retaliation by prison officials, including the denial of medical care and the confiscation of personal property.
My name is Arturo Castellanos. I am presently being housed in the PBSP’s Administrative Segregation Unit, along with the remainder of the brave men who came together and volunteered to peacefully protest the Department of Corruption and No-Rehabilitation policies of locking individuals up forever, with little or no evidence of gang activities, in indefinite SHU.
The Adjustment Center (AC) is the death row Security Housing Unit at San Quentin (SQ) which also serves as Administrative Segregation Unit overflow housing. But for all intents and purposes the AC is a secret torture unit at SQ and the fraternal twin of CDCR’s other torture units now partially exposed by media attention resulting from the 2011 peaceful hunger strikes at Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi.
We are all remaining strong as one in unity. Everybody back here is determined to push to their limit and the atmosphere around here is strong. The five core demands were re-submitted to the newest warden, Frank Chavez, and we also submitted a few of our own demands to better the conditions here in ASU. We’ve made it clear that we are going to continue hunger striking until the five core demands are met.
Greetings to all with like mind and heart in the struggle. Here in Calipatria State Prison we continue to push forward as one in solidarity with our mindset to hunger striking in unity with all races until CDCR meets the five core demands. The entire Calipatria State Prison – GP and ASU – are in full support and fighting peacefully together to make sure our voices are heard exposing CDCR’s corrupt system for what it is.
On Monday, July 8, California prisoners launched their third hunger strike in two years, protesting conditions in the Security Housing Units, where thousands of prisoners are held in segregation units designed to limit communication. While the largest one-day participation of the prior two strikes rose to over 11,000, Monday’s strike began with a historic 30,000 people inside California’s prisons refusing breakfast and lunch.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which is torture, which is us prisoners being held in solitary confinement indefinitely, without ever breaking a prison rule or state or federal law, anywhere from 10 to 40 years, under conditions of sensory deprivation, isolation, etc., etc. The fact that solitary confinement is torture is recognized by the U.N. – but not by the U.S., yet.
Things have been very mellow and tranquil here at Calipatria ASU. There hasn’t been any tension or bullsh-t with the staff or anything. Everybody got their TVs and cable installed recently and things have actually progressed. It will never be complete until the validation process is fixed and isolation has ended but there have been some real positive changes.
You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people. The STG policy makes it easier for CDCR to confine us to their dungeons.
Juan Jaimes’ broken back came to me and the others in solidarity with Corcoran ASU hunger strike petitioners as breaking news. The ripples continue to affect our cause. Although the Kage still hasn’t softened, some people still have a hard time envisioning the repression of the state because they have illusions that they live in a democracy with civil liberties.
Gualberto Lopez and German Cabrera, both in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Calipatria State Prison as "alleged associates of a prison gang," write about the inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation, Institutional Gang Investigators and the corrupt validation process, as well as the targeting of Mexicans/Latinos/Hispanics.
Three African-American inmates in Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs criticize their continued isolation for being members of the Black Guerilla Family, the only Black prison gang in California that will lead to placement in the SHU. Drawings of dragons are used to justify their continued isolation.
In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology: Jason Smith beaten to death by racists in Louisiana; Trayvon Martin murdered by a racist vigilante in Florida; Christian Gomez allowed to die on hunger strike by prison guards in California; 17 people, nine of them children, slaughtered in Afghanistan; Kendrec McDade slain by racist police in California; Gerardo Perez-Ruiz murdered by border vigilantes in Arizona.
Imagine you were framed again by prison gang officers using a tattoo you got as a child and a symbol in a birthday card to “validate” you as a “prison gang associate” and label you “worst of the worst” and placed in segregation in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, for years on end. That is what happened to my childhood best friend and husband, Robbie Riva.
Closed inside these units for 23-24 hours every day, prisoners have to study, write, exercise and create right in these cells. These cells are the size of big closets. This small cell must become your laboratory where you create your unshakable foundation.