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We are within our fifth year of the August 2012 historical document, the “Agreement to End Hostilities.” Its release was followed by the Prisoner Human Rights Movement’s third and largest hunger strike in the state of California and larger than any prison hunger strike in history in either the federal or state prison systems in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. At its peak, 30,000 prisoners here in California participated – prisoners in solitary confinement and the general population.
One year ago, on July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners initiated the largest hunger strike the world has ever seen. Sixty days later, 40 prisoners, who had eaten nothing in all that time, agreed to suspend the strike when state legislators promised to hold hearings on ending solitary confinement, the heart of their demands. The 2013 hunger strike followed two in 2011. In the interim, effective October 2012, the hunger strike leaders, representing all racial groups, issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, which has held with few exceptions throughout the California prison system ever since.
The reality right now is that Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano have basically said that there has to be change. Now the people have to get behind these two politicians and make sure that they are empowered to make that change possible: Relieve prisoners of their on-going suffering inside these solitary confinement units that serve no purpose whatsoever.
To sustain our perpetual resistance on a qualitative level requires that “human bridges” be built between inside and outside activists. We have created community-based projects such as the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program and the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign that will enable us to achieve this end. And so we invite the people to come join us in taking our human rights struggle to the next level.
Mediators working on behalf of California prisoners on hunger strike are calling for an independent investigation into the July 22 death of Billy “Guero” Sell, a prisoner held in solitary confinement at Corcoran State Prison and a participant in the three-week-long hunger strike that has shaken the California prison system. Sell’s death is being ruled a suicide by the CDCR. Medical professionals, religious leaders and prisoners’ families call upon Gov. Jerry Brown to enter into good faith negotiations with the hunger strikers.
We ask you, Gov. 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.
It is hot enough in Corcoran, California, to melt people. That being said, it still wasn’t hot enough to keep upwards of 400 people from braving 103-degree weather to mobilize and rally at Corcoran State Prison in support of over 30,000 prisoners on hunger strike in California. The immediate goal is to stop the cruelty and torture that being held in isolation represents. The long-range objective is liberation.
We, the United KAGE (Kings Against Genocidal Environments) Brothers, welcome you to our communion. We aim to unite and unionize the movement from within the belly of the beast to without. We wish to unite all people, regardless of color, race, creed, gender or sexuality. We all have much in common when dealing with prejudices and classism.
Crooked laws, crooked cops – they all need 2 be stopped. It’s a shame, a shame how they getting away wit’ murder, wit’ no blame. RIP Kenneth Harding, James Earl Rivera, Derrick Gaines, Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford, Jason Smith, Kendrec McDade, Christian Gomez and all the brothas and sistas who have lost their precious lives to this rotten system and their minions. You are not forgotten.
In preparation for the July 8 peaceful protest action (hunger strike, work stoppage etc.), Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures and policy regarding mass hunger strikes and instead institute a policy designed to raise the potential for maximum casualties (deaths) amongst prisoner participants.
Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours. The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
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.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has recently circulated a memo regarding the most recent revised edition of its Step Down Program (SDP) and Security Threat Group (STG) Program proposal. The revised policies come one year after a series of statewide hunger strikes by inmates in the Security Housing Units (SHU) in Pelican Bay and other California state prisons.
It’s hard to believe that prison authorities’ refusal to treat Juan Jaimes’ broken back is not yet another instance of retaliation against him for being a petitioner in the Corcoran hunger strike last December and January. He's in urgent need of legal help.
It’s hard to believe that prison authorities’ refusal to treat Juan Jaimes’ broken back is not yet another instance of retaliation against him for being a petitioner in the Corcoran hunger strike last December and January. One prisoner participant, Christian Gomez, died in that strike, and CDCR – and its boss, Gov. Jerry Brown – seem desperate to cover it up and silence the petitioners.
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.
Comparing their conditions to a “living coffin,” 400 California prisoners held in long-term or indefinite solitary confinement petitioned the United Nations Tuesday to intervene on behalf of all of the more than 4,000 prisoners similarly situated. California holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other state in the United States or any other nation on earth. Conditions inside California’s SHUs and ASUs were at the center of two massive waves of hunger strikes last year that saw the participation of thousands of prisoners in at least a third of California’s 33 prisons.
The death of Christian Gomez, 27, the first California hunger strike martyr, will be covered by Democracy Now! on Friday, Feb. 24, on 1,024 TV and radio stations around the country and online at DemocracyNow.org. His family is speaking out about the loss of their family member in the hope that similar incidents are avoided in the future. While CDCR emphasizes Gomez' conviction to discourage public sympathy, his sister contends his conviction was wrongful, and according to a late report, the assault charge that sent him to segregation was about to be dropped.
The striker reportedly knew Christian Gomez and described the day of his death. Several inmates were screaming and pounding their fists on their cell doors trying to get the attention of the correctional officers. His knuckles were noticeably battered during the visit. CDCR officials continue to assert that autopsy results show Gomez did not die of starvation.
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