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We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
In its mission to challenge the prison systems that are putting prisoners and surrounding communities and ecosystems at risk of dangerous environmental conditions, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons is taking its second annual convergence to Texas this year. In Denton and Ft. Worth on June 2-5, the gathering of activists from around the country will feature speakers, panels, workshops, protests and cultural activities, including an art show and hip-hop performances.
Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle.
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions. The CDCR released new proposed regulations around its gang policies, and it points to changes already made. Accounts from former hunger strikers suggest that change is slow in coming.
There’s a growing national consensus that, as Attorney General Eric Holder stated in August, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.” Despite the heavy toll that mass incarceration exacts every day and in countless ways on many American communities the topic attracts remarkably little consistent coverage in the mainstream media.
At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children’s 35th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19, headlined by Dr. Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander, I noticed immediately the “logo,” a phoenix rising from the ashes, the theme for California Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Anniversary celebration of the Fire Inside two years ago. All of Us or None is 10 years old now, and LSPC at 35 is the parent of CCWP.
The Clean Lounge, a clean and sober space located in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, was full of Fired Up! women and supporters, family and friends.There was so much collective healing wisdom in the room. Fired Up! is an insider-outsider grassroots network founded by CCWP former prisoners that meets weekly in the San Francisco County Jail.