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The prisoner strike has been underway for more than 24 hours now. In the first day we got word of actions coming out from the prisons from Halifax, Nova Scotia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, and Folsom Prison in California reported strike action. We saw outside solidarity actions in at least 21 cities around the U.S. and as far abroad as Leipzig, Germany. We saw Palestinian political prisoners give a statement of solidarity from their prisons in occupied Palestine. Those of us who have been coordinating media relations on the outside have been overwhelmed by the number of reporters and outlets who are covering the strike.
Poor, unhoused, barely housed, indigenous, Black, Brown and Red people don’t have presidents. We have prison wardens, police, sheriffs, anti-social workers, landlords, judges, bailiffs, poverty pimps, case manglers, ICE agents, CPS workers and debt collectors. Under Clinton, we lost welfare and the criminalization and incarceration of young people was institutionalized. Poor people don’t have presidents or governors or mayors. We have ourselves.
People in solitary confinement have been loudly awakened by guards every 30 minutes around the clock since the night of Aug. 2, for more than four months! CDCR claims these checks are to improve mental health care and prevent suicides. Instead, this cruel sleep deprivation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners and their attorneys are demanding that these checks be halted. Stop these torture tactics now! Support prisoners’ human rights! Send emails and make calls. Sleep deprivation is torture!
On April 3rd of this year, the entire world was focused on the SFPD. A scandal had emerged surrounding the federal corruption case of former Sgt. Ian Furminger. A spate of violent text messages sent between SFPD officers was exposed. While people debated the meaning of this distasteful police behavior, the SFPD, in collusion with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, was cleaning up and covering up fresh blood. Another Black man had been killed while in the custody of San Francisco law enforcement. His name was Darnell Benson.
The California department of prisons threatened, muzzled and defamed a top medical officer at San Quentin for blowing the whistle on its shoddy mental health care, the doctor claims in court. Dr. Christopher S. Wadsworth, former chief psychiatrist and medical director of San Quentin State Prison, claims the state and 10 prison officials retaliated against him for a March 2014 memo on constitutionally inadequate conditions that continue today.
The national protests catalyzed by the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson last August continue even as many have moved on. In Chicago, many have used the energy and opening created by these ongoing protests to re-animate existing long-term anti-police violence campaigns. On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered at the Chicago Temple to show our love for police torture survivors on the day after Jon Burge was released from house arrest.
For decades, prisoners in California have protested the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Now a nurse has come forward who worked in a California prison and can speak to personally witnessing some of these horrors perpetrated by some of his colleagues at the California Men’s Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo. Paul Spector was fired from his job for speaking out. Check him out in his own words ...
A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the conditions and experiences inside women’s prisons.
I am trying my best to help myself, but I am greatly suffering from traumatic psychological emotional breakdowns. Sometimes I have to stop doing everything and sing to myself for an hour or I break down and start crying or I start eating when I do not want to eat. I do not have anyone to help me do my suit and I wrote you this letter asking if you can get one of the smart people you have there to help me.