Legal representatives made visits to Pelican Bay SHU Tuesday and interviewed a number of hunger strikers. Each prisoner explained how medical conditions of hundreds of hunger strikers in the SHU are worsening.
Many prisoners are experiencing irregular heartbeats and palpitations; some are suffering from diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia. Many are also experiencing dizziness and constantly feel light-headed. Many struggle with shortness of breath and other lung and respiratory problems. Dozens of prisoners have fainted and been taken to either the infirmary and/or outside hospitals. Some prisoners also have Chrone’s disease, which leads to extreme loss of fluids and electrolytes and needs to be treated by adequate nutrition and hydration.
At least 200 prisoners continue the strike in solidarity with the prisoners at Pelican Bay at Calipatria State Prison, where summer heat has reached to 110 degrees F, even hotter inside the SHUs. Some people have experienced heat stroke due to severe dehydration.
Prisoners at Corcoran have also notified us that hunger strikers there are struggling with the same symptoms of severe dehydration. After mild seizures and severe diabetic shock, some people have been taken to the infirmary.
Many doctors outside of prison, some of whom have experience working with prisoners, have explained to us that adequate hydration is paramount to preventing fatal starvation. The fact that the prisoners are showing symptoms of such extreme dehydration shows the prisoners are approaching a medical crisis.
Dr. Corey Weinstein, a private correctional medical consultant and human rights investigator with 40 years’ experience providing health care to California prisoners, explains:
“The strikers’ claims of substandard and prejudicial medical care at Pelican Bay are certainly true. As well the medical staff refuses to take on their responsibilities as health professionals to advocate for their patients in matters of daily life related to food, nutrition, exercise and mental hygiene. Those who should be providing care act the jailer instead.
“Given my long history of working with California prisoners, I have grave doubts about the Department of Corrections’ ability to adequately carry out their own guidelines and protocols even during this urgent and public moment. Reports such as prisoners with very low blood sugar levels and lack of urination for three days should not be coming from the prison. These are men who require hospital care under prison protocols. We should ask, why do they remain at the prison?”
The only way to prevent people from dying right now is for the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners with the outside mediation team the prisoners have approved of.
Clearly the prisoners are in dire need of adequate food and hydration. The only way to prevent people from dying right now is for the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners with the outside mediation team the prisoners have approved of.
Support the prisoners in winning their demands
If you have information you think we should know about or suggestions of how people can support the strike that will help pressure CDCR to negotiate immediately, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporters everywhere are encouraged to coordinate and organize events, actions and demonstrations that amplify the prisoner’s voices and will effectively urge the CDCR to negotiate immediately.
‘Bring the Noise!’ march in support of hunger strikers at Pelican Bay and beyond
A loud and visible march through downtown San Francisco at rush hour will begin Friday, July 15, 5 p.m., at UN Plaza at 1150 Market St. near Seventh at Civic Center BART in San Francisco.
The prison authorities are refusing to negotiate while the health of the prisoners rapidly deteriorates. On top of this, they are taking this moment to write off and discredit the courageous actions of the hunger strikers, who are standing in solidarity with one another across racial lines, as being the work of “gangs.”
In a story headlined “Calif. sees gang ties in prisoners’ hunger strike,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s Justin Berton first acknowledges that this hunger strike, called by prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU and pursued by them and thousands more throughout the state since July 1, “has become the largest coordinated protest by state inmates.”
Then he reports: “Prison administrators said the 676 remaining inmates who have refused meals since the strike began July 1 probably synchronized their statewide effort through organized criminal networks …
“’This goes to show the power, influence and reach of prison gangs,’ said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. ‘Some people are doing it because they want to do it, and some are being ordered to do it.’”
Reminiscent of mainstream media demonization of victims of police murder and abuse, the Chronicle is siding with Corrections Department propaganda to convince readers that prisoners do not deserve the fundamental human rights they are starving themselves to win. The term “gang,” often equated with “terrorist,” is used to deflect attention from the extraordinary organizing skill that prisoners in total isolation have achieved to unify as many as the 6,600 California prisoners that state officials admit have participated in the strike.
Berton concludes the story by quoting Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for federal prison health care receiver J. Clark Kelso, who said prison doctors will not force-feed the prisoners and added, “They [the striking prisoners] have the right to choose to die of starvation if they wish.”
According to Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, “The prisoners are progressing rapidly to the organ damaging consequences of dehydration. They are not drinking water and have decompensated rapidly. A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up. Some are in renal failure and have been unable to make urine for three days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated.”
With a loud, visible and bold march, protesters will let the world know that the prisoners are human beings, and their demands must be met.