A message to supporters of the Five Core Demands

by Imara Rafiki

As a devout supporter of the Five Core Demands, I write this article not only to commend you for your support and participation in the previous hunger strike, but also for getting us all on the same and most effective page throughout the California prison system on our next collective push to have these Five Core Demands met via continued hunger strikes.

Hunger strike solidarity rally Jerry Elster speaks 080111 by Felix Barrett, RevolutionFirst, let’s take an analytical look at the dynamics of a hunger strike from the vantage point of a California prisoner. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) acknowledges and classifies the legitimacy of hunger strikes into four separate categories: 1) the refusal to eat “all” foods; 2) the refusal to eat “state food only”; 3) the refusal to eat “all solid food”; and 4) “other,” i.e., liquids, according to the form CDCR 128-B Hunger Strike/ Refusal of Food Chrono.

CDCR is well aware that the human body can go only 10-20 days without water and only 45-60 days without food before you expire. Therefore, though these two categories of a hunger strike are the most dramatic and extreme, outside the honorable status of martyrdom, they are the least practical in the real senses of longevity because the pigs can easily ignore and/or wait you out in less than two months before you either die or capitulate. Moreover, it will take much longer than two months for these pigs to meet the Five Core Demands even if they wanted to, which they clearly do not. Therefore, these extreme measures should only be undertaken by those of us who have righteously declared and designated ourselves to this honorable state of martyrdom.

As for the “strategy” of eating only canteen and/or package food items, this virtually serves as an immediate red flag indicating that you are subject to capitulation once your personal food stash is depleted, confiscated and/or the canteen and/or package programs are shut down.

Now on the other hand, the remaining strategy of refusing to eat or accept “all solid foods” into your cells requires CDCR Medical Department to intercede with hospitalization, nutrient drinks and/or non-solid food diets for the remainder of your “solid food” hunger strike once you have lost 10% of your normal body weight.

Furthermore, the medical department’s intervention will not compromise your status of being on a “solid food” hunger strike, which is just as legitimate as a hunger striker refusing “all” foods in that both strategies eventually lead to death by either malnutrition or starvation if not attended to.

California prisoner hunger strike solidarity drawing by Rashid Johnson, Red Onion Prison, VaMoreover, the strategy of refusing to eat or accept “all solid food” does not violate any prison regulations, state or federal laws, takes up prime real estate in the prison’s hospitals, and creates a significant economic burden on CDCR for the indefinite duration of the “solid food” hunger strike in that a liquid diet of two cans of nutrient drink (e.g., Ensure, Nutren) three times a day, according to CSP-COR doctors, costs CDCR between $31.20 and $42.00 per prisoner per day at $5.20-$7.00 per can, as opposed to CDCR’s standard feeding budget of $2.45 per prisoner per day. (See CDC Food Service Handbook, Chapter 3, available in prison law library.)

The strategy of refusing to eat or accept “all solid foods” also serves to keep the public’s interest and CDCR’s feet to the fire without reprieve or the need for us to repeatedly compromise the integrity of our demonstration with temporary suspensions of the hunger strike just to regroup under the pretext of giving the pigs a chance to make good on their promises, as if the Five Core Demands are in reality the Five Core REQUESTS, which I and many others throughout the state prison system find to be absolutely PATHETIC and downright DISHEARTENING. The authorities have never and will never make good on their promises nor considerations without a constant and pressing incentive for them to do so.

As a notorious practitioner of what I preach, I am writing this article from Corcoran State Prison’s John B. Klarich Memorial Hospital, where I am pushing the above-mentioned strategy of a “solid food” hunger strike and invite you to consider and/or adopt this strategy within your demonstrations during this protracted period of wait and see. Doing so will not only create a logistic and economic burden on CDCR, but will have a profound and lasting effect throughout the state and nation. We must fill these hospitals just as Dr. King filled the jails and with the same purpose and enthusiasm.

Lastly, but most importantly, we must be mindful and understand that CDCR is not moved by mass prison demonstrations within themselves – as many prisons throughout CDCR may be. What CDCR responds to is not the demonstration in and of itself, but the public’s – i.e., voters’ – outrage and indignation at us having to go to such lengths just to be afforded basic human rights.

The authorities have never and will never make good on their promises nor considerations without a constant and pressing incentive for them to do so.

Therefore big props to all the inside and outside organizers and press who get the word out to the people because without the people our demonstrations, whatever they may be, will be swallowed up in the vast vortex of state oppression, filled by nothing more than “silent” screams, death and bloodshed.

We must fill these hospitals just as Dr. King filled the jails and with the same purpose and enthusiasm.

We must also understand that our outside support is reflective of our legitimate and consistent inside demonstrations. Therefore, if our legitimate inside demonstrations are inconsistent, so will be our outside support groups.

Send our brother some love and light: Imara Rafiki (Bryan Edwin Ransom), H-71641, CSP SHU 4A2R-49, P.O. Box 3476, Corcoran, CA 93212. Brother Rafiki is the founding president and minister of defense of the National Plantation Psychosis Awareness Committee, which is a Black nationalist grassroots organization dedicated to the eradication of traditional racism, judicial injustice, functional illiteracy, miseducation, drug and alcohol dependency, fatherless households and Black on Black crime through proper education and effective demonstration.