Does the COVID-19 virus mean California prisons will be ethnically cleansed?

Minister King X is shooting a commercial for the Liberate the Elders campaign to free the heroes who led the mass California hungers strikes of 2011 and 2013 before they succumb to the coronavirus. Known as the “main reps,” they are shown on his poster, which features Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa in the center. With other prisoner leaders, they also ended California’s notorious prison gang wars based on race, which prison authorities exploited for decades to divide and conquer all of its enormous prison population, when they crafted the Agreement to End Hostilities, giving a united prisoner class more power to control their own destiny.

by The Minister of Information JR, Black New World Journalism Collective

“There are 118,000 prisoners held in California prisons. If a COVID-19 outbreak were to occur, prisoners and free staff, such as plumbers and cooks, as well as correctional officers all throughout the state will need immediate medical attention,” warns Damu Askari, currently in his 33rd year held captive behind enemy lines on a life sentence that he is currently serving at Pelican Bay State Prison, the only prison built as a Supermax in California.

“Unfortunately, prisoners will not be at the top of the list for any kind of medical treatment. They will be forced to die a lonely death inside their cell, by way of suffocation.”

In a matter of weeks, the United States and world economies have literally been shut down as the world’s governments try to figure out how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that has currently claimed the lives of more than 157,000 people in countries all around the globe since November 2019. Non-essential stores are closed indefinitely until state governments loosen restrictions. Currently, only supermarkets, corner stores, restaurants (for takeout and delivery only), pharmacies and gas stations are allowed to be open. Stores that are non-essential and violate the quarantine can be fined $10,000.

“Unfortunately, prisoners will not be at the top of the list for any kind of medical treatment. They will be forced to die a lonely death inside their cell, by way of suffocation.”

School children have been mandated to attend cyber school, yet more than 15,000 students just in Oakland are locked out due to not having the technology to access the lessons. Doctors and nurses have been forced to work with people infected with the COVID-19 virus without the proper protective gear at hospitals locally as well as nationally.

Senior citizens in the society have been deemed highly susceptible to infection of the COVID 19 virus, and those without family help have been left almost helpless, as they have to wait in long lines to get into stores that have new social distancing guidelines. Society has drastically changed. Permanently?

Although these are major issues that society is struggling to get a grip on, there is another issue that is getting far too little media coverage: What is California going to do to ease the overcrowding in its prisons, to protect the prisoners and workers within the California prison system, where the social-distancing guideline of remaining 6 feet apart is virtually impossible?

“The most important and effective thing is having a viable plan that the (administrators of the prison system) are going to execute if prisoners start catching COVID-19 at alarming numbers, in order to save our lives. As of right now, there is no plan of execution that will be viable in respect to saving prisoners’ lives.

“If COVID 19 were to be widespread among the prison population, many prisoners will be left to die,” lamented Damu Askari, from within the walls of Pelican Bay concentration camp, which is located on the stormy coast in the redwood forest of Northern California.

California Prison Focus, Liberate the Caged Voices, San Francisco Bay View newspaper, Block Report and others are calling for the release of non-dangerous prisoners as well as prisoners over 60 years old to thin out the prison population, so that COVID-19 doesn’t turn from a pandemic into a massacre for those being held behind enemy lines in the nation’s concentration camps euphemistically called prisons.

“If COVID 19 were to be widespread among the prison population, many prisoners will be left to die.”

“Throughout 2016, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was forced to release 2,000 prisoners from indefinite solitary confinement. This victory came as a result of the heroic efforts of the organizers from the Pelican Bay SHU and the 30,000 plus participants of the 2011 and 2013 California Prison Hunger Strikes.

“These strikes propelled the Ashker v. Brown litigation that eliminated indefinite solitary confinement. Because these thinkers were subjected to torture during solitary confinement, they have compromised health,” said Minister King X, released from prison only last summer and now co-director of California Prison Focus. “And many fit the criteria to be released under the Elders Law, AB1448, which was voted into law to provide an opportunity for release of those who are 60 or older and who have served a minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration.

“Furthermore one of these elders, who is seen as ‘the Mandela’ of California state prisons for signing the historic agreement to end all hostilities, Sitawa Natambu Jamaa, had a stroke. Based on him being medically fragile, we are calling on the state to release him immediately and others alike.”

“Due to the overcrowding and warehousing of humans indefinitely under sentences that lead to a civil death, CDCR is under no circumstances going to meet the demand of hospital beds and ventilators that would be necessary to save lives,” said Damu Askari.

“Furthermore one of these elders, who is seen as ‘the Mandela’ of California state prisons for signing the historic agreement to end all hostilities, Sitawa Natambu Jamaa, had a stroke. Based on him being medically fragile, we are calling on the state to release him immediately and others alike.”

Some prisoners who are currently being held captive are more optimistic about what the California Department and Corrections and Rehabilitation is going to do based on the economic role that prisoners play in the California economy.

“First I want you to understand CDCR’s objective: We are a commodity to these people, which means we are an asset that brings money to them,” says Brotha Jay, who is being held captive at High Desert State Prison, in his 31st year on a 30 year to life sentence. “When you live in a capitalist society, the key is to protect your assets. And when you protect your assets, you’ll do everything in your power to make sure that your assets are taken care of.”

Time will be the ultimate judge on whether the state of California looks at the prisoner class as financial assets or liabilities that they will allow to be eliminated under the guise of a virus.

“At least in the California prisons, CDCR is going to do everything in their power to assure that their assets don’t die. They need that sentence up under you. That sentence they gave you, they need all of that,” expressed Brotha Jay.

“First I want you to understand CDCR’s objective: We are a commodity to these people, which means we are an asset that brings money to them. When you live in a capitalist society, the key is to protect your assets. CDCR is going to do everything in their power to assure that their assets don’t die.”

Although we are talking about the prison class, it is extremely sobering to deal with the relationship between COVID-19 and the Black community overall in the United States.

“We have come to understand through our dialog with the inside (people locked up) and out (people not being held captive directly), that the people who are at the greatest risk of death from COVID-19 are those that have compromised medical conditions,” explained Minister King X. “And through statistics it has been shown that most minorities have compromising health conditions, whether it is diabetes, hepatitis, cancer, HIV, asthma and other illnesses, which makes us targets of ethnic cleansing.”

*The names of those currently incarcerated have been changed to protect them from reprisal for speaking out. For more information, go to Prisons.org or youtube.com/KageUniversal, or contact Minister King X, the co-director of California Prison Focus, at kagekage371@gmail.com.  

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportTV on YouTube.