Liberate the Caged Voices

Were-Still-Here-art-by-Michael-D.-Russell-1400x1069, Liberate the Caged Voices, Behind Enemy Lines
“We’re Still Here” – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, HDSP C2-122, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

by Nube Brown

As COVID-19 once again rages throughout our prisons and continues to uncover the system failures across all sectors of human life, the call to release imprisoned people most vulnerable to the virus reveals the ongoing human rights crisis taking place within our prisons – and the need to abolish them. We hear that call! 

California, despite its undeserved progressive reputation, is home to hundreds of elder prisoners subjected to decades of state sanctioned cruel and unusual punishment by indeterminant sentencing equaling civil death, torture of solitary confinement and California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s (CDCr’s) dehumanizing tactics, used to also punish the family and loved ones suffering alongside them.

And now, to add insult to injury, these elders are being subjected to a potential death sentence by this virus and CDCr’s, and the governor’s, reluctance to release them. Out of love and respect, we will focus on these tortured elders.

It is high time we also start calling things what they are. It is neither radical nor controversial to speak the truth. In fact, what we see is that it is dangerous to the people speaking it and threatening to those that create that danger for us. Why is that in a supposed democracy?

This country was founded on slavery, genocide, land theft, and rape of people and planet. The Constitution was written by rich white men who were enslaving, raping and genociding people. This document set the tone for this country moving forward. With that in mind, we should not be surprised by where we are now socio-politically. But we should be intolerant. 

“Mass incarceration” is modern-day slavery. Period.

The 13th Amendment clearly states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

We must be well beyond any justification for the continuation of this crime against humanity that is Amerikkkan slavery. It is being manifested within our prisons – and it is by design. 

Prisoners have long been the canary in the coal mine.

This current justification is the result of hundreds of years of conditioning to convince the public that the dehumanization, exploitation and slaughter of a people is necessary and just in order to have the life that slavers, and now corporations, are constructing for us. Is this the life you want?

Prisoners have long been the canary in the coal mine. The elders that Liberate the Caged Voices is highlighting are heroes and true servants of the people! They are principled thinkers, visionaries, political and politicized prisoners with decades of honed critical skills to address this human rights crisis! Are we ready to hear them now?

Some of the elders are cosigners of the Agreement to End Hostilities – one of the most important and powerful documents of the last 50 years – and participants in the historic California Hunger Strikes of 2011-2013 that culminated in over 30,000 prisoners participating, some for a full 60 days, to end the torture of indefinite solitary confinement. 

These men put their lives on the line for the sake of humanity, for the sake of life.

Some died. And more will die a civil death or potentially a death by COVID unless we care, unless we act.

Call the governor at 916-445-2841 and demand the release of our elders. Support the ongoing Liberate Our Caged Elders social media campaign by joining the campaign using the hashtag #liberateourcagedelders and visiting liberatecagedvoices.wixsite.com/site.

This campaign is an ongoing dialogue and education about what’s really taking place within our California prisons. Check it out.

In solidarity, Nube

Liberate the Caged Voices is a project of California Prison Focus. Nube Brown can be reached at nube@sfbayview.com