It’s only been a few months since our prison strike took place throughout the United States. Although many of our brothers and sisters have made reports of being arbitrarily subjected to reprisals, I assure you that our small “KAGE cadre” in California hasn’t faltered but is standing firm against injustice and broken promises since the agreement known as Ashker v. Governor intended to end indefinite long-term solitary confinement.
Few prisoners, if any, at San Quentin State Prison participated in what was reported to be the largest prisoner-led strike in United States history. There are many reasons for these prisoners’ lack of involvement. Most of the men imprisoned at San Quentin were unaware of the strike and the groups involved with it like Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and the Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee.
Rally at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse while the four California prisoner hunger strike and Ashker class representatives meet and confer* with CDCr to address the continuing solitary conditions that violate the Ashker lawsuit settlement agreement. The four prisoner hunger strike representatives will be present in the courtroom, an historic presence! Help create a strong show of solidarity with prisoners fighting for human rights! Join the rally outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, 11:30 a.m., at the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.
On July 3, a critical ruling issued in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The ruling, issued by Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken, granted Plaintiffs’ appeal on a motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.
Hugo L.A. Pinell Legacy: It was important to my Dad to always give honor where honor was due. This tribute to an honorable ancestor is offered in that spirit. They are together again, Khatari and Hugo, now ancestors looking over us. Many nights I sit and wonder what the elders would tell us today. Dad told me stories of Khatari; he loved him like a brother. Dad shared how Khatari’s leadership in the prison resistance movement was a vital vein after the assassination of George Jackson.
Prison officials have total control over all prisoners held in CDCR and this affords them the power to impose their will upon prisoners as they try to see fit. So, citizens of this country, in prison and out, should not be surprised to see that CDCR is managing prisoners with violence in order to secure their best interest: higher pay and job security. Peaceful prisons go against the CDCR agenda and, therefore, violence has to be the agency’s trademark.
Recently us United Kings Against Genocidal Environments (KAGE) refused to settle and dismiss our 42 U.S.C. §1983 suit for the infringement of our First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as violations of our Religious Land Use Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA) rights. Pelikkkan Bay State Prison officials have failed or refused to eradicate the implicit racial bias imposed upon New Afrikans, or Blacks – those of us who petitioned and structured the PEACE programs with an ancient Egyptian yoga focal point.
A number of hardy souls ventured to Sacramento on May 18 to a federal court hearing on CDCr’s motion to dismiss Jorge Rico’s suit opposing the every-half-hour Guard One “security/welfare checks” that take place in isolation units throughout the state. With Guard One, guards press a metal baton into a metal receiver positioned either in or beside cell doors, making a loud disruptive noise in most cases, waking prisoners up every 30 minutes and causing sleep deprivation.
On May 4, former Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald agreed to a five-year denial of parole instead of insisting on a parole hearing, even though he has served more time than any former Black Panther still behind bars: 49 years. Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
Most of the dialogue regarding sentencing reform centers on nonviolent offenses. Yet it is not necessary to limit reforms to those convicted of nonviolent or minor offenses. In order to truly address our nation’s prison problem, policymakers should also substantially revise policies affecting those serving long sentences, including life with and without parole. There are important legal, moral, fiscal and public safety reasons to do so.
In October 2017, the two-year period expired for the court to monitor the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker – have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in administrative segregation units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating “inmate informants.”
As a Black Nation and prisoner class, we have come too far since the Agreement to End Hostilities and the last hunger strike of July 8, 2013, which 30,000 prisoners partook in to break the chains of our inhumane solitary confinement to allow ourselves to lose focus on the AEH and what it has done to enlighten society that we still have our humanity. But we will never change this miserable, decaying prison system or our neighborhoods if the oppressor state sees and can utilize our violent, hostile actions toward one another to show just cause to retaliate.
For years now, I have endured threats, both overt and covert, from the mouths and hands of CDCr’s (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s) OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), ISU (Investigations Services Unit) and IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), all of them paramilitary services that boast they are a gang and call themselves the Green Wall. (See my article “Sitawa: Exiting solitary confinement – and the games CDCr plays.”)
On Feb 8, 2018, Northern District Judge Vince Chhabria held a hearing on a motion by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to dismiss civil rights lawsuits brought by two prisoners, Christopher Lipsey and Maher Suarez, who are suing CDCR for violation of their Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, they have brought their lawsuits to put an end to the sleep deprivation of prisoners caused by “security/welfare checks.”
California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
I begin this six-month update on the activities of CDCR and the CCPOA with my utmost thankfulness and respect for the San Francisco Bay View. I thank your staff and readers for continuing to shine a bright light on the injustices that occur daily behind enemy lines, as it pertains to human beings who are marginalized as prisoners, defined as slaves by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but yet full citizens of this country! I have now been housed in Pelican Bay Level II SHU for six months, and the situation has not progressed but has rapidly deteriorated.
Incarcerated firefighters save bureaucrats in California millions of dollars every year by performing the various odd jobs that nobody else wants to do. On Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, two crews from Oak Glen Conservation Camp were sent to clean up the mudslides that wreaked havoc in the affluent neighborhoods of Montecito. Inmate crews were not forewarned of any hazards posed by the mud as they were deployed for one week.
Celebrate Dr. Espanola Jackson Day on her birthday, Feb. 9, with the San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point community. We take this opportunity to honor the memory of Espanola as a community leader during Black History Month. For details of the event, which will be held in the Alex Pitcher Room at the Southeast Community Center, go to the Facebook and register your RSVP online with Eventbrite. All are welcome. Spread the word.
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.