As always, allow us to begin by paying our respects to the families who lost their loved ones during the historic California hunger strikes. Prior to the solidarity hunger strikes, the four principal negotiators, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker, found ourselves locked inside Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor. There we would discuss the vision of effecting genuine change in CDCr’s long term solitary confinement combined policies, practices and conditions.
Weusi Joka Kambon (David Frost), a precious young brotha comrade, is gone! On March 6, 2017, he was found dead inside his cell under suspicious circumstances here at Salinas Valley State Prison B-Yard. A voice we loved is stilled; memories of our loved one shall live forever. He was a brotha, a comrade, husband, daddy, cousin and friend. You will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
It is very important that you all clearly understand the depth of human torture to which I was subjected for 30-plus years by CDCr and CCPOA.* The torture was directed at me and similarly situated women and men prisoners held in California’s solitary confinement locations throughout CDCr, with the approval and sanctioning of California governors, CDCr secretaries and directors, attorneys general, along with the California Legislature for the past 40 years.
Leaving out of Pelican Bay solitary confinement torture prison facilities/units/cages for the first time on Jan. 23, 2015 – after arriving there Nov. 29, 1990 – I remember witnessing my first sunrise. It would be the first of many first time experiences of using my natural senses again after being buried alive in that concrete box deprived of the natural use of those senses for the last 25 years – a quarter century.
I recently received a form that was generated by the California City Correctional Facility administration. This form notified me that I would not be allowed to read my Bay View newspaper this month. While this may seem like a clear constitutional violation, CDCR has stipulated by law that no inmate may possess any literature “which contains or concerns plans to disrupt the order, or breach the security, of any facility.”
This Maafa Commemoration Month we continue to lift “A Love Supreme” as we organize a defense against state violence. Congratulations to Professor Aaliyah Dunn-Salahuddin, whose community vigil and program honored the lives of the Bayview Hunters Point revolutionaries killed 50 years ago when the community rose up after SFPD killed Matthew “Peanut” Johnson and more recently when the community turned out after SFPD killed Mario Woods.
On the surface, the recent “retirement” of the wardens from two of California’s women’s facilities appears to be a needed move in an effort to reform California’s violent correctional system. While many Californians are just beginning to agree that our Department of Corrections does more harm than good, many legal advocates and anti-prison activists have been fighting to make that very point from both inside and out of prison for years.
The Block Report interviews former political prisoner and current All of Us or None organizer Arthur League about his comrades, political prisoners Chip Fitzgerald and Ruchell Magee. We also discussed the history and assassination of political prisoner Hugo Yogi Pinell, last August 12, '15 in New Folsom. Tune in for more of the Block Report at BlockReportRadio.com.
The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.
Erika Rocha was 35 years old and one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing on April 15, 2016, when she committed suicide at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. Since her death, the suicide crisis at CIW has only worsened. On June 1, yet another young woman of color died at CIW. Her name is Shaylene Graves and she was 27 years old and six weeks away from returning home to her loving son, family and friends.
Using a practice which has been condemned by the American Medical Association and the Red Cross as a form of torture and “never ethically acceptable,” Wisconsin Department of Corrections personnel have been forcing a feeding tube through the nose and down the throat of their restrained and struggling captives three times a day since last weekend.
CDCr has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant statewide within California’s prisons for both women and men which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction.
Guards have been jarringly waking prisoners every 30 minutes on death row at the Central California Women’s Facility since May 2014, and in the Pelican Bay SHU since Aug. 2, 2015, for so-called “security/welfare checks.” This is serious, ongoing sleep deprivation which is torture. These checks may also be harming people in other prisons; PB SHU and CCWF death row is where we have heard the most complaints.
Having been one of the many who have been let out of the control units (SHU), I can say that there is some victory in this development, but there is much work to be done outside the SHU and still a ways to go before victory is complete. This accomplishment of opening the gates of SHU for many simply means we face new forms of oppression; it changes in form but not in essence.
Within the California Department of Corrections (CDCr), the name George Jackson evokes both fear and hate among prison guards. His very name represents resistance – the epitome of our Black manhood – and this explains in part why the CDCr has spent the last 44 years attempting to censor the name George L. Jackson from within its prisons.
In the early days of the 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike, Jorge Gomez refused up to 12 consecutive meals. The California Department of Corrections struck back by issuing him a Rules Violation Report. The same fate befell untold numbers of other prisoners who’d starved themselves to peacefully call attention to their torture. In an opinion filed on March 25, 2016, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gomez was guilty of no rules violation for refusing meals during the strike.
For decades while under solitary confinement, I was one of numerous New Afrikan subjects who was trapped in oblivion, while the world outside of solitary confinement was constantly changing. We survived by feeding off the imagination of a past movement that had died away several decades ago. It wasn’t that we couldn’t let go of the past. We simply refused to surrender to institutionalized racism.
Here is a brief update on the continued disrespect that CDCR is showing to brothers involved in the Aug. 12, 2015, attack on Yogi (Hugo Pinell). The same ICC (Inmate Classification Committee) that ignored the threat on Yogi’s life is now harassing the inmates that came to Yogi’s aid – the ICC that prisoners call “The Committee.” There are six inmates in Z Unit Ad Seg. Five of us have been released back to general population, but ICC refuses to send us back to a mainline.
In Texas we know that we are being exploited, mistreated, degraded and abused. Many prisoners in Texas are content with the modern day slave plantation system, which is managed and operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. However, many prisoners are not content; in fact they are frustrated and angry. The strategies utilized by prisoners in other states that have similar conditions to Texas don’t necessarily apply here.
I often visit the spot where they took you from us. I still can’t accept it. Although we didn’t know each other, I knew your spirit. I cried for you the day your light was dimmed. I never met you, but you were my brother, my father, my dear friend. Yogi, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because the same climate that dimmed your light is still here on this yard. The gatekeepers on this yard are still playing chess with brothers’ lives.