I snapped to the fact that once we successfully exposed this torture program to the world, making the people aware, at least some of the responsibility shifts to the people to hold the lawmakers responsible. It’s unbelievable to me to see the numbers of people out there who are aware of the continued torture we are subjected to, and yet they’ve failed to take any action to hold those responsible accountable.
Life is like a game of chess and checkers. Many of us play checkers. And many of us think we’re playing chess, but, in practice, we’re actually playing checkers. So it should be of no surprise to any of you when I say, most poor people play checkers, prisoners in particular. Now what does this analogy imply? Most people make decisions in life without thinking ahead or assessing the ramifications of their decisions, especially prisoners!
Despite attempts by the CDCR to insure the public that they are acting with prudence to change people’s gang validations and correct injustices and general inhumane conditions in prison SHUs, testimony from experts and the public continued to unmask the basic torture and impunity of the CDCR’s policies in maintaining prolonged isolation and prisons that fundamentally violate human rights. Hundreds packed two hearing rooms demanding real change.
It is time that I fire a published poetic nuclear warhead at you. This has to be fundamentally sound to rejuvenate the spirit and souls of those who still walk upright and with dignity to be counted as men within the depths of legalized oppression. My message will be two-fold, addressing one of several lawsuits that I am aggressively pursuing and CDCR’s ongoing twisted campaign of validating and isolating prisoners.
I have learned profound lessons from Zaharibu in the short three months I have known him. In hearing more about his story and the horrendous conditions he lives under, I have been driven to learn more about solitary confinement, why it must be abolished and the resistance against it. I have also been moved to become a part of that resistance in any way I can.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
There should be no doubt indefinite solitary confinement is torture. Yet in §700.2, the CDCR has devised an insidious program whereby they can leverage this torture to coerce validated SHU prisoners to submit to brainwashing in lieu of debriefing – the end result being qualitatively no different: “broken men” will be created by a new process.
Imagine you were framed again by prison gang officers using a tattoo you got as a child and a symbol in a birthday card to “validate” you as a “prison gang associate” and label you “worst of the worst” and placed in segregation in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, for years on end. That is what happened to my childhood best friend and husband, Robbie Riva.
About two weeks ago, the IGI (Institutional Gang Investigator) searched my cell in SHU and confiscated my Bay View newspapers, saying they are contraband if any articles speak on George Jackson or Black August. They said that the newspaper with said articles would be used to re-validate me at my six-year review. I should not be penalized for a newspaper article.
I had never believed in hunger strikes, thinking that they’re counter-productive. However, when the gang unit began to work in concert with the chief medical officer, I decided to participate in this and the next hunger strike. Here's why.
SHU prisoners are dissatisfied with CDCR’s response to their formal complaint and five core demands and therefore will continue to resist via peaceful protest indefinitely, until actual changes are implemented. And once again, hopefully for the last time, we will be risking our health and lives via a peaceful hunger strike, starting on Sept. 26, 2011, to force positive changes.
Denise, Marilyn, Anna and I, with Harriett at the wheel, left West Oakland BART in the second carpool wave for Sacramento Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 9:30 a.m. to attend a pre-rally for the historic California Assembly Hearing on Solitary Confinement.
For the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike to be successful, every available resource must be brought into play. Starting IMMEDIATELY, prisoners can start the process of improving their conditions of existence by implementing a peaceful work strike in every prison in the state.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that as of Friday, July 8, at least 6,600 prisoners in at least 13 of the state’s prisons have joined the hunger strike initiated at Pelican Bay on July 1. Push the state to negotiate with prisoners at Pelican Bay and immediately implement their demands.
As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, inmates in solitary confinement at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison are standing up for their rights in the only way they can – by going on a hunger strike.