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It is well known among staff and prisoners that if we file a grievance without any physical evidence, their failure to admit the allegations results in our claims being dismissed. Simply enough, they lie during any investigation. Outside pressure and exposure is one aspect that can counter this, which is what Rashid has been doing for years. Staff are now realizing this, too, and are retaliating to cause disruption and preserve their practices.
Since some 30,000 California prisoners launched a hunger strike July 8 against the practice of long-term solitary confinement and other abuses, participants have faced punitive retaliation and censorship of newspapers and other media that backed their fight. Abuses continued after prisoners suspended the strike Sept. 5.
Merely days after the suspension of the historic California Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013, which lasted an unprecedented 60 days and saw record prisoner support across the state, the task of tactical and strategic re-assessment is well underway. We are gearing up for the upcoming battles in our overall struggle to abolish the state’s practice of long-term solitary confinement in both the political and legal arenas.
Even before I began my political journey in 2001, I maintained certain principles – a variety of things I just don’t do. And usually, if ever I deviated from those principles, even in error, I’d end up in a tangle of trouble. February 2013 was an ordeal. I broke some of my rules and things got ugly. What happened is yet another experience that those who blindly trust the system – and those who don’t – need to know about.
Solid resistance is not only possible but also very effective, and it can be done in smart, fully advantageous ways. It simply requires prisoners to come together collectively for the common good of all and with the support of the people outside, forming a powerful force to compel changes that are long overdue.
My good friend, Brother James Bess, is a political prisoner. Brother James was the minister of the Seattle Chapter of the Nation of Islam for at least 10 years during the 1980s and early 1990s, and was well known and highly respected in Seattle’s Black community. He is coming up for parole review and is asking for support.
On a windy April 24th, hundreds gathered into Humanist Hall on the periphery of downtown Oakland to celebrate the 55th birthday of Mumia Abu Jamal, a former Black Panther who has been a political prisoner for the last 28 years, as well as celebrate the release of his newest book, "Jailhouse Lawyers," published by City Lights (www.citylights.com).