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Toxic environments, as evidenced by human exposure to dirty water or polluted air, are deadly for everyone. The police, or band of brothers, who fill quotas and shoot first are also toxic. To connect the dots completely, we must understand how police brutality and toxic environments are inextricable forms of violence that impact communities. We must understand how this violence intersects and demand an incompatible alternative to what we now endure.
On Sept. 23, 2015, at least 19 and possibly as many as 22 men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center began a hunger strike that ended on Sept. 28. It was nearly a week after the hunger strike ended before we received any mail from them. The following is a composite account based on what they sent us, written on the first and last days of the hunger strike.
Some of you will remember the hunger strike in January-February 2014 by prisoners in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois. During and after the hunger strike, several of the strikers were sent to prisons as far away as California, Virginia, West Virginia and New Mexico. Others remain in Administrative Detention at Menard.
Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On April 15, all but one of the men agreed to suspend the hunger strike after a meeting with the warden at which the prison agreed to lifting some, but not all, of the new restrictions.
My message is not just to the men and women in these solitary holes. I myself am in one right now. My message is to the whole 2.5 million victims of mass incarceration and prison slavery. Everyone! All of us around the country, let’s just shut down. Wherever you are, just stop working. If you are in solitary confinement, spread the word to those rotating in and out. When they try to lock up those who organize and lead the shutdowns in population, don’t even give up.
Prison is a lonely, dark, cruel reality where you immediately become trapped in a time warp on one of the many modern day plantations that have sprung up like trees across America. In 2008, shortly after Hurricane Gustav ripped through several of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, a brutal sexual assault was being carried out by a sadistic corrections officer. I will conduct a sit-down with the victim of that violent act.
The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a “corporation” whose objective is to profit. In California alone they pay up to $20,000 more per solitary confinement unit than for a general population unit. This keeps officers working, which is why they become willing pawns who have an interest in oppressing prisoners.