Tags Hunger strikes
Tag: Hunger strikes
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25 in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
Since our historical release from solitary confinement, many of us have been bombarded by the same question: How did you (we) survive decades of being in solitary confinement? This is not a question of simplicity, it is only a qualitative and quantitative prelude into an analysis rooted in a historical material construct which would require a compartmentalization of the particulars which are conducive towards providing an accurate response to the above question with both clarity and purpose.
Greetings and solidarity to each other and all who participated in our initial hunger strike to end the arbitrary use of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment in Santa Clara County jails. We would like to extend our respect and appreciation to all who participated and sacrificed to provoke change. Although we came from diverse backgrounds – be it race, religion, color or creed – we set our differences aside and interlocked arms, forming a formidable force through civil disobedience in solidarity.
The people who organized the country’s biggest prison strike against what they call modern-day slavery have planned their next target: corporate food service giant Aramark. The $8.65 billion company is one of the country’s largest employers and serves food to more than 100 million people a year. It also provides meals for more than 500 correctional facilities across the country and has been the subject of complaints about maggots and rocks, sexual harassment, drug trafficking and other employee misconduct.
Sept. 9, 2016, was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. Another 4,000 earn $2 a day fighting Californian wildfires with inadequate training and equipment. The prison system in California reaped $207 million in revenue and $58 million in profit from forced labor in 2014-15.
Nearly a thousand subscribers to the Bay View newspaper were denied their September papers – and we suspect their October papers as well – because of its coverage of the nationwide strikes to end prison slavery that began Sept. 9. Prison officials censoring the paper claim it will incite disruption. Like claims that someone being beaten by a gang of cops is “resisting,” the Bay View is “disrupting” prison operations.
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.”
Anyone relying on mainstream media wouldn’t know it, but the U.S. prison system is shaking up right now. No one knows how big the initial strike was yet, but the information is slowly leaking out between the cracks in the prisons’ machinery of obscurity and isolation. Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the Sept. 9 nationwide prisoner work stoppage and protest.
On Friday, Sept. 9, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising in New York, prisoners are calling for a general strike across all prisons in the United States against prison slavery. As the initial call out for the strike stated: “Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. ... This is a call for a nationwide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on Sept. 9, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.”
In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016. On Sept. 9 of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.
During the month of April, at least 100 of those incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, about an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois, participated in a boycott of the overpriced phone calls, commissary goods and vending machines. “Mass incarceration is a luxury business,” stated Patrick Pursley, one of the men who joined in the boycott. The boycott comes at a time of growing demonstrations led by those inside U.S. prisons.
For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.
On Feb. 17, 2016, Ohio state prisoner Cornelius Harris, held in the high security U.S. Penitentiary at Florence, Colo., after being transferred against his will from the state to federal prison system, began refusing meals, vowing not to eat until he is transferred back to Ohio. Recently, he has refused not only food but fluids. Cornelius is sacrificing his health and possibly his life because hunger striking is the only peaceful way he can try to be heard.
We have a serious responsibility to these young people behind these prison walls and in society. The Agreement to End Hostilities is truly our life line. It has nothing to do with your courage or strength; it’s about changing a violent prison culture into a civilized environment that eventually entails – or demands – that each of us be released from these animal cages and be allowed back to our communities.
Can you please give me a little space in Bayview, so that I can say gracias – thank you. I’m one of the named plaintiffs in our class action lawsuit, Ashker v. Brown, at Pelican Bay SHU. By now you have all heard that it was settled Sept. 1, 2015. I’m happy for all of us in the SHU. For now we must enjoy this ONE victory of many more to come. It’s just the beginning.
We were saddened by the news that Yogi was murdered during an alleged “prison riot” at a Sacramento maximum security prison, after Yogi’s release from decades in solitary confinement in the California prison system. Our prison movement grieves at the loss of one of its most respected and beloved foot soldiers within the belly of this fascist beast in our mutual struggles against the common enemy of the human species.
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll. By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was assassinated Aug. 12. Prison guards celebrated on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
I’ve learned to use the term “visual language,” meaning I try my best to let my art creations speak to the people in a way they’ll feel and deeply understand intuitively just by viewing it. I really hope you like this composition. This art is simply titled “Help Me,” being a composition. You can see everything in it is arranged in relation to each other, especially the pain we endure as people of color.
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.