In October 2017, the two-year period expired for the court to monitor the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker – have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in administrative segregation units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating “inmate informants.”
For years now, I have endured threats, both overt and covert, from the mouths and hands of CDCr’s (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s) OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), ISU (Investigations Services Unit) and IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), all of them paramilitary services that boast they are a gang and call themselves the Green Wall. (See my article “Sitawa: Exiting solitary confinement – and the games CDCr plays.”)
The Central California Intelligence Center received a Suspicious Activity Report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2010. A guard reported that he conducted a search of two inmates’ cells. “Both inmates are Muslims who appear to have radical Islamic views. Both inmates have since been placed in our Administrative Segregation” (the hole). Anti-Muslim sentiments do not only exist in the outside world, they exist in prison, too.
We are within our fifth year of the August 2012 historical document, the “Agreement to End Hostilities.” Its release was followed by the Prisoner Human Rights Movement’s third and largest hunger strike in the state of California and larger than any prison hunger strike in history in either the federal or state prison systems in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. At its peak, 30,000 prisoners here in California participated – prisoners in solitary confinement and the general population.
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.
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.
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.
My name is Devon Bush, a Black Afrikan inmate in struggle here in CSP Sac. Look, I was involved in the riot that took place Aug. 12, 2015, in the B-Yard. Also, I was one of the last ones to see our beloved Brotha Hugo L.A. “Yogi Bear” Pinell R.I.P. alive. His last words to me was, “Do come back.” The short three and a half weeks I spent with him on the yard is filled with enough love and realism to last me a lifetime.
We don’t have time for strife within the tribes. Differences have to be settled if we are going to accomplish our positive objectives of being released from these concrete tombs, as well as obtaining back everything we’ve lost in the past that our oppressors have taken. We’ve issued the statement to end all hostilities amongst all racial groups and hope that quarrels can be settled diplomatically instead of violently.
In what amounts to an improbable plaintiff victory, a federal jury unanimously found several Pelican Bay State Prison guards liable for retaliating against a prisoner in solitary confinement for successfully exercising his first amendment right to file a prior lawsuit against other guards. In the case, I was the prisoner plaintiff alleging that the guard defendants conspired to retaliate and did retaliate against me.
Here’s where we are: Everyone who claims to be committed to the Agreement to End Hostilities needs to take care not to allow our beloved revolutionary giant Hugo “Yogi” Pinell’s death to be just another tragic and senseless bullshit reactionary violent statistic. Stand firm collectively and denounce those actions that caused Yogi’s death! This is a wake-up call to action!
The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the word “hostility” as 1) a hostile state, condition or attitude; enmity; antagonism; unfriendliness; 2) a hostile act; 3) Opposition or resistance to an idea, plan project, etc.; 4) acts of warfare; 5) war. So our initial question to the people is: “What does hostility mean to you?”
We prisoners need to prepare for a massive peaceful protest and work stoppage if prison officials don’t change 1) The culture to which prisoners and their families are subjected: so much mental and physical torment; 2) End long term solitary confinement, as they promised; and 3) Implement our five core demands. Too many humans are suffering who don’t need to be suffering.
Greetings of solidarity and respect to all similarly situated members of the prison class unified in our struggle to end long term solitary confinement and win related long overdue reforms to the broken California prison torture system! As one of the four principle prisoner class representatives, I am presenting this further update on where things stand with our human rights movement from my perspective.
The Free Speech Society is a movement that is dedicated towards protecting and defending the First Amendment rights of imprisoned activists. As imprisoned activists, we are embedded reporters for the people. We are the eyes and ears for the people – for the taxpayers – articulating the human atrocities that plague the prison industrial slave complex with impunity in your name.
There is a trick that the California prison administration pulls on African Americans in prison. It is to charge them with gang activity if they refer to “George Jackson” or any of his writings or ideas or to the “Republic of New Afrika” or the politics of New Afrikans. Thousands of people, mostly Black and Brown, have been held in solitary confinement for years and even decades, because “gang activity” constitutes a “security threat to the prison,” according to the Administration.
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.
In order to successfully advance in each step of CDCR’s newly enacted Step Down Program (SDP), prisoners are expected to fill out and complete a series of thought policing or brainwashing workbooks. One such workbook is entitled “The Con Game” and purports to elucidate for the prisoner via “self-directed journaling” the ways in which he either consciously or unconsciously is a con artist and criminal.
The Ad Seg unit at DVI has to be one of the worst in CDCr. It’s filthy and fundamentally used as a warehouse for prisoners. The Step Down Program (SDP) committee is a complete sham at DVI and has been conducting unauthorized SDP committee hearings on prisoners from March 2013 to the present – 17 months of illegally validating men to indeterminate SHU sentences.
This morning, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at 8 a.m., I woke up to sounds of hard banging at my door. I thought it was the person to fix my broken heater, but once I looked outside my peephole I saw what I thought were two sheriff’s officers. My heart pounded thinking something terrible had happened to my child if two officers are standing outside my door with full blown police gear on.