Emmett Till, the Scottsboro Boys, the Central Park 5, and the list goes on. The ramifications of being falsely accused of a crime in America can be, and often have been, deadly for Black people.
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.”)
We are within our fifth year of the August 2012 historical document, the “Agreement to End Hostilities.”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.
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.
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.
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.
At first glance the question, What is solitary confinement? appears to be rhetorical, if not insulting, but you would be surprised, if not incredulous, how many prison rights activists are at a loss when I pose it to them. Even more perplexing, many prisoners are only able to provide the standard but antiquated response, which is: a prisoner in a cell behind a solid door, in which he/she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact.
It has been two years since our Agreement to End Hostilities was released in October 2012, and we continue to stand united. While there have been a few conflicts here and there, we need to commit to ceasing all racial hostilities towards one another and remain peacefully united throughout all prison facilities. By re-reading and re-committing ourselves to the Agreement to End Hostilities, we are taking back control of our own lives and our own futures.
We are the prisoner class representatives of what’s become known as the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement. Last month we marked the first anniversary of the end of our historic 60-day Hunger Strike. Oct. 10 we mark the two-year anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities. This is an update on where things stand with our struggle to achieve major reforms beneficial to prisoners, outside loved ones and society in general.
Men at Calipatria on general population yards A, B and C can show the same courage as the hunger strikers, who are honored around the world, by pledging to respect the Agreement to End Hostilities and stop all fighting and riots between racial groups. The Agreement must continue to hold within all California prisons and unity needs to spread across the state. Only then can justice be won.
There can be no doubt that the legislators’ courageous act of publically acknowledging our protest issues in late August 2013 saved many lives, and it gave many people real hope that substantive changes will be forthcoming. And now that there has been additional public exposure – via the two public hearings – demonstrating CDCR’s refusal to institute real, meaningful changes, on its own, people are relying on the legislature to do all in their power to pass legislation reining in CDCR’s gross abuse of power, this year.
Our struggle to abolish SHU torture units is inextricably linked to the broader struggle to seize cultural hegemony in the U.S. from the ruling class and its tool, the state. Our collective efforts have repeatedly exposed the state’s contradictions and sparked the people’s appetite for freedom and new social relationships. These activities undermine the reactionary character structure upon which authoritarian society is based. These actions are thus revolutionary.
The Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement wrote 40 supplemental demands to detail what prisoners are entitled to and need to have re-instated. In responding to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitaion’s response to our 40 supplemental demands, I would like to get into the actual details of what the CDCr is and is not saying in response to prisoners.
For the past two years we’ve heard the state claim it’s reforming its long term segregation policies and practices by implementing a Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program (SDP). Officials claim the program is a significant move towards a more behavior-based system, yet they remain extraordinarily vague about the “ultimate conclusion.” What exactly is “gang activity”?
Fascist repression can only flourish when the voices of its victims have been brutally silenced and isolated within the concrete confines of a man-made construct where the scrutiny of the media cannot transcend the walls. But contrary to the fascist intent, the voices of resistance reverberated within the depths of this concrete hell as New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners since our arrival have refused to remain silent and have waged a continuous campaign to put an end to this racial injustice. And for over 20 years the San Francisco Bay View has played a critical role in allowing our voices to be heard.
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.
It has been more than 13 months since we agreed to suspend our non-violent, peaceful protest hunger strike actions in response to CDCR’s top administrators’ admissions that all of our Five Core Demands were reasonable and would be responded to via substantively meaningful changes to the policies and practices at issue. This has NOT HAPPENED.
Prisoners in Pelican Bay’s SHU have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement, sent to prison advocacy organizations, is signed by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence Oct. 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails. It also calls on prisoners throughout the state to set aside their differences and use diplomatic means to settle their disputes.
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