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I would like to propose it is time to organize a new international campaign to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate a formal investigation. This investigation would be based on discovering U.S. human rights violations as they pertain to our long-held political prisoners. I am proposing this campaign be organized under the slogan of “In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela,” as it is believed this slogan will resonate with progressives around the world. It will inspire them in international solidarity to join our efforts to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate this call for a needed investigation.
The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.
I was in the San Quentin Adjustment Center (SHU) for four years in the early to mid-1980s. We called it AC. San Quentin was all holes except one block. AC was the deepest hole in San Quentin. It is a short, three-floor, windowed building with two rows of roomy, single-bed cells on each floor, facing the windows. I was there when the first group of Death Row inmates was moved in as overflow. The AC of today is a far cry from that bygone era.
It was with true sadness that, on Aug. 13, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell was killed in a California prison. Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for human rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners.
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.
George Jackson was a legendary prisoner who was attempting to organize the Blacks, Latinos and poor whites under their common linkage as victims of an exploitative class system. At that time, he was incarcerated in the San Quentin Adjustment Center, which housed the prison’s most feared and dangerous inmates. The Adjustment Center also housed the political prisoners.
We want to be counted amongst the thousands (on hunger strike) and also to let the world know that death row has a SHU, though they refuse to call it so. Everyone knows what the Adjustment Center is – a SHU, a prison within a prison – and we’ve been left in here for decades. However, 80 percent of us are still on strike. We lost three, but they were older and they did enough by showing their solidarity.
The Adjustment Center (AC) is the death row Security Housing Unit at San Quentin (SQ) which also serves as Administrative Segregation Unit overflow housing. But for all intents and purposes the AC is a secret torture unit at SQ and the fraternal twin of CDCR’s other torture units now partially exposed by media attention resulting from the 2011 peaceful hunger strikes at Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi.
After years of the abuse of authority by Adjustment Center (A/C) committee members and unit staff, a collective group of Death Row prisoners in the A/C will be joining in the statewide non-violent, peaceful hunger strike in July 2013 to demand that the warden of San Quentin use his power of authority to bring about positive change to prisoners housed in the A/C SHU.
Adisa (Steve Champion) is doing very well. He is in a strong mindset and very dedicated to his goal. Today he weighs around 76 kilos (167 pounds), having gone down already within nine days from around 99 kilos (218 pounds). He wants us to keep putting pressure on the warden and the CDCR.