Tags Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa
Tag: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa
Liberate the Caged Voices, a program of California Prison Focus, provides a platform to hear directly from our caged community members, their families and loved ones to foster engagement with the local community, while exposing the truth of the toxic conditions experienced by California’s incarcerated people and the impact on their families. Adding art and culture, the idea is to build awareness, solidarity and human relationship amongst community members on both sides of the wall and take collective action.
Do prison authorities see prisoners as worth saving? Some prisoners say: “Prisoners will not be at the top of the list for any kind of medical treatment. They will be forced to die a lonely death inside their cell, by way of suffocation.” Others say: “We are a commodity to these people, an asset that brings money to them. When you live in a capitalist society, the key is to protect your assets.”
Support demands by CPF and the Prisoner Human Rights Movement that Gov. Newsom release all state prisoners who are medically fragile or over 60, starting with the authors of the Agreement to End Hostilities and followed by the remaining members of the Ashker Class Action Settlement.
Collectively, we are an empowered, mighty force that can positively change this entire corrupt system into a system that actually benefits prisoners and thereby the public as a whole.
Sitawa, along with three other strong and principled leaders of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective, inspired 30,000 courageous prisoners, who, in their struggle for freedom from the torture of solitary confinement – or the threat of it – chose to shun violence and rather embrace a peaceful strategy in order to bring about much needed change.
Sorrow is felt among the whole prison population for our brother Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, who, along with countless fearless prisoners, pioneered our Prison Human Rights Movement (PHRM) to the world’s stage leading the largest-in-history California hunger strikes, yet he continues to be held indefinitely. The prison system is covertly executing all of its lifers.
On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3's decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
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.”)
California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
Let’s touch upon the phrase, I AM WE. It is an ancient African saying. To me it means: What affects you affects me. It means: We are together; we are one. I AM WE means that with unity, solidarity and agape love for one another, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal! By applying I AM WE, together we can crush imperialism, eradicate white supremacy, destroy patriarchy, change misogynistic attitudes and save our planet!
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.
It is very important that you all clearly understand the depth of human torture to which I was subjected for 30-plus years by CDCr and CCPOA.* The torture was directed at me and similarly situated women and men prisoners held in California’s solitary confinement locations throughout CDCr, with the approval and sanctioning of California governors, CDCr secretaries and directors, attorneys general, along with the California Legislature for the past 40 years.
Basic logic dictates it is the community who should be vested with the power to parole, pardon or grant clemency to those who, in their determination, would have a positive impact on their communities and society as a whole if released. This is a concept developed by George Jackson University known as strategic release. To this end, we are announcing our campaign to develop – and establish nationally – New Afrikan Community Parole, Pardon and Clemency Review Board.
The Black August Rebellion is a month that the California state prisoners fast. They fast in the month of August to pay homage to the fallen comrades. Do make sure that this year you honor our comrade and hero lost last Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell. However you mark Black August, do it. You won’t be alone. The next chapter of Black August history is yours to write.
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.
This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. The entire story is one of the longest we’ve ever received, over 10,000 words that filled 14 single-spaced pages when transcribed, so we’ll be presenting it in parts. This is the introduction, addressed to Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff.
Major George Tillery is a Pennsylvania lifer, 65, who confronted SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes over Mumia Abu-Jamal’s deteriorating health. Prison authorities retaliated against Major Tillery – repeatedly ransacked his cell and denied him medical treatment for seeking medical assistance for Mumia and other prisoners. Tillery was transferred to SCI Frackville and then falsely charged with drug possession, disciplined and given six months in “the hole.”