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Have you ever seen the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring actor Jimmy Stewart? He played George Bailey, who urged the members of the “Building and Loan” to “Stick together – don’t panic, ‘cause old man Potter is not selling – he’s buying!” With that same sense of urgency, I make a similar comparison. This isn’t Bedford Falls, nor is this a movie. This is the state of the state of California, as well as the United States of America, and our lives I’m talking about.
A federal jury in San Francisco awarded $25,000 in damages to Jesse Perez, who sued guards for trashing his cell in retaliation for his lawsuit against the prison and for his stand against solitary confinement. Jesse Perez, 35, imprisoned since age 15, was sent to the SHU at Pelican Bay in December 2003 and was held there for 10 years. He took part in all three hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, protesting prolonged isolation and demanding human rights for prisoners.
The current campaign to elect a sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco can and must become San Francisco’s “eyes wide open” opportunity to review what this city and county can and ought to do to identify and promulgate a new path for how it will identify and adopt aspects of the national Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The City and County of San Francisco can initiate and begin the effort to deincarcerate San Francisco’s jails and juvenile justice center.
The Coalition on Homelessness Report, “Punishing the Poorest: How the Criminalization of Homelessness Perpetuates Poverty in San Francisco,” details the effects of criminalization on homeless residents of San Francisco. The COH report documents and analyzes the impacts of the rising tide of anti-homeless laws in our era of mass incarceration on those experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.
Attorneys filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts this week on behalf of prisoners who say they’re being denied new lifesaving treatment for Hepatitis C because of the cost of the drugs. Gilead Sciences manufactures two versions of the cure, Harvoni and Sovaldi. Abbvie Pharmaceutical Limited, formerly Abbot Labs, manufactures another, Viekira Pak. The cost of any one of the three is roughly $90,000.
Six years ago, on Jan. 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III, 22, was shot and later died of bullet wounds received when Johannes Mehserle, then a BART police officer, fired his gun at point blank range into Grant’s back – after Grant and his friends had been taunted with racial epithets and assaulted by Mehserle and other BART officers on the scene, while Mehserle’s partner, Tony Pirone, held Grant down with both hands and a knee on his head and neck.
I encourage all men and women prisoners to continue to press onward with our Agreement to End Hostilities through all corridors of state and county facilities. We are fighting for human justice. We call on all citizens to get involved with social change now. We shall not allow even Gov. Brown to destroy our faith in humanity. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement shall stand as ONE clenched fist in solidarity against CDCr oppression.
For 41 years, Herman Wallace was shown no mercy by a system that has never shown any mercy to anyone it considers its historical or present enemy. Herman Wallace was made to suffer at the hands of local, state and federal governments. No matter how bad his situation got, there was not one human being within this system, or government, who sought to provide Herman Wallace any mercy.
I’ve been asked several times how it was possible that rivals from different racial and/or regional groups were able to see past differences and come together to form the Human Rights Movement. The Human Rights Movement is a concerted effort to end long term solitary confinement and make better the living conditions in all SHU and Ad Seg housing facilities across the state of California and the nation as a whole!
The only defense that can protect the people is to assemble the power of the people. We are our only defense. We have suffered enough injustice at the hands of a very evil system – CDCr and PBSP – and it is time that we prisoners express that pain and suffering by all means at our disposal, because CDCr and PBSP are censoring SF Bay View in order to censor prisoners, because we are exposing cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners. We collectively commend and value the courage and commitment as well as the principled stand that the SF Bay View is taking to speak truth to power.
Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
I’m writing this letter to advise you and your loyal readers of the retaliation that Pelican Bay State Prison gang investigators have taken up against those of us inmates who “associate with SF Bay View” and inform them not to be discouraged or dissuaded in our struggle to have our voices heard.
Imagine you were framed again by prison gang officers using a tattoo you got as a child and a symbol in a birthday card to “validate” you as a “prison gang associate” and label you “worst of the worst” and placed in segregation in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, for years on end. That is what happened to my childhood best friend and husband, Robbie Riva.
Kevin Cooper has been locked down on death row in San Quentin for the past 26 years. He was convicted of the 1983 murder of the Ryen family, although no reliable evidence showed him to be guilty. On the contrary, the case has overwhelming evidence suggesting that he is in fact an innocent man.
Support for the hunger strike grows with solidarity actions across the U.S. and Canada this past weekend. A series of noise demonstrations outside jails, detention centers and prisons occurred internationally in St. Louis, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles, Montreal and Kitchener, Ontario.
Did you know that five judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have now said about me: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.” I hope that you will speak about what it is like to have almost done just that.