July 20 - Reaching at least 6,600 prisoners across 13 prisons, this massive and inspiring act of solidarity and people power across prison-manufactured & exacerbated racial and geographic lines has dumb-founded the CDCR.
While the daily numbers of hunger strikers fluctuates, the CDCR is certainly under-estimating how many people inside prison are participating in and supporting this strike.
In the first days of the strike, the CDCR said “less than two dozen prisoners” were hunger striking, but then were forced to admit at least 6,600 prisoners were participating in the strike. Now the CDCR has publicly announced that four prisons continue to strike. Advocates are currently aware of hunger strikers at Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Tehachapi, Folsom and Calipatria. Supporters also know that prisoners at Valley State Prison for Women, Centinela, San Quentin, and RJ Donovan have also been participating in the strike, and may still be refusing food. It is safe to assume the CDCR is still dramatically under-counting participation.
A close friend of a Calipatria hunger-striker told Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity: “Based on communicating with my best friend who is a hunger striker, I’m 100% sure at least 300 prisoners are still supporting each other and going strong, refusing food and demanding the CDCR change conditions of solitary confinement and policies around gang validation.” She continues to explain: “Calipatria is very south in CA, near the US Mexico-border, and like all prisons, has a long-history of corruption, guard-instigated violence, and a severe lack of constructive programming for prisoners. It is incredibly hot down there. It is 110 degrees outside prison. Imagine how much hotter it is in a concrete cell, and imagine not eating anything for weeks in that heat.”
In order to break the strike and dwindle support for it, the CDCR has:
enticed prisoners into not fasting before the strike began by releasing a “4th of July Menu,” including food that prisoners have never seen before in prison
continuously down-played participation and support in regards to numbers
has been withholding information in regards to prisoners’ medical status and other details on the strike from press, media, advocates, family members and prisoners
guards marched down prison halls announcing the strike was over and the demands were met
not followed medical protocol, including distributing prescribed medication
told the Federal Receiver’s office all prisoners were refusing medical care, therefore the Federal Receiver’s office does not need to follow protocol and weigh prisoners or do medical examinations until later
denounced family members, friends, prisoners, and lawyers speaking out about the urgent medical crisis as prisoners experience symptoms of severe dehydration due to no food for weeks and torturous conditions
said the strike is led by vicious gang members to justify torture and discourage wide-range support
hanging up and/or disconnecting when supporters call-in urging the CDCR to negotiate
claiming they cannot implement the changes asked for in the demands, when they are basic standards even in other Supermax prisons Pelican Bay was modeled after
thrown hunger striking prisoners not yet in the SHU and Ad-Seg units into solitary confinement as punishment for supporting the strike
transferred hunger strikers to other prisons–we’ve heard from the Receiver’s Office of hunger strikers being transferred from Pelican Bay to Corcoran, and Corcoran to Pelican Bay
continuing to deny mail, the primary source of much needed human contact
and many more tactics we have yet to hear due to extreme isolation and surveillance
Despite these attempts, the hunger strike led by prisoners to change prison conditions and outside support for this courageous action has only grown.Thousands of people worldwide are supporting the strike by calling the CDCR and legislators to negotiate with the prisoners immediately, in good faith, before people die and medical conditions get even worse.
Supporters have also been holding demonstrations and rallies, often outside of prisons and jails, to draw attention to the prevalence of policing and imprisonment in their communities, particularly working-class and communities of color, as well as the prioritization of policing and imprisonment at the expense of the much-needed social services and resources for the same communities people are taken away from when locked up in prison.
Whitney Walton, a member of the Stop The Injunctions Coalition in Oakland, which is fighting the legalization of racial profiling through “gang injunctions” says: “I’m supporting the hunger strike because policing and labeling individuals as ‘gang’ members, or neighborhoods as ‘gang zones’ is directly connected to ‘gang validation’ that occurs in prisons. Both are tactics used to criminalize, dehumanize, and isolate members of our communities.”
This hunger strike certainly is “rolling” and strike participation in the way of refusing food will continue to fluctuate in regards to numbers. Without a doubt, this struggle will continue until the prisoner’s demands are met, and prisoners are recognized as human beings.
Confronting Torture in US Prisons, an interview with activists/journalists and co-founders of the new Solitary Watch website, James Ridgeway and Jean Casella. Here they talk about some of the history and purpose of solitary confinement & Pelican Bay, as well as some media strategies for organizing against torture and imprisonment.
Exporting Prisons and Torture Tactics Internationally
Read A Visit Inside Colombia’s Most Notorious Prison, La Tramacúa by James Jordan from Alliance for Global Justice for a break down of why 54 prisoners have also begun a strike this June at La Tramacúa penitentiary in Valledupar, Colombia. Eight prisoners have sewn their own mouths shut-extreme measures due to extremely bad conditions. La Tramacúa was built with US funds and is part of an effort to transform the prisons on a US model.
July 23, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Day 23 Hunger Strike Support Rally: @ CIM 14901 Central Ave Chino CA 91710 (we will probably arrive by 8:00 a.m.)
July 21, 12:30PM: Youth and Community Stand by Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers & Call for Humane Treatment for Everyone Inside and Coming Home From Prison @ Chuco's Justice Center, 1137 East Redondo Blvd., Inglewood, 90302 on the border of South Central LA, one block west of Florence and Crenshaw
July 22, 9:00AM-5:00PM - All Day Action - Downtown Los Angeles, Ronald Reagan State Building,300 South Spring St (between 3rd and 4th st),Los Angeles, CA 90013(@ 5pm march to LA County Jail)
July 22, 2011 from 7:00 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. @ Los Angeles Co Jail 441 Bauchet St LA 90012( be prepared to walk thru the streets of Los Angeles @ 8:30 p.m. to pass out info flyers and get petitions signed)
Thurs, July 21st, 3:45pm: March & Demo at CDCR Headquarters (1515 S. St.). Meet at Freemont Park (15th & Q). Please bring signs urging the Department of Corrections to stop torture. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
July 21, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in San Diego accross the street from Court House on Front St and Broadway.
EVERY WEEKDAY from noon til 1pm. California State Building, Van Ness and McAllister, San Francisco. Call d’andre/Revolution Newspaper for more info 510-926-5207
Thursday July 21st: Weekly vigil from 5-7pm in front of the Alameda County Courthouse – 1225 Fallon St., near Lake Merritt bart station and downtown Oakland.
Thurs, July 21, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.: Informational Event @ University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) @ Multicultural Center
Friday July 22: Support Rally and March at the State of Illinois Building, located at 100 West Randolph Street in downtown Chicago at 4:30 pm.
Sat. July 23: From Supermax to Supermax – Rally 2:00-4:00 pm at Ohio’s supermax, Ohio State Penitentiary, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd., Youngstown, OH 44505. Followed by a reception, discussion and DVD on physical & psychological torture USP at Marion. Come to St. Augustine’s Church, 614 Parmalee Ave., Youngstown, OH 44510.
July 22 and subsequent Fridays 12 – 1.30 pm: Picket at the American Consulate. 1155, rue Saint-Alexandre, corner Rene Levesque, metro Place des Arts. For more info, contact:email@example.com
Since July 1, thousands of prisoners across California have participated in a hunger strike against torturous conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit. Roughly one hundred prisoners have stated that they will refuse food until death if their demands for basic human rights are not met.
Hungerstrike News documents their struggle and the actions of those who stand in solidarity with them.