We Keep Fighting: Until the Demands are Won!

The CDCR has prematurely announced that the hunger strike is over and that the prisoners now have “a better understanding” of last week’s “offer” to the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay. However, the prisoner-approved mediation team (which the hunger strike leaders have insisted participate in any negotiations) was not involved in this so-called resolution around the strike, and the CDCR has not fully announced what was agreed upon. Clearly the CDCR is more interested in improving their Public Relations image than addressing real issues of torture.

Support for the hunger strike is at a crucial tipping point. One thing is absolutely clear: the five core demands have not been met. Long-term solitary confinement is still being used as torture. Supporters everywhere must amplify the prisoners voices even more fiercely than before. The goal of supporting the hunger strike was not to make sure prisoners continue to starve, rather to support the prisoners in winning their demands to change conditions of imprisonment. This struggle is not over.

We urge everyone to continue to attend and organize events, continue to put pressure on media to cover this struggle, and continue to urge legislators to get involved in winning the hunger strikers 5 demands.

We will not accept the CDCR’s word until we have direct confirmation from the hunger strike leaders, and will continue to support the prisoners in winning their demands, until they are won.

Click here to read today’s press release: CDCR’s Claims that Strike is Over Unsubstantiated

We will post another update as soon as we have it. Please stay tuned.

If you’re in the Bay Area, come and join us for a vigil in support of the hunger strike tonight, from 5-7 in Downtown Oakland outside the Alameda County Courthouse (1225 Fallon St). If you’re in Southern CA (especially Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Chino, and San Diego) a number of events are happening these next few days. Check here for more details and for upcoming events to support the hunger strike in other cities.

5 thoughts on “We Keep Fighting: Until the Demands are Won!

  1. Thank you all so much — but particularly you, blogger! — for keeping us updated and for all the hard and important work you’ve done to support the hunger strikers. Something incredibly powerful and hopeful has been built, and you were there every step of the way. Nicely done!

  2. COMMENTS FROM A FORMER SHU PRISONER

    Knowledge of the intent of Pelican Bay SHU prisoner’s impending hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions within their isolated environment and the prison administrations policies of indeterminate SHU confinement based on alleged prison gang affiliation, after they had exhausted all legal and administrative efforts, first came to my attention in early June 2011.

    My initial reaction when I understood that these men were coming together across all racial lines, was that the show of collective unity was in many ways historical, and that from my own personal experience, I felt that the prison administrators would do everything within their powers to discredit the legitimacy of their complaints, target those who participated with a litany of additional abuses, ferment racial hostilities and use division and manipulation tactics to disrupt the hunger strike.

    In 1979, while housed in Soledad’s O-wing (SHU), I participated in a similar hunger strike in protest of the condition of the food we were served which was always cold and often contained bugs or evidence that the food had been tampered with. Several requests, petitions and administrative complaint processes to have the food served on a hot cart and put on the tray in the presence of each prisoner was denied or ignored. In protest, many of the SHU prisoners of all racial backgrounds decided to throw their tray of food on the tier rather than eat it in that condition.

    The prison administrators responded by having their paramilitary goon squad forcefully remove every prisoner participating in the hunger strike from their cell and either put them in what is referred to as the strip cells, placed them in another part of the SHU or transferred them to another institution. Groups of five to six goons armed with a six foot plexi-glass shield, batons and mace stormed each of our cells, beat and sprayed us with mace and dragged us off.

    Some prisoners broke rank and voluntarily came out of their cells, which allowed the prison administrators to exploit our unity and manipulate prisoners against each other along racial lines. However, in the end our objective to change the disgusting and inhumane practice of how we were being fed was changed.

    Reading the recent reports that most prisoners participating in the hunger strike have decided to end it and accept some frivolous concessions is very questionable in my eyes and also brings some very disturbing thoughts to mind based on my own experience.

    Communication with prisoners and outside support has been cut off, the prison administrators in their public statements continue to refer to these prisoners as members of prison gangs (a trigger term to discredit them) and stated that the hunger strike is an ineffective way to negotiate.

    What that translates to me is that some prisoners will be individually targeted as trouble makers and subjected to additional abuse and possibly administrative transfers to isolate them from outside support.

    Characterizing the hunger strike leaders as prison gang members serves to dehumanize and demonize them in the general public’s eyes and discredit the legitimacy of their concerns. If the general public and those fighting on behalf of these prisoners fall prey to the misinformation and propaganda coming from these prison administrators, we do these men and our communities that a miniscule number of them will eventually return to a great disservice.

    Many of the men in the Pelican Bay SHU I know personally and can speak to their compassion, political commitment and desire to be part of productive changes within our society and the communities from which they come. I can speak to their concern and need to protect each other and oftentimes younger prisoners who come into the violent and chaotic environment of prison life bewildered and unsure of how to navigate themselves through the morass.

    The men I know currently in the SHU at Pelican Bay are astute, disciplined, and principled. Their resistance to the repressive conditions and abuse at the hands of the prison administrators and guards are the real reason that most of them have been subjected to decades of indeterminate SHU terms.

    I’ve been assaulted several times by guards during my four year SHU term and harassed, hounded and arrested after my release from prison by SSU (Special Security Unit), a prison affiliate gestapo style unit, for no justifiable reasons. I know through first hand experience the lies, misinformation, manipulation and propaganda they will have their innocuous looking spokesperson convey to the public to discredit these men.

    No one who is invested in this fight to eradicate the barbaric and abusive conditions that these men have been subjected to for several decades want to hear about any of them dying for their noble stance, but neither do we want them to continue dying a slow tortuous death without relief.

    Remain Vigilant and Involved

    Jitu Sadiki

  3. Pingback: The California Prison Hunger Strike Opposing Solitary Confinement as Torture — and the Insulting Response of Prison Officials | Andy Worthington

  4. Pingback: California Prison Hunger Strike Opposing Solitary Confinement As Torture And Insulting Response Of Prison Officials - OpEd

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