Letter from Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Representative to Solidarity Coalition (February 2012)

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity recently received the following letter from a hunger strike representative at Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU), dated February 20th, 2011.

Discussions are underway with the intent to set short term and long term goals in the resistance struggle against SHU practices and the prison industrial complex.  People are indoctrinated, brainwashed into believing they are weak or powerless — that prisoners in this state are evil and deserve to be punished and treated as some type of sub-human animal, based on their felon status.  By People, I’m referring to prisoners, their families, friends and supporters, as well as the general public at large! This is the wrong way to see things and it has to change!

   Here in the prison system, it’s become norm for men to brag that they have become “institutionalized,” complacently accepting more and more abuse and deprivations.  They talk about “I can take whatever they do to me and won’t give them the satisfaction of complaining about it.”  This is the example set by many older cons, for the younger cons.

    I don’t agree with this type of mind set!!  We should never accept being abused or mistreated. It’s our duty as human beings to FULLY  RESIST!!  Our Hunger Strike activity over the past year has shown that solid resistance is not only possible, but also very effective, and it can be done in smart, fully advantageous ways.  It simply requires prisoners to come together collectively, for the common good of all and with the support of the people outside, have a powerful force, to force the changes that are long overdue. Changes dictated by morals and common sense principles, which the law makers and courts refuse to make are based upon the politics and greed related to manipulative special interest groups.

   We need to do all we can to open people’s eyes and minds to the following reality:  Most prisoners are not serving valid, legal sentences! Our sentencing laws are not based on valid, sensible public safety interests. Rather, our sentencing laws are based on the politics associated with failed policies [eg. the war on drugs].

   We are not serving valid sentences. Most prisoners serving “term-to-life” sentences are many years beyond minimum terms. We’re in prison based on the money made off of us by special interests! Thus, we need to resist and by our resistance gain additional exposure and outside support!! 

   Our compliance and recognition of the prison’s power over us is our downfall. If we collectively refuse to comply, and refuse to recognize the prisoncrats having any power over us via refusal to work, refusal to follow orders, then these prisons can not operate! Our goal needs to be to force major changes, beneficial to prisoners and our families and loved ones regarding prison conditions and the amount of time people serve! Our supporters outside need to make a hard core, serious stand on the same agenda.

   People need to see that we are not in here legally. We’ve served our time, a great many of us have, and paid our debt and then some! We are no longer accepting the abuse and torture.  We are human beings and demand humane, non-punitive treatment, from this point on, and until there are major changes toward this end, we collectively refuse to comply with orders [and will possibly go back on hunger strike].  Our outside supporters can rally and demand out release!!

   On the radio today we heard that a 27 year old man at Corcoran died Feb. 2, in Ad Seg.   How many more have to die this way??  Here we are in 2012 and prisoners are dying in peaceful protest of prison conditions. What is really going on??!!


For more statements by our loved ones and comrades inside prison, visit our Voices from Inside page.

4 thoughts on “Letter from Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Representative to Solidarity Coalition (February 2012)

  1. Reblogged this on Wobbly Warrior's Blog and commented:
    It saddens and sickens me that successive California legislators and governors so stubborn insist on maintaining a non-existent right to abuse inmates. I can’t imagine why the various medical associations haven’t spoken up.

  2. I’m in full agreement with Susan Chandler’s remarks, as well as the strong statement on prisoners’ rights from the Pelican Bay Striker. It is past time that a concerted effort was made by prisoner advocacy groups to present the facts on SHUs and the destructive effect of long-term sentencing, to the American Medical Association and other professional bodies. Medical practitioners must be pressed to register formal opposition to the constellation of repressive practices employed in US prisons. There is no excuse for silence on their part when the mental and physical health of inmates is so directly at risk.

  3. I’m on the board of an organization here in Buffalo, NY, called PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, founded by a retired schoolteacher named Karima Amin, now a storyteller, drummer, and political activist. Her late father came to every monthly meeting of the organization and always called it PEOPLE ARE PRISONERS TOO, and she never corrected him, because she knew, as he knew, each name was true. Some of us in the organization have been involved in a chain-fast since July 4th in support of the California strikers; we know the significance and power of this tool of protest, and we’re hoping the protest continues and grows, and inspires prisoners across the country (in and out of SHU’s) to rally and join forces. The enemies are indifference and vested interests; the allies are consciousness wed to action. Keep that light going. For justice/peace.

  4. The deepest enemy I know may be the fear ‘we’ have of one another, of others we believe are ‘different’ and ‘dangerous’ enough to warrant being controlled, silenced at all costs. And beneath that fear or terror-become-paranoia, and seeming self-protection-become-aggravated aggression or terrorism against others (e.g. prisoners), is the terrible truth that so many –most?– humans are ignorant of their true, loving, divine nature –which makes them –inhumane. As someone who’s done years of deep personal, and professional Shadow Work (Abyss Work), I know the practice of nonviolent, compassionate and empathic communication and connection to be necessary in the mix –and one of the hardest things to teach. To have compassion, even for the fools among us who are abusing, violating, terrorizing, punishing in the name of righteousness, false justice, self protection…. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do…” Someone Said. Very hard, very necessary Work, even as we protest, and remain pro-actively focused on the Great Goal of justice, freedom of nonviolent expression, sustainable livelihoods, dignity and respect for each of us.

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