Nationwide Actions to Honor Two Year Anniversary of Largest Prisoner Hunger Strike in History

Media Advisory – Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Activists plan nationwide actions
to honor two year anniversary
of largest prisoner hunger strike in history

Press Contact:
Mohamed Shehk  408.910.2618 mohamed@criticalresistance.org
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) Coalition

What:     Prison activists plan nationwide mobilizations against solitary confinement

Community organizations, families and loved ones of people in solitary, and prisoner human rights advocates across California and the country will be mobilizing a day of Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement on July 23, as part of an ongoing series of monthly actions to oppose solitary confinement. July 2015 marks the two year anniversary of the largest prisoner hunger strike in history, when over 30,000 prisoners in California began refusing meals on July 8, 2013 for two months in a protest initiated by people in Pelican Bay State Prison’s solitary confinement units.

Who:   Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, as well as over 75 groups nationwide

These actions were initiated by PHSS organizations including California Families Against Solitary Confinement, California Prison Focus, Critical Resistance, Sin Barras, American Friends Service Committee, People’s Action for Rights and Community, and others, but have now grown to include over 75 groups nationwide. For a full list, visit http://tinyurl.com/STATESCsupport

When:    Thursday, July 23, 2015

Times will vary for each action – see http://tinyurl.com/ActionsAgainstSolitary for information

Where:   Over 13 cities in California and across the country, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, as well as in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and more. See http://tinyurl.com/ActionsAgainstSolitary for information on all planned actions.

Why:    Despite international condemnation of solitary confinement as torture, California continues to use the practice and deny basic human rights

These mobilizations are a response to a proposal from prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison involved in the 2011 and 2013 Hunger Strikes, who put forward the idea of designating a day each month as Prisoner’s Rights Day. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) refuses to respect basic human rights by continuing to keep people isolated in cells, often for many years, despite international condemnation calling on California to end its practice of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the U.N., yet the U.S. puts more people in solitary and for longer periods than any other country, and California continues to be an outlier in the U.S. Activists are demanding an end to solitary confinement, and that the five human rights demands of prisoners who participated in the hunger strikes be met: http://tinyurl.com/FiveDemands

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Statewide Actions Against Solitary Confinement Grow as They Enter Third Month

Media Advisory – May 20, 2015

Statewide Actions against Solitary Confinement Grow as they Enter Third Month

Contact: Mohamed Shehk 408.910.2618, mohamed@criticalresistance.org  Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

When:  Saturday, May 23, 2015 – and the 23rd of each month thereafter.

Time: All day, depending on location (see below for specifics)

What:   Community organizations, families and loved ones of people in solitary, and advocates across California will be mobilizing a day of Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement each month. These mobilizations are a response to a proposal from prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison involved in the 2011 and 2013 Hunger Strikes, who put forward the idea of designating a day each month as Prisoner Rights Day.

“Our outside supporters have all of our gratitude; their tireless efforts supportive of our cause make a giant positive difference,” says Todd Ashker, a prisoner who has been in solitary at Pelican Bay State Prison for over two decades, and a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against California for the use of solitary confinement. “They have recently begun monthly supportive actions—across the state—publicly rallying on the 23rd of each month for the purpose of keeping the subject of our endless torture in public view, and thereby exposed to the world. The 23rd of each month is symbolic of our 23+ hours per day in these tombs-of-the-living-dead—and it is hoped such rallies will spread across the nation.”

Where: Various locations across California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Oakland, Arcata, San Francisco and others. For a complete list with information, please see prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/may-23rd-statewide-coordinated-actions-to-end-solitary-confinement-locations-details/#more-6225

Who:    The actions are being organized by groups with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS), and are endorsed by over 30 community groups and organizations from California, and around the nation and world.

Why:    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) refuses to respect basic human rights by continuing to keep people isolated in cells, often for years upon years, despite international condemnation calling on California to end its practice of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the U.N., yet the U.S. puts more people in solitary and for longer periods than any other country, and California continues to be an outlier in the U.S. California continues to use the practice in violation of international law and, as many believe, in violation of the U.S.’s policy against cruel and unusual punishment.

These coordinated actions seek to build organized, community-based pressure outside prison walls, and to amplify the demands of prisoners who continue to call for the end of torture.

Spokespeople will be available to speak with media at all locations. For more information, please visit prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

Mohamed Shehk
Media and Communications Director
Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St, Suite 504
Oakland, CA 94612
510.444.0484

Still Hungry for Human Rights

As we wrap up 2013, we reflect on the amazing work that has taken place this year in the movement to end torture and abuse in California prisons. Since 2011, our coalition has been at the forefront of the solidarity movement to support the courageous hunger strikers. These prisoners endured a series of hunger strikes in protest of the intolerable practice of long term solitary confinement in California.

Looking Back: Highlights from 2013

Over 30,000 prisoners refused food this year in the largest prisoner protest in history. Their protest resulted in unprecedented media coverage, a visit to California by Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, a promise by legislators to take action on the issues addressed in the 5 Demands, and the strengthening of their own resolve and solidarity. But the struggle is far from over.

This year, our coalition launched the Stop the Torture Campaign, a Human Rights Pen Pal Program and an Emergency Response Network. We mobilized thousands of people nationwide to support the 5 demands when the prisoners began their third hunger strike. We participated in outreach and public education by participating in events like the screening of Herman’s House at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and the UC Student Association Lobbying Conference. We held an art show in San Francisco featuring work from dozens of artists in the SHU.

 The hunger strike was suspended by strikers in September after 60 long days when legislators vowed to hold hearings and address long term solitary confinement. The first legislative hearing was on October 9th. Our coalition affiliates organized rides, speakers and hundreds of people to rally at the state capitol and pack the hearing room.

Marie Levin emceeing the rally before the the Joint Legislative Hearing on the SHU. October 9, 2013. Sacramento, California

Marie Levin emceeing the rally before the the Joint Legislative Hearing on the SHU. October 9, 2013. Sacramento, California

Looking Forward: Your Support Matters!

The next hearing is scheduled for February 11th in Sacramento. We need your support to seize this opportunity to make an impression on the legislators and the world, show the urgency of the situation, and make an impact for our people in the SHU.

In addition, our coalition will continue to engage in our day to day work including prison visits, public education, pen pal program, monthly newsletters and advocacy letters.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 to support this work

$200.00 covers the cost for legal visits with 15-20 people

$100.00 covers the cost of printing our monthly newsletter for prisoners

$75.00 covers the cost of mailing our monthly newsletter to prisoners

Any amount you can give is a tremendous help. Thanks for your generosity.

Click HERE to donate online. Please indicate that the donation is for PHSS under “Special Instructions”

Tax deductible contributions can be mailed to:

Checks to: California Prison Focus for PHSS

1904 Franklin St. Suite 507, Oakland, Ca. 94612