Liberate the Caged Voices: FREE SITAWA!

Sitawa-Nantambu-Jamaa-0919

This photo was taken of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa during a visit with him by his sister Marie Levin and Nube Brown. Thankfully, they were able to visit shortly before Sitawa’s recent stroke, and the visit included extensive planning for the Free Sitawa! Campaign.

This article was first published Jan 6, 2020 in the SF Bay View newspaper.

Promote the Prisoner Human Rights Movement

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington and Nube Brown of the Liberate the Caged Voices Coalition

Peace and blessings, sisters and brothers!

There is a saying among the Muslim brothers: “Want for your brother what you want for yourself.” In the case of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa,​ principled thinker, leader, brother, son and community member, we want freedom for him.

Last year in July 2019, Malik was granted parole by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In July 2020 we want to see the Parole Board in the state of California grant our Brother Sitawa his freedom when he goes before the board after five previous denials and 39 years of captivity, 32 of those years spent in solitary confinement.

It is not just a plea based solely on Elder Sitawa’s physical health. He is of a particular class of politicized prisoners subjected to decades of the torture of solitary confinement seen only in California, with rare exceptions in other states such as the decades of solitary endured by the Angola 3 in Louisiana.

And yet, Sitawa remains a stellar example of what positive transformations a human being can undergo in the most inhumane environments. Sitawa inspires us!

Many people fail to recognize that Sitawa, along with three other strong and principled leaders of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective, inspired 30,000 courageous prisoners, who, in their struggle for freedom from the torture of solitary confinement – or the threat of it – chose to shun violence and rather embrace a peaceful strategy in order to bring about much needed change in CDCr (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation) by implementing the powerful tenets of the Agreement to End Hostilities, an agreement that holds today, despite non-cooperation by CDCr.

Rather than being systematically punished for his leadership and commitment to the community on both sides of the wall, Sitawa should be rewarded with freedom and the opportunity to thrive and empower the community from which he was taken and show the world he is undaunted in his quest for change and peace.

We cannot and will not remain silent while CDCr uses a “death by incarceration” tactic on Sitawa and numerous other elders and leaders trapped in state prisons all across the United States.

Our respected Elder Mujahid Farid of Release Aging People in Prison taught me the slogan: “If the risk is low, let them go!”

Sisters and brothers, we suggest strongly that this should be our battle cry in 2020 for all incarcerated elders. Sitawa is a human being who deserves and has earned not just a national show of support, but an international freedom campaign, and we plan on helping to lead the way! Will you help us?

We leave you all with a quote from Victor Frankl that we would like all of you to meditate on – with the hope that it resonates in your heart, mind and soul. Perhaps it will motivate you to join this Freedom Campaign today:

“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed … for what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform personal tragedy into a triumph.” – Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Washington Square Press, New York 1969

I, Malik, have faced the reality that being an outspoken New Afrikan man in Amerika means I must accept being despised and hated. How I respond to the hate is totally up to me! Today I choose a path of peace and love.

Activist Nube Brown says that love is the most powerful force in the universe. Let’s see if we can collectively tap into the power of love and encourage the state of California to FREE SITAWA in July 2020.

Meanwhile, as we organize the campaign and Brother Sitawa recovers from a stroke, please send him some love and funds, to Freedom Outreach, c/o Marie Levin for Sitawa, Fruitvale Station, P.O. Box 7359, Oakland CA 94601.

Click HERE to donate online  for Sitawa, and for his family to be able to visit him.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win! All Power to the People!


Keith “Malik” Washington is assistant editor of the Bay View, studying and preparing to serve as editor after his release in 2021. He is also co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. Visit his website at ComradeMalik.com. Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 34481-037, USP Pollock, P.O. Box 2099, Pollock LA 71467.

Nube Brown is a New Abolitionist and activist working with California Prison Focus and facilitator of Liberate the Caged Voices. She is actively co-leading the Free Sitawa! Campaign to promote the Prisoner Human Rights Movement and hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and KPOO.com every Thursday 11am to noon, PST. Nube is a proud member of the human race and seeks to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex and replace it with a transformative, healing justice paradigm. Connect with her at nube@prisons.org.

Support Hunger Strikers in Corcoran State Prison – SOLIDARITY PROTESTS 2/16 & 2/17

Prisoners are hunger striking against indefinite lockdown and group punishment.

Corcoran HS support Feb 2019

 Corcoran State Prison Protest outside
→ in solidarity with people inside who are peacefully protesting against torture ←

Sat & Sun/Feb 16 and 17
11:00am – 2:30pm (both days)

in front of Corcoran State Prison entrance
Corcoran, CA 93212

Families are mobilizing for this weekend’s protests.
Please participate if you can!!

Contact number:  562.537.7068.

On Jan. 9, 2019, an estimated 250 prisoners went on hunger strike within Corcoran State Prison’s 3C facility in response to an indefinite lockdown. They have asked that this info be made public and that their DEMANDS BE HEARD.

corcoran_demands

Corcoran State Prison (3C Yrd)
SIX CORE DEMANDS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  1. Lift Lock-Down.
  2. Allow Visits.
  3. Allow Us To Attend Educational, Vocational & Rehabilitation Programs That We’re Enrolled In.
  4. Allow Us To Receive Commissary & Packages.
  5. That We Be Given Our Weekly 10 Hrs Of Mandated Outdoor Exercise Yard.
  6. That We Are Treated Fairly.

***WE’VE BEEN ON THIS PEACEFUL HUNGER STRIKE SINCE JANUARY 9TH, 2019 AND HAVE YET TO SEE CHANGE… WE WILL CONTINUE THIS HUNGER STRIKE UNTIL OUR VOICES ARE HEARD.

UPDATE: On January 9, 2019, an estimated 250 prisoners initiated a hunger strike within California State Prison – Corcoran’s 3C facility in response to an indefinite lockdown. On Jan 28, after three weeks of refusing food trays, the warden met with representatives, granted full canteen privileges and promised to work out a separate yard schedule. The strikers suspended their hunger strike and were ready to continue negotiations in good faith.

Over the last two weeks there has been NO PROGRESS on receiving full canteen or separate yard time. The warden has reneged on all pledges so the strikers of 3C refused breakfast trays on Monday, Feb 11 and held a day long noise demo banging on doors and windows. The initial demands remain and strikers insist that they be dealt with in good faith.

BACKGROUND: All units within Corcoran’s 3C facility have been on “modified program” for four months now. This essentially means a “lockdown” in all meaningful aspects – no visitation, no canteen, no packages, no educational, rehab or vocational programming, and little yard time.

The pretext for this indefinite lockdown by CDCr of hundreds of prisoners for months on end is an altercation on Sept. 28 which saw three prisoners from their unit attacked and put into the infirmary. Group punishments and indefinite isolation are standard practices by CDCr and must stop.

These practices only escalate trauma and conflict and ultimately only promote violence and destabilization within facilities. The effects are not an accident or “regrettable by-products.” This is how CDCr interprets its mission: control by brutalization and division.

The above info is from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.
See more articles and interviews about the strike below.

PLEASE MAKE PHONE CALLS!

The hunger strike representatives have requested phone calls be made to officials in Sacramento to amplify the demands.

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Dec 14 Rally @ CDCR Headquarters: FAMILIES UNITED TO STOP MERGED YARDS!

Stand in solidarity to halt the unsafe environment CDCR is creating for our incarcerated loved ones (and front-line correctional staff) with Non-Designated Programming Yards!
They have not been given a choice, and have no voice!

IF WE DON’T SPEAK FOR THEM, WHO WILL?

PEACEFUL PROTEST & RALLY
Friday, December 14, 2018
12:00 NOON
CDCR Headquarters, 1515 S St, Sacramento, CA 95827

NO NDPF = NO Non-Designated Programming Facilities
Ca inmates = California inmates

Follow NONDPF Cainmates on Facebook
Email nondpfs@gmail.com and/or Youth Justice Coalition at action@youth4justice.org

FamiliesUnitedToStopMergedYards_Dec14,2018

Sunday, June 4, 2017 RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE at Folsom To Support Hunger Strikers

FSP-Rally-Fullpage

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017  —  12PM – 2PM
SHOW UP FOR FOLSOM PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE
Please join us this Sunday from 12p.m. to 2p.m. to rally outside Folsom Priosn and show that we support prisoners’ efforts to strike for humane treatment.

Join us at: FOLSOM STATE PRISON, Folsom Prison Rd, Folsom CA 95630

Facebook Event: Rally & Press Conference To Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

Please share the Facebook event, continue to contact prison officials, and look out for details like carpools, rally schedule, etc.


On May 25th, prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) began a hunger strike to peacefully protest the inhumane conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies and have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials, and have been met with only resistance, silence, and now retaliation.

We cannot say exactly how many people are refusing meals, but we know that there are roughly 30 people in the unit that announced the strike.

Folsom Hunger Strike began May 25, 2017 – Your support is needed

NUMBERS TO CALL IN SUPPORT ARE BELOW
DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES
HERE
HUNGER STRIKE UPDATES HERE

On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they would begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.

When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.

The hunger strike has begun. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison (FSP) who are on strike:

Folsom ASU Media Release

On May 25, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.

Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.

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April 25 RALLY! Support Detainees on DAY 12 of Hunger Strike in Riverside County, CA

The Hunger Strike going on right now at The Robert Presley Detention Center has now surpassed a week without  jail administration addressing the demands and legitimate core issues of the Hunger Strikers.  Instead, administration is responding by limiting or removing the Hunger Strikers’ commissary/canteen options, access to the phone, and visitation hours. These forms of retaliation are intimidation tactics. It is now more important than ever for us to voice our support for the hunger strike. Our rally will start in front of the jail at 1:00 PM, 4000 Orange St, Riverside, CA 92501. If you are unable to come in person visit https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/ for more ways to show your support.

Hungerstrike Action Poster -- 12TH DAY

RIVERSIDE COUNTY JAIL HUNGER STRIKE
 SOLIDARITY RALLY,  TUESDAY 4/25

1 PM @ ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER, DOWNTOWN RIVERSIDE

TUESDAY WILL BE THE 12TH DAY OF THE ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL DETAINEES’ HUNGER STRIKE

THE SHERIFF AND THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HAVE BEEN UNRECEPTIVE, AND HAVE RETALIATED BY TAKING AWAY PHONES, VISITS, RECREATION AND COMMISSARY, AND HAVE RESORTED TO USING DISCIPLINARY WRITE-UPS

NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE COUNTY TO DEMAND CHANGE AND SUPPORT THOSE INSIDE

HELP THE DETAINEES END THEIR HUNGER STRIKE BY ENDING UNJUST AND UNFAIR POLICIES

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: RIVERSIDEALLOFUSORNONE@GMAIL.COM

OR VISIT: www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com


Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jail Needs Your Support
Read post, make calls and share flier

To Read Statement and Demands, see Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jails begins April 13. 2017: Download pdf  or Read post

RALLY To Support Detainees on Hunger Strike in Riverside County, CA

riversidehungerstrike

THURSDAY APRIL 13, First Day of Hunger Strike!

HUNGER STRIKE RALLY 9:00am
PRESS CONFERENCE 10:00am

Robert Presley Detention Center
4000 Orange Street Riverside, CA 92501

For more information contact: riversideallofusornone@gmail.com

Please contact the Sheriff’s Department in support of the Hunger Strikers and their Demands :

Riverside County Sheriff:
(951) 955-2400 PRESS OPTION 4

Robert Presley Jail:
951. 955.4500 press 1 then 8

To Read Statement and Demands, see Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jails begins April 13. 2017: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/hunger-strike-in-riverside-county-jails-begins-april-13-2017/

Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jails begins April 13, 2017

Announcement from prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center (Jail) Administrative Segregation (Solitary Confinement)  Download pdf here

The following is in regards to a peaceful protest in the form of an organized hunger strike in the Riverside County Jails.  Said hunger strike will begin at breakfast April 13, 2017 and end at breakfast May 1, 2017 a total of 17 days.

First off, allow us to stress the fact that by no means is this to be considered an attempt to promote or benefit any form of gang, nor is this to be considered gang activity. This is a peaceful request/call for action to all, regardless of race, creed, and classification. This pertains to all prisoners held in Riverside County Jails. We all serve to benefit from any success that may transpire as a result of our collective efforts.

With this in mind we are now reaching out to all like-minded prisoners who are willing and interested in banding together in a united stance of solidarity in order to bring about meaningful forms of change. We respectfully ask anybody that is not taking part in the strike to respect our efforts and show other forms of support by not accepting extra county food. We all have a stake and common interest. In preparation we encourage you to inform and involve your friends and family, have them show their support by calling the jail during our hunger strike to voice their concerns, ask that they get our message out to social media and traditional media and by reaching out to prisoners support organizations to help further push and inspire our efforts.

It is truly in our best interest to see this through. If you are unable to hold out for the entire 17 days that’s ok, just do your best. But in order for your sacrifice and supportive efforts to be acknowledged as a hunger strike you must refuse 9 straight meals over a course of 3 days so we ask that, at the very minimum, you hold out for at least 4 full days.

Familiarize yourself with the compiled list of demands and core issues. That way if you are asked why you are not eating, you will be able to explain that a hunger strike is a peaceful protest and the reasoning behind it. The administration cannot call off our hunger strike or punish us for our protest so don’t allow them to use intimidation and harassment tactics to discourage or mislead. Remember, we are doing the right thing. With that said please get the word out.

Respectfully with strength and solidarity,
Riverside County prisoners

–Number to reach Riverside County Sheriff:
(951) 955-2400 PRESS OPTION 4

–Number for Robert Presley Jail:
951. 955.4500 press 1 then 8

–For more information about the hunger strike:
Nancy at 951.456.1431

–Email for Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS):
prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com
Phone number for PHSS: 510.426.5322

–Updates on the hunger strike will be available on instagram:
#Riverside County Prisoners

Our specific goals/purposes are reflected in the following list of demands/core issues.

1. End: Frivolous and irrelevant policies.

    Solution:
A. Cease and desist enforcing frivolous policies limiting phone access due to state change.
B. Issue and or display random dayroom list in ad-seg.
C. Increase ad-seg dayroom time to one hour.
D. Remove no-see tint from cell windows.

2. End: Placement in solitary confinement when there exists no serious rule violations to merit such placement.
a. Prohibit the use of long-term/indefinite solitary confinement.
b. Prohibit the use of solitary confinement based solely on gang allegations, affiliation, validation, etc.

    Solution:
A. Determine classification of housing based on individual behavior.
B. Allow a genuine opportunity to be down classed and integrated to general population through a modified group and dayroom program.
C. Jail officials read Ashker v Gov of California Settlement Terms.

3. End: Denial of adequate clothing to inmates.

    Solution:
A. Establish policy that promotes proper hygiene.
B. Provide two sets of all clothes.

4. End: Jail profiteering and exploitation of prisoners and our families through commissary and trust accounts.

    Solution:
A. Waive the fee associated with putting money on a prisoner’s account.
B. Set commissary prices equal to or cheaper than those set in CDCR e.g. 97 cents for a top ramen soup is outrageous.

5. Provide opportunities for religious services, self help, and educational programs.

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE DEMANDS

1. End: Housing mental health prisoners with regular prisoners.

2. Establish accountability for each grievance to catalog the concern.

PRISONERS UNITED of Silicon Valley Thank Each Other & Supporters for a Largely Successful Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

Read full article in SF Bay View (includes video from a TV interview with hunger striker inside the jail)

January 25, 2017

by Mary Ratcliff

In late September, prisoners in the Santa Clara County jails who are part of what they then called the Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement sent a letter to Sheriff Laurie Smith with a list of demands and a notice that in October the inmates would initiate a hunger strike to continue their “peaceful protest to end this torturous practice of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment until there is tangible and meaningful change for all prisoners – most whom are un-convicted pretrial detainees,” they stated.

santa-clara-county-main-jail-yard-by-robert-galbraith-reuters-webIn prisons and jails, prisoners classed in general population are the freest, allowed to exercise on the yard together, as these men are at the Santa Clara County Jail. Solitary confinement is the least free classification and has been identified as torture by the United Nations. The issue was central to this hunger strike. “They isolate me by removing any form of social oxygen,” one prisoner told San Jose Inside. “I come out by myself, I do not interact with nobody else, no card playing, no nothing. When we go out in the yard, we come out one person at a time. We’re in our cells by ourselves. But they’re saying this isn’t solitary.” – Photo: Robert Galbraith, Reuters

The letter begins by recalling the Ashker settlement, the 2015 resolution of a lawsuit against solitary confinement in the state prison system that was initially filed by prisoners and fueled by a series of hunger strikes, the largest in history. Though it didn’t end solitary confinement, it severely limited it and released thousands of prisoners who had suffered the torture of solitary confinement for a decade or more into the relative freedom of general population.

Building on that precedent, the Santa Clara prisoners write: “Currently there are over a hundred prisoners held in solitary confinement throughout Santa Clara County jails.” Then they list their core demands:

  • End meaningless classification review and the biased appeal process;
  • End placement in solitary confinement when there exists no serious rule violation to merit such placement;
  • End the policy and practice of denying prisoners sufficient clothing;
  • End jail profiteering and exploitation of prisoners and their families through contract bidding of commissary vendors based on kickbacks and political incentives for campaign contributions;
  • End recidivism and misappropriation of prisoners’ welfare funds.

In calling the strike, which was inspired by the nationwide prison strikes that began Sept 9, 2016, they wrote to their comrades: “Said hunger strike will begin at 12 midnight on Oct. 17, 2016, and will go on for two weeks, or 14 days. It will end on Oct. 30, 2016, at 12 midnight. This strike is not mandatory, but instead it is highly encouraged to all who are concerned, willing and able.

“We especially reach out to those who are healthy and influential. We lean upon you and ask that you utilize your influence to help further push and inspire this movement through your words and actions by leading through example.

“For those who might not be able to hold up for the full 14 days, it’s OK; just do your best. But this county does not acknowledge a hunger strike until you refuse nine straight meals through the course of three days, so we ask that at a minimum you hold out for four days so that your sacrifice and efforts are acknowledged.”


Santa Clara County Main Jail is the main lockup in Silicon Valley, which is booming economically. So why would a large jail be needed where jobs are plentiful? Silicon Valley is notoriously reluctant to hire people of color regardless of their skills, so, as in nearly all the rest of the country, the wealth gap between rich and poor is huge.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike. And after only four days, jail officials held a meeting with about a hundred prisoners that resulted in suspension of the strike, which continues.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike.

“In an unusual turn,” the San Jose Mercury News reported, “the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the union for the rank-and-file enforcement officers of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, publicly sided with the inmates and released a statement lambasting Sheriff Laurie Smith for not being responsive enough to the protest of conditions ranging from how solitary confinement is doled out to inadequate clothing.”

Now, under their new name, Prisoners United of Silicon Valley, the strikers have issued their own newsletter and topped it with this statement:

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