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:

Continue reading

PRISONERS UNITED OF SILICON VALLEY Newsletter #1

Link to full newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/gwhq2hp

PRISONERS
UNITED

OF SILICON VALLEY

December 22, 2016 – Newsletter 1

LETTER OF APPRECIATION

Greetings and solidarity to each other and all who participated in our initial Hunger Strike to end the arbitrary use of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment in Santa Clara County Jails.

Before we set off into the body of this letter we would like to extend our respect and appreciation to all who participated and sacrificed to provoke change. Although we came from diverse backgrounds be it race, religion, color or creed we set out differences aside, inter-locked arms forming a formidable force through civil disobedience in solidarity.

Allow the sacrifices each participant has made be inspiration to others to join in our struggle, allow our peaceful protest to demonstrate the power of unity and the positive changes that can be effected when we view each other not as classification of inmates defined by the color of clothing issued to prisoners by administration but instead as human beings who share the same oppressive conditions.

For decades prisoners have been slammed down in solitary confinement, locked away from education and rehabilitation programs or barred from participating in fellowship of their faith due to administration beliefs … Meanwhile our families are being exploited with practices that amount to price gouging through exorbitant commissary and phone rates. While they survive in a region with rising rent cost plagued by a homeless epidemic in city with ordinances that throws people in jail for having no place to live… Let’s be thankful we have religious leaders and community organizations like De-Bug who rally behind us to champion our cause and see us different, who are the difference, who see us as human beings, who are not persuaded by those in positions of authority whom define us by our allegations and classification rhetoric to pump fear in the heart of the public in their effort to kill our support base when they are preoccupied beating us to death like Michael Tyree … In the spirit of thankfulness perhaps one might consider reaching out to their family and friends letting them know they are appreciated; we appreciate you and yours for your support so Thank You!

Before we bring this letter of appreciation to a close we would like to abreast the prisoner population that our hunger strike has not ended, it has been momentarily suspended. We gave administration (30) days to bring about tangible changes for the benefit of all prisoners. We will continue our efforts until all of our core demands have been met. We will not be duped by the superficial such as movie night and a snack, we must persist as a collective that stands firm on principle. We must not be deluded by a carrot on a stick offered to us by an oppressed system that is fueled by greed and political ambitions.

To prevail in our struggle for prisoners human rights we respectfully ask the prisoner population to exercise diplomacy for it is not in our own interest to engage in combat with one another when we are fighting together to improve our conditions of confinement. We ask those of you who sway influence in our housing unit to work with each other to resolve conflict peacefully by promoting prisoner solidarity. Let’s try not to provide ammunition to the administration that allows them to justify the reasoning for the use of solitary confinement. Our goal is to promote our cause by unifying like-minded people to support our next planned Hunger strike.

In closing, we thank you for your time.

Truly,

PRISONERS UNITED OF SILICON VALLEY

 

Newsletter #1 contents:
Letter Of Appreciation
Official Updates
Recommended Reading
We Are the 13th Amendment! by Jose Valle
Recommended Resources
Write to De-Bug San Jose
Prisoners United of Silicon Valley
Notes
Questionnaire

Download, Read, or Print entire newsletter:
https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/prisoners-united-1.pdf

Mon, Feb 24 – Support Kambui in Court

Update: Kambui’s hearing was postponed to Feb. 24th

KAMBUI NEEDS OUR SUPPORT AND PRESENCE IN COURT. THE SYSTEM WANTS TO EXECUTE HIM.

kambui-robinson

Kambui Robinson was in solitary torture chambers in California for many years.
Kambui participated in all three peaceful hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, and wrote accounts of the struggle at Corcoran. He was released from Corcoran SHU in 2015. Now he is at New Folsom.  Kambui is part of the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (N.A.R.N.) Collective Think Tank.  Read some of their writings here: https://narncollective.wordpress.com/articles-by-nctt-cor-shu-members/

You can also find articles under “Kambui” in the SF Bay View
He needs our support at this time
Kambui was incarcerated in SHU for decades. Now the same system that incarcerated him in those horrifying conditions wants to kill him.

Please support Kambui by coming to court when he appears for the third day in this trial. 

December 19th  Feb 24th   Monday, 9:00 AM

Kings County Courthouse

1640 Kings County Drive, Hanford CA 93230

3rd Floor, Dept.6

DIRECTIONS 
Hanford is west of Visalia [on Hwy 99]

CLICK HERE for more detailed directions and travel info.

RIDESHARE
If you would like to carpool to the Kings County Courthouse to support Kambui, please call Penny at 415.412.1969

WRITE KAMBUI AT:
Kambui Tyrone Robinson, C83830
P.O.Box 290066
Represa, CA 95671

Santa Clara Co. Jail Hunger Strikers Released from Solitary! Hunger Strike Suspended Pending Sheriff’s Fulfillment of Demands

hs-suspended-oct-222016

HUNGER STRIKE SUSPENDED.

Hunger Strikers have been released from solitary with handshakes and hugs. In 90 days, Strikers will be able to downclass in to general population. Additional clothing has been ordered. The sheriff’s department has agreed to subsidize lowering Commissary prices through the Welfare Fund. The Hunger Strike will continue its suspension until lasting changes are met.

The community can still put pressure in the form of a petition to insure lasting change in classification, administration, and Gang Intel both in policy and practice.

Be a part of the process to have lasting change!

Share & Sign the Petition: https://www.change.org/p/support-the-santa-clara-county-jail-hunger-strikers

#debugsanjose #protectyourpeople #hungryforchange

Previous Post- Hunger Strike Announcement/More Info: http://wp.me/p1BB1k-2Ot

UPDATE on Santa Clara Jail Hunger Strike

Oct 19, 2016 UPDATE:  The Hunger Strike in the Santa Clara Main Jail is on- more than 300 people are participating, many of them in solitary confinement.  The classification system in Santa Clara Jails must change, and solitary confinement must end!  Please note this correction in the Sheriff’s number.  The correct number is 408.808.4611.  Additional numbers to call: 408.299.8770 and the Public Information /Public Relations Officer- 408.808.4905.  Read the below statement regarding the Hunger Striker’s Demands and, when you call, express your support for those human and civil rights demands and for the hunger strikers. Don’t be discouraged by staff responses.  State your concerns and support and keep the pressure on. Sheriff Laurie Smith has failed to respond so far.

Previous Post- Oct 17, 2016 Hunger Strike Announcement/More Information: http://wp.me/p1BB1k-2Ot

Oct. 15 Merced, CA: Day of Action in Support of Hunger Strikers

ON SEPTEMBER 9TH, people incarcerated in the county jail in Merced, California, located in the Central Valley, in conjunction with the nationwide prison strike that began on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, issued a set of demands to jail staff. They demanded the firing of a brutal sheriff, Lt. Moore, access to baseline calories per day and proper legal resources, an end to forced dress out in gang colors and classifications, an end to solitary confinement, and much more.

Inmates at Merced County Jail have long had to live with brutal staff and horrible conditions. Almost monthly, guards have carried out raids which have left various inmates injured from projectile weapons. Many inmates at the county jail haven’t even been found guilty of a crime and are simply waiting for court and cannot afford to bail out. For many locked up in Merced, their only crime was being poor.

Day of Action in Support of Hunger Strikers
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016
12 Noon – 2:00pm
Merced Main Jail, downtown
700 W. 22nd St.
Merced, CA 95340
Caravan from Bay Area

The response to the historic hunger strike, which quickly spread throughout the facility, from jail staff was more repression, lockdowns, and cutting off access to phones. When asked for a comment on the hunger strike, Sheriff Vern Warnke replied to people standing up to his department’s attacks on basic humans rights, “This isn’t a country club. If they don’t like being here then quit getting arrested!”

After a series of negotiations with prison staff that went no where and was designed to end the strike ended, inmates again went back out on hunger strike in early October. Some inmates have also remained on strike since mid-September.

As people on the outside, we need to show solidarity with those on hunger strike in Merced. Towards this end, people across Northern California will converge in Merced on Saturday, October 15th at 12 Noon, at the downtown Merced Jail located at 700 W 22nd St to show support with the hunger strikers and connect with friends and family of those locked inside.

For people in the Bay Area, a carpool/caravan is being organized at the West Oakland BART station starting at 8:30 AM and will be leaving at 9 AM for Merced.

Support the #PrisonStrike. Victory to the hunger strikers in Merced!

Contact for more info: victoria@mopmerced.org

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/313453359035353/

Caravan from Oakland to Merced: https://www.facebook.com/events/316195602089381/

PHSS Supports Strike Against Prison Slavery and Inhumane Conditions

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) supports the peaceful work stoppages and hunger strikes that began throughout the country on September 9, 2016 by incarcerated people fighting prison slavery, solitary confinement, and other abuses. Opposing dehumanization in prison is an expression of the struggle for the recognition of all of our humanity. We support peaceful prisoner-class-led movements struggling against prison dehumanization and for human rights for all.

For more info on PHSS, see prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordprss.com

DYING TO LIVE Wisconsin Hunger Strike 65th day, Prisoners Justice Day Aug 10th, Nationwide (U.S.)Work Stoppage Sept 9th

DYING TO LIVE Hunger Strike Continuesdying to live flier for july 5th.png

The Dying to Live Hunger Strike in Wisconsin has gone on for 65 days! Strikers demand an end to indefinite solitary confinement, what the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) calls Administrative Confinement (AC). On June 17 the DOC requested and got approval to force feed the hunger striking prisoners. Cesar DeLeon and LaRon McKinley began refusing food on June 7, and the WI DOC has been force feeding them in retaliation since June 17.

A coalition of supporters led by Milwaukee IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee are mounting a big solidarity demo on Aug 13th and calling for support actions elsewhere. Read about that here.

Prisoners’ Justice Day – August 10thjustice-day

Today, August 10, hundreds of events across Canada and the world, in solidarity with the Canadian Prisoners’ Justice Day, a day of mourning, remembrance, advocacy and protest.

Prisoners’ Justice Day is a day set aside to remember all the men and women who have died unnatural deaths inside Canadian prisons. August 10th marks the anniversary of the suicide death of Edward Nalon in a segregation cell in Millhaven Penitentiary on Aug. 10, 1974. History here.

Advocates as well as prisoners themselves have also marked the day to bring much needed attention to issues such as the conditions inside prisoners, the harmful practice of segregation or solitary confinement, the unnatural deaths, lack of access to medication and mental health services, and other justice and rights issues.

The day helps bring a voice to some of the stories of injustice and human rights abuses that occur within the prison system and may otherwise not receive much attention. The day brings critical attention to the fundamental rights of prisoners.

Some of the issues that are advocated for include access to proper heath care, fair legal representation behind prison walls and standing up against the inhumane conditions of solitary cells, often referred to as Special Handling Units.

What started as a one time event behind the walls of Millhaven Prison has become an international day of solidarity. On this day, August 10th, prisoners around the world fast, refuse to work, and remain in their cells while those of us on the outside organize to show our solidarity with those struggling behind the bars, to show that they are not forgotten and to draw attention to the conditions inside prisons.

Read More here: http://www.cdnaids.ca/prisonersjusticeday-august10th

SEPT 9, 2016 Prisoner Work Stoppage

Sept9Strike

Prisoners across the US have called for a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest starting on Sept 9 2016, the 45th anniversary of Attica. The safety of these prisoners and the effectiveness of the protest depend greatly on outside support. There is a robust and expanding outside support network that you or your organization could join to participate in this, the first prisoner protest of its kind.

People throughout the country are mobilizing for the upcoming September 9 strike (work stoppage), from NYC to Durham to Oakland. This week, at Ohio State Penitentiary, Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, one of the key spokespeople for the Sep 9 movement, was visited by Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In Spring of 2016, prisoners from across the U.S. released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016. Get their full announcement as a zine PDF. En Espanol or mailroom friendly

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

Read Full Announcement here: http://tinyurl.com/oa7m2vt

If you’re planning something in connection with the September 9th work stoppage and protest, please share it with prisonerresistance@gmail.com

 

We Stand in Solidarity with Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Wisconsin

“Dying to Live” Humanitarian Food Refusal Campaign Against Torture
On June 10, 2016, Wisconsin prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at Waupun Correctional Institution and Columbia Correctional Institution began a “Food Refusal Campaign.” They wish to bring the horror of prolonged solitary confinement to the public’s attention and to end this torturous practice throughout Wisconsin prisons.  Solitary confinement for more than 15 days has been deemed “torture” by the United Nations, but the Wisconsin Department of Corrections holds prisoners in isolation for decades. Join us in supporting these prisoners who are making a courageous sacrifice for human rights, dignity, and an end to solitary torture.

PHSS Statement of Solidarity
California’s Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) stands in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike in Wisconsin in protest of prolonged solitary confinement. 

Social isolation, sensory deprivation and forced idleness are now recognized as seriously harmful to human beings.  Solitary confinement has been condemned, not only by prisoners, former prisoners and their families, but also by mental health professionals, academics, the religious community, the United Nations, President Obama, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and even some prison officials.  It is unfortunate that Wisconsin prisoners have to resort to a hunger strike to be heard by prison officials and other authorities. 

Participation in a collective hunger strike requires bravery, social commitment, mental strength and a willingness to risk one’s own well-being.  Hunger strikes are not entered into lightly and must be taken seriously.  The six humanitarian demands of these hunger strikers are reasonable.

Like the Wisconsin prisoners today, in 2011 and 2013 California prisoners protested prolonged solitary confinement by participating in peaceful hunger strikes.  Those actions led to significant changes to California’s prison policies.  We urge Wisconsin officials to re-examine and change their own policies, meet with the hunger strikers and meaningfully resolve these human rights issues amicably and speedily.

  • STATEMENTS FROM PRISONERS who are leading the campaign: Uhuru and Cesar