Voices from Pelican Bay SHU hunger strikers

From the November-December 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Voices from Pelican Bay SHU hunger strikers

September 28, 2011

Revolutionary Salutation,

The SHU prisoners hunger strike started again as of Sept. 26….Apparently the level of prisoner participation surprised California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)….Despite the attempt to undermine and stigmatize the latest effort, the general consensus of the prisoners is that there is no stopping until some real quality changes are made to the policy that determines the length of SHU confinement. We do not accept the spin from CDCR official Scott Kernan, et. al., as if they intended to actually implement substantial changes.

* * *

October 5, 2011

This is the tenth day of the resumption of the hunger strike here at Pelican Bay SHU short corridor. CDCR is trying to suppress it. They plan to do their best to manage the outside impact of the hunger strike. The strike of July 1 caught them off guard, they were forced into a defensive position attempting to publicly explain their atrocious treatment of SHU short corridor prisoners. It called into serious question CDCR’s public trust. Certainly, CDCR cannot allow for an on-going serious public questioning of its capacity to administer the state’s prison system.

The CDCR Memorandum dated Sept. 27, 2011, addressed to the general prison population set forth specific retaliatory procedures CDCR will undertake to suppress hunger strikes in general and this hunger strike in particular.

On Sept. 29, the correction staff descended upon one building allegedly to do door maintenance. Several prisoners were grabbed and placed in ad-seg along with other prisoners from the other SHU short corridor building. One can conclude that all those prisoners subjected to the retaliatory action were designated by the administration as leaders. Placing them in ad-seg is extremely harsh treatment: they are denied their personal property, e.g., reading material, writing paper and TVs. The loss of writing paper and envelopes effectively cuts these prisoners ability to communicate with their loved ones, families and attorneys. This practice–isolating and denying prisoners the right to communicate with the outside world–is so draconian in nature that it’s beyond human imagination that things like this still exist in the 21st century. The public’s right to know what exactly is happening behind these prison walls cannot be overstated.

On Friday, Sept. 30, a phalanx of correction staff descended upon this building searching every cage–participants and non-participants alike–for all state food items that were not issued that day. All such food was trashed. Clearly, correctional staff were given a green light to continue the practice of collective punishment. This is in total disregard to one of the five core demands, i.e., individual accountability. In addition, hunger strike participants in possession of previously purchased canteen items had those items confiscated. The Department Operations Manual states that canteen items are not to be confiscated, but instead monitored to determine if they are being eaten.

There has not been daily monitoring of the mental and physical conditions of hunger strikers by medical staff. Since the resumption of the hunger strike the medical staff has only made three appearances in this building, two times just asking questions: are you still not eating and are you drinking enough water to stay hydrated. The third time, yesterday, strikers were weighed and measured for the first time. Hunger strikers inquired why they were not given vitamins and salt tablets. The medical staff’s response was that he or she isn’t aware of procedure or haven’t been told anything about it by their supervisors. CDCR has also started denying yard time to all hunger strikers. They will use whatever means possible to punish prisoners merely requesting to be treated as human beings.

There is the parallel between the movement inside the prisons and movements in the larger society struggling to lift the curse of oppressive capitalist relations.

Faruq


September 28, 2011

Revolutionary Greetings!

We prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison have re-started our hunger strike, due to bad faith negotiations with CDCR’s Sacramento prisoncrat officials, that consisted of lies, more lies and broken promises!

I’ve written an article entitled: “Who Am I???” an analysis of how and why prisoners are validated as prison gang members and thus held in indefinite solitary confinement for 10 to 40 years and counting! (To obtain a copy write to: So. Chicago ABC Zine Distr., c/o Anthony Rayson, P.O. Box 721, Homewood, IL 60430.)

* * *

What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences…We have a common oppressor, a common exploiter and a common discriminator…once we all realize that we have a common enemy, then we can unite on the basis of what we have in common.

Malcolm X

It is a historical truth that repression breeds resistance, which is why we prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU/CMU units, took the initiative to come together, and go on a hunger strike, in order to say to our oppressors that: “20 plus years of state sponsored torture and persecution, in which our human rights have been routinely violated, for no other reason than to keep us prisoners confined in their mad-scientist like ‘torture chambers’ as alleged prison gang members is enough!!”

But as we all know, repression evolves and develops in cycles. So on Aug. 2, PBSP-CDCR officials threatened all hunger strike participants with punitive retaliatory measures for the sole act of our hunger strike participation, in spite of the fact that we have a human right to peacefully protest any unjust laws. An unjust law, is no law at all!! The Struggle Continues!!!

Kijana Tashiri Askari


A caged man is a spirit trapped in steel–leave him alone and his spirit becomes one with his cage–it’s all he knows. Motivate him, nurture and socialize him, and his spirit soars. It’s only then that the man realizes the difference between him and his cage–the reasons for it. Thus, allowing him to finally be free from it.

Pelican Bay hunger striker,
Oct. 11, 2011

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2 Responses to Voices from Pelican Bay SHU hunger strikers

  1. Pingback: They will all get out, eventually… « invincibleignorance

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