[Ppnews] Hungerstrike Day Twenty Two - Moving Forward

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 22 18:23:16 EDT 2011

Day 22: Moving Forward

July 22 - Mediators from Prisoner Hunger Strike 
Solidarity’s Mediation team spoke with the Short 
Corridor Collective, four representatives of the 
hunger strike leaders at Pelican Bay and 
confirmed the leaders have accepted an offer from the CDCR.

When this news was announced at a vigil in 
Oakland last night, one family member responded: 
“I’m not going to believe it until my son tells 
me so.” She will be seeing him at Pelican Bay this weekend.

According to family members and friends of 
prisoners, as well as the CDCR, hunger strikers 
continue to refuse food across CA– in at least 
CCI Tehachapi, Corcoran and Calipatria. It is 
unclear how long they will continue, if they are 
aware of the agreement or even believe given the 
misinformation CDCR has been circulating. As 
families and friends gear up for another round of 
weekend visits, we will have more information as 
to whether hunger strikers will continue 
protesting CDCR’s policies and conditions in the coming days.

The leaders confirmed CDCR’s announcement that 
immediate changes in SHU policy are the 
opportunity for some educational programs, 
provision of all-weather caps (beanies) and wall 
calendars. More substantially, the leaders 
explained the CDCR has agreed to investigate 
changes to other policies including the gang 
validation and debriefing processes, and it is 
now up to supporters outside prison to make sure 
the CDCR upholds their promise.

Many supporters, as well as the Pelican Bay 
hunger strike leaders, see this as a victory. The 
leaders explained to the mediation team they are 
overwhelmed by the support and solidarity of 
family members, community members, organizations, 
and people across the world joining their fight 
for human rights, and cannot adequately express 
their appreciation. They also explained this is 
in no way over. Using a sports reference, the 
Short Corridor Collective insisted: “this is just 
the first quarter,” and what a start it has been.

The Pelican Bay Hunger Strike leaders also ask 
all supporters, including the mediation team to 
continue working together, to expand and to stay 
involved in making sure these demands are met 
fully, and that prisoners everywhere are 
recognized and treated as human beings.

The goal of the hunger strike was not to let 
prisoners starve, but was to expose the torturous 
conditions of imprisonment (especially Security 
Housing Units), to win the 5 core demands at 
Pelican Bay, to end long-term solitary 
confinement. This past week Secretary Cate began 
threatening to issue force-feeding orders, a 
process is both dangerous and painful. It’s 
important for those of us on the outside to 
recognize that the hunger strikers were faced 
with two choices: increased or intensified 
torture or death. In the end, these aren’t really 
choices at all. The leaders chose to live to 
fight for justice another day, and to grow and 
strengthen the tremendous support and collaborations they have started.

Some gains so far:
    * While the CDCR vigorously dehumanizes 
prisoners, and refused to negotiate, saying (“we 
don’t negotiate with prisoners”), they were 
effectively forced into offering an agreement to make changes;
    * this historic strike has demanded everyone 
who is against torture in any way to recognize 
prisoners as human beings, to act on their 
beliefs that no one should ever be tortured;
    * this historic hunger strike has widened and 
intensified international scrutiny into prison 
conditions and policies in California, and around 
the United States, as well as solidarity in 
intervening in CDCR “business as usual.” 
According to Terry Thorton, spokesperson for 
CDCR, this strike was “a major disruption to 
CDCR’s normal operations” (i.e. of control, isolation and torture);
    * this historic strike has (re)inspired 
prisoners to work together in struggling for their humanity to be recognized;
    * this historic strike has proven to family 
members, former prisoners, advocates, lawyers, 
faith-based and religious groups, medical 
professionals, and community members and 
organizations that we can and need to continue to 
work together better in the struggle to change 
the conditions we live in, and to transform the 
devastation and disappearance prisons cause in our communities
    * this historic strike has re-invigorated 
rigorous and collective prisoner-led resistance in the US.
Meanwhile, support for the hunger strike clearly 
needs to continue to grow. Events are still 
happening, including another mobilization to 
Sacramento to pressure Jerry Brown to take action 
regarding torturous conditions of CA’s prisons. 
(More details of this action coming soon. 
here to read a letter to Jerry Brown signed by 
organizations in support of the strike that will 
be delivered to Jerry Brown at the action on 
Monday, July 25) Family members also continue to 
meet with each other. In the Bay Area on Tuesday 
evening, a meeting will be held for family 
members to discuss how they want to move forward 
with this struggle. More details coming soon.

Also, a legislative hearing will be held on 
August 23rd in Sacramento investigating Pelican Bay’s SHU.

Please stay tuned for more information, and hear 
the prisoners call to continue working together 
to amplify their voices and to resist torture and imprisonment!

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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