[Ppnews] Statement by Short Corridor Collective of the Hunger Strike Leaders at Pelican Bay

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 27 20:45:04 EDT 2011

Written Statement by Short Corridor Collective
(a small representative of the Hunger Strike Leaders at Pelican Bay)

To Supporters:

On July 1, 2011, a collective group of PBSP-SHU 
inmates composed of all races began an indefinite 
hunger strike as a means of peacefully protesting 
20-40 years of human rights violations. The 
offenses against us rose to the level of both 
physical and mental torture—for example, the 
coercing of SHU inmates into becoming known 
informants for the state and thereby placing 
those prisoners, and possibly their families 
outside of prison, at serious risk of danger in 
response to being known to have informed on and 
caused harm to other inmates via informing on 
them. The decision to strike was not made on a 
whim. It came about in response to years of 
subjection to progressively more primitive 
conditions and decades of isolation, sensory 
deprivation and total lack of normal human 
contact, with no end in sight. This reality, 
coupled with our prior ineffective collective 
filing of thousands of inmate grievances and 
hundreds of court actions to challenge such 
blatantly illegal policies and practices (as more 
fully detailed and supported by case law, in our 
formal complaint available online 
led to our conclusion that a peaceful protest via 
hunger strike was our only available avenue to 
expose what’s really been going on here in 
CDCR-SHU prisons and to force meaningful change.

We ended the hunger strike the evening of July 
20, 2011, on the basis of CDCR’s top level 
administrators’ interactions with our team of 
mediators, as well as with us directly, wherein 
they agreed to accede to a few small requests 
immediately, as a tangible good faith gesture in 
support of their assurance that all of our other 
issues will receive real attention, with 
meaningful changes being implemented over time. 
They made it clear: such changes would not happen 
over night, nor would they be made in response to a hunger strike going on.

Many inmates across the state heard about our 
protest and rose to the occasion in a solid show 
of support and solidarity, as did thousands of 
people around the world! Many inmates put their 
health and lives on the line; many came close to 
death and experienced medical emergencies. All 
acted for the collective cause and recognized the 
great potential for forcing change on the use of SHU units across the country.

With this support in mind, a core group of us was 
committed to taking the hunger strike to the 
death, if necessary, to force the changes sought. 
Naturally, though, we hoped it would not come to that!

On July 20, 2011, several top CDCR administrators 
sat across the table from us and made assurances 
that they are in the process of making meaningful 
changes right now, and will make affecting change 
a priority in the future, while providing regular 
updates and engaging in additional dialogue. And, 
we know they’re being forced to restructure the 
entire CDCR system in response to the U.S. 
Supreme Court’s Plata ruling, which deals with reduction of inmate population.

Thus, our collective decision was to end the 
hunger strike, on basis of their good faith 
gesture with a few small things and to give them 
the opportunity to make good on their assurances, 
e.g. an end to human rights abuses and torture. 
This decision drew from our view that we have 
been successful in exposing CDCR’s illegal policies and practices to the world!
And, when it’s all said and done, there comes a 
point where you have to give an entity the 
opportunity to perform their end of an agreement 
and the bottom line is this: CDCR could have 
signed off on a piece of paper, granting all of 
our demands and telling us, “you’ll all be cut 
loose to the general population prison in six 
months.” Then, six months later, tell us, “we’ve 
reconsidered and it’s not happening.” So, we’ll 
see soon enough where CDCR is really coming from. 
More important is the fact that while the hunger 
strike is over, the resistance/struggle to end 
our subjection to (SHU) human rights violations and torture is just beginning!

We’ve drawn the line on this and should CDCR fail 
to carry out meaningful changes in a timely 
fashion, then we will initiate a class action 
suit and additional types of peaceful protest. We 
will not stop until the CDCR ends the illegal policies and practices at SHU!

We’re counting on all of our outside supporters 
to continue to collectively support us and to 
carry on with shining light on our resistance in 
here. This is the right time for change in these 
prisons and the movement is growing across the 
land! Without the peoples’ support outside, we 
cannot be successful! All support, no matter the 
size, or content, comes together as a powerful 
force. We’ve already brought more mainstream 
exposure about these CDCR-SHU’s than ever before 
and our time for real change to this system is 
now! As for CDCR’s propaganda—that the hunger 
strike was initiated and ordered by gang members 
and the fact that up to 6,600 inmates 
participated in 13 prisons across the state 
demonstrates the gangs’ influence, which is why 
they’re in SHU in the first place—our response 
is, (1) CDCR has never responded to our formal 
complaint, wherein we state, many of us have been 
in SHU 10-40 years, just based on a CDCR gang 
label, based on claims by confidential inmate 
informants; we have never been found guilty of 
committing an illegal gang-related act! 
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of other inmates 
whom CDCR has also labeled as gang affiliates are 
allowed in the general population of prisons! 
And, (2) the other inmates who participated did 
so based on their own recognition of, and 
decision to resist and protest, their similar 
conditions! All of our public statements about 
the PBSP-SHU protest clearly stated it was 
voluntary and those whose age and/or medical 
issues were an issue, should not participate! If 
PBSP-SHU inmates had the influence over the gang 
affiliates in CDCR prisons, as their propaganda 
claims, there wouldn’t have been tens of 
thousands of inmates participating in the hunger 
strike (by CDCR’s own statistics, their system is 
composed of approximately 70% gang 
affiliates—that’s 70% of more than 140,000 inmates!)
The protest and resistance is not about gangs. 
It’s all about a collective effort to end the 
torture in these SHUs and we hope it sill serve 
as an example to all inmates: there’s real power 
in collective peaceful protest actions.

Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, Louis Powell.

Written July 22nd, 2011

Declaring a Victory & Ongoing Struggle

Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

July 27, Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity:

The Short Corridor Collective, representatives of 
the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike leaders, released a 
statement explaining their reasoning behind 
accepting the CDCR’s offer and ending the hunger strike. (see above)
As this struggle enters a new phase 
post-initial-negotiation with the CDCR, 
supporters outside prison are called on to carry 
this fight and make sure that the CDCR follows 
through with its offer of good faith. Supporters 
everywhere are called on to continue to amplify 
prisoners’ voices, and to strengthen our ties and 
connections to better consolidate a growing 
movement against imprisonment, torture, and all 
violence. Please keep encouraging everyone you 
know to refer to this website as a source for 
information regarding the hunger strike, and the 
ongoing work to win the five core demands 
presented by the Pelican Bay hunger strikers.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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