[Ppnews] Feeling death at our heels - CA Hunger Strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 26 12:34:58 EST 2012



<http://sfbayview.com/2012/feeling-death-at-our-heels-an-update-from-the-frontlines-of-the-struggle/>Feeling 
death at our heels: An update from the frontlines of the struggle

January 25, 2012
http://sfbayview.com/2012/feeling-death-at-our-heels-an-update-from-the-frontlines-of-the-struggle/

from the NCTT Corcoran SHU

“Death is impossible for us to fathom; it is so 
immense, so frightening that we will do almost 
anything to keep from thinking about it. Society 
is organized to make death invisible, to keep it 
several steps removed. That distance may seem 
necessary for our comfort, but it comes with a 
terrible price: the illusion of limitless time, 
and a consequent lack of seriousness about daily 
life. As a warrior in life, you must turn this 
dynamic around: Make the thought of death 
something not to escape but to embrace. Your days 
are numbered. Will you pass them halfhearted or 
will you live with a sense of urgency? Cruel 
theaters staged by a czar are unnecessary; death 
will come to you without them. Imagine it 
pressing in on you, leaving you no escape, for 
there is no escape. Feeling death at your heels 
will make all your actions more certain, more 
forceful. This could be your last throw of the 
dice: Make it count.” – Robert Greene, 
bestselling author of 
“<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_48_Laws_of_Power>The 48 Laws of Power”

Greetings, brothers and sisters: A firm, warm and 
solid embrace of revolutionary love and 
solidarity is extended to each of you from each of us.

Since the last hunger strike ended, we have 
weathered wave after wave of retaliation from the 
state’s prison administrators that continues 
unabated to this day. But before I catalog these 
manifestations of weakness on the part of state 
prison administrators, we feel it’s necessary to 
recount why this struggle began and the nature of 
our resolve to see the five core demands realized.

We have been consigned to ever more aggressive 
sensory deprivation torture units for 10, 20, 30 
and in some cases 40 years, based on an 
administrative determination that we are members 
or associates of a “gang” – a term that 
encompasses leftist ideologies, political and 
politicized prisoners, jailhouse lawyers and most 
anyone who in the opinion of Institutional Gang 
Investigations (IGI) is not passively accepting 
his role as a commodity in the prison industrial complex.


“Gang” is a term that encompasses leftist 
ideologies, political and politicized prisoners, 
jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the 
opinion of Institutional Gang Investigations 
(IGI) is not passively accepting his role as a 
commodity in the prison industrial complex.

These administrative determinations are not due 
to some overt act of misconduct or pattern of 
rules violations. No, these “validations” are 
based most often on the reforms, words or 
accounts of debriefers, rats, informants and 
other broken men who will say and do ‘most 
anything their IGI and ISU (Investigative 
Services Unit) handlers instruct them to, to 
avoid confinement in the SHU (Security Housing 
Unit) or carry some other favor from their masters.

After decades of fruitless legal challenges, 
after years of suffering the deprivations of 
conditions so inherently evil, inhumane and 
psychologically torturous that most of you simply 
cannot comprehend the reality behind these words, 
most of us came to realize an immutable truth: 
that the state’s mantra of “the only way out of 
the SHU is to parole, debrief or die” was 
something that they not only meant, but was in 
fact a key feature in developing a subservient 
and passive pool of prisoner commodities upon 
which the orderly fleecing of taxpayer dollars could be based.

Thirty years of successful propaganda, of 
dehumanizing underclass communities and the 
imprisoned, of lobbying that’s led to the 
dominance of the CCPOA (California Correctional 
Peace Officers Association) in judicial and 
political elections and appointments – all to 
mislead an ill-informed public into submitting 
greater control of their lives and society to an 
industrial interest that runs counter to the 
public safety concerns they were vested to 
protect. Many of us watched this state of affairs 
progress unchallenged as our protestations fell 
on deaf ears, year after year, decade after 
decade, until advanced age and the decimation of 
our communities forced us onto “death ground,” 
where you may survive if you can resist, but you 
will most surely perish if you do not.

We took up a strategy which would pull back the 
curtain on the state’s practice of domestic 
torture which has been so well hidden from the 
people for so long, a strategy in which some of 
us may yet die: THE HUNGER STRIKE. We would 
rather starve ourselves, to risk inevitable 
death, than to be indefinitely subjected to the 
deprivations of the torture unit.


We took up a strategy which would pull back the 
curtain on the state’s practice of domestic 
torture which has been so well hidden from the 
people for so long, a strategy in which some of 
us may yet die: THE HUNGER STRIKE.

What must be understood is that existence here 
is, in many ways, a fate worse than death; and 
when advancing age brings that mortality into 
stark focus, the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, 
“Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die 
every day,” resonate. This simple observation 
defines our resolve in realizing our five core demands.

To say this is a protracted struggle is an 
understatement; this is a struggle in which we 
will win or we will die in the effort. Our 
actions thus far, and the awareness of this 
international community of their inherent 
righteousness, has made this adamantine resolve 
clear, so why then would CDCR (California 
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) 
officials resort to petty retaliatory actions? 
The answer lies in the very nature of the tyranny 
and authoritarian power they represent.

Aggression is deceptive; it inherently hides 
weakness. Aggressors possess poor emotional 
control and little patience for challenges to 
their interests. The first waves of retaliation 
from these types of aggressors may seem strong to 
some; this is why so many non-SHU general 
population prisoners dropped out of the second 
hunger strike as those waves struck them. But, of 
course, we were unmoved; and the longer such 
attacks go on, the clearer their underlying 
weaknesses and insecurity become. It is an act of 
irrational desperation, but one they pursue out of sheer rote.

Since the second hunger strike ended, we 
experienced perpetual retaliation – some overt, 
some carefully disguised – all designed to erode 
the minds and wills of those committed to resist. 
We were denied any medical treatment for our 
starvation and when we filed emergency 602s to 
receive renutrition treatment and hunger 
strike-related injuries, they were not responded to until some 40 days later.

For example, during the first hunger strike, I 
(Heshima) passed out due to malnutrition and 
dehydration; the account was detailed in a 
previous statement. But simply put, their own 
guilt and fear caused them to assemble some 26 
officers before opening my cell and piling on top 
of my unconscious form in order to shackle my 
arms and legs in chains and put me in an ambulance.


Their own guilt and fear caused them to assemble 
some 26 officers before opening my cell and 
piling on top of my unconscious form in order to 
shackle my arms and legs in chains and put me in an ambulance.

Mind you, according to witnesses, they casually, 
even jokingly, left me lying on my cell floor for 
35 minutes before jumping on my body. Since then 
I’ve had a sharp, constant pain in my right side 
at the base of my ribcage. Though I’ve filed two 
medical appeals, as of this writing I have still 
not been treated or even diagnosed for this.

Zaharibu’s cholesterol, blood oxygen levels and 
blood pressure are so far outside of normal range 
he is at chronic risk for stroke, heart attack 
and diabetes – the nurses routinely “forgetting” 
to bring or administer his insulin when indicated.

Shortly after the second hunger strike ended, we 
were told, “One of the two pumps that delivers 
hot water to the institution is broken and we 
should have the part to fix it in two days.” That 
was over 50 days ago and we’ve had hot water for 
a total of three of those 50-plus days. In that 
intervening time, “due to the lack of hot water” 
we’ve been fed on paper trays, which ensures all 
meals arrive cold and grossly under-portioned. 
Because all we have to wash or shower with in 
these freezing cells is cold or lukewarm water, 
80 percent of us housed in this 4BIL-C-Section 
short corridor have contracted a cold, upper 
respiratory tract infection or flu.


Because all we have to wash or shower with in 
these freezing cells is cold or lukewarm water, 
80 percent of us housed in this 4BIL-C-Section 
short corridor have contracted a cold, upper 
respiratory tract infection or flu.

Despite numerous appeals and motions to the 
court, they have not run law library for any of 
us since August, making it impossible to access 
legal research, copying service or verified legal 
mailing, thus jeopardizing the viability of 
numerous legal pleadings in the courts.

We have often expounded upon the fundamental 
unreliability of reforms as nothing more than 
temporary pacification measures that can be 
repealed at the whim of administrators, and this 
analysis was again proven only weeks after the 
second hunger strike ended. Former Undersecretary 
of Corrections Scott Kernan made a big to-do 
about the concessions being made to improve the 
material conditions in SHU, including giving us 
action at a single special purchase order to 
purchase newly approved cold weather items by 
Dec. 31 – or those items would have to be included in annual packages.

Things like watch caps, thermals, tennis shoes 
etc. were all “approved” for SHU. Memos 
trumpeting this and Operational Procedure (OP) 
update chronos were issued to us all, only to be 
followed by a memo stating the warden of 
CSP-Corcoran-SHU was effectively repealing the 
single special purchase order for cold weather 
items without explanation. This was soon followed 
by another memo stating tennis shoes orders to 
SHU would not be allowed until after “Sacramento” 
made changes to the property matrix, something 
that was done by Scott Kernan back in October via emergency memo.


The warden of CSP-Corcoran-SHU was effectively 
repealing the single special purchase order for 
cold weather items without explanation.

Rolling power outages have suddenly become 
routine here. The mailroom suddenly devised new 
regulations directing any phony orders to be 
directed to one post office box, while letters go 
to another, making it more difficult and 
confusing for those who care to see to the 
welfare of their loved ones here. Not to be left 
out, CDCR trust account officials have raised 
processing fees on electronic trust deposits 
called “J-Pays,” some 500 percent, from $1 to $5, 
increasing the financial burden on underclass 
families while maximizing their own profiteering.

All of those things are designed to fuse with the 
daily mental struggles of the reality of 
indefinite sensory deprivation confinement to 
have the cumulative effect of eroding the 
psychology of resistance, and if this were a 
situation where there was some psychological 
threshold to breach, they may well have found 
some here who capitulate. But that simply is not the reality.

This is not a situation where multi-spectrum 
retaliation – or coercive force of any kind – 
will somehow diminish the resolve of those of us 
committed to ending the perpetual torture 
inherent in these indeterminate SHU units. In 
fact, quite the opposite is true; such actions 
only serve to crystallize in our minds the simple 
fact that we cannot lose. The alternative is 
simply more unpleasant than the relatively quick 
sacrifice of death by starvation. They can 
ratchet up the intensity on these petulant 
retaliation moves a hundredfold and it will have 
no other effect than increasing our resolve a thousandfold.


This is not a situation where multi-spectrum 
retaliation – or coercive force of any kind – 
will somehow diminish the resolve of those of us 
committed to ending the perpetual torture 
inherent in these indeterminate SHU units. In 
fact, quite the opposite is true; such actions 
only serve to crystallize in our minds the simple fact that we cannot lose.

We must win this struggle not simply because it 
is morally correct, upholds international 
standards of humanity, opposes governmental 
collusion in corporate exploitation of underclass 
people, and serves the interests – social, 
political and economic – of society as a whole, 
but also because it’s necessarily our survival. 
We are men in earnest; consequences have little 
meaning in the face of such conditions.

Some of you reading these words are no doubt 
grappling with the reality behind them, 
attempting to find some point of relatability, 
some common experience from which to draw a 
correlation. Unless you’ve experienced this 
firsthand, such an attempt is an effort in 
futility. But for the sake of this discussion, I 
challenge you to run an experiment: Go to your 
bathroom and close the door. Imagine that you 
will never leave that room. Your tub and shower, 
that’s your bed. Yes, your toilet is only a step 
or two away from where you lay your head. Your 
food will be brought to you here twice a day.

Stay there as long as you can. How long do you 
last? Twenty minutes? An hour? Six hours? Imagine 
you sit in that bathroom for a year, 10 years, 24 
years, 40 years. You will never leave that 
bathroom unless you are released from prison, 
agree to be an agent for the same people who 
stuck you in that bathroom, or you die of old age 
and infirmity. How long would you last? How strong is your will?

Would you submit to snitchery, kowtow to your 
torturers and become a tool to condemn others to 
that same fate? Or would you fight, resist to the 
bitter end, give your life to expose such evil, 
greedy, draconian hypocrites for what they really 
are? Hold the mirror of social reality up to the 
face of every man and woman in U.S. society and 
force them to confront the human misery being 
carried to sicker and more depraved depths every 
day in their names? What would you do?


Would you submit to snitchery, kowtow to your 
torturers and become a tool to condemn others to 
that same fate? Or would you fight, resist to the 
bitter end, give your life to expose such evil, 
greedy, draconian hypocrites for what they really are?

Some would characterize our effort as insane, as 
crazy. In “Hagakure: The door of the Samurai,” 
Yamamoto Tsunetomo quotes Lord Naoshige as saying 
the way of the warrior (samurai) is in 
desperateness. Ten or more cannot kill such a 
man. Common sense will not accomplish great 
things. Simply become insane and desperate.

None of us want to die, but all of us are 
prepared to do so to realize these five core demands. History dictates no less.

So we wait. We have been told the revisions and 
changes to the status quo in these torture units 
will be done this month or by February, but the 
relentless retaliatory blows we are absorbing as 
the sobering reminder of what we are dealing 
with: An entrenched labor aristocracy and 
political patronage of corporate speculators, 
who’ve grown rich and powerful off extorting 
billions from hapless taxpayers and criminalizing 
underclass people and communities, will resist 
any effort to curtail their wealth, privilege and socio-political status quo.

These vile and greedy people are extracting more 
of your tax dollars for their exclusive use than 
many nations’ gross national product by using us 
as scapegoats to frighten the people – when in 
fact many of us are servants of the people, 
political progressives who would willingly lay 
down our lives to advance the cause of freedom, 
social justice and economic equality in the nation.

In the case of the NCTT and those of like mind, 
ironically that’s why we were validated and 
consigned to these torture units in the first 
place. A common practice of corrupt political 
interests is to criminalize dissent and 
criticism. Who will care? We are prisoners; who 
will know these truths? They have already 
succeeded in lobbying to have media access to 
prisoners banned unless they consent to who will 
be interviewed. Again, who will care, who will know?


A common practice of corrupt political interests 
is to criminalize dissent and criticism. Who will 
care? We are prisoners; who will know these truths?

If you’re reading these words, you now know the 
only question that remains is: Do you care? Do 
you care that the very people who you’ve 
entrusted with ensuring public safety are in fact 
intentionally working against that interest to 
maintain a bloated prison industrial complex on 
your tax dollars and our souls? Do you care that 
the U.S., which is so vocally condemning other 
nations, is ignoring its U.N. treaty obligations 
and maintaining its own expansive domestic 
torture program in U.S. Supermax SHU prisons 
across this nation? Do you care that these evils, 
this blatant hypocrisy is being carried out in 
your name? Do you care? And if you don’t, exactly 
what type of society is this we’ve allowed to emerge?

If you are reading these words, you can no longer 
claim ignorance; to stand idly by now would be 
complicity. A wise man once said, “All that is 
necessary for evil men to prevail is for good men 
to do nothing.” We are under no illusions. The 
ultimate arbiter of our fate – and this society’s 
fate – is the people. YOU. YOU must rise up 
against this injustice and inhumanity. YOU must 
let the state know that substantive change at 
every level of society is something the people demand.


The ultimate arbiter of our fate – and this 
society’s fate – is the people. YOU.

We have supported, and will continue to support, 
progressive people’s movements, from the Dream 
Act to the Occupy Movement, because we recognize 
the inherent unity of purpose in this single 
political motive force, the reality that we do 
not represent disparate social interests but a 
single determined democratic imperative to put an 
end to the stranglehold that this greedy elite 
and its tools currently have on every area of 
people’s activity in the U.S., to put an end to 
these exploitive relationships that diminish and 
impoverish the many for the aggrandizement of the few.

To treat us this way is wrong, evil and 
unsustainable socially. Stand with us. Lend your 
voices, your labor, and your ideas to this 
historical work. We can win, but only with you 
all by our sides. In the final analysis, this is 
a struggle to determine the nature of humanity 
itself. We are on the right side of history; we 
encourage you all to stand on this same side with 
us. Our love, loyalty and solidarity to all those 
who cherish freedom, justice and human rights and 
fear only failure. Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the California prison 
hunger strikes or the NCTT, contact:

• Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 
4BIL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

• J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 
4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

• Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4BIL-49, 
P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.

Read these brothers’ previous stories: 
“<http://sfbayview.com/2011/california-prison-hunger-strikers-propose-10-core-demands-for-the-national-occupy-wall-street-movement/>California 
prison hunger strikers propose ‘10 core demands’ 
for the national Occupy Wall Street Movement,” 
“<http://sfbayview.com/2011/letters-from-hugo-pinell-and-other-hunger-strikers-rally-to-support-the-hunger-strikers/>A 
brief hunger strike update from the front lines 
of the struggle: Corcoran-SHU 4B 1L C-section 
Isolation Unit” (second story in that post), 
“<http://sfbayview.com/2011/from-the-front-lines-of-the-struggle/>From 
the front lines of the struggle,”and 
“<http://sfbayview.com/2011/we-dare-to-win-the-reality-and-impact-of-shu-torture-units/>We 
dare to win: The reality and impact of SHU 
torture units.” This story was typed by Adrian McKinney.




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