[Pnews] Corcoran hunger strike negotiations: an extreme form of political discourse

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 30 17:04:51 EDT 2013

  Corcoran hunger strike negotiations: an extreme form of political

Monday, September 30, 2013 13:00

/*by the NARN Collective Think Tank (NCTT), Corcoran SHU*/

Greetings, sisters and brothers. To those of you familiar with the 
domestic torture program of the California Department of Corrections and 
Rehabilitation and the ongoing protracted struggle to realize the five 
core demands, the state's loose relationship with the truth comes as no 
surprise. For those of you just gaining familiarity with this social 
ill, what follows should prove helpful in providing you with a greater 
insight into the dynamics of power relationships in the U.S.

In a recent communique, Sal Rodriguez of the website Solitary Watch 
quoted a CDCR blog as stating the peaceful protest -- i.e. hunger 
strike, etc. -- at Corcoran prison's Security Housing Unit had ended and 
no negotiations between Corcoran SHU prisoner reps and CDCR or Corcoran 
administration officials had taken place. This is simply and patently 
false and tends to suggest the absurdity that the wave of relentless 
retaliatory and punitive actions taken against participants at Corcoran 
in general -- and Corcoran prisoner representatives in particular -- 
"broke the strike."

This is not true and, unlike other prisons, the unique conditions and 
repressive staff culture here at Corcoran SHU required a range of 
peaceful protest tactics, some of which are still underway. The fact of 
the matter is CDCR officials, including Chief Ombudsman Sarah Malone, 
have been engaging in ongoing negotiations with Corcoran SHU reps since 
Aug. 16 on local issues unique to the conditions here at Corcoran State 

The decision to accept nutrients or continue fasting has always been an 
individual choice. However, here in Corcoran SHU, because of the degree 
of intentional deviation from California Correctional Health Care's Mass 
Hunger Strike, Fasting and Refeeding Care Guide 
(CCHC Hunger Strike policy Chapter 22.2 
by California State Prison-Corcoran medical staff, most refeeding has 
occurred as a result of potentially or immediately life threatening 
complications related to the hunger strike itself.

In mid-August, Zaharibu was hospitalized with highly elevated ketone 
levels, hunger strike related acute pancreatitis and a severe kidney 
infection, and he was on the brink of kidney failure. The 
life-sustaining treatment he was given included "electrolytes" and IV 
liquid nutrition which took him "off" the hunger strike, though he 
consumed no solid food. Accepting Gatorade here at Corcoran SHU would 
also take you "off" the hunger strike, so long term participants -- over 
30 days of fasting like Zaharibu and Heshima -- had to make do with 
water and a multi-vitamin a day. Zaharibu resumed the hunger strike as 
soon as he returned to the facility.

Heshima was hospitalized six times over the course of the 40-plus days 
they starved -- three times in a five-day period in late August -- due 
to severe dehydration, extremely low blood pressure, tachycardia 
arrhythmia and electrolyte levels so unstable two different Emergency 
Room doctors were afraid his heart would simply lose its bio-electric 
charge and stop.

On the third visit to the E.R. that week, the doctor (Sao) actually told 
him he would seek a psych override to remove his capacity for informed 
consent -- trying to assert he was suicidal -- and invoke his POLST 
(Physician's Order for Life Sustaining Treatment).

This doctor asserted Heshima's heart was going to stop imminently, and 
because his electrolyte levels were so unstable, his phosphorous levels 
so low and ketone levels so high, no amount of epinephrine and 
electrostatic paddles would be able to resuscitate him. He still refused 
LNS (Liquid Nutritional Supplement) treatment and returned to the facility.

In both cases, though facing imminent death, they continued to refuse 
treatment until CDCR officials agreed to negotiate in good faith with 
Pelican Bay, move local reps and participants out of the 4A and 3B 
debriefing blocks -- where the administration had isolated them and 
where they were surrounded by informants -- and back to the 4B yard and 
negotiate the terms of resolving the local issues unique to Corcoran 
SHU, which, as of the Sept. 3 meeting with Corcoran administrators, 

    * Additional canteen items
    * Additional TV stations (i.e. a Direct TV contract at prisoners'
      (Inmate Welfare Fund) expense)
    * Additional package and special purchase items and access
    * Extending visiting to two and a half hours -- three and a half
      hours for those traveling over 100 miles
    * More regular yard access; we're lucky to get 3-5 hours of yard
      access per week
    * One non-emergency phone call per month.

Unlike other prisons, the Corcoran SHU peaceful protest had three 

    * Hunger strike
    * Work stoppage
    * Mass single-cell event.

The last was by far the most impactful. Participants could have chosen 
any one or a combination of these options to contribute to supporting 
the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective and this historic human 
rights struggle.

Hunger strikes are a form of unilateral political discourse designed to 
raise social awareness of a particular injustice, while simultaneously 
shaming the perpetrating officials in the realm of public opinion. It is 
an extreme form of political discourse, the effectiveness of which lies 
in the potential for participants to die.

With the insertion of Judge Thelton Henderson's ruling giving CDCR leave 
to force feed hunger strikers, the lethal component of the hunger strike 
was removed as an active threat. Regardless of how incorrect and absurd 
the false narrative of "gang compulsion" was that CDCR used to dupe him 
into this ruling, the concrete analysis of concrete conditions still 
leads to this irrefutable materialist interpretation.

To be sure, the next day, here at Corcoran, those still maintaining 
their fast were confronted with the prospect of a process -- force 
feeding -- they could not resist without breaking the "peaceful" posture 
of the protest. Coupled with the degree of disrespect participants here 
at Corcoran have had to endure and absorb over the course of this 
protest, each man's decision was one grounded in the knowledge that 
there are still hundreds of participants who remain single-celled and 
will continue to do so and thousands more prepared to follow suit -- or 
re-consolidate -- according to the rate of progress and success reached 
in these ongoing negotiations.

There remain a significant number of courageous hunger strike 
participants here still hospitalized, and their sacrifices -- all of our 
sacrifices -- should never be marginalized because conditions require a 
change in tactics.

As you read these words, there are new tactics being discussed in the 
limited scope of our capabilities and maintaining a peaceful posture, 
should the need arise to resume an even more intense form of unilateral 
political discourse to resolve this contradiction. Let there be no 
mistake, elements here at Corcoran SHU are more than willing -- and 
capable -- of having that discussion and taking it to its logical 

In the final analysis, it is neither true that no negotiations are being 
held or that the peaceful protest action here at Corcoran is over. In 
the course of any political contradiction, there are always two sides. 
For the years we have known Sal Rodriguez and the work product of 
Solitary Watch, we've been under the impression that objective reporting 
and responsible analysis were consistent themes in their activities. 
However, simply accepting a dubious blog post by, of all the agencies, 
CDCR (really?) -- lending it any credence without first checking with 
the counterpoint if it's true -- is simply irresponsible.

This takes on an even more sinister appearance when it's cloaked in 
language like "rumor would have it," as though Corcoran SHU prisoners 
are engaged in some impropriety. Sal Rodriguez has the contact 
information for numerous activists here in Cor-SHU and/or those 
coalition activists in contact with Cor-SHU reps that would make it 
possible to investigate the veracity of the claims on CDCR's blog. This 
was not done, and there are only so many inferences one can draw from 
such an oversight. None of them are good.

We are not in the habit of inferring motivations or political leanings 
to anyone outside the confines of a dialectical materialist analysis of 
the persons or entities at question -- and we'll not begin now. What we 
can say with absolute certainty is irresponsible reporting is as 
dangerous as an outright lie.

The struggle continues.

Our love and solidarity to you all.

/For more info on the NCTT-Cor-SHU or its work product, go to 
<http://beforeitsnews.com/r2/?url=http://nctt-shu.blogspot.com/> or 
contact Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1l-43, P.O. Box 3481, 
Corcoran, CA 93212; Zaharibu Dorrough, D-80611, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-43, 
P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; J. Kambui Robinson, C-82830, 
CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; Jabari Scott, 
H-30356, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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