Denver: Solidarity event with California Hunger Strikers and hunted comrade Assata Shakur this weekend

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, over 30,000 prisoners are now on hunger strike in California state facilities, including juvenile detention centers across the state.

This major escalation of a 3 year long campaign by prisoners across the state to highlight the injustices and torturous conditions of solitary confinement and inhumane captivity represents what could become a high water mark in the modern prisoner movement.

The question that we, as outside supporters of this hunger strike now face is: Will we step up to ensure that these prisoners win this struggle, or will we watch and allow our comrades to struggle on their own?

On Saturday July 13th, solidarity actions with the hunger strikers will be happening across the country (and the world! Palestinian prisoners are hunger striking in solidarity with prisoners in California:

In Denver, we will be hosting an event that intends to draw the connection between the present day prisoner movement(s) and the liberatory social movements of the CoIntelPro (1960’s-1980’s) era. We will be screening a
documentary of “Eyes on the Rainbow”, a film about Assata Shakur, a comrade who broke out of prison in 1979, and has been hunted by the U.S. Government ever since.

Come join us on Saturday to show solidarity with our comrade Assata and the 30,000 (or more!) prisoners on hunger strike now in California (and Palestine, Ohio, and elsewhere).

Event info:
Film screening of “Eyes on the Rainbow”
Saturday July 13, 1:30pm
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
2401 Welton St, Denver, Colorado 80205

Please spread the word, and we hope to see you there!

California: DOC admits 30,000 prisoners on hunger strike

From the LA Times:

California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.

The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.

Despite the widespread work stoppages and meal refusals, Thornton said state prisons operated as usual through the day. “Everything has been running smoothly,” she said. “It was normal. There were no incidents.”

The protest, announced for months, is organized by a small group of inmates held in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their list of demands, reiterated Monday, center on state policies that allow inmates to be held in isolation indefinitely, in some cases for decades, for ties to prison gangs.

Though prison officials contend those gang ties are validated, the state last year began releasing inmates from segregation who had no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of those reviewed have been returned to the general population.

The protest involves the same issues and many of the same inmates who led a series of protests in California prisons two years ago. At the height of those 2011 hunger strikes, more than 11,600 inmates at one point refused meals. The correction department’s official tally, which counts only those inmates on any given day who have skipped nine consecutive meals, never rose above 6,600.

Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement: Short Corridor Collecitve’s Counter-Proposal to CDCR

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Modern-Management Control Unit (MMCU)

This proposal starts by looking at concrete programs that have been implemented by CDCR and functioned effectively, and by examining how they can be immediately adapted to the present-day PBSP and all 180 prison structures.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Max-B management control unit programs, such as Chino, DVI, and San Quentin Max-B, afforded as much programming as the General Population (GP) prisoners had, and held individual prisoners accountable, who failed to program within the MCU setting.

Today (2012) there are still some small Max-B type programs functioning in a few CDCR facilities under different names, but segregated with the same objectives.

The new 180 design prison complexes are perfectly structured for the necessary control setting and for meeting all the security requirements needed to make this modern (Max-B MCU) type of unti(s) more durable and cost-effective to operate for the California tax payers. Continue reading

The New Boss Looks a Lot Like the Old Boss

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity


By Ed Mead

“[T]he goals we are currently pursuing are objectively incorrect. To reform the validation process is good, but as an ultimate objective it is not a resolution. It’s a peripheral manifestation of the SHU’s themselves. It’s secondary, like bed sores on a cancer patient. Bandages and topical treatment are necessary, as a reformation of the validation process, to cure the bed sores, which are peripheral to the cancer, but the patient needs to be cured of the cancer. We are not going to be cured of perpetual isolation with Band-Aids, by reformation of the process, but only by dealing with the principle source of this illness—the SHU itself.” – A SHU prisoner

In an apparent response to CA hunger strikes one and two the CDCR has proposed new regulations with respect to gang management and SHU placement. As you’d expect, there is very little velvet glove and a lot of iron fist—lots of stick but little carrot. The essence of their draft rules is to do away with gang status as a means of SHU or ASU placement, and to replace it with some sort of threat model or designation, like the feds do. In other words, instead of them saying you are somehow related to a gang, a classification the courts have held requires some measure of proof; they now change the name of “gang” to “Security Threat Group.” If you should (god forbid) be one of those people who might write about or verbally communicate something to the effect of how messed up it is to be a slave in 2012 America, then you are a “threat.” My friend Bill Dunne has been perpetually locked down in the federal system under just such a designation. But more to the point, how does this proposed new policy meet the five core demands?


The name has changed but the game is the same

The CDCR plans to no longer utilize the terms “Prison Gangs” or “Disruptive Groups” and instead will use a “Security Threat Group” designation or STG. STGs are divided into two groups, STG-I and STG-II, what used to be gang members and gang associates or affiliates, respectively. What is a STG? It is defined as “[a]ny group or organization of two or more members, either formal or informal (including traditional prison gangs) that may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol, whose members engage in activities that include, but are not limited to … acts or violations of the department’s written rules and regulations” or any law or attempting, planning, soliciting, etc. to do such things. How is one assessed to be an STG? The list is too long to detail here, suffice it to say two or more people who the cops feel might represent “a potential threat to the safe and secure environment of the institution … such activities as group disturbances [like a peaceful hunger strike?].” Continue reading

Letters from Pelican Bay SHU on UN petition and CDCR’s new gang strategy

From the Bay View

Purpose of ‘security threat group’ designation is to place thousands more in isolation

by Todd Ashker

Written to Kendra Castaneda March 11, 2012, postmarked March 13, 2012 – I want to update you: There’s a public radio station out of Humbolt State University and there’s an oldies program I listen to every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. with DJ Sista Soul. You can check it out online.

Today she mentioned the United Nations petition and press conference set for the 20th and she referenced the website for people to check out:

Also on the radio was the CDCR SHU policy changes and stepdown program proposal … saying it was more of CDCR’s typical manipulative tactics; i.e., to the uninformed it may appear positive, but in reality it will only make things worse by creating the Security Threat Group (STG) designation so as to place thousands more in Ad/Seg-SHU-type units.

While the four-year stepdown program proposed is a laughable joke, interestingly, back in September, we put out our document titled “Tortured SHU prisoners speak out: The struggle continues, hunger strike resumes Sept. 26,” wherein we spelled out CDCR’s agenda and basis for coming with the STG policy: money and staff. It’s their way of expanding IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) staff and, more importantly, it’s the only way for CDCR and CCPOA (guards’ union) to recoup some of the loss sustained from the prison population reduction forced by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May of 2011. Continue reading

Our Duty as Human Beings is to Fully Resist

Open letter from Pelican Bay representative to Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

by Todd Ashker

Received by Prison Activist Resource Center Feb. 20, by SF Bay View Feb. 29– Discussions are underway with the intent to set short term and long term goals in the resistance struggle against SHU practices and the prison industrial complex. People are indoctrinated, brainwashed into believing they are weak or powerless – that prisoners in this state are evil and deserve to be punished and treated as some type of sub-human animal, based on their felon status. By “people,” I’m referring to prisoners, their families, friends and supporters, as well as the general public at large. This is the wrong way to see things and it has to change!

Here in the prison system, it’s become the norm for men to brag that they have become “institutionalized,” complacently accepting more and more abuse and deprivations. They talk about “I can take whatever they do to me and won’t give them the satisfaction of complaining about it.” This is the example set by many older cons for the younger cons. Continue reading

More on Death of Hunger Striker Christian Gomez

Family of California Prisoner Who Died on Hunger Strike Speaks Out

By Sal Rodriguez, Solitary Watch

The family of Christian Gomez, the 27-year-old prisoner who died while on hunger strike at California’s Corcoran State Prison, is speaking out about the loss of their family member in the hope that similar incidents in the future are avoided.

In a phone call with Solitary Watch, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson Terry Thornton confirmed that Gomez had been placed in solitary confinement in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) pending investigation of assault on another inmate with a weapon on January 14, 2012. Thornton would not confirm the status of this investigation. Gomez was serving a life sentence for first degree murder and attempted murder.

Christian Gomez had not told his family members of his intentions to participate in the January 27-February 13 hunger strike held by ASU inmates in protest of their conditions. According to an interview with Gomez’s sister, Y.L., she “found out when the coroner Tom [Edmonds] implied that there was a possibility of a chemical imbalance due to a hunger strike he was participating in. That’s the first I heard of this. Back in [September or October] when he first was transferred there he did tell me that they were having a hunger strike to fight for their rights but he was in general population.” Continue reading

A discussion on strategy for the Occupy Movement from behind enemy lines

From the Bay View

Editor’s note: This comes from the brilliant minds – locked away in one of the most restrictive prisons in the U.S. – who brought you “California prison hunger strikers propose ‘10 core demands’ for the national Occupy Wall Street Movement,” the Bay View’s most read story, with 9,980 pageviews, from Dec. 6, 2011, to Feb. 19, 2012.

by J. Heshima Denham, Zaharibu Dorrough and Kambui Robinson of the NCTT Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU)

“But beneath this conventional enthusiasm and amid this ingratiating ritual toward the dominant power, you can easily perceive in the wealthy a deep distaste for the democratic institutions of their country. The people are a power they both fear and despise.” – Alexis De Tocqueville, “Democracy in America

Greetings, brothers and sisters. A firm, warm and solid embrace of revolutionary love is extended to you all.

As we proceed in this period of evolution in our struggles for substantive social change in the U.S. via the national Occupy Movement, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Movement, the Anti-Imperialist Movement etc., it is imperative that we not only understand that we are all representative of a single socio-political and historic motive force, but those in opposition to our democratic aspirations are the very same political, social and economic powers that this nation has relied on to ensure the integrity of democracy, social justice and economic equality. This is a contradiction.

This historic contradiction will NOT be resolved via our disparate efforts. Substantive change will only be realized through a comprehensive strategic approach, coordinated and conducted by us all. Simply put, we are a single movement, and for us to have the social impact necessary to compel progress we must proceed with this realization as out guiding ethos. We of the NCTT (New Afrikan Collective Think Tank) in the Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit) have a proposal on effective strategic organizing we’d like to share with you here, but before we do so we think it is imperative that you all understand the historic significance of what we are all a part of.

It is our assessment that what is occurring today as it relates to the national protest movement (i.e., Occupy Wall Street, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity etc.) is the unfinished legacy of the struggle for social justice necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its democratic potential. This struggle is part of the rich and courageous legacy of abolitionists, women’s rights activists, organized labor, populists, human and civil rights activists and other democratic struggles of the nation’s past.

Social revolution has always been imperative to this type of substantive change. This calls for the recognition and coming together of people – citizens from different cultural, economic and ideological backgrounds – realizing the common interest inherent in this truth: that we all inhabit the same planet, breathe the same air, are part of the human family.



Prisoner At Corcoran Dies Hunger Strike In ASU Continues

February 13, 2012
Prisoner At Corcoran Dies Hunger Strike In ASU Continues

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Oakland – Family members and advocates are seeking information surrounding the February 2nd death of Christian Gomez, 27, a prisoner at Corcoran State Prison. It remains unclear whether or not Gomez was
participating in an ongoing hunger strike in the prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU), or whether his death was related to the strike. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has not disclosed the cause of death saying that they have not yet received an autopsy report.

“Conditions inside California prisons are atrocious, especially when it comes to physical and mental health care,” says Laura Magnani, Interim Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee
and an expert witness during an August 23rd hearing in Sacramento regarding California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs) , “Any time a prisoner dies inside one of their institutions, the CDCR must be held
responsible.” California’s prison healthcare system has been under federal receivership since 2006 due to inhumane and deadly conditions caused by severe overcrowding. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson
recently announced an imminent end to the oversight. Continue reading