Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
Oakland—The CDCR declared the hunger strike of California prisoners to be a “mass disturbance” and a violation of state law on Thursday as hundreds across the state plan a large mobilization at Corcoran State Prison on Saturday, site of the one the state’s Security Housing Units (SHU) where prisoners are currently on strike. Advocates have expressed concern that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) reaction to the strike will be to escalate the punishment and threats against the prisoners’ peaceful protest. Prisoners and their supporters are urging the CDCR and Governor Jerry Brown to enter into honest and binding negation of their demands.
Limited contact with hunger strikers has found them to be in high spirits and aware of the strikes scale and outside support. Earlier this week Pelican Bay strike spokes people stated:
We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.
“The prisoners are fighting for a restoration of their human rights by demanding an end to prolonged isolation, an end to group punishment, and the draconian policies that land them in isolation with little hope of getting out—along with access to programs and adequate food. “ Says Kamau Walton of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. “These are the most basic demands and yet the CDCR continues to make threats. This is the response from a prison system that is on notice from the federal courts for an unconstitutional level of crowding and for inadequate medical care, a system that is now being investigated for sterilizing women prisoners against their will. Change is inevitable, the question is whether the CDCR and governor are going to prolong needless suffering.”
CDCR has recognized 12,500 prisoners as hunger strikers. While this number is lower than those reported earlier in the week, many have noted more prisoners are taking action than in 2011, and are prepared to risk retribution for maintaining their protest. “People aren’t buying the vilification of the strikers,” says Dolores Canales, of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, whose son is on strike in the Pelican Bay SHU. “These same prisoners have also called for an end to hostilities among racial groups inside. They are also inspiring powerful activism outside the prisons. The strikers recognize that their unity will lead to successfully challenging their conditions. This unity, too, is feared by Gov. Brown and the CDCR.”The strike has received widespread international news coverage, with both the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle printing editorials critical of the CDCR.
Assembly member Tom Ammiano, chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, stated on Wednesday: “I join the protesters in urging prison officials to make more progress in establishing fair and humane policies in the prisons.” Governor Jerry Brown has remained completely silent on the issue.
The Corcoran Rally will begin at 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Loved ones of prisoners, advocates, lawyers, and former prisoners will be available for interviews throughout the day.
For more information visit: www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com
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