“I thank Pelican Bay Inmates for standing up for their rights and I thank them because of the hunger strike they started. They are not only changing inhumane conditions for themselves, but are also helping change inhumane conditions within ALL California Prisons, including inhumane conditions at Calipatria State Prison.” Anonymous Calipatria Prison inmate family member message to Deborah Dupré, Day 19, Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike
Mass starvation, high heat prompt message for urgent support at Calipatria Prison
On Tuesday, Day 19 of Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike, a message from 300 of California’s Calipatria Prison inmates sent to the Examiner requested urgent support due to their deteriorating conditions in exceptionally high heat. In separate messages, Calipatria Prison inmates explained to Deborah Dupré why they are refusing food there where officials denied men are hunger striking and it has been later reported that only 33 men are participating.
The call for solidarity to people outside prison to build a stronger movement against the prison industrial complex, all violence and torture grew louder onTuesday, California prisoners’ mass starvation Day 19, when men in Calipatria Prison’s Segregation A5 Yard sent a message requesting urgent support, soon posted on Facebook’s “Pelican Bay – California Hunger Strike Solidarity” page:
“Calipatria State Prison going on the 19th day of no food, a few hundred in Segregation A5 yard send a message to everyone of URGENT SUPPORT for them. They say the heat is rising and its been very rough. Pass the word onto everyone of URGENT SUPPORT for them. They say the heat is rising and its been very rough. Pass the word on.”
LA Times reported Tuesday:
“Major medical problems begin once a hunger striker has lost 18% of his or her body weight, according to an article from the Journal of the American Medical Assn. that prison officials said they were using as a reference for what to expect if the protest continues. Life-threatening problems typically begin when a person loses 30% of body weight.”
Lawmakers and prison officials admit having no interest in responding to the strike, “even if inmates start dying soon, which is possible,” according to Mercury News.
“Some events have taken place throughout many of California’s segregation population” the Calipatria inmate explained to Dupré via a family member, both names withheld in fear of worse reprisal. Most men in Calipatria’s segregation await their fate: a transfer to “the SHU,” Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay Prison where they will be subjected to isolation in a concrete, 10-by-6-foot, soundproof, windowless cell, with fluorescent lighting, 22 hours a day, indefinitely.
There is no worse sentence than an indefinite one according to a Physicians For Human Rights publication, “Punishment Before Justice: Indefinite Detention In The US.” Indefinite detention violates national and international laws, including human rights laws ruled Law Lords in 2004 according to Human Rights Watch. The American Civil Liberties Union highlights, however, section 412 of the USA PATRIOT ACT that permits indefinite detention.
An earlier message from the Calipatria inmate to Dupré had stated that “about 200 people have gone on a hunger strike here in the hole.” Based on the recent communications, that number may have increased to about 300 this week.
Although on Friday, CDCR officials sat at the table for conversation with prisoners about their five demands, the ultimate officials’ stance was, “We don’t negotiate with prisoners.” After that, more California prisoners quit eating according to Carol Strickman, an Oakland attorney with California Prison Strike Solidarity during a national prisoner solidarity tele-conference with 140 participants on Monday.
The Calipatria Prison hunger striker stated, “It’s a mass peaceful protest that pertains to all of our privileges and conditions. Most importantly it has a lot to do with the CDCR’s validation process. So, when they come to feed us, we’re not taking it.”
He stated, “This involves everyone’s rights being violated. Nows the time to let people know!”
A Calipatria Prison prisoner family member told Dupré Tuesday:
“There is a problem when you have so many inmates (hundreds) in one prison being ‘falsely’ validated for being in a prison gang and locked up in their own solitary confinement in the extreme desert heat reaching 110 degrees, while you can be pending investigation six months, one year or even two years there.”
“Calipatria State Prison tried to deny to their own desert newstation that any of their inmates were involved in the hunger strike,” the family member said.
“I want to make it clear for their voices who have been silenced, that they are not only doing this in solidarity but also to help change their torture and inhumane ways they are currently experiencing themselves.”
The inmate’s message stated, “All of us are still on a hunger strike… This is something big! That’s crazy how CDCR is downplaying all this.”
In an email early Wednesday to Dupré, a Calipatria Prison family member wrote, “There is a HUGE reason why CDCR is trying to break Calipatria out [of the hunger strike] and lie about them… [I]f anymore news gets out about Calipatria, then the corruption and misconduct on what they do in there will leak out.”
Some of the five demands will help change the inhumane practices at Calipatria Prison, as Mumia Abu Jamal, a long time political prisoner on Death Row in Pennsylvania recently stated about the demands.
“A sub-demand is adequate natural sunlight. Sunlight. Few things can be more torturous than dying by starvation. These men are killing themselves, potentially, for fresh air, and sunlight.”
Coast to coast, peace and human rights workers fast and pray in solidarity with California prisoners
Responding to requests to support prisoners who are sacrificing their lives through mass starvation at thirteen California prisons, people in cities across the nation are learning that United States is fostering torture not only in California and Abu Ghraib, but also across the nation. Increasingly, Americans heeding the call for emergency solidarity with the prisoners’ peaceful action that began at Pelican Bay Prison in northern California.
“The multi-racial, multi-generational, and multi-geographical representation of people power shown in solidarity with strike outside prison reflects the solidarity happening inside the Security Housing Unit amongst prisoners across racial, generational, and geographic lines,” said Manuel La Fontaine, former prisoner and organizer with All of Us or None and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.
As dozens of participating prisoners in the planned mass suicide have been sent to prison infirmaries due to irregular heartbeats and fainting, according to a statement issued Monday by California Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity, demonstrations are intensifying across the United States and beyond, participants knowing that most striking prisoners in prison clinics have now lost 20-35 pounds and death is near.
Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Harlem have already started demonstrations. A large Native American contingent from Yurok Tribe have shown support with two drumming and singing ceremonies. Arkansas and Ohio are planning emergency actions. Solidarity has spread internationally with Montreal’s weekly picketing the American Consulate according to attorneys during Monday’s tele-conference.
Wednesday, July 20th, Rhode Islanders are fasting in solidarity with prisoners and are also calling attention to Human Rights violations across the nation in prisons according to Direct Action for Rights & Equality that includes former prisoners and present prisoner family members. Rhode Islanders are gathering at Kennedy Plaza from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm to offer prayers to those suffering, and to call out to all prison administrations to hear those prayers. A silent prayer vigil will follow at 3 pm.
Also on Wednesday, World Can’t Wait is holding a California prisoner solidarity rally in New York City at Union Square Park during peak hour traffic time, 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm.
A human rights vigil will be held Thursday, July 21 from 1:00pm to 8:00pm, at 220 West Broadway, San Diego California, 92101 on Front Street and Broadway across from the San Diego Court House.
Amber Ragamufn Rasta, leader of the San Diego solidarity action stated, “These men are living in deplorable conditions. In fact, some of the same conditions that closed Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The demands of these inmates are not only accommodating, but part of their basic human rights under the U.S. constitution.”
In response to many men in Pelican Bay Prison SHU serving indeterminate SHU sentence, possibly destined to serve their entire sentence in isolation, Ragamufn stated, “This type of treatment is not only inhumane and a form of modern day torture, but unacceptable and we are here demanding change begin now!”
Prison yard insight: Profits, deprivation, fabrications
As Ms. Ragamufn explains, being in “the SHU” for over a decade “would drive anyone into insanity.”
“They are deprived of human contact, deprived of religious and educational services and are given below par medical care. SHU facilities are designed to break one down mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s almost humorous that CDC states there is an ‘OUT’ for being housed in the SHU and that is debrief, die or parole.”
“Considering that most of these men have extensive and or life sentences, parole is not an option and death seems more appropriate. Debriefing is money making process in which CDC keeps our SHU programs full. Inmates are asked to provide the institution with all they know about gang activity. Once the inmate has given sufficient information, they are placed in SNY yard. This yard allows them to socialize, eat healthy meal portions, call home and even hug a loved one.”
In desperation to keep sanity and see sunlight or hug loved ones, according to Ragmufn, inmates “make up things” since no proof is needed in court. Whatever one inmate says about another goes on record and “that becomes a wrap for the individual whose name was mentioned, so your indeterminate SHU term begins.”
“In addition, many of these inmates have shown inactive status until CDC notices they have no proof to keep this individual any longer in indeterminate status. All of a sudden, ‘information’ suddenly appears that will hold one captive six more years in solitary confinement.
“What a great revolving door policy our prison system has to offer,” writes Ramufn. “As a tax paying citizen I am not asking but demanding that our prison system and the SHU program in particular be re-examined and modified to accommodate these inmates request.”
“Our constitution was founded on basic human rights and it is about time these inmates are given to them what has always belonged to them. Don’t allow a prisoner to die before someone takes notice of their simple request.”
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity attorneys and advocates strongly urge people across the nation to pressure Gov. Brown to meet the prisoner demands by telephoning his office and by gaining commitment from other states’ officials to do the same.
Printable flyers, posters and other outreach materials are available at Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.