On 07-19-2013 all MDF hunger strikers suspended their hunger strike. Below are the demands that were met by MDF command staff:
DEMAND #1 was granted in full. Classification shall tell you in writing what you are being held in Ad-Seg for as well as program expectations to be released from Ad-Seg.
DEMAND #2 Command staff is working to come up with a free time schedule that follows title 15 standards. One part of this that is granted in full is that all detainees will be given an opportunity to empty their trash can EVERYDAY.
DEMAND #3 had 3 parts. Two parts were granted in full. MDF medical/mental health staff shall no longer conduct ANY type of appointment on the intercom system nor at detainees’ cell door where private medical issues are heard by others in violation of medical privacy laws (HIPPA). The third part of allowing Ad-Seg detainees’ to reach medical triage on the phone systems, as all other modules do, is still being worked on with command staff.
DEMAND #4 Command staff informed classification to ONLY house mentally ill inmates on D-module as a last resort.
DEMAND #5 was granted in full. ALL MDF detainees’ will be allowed to purchase ink pen fillers from canteen. Also necessary photo copies will be made for detainees’ filing court documents. These will be implemented in a reasonable time frame.
It is in good faith that we suspend our hunger strike and that MDF command staff will continue to implement our 5 Core Demands. MDF command staff has been very open to our ideas. With the exception of DR. DENNIS MCBRIDE who tried to guide detainees’ into refusing water as well as food. We hope all other hunger strikers can get some much needed relief on their demands. If this does not occur we will resume our hunger strike. Special thank you to our loved ones on the streets, all organizations and media outlets who covered our struggle, as well as Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer- Welcome home & Dan Horowitz, Nicole, Lesli and Mikes sister.
MIM(Prisons) responds: See the original article announcing the Martinez demands where we address the shortcomings of their demands, which included segregating mentally ill prisoners. The victories here are small reforms riding on the coat tails of the central struggle here, which is to shut down long-term isolation. Control units were originally created to separate leaders from the general population. But this division has been two-fold in that now the interests of those in control units are not felt as dearly by those in general population. Even so, the last few weeks have shown a great level of consciousness among the whole prison population about the inhumane conditions those comrades in SHU and Ad-Seg face. We hope those who stood up in Martinez continue to support that struggle, which is really central to the prison movement itself. Without a prison movement, prisoners have no real means of addressing abuse, which can be so common in prison.
Today marks day 10 of the hunger/work strike - only a few of us in the entire cell block of 50+ men [in one of the Pelican Bay Security Housing Units] are still on hunger strike. Most went 7 days and a few went a couple of days more and now we are down to a few.
The prison has been telling people who go out to medical etc. that "everybody is eating." One person was told "All of the short corridor is eating" and this was on the 4th day. Everyone knew it was bullshit. Then today on Democracy Now! we heard that many here are still striking.
Today is the 10th day and the prison has still not weighed us, they said all protocol is out the window and they are now going by what Sacramento says. Even while we listened to Democracy Now! in the middle of the program on the hunger strike the signal was mysteriously interrupted and switched over to classical music for the best part of the show when the people were speaking on our behalf but the part where the CDCR spokesman slandered us was played just fine.
Our current treatment shows that we receive our treatment ultimately from the state, the prison is just the arm or tentacle but the state makes the decisions even in regards to prisoners who are in torture kamps from California to Guantanamo and beyond.
I have gone ten days so far on hunger strike and refused a total of 30 meals and I have not been weighed, nor have I had my vitals checked, no blood pressure check nothing! These maggots run around giggling and acting like this means nothing, pigs, nurses all these employees act the same. I have seen more concern over commercials for a dog pound.
All this tells me that in any future hunger strikes, here in Pelican Bay or anywhere in prisons, people must not set a 3 day or 1 week date as many will only do the bare minimum. One needs to always set it as go as long as you possibly can! Because the state does not understand anything else, we must deepen our commitment for justice! Nothing else will get us to the victory lane.
The last week has seen unprecedented participation in the campaign to end torture in the form of long-term isolation in U.$. prisons. California is ground zero, where the state has reported at least 30,000 (20% of the prison population) in two-thirds of the state's prisons have participated in the strike and over 12,400 refused 9 consecutive meals. They said 2,300 skipped work or prison classes on July 8.(1) While we don't have much info on actions in other states, solidarity statements have been circulating from prisoners around the country. Meanwhile, street activism in the urban centers of the state have been hard to avoid, as have reports on Pacifica radio. Public officials, religious leaders, Palestinian political prisoners(2), a labor union and many humyn rights groups have championed the cause. To mark week 2, activists are trying to get 30,000 on the outside to call governor Jerry Brown to demand that California prisons abide by international law and stop this brutal treatment of prisoners.
Not everyone is in support of the strike. In typical pig fashion, Amerikkkans are flooding mainstream reporting of the strike with comments condemning the prisoners to suffer and die. One comrade in the Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor, where the thrust for recent resistance originated, reported guards saying,
"The bosses are redirecting us because of y'all's hunger strike and work stoppage and making us stay extra hours, so you guys have nothing coming!"(3)
The official word from CDCR is similarly discouraging. In an interview, spokespersyn Terry Thornton asserted that the CDCR does not believe that they are using solitary confinement. This conflicts with our surveys of prisoners, who report over 14,000 being held in conditions of long-term isolation in California. When asked about the debriefing process Thornton dis-ingeniously asserted that "none of these units are used for punishment." The CDCR also feels that "these reforms [the step down program] address every single demand made in 2011."(4) It seems the CDCR is the only entity to believe such nonsense.
Below are some other early reports we've received so far as we are going to print.
From a statement from another Pelican Bay comrade:
...As I prepare for this peaceful protest I know that I am forced to deprive my body of sustenance and endure possible harm, but this is necessary. It is as necessary as someone anywhere in the Third World who steps on the battlefield in order to fight the super parasite. This persyn does this because if this persyn don't do it no one else will. Yes there is support out in society from so many who see our oppression as the oppression of many throughout the world who stand with us, but any sort of change will ultimately come from prisoners ourselves who must raise awareness to the shameful conditions we face...
and more recently,
Today is the third day of the strike and everyone in my pod are participating for various different reasons. The morale and spirts are strong, i feel a little light-headed but i'm as determined asever and will continue. From what we gather we will start getting weighed in the next couple of days and we also expect our property to be inventoried. We hear on the loud speaker about "staff training" so e expect harrassment. Today we were asked, "Do you have food? Are you willing to relinquish it?" and told, "If it's found tomorrow you will not be counted as being on a hunger strike no more."
San Quentin update:
The San Quentin death row SHU (or Adjustment Center) always has it's 102 cells filled and there is always a higher percentage of Blacks and Latinos than whites or other nationalities. At least 25 are on hunger strike. We are filing group appeals. I for one will not be giving in to the pigs no matter what, and thank you for all the help.
from Corcoran State Prison:
I am participating in the ongoing demonstration with full intentions of ending this extreme corrupt treatment that we are constantly subjected to.
There are many around me who plan on making our voices heard. There is word of COs and medical staff who intend to disregard the proper procedure. That and the health of my associates is what I intend on recording step by step, making it public.
This struggle is for just cause and is intended to bring our humanitarian needs up to standard. We all know the system is blind to righteous modernism and will continue to end our lives as quick as it is to step on a bug. We must unite to bring back peace and order.
I submit this with the utmost admiration and respect, we look forward to all input and assistance.
Folsom State Prison:
Everyone who's aware of New and Old Folsom's history would be aware of the fact that there was once a time when the men behind these walls would stand together in solidarity if there was an occasion we were experiencing a common transgression brought on by prison administration. That era in solidarity has been dead for some time at New Folsom, but on July 8, 2013, it was as if that moment finally arrived. All affiliates, and races, once again at New Folsom on every yard, and every building, stood together in solidarity for a common cause! All prisoners at New Folsom once again joined together July 8 of this year to begin the "2013 Hunger/Work strike", all except for the prisoners who never stood for nothing a day in their life. Prisoners everywhere should only hope that this new change will be the beginning of a new era at a once vibrant, political shifting institution, and no matter what, July 8, 2013 will be remembered in history as "The Rise Again of a Once Political Empire."
Day 1 at Pleasant Valley State Prison:
I want to report that over here on A-yard at Pleasant Valley there is only one participant, me. And from what I'm finding out through the channels is that there is a good handful more doing their thing on the other yards. I don't know exact count, but B yard, I'm told, has about 7 or 8.
We are SNY. And I want to express to the comrades that this classification carries no weight or import when it comes to these acts of unity. One sergeant came to my door this morning and asked me why I was participating. After I told him he said "But you're SNY - that's active stuff going on." He even stated that he's going to submit a psych referral because it's odd that out of all 5 housing units, there is only me. I'm not tooting my own horn, I just want it known that although we're few, nevertheless we are here!
I only have one request: that there be direct correspondence with the known participants of this action, updates so that we are constantly aware of any progress or changes or news that is of substance and import to what's happening.
This morning they walked me to the clinic to take my vitals, check my weight, etc. As we know I'll be going every day. Hopefully others will come aboard, especially those I've been "witnessing" to. Hopefully they'll see my example.
Day 4 at Calipatria State Prison:
This is the fourth day of our hunger strike/work stoppage here in Calipatria mainline. Almost the whole yard participated. A couple of prisoners in my building headed off to work to go and do the pigs' bidding and undermine our efforts. However, the show of solidarity between all races is encouraging, especially between Blacks and Mexicans.
As you know there's a long history of conflict between these two groups in California prisons. Only a week after I got to this prison, less than a year ago, there was a racial riot between the two. Now they're standing together in righteous protest.
Before this began, CDCR officials started circulating their threats by way of an "Advisement of Expectations" outlining their latest repressive policies which aim to expand validation, making it extremely easy to target just about any prisoner for long-term isolation. When I read this document it was obvious that this was all an attempt to break our solidarity with prisoners in the SHU.
CDCR hopes to divide prisoners in the SHU by allowing some to escape those torture chambers while making it clear that it has no intention of even considering others for release. They also hoped to paralyze mainline prisoners with fear by letting us know that they can snatch any one of us off the line at any time and throw us in the SHU for the next five years. Needless to say, this hasn't worked. Our level of consciousness and commitment has been growing here in the mainline with every hunger strike.
MIM(Prisons) number one priority in supporting the current actions in California will be to provide regular updates to prisoners as we did in the previous waves of action. Meanwhile we encourage our outside readers and supporters to make phone calls, write letters and spread our articles on this important struggle.
Today prisoners across California are beginning round 3 of their strike against Security Housing Unit torture. It is fitting that a video has been circulating today featuring Yasiin Bey (rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def) undergoing the same force-feeding procedure that U.$. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been facing for months, and that California prisoners will likely be facing in the near future.
Hats off to Bey for being willing to do this to expose the torture that the United $tates is putting people through every day.
Prisoners at New Jersey State Prison, the only maximum security facility in the state, staged a non-violent protest June 6 through 8, 2013. Initially, prisoners on the West Compound, the older part of the prison, and one of the oldest in the nation, functioning since 1830, refused to go to the mess hall for the entire day. Despite some lack of cooperation at the breakfast movement, the mess hall finally remained empty at dinner time. The next two days the modern North and South compounds of the prison joined in the protest, bringing the institution to a complete standstill.
The protest came as a consequence of several factors. First was the issue of collective punishment. The prison administrator issued an official memorandum in which he threatened to suspend recreation and privileges to entire wings of any individual prisoner who had committed a serious offense (a common occurrence on a prison that houses close to 2000 people).
Ancillary issues involved the harassment of people at the central rotunda, a place of obligatory pass for any activities, including meals, recreation, education and religious programs. The officers, with little supervision, or perhaps encouraged by supervisors, overtly harass inmates, many times without probable cause, as demanded by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of New Jersey, and affirmed by the 10A Code that regulates prisons in the state. Prisoners are stripped searched at the mere whim of any guard. Made up charges that lead to lock-up time are usually the result of such harassment.
The last issue that weighed on the decision to stage a non-violent protest relates to the abusive language and arbitrary searches conducted by a second shift sergeant. Sometimes, the results are outright sad and curious, i.e., the same shank found in several cells by the same sergeant.
In conclusion petty management practices, abuse of power by supervisors, lack of concern by the administrator and superintendent (supervision from an Ivory Tower), collective punishment, and indiscriminate use of lock-up as an instrument of control, led the prison community to unite as one to express their concerns.
It is important to highlight that the prison, at any given time, keeps an estimated 750 inmates on closed custody units such as 1-Left lock-up, Ad-Seg, MCU (Management Control Unit), and P.C. (Protective Custody) — a full 38% of the prison population. More than one in three prisoners are kept in solitary confinement.
Although nothing has changed as of the writing of this report, it is important to highlight that the level of unity achieved across nations and groups, the effective organization of the protest, and the fearful response by the state demonstrate the power of non-violent resistance in a corrections environment. During the demonstration the prison was militarized by SAG, the special operations response team of the DOC, hundreds of officers were summoned to work, and all administration had to report to work. It is presumable that the cost of overtime hours, and the emotional cost of an oppressive power challenged by the masses will affect the way in which future decisions are made by the administration. A group of prisoners were transferred to other facilities across the state, some others placed in solitary confinement. As it usually happens, most were not organizers of the protest.
I've been siting here in North Kern State Prison for the last 3 months waiting to see my counselor so I could get cleared for transfer to my next place of confinement. We don't get much action or anything here, reading material is always hard to come by. But the other day I got the chance to read your Under Lock & Key newspaper and I must admit I liked it, a lot!
Through the grapevine I heard about what was planned for July 8th, 2013, but to be real no one knew if it was true or not. Until reading your newspaper it was just a rumor, and today we know it's not, thanks a lot for the information.
MIM(Prisons) adds: It may seem like information about the hunger strike in California was widely available to prisoners based on the high number of participants, but this letter demonstrates the slow and difficult work involved in building such an action. Each pod, or sometimes each cell, is isolated from all others, and getting information about what's going on depends on the whims of the censors at each prison, who might get transferred, and what outside contacts people have. This is one reason we stress the importance of everyone getting their own subscription to Under Lock & Key. You never know when you will be isolated from your comrades, but as long as you can receive mail you will at least get some news from ULK. In addition, the more people subscribed, the more likely that one or two copies of the newsletter will make it past the censors in any prison.
In mid June of this year my cell block (unit 7) at TRCI conducted a food strike and a canteen strike. We agreed that we would not come out of our cells during meal times for 4 days. Also we agreed not to purchase canteen for one month since they use the profits for themselves in a lot of ways and as you know, the best way to slay Goliath is to hit their pockets. We were contesting a few different things. For one, this is the only prison in Oregon that will not allow group photos and we have to wear jeans, long sleeve blue shirt (no sunglasses or hats!) All of the other joints you can have 4 people in the photo, shirts off, in shorts, with sunglasses and a hat on if you so desire! For two, they were trying to change our TV program package to very basic cable. There was a couple other reasons we decided to demonstrate also, but I'll pass on that for now.
Anyway, the food strike went on for 4 days and the whole unit minus some old 72 year old guy participated.
The authorities were pissed! Almost one month later they came and snatched me and 5 other guys off the unit and threw us in the dungeon under the guise of being "key" shot callers in the food strike.
Here I sit with the max sanctions, 180 days in the hole, 24 days loss of privileges upon release from seg and a $200 disciplinary fine. All of their "evidence" results from confidential informants. Of course I am appealing, but their appeal process is a joke. However, I aim to take it to court as soon as my appeal is denied.
I have spread and continue to the word about your publication/organization and my comrades and I are always spreading information to help hinder the very ones who oppress us.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are pleased to hear reports like this one about prisoners coming together to fight for common goals. And we do not know the full story of the demands these protesters put forward, but we will point out that the photo and TV situation described above is not high on the list of demands from the anti-imperialist movement. These problems are neither torture nor repressive towards political organizing and education, and those are the primary areas of our focus for protests. While it is important to develop demands that will unite a broad group of prisoners, we do not want to water down the goals of our movement to the extent that these demands lose their value. We work towards this unity of goals and prisoners through the United Front for Peace in Prisons and we look forward to working with these comrades in Oregon on future protests.