In 1989, the CA Department of Corrections (DOC) opened Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Their primary stated reason for its construction was to reduce prison violence by segregating alleged gang leaders and members. But contrary to their stated purpose, prison violence has increased rapidly and dramatically. The CA prison system is more violent now than it was before the opening of PBSP. In fact, it's the most dangerous and deadly prison system in the country, as the statistics will clearly attest.
In Feb. 2001, CA witnessed one of its most violent race riots here at PBSP, where approximately 38 New Afrikan (Black) prisoners were stabbed. A message was delivered to me the next day from a group of brothers who had been involved in the riot, requesting my assistance with resolving this racial conflict/war. I am being housed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) here at PBSP (solitary confinement), so I am in a position to talk to certain influential Mexican and white prisoners.
That night, I wrote to Warden Ayers, explaining to him that I would like to initiate peace talks designed to resolve this conflict. The following morning, I was escorted to the warden's office. He was interested in my proposal. While I was there, he asked what he could do to facilitate this peace process. I told him I needed to speak with a number of prisoners, and he told his staff to accommodate my endeavors. I was able to bring all relevant parties to the table, a peace plan was adopted and a cease fire was implemented.
We knew there were a number of associate wardens here at PBSP, as well as Institutional Gang Investigation (IGI) unit administration in Sacramento, along with the CA Corrections Peace Officers Association (CCPOA, prison guards union) who did not want this truce to take place or to take hold. True to form, they sabotaged our peace talks with lies and negative propaganda. Because we failed to mobilize an outside, grassroots support base, we were not able to challenge the lies and distortions that were being told.
The DOC told the politicians and the media that they didn't need us to resolve this conflict. They know that's untrue, that we are the only ones who can resolve it. When I say "we," I mean those New Afrikan, Mexican, and white prisoners presently housed here in the SHU at PBSP in the D-Facility, units 1, 2, 3 and 4. Many of us are between 40-65 years of age and have been in solitary confinement from 20 to 40 years. I personally have been in isolation for 24 years. We are the only ones who possess the respect and influence to end this conflict.
We could have resolved this racial conflict five years ago, but the CDC didn't want us to achieve that goal. As a direct result, the conflict has spun out of control. Since 2001, there have been at least 500 race-based riots behind the walls, and approximately as many individual stabbing incidents related to this conflict. Over 200 race riots took place in 2005 alone. Even worse, since 2001, the conflict has spilled out into the community outside the walls, especially in southern California, and now the community is caught up in the conflict. Of course the CDC will not take responsibility for the escalation of this conflict, but the fact remains that it was the CDC that sabotaged our efforts to end it, and now it has enveloped the whole state of California.
We can no longer afford to expect the CDC or government to end this conflict, or allow them to prevent us from ending it. The escalation of this conflict is a further example of the CDC's criminal negligence. As a class of veteran convicts, we are reaching out to the outside community for your assistance in resolving this conflict. With your help, we can put an end to this war.
We have developed a plan that would consist of a joint effort, but an effort led by us. What we need from you is to force the CDC to allow us to initiate discussion on a peace resolution. At present we are not allowed to get together and dialogue on a truce. We are presently looking for outside volunteers to serve as facilitators and coordinators. The facilitators will assist those directly involved in the process, since being in isolation limits what we can do. This is why it's very important for us to have outside assistance. The coordinators are grassroots organizers that will be responsible for mobilizing a community effort in support of our peace summit. If your are interested in being a facilitator you can contact me at:
Abdul Olugbala Shakur s/n J. Harvey
D-4-112/ C-48884 (SHU)
PO Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
Pelican Bay State Prison
We also have a petition that we are presently distributing in support of our peace summit. Download the Pelican Bay State Prison Peace Talk Petition.
MIM replies: This mission statement underscores what MIM has long reported - the California Department of Corrections is behind the prisoner-on-prisoner violence and conflicts between nations in the prisons. They set up these divisions and they sabotage efforts by prisoners to achieve a peaceful resolution. The CDC's interest in promoting gang warfare behind bars is clear - keeping the prisoners divided and fighting one another prevents them from coming together to fight the injustice system. And these fights give the CDC justification for all kinds of repression and lockdowns. In fact they justify the existence of the Security Housing Units (SHU) themselves, which claim to house the "validated" gang members.
This is the same thing going on on the streets - the U.$. government has played a role in funneling guns and drugs to the streets to help fuel the creation of organizations fighting each other in oppressed communities. These organizations need to turn themselves to genuine self-defense in the interests of their nation, against their true enemy who perpetuates the system of national oppression in Amerika: the imperialist U.$. government. The organizers at Pelican Bay are setting a good example for people behind bars and on the streets, and we will work with them to take the struggle to the next level, beyond peace and onto the united struggle for justice.