Protests in Oakland & at Pelican Bay State Prison as hunger strike spreads

Support the Pelican Bay Prisoner's Hunger Strike
By Laura G

On Thursday, September 29, supporters of the thousands of hunger striking prisoners held a vigil in downtown Oakland. Protesters hope that others will support the prisoners and "amplify" the voices of the men in the "control units". 

They point out that SHU prisoners, unlike those in the general population cannot make any phone calls.  Ever. They are each confined to their cell 22 1/2 hours per day. They receive their meals through a slot. When they are let out of their own cell to exercise alone, the "exercise yard" is just another cell. There is no sunlight in the "yard". There are no bright colors. This is isolation and sensory deprivation. Protesters at the vigil do not equivocate that this is indeed "cruel and unusual" punishment. They say, "this is torture."

 

Lawyers Banned

On Friday, the CDCR faxed two lawyers who are on the mediation team chosen by the prisoners saying they had been banned from all prisons pending an investigation into whether or not they had “jeopardized the safety and security of CDCR” institutions. Carol Strickman, one of the mediation team lawyers who has been banned said:

"We have been receiving steady reports from prisoners of CDCR intimidation and retaliation leading up to the strike.  Now, we have the CDCR threatening prisoners and cutting off contact with our legal team.  We obviously don’t want to imagine the worst, but we are legitimately concerned about violence on the part of the prison administration."

Mediators have sent a letter to Governor Brown, asking for a meeting. The letter reads in part:

"We are ready to bring forth specific proposals that will make the current proposed reforms complete and bring California in line with best practices nationwide.  We can and must end torture in California’s prisons now."

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition is calling for th public to telephone the governor and other legislators, as well and the Department of Corrections urging that the prisoners' demand be honored. 

Protesters in front of Pelican Bay State Prison support the prisoners

The strike is spreading throughout institutions in California. Yesterday the California Department of Correction issued a press release confirming that prisoners in at least eight of the state's prisons are participating in the hunger strike. The press release also threatens various actions that CDCR will take against the hunger strikers, claiming that the strike is "mass disturbance" and "is a violation of state law, and any participating inmates will receive disciplinary action."

This morning a few protesters were seen standing in front of the prison. Their banner reads:

"Support Pelican Bay Prisoners' Hunger Strike. Prisoners are Human Beings."

This article originally appeared on examiner.com on October 1, 2011.