Two Acts of Civil Disobedience in Support of Prisoner Hunger Strike, Friday, 10/14

Press TV coverage of CD at State Building in LA

Non-Violent Civil Disobedience in Sacramento: Protesting the Torture of Prisoners, by Larry Everest

A little past 8:00 am, on Friday morning, October 14, three of us—all supporters of the courageous hunger strike by California prisoners—walked up to the main entrance of the headquarters of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in Sacramento, California, the state capitol. Then we chained ourselves to the front doors, sat down, and began a non-violent action of civil disobedience. We did so to support the just struggle and demands of the hunger strikers and to condemn the assaults of the CDCR and Governor Jerry Brown on the prisoners.

With me was Gregory “Joey” Johnson, a revolutionary communist activist, whose bold action in the 1980s of burning an American flag led to a rare Supreme Court victory for the people (Texas v. Johnson), and Maryann, a relative of a California prisoner and a World Can’t Wait activist.

We felt it was imperative to take bold action to underscore the urgency of the situation faced by prisoners and to make clear our support for all the prisoners who have been on hunger strike—or who are continuing their hunger strike. And we felt that everyone has a moral obligation to step up their support for the hunger strikers and their just demands in whatever ways they possibly can. Anything less is unconscionable.

We made clear to the activists and bloggers who joined us at CDCR headquarters that we were demanding:

* Governor Jerry Brown and CDCR fully meet all the prisoners demands!

* No mistreatment, punishment, disciplinary retaliation, or denial of medical care to prisoners who have been on, or are continuing their hunger strike!

* Prisoners are Human Beings—They Must Treated As Such!

We were all arrested and each slapped with five different charges. As we were being dragged off, we all shouted our support for the prisoners, the demands of the hunger strikers, and our opposition to retaliation and ongoing torture. And we denounced the fact that we were arrested and dragged off to jail in order to ensure that the CDCR and the State of California could continue carrying on “torture as usual.”

The charges against us are outrageous and we’ll be mounting a legal and political battle for all of them to be dropped.  And, these charges are certainly not going to stop us from doing everything in our power to continue fighting for the rights – and humanity – of the prisoners!  And I call on others to join this struggle.

 

Why I Chained Myself to the State Building in Los Angeles - Torture Is Unacceptable – Step Up the Struggle to Stop It!
by Keith James

In a word, torture… torture in a brutal and barbaric penal system hell-bent on the destruction of thousands of prisoners in high-tech torture chambers called Security Housing Units or SHU’s.
 
In the SHU you’re locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell 23 hours a day, with minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation.  Imagine your only human contact with the outside world is the punch of a prison guard, or a violent gas explosion as part of “extracting” you from your cell.  Imagine never hearing music ever again.
 
Think about everything that makes you human… that keeps you physically and mentally alive… that connects you with the world and other people… that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think….  All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish.
 
Of the 1100 prisoners in the SHU in Pelican Bay State Prison, over 500 have been literally buried alive in the SHU, entombed, for over 10 years; 78 for over 20 years.  The cruelty and illegitimacy of the State of California ’s actions must stop and stopping torture requires such inhumanity becoming a MAJOR focus of resistance in society.
 
Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other state prisons have rebelled against all this; for 20 days in July and now for 19 days, from September 26 to October 14, upwards of 12,000 courageous prisoners have carried out a hunger strike.  The prisoners stopped eating, risked their lives, and made their just and reasonable demands to end long term solitary confinement and torture, and snatched the initiative from the prison authorities, spotlighting a towering crime that has been for far too long covered up.
 
What these prisoners have done is truly heroic.  They are an inspiration, setting an example for everyone fighting for an end to injustice, and we must come to their side.
 
Yet in California the Governor supports the prison officials in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR).  As the CDCR viciously intensified their almost unimaginably cruel treatment of prisoners who are on a hunger strike with even greater repression and violence these past weeks and months, Gov. Brown fully backed the assault, saying: “We have individuals who are dedicated to their gang membership who order people to be killed, who order crimes to be committed on the outside.  My recommendation is to deal effectively with gangs in prison.”   No, Governor Brown - torture is unequivocally unacceptable, no matter what labels are put on prisoners.  This is why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles .
 
***
The CDCR response to this hunger strike has been vicious, outrageous, and ominous: intimidation and retaliation against prisoners and their families; “general population” prisoners put into isolation for participating in the hunger strike; fluids and vitamins deliberately withheld to further incapacitate the striking prisoners; expulsion orders to two key mediation team lawyers who have been banned from Pelican Bay prison pending an investigation into whether they had “jeopardized the safety and security of the CDCR”; denial of family visits; further isolation of hunger striking SHU prisoners by placing them “down under” in Administrative Segregation Units, in extreme cold with no medicine and medical attention; brutal cell extractions of hunger striking prisoners, with the use of suffocating gas explosions in the prisoners cells….
 
What people do on the outside of prison will be a big factor in what happens now that the prison authorities have reacted with vicious reprisals against prisoners, families, and legal advocates.  The hunger strike has been halted for now.  The torture, despite an epic struggle, continues… the 5 demands of the prisoners have NOT yet been met… but many, many more people, millions more, learned about the SHU’s and thousands today are looking for ways to act to put an end to such inhuman, punitive treatment.
 
We have a moral responsibility to act in a way that corresponds with the justness of the prisoners’ demands and with what is truly at stake.  In the words of Revolution newspaper, a determined and bold movement outside the walls of prison is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers called “SHU’s”.  That’s why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles .
 
Photos of the action.

*****
Prisoners' Five Core Demands:

1. End to group punishment and administrative abuse.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.

3. Comply with Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.

4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.

5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status prisoners.
 

Main Reports on Protest & Resistance Two Acts of Civil Disobedience in Support of Prisoner Hunger Strike, Friday, 10/14

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.