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Hunger Strikers Face Death…

Being ignored by the corporate media since July 1st are hundreds of prisoners across some 13 prisons in California conducting a hunger strike to the death.  Many prisoners are also refusing water and medical care.

Pelican Bay State Prison SHU...

Prisoners are protesting a variety of conditions, including poor medical treatment, indeterminate sentences in the Segregated Housing Units (SHU), collective punishment, and a coercive form of debriefing that relies on snitches to determine one’s criminality and allegation of gang membership.

Diana Bukowski’s Voice of Detroit, the organization All of Us or None, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity committee, and Democracy Now!, among others, are reporting this struggle as well as they are able.

The hunger strike was sparked at the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) SHU after a fight in the yard some months ago for which SHU prisoners had no control or responsibility. Inmates in the SHU are already in 23-hr lockdown with few “privileges.

When the entire prison was placed on lockdown, those in the SHU were further denied access to mail, phone, visits and commissary. In other words, what little access to humane treatment they had left.

This criminal application of collective punishment despite internationally recognized codes for prisoner conduct, has been outlawed since World War II. Yet, it remains standard retributive practice in the US prison system (euphemistically labeled: common area punishment).

Inmates Arturo Castellanos (C-17275, D1-121) and Todd Ashker (C-58191, D1-119), two of the core group within the PBSP-SHU, started planning the strike last February. They studied the 1981 Irish prisoners hunger strike at the Long Kesh Maze prison, which resulted in the deaths of Bobby Sands and 9 other prisoners.

The strikers have also resolved to continue, “all the way to death if necessary.” They excused the elderly and infirm (the average age of the strikers is 50), but most refused any special treatment and joined in solidarity with the strike.

Pelican Bay State Prison, CA...

One of the prison nurses writing to a solidarity committee, stated that several of the prisoners are close to critical condition, approaching renal failure and other emergency medical conditions.

As any prisoner with any significant time can attest, the authorities look at these protests as great sport and an occasion to exercise their worst, short of public notice.

Anticipated by prisoners is the usual staff allegation that inmates have stocked up on canteen food.  The authorities know this is a lie due to their operational rule (PBSP-OP-228) that whenever a prisoner misses three consecutive meals, his cell is automatically searched and any such food confiscated.

This writer, given 20+yrs in the American gulag, has witnessed many such protests (albeit, this is the first one I’ve ever heard of including the refusal of water and medical care).

The norm is a total lockdown, zero negotiation, and a near complete blackout by the media (other than what the authorities claim).  It is my experience that placement in the SHU is usually quite arbitrary.  As an “administrative action,” it is not normally reviewable by the courts–or anyone else.

As NBC News and the rest of the corporate media focus their pandering on “Carmegeddon” and Casey Anthony’s naval gazing, the public remains almost totally unaware of this prisoner protest.

Hunger Strike Solidarity...

Of course, corporate-conservative propaganda has already largely programmed much of the public with a reactive response toward prisoners, to wit: “They’re only getting what they deserve…a taste of their own medicine,” ad nauseam.

The problem with that is that it’s based on lies. First of all, the vast majority of prisoners in the American gulag are not violent offenders. What you see on TV is either fiction or focused on the worst of predators…a fraction of those in the system.

In fact, I might opine that there are fewer social predators in the general population or most prisons for that matter, than within the community of banksters, corporate profiteers, and financial manipulators. Oh! Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News didn’t tell you that? Then I guess it can’t be true…

Most prisoners have the same problems as the public, but far more concentrated and generally without the means to defend themselves. At least, most cops on the outside protect and serve the public…most of the time.

Inside prison, the opposite is more often true. The guards and staff often befriend (or otherwise use) the criminal predators in order to keep the mass population compliant and in line.  Snitches and predators are usually one and same.

Finally, one should consider: 1. Given today’s plethora of laws and security codes, it could easily be any of us; 2. they should be serving their sentences of time, not cruel and unusual punishments; and 3. virtually all will be returning to their respective communities, which has a stake in their condition.

I recall growing up hearing the mocking tone of those who refused to believe that few Germans actually knew of the death camps and the mass executions of Jews, Poles, Russians, “criminals,” Gypsies, homosexuals, the genetic infirm, unionists, communists, and others.

I might ask, given much the same corporate propaganda—if not yet the same results—how much of the public is aware of what’s being done in their name?

The fact is, the conditions and lives of these prisoners is truly in their hands. Now is our turn to be good Germans

Dr. Publico


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One Response
  1. […] the California prison hunger strike that this site featured July 18th, is in its fourth week with some 500+ inmates participating. While Fox and the other corporate […]

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