Skip to main content

This is the 11th day of the California prisoners' hunger strike against indefinite solitary confinement and other ills associated with solitary confinement. As of the last report I'd seen more than 2000 prisoners remain on hunger strike, despite retaliation and all manner of threats from California's prison officials.

Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown remains in Europe on a two-week vacation.

 photo support-hunger-strikers-button_zpsc5205abe.jpg
 photo support-hunger-strikers-button_zpsc5205abe.jpg

Here's what prison officials have been doing to hunger strikers and their legal advocates:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation continue to retaliate against hunger strikers. Yesterday it was reported that a core group of strikers were moved from the Security Housing Unit in Pelican Bay to even more restricted isolation. Since then, supporters have learned that prison officials have been attempting to break the resolve of strikers by blasting cold air into the SHU and Administrative Segregation (AD-Seg) units at Pelican Bay.

Also, in a move to restrict communications between prisoners and their legal advocates, the CDCR has issued an exclusion order denying attorney Marilyn McMahon access to her clients at Pelican Bay State Prison, many of whom are in the 11th day of their protest against indefinite long term solitary confinement. The order bans McMahon from the prison pending a CDCR investigation to determine whether one of her legal assistants "presents a serious threat to security."

If you've been reading these hunger strike diaries this should sound familar. You can get sent to solitary confinment because you are suspected of having some connection with someone who is suspected of being a gang member. Now, you can be denied the right see your attorney because your attorney's associate is being labeled a "security risk."

On Monday, supporters did a phone blast to Jerry Brown's offices, demanding that he order prison officials to negotiate. Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity spokesman Issac Ontiveros told me that the blast had gotten officials attention, because they were forced to shut down their phone lines due to the call volume.

On Wednesday, we learned that officials were retaliating against 14 leaders of the hunger strike:

We want to provide a brief update on our collective struggle to end the torture of long-term solitary confinement. As expected the CDCR has responded to the resumption of our peaceful protest by retaliating against 14 of us here at Pelican Bay, subjecting us to similar escalation as in 2011.

Specifically, on July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed to our cause and will end our peaceful action when CDCR signs a legally binding agreement to our demands.

PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives

Today we learn from the LA Times that officials do not plan on doing medical checkups on the strikers for another week:
Prison officials said they do not plan physician checkups for most protesters until they have refused meals for 17 days.
And that officials have shown no indication they are willing to negotiate:
Magnani, who was on the mediation team that helped end similar protests two years ago, said that she has been in weekly contact with corrections officials, but that the officials have expressed no willingness to open discussions about the current strike.

Department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said... protesters had been warned that the hunger strike would bring consequences: "They should allow their lawsuit to take its course and not be protesting."


This is one of the largest hunger strikes in history, if not the largest. Even if the number of strikers continues to diminish, there is nothing anything like this in magnitude I can find reference to except a similar hunger strike two years ago by California inmates over the same issues.

Here's a description from an anonymous prisoner, written in 2011, when prison officials used the same retaliatory tactics, describing what it means to be moved from solitary to Administrative Segregation.

To help you better understand what took place, I'll tell you how this kind of thing happens. A crew of CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] officers will show up out of the blue at a prisoner's cell. They'll tell him to strip naked and hand his clothes to them. They'll give him his boxers, socks, shoes and T-shirt and tell him to put them on. Then they will handcuff him behind his back and escort him to Ad Seg. Ad Seg is a separate building that is located not far from SHU. They put the prisoner in a van with little cages in it and drive him over to Ad Seg.

In Ad Seg you have no property when you first get there. When the guys from here in SHU arrived in Ad Seg, they went to an empty cell with nothing but the clothes they wore from their SHU cell.

The CDCR emptied out a row of cells in Ad Seg for the "so-called" leaders of the hunger strike. So, the ones who were moved to Ad Seg went from a cell with all their allowed property to a crazy world with nothing.

The CDCR did this as a retaliatory tactic. They do not like being exposed as to what is really going on here in California's SHU programs. It's something similar to The Wizard of Oz where the wizard is behind a curtain and making things look in a monstrous way that is completely false to reality. But the CRCR turned up the air-conditioning in Ad Seg to torture the guys they put over there. They were over there freezing while the cops were snickering about it. The cops would come in asking if they had had enough, and the cops would tell the guys, "All you have to do is start eating, and we'll take you out of here." As you can imagine, the guys responded with a lot of words that would be bleeped on TV.

What You Can Do:

Sign The Petition.

Be willing to take a simple action:

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) invites you to support the hunger strikers by signing this Pledge of Resistance:

I will join PHSS in one action per week in response to some emergency facing the hunger strikers, and in resistance to the torture. These actions may include an email, phone call, letter, vigil, and/or activation of my network and will be initiated by the Emergency Response Network of PHSS.


Read more about the California Prisoners' Hunger Strike:

Some Dare Call It Torture.

Can the 8th Amendment Defeat California's Out of Sight, Out of Mind Supermax Prisons?

CA Gov. Brown Smacked Down (Again) By Federal Judges... And About to Face Yet Another Prison Crisis.

You Will Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy.

30,000 Prison Voices Speak In California Hunger Strike. MSM: Crickets.

It's Official. CA Bureaucrats Say Prisoners Really On Hunger Strike... and Start Spouting Assholery.

Neither Beating Sun nor Boiling Sand Can Keep Them From Marching for Justice.

Can You Take One Moment to Stop Torture.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 04:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, and Los Angeles Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I've seen documentaries on solitary. (7+ / 0-)

    People have no idea how bad this torture is.  First day - you think you can handle it.  In two weeks many start losing their minds.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 04:58:14 PM PDT

  •  I almost never think in terms of "evil" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, AoT, alice kleeman

    until I see bureaucracy in action. It relieves people of their conscience. (That's not meant to be as broad-brush as it sounds.) I wonder how many of these prisoners are hoping to die.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:21:52 PM PDT

  •  I take no pride in thinking that I've been locked (3+ / 0-)

    up longer in my life than any other active Kossack, but it may well be true.

    I knew Marion, and what goes on there, from my ACLU involvement before I ever hit the federal system. Stories about the new "Super Max" being built in Colo. were already circulating when I was not far up the road from there in the early ninties.

    And I had my first direct exposure/reaction to a food incident at FCI Englewood. At the time, I was kicking ass on the adminstration in the courts, and had a national reputation as a "jailhouse lawyer" (I mean to the extent that such reputations ever can and do exist.)

    We all know if a "hunger strike" is coming. And there actually are seperate rules for jailhouse lawyers, both for the inmates and the hacks. Us full time fighters are exempt from the temporary actions, because we're the first to fall. Pretext.

    So, anyway, I hit the chow hall conspicuously, the first few times that it was available. And I was still not even vaguely surprised to be both one of the first, and nearly the only one to be rolled up and headed to "solitary".

    A few days under lockdown, and then the goon squad fourpointed me off of the property with the entire population watching out of the unit windows from their lockdown. ("Fourpointing" - inmate in chains from top to bottom, including "black boX" to gather and neutralize all wrist and belly hardware in an insurmountable configuration. Even so stabilized, four SORT guys per inmate, one front and back, right and left, physically holding hardware lock points. "SORT" meaning helmets, face shields, full body protective armor, literal cyborgs all in surreal black.

    So then you go where they tell you to go, and after you get there, they stand down, and then you put up with some more bullshit, and then you finally sue over the whole thing, and then, five years after relase from the system, and after getting the Warden "demoted" - "demoted" - sent on down the road with an appropraite reward reward for good and faithful service - I collected my bonus check for $5,000 and thought about how it all sure could have gone far worse than that.

    But there are no true 2,000 person 11 day hunger strikes. It takes a "Program" to be able to follow the players and the plays. But if someone feeds me the raw info, I bet I could do a "play-by-play" here that would be truly impressive.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:41:35 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the (harrowing) account. (0+ / 0-)

      Not knowing anything about all this except what I read, I don't follow when you say

      But there are no true 2,000 person 11 day hunger strikes.
      Seems like we've just seen one.
      •  Everything is relative. There are different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darwinian Detrius

        definitions for everything. Hunger strike? Food strike?

        The real deal is at Quantanamo. The government incapacitating detained persons and compelling the ingestion of nutrients. Literally life saving measures because all parties accept the possibility of death otherwise. Death would be "a public relations problem".

        Some things, on the other hand, are more of a public relations situation.

        Stop the assholes from acting up so that we don't look bad.

        I wish that I didn't know the nuances between all of the different possible scenarios, but I actually do.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:05:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Please keep us updated. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My prayers are with you all.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site