Pelican Bay Prison Strikers Are About to Die


Tiny - Posted on 13 July 2011

Author: 
Marilyn McMahon, executive director of California Prison Focus

Support striking prisoners by writing to them, calling officials, signing the petition 

by Marilyn McMahon, executive director of California Prison Focus

Prisoners are about to die in California prisons, possibly by the dozens or even more. Conditions are so bad they have preferred to starve themselves to death rather than live another week in such torturous conditions and let future prisoners endure the same conditions. Their actions scream to Californians to listen, to act, to prove that we do not want such torture in our names.

Please read the urgent bulletin below and contact your elected officials to demand that the hunger strike be addressed in a humane and rational way. The CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) has so far refused to negotiate with either the prisoners or their outside representatives and refused to end even the most egregious injustices or improve conditions. If it continues on this path, CDCR will
soon have a lot of blood on its hands.

by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Don’t let our brothers and sisters – yes, women prisoners are striking too – die alone in a hard concrete windowless dungeon like this SHU cell. Take action and spread the word NOW! – Photo: CDCR

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition received an urgent update from medical staff at Pelican Bay State Prison that the health of at least 200 hunger strikers in the SHU is rapidly worsening. A source with access to their current medical conditions who prefers to be unnamed reported:

“The prisoners are progressing rapidly to the organ damaging consequences of dehydration. They are not drinking water and have decompensated rapidly. A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up. Some are in renal failure and have been unable to make urine for three days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated.”

A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up.

SHU prisoners at Pelican Bay have said they are willing to risk their lives and will continue to strike until their demands are met. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to refuse to negotiate.

Prisoners across California continue to refuse food in solidarity with the Pelican Bay SHU hunger strikers.

This past weekend, families and friends gave encouragement and support to their loved ones during weekend visits at prisons across the state, witnessing the toll the hunger strike is taking on their bodies. Families have said their loved ones are extremely pale, shaking and have already lost 20-30 pounds. Some families of prisoners who have only been drinking water for 12 days now witnessed their loved ones faint or go into diabetic shock in visiting rooms over the weekend.

Families say their loved ones are extremely pale, shaking and have already lost 20-30 pounds. Some families of prisoners who have only been drinking water for 12 days now witnessed their loved ones faint or go into diabetic shock in visiting rooms over the weekend.

People locked up across the state have been telling their friends and families about the tactics prison officials have been using to break the strike.

Many prisoners have said that medications are being denied to prisoners on hunger strike.

Prisoners have reported that guards in at least Pelican Bay general population and Calipatria State Prison have been calling throughout blocks and units: “The hunger strike is over! The five demands have been met!” which is not true. According to family members of prisoners at Calipatria, participation at Calipatria was huge – at least 1,500 prisoners throughout that prison alone joined the hunger strike – until the guards spread rumors of the strike ending. Some prisoners at Calipatria remain on hunger strike, however.

While the CDCR released its estimate of 6,600 prisoners participating in the hunger strike during the Fourth of July weekend and declared the numbers dropping to over 2,100 in the following days, of course the CDCR failed to mention how and why that happened. The decline in numbers in no way demonstrates a lack of support or dedication to this struggle from the prisoners, rather how eager the CDCR is to make this issue go away quickly and quietly.

One prisoner writes to a supporter: “I’m sincerely sick with end stage liver disease (ESLD) and a severe case of related diabetes. I’m going to end up in the hospital almost immediately and will be effectively isolated. Due to my dedication to the struggle, I will continue with my strike. I won’t know when to stop. If the demands have been met in whole, negotiated part, etc., I will not take the cops’ word, for the pigs have proven their word to be hollow. I will need the word of you or your outside support.”

Families and community organizations like Prison Moratorium Project continue to rally support outside of Corcoran and other striking prisons, sharing information and trying to visit their loved ones as regularly as possible. Families and community members are also supporting the strike outside Pelican Bay.

Take action TODAY! Call NOW!

Support for this hunger strike is at a crucial point, where we need to pressure the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners immediately.

Call Gov. Jerry Brown, (916) 445-2841, and say something like this: “Hi, my name is _________. I’m calling about the statewide prisoner hunger strike that began at Pelican Bay. I support the prisoners and their reasonable five core demands. I am alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating medical conditions of the hunger strikers and the inaction of the CDCR. I urge you to make sure the CDCR negotiates with the prisoners immediately and in good faith before prisoners are force-fed or even die. Thank you.”

Also call your legislators and urge them to make sure the CDCR negotiates with the prisoners in good faith.

Call CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, (916) 323-6001, and say something like this: “Hi, my name is __________. I’m calling about the statewide prisoner hunger strike that began at Pelican Bay. I support the prisoners and their reasonable five core demands. I am alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating medical conditions of the hunger strikers and the inaction of the CDCR. I urge the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners immediately and in good faith before prisoners are force-fed or even die. Thank you.”

Other ways to support the hunger strike

The prisoners need international support! No matter where you are geographically, you can help amplify the prisoners’ voices and demands:

If you have a loved one locked up and want support contacting him or her about the hunger strike, reach out to the coalition by sending an email to prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com. It is important that they have updates on the status of the hunger strike both at Pelican Bay and across California, including how people are showing solidarity and support for the hunger strike outside.

The coalition also needs help getting updates and information to prisoners throughout California. If you know people who are locked up in California, please either send us their information or send them updates of the strike, including how people are supporting outside. The hunger strikers need our support and need to know how much support is growing for them outside prison.

Lucasville Uprising prisoners, who held a victorious hunger strike in January, are chanting: “From Lucasville to Pelican Bay, fighting back is the only way!”

“From Lucasville to Pelican Bay, fighting back is the only way!”

An emergency press conference will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, July 13, 11 a.m., outside the California State Building in San Francisco, at Van Ness and McAllister.

This story, to which Bay View staff contributed, first appeared on PrisonerHungerStrikeSolidarity

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