Thoughts on Our Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H): WE CAN'T BREATHE!!!/ Notes From the Inside


Tiny - Posted on 14 January 2016

Author: 
Kijana Tashiri Askari and Akili Castlin, Plantation Prison Correspondents

Editor's Note: Editors Note: Askari and Castlin are two of several power-FUL PNNPlantation prison correspondents. As currently and formerly incarcerated poor and indigenous peoples in struggle and resistance with all plantation systems in Amerikkka, POOR Magazine stands in solidarity with all folks on the other side of the razor wire plantation. 

 

The Webster’s new universal unabridged dictionary defines the word “hostility” as follows:

1)      A Hostile state, condition, or attitude; enmity antagonism/ unfriendliness.

2)      A hostile act

3)      Opposition or resistance to an idea, plan, project, ec…

4)      A. acts of warfare B. war

So our initial question to the people is: “what does hostility mean to you?” During the formulization phase of constructing our position on this issue, a wise man was asked his thoughts on our agreement to end hostilities (A.E.H.) and he stated:

“the inclusion of the agreement to end race- based hostilities to our struggle against California’s solitary confinement policies, represent a qualitative leap of the insight of all prisoner nationalities, and unites us beyond the fight to free ourselves from C.D.C.R.S torture units. Its promise may foreshadow the triumph of prisoner’s quest for full human recognition…”

It has been said, that the average human being should be able to hold their breath under water for at least (2) minutes without suffering any injury to the brain. But imagine being forcibly held under water for 10 to 40 plus years straight without being able to come up for air?! It is impossible to ignore the potential psychological trauma involved in this process but none the less, we prisoners have continued our struggle to come up for air, only to be repeatedly held down and forced back under water by the corrupt and powerful hands of C.D.C.R.!!! WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

History has always proven to be a viable guide to making qualitative assessments in relation to where we have been and in what lies ahead in the course of our struggle. Therefore, it is only appropriate that we highlight the essence of our human suffering with examples from our history in C.D.C.R.’S. solitary confinement units.

In the 1960’s, we prisoners were suffocating under the inhumane and deplorable conditions in Soledad’s O-wing. (1.) Prisoners were routinely placed in these strip/quiet cells amidst the foul stench of urine and human feces. In most instances, human waste laid bare on the floor for all to see. And you could forget about the prison guards giving us anything to clean up the human waste. Especially when you factor in how the prison guard wouldn’t give us toilet paper to wipe ourselves or flush our floor-based toilets on a regular basis which could only be done by them. I mean, the prison guards wouldn’t even give us drinking water!! These contradictions brought about a rescue boat in the form of Jordan V. Fitzharris (2.). But it did not contain any life preservers because no sooner than when the federal court ruled these conditions to be unconstitutional, C.D.C.R. made no changes to improve the quality of life in O-wing for the captive prisoner class. WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

In the 1970’s, we prisoners were suffocating under the inhumane conditions of being deprived of outdoor exercise and access to natural sun-light. Our means of exercise consisted of being let out of our cells to occupy a space in front of it that was no bigger than a public sidewalk. In Spain V. Procunier, (3.) the court ruled these conditions to be unconstitutional and set forth the mandate of prisoners in solitary confinement to receive at least 10 hours of outdoor exercise a week. But 36 years later in 2015, warden B Wedertz of CCI-Tehachapi has admitted that this prison is ill- equipped to meet the mandate of 10 hours of outdoor recreation. In other words, “caged monkeys” in a zoo is receiving more outdoor exercise and natural sun-light than us!! WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

In the 1980’s, we prisoners were suffocating under the deplorable and out right inhumane conditions at old Folsom and San Quentin State Prisons. These conditions consisted of extreme cold weather during winter months due to prison guards using their guns to shoot out the windows in the housing units. Rat feces circulated throughout the plumbing system, meaning that the designated shower areas for prisoners were inclusive of this type of filth!! Once again a rescue boat appeared on the horizon in the form of Toussaint V McCarthy (4.) where the federal court attempted to take previous rescue efforts a step further by not only ruling these conditions to be unconstitutional but also issuing a “permanent injunction” that mandated these conditions to be immediately changed!! However, instead of any changes coming about, C.D.C.R surreptitiously transferred prisoners out of old Folsom and San Quentin State Prison en masse to Tehachapi, DVI-Tracy, Soledad State Prison, etc. thus, nullifying the injunction. WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

In the 1990’s, we witnessed the expansion and usage of supermax control units (i.e. “solitary confinement”) take flight wherein C.D.C.R.’s objectives became ever more apparent in the form of torture-based population control. Our suffocation was two-fold!! On the one hand, a culture of police beatings (e.g. “excessive force”) was finally exposed to the public in Madrid V Gomez (5.) Where prisoner Vaughn Dortch was forced into a tub of boiling hot water and had his skin ripped off of him in the most barbaric fashion possible!! Prisoner Greg Dicherson was shot in his chest and stomach area at point blank range in his cell with a 38 millimeter gas gun via the false assertion of being non-cooperative with prison guards. While on the other hand, prisoners were being forced to become informants for the state in order to be released from solitary confinement via “the C.D.C.R. Inquisition” (i.e. “Debriefing”) program. This practice was exposed as being an “Underground Policy” in Castillo V. Alameida (6.) because C.D.C.R. never promulgated it through the administrative procedure act (A.P.A.) to make it an actual policy. The Castillo case also brought about the (6) year inactive gang status reviews, which meant prisoners were lead to believe we could be released from solitary confinement after (6) years. These reviews were a complete sham!! We prisoners had absolutely no constitutional protections under this process, wherein hardly any prisoners were released from SHU. But more importantly, this rescue boat was doomed from the time it left the docks, as it has now been revealed that Castillo is a pig collaborator and became an informant for C.D.C.R. in the current class action lawsuit of Ashker V Brown (7.) that has been mounted against the current conditions of solitary confinement. WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

It is through this spiral of development that the A.E.H. became manifest in October of 2012. So in reflecting upon our collective struggle, in being unable to breathe for over a half century of pure torture!! it is hard to not think of Eric Garner in the minutes right before his demise, when he uttered the words: “I CAN’T BREATHE!!!”

It is this reality that we prisoners remain confronted with when we put into perspective why we ended our hostilities. It amounts to freedom or death!! It is every prisoner’s aspiration to be liberated from prison. Our A.E.H. puts us in a viable position for this to happen. Especially when we consider how C.D.C.R.  has routinely denied us parole for simply being interned to indefinite solitary confinement status as alleged gang members without a single act of violence to support their position. This speaks to the importance and the manner in which every prisoner has honored and adhered to our A.E.H.. This is commendable on all fronts!! Our exemplary conduct has made C.D.C.R. completely powerless over us as we have successfully taken away the fodder that used to fuel their political rhetoric in labeling us the “worst of the worst”. Our unity, now qualitatively threatens the political, social & economic stability of C.D.C.R.,  which is why their counter-intelligence unit (I.G.I) is issuing all of these bogus cdc.115 rules violation reports (RVR’s) for promoting gang activity.

Our fortitude and resolve of continued unity ensures that our demand in wanting to be liberated from prison will no longer fall on deaf ears!! We now have the power to change the course of history, with C.D.C.R.’s routine parole board denials, just as we have done, in building a movement around abolishing all solitary confinement units. We must begin a similar process in mobilizing our families on this very issue. But until then, “WE CAN’T BREATHE” must become our mantra going forward, as we prisoners refuse to ease up on the powers that be, until every prisoner is able to breathe, by being liberated from these prisons!!

WE CAN’T BREATHE!!!

For more information, contact us at:

Kijuana Tashiri Askari

S/N marcus Harrison #H54077

4B-*B-106

P.O. Box 1906

Tehachapi, CA 93581

 

Akili Catlin #J99402

4B-8C-106

P.O. Box 1906

Tehachapi, CA 93581

 

For the Prisoners Human Rights Movement!!

Reference Notes:

 

1.       For further reading on the conditions in Soledad’s O-Wing, read the melancholy history of Soledad Prison by Min S. Yee. Also see the report of the assembly select committee on prison reform and rehabilitation administrative segregation in California’s prisons from the 1960’s.

2.       The court ruled the conditions in Soledad’s )-Wing unconstitutional in Jordan V Fitzharris 257 F SUPP 674, 682-83 (N.D. CAL  1966).

3.       The mandate of 10 hours of outdoor exercise was established in Spain V. Procunier 600 f.2d. 189,199 (9th Cir 1979).

4.       The living conditions at Old Folsom and San Quentin State Prison were found to be unconstitutional in Toussaint V McCarthy 801 f.2d. 1080. (9th Cir. 1986).

5.       A culture of plice terror was revealed in Madrid V. Gomez 889 F. FSUPP. 1146, 1162, 1167 (N.D. Cal. 1995).

6.       Sham inactive gang status reviews were conducted every (6) years per. Castillo V. Alameida Case No: C-94-2847.

7.       Ashker V. Brown, Case No: C-09-5796-CW is a class action lawsuit that challenges the arbitrary policies that have kept prisoners interned to indefinite solitary confinement for the past 10 to 40 plus years. This case can be downloaded at: www. cand. uscourts.gov.

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