By Min King X aka Pyeface
California Prison Focus and KAGE Universal presents
The Hunger Striking for True Freedom Tour
August 1 - August 21, 2021
Shining light on California’s Prison Industrial Complex
while inspiring meaningful discourse nation-wide.
☠ 163 jails ☠ 86 juvenile facilities ☠ 46 federal and state prisons ☠ 5 ICE detention centers ☠
♡ Multiple rallies & events ♡ daily pop ups ♡ featured artivists ♡ and a quest for true freedom ♡
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” Fyodor Dostoevsky
“State repression is centralized within the prison system.” Angela Davis
The Hunger Striking for True Freedom Tour, a project of California Prison Focus/KAGE Universal (CPF/KAGE) will consist of a caravan of mostly formerly incarcerated activists, including two featured artists and a prison cell on wheels with a piano in it. The caravan of formerly incarcerated artivists will cover over two thousand miles and last for 21 days, passing by many of California’s more than 300 federal, state, county and ICE detention facilities, with multiple organized rallies and interactive art exhibit/tabling/pop-ups along the way. We will use our art, voices, and literature, amplified by our social media presence, to bring awareness to the omnipresence of the California carceral system, the brutality of this system, and its wide-ranging social and economic impacts. Through both organized and impromptu community dialogues, we will present and explore solutions and concrete steps towards ending mass incarceration..
The tour is being organized in solidarity with and in honor of the California Prison Hunger Strikes of 2011, 2012 and 2013 - who starved themselves for 60 days to liberate themselves from decades of torture in Pelican Bay State Prison’s long term solitary confinement units (PBSP SHU). This tour will shine light on their plight, as well the plight of thousands of other incarcerated elders, men, women, children and families who are surviving life in a concrete box, under the guise of “public safety” and under the color of law.
We will illuminate the malignant consequences of structural racism and spark meaningful discourse about viable pathways to uncaging California, and the nation as a whole. We will present solutions developed by still imprisoned scholars and activists, including the Prisoner Human Rights Movement Blueprint, Strategic Release and the “Autonomous Infrastructure” of the Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement (A13-AIM).
Featured artivists include CPF/KAGE Co-Director and spoken-flowz artivist, Min King X aka Pyeface, author/artivist Jose’ Villarreal who survived 9 years in Pelican Bay SHU, and world-renowned jazz pianist, Eric Vaughn. In addition there will be skits and two theatrical productions of Solitary Man: A Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison, a two person play with Fred Johnson based on interactions with prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU/solitary confinement. Other artivists and speakers will be joining our caravan and/or rallies and pop ups along the way. We will also be sharing the artwork, poetry and writings and pre-recorded messages of our still imprisoned artivist allies.
** Other people are welcome to join our caravan, however, California Prison Focus is not responsible for travel or lodging arrangements. If you join us, please come prepared! Dates and locations will be posted, at a later date, at www.prisons.org.
* This tour was organized in memory and honor of Christian Gomez and Billy Sells who lost their lives during the California Prison Hunger Strikes, and of political prisoner, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, and for his children and family who spent decades waiting and looking forward to the day their family would be whole again. Chip, a member of the Black Panther Party, passed away on April 12, 2021, after serving three times the average sentence for the offense he was imprisoned for. *
Political Prisoners and a Legacy of Resistance in California
The California Prison Hunger Strikes of 2011, 2012 and 2013
The California Prison Hunger Strikes were organized by the same politically active individuals at Pelican Bay State Prison who were instrumental in the development of California Prison Focus back in 1989, subsequent to the opening of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). These men who became our close allies, were tortured for decades with “sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, thought deprivation, social deprivation and cultural deprivation” - as stated by incarcerated writer and activist, Louis Powell, who spent over three decades tortured in PBSP SHU, and is still seeking his freedom today. Five hundred of the California Prison Hunger Strikers at PBSP had been tortured in the SHU for more than ten years and 78 for more than twenty years. Hugo Pinell endured 43 years of solitary confinement torture. While the strikes were successful in that over 30,000 people participated in the 2013 strike, including prisoners and activists from all over the world, who joined in solidarity with the California prison hunger strikers, and the CDCR was forced to release the men from solitary confinement, many of the tortured individuals continue to suffer from the long term effects of SHU PTSD. (See “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement” by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Baridi J. Williamson, Prison Focus, Spring 2018, Issue 55 or “Pathology of the SHU” by Ifoma Modibo Kambon, Prison Focus, Summer 2017, Issue 52) Most of the organizers of the strike are unable to begin the healing process because so many of them remain imprisoned today, as the result of retaliation by prison guards for their organizing activities and act of resistance. These freedom fighters did not starve themselves only to be moved from one unit to another within the prisons. They did so to gain TRUE FREEDOM for themselves, for their peers, their children, their families and communities, and for all of us!
California Prison Focus and the California Prisoner Hunger Strikes
In 2015 California Prison Focus sponsored and became a founding member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. Through our work with the coalition, our investigative legal visits and subsequent quarterly California Prison Reports, as well as our advocacy, direct actions and our publication, Prison Focus, we played an instrumental role in the success of the California Prisoner Hunger Strikes and the Ashker v. Governor of California class action lawsuit, which ended indeterminate solitary confinement in California and led to the release of more than 1,500 people from California SHU,.... via California Prison Focus’ Liberate the Caged Voices and Agreement 2 Come Home campaigns, CPF/KAGE Universal will continue to advocate for the TRUE FREEDOM of our allied and aging artivists who are still locked up today, and all aging prisoners, nationwide.
California Political Prisoners
Political movements have historically developed and evolved inside U.S. prisons paralleling those which exist outside the prison walls. While some people in prison today are there as a direct result of their political activities before their imprisonment, many others became politicized after arriving in prison. Angela Davis, in a 2007 interview with Prison Focus, explains that imprisoned scholars in California, “were analyzing the conditions of their lives in prison, and came up with new ideas of how to engage in struggle around prison issues and relate these issues to the larger construct of racism and economic exploitation.” Some of the imprisoned individuals who remained active in agitating for social change - educating themselves and those around them - as those described above - have, as Davis went on to explain, “been subjected to another layer of repression precisely because of their politics”
Caravan, Rally and event details will be posted at www.prisons.org