Today, hundreds of inmates in five California state prisons ended the second week of a hunger strike to protest living conditions, in what has become the largest coordinated protest by state inmates.
And the State of California continues its “disinformation campaign” about the hunger strike which began July 1, by declaring that the strike was “probably synchronized … through organized criminal networks.” Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) made this statement to the media:
“This goes to show the power, influence and reach of prison gangs. Some people are doing it because they want to do it, and some are being ordered to do it.”
Activists who support the strikers dismissed the gang ties, and said the other inmates had rallied to support a group of 150 prisoners who started the protest inside the Secured Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border.
Carol Strickland, an Oakland attorney who is working with the hunger strikers, said this:
“I don’t think this is something that represents gang control. This was an unusual example of unity among groups within the CDCR, and that’s knocked them back in a way. Here, the CDCR has managed to unite the groups – inmates are seeing their enemy is not the brown person across the way.”
Go here for the remainder of the SF Gate article.
More on Medical Crisis of Hunger Strikers Who Need Support Pressuring Immediate Negotiations
By prisoner hunger strike solidarity /July 14, 2011
Legal representatives made visits to Pelican Bay SHU (Secure Housing Unit) Tuesday and interviewed a number of hunger strikers. Each prisoner explained how medical conditions of about 400 hunger strikers in the SHU are worsening. Many prisoners are experiencing irregular heartbeats and palpitations, some are suffering from diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia. Many are also experiencing dizziness and constantly feel light-headed. Many struggle with shortness of breath and other lung and respiratory problems. Dozens of prisoners have fainted and been taken to either the infirmary and/or outside hospitals. Some prisoners also have Chrones disease, which leads to extreme loss of fluids and electrolytes and needs to be treated by adequate nutrition and hydration.
At least 200 prisoners continue the strike in solidarity with the prisoners at Pelican Bay at Calipatria State Prison, where summer heat has reached to 110 degrees F, even hotter inside the SHUs. Some people have experienced heat stroke due to severe dehydration.
Prisoners at Corcoran have also notified us that hunger strikers there are struggling with the same symptoms of severe dehydration. After mild seizures and severe diabetic shock, some people have been taken to the infirmary.
Many doctors outside of prison, some of whom have experience working with prisoners, have explained to us that adequate hydration is paramount to preventing fatal starvation. The fact that the prisoners are showing symptoms of such extreme dehydration shows the prisoners are approaching a medical crisis.
Dr. Corey Weinstein, a private correctional medical consultant and human rights investigator with 40 years experience providing health care to CA prisoners, explains:
“The strikers’ claims of substandard and prejudicial medical care at Pelican Bay are certainly true. As well the medical staff refuses to take on their responsibilities as health professionals to advocate for their patients in matters of daily life related to food, nutrition, exercise and mental hygiene. Those who should be providing care act the jailer instead. Given my long history of working with California prisoners, I have grave doubts about the Department of Corrections’ ability to adequately carry out their own guidelines and protocols even during this urgent and public moment. Reports such as prisoners with very low blood sugar levels and lack of urination for 3 days should not be coming from the prison. These are men who require hospital care under prison protocols. We should ask why do they remain at the prison?”
Clearly the prisoners are in dire need of adequate food and hydration. The only way to prevent people from dying right now is for the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners with the outside mediation team the prisoner’s have approved of.
*If you have information you think we should know about or suggestions of how people can support the strike that will help pressure CDCR to negotiate immediately, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
**Supporters everywhere are encouraged to coordinate and organize events, actions, and demonstrations that amplify the prisoner’s voices and will effectively urge the CDCR to negotiate immediately