Last Friday, July 15, a group of outraged and concerned Californians marched in San Francisco in support of the prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike, in its third week, is revealing some severe health problems, including irregular heartbeats and massive weight loss. The movement which started July 1st, originated at California’s Pelican Bay Prison in an effort to protest the inhumane treatment of the prisoners in the Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU).
The SHU is a section of the prison that holds over a thousand inmates that are in isolation 22 ½ hours a day. Many reports of harsh treatment from guards have emanated from the SHU’s residents.
The prisoners are refusing to eat until their five demands are met: 1. Individual Accountability, 2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify/ inactive gang status criteria, 3. Comply with U.S. commission 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long term solitary confinement, 4. Provide adequate food and 5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates.
Jared Gruendl, a 19 year old student at Portland University, who is double majoring in Black Studies and Legal studies, participated in the event handing out flyers and marching with his hand jutted in the air. Jared said, “The treatment that the prisoners are receiving is completely unacceptable. At the end of the day they are human beings just like us and they should be treated accordingly.” The march began at San Francisco’s UN Plaza and was forced to stop at Civic Center by the police.
Rafael Kadaris, one of the organizers of the march said, “What is important about these marches it that it shows that the people on the bottom of society are finally lifting up their heads and saying that enough is enough.” Mary Ann Thomas a long time activist marched with her daughter and two grandchildren, three generations yelling chants for the prisoners who have no voice. “The government is doing things in my name that I cannot and will not accept,” Mary said. The ferocity of the protestor’s chants, massive signs, and their bright orange jumpers were hard to ignore. The prisoners want the government to recognize them and their demands. For information, visit: revcom.us or http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.