Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Inside California’s Prison Hunger Strike

by SITAWA JAAMA

Editor’s note: Sitawa Jaama has been held in the “Security Housing Unit” (SHU) of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison for 29 years. Along with hundreds of other prisoners throughout the California prison system Sitawa has been on hunger strike for 43 days. Sitawa is a member of the Short Corridor Collective, an interracial group of prisoners based in the Pelican Bay SHU. The Short Corridor Collective has been influential in calling for 3 hunger strikes in the past 2 years, as well as authoring the ‘Agreement to End Hostilities’ document, a political call for prisoner unity, and an end to all violence between different groups of prisoners throughout the state, from maximum security prisons to county jails. (http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/agreement-to-end-hostilities/)  30,000 prisoners throughout California have participated in the current hunger strike over the past two months. At the center of the striker’s 5 demands (http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/the-prisoners-demands-2/) is a demand to end California’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. Of the 12,000 people being held in solitary confinement, hundreds have been isolated there for decades.

Statement by Brutha Sitawa: August 14, 2013/ SHU PBSB

CDCR 9.2 Billion Dollar Corrupt Machinery vs. Prison Human Rights Movement

I would like to reiterate that the Agreement to End All Hostilities, August 12, 2012,   is significant for all prisoners because CDCR has encouraged prisoners in their 33 prisons to not only engage in self-destructive behavior but have also helped heighten racial hostilities – the catalyst for internal warfare, racial warfare and gang warfare. all of which all has been magnified inside the prisons and throughout our communities.

We decided to address these contradictions head on by engaging in a dialogue that was meaningful, sincere and honest with each respected entity.  We realized that our responsibility was to end actions that were contrary to the growth and development of each and every prisoner.

We have been attempting to end hostilities for the last 13 years but the CDCR was not a willing participant in the process. In 2000, we were allowed to get together and work on ending racial and gang riots, and to end internal violence.  The CDCR, after realizing, that we were successful in our attempts, became very irritable and obstructionist toward our work and proceeded to deliberately sabotage it.  During a racial riot in 2000, a young prisoner was murdered by a prison guard.  Young prisoners were being murdered in these racial riots, their actions were used by prison guards to justify their being shot for being armed with a weapon (i.e. makeshift prison knife).  Countless prisoners have been murdered in cold blood under the CDCR’s “no warning shot policy.”  The prison guards justify killing the prisoners because they thought they saw a weapon or witness one prisoner advancing on another.  We consider this to be cold blooded murder. We called for an end to hostilities to eliminate giving prison guards an excuse to kill prisoners.

We realize that the justification for locking men/women away in solitary confinement on prison gang validations indefinitely while also subjecting us to a military debriefing process as the only way to program out constitute  attacks to our physical and psychological well-being. Prisoners can no longer withstand such torture.  This process has led to many debriefings and mentally ill prisoners throughout CDCR: in PBSP-SHU, Corcoran SHU, Tehachapi SHU, Folsom SHU and San Quentin Adjustment Center. (Death Row).  As people who have suffered under such a brutal, diabolical system, we realize that it is our responsibility to help change the course of violent prison systems that have made their way to our communities.  Orchestrated activities are carried out by de-briefers and collaborators whose sole role is to maintain hostilities, deepen infiltration and entrapments within our communities in association with the law enforcement in the streets.

We had been talking about playing a greater leadership role for the last 13 years throughout the PBSP-SHU, but we were unable to agree collectively due to our isolation.  So when powerful entities within the California prison system—Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI), , Investigations Services Unit (ISU) and Office of Correctional Safety(OCS)  –isolated  us together in the short corridor (i.e. Super-Max SHU) we were able to re-open our dialogue and agreed  to ending the blatant attacks that our families, friends, and associates were being subjected to –  the same attacks that we were being subjected to in solitary confinement.

We realize nothing productive can be done to change the current state of our situation, our prison environment, unless we end the hostilities between prisoners, and ending all racial/gang violence within the CDCR.

We feel that prisoners are the victims of a systematic process that manipulates them through racial and gang violence in order to prevent greater unity.

In solidarity, struggle, love and respect,

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail