a bay area anarchist organization for anti-repression and resistance

Hunger Strike Suspended

While it is clear that suspending the strike took considerable deliberation and was done with heavy heart, the reasons seem to be less expounded upon in their statement. Speculating a little bit, it seems probable that worry about the health and imminent death of those who continue, the realization that pressure on authorities didn’t seem to win demands fast enough, and the allowance of force feeds by authorities all clouded the resolve of the strikers who are not on strike with a death wish but to met out particular reforms. The fact that legislative leaders helped them come to this decision is a worry. Broad-based organizing allows for political manipulation. We can’t help but wonder if the motivations of legislators and politicians to keep blood off of their hands, is the motivation regardless of how they felt about the hunger strikers goals themselves.

EBPS has been aware for some time that our own correspondence with pelican bay prisoners and other hunger strikers seems to have been cut off.  Now that the strike is off we may be able to share some personal insights once letters are allowed again.

 

Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.  With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.  We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety.  The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will.

With that said, and in response to much sincere urging of loved ones, supporters, our attorneys and current and former state legislators, Tom Ammiano, Loni Hancock, and Tom Hayden, for whom we have the upmost respect, we decided to suspend our hunger strike.  We are especially grateful to Senator Hancock and Assembly Member Ammiano for their courageous decision to challenge Governor Brown and the CDCR for their policies of prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions. We are certain that they will continue their fight for our cause, including holding legislative hearings and the drafting legislation responsive to our demands on prison conditions and sentencing laws. We are also proceeding with our class action civil suit against the CDCR.

The fact is that Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard have responded to our third peaceful action with typical denials and falsehoods, claiming solitary confinement does not exist and justifying the continuation of their indefinite torture regime by vilifying the peaceful protest representatives. They also obtained the support of the medical receiver (Kelso) and Prison Law Office attorney (Spector—who is supposed to represent prisoners interests, and instead has become an agent for the state) to perpetuate their lie to the public and to the federal court — that prisoners participating in the hunger strike have been coerced — in order to obtain the August 19, 2013 force feeding order.

We have deemed it to be in the best interest of our cause to suspend our hunger strike action until further notice.

We urge people to remember that we began our present resistance with our unprecedented collective and peaceful actions (in tandem with the legislative process) back in early 2010, when we created and distributed a “Formal Complaint” for the purpose of educating the public and bringing widespread attention to our torturous conditions.

After much dialogue and consideration, this led us to our first and second hunger strike actions in 2011, during which a combined number of 6,500 and 12,000 prisoners participated. We succeeded in gaining worldwide attention and support resulting in some minor changes by the CDCR concerning SHU programming and privileges. They also claimed to make major changes to policies regarding gang validation and indefinite SHU confinement by creating the STG/SDP Pilot Program. They released a few hundred prisoners from SHU/AD SEG to general population in the prison.  But in truth, this is all part of a sham to claim the pilot program works and was a weak attempt to have our class action dismissed. It didn’t work.

In response we respectfully made clear that CDCR’s STG-SDP was not responsive to our demand for the end to long term isolation and solitary confinement and thus unacceptable.  (See: AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES)

Our supporting points fell on deaf ears, leading to our January 2013 notice of intent to resume our hunger strike on July 8, 2013 if our demands were not met.  We also included Forty Supplemental Demands.

In early July, CDCR produced several memos notifying prisoners of an increase in privileges and property items, which are notably responsive to a few of our demands, while the majority of our demands were unresolved, leading to our third hunger strike, in which 30,000 prisoners participated and resulted in greater worldwide exposure, support and condemnation of the CDCR!

From our perspective, we’ve gained a lot of positive ground towards achieving our goals.  However, there’s still much to be done.  Our resistance will continue to build and grow until we have won our human rights.

Respectfully,

For the Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement
Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106
And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124

Notes On A San Francisco Grand Jury

Pdf (From Fireworks #2)

As anarchists, we make ourselves the enemy of everything – from the capitalist economic system and its police down to the very pavement that channels us through its lifeless grid. Our enemy is big, it is all encompassing, and it is powerful. When people resist it attempts to crush that resistance If we are to act against the forces of domination that seek to define our lives for us, we will do so best when we stand strong in times of repression.

Legal battles, fines, and stints in jail have been a sober reminder to all of us of the possible destination for those who resist. Recently, the government has convened Grand juries to disrupt political and social networks in the Northwest, San Francisco, and New York. Grand Juries have been used by the state to weaken those in resistance since the 1960’s. They were convened against the Puerto Rican Independence Movements, the Black Power Movement, and more recently eco and animal rights movements, pro-Palestinian and Arab liberation movements, anti-war activists, independent media journalists, and anarchists inside and outside of these movements.

The major reason EBPS has written this article is our concern with the general lack of transparency, and possible cooperation, surrounding the grand jury currently held in San Francisco, convened in 2012. This case concerns an alleged firebombing aimed at two University of California animal researchers living in Santa Cruz in 2008. The investigation has cast a wide net, with the FBI and police attempting to contact dozens of people associated with the animal rights community. For instance, the state has deceptively and erroneously tried to link the AETA 4 simply for being animal rights activists, to the alleged firebombings. In addition, the Long Haul infoshop in Berkeley and its offices, including the EBPS office, were raided by the FBI and UC police who were looking for threatening emails towards animal researchers. They were later sued by EBPS and the Long Haul and had to settle, showing culpability for an inappropriate and baseless raid.
Recently the Northwest has set a precedent for how to combat the grand jury with its fierce resistance, a strong network of supporters, and fiery public statements. In these cases people survived jail and stayed strong in resistance. Silence in the courtroom, ignoring the subpoena, complete defiance, scathing statements of refusal, evasion of the subpoena, and going underground are some examples of strength in resistance. There was also one probable cooperator, Leah Lynne Plante, who had originally resisted her subpoena and was then imprisoned. Concerns about her sudden release from jail and possible cooperation were immediately made known to the larger community.

By contrast, in the case of the San Francisco grand jury investigating events in Santa Cruz, there have been virtually no public statements, no larger support strategy, and very unclear information surrounding the outcome of the grand jury. The Santa Cruz investigation has penetrated deep into our bay area community of animal rights activists, anarchists, and radicals. There are nine people known to have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and several of them live in Oakland. Some of them are believed to have remained non-cooperating during their appearance in front of the grand jury. Every person subpoenaed has remained non-communicative about their court appearances. In some cases there has been outright cooperation.

One of the most challenging aspects about this grand jury is that we aren’t fully informed about the outcomes of the court appearances. There are some full-on traitors who agreed to answer questions, some individuals who answered certain questions at the advice of their lawyers but promise they didn’t compromise anyone, and some who plead the 1st and 5th amendments and otherwise said nothing else. It also appears one person has avoided the entire process, as the grand jury has been unable to contact them. No one who has appeared in front of the grand jury has come forward with a statement after their appearance, no one has provided a transcript that documents what took place inside the courtroom, and no one has gone to jail. In fact, we hope that there will be a deeper analysis of the Santa Cruz case in the near future, as it serves as a case study for the ramifications of remaining mostly private about a political persecution.

Some of the guidance that lawyers have given their clients in this case has set the tone for withholding information from the public and allowing for cooperation. One strategy that has been proposed by lawyers is to avoid jail by not bringing attention to one’s case. We reject this strategy because we believe the strongest resistance requires an equally strong network of support. Additionally, being transparent about grand jury activity thwarts the state’s goal of dividing and weakening us. Transparency helps those under investigation proceed without doing damage to themselves or others.

Another dangerous approach that some lawyers condone is “partial cooperation.” Partial cooperation is a misnomer, because any cooperation strengthens the state’s ability to surveil and damage our efforts. We extend no solidarity for those engaged in partial cooperation. In our view, answering even the most benign questions can lead to catastrophic damage to the security of our networks. The state will continue to use the grand jury as long as it produces results. Silence and/or desertion of scheduled grand jury appearances proves that they fail at getting us. If we want to destroy all repressive institutions, then it only makes sense to ensure that they do not function smoothly.

We know avoiding jail is a major motivation for the particular strategies of those subpoenaed in the Santa Cruz case. We want to stress that being engaged in resistance demands that we prioritize non-collaboration with the state over not going to jail. When we waver in our commitments to non-cooperation under threat of jail-time, we demonstrate that our commitments to struggle are shaky at best. Simultaneously, we acknowledge that the threat of jail time is scary, especially for those on whom others depend, those with mental and physical health issues, and other people who are already structurally oppressed.

We feel that support has been lacking for those resisting this grand jury, but we offer kudos to those who have organized workshops and teach-ins about this grand jury and its resisters. We feel inspired by the material support given to those locked up or hiding out. Also, the actions taken in solidarity with grand jury resisters against the police and other oppressive institutions can serve to warm the hearts of those in a cold place. In the face of the monster that wrecks lives and destroys the earth, taking care of each other and inspiring each other in order to keep resisting is our only resolve.

footnote: Grand juries operate in secrecy. They use nefarious means to get individuals to give up information about their associations by allowing immunity from prosecution to those who testify, and threatening a prison sentence for the duration of the grand jury to those who don’t. In addition, some people have been charged for contempt for their refusal. By pitting cooperating witnesses against their communities, jailing resisters, and by fishing out information about those engaged in resistance, the grand jury is one of the most dangerous weapons that the state wields. Grand juries are not new to the Bay Area. In 2005 there was a federal grand jury that convened in San Francisco around the case of the SF8 (8 former Black Panthers). Five people were subpoenaed to appear in front of a grand jury to give up what they allegedly knew about a police murder that occurred in the 70’s supposedly involving Black Panthers. The people who were subpoenaed refused to cooperate and were jailed. Later on the SF8 were arrested for the murder and had to fight for their release.

Vengeance for Trayvon Martin

Shattering illusions and misplaced hope, they have made a costly decision.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/dr/hln/www/release/sites/default/files/2013/07/13/zimmerman_verdict_story_notguilty.jpeg

Hundreds in Oakland last night were full of rage and lashed out at every reminder of a legal system that sanctions the murder of black youth, a police department that targets the poor and dark-skinned, and a city that puts capital ahead of community. Smashed plates of glass, fires, and anti-police graffiti covered our downtown urban landscape.  Uptown was smashed because those hipsters partying and hanging out in the clubs and bars on this night, have clarified their position, they don’t give a fuck. Folks swarmed the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, because the theater of justice that takes place inside is not entertaining, it ruins thousands of lives. We know that justice can never be found in the courts and that the prison is not the place for the Zimmermans of the world.

Next time we will not to wait with baited breath for a decision, the distance between those deliberations and what we need in our lives is too vast. The police and prison system is theirs not ours, and as the thousands of prisoners on hunger strike remind us, cages are never acceptable.  If those in the streets’ desires were met, the courthouse, the police station, the jail, the shops, and the whole culture that consumes apathy along with it’s aperitifs would have been leveled to the ground. We don’t know the sequence of events that lay in store in the coming days. There are more plans to meet downtown later today and tomorrow. There are 50 rallies being held across the nation. We recognize the possibility that Zimmerman’s just deserts could be the entire country on fire. We fan the flames of discontent, hoping they spread out and incinerate the architecture of our racist rotten system.

A cop drove this smashed up cruiser out of the plaza as people screamed at him.  The iconic image of him in a busted car forced to project outwards the”Fuck OPD” and “Kill Pigz” graffiti, is a reminder to us that there are these moments of their weakness and our strength that appear if we are ready. He was only able to drive it a few miles an hour with it’s flattened tires and damaged structure so that for many blocks it resembled an anti-police billboard more than a cruiser.

Bay Area, go to these manifestations of vengeance for Trayvon against a world we despise.

Protest Sunday July 14 TODAY
3 pm 73rd & Corner of 73rd & International, East Oakland
4 pm and 6pm at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland
4 pm at Powell & Market in San Francisco

Photo: Here is a copy of the flier with a list of endorsing organizations.  If you would like to endorse the rally/speakout please contact us.  Spread far and wide!

Verdict Events Listing

Excerpts from Recent Letters

CA prisoner Letter #1:

I wanted to hit you up real quick to let you know what has been crackin’ over here. As you might have heard a statewide prisoner hunger strike has been called and is set to start on July 8th.  It will be the third round. The first took place in 2011 and organized by prisoners in the pelican bay SHU. All in protest of torturous conditions inside the Pelican Bay SHU and such isolation units that exist all over the state and country.

Perpetual Isolation (as practiced in the SHU) Is a form of torture in itself. Not Only Affecting the prisoners who are forced to endure such draconian conditions, but also tormenting prisoners loved ones on the outside. At the same time eroding the collective psyche of society by desensitizing people to wholesale torture. The SHUs are not filled up with society’s “worst of the worst”  as the corporate media and prison establishment claim. The SHU is used as a means to silence, isolate, and break defiant spirits.

Whether a prisoner activist, organizer, social or political prisoner, anti-authoritarian, or just somebody who consciously refused to be a docile robot; they can and often do land in the SHU.  Being an anarchist, a wobbly, anonymous prisoner, and above all, a human, i will be participating in this July 8 Hunger Strike out of solidarity.

Letter #2:

I’ve been involved in many different forms of resistance while here in prison. Some actions were successful and some weren’t as far as obtaining  what we sought. But i believe all of the actions empowered prisoners and built pockets of resistance against the state authority.  A common obstacle I come across when organizing actions is racial prejudice beliefs prisoners have and that the state reinforces, systematically. its clearly a divide and conquer tactic. Ive seen people flat refuse to participate in an action if a certain race is going to be involved too. Ive also encountered lots of defeatist type of attitudes where prisoners say something to the effect of, we cant change anything.

Since the last time I wrote you I’ve been placed in the hole, in “solitary confinement.”  This too has a story behind it , but I’ll tell you about it another time. Right here in the hole we’ve been organizing around small, tangible things we can successfully obtain. Personally, I feel this is a very productive way to build solidarity that transcends racial, geographic, and gang ties. Direct action within the prison environment raises the prisoners consciousness and opens a dialogue among prisoners who wouldn’t normally associate let alone get together to take action. It all builds lasting impressions of the need and our ability to challenge the state’s authority.

Here in the hole we are fed all the meals in our cell. Until very recently(last week) we weren’t given forks or spoons. We were left to make utensils out of whatever you could get your hands on.  I made a  spoon out of a little milk carton, which worked pretty good for about three meals, until it became way too soggy. So a few of of us decided to take action and try to get spoons or forks to eat with. What we did was refuse to give the pigs our big bulky plastic food trays. The pigs come to each cell to collect trays after each meal.  We called this holding the “tray hostage.”

Haha the pigs got pissed and made a big ol’ fuss about it. They threatened us. Begged us, until they realized we weren’t budging. Soon the brass got involved, including the warden. They in turn, tried to wine and dine us while trying to sell us a dream. We held the trays hostage all day until we got a concrete commitment. Within a few days everybody was given plastic spoons to keep in their cells. Afterwards, some guard came to my cell and told me he couldn’t believe it. He worked for years in various holes and never seen us get plastic spoons.  I told him its only the beginning. He just walked away shaking his head. Many prisoners who didn’t participate (there was a lot who didn’t) were surprised that we got results and got pumped up. Wanting to know what “we” could do next. It was a great moment to convey anarchist ideas and pass around zines. We haven’t decided what we will do next yet.

A few months ago I went on a hunger strike in protest of excessive force and harassment. But I’ll tell you about that another time as I just noticed this letter is pretty long. I don’t want to take up too much of your time reading this letter when you could be out doing what we anarchists do. A lot of shit goes on behind the walls. from individual resistance to the collective.

—————————————–

Excerpt from a Texas prisoner:

Just writing to request a bit more info and also include some shit I’ve been up to. Right now not jack shit but being a disruptive asshole to the authority. I’ve since left solitary and my custody status has changed. What got me all this fine treatment was making wine. I got caught with 5 gallons. It was the 4th time I’d made it. What I was doing was getting the most disruptive people drunk so as to cause problems. It didn’t work out that way the first time. The 2nd time was beautiful though.

The Authority had there work cut out for them that day. The turn key came up missing. Goon Squad was called in, they still haven’t found the keys 6 months later. The 3rd time was a bit of a failure cause inmates fought each other that day. I’m sure that’s why i got caught too. Someone got scared. It got pretty violent. All while I sat in my cell and watched the chaos ensue.  I guess the “bosses” had there work cut out for them that day too cause it was kind of a mini-riot.

Don’t really know how “cool” that is but it’s what I’ve done. Not currently with any roguish acts planned, but I’m thinking. It’s a little bit difficult other than just talking shit cause I’m under the microscope. Then the pigs just killed an inmate. Which was fucked up. The guy was on suicide watch and they killed him.

Never Give Up Poster For Prisoners

http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/files/2012/04/pbstrike-posting.pdf

From the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Reps.

http://kersplebedeb.com/posts/july-9-short-corridor/

Support the Prisoner’s Hunger and Work Strike

These pamphlets were passed out at the Noise Demo last night. The demo was a great show of support for those locked up.

Hunger Strike Statement pdf

 

As anarchists in the Bay Area, we have been paying close attention to the upcoming July 8th  hunger strike and work stoppage that will take place in Security Housing Units (SHUs) in prisons in California, and a juvenile prison in Washington. We feel awed by the determination and strength shown by the hunger strikers in their decision to strike until demands are met, or to die trying. This is the second hunger strike California prisoners have engaged in since 2011, when thousands of  prisoners across California participated in a hunger strike that ultimately ended after the state made some concessions.

From their statement:
“[W]e remain 100% fully committed to resuming our indefinite protest action(s) – to the point of our starvation resulting in serious permanent injury and/or death. To date, three prisoners have sacrificed their lives, and many more have suffered permanent damage, in solidarity with our cause! We hope more deaths/injuries will not be required – but we are fully committed to our cause, and will accept nothing less than the changes to CDCR policies and practices referenced above”
(more at prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com)
While this is first and foremost a struggle for better conditions, it also carries with it the potential of generalized revolt.
Against capitalist control, the hunger strike and work stoppage are an absolute refusal to produce and consume. The strikers are decisively undermining their relationship to capitalism through refusing to participate in prison industry on the one hand and on the other, refusing to consume food that nourishes their bodies for further exploitation. Prisons don’t just cage bodies that interrupted the flow of capital, but force these bodies into cheap labor. The prisoner’s break from their ties to capital informs a broader praxis of desertion and resistance.
By not working or eating, the prisoners evoke an exciting but perhaps underutilized gesture of revolt, the human strike. As Claire Fontaine remarks in an essay on the human strike, it  “defines a type of strike that involves the whole life and not only its professional side, that acknowledges exploitation in all the domains and not only at work.”  This is a strike against the basic features of being a human being in capitalist society – the need to be productive and consumptive – and these prisoners are sabotaging their productive/consumptive potential.
A hunger strike, a decomposition of living bodies and minds, is essentially fast-forwarding the process that prisons already put in motion. The strike exposes the  foremost feature of prisons, an acceleration towards death.  Effected by sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation, the SHU prisoner is robbed of their mental and physical well-being, their social connections, and their creative potential. A similar process occurs in lower security prisons and prison society in general.
One of the most inspiring parts of the strike can be found in this Pelican Bay statement from 2012:  “from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end.” This attacks the racist and classist character of prison society, the way it pits people against each other.  Overcoming barriers that have kept prisoners separate clarifies who the enemy is. One tool this enemy uses is the gang classification system, which sends prisoners to isolation units for their “gang association” unless they snitch on others in a process called “debriefing”.
Often times protests over conditions have been the catalyst for large-scale prison uprisings. In Attica, NY in 1971, prisoners’ demands for political rights and better living conditions led to an explosive situation. Almost half of the total prison population rebelled and seized control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage.  In 1993 in Lucasville, Ohio, complaints about overcrowding and mismanagement culminated in prisoners, organizing across racial lines, taking over the facilities for eleven days before recapture.  Recently in Mansfield Correctional in Ohio, a group of prisoners calling themselves the Army of 12 Monkeys, coordinated sabotage and continue to advocate for guerilla-style attacks against prisons.   These events serve as reminders that prisons are like tinderboxes, highly flammable, and one never knows when their (dis)contents will explode.
 
Right now in the Bay Area a transit strike is underway, and we recognize the connection of these two struggles.  Anarchists and anti-capitalists seek to connect these and all conflicts against the state, so that they resonate, amplify, and spread.  Hunger strikes carried out recently by accused members of Conspiracy Cells of Fire in Greece and anarchists in the “bomb case” in Chile should not persist in isolation from the hunger strikes in California-nor should the generalized revolt in Turkey, Brazil and Egypt. We seek to invite local and global solidarity with the hunger strikers because their actions are dear to our insurgent hearts.
The West Coast hunger strikers’ action resonates with other struggles for freedom.  Do whatever you can individually or collectively, to support the hunger strikers and the anti-authoritarian project they inform.  
 

Noise Demo Flyers

 

 

phsnd.jpg

People Attack Police and Property in Multiple Cities in Brazil

Postcards from the Turkish Uprising

Postcards from the Turkish Uprising

photo essay and video from the uprising in turkey

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