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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 01:23 AM

1. Mother Jones magazine: "If You Note Me Drifting or Grammatical Errors...I've Not Eaten in 35 Days"


A hunger striker's letters from California's Corcoran prison.
—By Josh Harkinson | Thu Aug. 29, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

What follows are excerpts of letters from the hole by a leader of the prison strike who was eventually hospitalized after nearly starving to death. The group Legal Services For Inmates With Children provided the letters to Mother Jones on the condition that the prisoner’s name be withheld. He is a self-identified member of the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank, and an alleged member of the Black Guerilla Family, a prison gang. He resides in the SHU of the California State Prison, Corcoran. These excerpts are lightly edited for clarity and brevity, and are organized according to the date of the events being described.

July 11 — They came to me and Zah's cell and told us they were moving all "strike leaders" (us and 7 others) out of the 4B1L C-Sections short corridor isolation unit to an undisclosed location on 4A yard. After an initial discussion, we all refused. Warden Gipson's immediate reaction was to order a mass cell extraction of all of us—an attempt to provoke a violent confrontation with peaceful protestors, which would have occurred with serious injuries or casualties to people on both sides. Enough prisoners came to the consensus that maintaining the peaceful posture of this protest was our primary concern, so we agreed to move.

They opened our tray slot and told us to "cuff up." Captain Smith of the I.G.I. [Institutional Gang Investigators] came through the yard gate and stated to us: "The warden ordered that all of you 'strike leaders' be put on 4A yard to isolate you." I responded: "We're housed in the short corridor isolation unit already—isn't that it's purpose?" And he responded, "Well, apparently you're not isolated enough."

We're all now housed in 4A3R—a debriefer's block. They've isolated us in a block full of snitches, rats, state agents, informants and unprincipled elements of every description.

With all of the cells they could have moved Zah and I into, they've moved us into a cell with "FUCK YOU NIGGERS" written in big black ink print over the cell door and window, so that's the first thing we see every morning we wake up. No one can tell me that that was not intentional.


August 12 — If you note me drifting or grammatical errors, I do want to apologize in advanced [sic], I've not eaten in 35 days and counting and it's affecting me in ways I'm not immediately aware of.

A few minutes ago, I returned from weigh-in / vitals (actually, the first time that's happened since the 29th of July) and I'm down to 188 lbs. From 235 lbs on 7/7.

The pains, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, + weakness I can weather with little effort. It is a simple exercise in will and mental toughness, something I was trained to do. But these emotional lapses, and the attending psychological states they've produced, are truly unexpected in their intensity. I should be able to control this also—easily. . .yet I'm finding it actual work to do so. It's disturbing for me. I hope you don't think I'm a big wuss for complaining of such weakness to you, but if I can't talk to my sister, who can I talk to? [The letter is addressing a black woman who is not the prisoner’s biological sister.]

I just spoke to Sgt. Vogel off the 4B yard, and he just gave me an memo dated 8/9/13 in which, for the first time I've ever seen, they use the terms "STG 1 Members" [a Security Threat Group consists of alleged prison gang members who are locked up in the SHU] and "General [prison] Population" in the same sentence. They will now include STG 1 members in monthly case by case reviews for getting out of the SHU. It also states that unsubstantiated confidential info from a single source won't be used as a basis to confirm gang activity. It's 5 pages long and signed by Mike Stainer [the prison's deputy director of adult facility operations]. I'll concede this is a significant concession, but is this sufficient for the comrades in Pelican Bay to declare the strike a success and end the protest? I have prepared myself for death, but if I can survive this to go on and make more contributions to the cause of progressive social change, I'd like the opportunity. I will not stop until they say it's over or my body fails—whichever comes first.

August 21 — Please forgive the delay in my responding to your comm dated 8/7 (received by my cellie on 8/14), but I was hospitalized at the time and was just released 4 days ago. My body's been damaged significantly but my mind and will remain strong.

On Monday, prisoner-rights workers visited the writer of these letters. They report that he was physically weak but mentally competent—and was continuing his hunger strike.

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