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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Prisoner Hunger Strike Update

The California Prisoner Hunger Strike has resumed. CDCR reports that 12,000 inmates have participated by skipping at least 9 consecutive meals. Inmate families and advocates estimate that hundreds or thousands have been refusing all food since the strike resumed on Sept 26th. The prison administration has retaliated against hungerstrikers with very repressive policies: denying them privileges and rights, attempting to provoke them to violence, isolating many of them from laywers, advocates, family members, and any other outside support.

The way things are going, in a few weeks we may be living in a country that allows hundreds of people to starve to death in our prisons. We cannot allow that to happen. Our attention and anger is a very important part of reversing this process. You can call CA gov Jerry Brown at 916-445-2841 and help flood his office with demands that the SHU be shut down, that the hungerstrikers' demands be met, that CA reform it's prison system, now.

We can also increase awareness. The mainstream media is refusing to give this protest movement the coverage it deserves. We need to become the media for prisoners. Right now the "occupy" movement is spreading across this country, but there's little awareness within that movement of how the most repressed and controlled people in this country are living. If Occupy Wherever overshadows the desperate protest and massive commitment of prisoners on hungerstrike it would be a tragedy and missed opportunity. 2.5 million of the 99% are living behind bars.

Last Saturday, members of RedBird broke off from the Occupy Columbus march to perform a little street theatre, at the recommendation of one of our prison pen pals. We set up a mock isolation cell on a busy sidewalk, took turns putting ourselves in it, and handed out flyers about the CA hungerstrike. Basically performed a modified and extended version of Insurgent Theatre's In the Belly. We distributed at least 400 fliers in an hour and felt like we'd barely scratched the surface.

We can also recognize that California is not that exceptional of a case. Prisoners everywhere are housed in overcrowded repressive and traumatizing conditions. The state of Ohio DRC is currently re-arranging death row prisoners to make room for a gang validation and debriefing program very much like the program being protested by CA hungerstrikers. RedBird is working on drafting a mass mailing to send in to Ohio prisoners describing the gang validation policy and the California protests against it. We hope to inform and empower prisoner resistance here in Ohio.

If you're interested in participating in these or other efforts with RedBird, please contact us via

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