In just a few weeks, prisoners across California – and perhaps across the united states – are going to embark on a strike against isolation torture and for basic improvements in their conditions.
This is a follow-up to the 2011 California prisoner hunger strikes, in which over 12,000 people participated, putting their health and well-being on the line, refusing food for days and weeks, in protest against the abusive politically motivated persecution and cruel torturous conditions that constitute life in solitary in units like Pelican Bay’s SHU.
The 2011 hunger strikes were part of a new stage in the struggle against the u.s. penal state. Prison authorities reacted accordingly, and according to their habitual repressive proclivities, threatening prisoners with disciplinary write-ups, depriving those already sick of access to their medication, withholding liquids and inflicting group punishments against those on strike and those not on strike, alike. all the while providing only intentionally inadequate health monitoring and (when the strike ended) no transitional diet.
In 2011, as these abuses became known there was widespread outrage amongst people in various movements across the united states (and indeed, around the world). Yet this was in contrast to the small number of actual actions carried out on the prisoners’ behalf, especially outside of California. Clearly, people would have liked to help, but it was not always clear how.
Although not providing a final answer to this question, an initiative taken by the Prisoners Hunger Strike Support coalition in California will hopefully go some way to remedying this situation.
The Pledge of Resistance is a commitment people are being asked to take before the strike begins, promising at least once a week to make a phone call, send a fax, or write an email, responding to the inevitable crises that we know a mass hunger strike will entail. Those taking the Pledge are asked to provide their contact information (email), and will be contacted every week with an action alert by the Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition.
Signing up to the Pledge of Resistance is one concrete way that people can act now – before the strike begins – to signal their willingness to act on behalf of the prisoners once this engagement begins.
As such, i strongly encourage everyone to sign this pledge, and to act accordingly.