On July 23rd, about twenty people rallied and marched in downtown Santa Cruz in solidarity with prisoners at Pelican Bay who have ended their hunger strike and declared it a success! Their courageous act of refusing to eat for four weeks has successfully put the issues of torturous isolation units and California’s abominable debriefing program in the international and national media, boosted a growing movement for the rights of prisoners, and is unifying prisoners of different racial groups for a struggle against their real and shared enemies: the unfair policies and practices of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
The strike was launched with five key demands: 1) Eliminate group punishments; 2) Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; 3) Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement; 4) Provide adequate food; 5) Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU (Security Housing Unit) inmates.
The solidarity demonstration in Santa Cruz began at the clock tower, and proceeded to march down Pacific Ave, and then on the sidewalks of Laurel to Broadway, then Ocean St. to the Santa Cruz County Jail, and concluded back at the clock tower. Demonstrators held an eye-catching banner which states, “Solidarity With The Prisoners. SHU = State-Sanctioned Torture!” and received a lot of positive feedback from people traveling on Water Street and along Pacific Avenue.
Spirited chants included: From Guantanamo to Pelican Bay; State Torture is Not Ok, and Prisoner Rights are Human Rights; Support the Prisoners’ Hunger Strike!
Crossposted at Indybay.org.