Under Fire, The Resistance in Palestine and in Diaspora Dispels Illusions, Gathers Force

[In California, several mass protests of the Israeli attack have grown in size and spirit, and sizable numbers of Palestinian youth have taken the lead.  The Arab Resource and Organizing Center has been an important part of these developments.  An AROC speaker at the July 26, 2014 demonstration in San Francisco detailed their views at this crucial juncture. -- Frontlines ed.]

 

Testimony on Solitary, the Routine of Torture: “SACRAMENTO: ABOLISH THE SHU TODAY!”

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”  ― Nelson Mandela


Video of the Joint Informational Hearing on Segregation Policies in California Prisons in the California Legislature on October 9, 2013.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike: Countdown in the Struggle for Humane Conditions

Day 32


August 8, 2013 — Today is the one-month anniversary of a hunger strike initiated by prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison that quickly spread to other correctional facilities across the state of California. To be precise, it is Day 32 of a month-long period of no solid foods for what are now hundreds of prisoners.

 

These are men risking their lives to insist on humane conditions and certain terms for those prisoners who have otherwise been banished to indefinite sentences of solitary confinement in California’s prison system. Many of these men have been isolated for decades with no windows, no contact visits, no outside sunlight and no real exercise.

 

Recent reports from these prisoners demonstrate that their brave efforts have been made all the more difficult by prison guards who are treating them very harshly.

 

Guards are knocking them into walls, handcuffing them incorrectly to cause suffering and bending their arms to provoke extreme pain. Guards are spitting out racial epithets or deliberately placing an African American prisoner, for example, in a cell with racist graffiti. Guards are also being strategically divisive by tactically treating some prisoners nicely and others in the most demeaning ways, hoping—as the guards openly discussed in front of some prisoners—to create division so the prisoners will begin to fight each other. The guards’ goal: to undermine the hunger strike. According to these same talkative guards, this unprofessional behavior is what they were instructed to do to help bring the hunger strike to an end. Continue reading

The Five Most Important Demands from the California Prison Hunger Strike

Thousands-strong strike is the latest chapter in the state’s unfolding prison crisis

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-five-most-important-demands-from-the-california-prison-hunger-strike-20130716

July 16, 2013

For more than a week, the California prison system has been gripped by the largest hunger strike in its history. Today, campaigners say that some 12,000 inmates continue to refuse food in roughly two-thirds of the state’s 32 facilities. That’s down from the 30,000 who kicked off the strike, but still more than twice the number who participated in a similar action two years earlier.

The strike – which began with a group of men held in isolation in Pelican Bay State Prison before spreading across the state – was principally motivated by California’s aggressive use of solitary confinement. In many cases, the strikers’ demands are simple: one photo a year, one phone call per week, permission to use wall calendars.

“The prisoners are not on a suicide mission,” says Roger White, campaign director of a Bay Area coalition called Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. “If they didn’t have hope that things could change and that CDCR [the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] could actually implement the demands, they wouldn’t be striking.”

In 2011, a United Nations torture rapporteur called for an absolute and international ban on indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement, arguing that just a few a days locked up alone in a cell has been shown to produce lifelong mental health problems. In California, hundreds of Pelican Bay prisoners have spent a decade or more in solitary confinement – some for as many as 20 or 30 years. Continue reading

Solidarity Network: “ALL OUT FOR CALIFORNIA PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE 2013″

California prisoners started a hunger strike and work actions today for basic human rights.
Support their demands – join us for a demonstration at Corcoran Saturday – July 13th!
Check out this new video!

Edited by Lucas Guilkey & Nicole Deane
Music: Fatgums ‘Kill the Vultures” & The Coup ‘My Favorite Mutiny’
 Published on Jul 8, 2013

JULY 13TH RALLY AT CORCORAN

SIGN THE PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE and become part of the EMERGENCY RESPONSE NETWORK

SIGN THE PETITION TO GOVERNOR BROWN

MORE INFORMATION: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

In 2011, over 12,000 prisoners and their family and community members participated in statewide hunger strikes protesting the inhumane conditions in California’s Security Housing Units (SHU or solitary confinement). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation promised meaningful reform as a result of those protests, but nothing meaningful has reached the people living in these cages. Prisoners have announced another hunger strike will begin July 8th because of CDCR’s failure to fulfill that promise. Continue reading

California prison officials say 30,000 inmates refuse meals

By Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2013

California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.

The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.

Continue reading

Domestic police forces monitor social media and use digital technology for tracking and repressing “Occupy”

[In this news report, the San Francisco Chronicle combines boastful techie claims with assertions that this surveillance is motivated by concerns for "public safety," not to enable political repression and  control. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Oakland police’s war room the new normal

Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 28, 2012

The massive undertaking by Oakland officials and police to prepare for protests would be an exceptional challenge for most Bay Area cities. In Oakland, it’s become the new normal.

It involves months of planning, orchestrating hundreds of police and other public workers, and has cost millions of taxpayer dollars.

The Occupy Oakland protesters who took to the streets last week were largely peaceful. But the city had prepared for the worst: They surrounded the protesters with more than a hundred officers on bicycles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, cars, vans and foot.

Public safety personnel work in the situation room of the Emergency Operations Center ahead of an Occupy march. Photo: Mathew Sumner, Special To The Chronicle / SF

Meanwhile, inside a downtown building, dozens of city, county, regional and state workers gathered at the city’s Emergency Operations Center to provide support and coordinate the troops on the streets.

Three officers sat at computers monitoring Twitter and other social media for clues on protester plans. Other officers coordinated the taking of internal affairs complaints, and some oversaw the gathering of street intelligence. Five televisions and several other screens showed live streaming video from locations around the city. Continue reading

“Net sharpens divide over cop shootings”

[The San Francisco Chronicle performs its duty as bourgeois media,  blaming the internet for the outrage over police killings.  The epidemic of such killings of, especially,  Black and Brown youth, as detailed in the recent Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report detailing that such killings take place every 26 hours, is not described by the Chronicle as alarming or disturbing.  Instead, they decry the attention given by the internet. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Jimmy Blueford, whose cousin Alan Blueford was shot by police, marches in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF

[Jimmy Blueford, whose cousin Alan Blueford was shot by police, marches in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF]

From San Jose to Oakland to Vallejo, fatal police shootings often follow a familiar script.

An officer makes a split-second decision to kill, later explaining that he had no choice. His department struggles to communicate with the dead person’s family and the public. Anger spills into the streets, with activists demanding that authorities condemn the shooting – not just as a mistake but as murder. And an investigation clears the officer of any wrongdoing.

This could describe the shooting of 18-year-old Alan Blueford in Oakland in May or many other recent Bay Area cases.

While there is little evidence that police shootings are on the rise, they have become more politically divisive and combustible, people on all sides say, in part because of the spread of video cameras and the immediacy of online communication. Continue reading

Oakland’s Government Can’t Defeat the Struggle for Justice against Police killings

Unresolved OPD Shooting of Black Teenager Alan Blueford Illustrates Oakland’s Continuing Crisis of Governance

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

By Scott Johnson, TruthOut

Every member of the large and close knit family of Alan Dwayne Blueford who could spoke truth to power at the Oakland City Council meeting on May 15 in support of justice for their slain loved one, who was gunned down on May 6 by one of the OPD’s paid killers behind the badge, Miguel Masso. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

After seeking justice from the City of Oakland for months, the family of Alan Blueford finally caught the attention of city leaders on September 18 when their protest brought the City Council to a halt.

Alan, an African-American high school student, was murdered on May 6 by Officer Miguel Masso, who drove up on the young man who had committed no crime, chased him for five blocks and shot him dead outside a Cinco de Mayo party. Masso initially claimed that Alan shot him, a story spread by the local media, although when it was revealed that Masso actually shot himself this lie turned into the claim that Alan pointed a gun at the officer. The Bluefords refute even this claim, considering Masso’s earlier lie.

Since May, the Bluefords have demanded that Masso be fired and prosecuted and that stop-and-frisk and racial profiling practices be ended among Oakland police. The elected leadership of Oakland have largely ignored these requests outside of a handful of closed door meetings where the Bluefords were promised a timely investigation and no slandering of Alan in the press. Neither promise was kept.

The Bluefords arrived at the September 18 City Council meeting with over 100 supporters to speak during open comments, recounting not only their heartbreak but also the endless unkept promises from the city and OPD. “I just want to know what happened to my son,” Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, both begged and demanded of the Council.

The Councilmembers, typically masters of evasion who are usually absorbed in their cell phones and magazines during public comments, suddenly all sat upright at full attention. Once it was clear the Bluefords were not going to walk away quietly without answers, City Administrator Deanna Santana went scurrying to find something to offer the Bluefords. Finally, it was announced that OPD Chief Howard Jordan was on his way to City Hall with the police report in hand – after refusing to release it for months.

This promise also evaporated within the hour after the Bluefords refused yet another closed-door meeting with Jordan, insisting he address the public in order to be held accountable. With no sign of either Jordan or the report, the Council attempted to resume with its first order of business – passing a resolution declaring Oakland an International City of Peace. This absurd resolution, from a city internationally known for the murder of Oscar Grant and the repression of Occupy Oakland, led to chants of “No Justice No Peace” and “Howard is a coward!” from both the Bluefords and the audience, many of whom were beaten and tear-gassed during those two movements. Continue reading

Why prisons and prisoners must matter to the Occupy movement

[The following, from an article by Michael Novick, addressed to the Occupy Wall Street movement and Occupy LA, draws connections between the California prison movement's struggle for human rights and the Occupy movement. -- Frontlines ed.]

by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-LA

Prisons and the millions who are imprisoned are a critical issue in this society for the 1 percent and for the 99 percent. They must be a vital area of concern for the Occupy Wall Street movement and especially here in Occupy LA. Here’s why:

Social control

Dostoyevsky said that you can best understand a society by looking inside its prisons. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have 5 percent of the global population and 25 percent of all the prisoners.

Prisons expose the brutal violence at the base of social control, the iron fist hidden by the velvet glove of elections and by the weapons of mass distraction. After the mass rebellions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the 1 percent made a conscious decision to de-industrialize the U.S. and drive poor people from the inner city to the outskirts of the cities, as in Latin America and Africa, or into the concentration camps.

Prison populations shot up from under 200,000 to over 2,600,000 and still rising. Millions more are in and out of jail or under custodial control by the parole and probation systems. This has resulted in painful and massive destabilization of communities, especially communities of color, and affected millions more in families disrupted by having members imprisoned and moved far away. Continue reading

California Prison Officials offer hunger strikers retaliation and repression

Loved ones and human rights defenders rallied in Sacramento this week in solidarity with tortured California inmates

, Human Rights Examiner

October 7, 2011

Historical peaceful protest by 12000 California prisoners prompts officials to begin freezing them in small concrete cells

On Day 12 of the resumed historical peaceful Pelican Bay Prison Hunger strike, it has become apparent to human rights advocates with the major group supporting the inmates interviewed by CNN that numbers of strikers began dropping this week, from 12,000 refusing food, after the CDCR intensified retaliation against them, such as air conditioning the small concrete cells at 50 degrees. The hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay who had been kept in D Corridor of the Security Housing Unit were moved to Administrative Segregation at Pelican Bay while at least one inmate on strike who was denied medications has suffered a heart attack. Continue reading

California Prisoners Hunger Strike resumes

[The historic California prisoners hunger strike continues on September 26, 2011, to press for relief from the oppressive and tortuous life-draining conditions and confinements in the "Security Housing Units."  There has been no positive response by the prison officials, but they have come back with reprisals and threats of cancelling paroles, petty privileges, and job assignments.  (see the threatening letter from the CDCR, below). (note--CDCR has released sobering numbers on prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU:  Of the 1,111 people currently held in the SHU:  Over 513 have served 10 years or more in the SHU; Of those, 78 have been in the SHU for 20 years or more; 544 have been in the SHU more than 5 years, but fewer than 10 years).  -- Frontlines ed.]
Gearing up for Round 2 of Hunger Strike

September 23, 2011

On Monday, September 26th, prisoners at both Pelican Bay & Calipatria will resume the hunger strike to stop the torturous conditions of Security Housing Units (SHUs).

Prisoners first went on hunger strike on July 1st for nearly four weeks, until the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to begin implementing some of the prisoners’ five core demands. The strike became one of the largest prison strikes in California history–stretching across a third of the California’s prisons (at least 13 State prisons), including more than 6,600 prisoners at its height. However, the CDCR’s response has been inadequate to say the least, giving prisoners & their families false hope of timely substantial change and an end to torture. For a detailed summary of the CDCR’s response to the strike, and why Pelican Bay prisoners are resuming it, read “Tortured SHU Prisoners Speak Out: The Struggle Continues.”

CDCR officials seem to be preemptively cracking down on prisoners in anticipation of the strike and have publicly said they were preparing to take harsh actions against strikers. Illustrating the CDCR’s hard-line stance, Undersecretary of Operations Scott Kernan said in a recent interview, “If there are other instances of hunger strikes, I don’t think the Department will approach it the same way this time around.”

  • Lawyers who have recently visited Pelican Bay have taken testimony from SHU prisoners who have been retaliated against by prison officials for their participation in this summer’s strike. “Prisoners are receiving serious disciplinary write-ups, usually reserved for serious rules violations, for things like talking in the library or not walking fast enough,” says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “It’s clear that prison officials are trying to intimidate these men and to make them ineligible for any privileges or changes that may be forced by the strike.”

It’s these sorts of responses from the CDCR & forms of retaliation that show us prisoners are not recognized & treated as human beings, are constantly abused & tortured by the CDCR, and that the CDCR has no intention of stopping this. The prisoners clearly have no other recourse but to risk their lives, again.

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Hunger Strike Resumes in One Week!

September 19, 2011

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) will resume their hunger strike against torturous conditions of imprisonment next Monday, Sept. 26th 2011. Read Tortured SHU Prisoners Speak Out: The Struggle Continues for more details on why they are resuming the strike.

According to family members, prisoners at Calipatria State Prison will also resume the hunger strike on Sept. 26th in solidarity with the prisoners at Pelican Bay and also to expose the brutal conditions they are in at Calipatria, where hundreds of prisoners are labeled as gang members, validated and held in administrative segregation (AdSeg) units, waiting 3-4 years to be transferred to the Pelican Bay SHU indefinitely.

The Calipatria hunger strikers have a similar, separate list of demands from the strikers at Pelican Bay, including abolish the defriefing policy & modify active/inactive gang criteria and expanding canteen/package items & programs/privileges for validated/SHU status prisoners (such as art supplies, proctored exams for correspondence courses, P.I.A. soft shoes, yearly phone calls & two annual packages).

Southern California: Irvine 11 trial begins after a week of jury selection

Demonstrating support for the Irvine 11

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada

09/07/2011

Following a week of selections from a pool of nearly 400 potential jurors, opening arguments in the Irvine 11 trial formally begin Wednesday in Orange County, California.

Defense attorneys for the group of Muslim students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside who interrupted a speech by an Israeli official in February 2010 will argue against the “selective and discriminatory” nature of the Orange County Disctrict Attorney’s office’s year-long attacks and investigations that could result in up to two years in jail for each student on criminal misdemeanor charges.

I attended some of the jury selection process in the OC courthouse last week, and will again be on hand throughout the trial to update our readers on the ongoing process during the next few weeks and after the trial ends on 23 September with a final verdict.  Continue reading

Maintaining the de-humanized and beastly myth of prisoners: Facebook’s “Blow to Prisoner’s Rights”

August 18, 2011

Facebook Caves to the Prison-Industrial-Complex

By KENNETH E. HARTMAN

In a decision setting back prisoners’ rights and helping to advance the interests of prison bureaucrats and their guard union allies, Facebook announced plans to work with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to shut down pages set up for prisoners. Spokespersons for the Department claimed that prisoners were using their Facebook pages to “stalk victims” and “conduct illegal activities,” and that this was all related to the increased incidence of cell phones found inside the prisons.

What a load of crap!

I’m one of the prisoners with a Facebook page that will be shut down to appease the shrill hate groups that continue to try and own the public debate about prisons, about crime and punishment, and about what kind of justice should be practiced here in the Land of the Free. It’s past time to address some of this fear mongering head-on, even if my keepers surely won’t appreciate it. Continue reading

School district disgraced by top cop’s racist slurs, replaces him with cop who killed Black man

[An article in OAKLANDSEEN in February, 2011, described the killing of Raheim Brown: 

"On Saturday, January 22nd, 20 year old Raheim Brown was shot and killed by the Oakland Unified School District’s police force outside Skyline High School. Police statements and media have reported that Brown tried to stab an officer with a screwdriver, and a second officer shot Brown five times—once in each arm, once in his chest, and twice in his head—in defense of his partner....On Thursday, February 3rd, outside the OUSD headquarters, Brown’s mother, Lori Davis, spoke at a press conference. Calling the killing an “assassination” she was horrified by the excessive use of force by school police officers. Davis believes that Sergeants Barhim Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, the two cops identified at the rally as the two involved in Brown’s killing, should 'never to be able to work in another police department ever.' Tamisha Stewart, the only civilian witness to the killing who was in a car with Brown outside Skyline High, spoke for the first time publicly about the event. The screwdriver Brown was accused of using as a weapon, according to Stewart, was being used in an attempt to hotwire a car, and it “never left the ignition.” While hotwiring a car might be cause for police attention, it is not cause for five bullets, including two to the head. Stewart added that “There was nothing that Raheim did that he deserved to die.” According to statements at the press conference, after Brown was killed Stewart was beaten badly and jailed for almost a week."

Nearly seven months later, the cop who killed Raheim Brown was named Chief of the Oakland Schools Police force, replacing a chief who had blurted too many racist slurs (at Black cops!) to be ignored any further. 

The only justice in this story is in the ongoing struggle of the people in the streets. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Oakland schools’ top cop quits over slurs

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OAKLAND — The Oakland school district’s police chief, accused of aiming racist remarks at an African American sergeant during a drunken outburst after a charity golf tournament, resigned from the department Wednesday.

The departure of Pete Sarna, 41, from the force he led for two years also means the end of an investigation that the Oakland Unified School District began earlier this month into his alleged comments, said district spokesman Troy Flint. Continue reading