July 17, 2011 No. 1, Day Seventeen
Friday, July 15 – This afternoon leaders of the Pelican Bay hunger strike unanimously rejected a proposal from the CDCR to end the strike. In response to the prisoners’ five, straightforward demands, the CDCR distributed a vaguely worded document stating that it would “effect a comprehensive assessment of its existing policy and procedure” about the secure housing units (SHUs). The document gave no indication if any changes would be made at all.
While the CDCR has claimed that there is no medical crisis, mediators report that the principal hunger strikers have lost 25-35 pounds each and have underlying medical conditions of concern. Despite the promises from the federal Receiver overseeing the CDCR, no one has received salt tablets or vitamins.
The hunger strike is now in its third week and shows no signs of weakening. In fact, the settlement document distributed last night to all hunger strikers at Pelican Bay prison, resulted in some people who have gone off the strike to resume refusing food. Hundreds of prisoners at Pelican Bay remain on strike, with thousands more participating throughout the CA’s 33 prisons. Advocates and strike leaders dismiss the false claims that the strike is being orchestrate by prison gangs.
International solidarity with the striking prisoners also continue to mount with demonstrations and messages emerging from the US, Canada, Turkey and Australia.
According to mediation team Laura Magnani, “From day one. the CDCR has demonstrated it’s inability to resolve this situation. We call on Gov. Brown to step in and negotiate in good faith to bring this situation to a just resolution.” Strike supporters plan to flood the Governor’s office with phone calls and emails, echoing the striker’s demands.
Given how basic the strikers’ demands are, it is immoral that the CDCR would insult these men with such poor faith proposal,” state mediator Dorsey Nunn.
The challenge for supporters outside of prison is to match the courage of the hunger strikers, and to effectively pressure the CDCR to immediately negotiate on the standards any negotiation should follow: with the prisoners in good faith, addressing all of the demands, and with the prisoner-approved outside mediation team.