Revolution #239, July 17, 2011

Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike, Update 7/13/11

As we know many of our readers have been following developments in the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison, we will be sharing information/updates as we receive them.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity sent out the following press release about the medical condition of the Pelican Bay prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since July 1:


Medical Conditions Reach Crisis in Pelican Bay Hunger Strike
Advocates Demand Access to Strike Leaders, Negotiations

What: Press Conference
When: Wednesday, July 13—11:00am
Where: San Francisco, California State Building, at Van Ness Ave. and McAllister Street

Oakland—According to advocates working on behalf of prisoners on hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU), medical conditions for many strikers have deteriorated to critical levels, with fears some prisoners could start to die if immediate action isn’t taken. Prisoners at Pelican Bay have been on hunger strike for nearly two weeks and have been joined by thousands of other prisoners throughout California’s vast prison system. Some of their main demands revolve around health conditions in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, while the entire California prison system is under federal receivership due to grave health conditions throughout its facilities.

A source with access to the medical condition of the hunger strikers, who asked to remain anonymous, told lawyers with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition that health of the prisoners on hunger strike is quickly and severely deteriorating, saying, “All of the medical staff has been ordered to work overtime to follow and treat the hunger strikers. Some [strikers] are in renal failure and have been unable to make urine for three days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated. The staff has taken them to the [prison hospital] and given them intravenous glucose when allowed by the prisoners. A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up.”

Prisoners participating in the strike in other prisons in California have also reported that medications, including those for high blood pressure and other serious conditions, are being withheld from prisoners on strike. Some prisoners have participated for limited periods of time or have joined other prisoners in “rolling” strikes, due to their already poor medical conditions.

“This situation is grave and urgent,” says Carol Strickman, staff attorney for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a legal representative of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. “We are fighting to prevent a lot of deaths at Pelican Bay. The CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] needs to negotiate with these prisoners, and honor the request of the strike leaders to have access to outside mediators to ensure that any negotiations are in good faith.”

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition is urging journalists to do further investigation into the health conditions at Pelican Bay, while also pushing state politicians to visit the prison itself. The coalition is also encouraging members of the public to pressure Gov. Brown and the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners. Taeva Shefler of the Prison Activist Resource Center, another member of the solidarity coalition says, “The question for the CDCR is: will they continue to jeopardize prisoners’ health and safety rather than sit at the same table and talk?”

Hunger strike supporters will hold an emergency press conference Wednesday at 11:00 am outside the State Building in San Francisco. Supporters, including family members of those held at Pelican Bay, will also continue to hold rallies and other events in the coming weeks.

For information on upcoming events, visit


Revolution Books/Libros Revolución in Los Angeles received the following e-mail:

URGENT! - Distribute Far and Wide
WEDNESDAY @ 2 PM Ronald Reagan State Building
300 South Spring Street, L.A., CA 90013
(3rd St. between Spring and Main)
KRST Unity Center of Afrikan Spiritual Science
7825. S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90047-2728
For info: 213-840-5348 (California Prisoners Hunger Strike Action Network)

On Wednesday, DAY 13 of the Pelican Bay prisoner hunger strike, a Press Conference will be held in front of the State Building in L.A. at 2 pm and an Encampment at KRST Unity Center in South Central LA will occur. Wednesday, July 13, marks the 13th day of the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) and other CA prisons. This is a serious situation.

The Press Conference will draw the attention of the public, at a key moment, to the prisoners on this hunger strike and their just demands. The Encampment will be a center for all those who support the just demands of the hunger striking prisoners; a space where people will participate in a solidarity hunger strike / fast, in unity with the prisoners and opposed to the torture going on in the Pelican Bay SHU and other California prisons.

This situation is urgent in the extreme; we recently read this report: "According to a SHU nurse, things are bad at Pelican Bay. The prisoners have not been drinking water and there have been rapid and severe consequences. Nurses are crying. All of the medical staff has been ordered to work overtime to follow and treat the hunger strikers...there were about 50 on C-SHU and 150 on D-SHU. They are not drinking water and have de-compensated rapidly. Some are in renal failure and have been unable to make urine for 3 days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated...." All people and voices of conscience need to step forward urgently! Be at the Press Conference/Speak Out! at the State Building on Wednesday at 2pm. Take part in this solidarity hunger strike / fast (for 24 hours).

Add your name publicly to the call for this solidarity hunger strike / fast. Write a statement in support. Protests, demonstrations, urgent outreach, media work, and a solidarity hunger strike / fast "on the outside" are key ways, not the only ways, but certainly key ways actors, academics, artists, lawyers, faith-based people, youth and students, families of the incarcerated and everyone can show their support right now; a way to coalesce, unite and collectively make impact to demand the prisoners demands are met.

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