Yesterday, 200 family members, community members and lawyers across CA mobilized outside the headquarters of California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) in Sacramento to demonstrate their support of the people on hunger strike at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and other prisons, and to call on the CDCR and Governor Brown to intervene in this urgent, life-death matter.
Marching and chanting strong, a small delegation entered the CDCR lobby to deliver the over 7500 petitions and allow family members to ask questions about their striking loved ones. Oscar Hidalgo, CDCR Communications Director, came out after over 40 minutes of waiting and police threatening to arrest supporters for “trespassing” if they didn’t leave the lobby. No arrests were made.
After a useless conversation with Mr. Hidalgo, the crowd decided to march to the state capitol building to confront Governor Brown’s office, continuing to chant and play drums. A smaller delegation of family members, someone who had been in the SHU, and another former prisoner, went into the Governor’s office and met with his corrections staff person Aaron Macguire and Director of External Affairs, Nick Velasquez. The delegation demanded more answers.
Family members shared their intimate, painful stories of how their loved ones are being tortured, including a mother who had two sons in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). The person who had served in the SHU 13 years ago vividly described how toilet paper and mail were used to terrorize him.
According to Manuel La Fontaine, a former prisoner and organizer with All of Us or None and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, “The multi-racial, multi-generational, and multi-geographical representation of people power shown outside prison in solidarity with the hunger strikers reflects the solidarity happening inside the Security Housing Unit amongst prisoners across racial, generational, and geographic lines.” Members from the Yurok Nation closed the action in front of the capitol with a warrior song to honor the courageous hunger strikers in their 18 days without food.