On Wednesday, July 20th, we hung a banner that read “SOLIDARITY WITH CALI PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE (A) DESTROY ALL PRISONS” off the sixth floor of the parking garage on 3rd and Pine in Downtown Seattle. Below the banner, a smoke bomb was set off in the intersection, sending enormous plumes of orange smoke into the air. Those who hung the banner tossed thousands of fliers into the concrete canyon below the parking garage. The fliers rained down on the dozens of people waiting for the bus, grabbing lunch, shopping, or simply loitering. We later saw many people on the street reading and discussing the fliers.
This action was in solidarity with the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike which, as of the time of this writing, has spread to several other prisons in California. The thousands on hunger strike have been starving themselves for 20 days, some of them losing 25 to 30 pounds and suffering from such ailments as organ failure, loss of consciousness, and severe dehydration.
The action took place in one of the most heavily policed areas in Seattle. It is also one of the few public places in which many people still gather. On a normal day, the SPD and the King County Sherriffs patrol the streets on foot and on bike, locking up dozens of people for vagrancy, public intoxication, drinking, smoking weed, or any other reason they can think of. When they are not doing this, they are taking pictures with tourists at Pike Place Market, mock-arresting them and putting them in the back of their vintage cops cars, and parading around on their shit-dispensing horses. Despite this heavy police presence, the action was completely succesful.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE HUNGER STRIKERS AND ALL PRISONERS EVERYWHERE!
TOWARDS THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL CAGES!
Text of the flier:
On July 1, 2011 prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in California began an indefinite hunger strike to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. The hunger strike is being organized by prisoners in an unusual show of racial unity. Their five key demands are:
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 regarding an end to longterm solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate food.
5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.
Thousands of prisoners have come together in solidarity with the prisoners at Pelican Bay SHU, while being locked up in brutal conditions themselves. This massive resistance and support is a testament to people’s undying will and ability to build collective power in the face of disappearance and death. A total of 6,600 prisoners have participated in the hunger strike across 13 prisons in California. Currently at least 200 hunger strikers are in serious health conditions. Some have said they are willing to starve to death.
We are amplifying the California prisoners’ voices in order to break the isolation that is both a requirement and a function of prisons. We want both the hunger strikers to know that they are not alone that there are those of us in the outer walls who are saying “fuck prisons, down with every prison wall.”
This prison society we live in has made it very clear, with every one of its laws, courts, cops, prisons and networks of surveillance, that the life we’re supposed to accept is nothing more than a life sentence in an open air prison, and–if we refuse this–a life of extreme alienation, isolation, and degradation. The hunger strikers recognize this as they continue to refuse the meager existence that the state and capital tries to impose on them.
Prison has a long history within capitalism and governments as being one of the most archaic forms of prolonged torture and punishment. It has been used to kill some slowly and torture “undesirables” of the reigning social order–thosr who do not fit within the predetermined mold of civil society. Prisoners are almost all poor or working-class people, and mostly people of color. These social classes are often used as the definition of the “undesirable.” The same people who create poverty and discrimination are the ones who order the construction of the prisons. They create the conditions of crime and then build the prisons to contain their criminals. There is no solving the prison problem because prisons are exactly what this repressive society needs to function: social control. This is why we are not only against prisons but against the whole system that relies on them. Whether the prison system is becoming more cruel or disguising itself as humane, we will struggle against it. Whether it’s the police and cameras in the streets, the judges in the courtrooms, the guards in jail, we will struggle against them.
Solidarity with all prisoners who fights for freedom around the world, who refuse to accept forced confinement, isolation and abuse, who dream of the day when we destroy these walls together.
For an end to prisons and the world the needs them!
“I wouldn’t be free while those men ready to gun me down or lock me up and enchain me existed on the face of the earth. I wouldn’t be free while some cold prison cell awaited me.”-Xose Tarrio, Former Longterm Solitary Confinement Prisoner (FIES Regime, Spain)