Last month, 6,600 prisoners in California participated in a protest against indefinite solitary confinement. It began at the Pelican Bay State Prison; eventually, inmates at a total of thirteen prisons participated. On the twentieth day of action, the state government agreed to reassess the use of solitary confinement (in which prisoners might be kept for years) in its prisons. The protests — which also included lawyers, family members, and community members — involved marching, petitioning, chanting, and fasting. There have been conflicting reports about when the prisoner hunger strike ended, partly because the media had been refused permission to interview prisoners participating in the action.
Now, locals are fasting in solidarity to keep the pressure on the State of California. Connecticut in Solidarity with California Prisoners has organized this action. So far, thirteen people have committed to participating, three of whom will be fasting twice. One activist — a diabetic — will be fasting on the same day as another person.
This solidarity action began on August 1st and will continue until the 23rd. Four of these activists are from Hartford; five are from the metro area. Alice Leibowitz, an organizer with Connecticut in Solidarity with California Prisoners, says People of Faith and Socialist Action CT are two local organizations that have supported the action by either promoting the message or contributing “fasters.” Another local organization, A Better Way Foundation, has signed on as a supporter of the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike and its goals.
Fasting is not the only way that people on the outside are showing support for the demands being made by those in the California prison system. According to the eleventh edition of the Hungerstrike News, a newsletter put together by the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, people are also:
writing letters to legislators, and words of encouragement and support to prisoners. Last week, more than 150 religious communities of Roman Catholic nuns mailed in letters of support of the prisoners’ requests to the governor of CA. The communities ranges from the Congregation of St. Joseph to the Loretto Sisters to the Sisters of Mercy. Each religious community represents from 100-18,000 nuns nationally and internationally.
Anyone interested in more information or committing to fasting for a day should contact Alice Leibowitz.
UPDATE: 10 August 2011 — The Clean Slate Committee is also a supporter of this solidarity action.