April 23rd Santa Cruz Vigil

Actions are held on the 23rd of each month to represent the 23 hours or more per day inmates held in solitary typically spend in isolation. The second Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) took place on April 23rd in Arcata, Eureka, Los Angeles, two places in Oakland, Point Reyes, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz CA; and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA.

Here's a report from the Santa Cruz action at the Lighthouse: The Santa Cruz Vigil honored Robert ‘Robio’ Clemente Fuentes Sr., jailhouse lawyer, Prisoner Hunger Striker, and poet extraordinaire, in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) for 20 years, killed by CDCR medical neglect and abuse 2 months before his 56th birthday. Robio’s sister, Cynthia Fuentes, California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), fought hard for his compassionate release, which CDCR cruelly denied.

Quote from Marie Levin, California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition. Ms. Levin is sister of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Prisoner Human Rights Movement, co-author of Agreement To End Hostilities, housed in the SHU 31 years, in prison 34. (www.abolishsolitary.com, www.familyunitynetwork.org)

Quote from Marie Levin, California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition. Ms. Levin is sister of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Prisoner Human Rights Movement, co-author of Agreement To End Hostilities, housed in the SHU 31 years, in prison 34. (www.abolishsolitary.com, www.familyunitynetwork.org)

The Santa Cruz action also included spoken hip hop word art condemning solitary confinement. Updates were given on the Short Corridor’s Proposals for action and the response outside the walls, Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) on the 23rd of each month; the Agreement To End Hostilities across race/ethnic and geographic lines, the historic document that helped the 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike start with over 30,000 prisoners; the Dallas 6 facing riot charges for peacefully protesting torture in solitary confinement at SCI-Dallas, PA (scidallas6.blogspot.com); Ashker v. Brown, federal class action lawsuit filed by men in Pelican Bay SHU over 10 years; California Senate Bill 124 to define, limit, and document juvenile solitary confinement and the national trend to limit juvenile solitary confinement; alternatives to solitary confinement; and the 9th Annual Cabrillo College Social Justice Conference.

Phyllis Greenleaf: “Abolish Solitary Confinement at Pelican Bay…and all other Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Institutions! Our sincere thanks to Peter Collins, the artist of the pelican drawing, prisoner activist in Canada, who is dying of bladder cancer,” with the pelican, beak in chains, that he drew for the Prisoner Hunger Strike. We asked people to write letters for his Compassionate Release. [UPDATE: Refused compassionate release, Peter died in prison on August 13, 2015, the day after Hugo Yogi Bear Pinell was assassinated. ¡Pete Collins, Presente!]

Phyllis Greenleaf: “Abolish Solitary Confinement at Pelican Bay…and all other Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Institutions! Our sincere thanks to Peter Collins, the artist of the pelican drawing, prisoner activist in Canada, who is dying of bladder cancer,” with the pelican, beak in chains, that he drew for the Prisoner Hunger Strike. We asked people to write letters for his Compassionate Release. [UPDATE: Refused compassionate release, Peter died in prison on August 13, 2015, the day after Hugo Yogi Bear Pinell was assassinated. ¡Pete Collins, Presente!]

Participants read excerpts from “I Am Somebody’s Daughter” by Nicole Natschke, in segregation at Logan Correctional Facility in Illinois. She described women thrown into segregation for requesting mental health evaluation or help and for having a seizure, and the lack of mental and physical healthcare. She said: “I’ve talked to many women in this prison and I haven’t met one yet who hasn’t been abused, raped, etc., in their life. … I’ll do whatever I can from the inside and hope people listen to what I have to say. … I want to stop this from happening to others.” [http://solitarywatch.com/2015/02/24/voices-from-solitary-i-am-somebodys-daughter/]

Food Not Bombs served free food and displayed a model SHU bologna and cheese sandwich, with a sign:

“California Prisoner-led Human Rights Movement Has 5 Core Demands for CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The 4th is: Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food. People in Security Housing Units (SHUs) have reported: Lunches are always bagged, the same old bologna and/or cheese. The ‘cheese’ that comes in the lunch 5 days a week … won’t melt. It is glassy and if you smash it between your fingers it has a gritty feel, like pumice and oil.’ Robert ‘Robio’ C. Fuentes stated: ‘There are no fat people in the SHU.’ ”

For more information email phssreachingout@gmail.com


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.