BY ARLENE RUBINSTEIN
NORWALK, Calif. — Some 30,000 inmates at more than two dozen prisons throughout California refused meals Monday morning July 8, initiating a mass hunger strike to protest barbaric treatment and press their demands. Solidarity rallies took place across the state the same day.
Some 2,300 inmates also refused to show up for prison work or classes, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In California alone, more than 10,000 workers behind bars are held in solitary confinement, with dozens for more than 20 years.
Prisoners in Pelican Bay’s Special Housing Units (SHUs) initiated the first round of hunger strike protests two years ago, which grew to involve more than 11,000 inmates. Protest organizers announced they would resume the strike July 8 because prison officials had refused to comply with promises to meet prisoners’ demands — which included an end to group punishment, abolition of a snitch system that arbitrarily puts inmates accused of gang affiliation in long-term isolation until they finger others, release of those in SHU isolation for more than 10 years, adequate food, a weekly phone call and other demands.
“My son, Gabriel Reyes, has been locked in a tiny, windowless cell for 15 years at Pelican Bay,” said Connie Pedroza, who took part in a July 8 protest of some 150 outside City Hall here with her daughter, grandson, niece and nephew. “My son was part of the first strike in 2011. He is fighting again this time, and we stand with him. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will not rob him of his humanity.”
Another round of solidarity rallies is planned for July 13.
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