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Oakland Noise Demo Raises Ruckus Outside of Alameda County Jail for Hunger Strikers in SHU
Noise demonstration outside of Alameda County Jail raises ruckus in solidarity with SHU hunger strikers.
On Thursday, July 4th, a group of about 100 people marched from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Alameda County Jail as riot police staged inside the Oakland Police Department Headquarters. Marchers were acting in solidarity with hunger strikers in the SHU (Special Housing Units), 'prisons within prisons,' where inmates are kept in solitary confinement. Hunger strikers in the SHU are calling for an end to hostilities between racial groups within prisons all the way down to county jails in order to call attention to inhuman and tortuous treatment of prisoners. This is the latest in a series of hunger strikes that have been started by SHU prisoners that have gone on to include thousands of inmates. Several have already died from previous hunger strikes. Prisoners within the SHU can only leave the isolation units after they inform on others, a policy called, 'debriefing,' even if they have no information to give to prison authorities. According to an article posted on truthout.org:
On July 1, 2011...thousands of other prisoners went on hunger strike to protest such draconian conditions. As reported in Truthout last year, for three weeks, at least 1,035 of the 1,111 inmates locked in the SHU refused food. In the SHU, which comprises half of California's Pelican Bay State Prison, prisoners are locked into their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Over 500 people have been confined in the SHU for over a decade, over 200 for more than 15 years and 78 for over 20 years. The only way that a person can be released from the SHU is to debrief, or provide information incriminating other prisoners. Even those who are eligible for parole have been informed that they will not be granted parole so long as they are in the SHU. "They are told they can debrief or die..." The Pelican Bay hunger strike spread to 13 other state prisons and, at its height, involved at least 6,600 people incarcerated throughout California.
Tonight, marchers played music, passed out informational flyers, wrote graffiti slogans and put up informational stickers, and upon reaching the jail on 7th and Clay streets, shot off fireworks for about 20 minutes. The fireworks lit up the night sky and prisoners responded by throwing up raised fists in the window and turning lights on and off to let those know outside that they could hear them. Someone spray painted in large letters across the front of the building, "Fire to the Prisons!" After the fireworks had been shot off, people returned to the plaza and held the intersection of 14th and Broadway for about 20 minutes before dispersing.
For more information on the hunger strike, go to: