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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: South Bay | Police State and Prisons
Open Letter from Prisoners United Hunger Striker of 2016
An anonymous letter from a member of Prisoners United who participated in the hunger strike of 2016 and prepares to go on hunger strike again with hundreds. He shares the power and influence of community support.
Prisoners United is a self organized group of incarcerated individuals inside Santa Clara County Jails.
OPEN LETTER FROM PRISONERS UNITED HUNGER STRIKER OF 2016
Greetings and solidarity across the board! The following will consist of another open letter in regards to the need of a second demonstration of our peaceful protest in the form of a hunger strike in Santa Clara County Jail. The first strike was back on 10/17/16 and went on for five days.
I am simply one man out of several hundred who stand firm under the banner and concept of Prisoners United of Silicon Valley. Our purpose has been and continues to be, trying to bring about meaningful forms of long-term positive change here in Santa Clara County Jail, for ourselves and our community. As a result of this, I along with several hundred other prisoners will be participating in another hunger strike.
During our first strike, I personally lost nine pounds. My equilibrium was out of sync and it threw off the chemical balance of my whole body. This resulted in constant headaches, dizzy spells, blurred vision, and the inability to use the restroom. I was extremely sleep deprived and now I truly understand the meaning and feeling of what real hunger pains consist of.
I was provided a memo from health care personnel stating that I/we were putting our short and long-term health in jeopardy, which could result in death. The sheriff’s administration was fully aware of these risks and yet they simply turned a blind eye and deaf ear by showing no real concern for five days. This is truly deplorable when you consider the fact that Laurie Smith, Troy Beliveau and other deputies utilize the media and community meetings to claim the safety of all staff and inmates is their number one priority. I believe these empty words only serve to mislead our community. The Sheriff’s office, administration and staff only became concerned once we, Prisoners United, received community support. Unfortunately this clearly demonstrates the culture and mentality that we are up against. The collective voice and medical safety of several hundred prisoners actually means nothing without outside community support.
So at this point, I along with several hundred prisoners who will not be eating, humbly yet firmly reach beyond these walls and ask for the support of our communities during our time of struggle and sacrifice for positive change. Not just policy change on paper, but more importantly positive change in practice. As equally important, we seek/need change in SCC jails god ol’ boy/us against them mentality and abusive secretive culture.
I believe it is important to understand that I, and others, really do not want to starve ourselves. Nor am I into self-deprivation, mutilation or torture. And, I/we are not simply looking for handouts. My decision to do this does not come easy nor was it made in haste. But, instead, I truly believe in what we are doing. And there still exists a need for change!
So I/we stand firmly united in our collective stance and willingness to sacrifice todays hardships so that tomorrow we might be able to live under better human circumstances and less abusive and secretive conditions. Again, I/we ask for your support as we truly need it.
While hundreds of us prisoners are not eating, we ask that you flood Laurie Smith, Cindy Chavez, Troy Beliveau, Christopher Grumbos and SCC Jail with calls and emails of concern. Demand/Seek answers as to why prisoners are not eating and risking their health and even lives. Ask for transparency and accountability. Or simply assist and support in any way that you can.
In closing let me just say that I/we are prepared for administration/staff to try and discourage, manipulate and undermine our purpose, sacrifice and efforts. But I/we stand solid and strong in our determination. And we invite you to stand with us.
Respect and a strong embrace of solidarity!
Simply one man’s voice within a collective of Prisoners United
For more info on Hunger Strike issues and ways to support, please contact:
Jose Valle / Silicon Valley De-Bug / Prisoners United Housing Unit Coordinator
jose [at] siliconvalleydebug.org
Benee Vejar / Silicon Valley De-Bug / Prisoners United Family Coordinator
benee [at] siliconvalleydebug.org
Call/email these numbers with messages of concern during Hunger Strike to show your support. Thank you!
laurie.smith [at] sheriff.sccgov.org
carl.neusel [at] sheriff.sccgov.org
christopher.grumbos [at] sheriff.sccgov.org
troy.beliveau [at] sheriff.sccgov.org
Board of Supervisors:
cindy.chavez [at] bos.sccgov.org
mike.wasserman [at] bos.sccgov.org
dave.cortese [at] bos.sccgov.org
supervisor.yeager [at] bos.sccgov.org
supervisor.simitian [at] bos.sccgov.org
As courageous inmates inside Glenn Dyer in Oakland are on Day 3 [October 17, 2017] of their hunger strike to peacefully protest inhumane conditions, we received a letter with a poem of encouragement and solidarity from a writer inside another facility in the South Bay.
STATE OF DETERMINATION - A POEM IN SOLIDARITY WITH PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE
State of Determination
The circumstances of life at times can be unkind
Truly testing your will power and state of mind
Faced with daunting obstacles you feel you cannot climb
The determination in your eye now seems predestined to die
No matter how hard you try
it appears you can’t shake the feeling and state of mind
That there’s nothing left to lose as you already lost all there was to gain
Reaching the pinnacle of your own anguish and pain
Is so thick in the air
It is choking the life out of hope!
Just cant seem to keep it alive
Regardless how hard you try
But even then you must continue to strive!
There is no honor in retreat when you give up in defeat!
Regain your battle stance and get ready to ride!
With your head held high
Standing on your own two feet and digging in deep
Seeking the physical endurance to push the body beyond what comes easy
Exercising the fortitude and the full strength of your mind
To overcome these troubling times!
Original Poem Written by Prisoners United Member