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Police Attempt To Stop Demonstration In Support of Prison Hunger Strike

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  • Union del Barrio - Oxnard
    Chicano Press Association/La Verdad Publications:Police Attempt To Stop Demonstration In Support of Prison Hunger StrikeSAN DIEGO – On Friday, July 27,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1 12:13 AM
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      Chicano Press Association/La Verdad Publications:

      Police Attempt To Stop Demonstration In Support of Prison Hunger Strike

      SAN DIEGO – On Friday, July 27, 2001, despite efforts by Federal Guards to=
      prevent them from going forward with a scheduled
      demonstration, over 40 people demonstrated in front of the Federal Court Bu=
      ilding in downtown San Diego, Standing in front of
      the Federal Court Building, members and supporters of the the Chicano Mexic=
      ano Prison Project (CMPP) and the Raza Rights
      Coalition (RRC), carried signs and banners that read, "The Real Criminals =
      Are The Politicians", "End Prison Torture", "Stop The
      Mass Imprisonment Of Our Youth", and the "SHUs Are Torture Chambers". Acco=
      rding to representatives of the RRC and the
      CMPP, the demonstration was in solidarity with prisoners, who in their effo=
      rts to put an end to the inhumane and illegal isolation of
      prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), had recently staged a massive=
      hunger strike of over 600 prisoners at Pelican Bay
      State Prison.

      Within minutes of the start of the manifestation, organizers were confronte=
      d by Federal Guards who demanded to see a city-
      issued permit authorizing the demonstration, threatening to call the police=
      and have everyone arrested, if a permit was not
      immediately presented to them. The organizers responded by explaining that=
      they didn't need a permit to peacefully express
      their opinion on public property. Furthermore, that they were not intimate=
      d by the threat to call the police. Within minutes, three
      San Diego police cars arrived. The police and federal guards conversed amo=
      ng themselves, stared at the protesters, but did not
      attempt to break up the demonstration. The demonstrators' determination an=
      d militancy prevailed and the demonstration

      During the demonstration and in publicity statements, the RRC and CMPP, org=
      anizers explained that that the primary reason for
      the protest was to show solidarity for the demands of the Pelican Bay SHU p=
      rison hunger strikers and to expose how, in clear
      violation of the United Nation's position on the rights of prisoners, the C=
      alifornia Department of Corrections (CDC) has for years
      practiced a policy of confining in (torture) chambers called Security Housi=
      ng Units (SHU), those inmates who prison officials claim
      to be "problem prisoners". SHU inmates are routinely isolated for 23 hours=
      a day in closet-size cells for up to five, ten, fifteen
      years, or more. This brutal and inhumane practice often leads to permanent =
      psychological and physical damage of inmates.


      As has been historically the case, the corporate-controlled media, failed t=
      o cover the demonstration, effectively imposing a black
      out on an alternative view which they see as a danger to the profits made b=
      y their bosses. Only La Verdad (newspaper of Union
      del Barrio) and Zenger's (white alternative liberal-progressive community n=
      ews magazine) were present to cover the event. Yet,
      the presence of these two publications ensured that the voice of the poor a=
      nd working class were not silenced by the capitalist
      controlled media.

      After an hour of demonstrating in front of the Federal Court House, the par=
      ticipants gather for a rally. Speaking through bull
      horns, representatives of the RRC and CMPP addressed those participating i=
      n demonstration. In reference to the attempt by the
      federal guards to intimidate the demonstrators and to keep the demonstratio=
      n from taking place, Pablo Aceves, a veterano
      activist and representative of the RRC told those at the demonstration that=
      , "We will not be intimidated by these custodians
      [pointing to the federal guards] or the city's watch dogs [pointing toward =
      the police]. We will continue to fight for the rights of La
      Raza and all oppressed and poor people. We will never give up our democrat=
      ic right to voice our opinion!


      While Cathy Espitia, coordinator of the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project tha=
      nked everyone for "sacrificing and making time to
      come out and support struggle of the Pelican Bay SHU Prisoner Hunger Strike=
      rs." Cathy Espitia summed-up the key demands of
      the Pelican Bay Strikers as:

      The right, as guaranteed by California law, to due process and to defend on=
      eself by presenting evidence on one's behalf. In
      most cases, inmates are arbitrarily sent to the SHU without any legal proce=
      ss or legitimate justification.

      No SHU terms given for alleged association with a gang; proof of guilt must=
      be a required for all SHU terms.

      Released form SHU of those who are no longer active gang members; some inma=
      tes have been kept in the SHU for 15 years or

      The re-establishing and maintaining of dialogue amongst prisoners and staff=
      to bring about conflict resolution. Inmates want to
      end the vicious racial violence that exist between the various nationalitie=
      s currently locked up in the state prisons.

      Others present at the demonstration included members of the Chicano Park St=
      eering Committee, Committee Against Police
      Brutality, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, MEChA, and the campaig=
      n to Free Mumia Coalition. Cathy Espitia also made it
      a point to thank the California Prison Focus (from the San Francisco Bay Ar=
      ea) for their efforts in keeping an active network of
      activists united in the struggle to support the human rights of prisoners.
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