An extreme form of political discourse

Greetings sisters and brothers. To those of you familiar with the CDCR domestic torture program and the ongoing protracted struggle to realize the 5 core demands, the state’s loose relationship with the truth comes as no surprise. For those of you just gaining familiarity with this social ill, what follows should prove helpful in providing you with a greater insight into the dynamics of power relationships in the U.S.
During the July 2013 hunger strike, unlike other prisons, the unique conditions and repressive staff culture here at Corcoran-SHU required a range of peaceful protest tactics, some of which are still underway. CDCR officials, including chief ombudsman Sarah Malone, have been engaging in ongoing negotiations with Cor-SHU Reps since August 16th on local issues unique to the conditions here at Corcoran State Prison. 

The decision to accept nutrients, or continue fasting, has always been an individual choice. However, here in Corcoran-SHU, because of the degree of intentional deviation from CCHC’s Mass Hunger Strike, Fasting and Refeeding Care Guide (CCHC Hunger Strike policy Chapter 22.2) by CSP-Corcoran medical staff, most refeeding has occurred as a result of potentially, or immediately, life threatening complications related to the hunger strike itself.
In mid-August, Z. was hospitalized with highly elevated ketone levels, hunger strike related acute pancreatitis, a severe kidney infection and he was on the brink of kidney failure. The life-sustaining treatment he was given, included “electrolytes” and I.V. liquid nutrition which took him “off” the hunger strike, though he consumed no solid food. Accepting “Gatorade” here at Corcoran-SHU would also take you “off” the hunger strike, so long term participants (over 30 days of fasting like Z. and H.) had to make due with water and a multi-vitamin a day. Z. resumed the hunger strike as soon as he returned to the facility.
H. was hospitalized 6 times over the course of the 40 plus days they starved, 3 days in a 5-day period in late August due to severe dehydration, extremely low blood pressure, tachycardia arrhythmia and electrolyte levels so unstable two different E.R. doctors were afraid his heart would simply lose its bio-electric charge and stop. On the third visit to the E.R. that week the doctor (Sao) actually told him he would seek a psych override to remove his capacity for informed consent (trying to assert he was suicidal) and invoke his p.o.l.s.t. (physicians’ order for life sustaining treatment). 

This doctor asserted H.’s heart was going to stop imminently, and because his electrolyte levels were so unstable, his phosphorous levels so low, and ketone levels were so high, no amount of epinephrine and electrostatic paddles would be able to resuscitate him. He still refused LNS (Liquid Nutritional Supplement) treatment and returned to the facility. 

In both cases, though facing imminent death, they continued to refuse treatment until CDCR officials agreed to negotiate in good faith with Pelican Bay, move local reps and participants out of the 4A and 3B debriefing blocks- surrounded by informants- where the administration had isolated them in and back to the 4B yard, and negotiate the terms of resolving the local issues unique to Corcoran SHU, that as of the September 3rd meeting with Corcoran administrators, included:
          Additional canteen items
          Additional t.v. stations (i.e. a Direct TV contract at prisoners’ (iwf) expense
          Additional package and special purchase items and access
          Extending visiting to 2 ½ hours (and 3 ½ hours for those traveling over 100 miles)
          More regular yard access (we’re lucky to get 3-5 hours of yard access per week)
          1 non-emergency phone call per month
[beginning of November Cor-SHU was still awaiting a response to these local demands]

Unlike other prisons, the Corcoran-SHU peaceful protest had 3 components:

          Hunger strike
          Work stoppage
          Mass single-cell event.
The last by far the most impactful. Participants could have chosen any one, or a combination, of these options to contribute to supporting the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective and this historic Human Rights Struggle.
Hunger strikes are a form of unilateral political discourse designed to raise social awareness of a particular injustice, while simultaneously shaming the perpetrating officials in the realm of public opinion. It is an extreme form of political discourse, the effectiveness of which lies in the potential for participants to die. With the insertion of judge Thelton Henderson’s ruling giving CDCR leave to force feed hunger strikers, the lethal component of the hunger strike was removed as an active threat (regardless of how incorrect and absurd the false narrative of “gang compulsion” was that CDCR used to dupe him into this ruling, the concrete analysis of concrete conditions still leads to this irrefutable materialist interpretation).
To be sure, the next day, here at Corcoran, those still maintaining their fast were confronted with the prospect of a process (force feeding) they could not resist without breaking the “peaceful” posture of the protest; coupled with the degree of disrespect participants here at Corcoran have had to endure and absorb over the course of this protest, each man’s decision was one grounded in the knowledge that there are still hundreds of participants who remain single-celled (and will continue to do so), and thousands more prepared to follow suit – or re-consolidate- according to the rate of progress and success reached in these ongoing negotiations. There remain a significant number of courageous hunger strike participants here still hospitalized, and their sacrifices, all of our sacrifices – should never be marginalized because conditions require a change in tactics.

As you read these words, there are new tactics being discussed, in the limited scope of our capabilities and maintaining a peaceful posture, should the need arise to resume an even more intense form of unilateral political discourse to resolve this contradiction. Let there be no mistake, elements here at Cor-SHU are more than willing (and capable) of having that discussion and taking it to its logical conclusion.
In the final analysis, it is neither true that no negotiations are being held or that the peaceful protest action here at Corcoran is over. 
The struggle continues.
Our love and solidarity to you all.
N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU

September, 2013
Edited Nov. 2013
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