Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network extends its greetings and salutes of solidarity to prisoners in United States jails and detention centers struggling for justice and dignity. As 1,500 Palestinian prisoners launched their hunger strike in Israeli jails on 17 April, they are not alone in struggling against repressive and racist prison systems.
In California, approximately 30 people in the Robert Presley Detention Center and one in the Southwest Detention Center in Riverside, CA have been on hunger strike since 13 April. Instead of meeting with the hunger strikers, prison administrators have met the strike with repression. Hunger strikers have been denied family visits, limited telephone access and cut off access to the commissary. Through their ongoing struggle, on 26 April, the Prisoners Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition reported that visits, commissary and telephone access had been restored thanks to solidarity and pressure outside the prison.
The strikers’ demands highlight ongoing repression, isolation and denial of access to family and social connections. They call for an end to policies limiting phone access, ending placement in solitary confinement and prohibiting long-term solitary confinement, opportunities for education, and accessible commissary prices. We express our support and solidarity for the hunger strikers’ demands. We also salute the Prisoners Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition for their ongoing international solidarity in struggle against racist structures of mass imprisonment, including and particularly the ongoing support and solidarity this coalition has shown for Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike even as they organize to defend hunger strikers in California.
We further express our solidarity with undocumented immigrants detained in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma who are on hunger strike for basic human rights and standards of living. At the strike’s height, 750 detained immigrants were on hunger strike; currently, 50 detainees are on hunger strike and 100 more are boycotting the commissary. The hunger strikers are demanding lower commissary prices, family visits with contact (rather than via phone with a clear plastic divider), increased pay for work in the center (workers are currently paid $1/day) and improved food.
The detention center is run and operated for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by the GEO Group, a private, for-profit corporation. In Aurora, Colorado, GEO Group is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging violations of federal anti-slavery laws for its $1/day pay to workers in their detention centers. The strikers are supported by Northwest Detention Center Resistance (NWDC Resistance), which works to end deportation and detention of immigrants, calling for supporters to “join the fight to end deportations, detention and criminalization of people of color.”
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes these struggles inside U.S. jails and detention centers, fighting amidst a prison system that has been based on racism, injustice and exploitation. We stand with those struggling in the Riverside detention centers, and with the immigrants struggling for justice and freedom in Tacoma, as we stand with the thousands of Palestinian prisoners struggling for dignity and freedom inside Israeli jails.
We urge supporters of justice in Palestine, the US and elsewhere to take the actions called for by Prisoners Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and NWDC Resistance, as below:
From the PHSS Coalition:
⇒SIGN (and share) THIS PETITION
“Support Riverside County Jail Hunger Strikers!” Petition by Riverside All Of Us Or None to the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept.https://www.change.org/p/riverside-county-board-of-supervisors-support-riverside-county-jail-hunger-strikers
⇒MAKE CALLS (or continue making calls); Sample Script HERE
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
Chuck Washington: (951) 955-1030
Marion Ashley: (951) 955-1050
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:(951) 955-2400 Press Option 4
RIVERSIDE COUNTY ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL: (951) 955-4500 Press Option 1 then Option 8
⇒SEND A LETTER to the Riverside Board of Supervisors
- U.S. Mail address: 4080 Lemon Street, 5th Floor, Riverside, California 92501
- Email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sample letter: http://wp.me/a1BB1k-35h
Encourage and help your organizations, churches, etc. to write a letter, too.
⇒FILE A COMPLAINT WITH RIVERSIDE GRAND JURY
Please fill this out if you are a Riverside resident
⇒MAY DAY RALLY!
Join a Rally on Monday, May 1st in support of the Hunger Strikers on their 17th day. More details will be out soon.
Our Rally will be alongside the May Day Marches and Rallies honoring International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day.
From NWDC Resistance:
- Call the City of Tacoma’s Finance Department and urge them to revoke GEO Group’s Business License.
In a March 2017 letter to GEO, Mayor Strickland noted that the City of Tacoma can revoke GEO’s business license if it is a “danger to the public health, safety and welfare of the individuals [detained] as well as the community as a whole.” – Finance Department, Andrew Cherullo, Finance Director, 253.591.5800
- Call ICE and demand that they meet the Hunger Strikers’ Demands (see below) and that GEO Group not retaliate against hunger strikers. We have reports that strikers have been threatened with transfer to facilities away from their loved ones as punishment.
Acting Field Director, Bryan S. Willcox
Assistance Field Director (Detention): William Penaloza
Facility Main Telephone: (253) 779.6000
Field Office Main Telephone Line: (206) 835.0650
Hunger Striker’s Demands
▪ Change the food menu
▪ Lower commissary prices.
▪ Improve hygiene, including the ability to wash clothes with soap and water.
▪ Increase recreation time.
▪ Have schoolwork and other programs available to keep detainees occupied.
▪ Improve medical attention.
▪ Increase wages for working detainees.
▪ Help speed up the legal process for detainees.