Solidarity Photos: Show Support for the California Prisoner Hunger Strike
This is the beginning of the sixth week of the California Prisoner Hunger Strike. Over 30,000 prisoners began the hunger strike together on July 8th; that’s 36 days ago. These people are putting their lives on the line to stop the brutal torture they are subjected to in solitary confinement. See our previous post to learn more about their demands.
On Monday, July 22nd, 32-year-old Billy “Guero” Sell died in solitary confinement at Corcoran State Prison while participating in the hunger strike . Prison officials are ruling the death a suicide, but advocates and friends of Guero assert that he had no prior mental health issues and that he died because of inaction by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Guero’s friends described him as “strong, a good person, a good soldier.” The hunger strike continues and we must all remind the world that Guero’s life mattered.
We invite you to join us in sending Gov. Jerry Brown a message to support the California Prisoner Hunger Strike and force the CDCR into negotiations with the hunger strikers. Take a photo in solidarity with the hunger strikers. Invite your congregation, social justice council, youth group, or other friends to stand with you. Then, you can tweet your photos to @CAHungerStrike and/or with #cahungerstrike, or post them on the official “Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity” Facebook page.
There are currently 36 people who have signed on with the weekly solidarity fast each Monday since July 8th. People are participating from Boise, Idaho; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; Toronto, Ontario; New Orleans, Louisiana; and elsewhere around North America. On Monday, August 4th, a group of community activists shut down the entrance to a state building on Oakland, California, demanding action by the Governor and an end to solitary confinement. People around the world are outraged and paying attention to the ongoing suffering in the prisons throughout California. The leadership and bravery of those on hunger strike is a call to action for those of us who are people of faith.
Our Unitarian Universalist theology reminds us that our lives are all interwoven and together we are part of the Divine. Our Universalist ancestry calls us to recognize the holy in every individual and to honor that beauty through community and solidarity. As prisoners in California continue to risk their lives, it is our responsibility to lift up their voices with our own. As their bodies lose strength we must grow stronger. With one life lost and others possible to follow, we must not let their lives be lost in vain. Speak out. Stand in solidarity.
This post was written by Rev. Jason Lydon, Community Minister at Black and Pink, and Megan Selby, Chicago Area UU Young Adult Ministries Coordinator.