Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Nonviolent Civil Disobedience in Sacramento: Protesting the Torture of Prisoners

A little past 8:00 am, on Friday morning, October 14, three of us—all supporters of the courageous hunger strike by California prisoners—walked up to the main entrance of the headquarters of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in Sacramento, California, the state capitol. Then we chained ourselves to the front doors, sat down, and began a non-violent action of civil disobedience. We did so to support the just struggle and demands of the hunger strikers and to condemn the assaults of the CDCR and Governor Jerry Brown on the prisoners.

With me was Gregory “Joey” Johnson, a revolutionary communist activist, whose bold action in the 1980s of burning an American flag led to a rare Supreme Court victory for the people (Texas v. Johnson), and Maryann, a relative of a California prisoner and a World Can’t Wait activist.

We felt it was imperative to take bold action to underscore the urgency of the situation faced by prisoners and to make clear our support for all the prisoners who have been on hunger strike—or who are continuing their hunger strike. And we felt that everyone has a moral obligation to step up their support for the hunger strikers and their just demands in whatever ways they possibly can. Anything less is unconscionable.

We made clear to the activists and bloggers who joined us at CDCR headquarters that we were demanding:

Outrageously, we were all arrested and each slapped with six different misdemeanor charges. As we were being dragged off, we all shouted our support for the prisoners, the demands of the hunger strikers, and our opposition to retaliation and ongoing torture. And we denounced the fact that we were arrested and dragged off to jail in order to ensure that the CDCR and the State of California could continue carrying on “torture as usual.”

The charges against us are outrageous and we’ll be mounting a legal and political battle for all of them to be dropped. These charges are certainly not going to stop us from doing everything in our power to continue fighting for the rights—and humanity—of the prisoners! And I call on others to join this struggle.


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