Published in the SF Bay View, March 11, 2012
by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry
My name is Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry. I am one of the four principle negotiators of the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike, now titled: Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement (PBHRM).
As you know by now, the hunger strike has been given a grace period, because CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate and Undersecretary Scott Kernan asked that we call off the hunger strike until they’re able to meet our five core demands. This the four principle negotiators thought hard and long on during a three-and-a-half-hour negotiation face to face with Undersecretary Scott Kernan, who made it clear from the beginning he speaks for CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. Only then did we agree to give the CDCR heads the time they requested: two to three weeks starting from July 20, 2011.
Although we have read many unfortunate lies by the CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate that we, the negotiators, called off the hunger strike for a beanie cap, proctor and calendars, not only does the CDCR secretary think the hunger strike supporters are stupid to believe that we would literally starve ourselves for beanie caps, proctors, handballs and calendars etc., it’s only an attempt to demoralize our support base, i.e. prisoners throughout the United States and people of all walks of life throughout the world.
Here’s my personal horror story: I was locked up in 1985, when two confidential informants (i.e., prison snitches) reported information to two correctional lieutenants named Lt. L.D. Thomas and Lt. S.L. Hubbard at San Quentin State Prison.
It’s important to know that I have been held in solitary confinement since 1985. I’ve been here in PBSP solitary confinement since 1990 and I’ve suffered every torturous physical and psychological attack known to man here. Yet my only crime is that in 1985 two prison informers allegedly reported that I was involved in prison gang activities – only to find out there never were any prison informers (i.e., snitches). Instead the two “veteran” lieutenants, L.D. Thomas and S.L. Hubbard, were the “two prisoner informers.” Yes, they lied in order to lock me up because it was them who authored all the information provided.
Therefore I have been held in solitary confinement illegally because of two heartless racist officials who lied in order to lock me up in solitary confinement as a prison gang member, when they both knew I was not a prison gang member. I was told off the record that I am in solitary confinement for my political beliefs. And due to those beliefs, I will die in solitary confinement unless I “debrief.”
This is not a unique story. Many other prisoners are held in prison solitary confinement indefinitely for not one offense for 10 to 40 years. We have wasted away here in solitary confinement while our families suffer the same psychological torture, and many have already passed on. So those five core demands are not for beanie caps or jackets, which the PBSP officials cruelly kept from us deliberately while allowing us to go to the freezing concrete yard nine months out of the year for 21 years straight.
I have been held in solitary confinement illegally because of two heartless racist officials who lied in order to lock me up in solitary confinement as a prison gang member, when they both knew I was not a prison gang member. I was told off the record that I am in solitary confinement for my political beliefs. And due to those beliefs, I will die in solitary confinement unless I “debrief.”
The “proctor” does not serve 95 percent of us because it’s an educational service at prisoners’ expense. Therefore, many of us cannot afford it. And a calendar is a calendar? Don’t get it! So, CDCR Secretary Cate and his lying cronies – i.e., CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thorton, CDCR Undersecretary Scott Kernan and PBSP SHU Warden G.D. Lewis – know that our hunger strike is about human rights and the abuse and physical and psychological torture of prisoners being held in solitary confinement indefinitely – i.e., civil death.
So, if CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, Undersecretary Scott Kernan and PBSP SHU Warden G.D. Lewis do not hold to our July 20, 2011, agreement and implement our five core demands as they agreed, then we will have no choice but to reenact our statewide peaceful hunger strike indefinitely, because despite all the divide and conquer attempts, we prisoners remain in solidarity across all racial groups. And we will seek no negotiations with any CDCR officials whatsoever. Our Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement is a struggle to be treated like decent human beings instead of like caged animals.
Brother Sitawa has served 27 years in solitary confinement “due to my political beliefs in the teachings of David Walker, Martin Delany, Marcus Garvey.” Black abolitionist David Walker published his book, “Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, a call for Black unity and self-help in the fight against oppression and injustice,” in 1829. “America,” he argued, “is more our country than it is the whites’ – we have enriched it with our blood and tears.” His goal was to see Black people defend and “govern ourselves.”
It should be clear that I have been made to suffer a grave injustice due to my political beliefs in the teachings of David Walker, Martin Delany, Marcus Garvey etc., whose beliefs and principles I have embraced and for years used to educate my New Afrikan brothers and sisters and fellow human beings behind these prison walls even after initially being placed in solitary confinement. I continue to educate and serve the interests of all prisoners across all color lines! It is these actions which led CDCR to further isolate me deeper into solitary confinement on an illegal placement into solitary confinement.
I insist that California Gov. Edmund G. Brown and President Barack Obama take a hard look at the inhumane treatment of California prisoners here in the United States of America being tortured in solitary confinement units because of their political beliefs, influence and being jailhouse lawyers etc. And even if someone is a prison gang member or gang member, it still does not give CDCR officials the right to torture them.
Therefore, I/we ask that an investigation be opened to look into the criminal and inhumane treatment that has been going on for 10 to 40 years against all prisoners, mostly of color. I have been disciplinary free for 16 years! And every CDCR rule violation report I received between 1985 and 1995 was due to CDCR officials trying to assassinate me on numerous occasions that were self-defense incidents.
It should be clear that I am willing to talk to any media as to our torture and illegal placement into solitary confinement. I am willing to talk at any legislative hearings in respect to our suffering. I am willing to let anyone investigate what I have spoken about in this informative letter to you all, especially the accusations that I made against the two lieutenants. It is the only way that you all will be able to see the truth and the criminal behavior by officials and gang investigators in order to keep us in solitary confinement.
On top of suffering one grave injustice where I have been conspired into the solitary confinement unit in which I’ve been for the last 26 years, I have also suffered another injustice where I have been held in prison for 31 years on a crime that I did not commit. Not only have my co-defendants been released – one 24 years ago and the other 25 years ago – but one also confessed to the crime during our trial. Ironically the only thing that these two injustices have in common is the witnesses used to persecute me where there was no evidence whatsoever. See Case No. C01-20091 civil suit U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
SB 687 was signed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Aug. 3, 2011, into law. It provides that the corroboration of an in-custody informant shall not be provided by the testimony of another in-custody informant.
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671
CCI SHU 4B-7C-209
P.O. Box 1906,
Tehachapi CA 93581