Monday, August 5, 2013

Open Letter: To Those Precious Few Who Follow My Website, "Bangin' it Out"

On May 18th, I began a hunger strike to protest the treatment of prisoners in the State of Michigan. Today, August 5, is the 80th day of my hunger strike. During this span of time, I have been offered 240 meals (three meals a day).  I have refused every one of them. I have lost a lot of weight; I am physically weakened. Spiritually, I feel stronger than ever.

Hunger strikes have been recognized as a legitimate form of peaceful protest throughout history, and worldwide. My hunger strike is as legitimate as Gandhi’s. He, too, put his life on the line in hopes of effecting positive change for a disenfranchised people. He, too, was warned of the destructive effect his hunger strike could have on his body. He stuck to it anyway. 

PRISONERS ARE AMERICANS, TOO. We have rights. Americans respect, and fight for, African-American rights, women’s rights, gay rights. They even fight for animal rights. All the while – for the past 25 years – prisoners’ rights have been sliding down the toilet. My aim is not only to improve the lost of prisoners in Michigan, I want to improve the lot of prisoners’ families – to give their babies hope – and by that, improve the lot of all Americans. 

Some people think I launched my hunger strike because my parole was denied. That denial (on April 24, 2013), was only the tip of the iceberg – the catalyst – a perfect example of how arrogant and unresponsive the Michigan Department of Corrections has become. This hunger strike is about thousands of men and women in Michigan who have served their time and are now being kept behind bars simply because the MDOC “feels like” keeping them there. 

There is a man who was recently released from prison here in Jackson. His sentence was the same as mine – second degree life.  After serving his court-ordered 17 years, (as I have done), the MDOC made him serve another 15 years – that’s three more 5-year flops! – before letting him go home. That is the measure of their callous indifference to the concept of mercy. 

People say to me: “You will be going home one day.” They assume that without understanding the nature of this prison system. Maybe I will be going home one day. But “one day” is not good enough. (America’s slaves used to talk about “One day…” They would say, “One day we will be free.” They kept saying that for 250 years.)  “One day” is not justice. “One day” is what you say when there is no justice.

Men and women in prison want justice now, not “one day.” I’m trying to help prisoners get that justice. I’m trying to help babies get their granddaddies home.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You are not alone. Hang in there my friend.~Lisa