Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holding vigil for Bryan across the road from Pelican Bay State Prison

I just didn't know what to do with myself today, having heard the news about men refusing water.  I know that Bryan is one of them.  So I drove to PBSP and with a few daisys picked from the ditch, just stood there holding vigil.  I watched the entire afternoon group of CO come to work and the 1st shift leave.  I also stayed until all the administrators, who left at 5:00, could see me .  I had no hatred, but I would quietly wave at them and more than half (my guess) waved in a friendly, supporting way back.

How the Day Unfolded

At about 1:45 p, I went to the gate, where a member of the visiting staff was working.  As he sees me whenever I visit, he knows me as well as any up there.  I just showed him my ID, told him the men were refusing water and that in all probability Bryan was dying.  I reminded him that I had passed a security check in order to visit and that I was going to be on public property and would not block traffic.  I promised to be quiet and peaceful.  He had no problem with me being there, but he did ask for me to remind him who I visit.

About 45 minutes later, a couple of cars with some guys in SWAT team looking uniforms got out and set up a tripod with video camera and made a big show of taping me.  Hmmm, Capitol Hill police on horse-back couldn't scare me off in 2004 , so their "show" had little effect.  When they saw that I didn't leave, they just left the tripod under the care of the gate staff and left.

Someone driving to work shouted out the car window, "HEY JULIE" and gave me a big wave. One of the visiting staff ?...that made me smile.  Also an employee stopped and asked who I was holding vigil for.  This employee didn't know that the men had begun to refuse water.  The sympathetic response given was a much needed kindness  that late in the afternoon.

Several family members of men in the SHU called, very upset about the men refusing water.  I just listened and comforted.  I also spent some time on the phone with Bryan's Mother.  She is so strong and supportive.

Tomorrow I'll go back from 1:30 - 6:00, with a sign.  Hopefully some friends?  Also, California Prison Focus has lawyers, etc.  at Pelican Bay on Wed and Thurs interviewing prisoners.  They might stay at the tent, I can give them a ride to the prison and just be at their disposal, whatever they need.

I felt powerless, but now I feel that I took an action that let everyone from the prison who saw me know  ...This is where I stand, in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike.

1 comment:

  1. Julie,

    My heart is with you and with Bryan and the thousands of others. Stay strong and thank you for writing.