Rosella Bearden Humanities and Social Science
Building a Movement from the Inside: An Organizational History of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Network to Support Prisoner-Led Resistance at Pelican Bay
In Spring of 2011, prisoners inside Pelican Bay State Prison contacted prisoner-rights and anti-prison activist organizations announcing prisoners would be beginning a rolling hunger strike and that they needed support making sure their voices and demands were heard and acted on outside prison walls. The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition (PHSS)- originating in the Bay Area and made up of grassroots organizations, family members, formerly incarcerated people, lawyers, and individuals- to amplify the voices of CA prisoners on hunger strike was formed. Though the hunger strike has ended, the demands of the prisoners have not been met, and prisoners alongside PHSS continue to fight to get these demands met. My research will create an organizational history of PHSS in order to determine whether this model of prisoner-led resistance can be replicated elsewhere, keeping in mind the unique history of radical bay area social movements. I hope to aid organizers and academics in thinking about strategies of prisoner-led resistance against the Prison Industrial Complex.