Martin Gonzalez, July 8th, 2013

Today is day one of the hunger strike and it is also my fifth day in Centinela State Prison. I’ve just been transferred from Calipatria’s level-4 prison to Centinela’s level- 3 prison, after spending almost five long years housed in Calipatria’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU), also known as “the hole.” I’ve been in prison for 18 years and this is the first time my custody level has dropped down a level, so I’ve never been on a level-3 yard, this is going to be a new experience for me. As of right now I’ve experienced very little of level-3 program because it’s this institution’s policy that upon arrival, new inmates will be placed on orientation status for approximately 7 to 14 days, pending a classification committee review of the inmates case file/ factors for appropriate program assignment. Until I appeal before this classification committee my privileges and program is restricted. I’m not allowed phone calls to notify my loved ones that I’ve transferred or to inform them not to come down to visit me or else they’ll be turned away, because inmates on orientation status can not receive contact visits, canteen, quarterly packages, yard or day room, which also means no phone calls. My first couple of days I was allowed to walk to the chow hall with the rest of the building for my morning and evening meals and was also allowed to shower twice, but now that the hunger strike has started the program here has been modified. The building was not allowed to walk to the chow hall this morning and we are being asked by the correctional officers if we are participating in the hunger strike and if we want to eat. From the looks of it most of the inmates in this building have refused their morning meals. A few have accepted their morning meals and appear not to be participating in the hunger strike. I’ve been watching the news but it’s too early to tell how widespread this hunger strike is going to be and how many prisoners are going to participate. The first hunger strike we had here in California about 6,000 prisoners participated, the second one about 12,000 prisoners participated. This is our third and hopefully our last hunger strike. We’ve already made history with our last two hunger strikes, I’m very optimistic and believe that this hunger strike is going to be a big one! I won’t be surprised if the number of participants doubles again from last time. There’s about 140,000 prisoners in California’s state prisons, of those prisoners I’d say half of them would be considered general population prisoners. These days too many inmates fail to see themselves as a collective body and only care about themselves. If every inmate sees themselves as being a part of the collective group and participate in these peaceful demonstrations, we as prisoners would be a force to be reckoned with, and not the disenfranchised group we have been. We must be the change we want to see in our lives and must stop playing the blame game and accept responsibilities for our lives and actions. Too often do I hear inmates complain about their lives and how things are but they never take a proactive stance or do anything to fix but acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step we must make to begin the process of fixing it. Right now we prisoners have been taking steps to educate ourselves and come together as a collective group to demand our rights to be treated fairly and humanely. Never has there been such a collective like this before in California and you can feel the change in the air. Every rumble of my belly will be a reminder that we are going to rumble society’s underbelly too.