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Prisoner Solidarity And Justice For Trayvon Activists Join Forces

Lauren Madow |
July 31, 2013 | 5:59 p.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

Actor Danny Glover addressed the crowd (Lauren Madow)
Actor Danny Glover addressed the crowd (Lauren Madow)
On day 24 of the largest prisoner hunger strike in California history, more than 100 people participated in a rally in downtown Los Angeles that organizers called "Hunger for Justice."

The rally was part of an international day of action meant to show support for the hunger strikers--many activists are fasting for the day in solidarity with the prisoners--as well as to protest the not-guilty verdict handed down in the trial of George Zimmerman, who shot the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Rallies were also held in London, Germany, Guyana, Quebec and several other cities in the U.S.

"We have to draw connections between disenfranchised people," actor Danny Glover told the crowd, stressing that prisoners, Trayvon Martin, women, and other groups share the same struggle. "It is for us at this particular point to put these pieces together and keep going...If the system doesn't work, we have to create a system that works."

At the "Hunger for Justice" rally (Lauren Madow)
At the "Hunger for Justice" rally (Lauren Madow)
ALSO SEE: CA Prisons' Use Of Solitary Confinement Hurts Families

The hunger strike was coordinated by men in the Pelican Bay State Prison Solitary Housing Unit to protest living conditions, who were joined by inmates in several other prisons across California. Strikers have vowed to continue their protest until their core demands to improve conditions of solitary confinement are met. The state estimates that roughly 561 men are currently participating in the hunger strike.

ALSO SEE: Opinions On Zimmerman Divided Along Racial Lines

Governor Jerry Brown has not yet commented on the strike.

Many in attendance were friends and relatives of prisoners participating in the hunger strike. Several carried signs with photographs of their loved ones and the number of years spent in solitary confinement. 

Several yards away from the activity, Carlos Marsh sat in the shade.

"It affects me to this day because I can’t really be in a crowd," Marsh said, recalling the two years he spent as an inmate in the SHU at Pleasant Valley State Prison. "I can’t really be around a lot of people, you know?"

Former SHU inmate Carlos Marsh (Lauren Madow)
Former SHU inmate Carlos Marsh (Lauren Madow)
Marsh is pursuing an Associate's Degree in psychology at Los Angeles City College. He began studying the subject after his time in the SHU, in an effort to help himself understand the effect solitary confinement had had on him."I knew something was wrong with me, after two years isolated," he said. "You have no contact, no TV, no radio, and there’s people that’s been in there for 27 years!"

Paralyzed from the chest down, it wasn't easy for Marsh to get to the rally, but he said he had to be there to support the men still inside. "My brother Alfredo Parada is one of the hunger strikers. It's been 24 days, and nobody's doing nothing."


Reach Deputy Editor Lauren Madow here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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