Out of Control: An Evening with Nancy Kurshan

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On a beautiful Thursday evening, people gathered at an event sponsored by the Freedom Archives in the Mission to hear Nancy Kurshan speak about her new book, Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons.  Nancy began the event by providing historical context about control unit prisons in the US today, the Marion lockdown and Marion’s transition to a control unit prison. After supplying some background information, Nancy launched into reading passages from her book and explaining their significance. Some of the most unforgettable stories include memories of the first demonstration at Marion, receiving words of encouragement walking in the rain with former political prisoner Rafael Cancel Miranda, and the pandemonium that ensured after simply beginning “I am not a rude person” when confronting Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Quinlan at the 1988 American Society of Criminology Conference. Nancy’s son and daughter, Michael and Rosa, also each read a passage, underscoring the collective nature of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown and the importance of family and community bonds in her political work. When asked what kept her going throughout the years, Nancy responded that the opportunity to give a voice to prisoners and the amazing people that they got to meet and the positive bonds they developed were the main factors that nurtured her perseverance.

After Nancy spoke, Azadeh Zohrabi and Manuel LaFontaine, representing the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, spoke about the decision of the prisoners inside the Pelican Bay SHU (Secure Housing Unit) to resume their hunger strike on July 8th. Both Azadeh and Manuel told people how to support the prisoners’ demands and pressure the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) and Governor Brown to end the torture taking place in California prisons. During the discussion, all three encouraged the audience to get involved in prisoner support or prisoner solidarity work. It was a great event and we want to extend a big thank you to everyone who attended and helped make this event possible!

For continued updates on solidarity work around the Pelican Bay SHU Hunger Strikes please visit:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

-Nathaniel

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