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February 25

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) reports on the ongoing practice of Central California prisons staging “gladiator fights” in response hunger strikes and continuing organizing.

Recently leaked videos taken February 14th and 15th show fights between prisoners breaking out in a yard at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, CA. After firing tear gas at the fighting prisoners, the video shows COs encircling the prisoners, but not providing aid or intervening.

Officials are referring to the practice as “incremental release.” Guards handpick small numbers of prisoners from rival groups then release them onto a yard together in order to provoke a fight and justify further lockdowns. This practice has been documented at CSP-Corcoran 3C, CTF-Soledad and Pleasant Valley State Prison thus far in recent weeks and as such can only be viewed as a policy-level strategy being deployed by CDCR.

Gladiator fights are what they have historically done. It’s never really stopped. It’s just increasing.” 
– Jose Villareal, a survivor of gladiator fights within CDCR

At CSP-Corcorans 3C facility a prisoner group has been locked down 4 ½ months since such an incident was orchestrated on September 28th. A group of 270 prisoners protested with a 3 week hunger strike in January accompanied by a set of 6 demands (attached).

Family members of prisoners at these facilities have been organizing protests outside CSP – Corcoran on weekends to draw attention to the practice of “gladiator fights” and to call attention to broader issues of indefinite collective punishment and forced separation of families

“It’s hard because we’re both each other’s support system,” Laura told The Appeal. “It hurts me to even talk about it because I have a son and it bothers me that he can’t talk to him, and even hear his voice or anything.”

Families, prisoners and supporters are calling for a cessation of the manipulated violence of “gladiator fights”  and an end to the indefinite group punishment and lockdown.

“CDCR is cynical and destructive. Under the guise of making prisoner groups ‘get along,’ they in fact are escalating divisions and trying to break the agreements prisoner groups have already made among themselves to combat racial violence.” – Brooke Terpstra, IWOC support organizer

Corcoran Hunger Strike Demands

handwritten note of the 6 demands of Corcoran hunger strikers
graphic outlining date and time for next rally outside Soledad
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IWOC

Members of the IWW have created the IWOC, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, which functions as a liaison for prisoners to organize each other, unionize, and build solid bridges between prisoners on the inside and fellow workers on the outside. Prison is a setup, a big business, there to make money off the People. Neither the setup, nor the slavery inside of prisons can be combated without the conscious participation of prisoners and the working class on the outside through mutual aid, solidarity, and the building of working relationships that transcend prison walls and the politics of mass incarceration. The IWOC has been actively reaching out to prisoners while at the same time prisoners have been reaching out to the IWW for representation and assistance in building a prisoners union. The IWOC has taken up the cause and is helping prisoners in every facility organize and build a union branch for themselves, which will together form a powerful IWW Industrial Union.

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