Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald on Hunger Strike

[UPDATE! May 4, 2010]
Black Panther Political Prisoner “Chip” Fitzgerald Ends His Hunger Strike

The longest held Black Panther Party Political Prisoner, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald has ended his hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison in California now that the prison and its warden have met his demands. These demands were met only after countless calls made into the prison by his supporters. According to sources close to him, Chip is scheduled to be transferred today out of administrative segregation at Corcoran and into Kern State Valley Prison’s general population, where conditions (including access to medical care) may be significantly better. But, as he wrote recently, “we’ll see.”

We will be sure to keep you posted.

Without a doubt, Chip’s transfer is a people’s victory. Warden Lopez at Corcoran State Prison capitulated to the people’s demands. This proves the importance and value of political solidarity with prisoners in general and political prisoners in particular. Let’s keep our movement going strong.

The Committee to Free Chip Fitzgerald thanks you for your support!

read on for the original post

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dear Jericho Movement:

According to one of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald’s reliable supporters, Mr. Fitzgerald (ONE OF OUR LONGEST SERVING POLITICAL PRISONERS) is on about the seventh day a hunger strike at the Corcoran State Prison in California. From what I understand, he has refused to eat food or drink water for at least seven days.

Mr. Fitzgerald undertook the hunger strike to protest against prison officials locking him away in solitary confinement for the last two years. From what I understand, Mr. Fitzgerald believes that he should have been released on April 8, 2010. When the warden, Mr. Raul Lopez, refused to release Chip Fitzgerald from solitary confinement on April 8, Mr. Fitzgerald threatened to go on a hunger strike — and to remain on the hunger strike until death. After some debate about the issue, Mr. Fitzgerald started the hunger strike about seven days ago.

According to Emani Bey (Mr. Fitzgerald’s supporter in Oakland, California), Warden Raul Lopez threatened to force feed Mr. Fitzgerald tomorrow, on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. However, the humane way to arrange for Mr. Fitzgerald to eat food and to drink water would be to release him from solitary confinement and into the general prison population. After doing so, Mr. Fitzgerald would willingly eat food and drink water. In the meantime, Mr. Fitzgerald strongly implies that he will kill himself with this hunger strike. In recent letters, he told his supporters “good-bye.” If I am not mistaken, he also expressed regret that he would not see them again.

At this time, the activists organizing a campaign to save Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald’s life plan the following: (1) to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald to drink water so that he will live for a much longer period than he would if he continues to refuse water and other forms of nourishment; (2) call and write Governor Arnold Scwharzenegger at the address and telephone number listed below (and by email and Twitter through his web site) for the purpose of demanding that Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald be released immediately from solitary confinement and into the general prison population, that Mr. Fitzgerald not be force fed, and that Mr. Fitzgerald be treated humanely; and (3) call and write Warden Raul Lopez of Corcoran State Prison, Secretary Matthew Cate of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), and the ombudsman for CDCR for the purpose of making the same demands.

Since Chip Fitzgerald has forsaken food and water for up to seven days, he could die in the next few days or be force fed as early as tomorrow. In either case, we need to recognize that Chip may be suffering from depression. We need also to recognize that he needs to see his family, his friends, and good lawyers, all of whom need to encourage him to live, but all of whom also need to work with him if he chooses to continue his hunger strike. On this point, these people need to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald to drink water, no matter what else he decides to do. Fasting without water could result in death in from seven to ten days. On the other hand, a person who fasts while drinking healthy water could live for as long as sixty or more days. Hence, if Chip drinks water, he would give us more time to work on his behalf.

I write this email as an emergency notice about this tragedy. I have yet to research Secretary Matthew Cate’s address and telephone number. However, we need to act immediately. In other words, we need to pressure Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Warden Raul Lopez, and the ombudsman for the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to free Mr. Fitzgerald from solitary confinement. I suspect that locking Mr. Fitzgerald in solitary confinement for two or more years straight at sixty-one years of age (his birthday was April 11), and doing so to a man who has lived in prison for the last forty years, constitutes a form of emotional and physical torture. I suspect that this torture has seriously compromised Mr. Fitzgerald’s emotional well-being and judgment. At the least, he must be emotionally and physically exhausted from prison. Unless we act now and show Mr. Fitzgerald that the liberation movement will save him from solitary confinement and other forms of mistreatment, we may well lose this brother. For this reason, I send this email to you on an emergency basis.

Thomas Ruffin
Black August Planning Organization & Nat Turner Rebellion

P.S. Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald’s identification number in the California prison system is #B-27527.

Raul Lopez, Warden
Corcoran State Prison
(559) 992-8800
(559) 992-4636 (fax)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building

Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 445-2841 (office)
(916) 558-3160 (fax)
Sara Malone
Chief Ombudsman (Acting)
Corcoran State Prison
(916) 327-8467

For more information: