Solitary solidarity: The men behind California’s prison hunger strike

A man decked in Neo-Nazi tattoos and locked away in solitary confinement, armed with a paralegal degree and a prison library, has emerged as the most prominent figurehead in California’s ongoing prison strike protests.

The convicted murderer Todd Ashker, along with three inmates with ties to the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family, have sparked a protest of state prison conditions which, at their peak, involved more than 30,000 prisoners.

He describes the group as "a collective effort initiated by a multiracial group of long-term, similarly situated (SHU) prisoners who decided enough is enough."

But you would expect, not everyone’s on the prisoners’ side:

Terri McDonald, who ran California’s 33 prisons until a few months ago and now runs the Los Angeles County jail system, said Ashker and his compatriots in the Short Corridor Collective are not fighting for rights, but power.

"From my perspective, they are terrorists," she said.

Read more of reporter Paige St. John’s continued work covering California’s prisons here.

Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

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    ‘"From my perspective, they are terrorists," she said.’ It’s like, how stupid a statement do you have to make before...
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