Occupy demonstrators rally outside San Quentin Prison

Feb. 21, 2012 at 4:16 PM
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SAN QUENTIN, Calif., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Occupy demonstrators rallied outside California's San Quentin State Prison to show support for hunger strikers protesting solitary confinement and other issues.

Many of the 700 demonstrators in the "day of solidarity" Monday with inmates were from Occupy Oakland, the Marin Independent Journal of Novato, Calif., reported.

The peaceful demonstration Monday was the first Occupy gathering at any prison, the Independent Journal said.

Signs and banners bore slogans such as "Stop the war on working people, jobs not jail" and "Mass incarceration profits the 1 percent," while demonstrators chanted, "Inside, outside, all on the same side."

"We want to expand the issues that Occupy Oakland is dealing with," said Scott Johnson, a 34-year-old Oakland computer programmer. "We started talking about Wall Street. We've been talking about local police harassment. Now we want to expand it to the criminal justice system."

The Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald, a professor at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, pointed people to the prison's the East Gate, site of the demonstration.

"The prison system clearly reflects a part of the economic disaster we're in," Kuhwald said. "We are the most imprisoned country in the world. What we're saying is that we need to reorganize our priorities, because arresting people isn't making us safer. It's costing us economically and creating a new class of people who are disenfranchised."

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