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Occupy San Quentin protest large, peaceful

Nicole Jones

Occupy brought the movement to San Quentin State Prison on Monday afternoon. Over 600 people peacefully assembled in front of the prison’s East gate to protest prison conditions. The San Quentin rally is just one of the 15 that took place as part of National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.

On a stage outside of the prison gate, people spoke about the impacts of imprisonment for people behind bars and their communities. The protesters called for a number of reforms, including the end to the death penalty in California, the three strikes law, the practice of charging juveniles as adults and solitary confinement.

Tahtauerriak Sessoms, 21, spoke about her experience in solitary confinement. “I came out, I felt like an animal,” she said, “I was told I was nothing and I believed it.” She’s now a youth organizer with All of Us or None, a national organization working for the rights of prisoners and felons, and teaches youth about their rights when approached by the police or while in prison.

Organizers of Monday event are seeking change at both the state and federal levels, and are planning an "Occupy the Justice Department" action in Washington, D.C. on April 24.

Crosscurrents Oakland
Nicole Jones joined KALW's Crosscurrents team in 2010 as a reporter covering criminal justice and public safety. Jones is an alum of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Time's online edition and The Bay Citizen.