Steve Brooks, Ella Baker Center Fellow, San Quentin State Prison

Greetings to all brothers, sisters and comrades out there fighting for our freedom and the closure of all CA prisons and all prisons everywhere.

My name is Steve Brooks. I have 29 years of experience being treated worse than an animal and being locked in the cages of California’s Prison Industrial Complex. I have travelled in chains up and down the highways of California to live in remote regions at both ends of the state. 

I am not a new soldier in this struggle. I come from a rich tradition of imprisoned freedom fighters who believe in standing up for our rights and speaking truth to power. I have intimate knowledge of the racism that is the driving force of the genocide being committed against black and brown communities under the guise of a so-called war on crime. I welcome all new soldiers in the struggle.

I am a writer and a journalist, housed at San Quentin State Prison, where I work at the San Quentin News. I also write for outside publications, to keep the world informed of what they don’t know about prisons. One of my articles, which was published in Workers World, details how prison administrators carelessly transferred prisoners who were sick with Covid, causing deadly outbreaks. 

I’ve lived through dismal conditions that led to a deadly healthcare catastrophe which landed our medical and mental healthcare system in federal receivership. I have suffered beatings from racist corrections officers, and I have suffered the ailments of unnatural diet and being made to drink contaminated water with high levels of arsenic. I have friends and comrades who were infected with the deadly dirt spore known as Valley Fever. 

To put it simply: prisons are poison. There is no fixing prisons because prisons cannot be fixed. They aren’t even broken – they’re just doing what they were put here to do: to keep our people controlled and oppressed and hidden from view when we rise up.

But they can’t stop us from speaking up. I am part of a powerful inside organizing community here at San Quentin, and we stand with you in solidarity, ready to shut these prisons down and bring our people home.

In Solidarity,

– Steve Brooks

San Quentin State Prison