United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect

Shumake &  Ware Press Conference - October 4, 2004


Press Conference

This Monday October 4, 2004

South Steps of the Capitol - N  street side

10:30 a.m.

Attorney Mark  Ravis serves Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's representative with a lawsuit for the wrongful death of Anthony Shumake while sister Toya looks on. 

To announce the filing of the lawsuit by Attorney Mark Ravis against individuals in the California Department of Corrections including Jeanne Woodford and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the wrongful death of Anthony Shumake 

Also present will be the families of other inmates who died or suffered permanent injury due to medical neglect who will pursuing individual lawsuits or who have already filed. 

The family of Ersel Ware who also died at CSP Solano after 27 min of lying with no emergency medical care on  the handball court will attend.

The family of an inmate who was in the mental health program at CSP Solano will be present to tell their heartbreaking story.  Three deaths and one permanent injury in  Solano County - the  public has a right to know what is being in done in  their names and with their tax dollars.

Contact:  B. Cayenne Bird  - 530-621-0938
Please plan to attend or send someone to stand for you.  The families of prisoners must take a stand against medical neglect.  Who will be next?

United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
P.O. Box 85
Garden Valley, Ca 95633

Visit our website at:    http://www.1union1.com

Ways you can help prisoners today!


Speeches & Articles



Date:             October 4, 2004 

Subject:       Shumake Lawsuit 

Sacramento, Ca, Monday October 4, 2004       The family of Anthony Shumake filed a lawsuit for his wrongful death in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California on September 29, 2004.   The suit names Governor Schwarzenegger, California Department of Corrections Director Jeanne Woodford and  Thomas Carey,  the warden at the California State Prison in Solano and several of its employees as defendants. 

The lawsuit alleges that Anthony Shumake's constitutional rights were violated because of a failure to give him simple medical care which caused him to lose his life.  He is from a close family and is survived by his father, David, three sisters, Toya, Kimberly, and Lashun, his grandmother and his uncle, Andre Shumake, a well-known community leader in Richmond's Iron Triangle. 

Anthony Shumake had a wisdom tooth extracted on June 22, 2004 and died six days later from a postoperative abscess that became so large that it obstructed his airway and killed him.  He was 41 years old and in good health.   The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of $60 million. 

The lawsuit was filed on the same day as a California Senate Hearing, chaired by 

Senator Romaro (and attended by Senator Speier and representatives of Assemblywoman Loni Hancock) on the crisis in inmate medical care.  The family hopes that the lawsuit will be a catalyst for major reform and not for more insignificant legislative tinkering or bureaucratic double-talk. 

In the six days before his death, Mr. Shumake tried desperately to get medical attention.  In the three days before his death, he was unable to eat and suffered with increasing swelling in his throat which caused increasing difficulty breathing.  The swelling was from an enlarging abscess and infection of the surrounding tissues.  Finally, only a few hours before his death, he was taken by ambulance to Doctor's Hospital in Manteca, a two hour drive from the prison instead of to a hospital minutes away.  He had difficulty breathing in the ambulance and required oxygen. 

The Shumake family and their attorney, Mark Ravis, who is also a physician, will be discussing this case throughout California in the coming months in an effort to raise public awareness of the crisis in inmate medical care.   They hope to build public and political support for major reform in the provision of health care within California's penal institutions.  They also support major reform of the entire correctional system in California. 

The Shumake lawsuit is the second wrongful death lawsuit filed in the last three weeks against state correctional officials.  The first was filed by the family of Donald Swisher who died of untreated pneumonia in April 2004.   Some Swisher family members will join the Shumake family at the press conference.  Other representatives of families of deceased inmates will also be present. 

The family of Ersel Ware who died after Anthony Shumake on August 18 at CSP Solano after he collapsed on the handball court and lay unattended for 27 min according to reports.

And the family of  Edward Rister who was improperly double celled, beaten until comatose and apparently unattended for several days  last October which  also happened  at CSP Solano. 

The press conference is being arranged by the U.N.I.O.N., headed by Cayenne Bird.  The U.N.I.O.N. is a daily newsletter and an organization of citizens who have formed a communication network which reports on conditions and emergencies within the prisons as well as daily political and legislative developments on issues important to inmates and their families.  Ms. Bird also hosts a statewide television program dealing with prison issues called Cayenne Common Sense.

Press Conference - October 4, 2004 - Filing of  Lawsuit in Wrongful Death of Anthony Shumake

Comments by B. Cayenne Bird, Director

One of the criticisms of the Deukmajian Report is that each prison has it's own policies and operate as individual fiefdoms.  Why aren't these emergency response policies public information? 

Why is everything - even your loved one's medical records so secret? 

Why is the media banned from being able to talk to individual prisoners?

The answers can only be that it is to cover up medical neglect! 

We as the clergy, doctors, teachers, nurses and social workers individuals from all walks of life and groups in the UNION must demand full release of these emergency response policies right now. 

We know that in  all four tragedies  represented here today - the untimely deaths of Anthony Shumake, Donald Swisher, Ersel Ware and Edward Rister who will never regain consciousness, the penal code was violated. Their Constitutional Right to emergency medical care was violated. 

Does CSP/CMF's Emergency Response Policies conflict with the law? Are they told not to assist collapsed inmates and visitors when they fall and to order them away at gunpoint? 

Apparently so!  I have many reports of this happening at prisons statewide! 

Many years will transpire before the lawsuits are settled but you and your loved one, everyone who sets foot in a prison is in danger right now! 

Ersel Ware died after Anthony Shumake.  They didn't have a new emergency response policy in force so how many deaths are we going to witness before it happens! 

Three million people are connected to a state inmate alone. This does not include those in  jails, juvenile halls, federal prisons or on probation. 

We must organize our voting group rapidly as lives are at stake here. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed all our important bills so it is clear that he is ignored the financially and emotionally devastated families of inmates. 

6500  people willing to do four important steps can change any law. There are several hundred people connected to  Anthony Shumake, Ersel Ware who had eleven children and 20 grandchildren, Donald Swisher who leaves behind five children  and Edward Rister with three children. 

Several hundred people who will never get over it,  some  of you are here today.  It would be easy to say  building the UNION will  not bring him back. Well, we need to think beyond the present. 

Mrs. Pat Rister here lost two sons within a year of one another. With the incarceration rate so high, we must worry for our children and grandchildren being at the wrong place at the wrong time and becoming ensnared in a system out of control. 

We cannot rest as the injustice of these tragedies have brought reality to our door. 

Injustice can visit our families again.  The slave labor industries targets our mostly young people. 

The politicians are mostly elected by para-military law enforcement labor unions who are highly organized voting groups.  We can only defend ourselves against this oppression by bringing all the non voters out in November. 

The UNION Daily Newsletter is designed to advise you how, when, where to fight back.  We outnumber everyone and it is only because we allow it by failing to organize in large enough numbers that these monsters are in power over us and killing and destroying our families. 

This is still America and we can still do something about it by just saying No to "tough on crime" candidates and "Yes" to "smart on crime candidates"  by locating 6500 workers who will 

write letters to editors 

show up when called to prove our numbers to the legislators 

recruit others to write and show up 

and finally, bring twenty people to the polls to elect or prevent from getting elected politicians who will vote against any bill that would makes sense. 

Yes, these are mostly Republicans who are striking down bills designed to prevent, educate, rehabilitate or heal but there are a handful of DEMS who are taking checks from CCPOA and keeping them in a powerful place over us. 

This is not my California who locks up non violent people for life in conditions worse than  any third world country? 

When Pete Wilson was elected as Governor we had only 20,000 people in prison and the violent crime rate was very much the same as it is right now. 

Not only is a failed prison and jail system costing us billions but the human toll is immeasurable.  There are no statistics anywhere to prove that prisons, jails, juvenile halls and harsh laws do one thing to reduce crime. 

Prison doesn't correct anyone.  All it does is destroy them for the rest of their lives.  We as taxpayers and voters can organize together and do something about this 

I will not rest until there is justice.  Looks as if I'll be up for awhile.  I hope that you will join the UNION so that we can do more campaigns, build our ranks and fill these legislative hearings with the numbers of people it requires to be heard. 

Anytime 500 people turn out to a rally, the national news media will be interested in their reasons for gathering.  That is what we must achieve. Trained activists to stand up to this corrupt and heartless system. 

6500 people willing to work can come together and change any law. Less than that cannot successfully hire attorneys or do initiative campaigns.  Our UNION has been growing steadily since 1998 and we go forward not backward. 

We save lives as individuals and if everyone here knew there were other families of prisoners who would stand up to get medical assistance for their loved ones, or a place to go for attorney referrals, so much grief could have been prevented. 

It is about numbers of voters brought together.  Since 1776, it has been about numbers.  This is the worst time I have yet to witness and people are needing help.  We must organize ourselves, fund ourselves and do better at providing services so that we can be there for other families who are now living your nightmare that we do not even know about due to the media ban. 

If each person here brings ten subscribers to the news network and they bring ten we can multiply our voting strength many times over. If not, we can ask the Canadians to come down and be our jailers as this good ole boy and girl cronyism has us by the throat and has destroyed our right to the pursuit of happiness. 

I pledge to do everything in my power to support the lawsuits that are filed as of today and the ones that are going to be filed in the future.  After a decade of pleading with people to do the right thing, it is clear to me that lawsuits and initiative campaigns brought by organized voters is the only language that bureaucrats understand. 

All for one, one for all in the UNION 

B. Cayenne Bird United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect 
530-621-0938 rightor1@aol.com

The Individual information and family photos of today's speakers are posted at these websites

Anthony Shumake

Donald Swisher

Ersel Ware

Edward Rister


Oct. 04, 2004 

Lawsuits claim inmate neglect, seek reform


Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - A pair of lawsuits filed on behalf of state prison inmates alleged to have died of medical neglect opens a new front in an effort to force prison reforms, family members said Monday.

Previous suits by advocacy groups like the Prison Law Office have sought systemic changes, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has been eager to settle them as part of its efforts to improve what prison officials acknowledge is a broken system.

But the new suits seek massive monetary damages on behalf of individuals who died of alleged neglect, including an inmate who died of a toothache.

"This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former medical doctor who filed the suits each seeking $60 million in damages. "At some point hopefully the message will come across: It's cheaper to reform the system."

Corrections Director Jeanne Woodford acknowledged the problems when she testified last week before a Senate committee examining critical audits and reports, said department spokeswoman Margot Bach.

"Yes, we have issues with our health care, we absolutely do," Bach said. Woodford is focusing on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to make improvements, Bach said.

In June, 41-year-old Anthony Shumake died of complications six days after having a wisdom tooth pulled, and after being shuttled more than two hours to medical care instead of being rushed to either of two closer hospitals.

In April, Donald Swisher, 34, died of what the suit alleges was treatable pneumonia.

"This should not happen to anybody. We are to rehabilitate the people who are in there, not give them death sentences," said his mother, Beverly Bittner, who traveled from Evansville, Ind., to attend a Capitol news conference Monday.

Tommie Muhammad, whose family has not yet sued, said his brother Ersel Ware, 50, collapsed in an exercise yard in August and died after he was left without treatment for 27 minutes when guards prevented another inmate from performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Read information from family members and the advocacy organization UNION at  www.1union1.com


October 05, 2004 

The Rev. Andre Shumake announces Monday a federal lawsuit has been filed claiming the wrongful death of his nephew, Anthony. (David Martin Olson/The Reporter) 


Suing over inmate death

Defendants include Solano state prison

By Kimberly K. Fu/Staff Writer

The family of California State Prison, Solano inmate Anthony Shumake, who died in June following a tooth extraction that revealed undiagnosed medical issues, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death "based on violation of civil and constitutional rights.

"The announcement of the suit came Monday on the north steps of the Capitol in Sacramento at a press conference hosted by the inmate advocacy group United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect.

"We're here today because of my nephew, who had a tooth pulled and now he's dead," emphasized the Rev. Andre Shumake. "We're here today because our family is suffering, and we're hoping no other family has to."Standing stoically behind him were Anthony's sisters, LaShun, Kimberly and Toya Shumake, and grandmother, Annie Shumake. Also on hand were:

Tommie Muhammad, brother of Ersel Ware, a CSP Solano inmate whose recent death UNION officials say also may trigger a wrongful death lawsuit;

the family of Edward Rister, a fellow inmate who is apparently in a coma and being treated at an unknown location;

and Beverly Bittner, mother of Donald Swisher, a California Medical Facility inmate who died in April.

A federal lawsuit alleging wrongful death by medical neglect has since been filed on behalf of Swisher's family."We need every legislator in the state to hear the cries of every (inmate's) family," Andre Shumake said. "We will not go away."

The Shumakes' lawsuit was filed Sept. 29 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, in Sacramento.

The document names as defendants Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Department of Corrections head Jeanne Woodford, CSP Solano Warden Thomas Carey, and "1 to 100" unnamed employees with the CDC or CSP Solano "charged with providing and/or ensuring that prisoners receive necessary medical care.

"The crux of the matter is that, on June 22, Anthony Shumake had a wisdom tooth pulled at the prison. After numerous complaints of severe neck swelling, an inability to swallow and breathing problems, family members said, Shumake was taken for treatment six days later - to a Manteca facility where he died, rather than to the much closer VacaValley Hospital.The San Joaquin County Coroner's Office ruled the death "accidental, complication of therapy" involving an irregular heartbeat due to lack of oxygen and an apparently undiagnosed abscess that caused throat swelling and difficulty breathing.According to the lawsuit, 

Shumake was denied access to "competent medical treatment, care and facilities," and the defendants "failed and refused to treat him for a tooth abscess and instead allowed him to slowly suffocate and lose his life."

The lawsuit further states that "defendant acts and policies and practices were knowing, deliberate and intentional, in disregard for the health and well-being of Shumake and that such acts, policies and practices are shocking to the conscience of civilized persons and intolerable in a society purportedly governed by laws and considerations of due process."

As a result, the document states, the plaintiffs suffered not only the loss of a loved one, but general damages in excess of $75,000. The family is asking for $10 million in general damages, $50 million in punitive damages, a prejudgment interest, legal fees and other relief.LaShun Shumake said the family didn't want Anthony's death to be in vain."We want justice," she said. 

"We want justice done."Kimberly K. Fu can be reached at  cops@thereporter.com .


Inmate's kin sue state for $60 million
West County Times, CA - 6 hours ago
... now finding out is a pattern and practice in the penal system of California.". Rev. ... That was plenty of time to intervene," said attorney Mark Ravis, who also ...

Events in the Sacramento area
San Francisco Chronicle, CA - 23 hours ago
... Attorney Mark Ravis 310-889-5324. ... 10 am, SACRAMENTO -- Representatives of California Department of Health Services, California Pharmacists Association and ...

Lawsuits claim inmate neglect, seek reform
San Jose Mercury News (subscription), CA - 16 hours ago
... "This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former ... on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to ...

California briefs
Ventura County Star, CA - 5 hours ago
The commission is hosting a series of hearings this week and warning that California could see ... "This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former ...

Inmate's kin sue state for $60 million
Contra Costa Times (subscription), CA - 6 hours ago
... now finding out is a pattern and practice in the penal system of California.". Rev. ... That was plenty of time to intervene," said attorney Mark Ravis, who also ...

Lawsuits claim state neglect of inmates
Monterey County Herald, CA - 6 hours ago
... ''This is a new civil rights movement,'' said Mark Ravis, a former ... on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to ...

Lawsuits claim inmate neglect, seek reform
San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA - 16 hours ago
... "This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former ... on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to ...

Lawsuits claim inmate neglect, seek reform
Contra Costa Times (subscription), CA - 16 hours ago
... "This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former ... on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to ...

Lawsuits claim inmate neglect, seek reform
Monterey County Herald, CA - 16 hours ago
... "This is a new civil rights movement," said Mark Ravis, a former ... on prevention and working with outside experts like the University of California system to ...

Suit over inmate death
TheReporter.com, United States - Sep 14, 2004
... to Ravis, for 41-year-old Anthony Shumake, who died June 28 following a tooth infection. Instead of treatment at a nearby hospital, the California State Prison ...

Channel 3 - Great News cast appeared - this is posted at their website

Lawsuits Claim Neglect - Seek Reform

SACRAMENTO Family members say a pair of lawsuits filed on behalf of state prison inmates alleged to have died of medical neglect opens a new front in an effort to force prison reforms.

The suits seek massive monetary damages on behalf of individuals who died of alleged neglect _ including an inmate who died of complications after having a wisdom tooth removed.

Mark Ravis is a former medical doctor who filed the suits each seeking 60 (m)million dollars in damages. He hopes damages awards will speed changes.

Prison officials acknowledge the problems, but say they're already working with outside experts to make improvements.



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