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  • Rob Will

I´m Taking Part in This Protest

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

There was a time in this country when the word Abolitionist meant one who was active in the fight to abolish slavery. Now, an Abolitionist is one who works to abolish the death penalty.

Not long ago in history, the majority of people in the United States supported the institution of slavery. Now, the majority of people in the United States support capital punishment. There is no doubt in my mind that the death penalty will be abolished in the future, just as slavery was abolished. Later generations will surely look back on this period of time with shame. Those in the Abolitionist movement of today will be thought of as visionaries – free thinkers who thought “outside of the box” and stood up for a righteous and noble cause.

I feel a deep bond of solidarity with everyone truly dedicated to abolition of the death penalty. They spend their time and money to advance the struggle and I deeply appreciate their efforts. That’s one reason why I helped organize and am taking part in this protest.

That is also one reason why, when I come back from visitation tonight, I’m going to conduct a non-violent and peaceful direct-action sit-in in the hallway. There are some real assholes working this shift, so let's see how things go. I’m about to get ready for visitation and hopefully my property will still be in my cell so I can finish this up when I get back . . .

Visitation was wonderful! For two hours, I felt like I was out in the free world having dinner with a friend. I almost forgot that I was on death row. Though I was the first one to go out to visitation, they took me back last, which is something they almost always do.

Officer Johnson, the number one man on the ER Team, and another officer came to escort me back to my cell. The visitation building is about 200 yards away from the building where death row is housed. The two are connected by a fenced in and covered walkway, surrounded by coiled barbed wire.

As soon as I got into the building housing death row, I sat down right in front of the Major, Captain, and Lieutenant’s offices. Lt. Stern came out of the office, grabbed a canister of crowd control gas from the control picket, and radioed for the ER Team and the stretcher. I guess he already knew what time it was, so he didn’t feel the need for spewing propaganda.

So, being that Officer Johnson is one of the old “Hit Squad” crew, I decided to make use of the time before the ER Team came to talk to him about what’s been going on. Most of these officers are so completely indoctrinated that they remind me of factory products, grey suits with bobble heads of different colors, shapes, and sizes. They may look different, but almost all of their minds are the same. It is really quite sad.

They’re so conditioned to look at us like numbers that they rarely have conversations with inmates. They talk at us, not to us. Officers never hear our side of the story. Before each shift change, all staff members coming to work assemble in one large room for “turn out.” The ranking officers tell the staff which pods they’ll be working on, and discuss any problems or issues of the day. The rank also assigns the ER Team members to their daily duty.

The rank aren’t going to say, “OK, tonight is visitation and Offender Will is going to be out there. He’s participating in a peaceful protest, so everyone needs to be aware of that. He may “jack” the run or something.” Instead, they’ll say, “Will has been acting up again and starting shit!” That’s why I always try to explain my motives and objectives to officers when I’m able to and I try to encourage self-reflection concerning the way they interact with the prisoners.

That’s what I was doing when the Team came around with the stretcher and camera. They didn’t “suit-up” in full riot gear, but Lieutenant Stern had the riot gas canister in his hand the entire time. They picked me up, put me on the stretcher, and wheeled me all the way back to my cell.

We’re still going strong and this is only the beginning.

Strength, Love & Solidarity

Robert G. Will, #999402

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