In The Midst Of An Uprising
So much has gone on this past week, I don’t even know where to begin! First off, we are in the midst of what can only be called an uprising—we’ve been participating in some serious, serious protest this past week. I know everyone else has been putting out updates so I’ll try to focus on what I believe hasn’t been written about.
First, on January 1st, New Year’s Day, approximately 21 people initiated a Hunger Strike. It’s interesting to note that many of the 21 people were on [disciplinary] Level I. I participated for 3 days to show Solidarity. I 100% support the Hunger Strike in every way. However, I can’t emaciate myself to the point where I can’t defend myself against attacks by staff members (See August 22, 2006, Use of Force tape which is up on my website).
After 3 days of the strike, staff members threatened the L-I inmates with disciplinary cases and Level II, so the number of strikers went down to 6 by Jan. 4th. Oh, and I made L-I—surprise! Surprise! – on Dec. 21st. The putrid air of complacency was so thick, I felt as if I was going to suffocate every day that I was up there. On January 5th, Amun (aka Randy Greer) and I launched a coordinated action in order to stop operations and subsequently be moved back to F-pod, the disciplinary pod.
Early Morning January 5th, approx. 3:30 AM
Breakfast time. When the officers opened the feeding slot to my cell I “occupied” the slot (See diagram and explanation on the DRIVE website). Amun did the same minutes before me. Operations on the pod had to be stopped and a ranking officer called. I overheard Ms. Ramirez tell her coworker Mr. Collins that “it would be awhile” because an ad-seg inmate on E-pod had slit his wrists and had to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital. Sgt. Choate finally came and Amun and I were “escorted” to F-pod—in perfect position for upcoming plans…
Monday, January 8, 2007. Two direct actions in one day
I conducted a sit-in occupation demonstration and then later on I conducted an occupation of the food slot. I believe I’ve said this before, but if not, I keep notes throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll have 4 or 5 scraps of different kinds of paper written on, then I’ll sit down and write out an update referencing my notes.
That being said:
Approx. 1 PM: I just saw my comrade Gabriel “El Cubano” Gonzalez being carried back onto the section by a gang of officers accompanied by the video camera and the Sergeant! I joined in the protest speech he was giving to show solidarity.
Approx. 3 PM: I’m in the dayroom at “recreation”; the officers don’t know it yet but I’m going to conduct a demonstration as I’m going back to my cell. I’ve been at rec. for an extra long time—Officer Munsen was called off of the pod because of a situation in the hallway.
Approx. 4 PM: The Riot Team just came on the pod wheeling in Steven Woods on a gurney. He occupied the hallway in front of the kitchen to protest the filth they serve us which they have the audacity to call “food”. Steve hollered something to me as he was going through the door to the other side but I didn’t understand him. I’m not leaving the dayroom until I find out what happened with him…OK, he’s alright.
Approx. 6 PM: Back in my cell. After things calmed down on the other side, the C.O.s came to “rack me up”. Upon exiting the dayroom I promptly sat down and occupied the walking area of B-section, effectively shutting down operations for the third time today. Officers Merino, Munsen, and Wiseman asked what the problem was and I addressed numerous issues. I’m not a good writer but I am a rather decent speaker, or so I’ve been told. So, I dropped some of my rhetoric which went a lil’ something like this:
“Why am I doing this? Why am I “always causing trouble”? First of all, I’m standing up for what I believe in. What would you do if you were forced to live in deplorable conditions, trapped in a small cell for 23 or 24 hours a day, watching your friends systematically murdered? Would you acquiesce and remain complacent? Can you not see honor and dignity in what we’re doing?
You say I should “follow the rules” but how can I abide by rules of an unjust system? Your precious rules and policies are very simply invalid to me. Officer Munsen, Ms. Wiseman, both of your names are obviously German; do you know that Germany doesn’t have capital punishment? Why? Because Germany (and Europe as a whole) has come to a higher level of social consciousness. They have an old history and the US is relatively a new country. Europe has been through far too many forms of government and wars conducted by various governments to count. Germany has been an occupying country and in turn they have been occupied by foreign military forces.
Do you realize that a Nazi doctor invented lethal injection? I believe his name was Karl Brandt. Germany abolished the death penalty a long time ago because they came to understand that capital punishment promoted a culture of violence and any state that murders its own citizens is essentially decadent… Officer Merino, do you know that Mexico doesn’t have the death penalty? Why? For the same reasons Germany doesn’t have it. Y’all just support capital punishment because you’ve been raised in a society that supports capital punishment.
You all constantly invoke the mighty omnipotent ‘rules’ and ‘policies’ and declare capital punishment valid because ‘it’s the law’ but has it ever occurred to you that some laws may be fallible? Ms. Wiseman, when your grandmother (or great grandmother) was young, she could not vote in the United States of America. Women didn’t gain the right to vote until 1920—NINE-TEEN-TWENTY! That wasn’t long ago. Before then the ‘law’ was that women couldn’t vote. The ‘rule’ was that women weren’t worthy enough to elect their own ‘leaders’. The ‘policy’ was that women were lower-class citizens, even lower in status that Black men—Black men gained the right to vote many years before white women. So, if we were in 1920 and I told you I was protesting the ‘law’, the ‘policy’, the ‘rule’ that women could not vote, what would you say?”
On and on I went… Sgt. Horton and then Sgt. Brown came and Officer Munsen and Merino went to “suit up” (They’re both on the Emergency Response Team). I went into full protest-speech mode when the camera came accompanied by the Team in full riot gear. They picked me up, put me on the stretcher and wheeled me back to my cell, right in time for shift change…
Shift Change, after 6 PM
We were just told that the entire pod has been put on emergency behavioral lockdown because of the demonstrations Gabriel, Steven, and I conducted today. Collective punishment is a common divide-and-conquer tactic used by this system in order to try to create animosity between fellow prisoners. Many of us here recognize this but sadly many do not…
They just passed out some bullshit “Johnny Sacks” (sack lunches): a little piece of something that resembles bologna in 2 pieces of bread and a pitiful amount (about a spoonful) of peanut butter and jelly in 2 pieces of bread. All the officials are playing the “I don’t know what’s going on” game concerning how long we’ll be on lockdown and they just fed us a “meal” that is going to leave us hungry all night? I’m about to conduct a demonstration which will force the ranking officers to come on the pod. The C.O.s are passing out toilet paper next door, and when they get to my cell I’m going to occupy the food slot. Here they come…
Alright, I’m back. I occupied the slot and Sgt. Jones came down, then Lt. Cabbiness. The Lt. looked at the pitiful little contents of the Johnny sacks and he was visibly surprised. He said that he couldn’t do anything about the dinner Johnnies but he’d check on the breakfast Johnnies and make sure they were decent. Lt. Cabbiness also explained that the Major and Captain authorized a 24 hr. emergency lockdown and he said that we would come off tomorrow night if no more incidents occurred. It was time to hold council with my comrades so I “relinquished” control of the food slot… Today was a very productive day! Venceremos!
From Neo-Dachau, with Strength and Love: