Updated: Jan 25
No sleep. Things have been hectic around here and I know if I don’t write everything down shortly after things happen, then I’ll get backed up. I was up for over 24 hours straight and I only got a few hours of rest, but I need to write. No sleep. The struggle can’t sleep. A few minutes ago the Riot Team brought “Lizard” on the pod, covered in gas. The exhaust fans are on so it’s hard to talk, but Lizard told me that he ‘jacked’ the handcuffs, refused to come out of his cell, and the Team ran into his cell after he was gassed 3 times. It amazes me how a lot of these officers think it’s soooo damn cool to be on “The Team”. It’s pretty funny actually. I couldn’t do it, I’d feel like a coward. They excessively gas a person with crowd control riot gas, effectively rendering them incapable of putting up a serious fight. Then they assault a person five(or more)-to-one, all while clad in full combat riot gear. Cowards. They hate their social situation and they take that hate out on us. Sad, really. OK, let me tell you what all went down yesterday…
Officer Nickolson came to my door right after shift change, around 6:30 AM, and asked if I was going to recreation. Yes. He informed me that his supervisors instructed him to “go directly down the line on recs”. Now, the officers working the pods have discretion as to where they want to put guys out to rec. at, to a certain extent. OK, now, there are six sections and ten rec. areas on each pod. Certain days, certain sections are scheduled to go outside. Well, I don’t have time to explain all that. Bottom line: they were fucking with me about my recreation because they thought that I was going to conduct a demonstration. Right on…
Me and DW went to the outside rec. yard first round. The weather was nice; even though we were surrounded by the 20 ft. concrete walls, I could feel a nice breeze coming through the barred-in ceiling. We did some pull-ups on the pull-up bar attached to the wall and I listened to D.Dub tell me exactly what he had planned. He was going to occupy the rec. yard and make the Riot Team gas him and forcefully restrain and remove him from the yard. I had my own demonstration planned…
Rec. time was up. Officers White and ‘Nick’ came to rack us up. I hated to leave the breeze, the only somewhat-tangible piece of Nature I had felt in awhile, but I had a previously scheduled date with civil disobedience. Handcuffs on. Rec. gate popped. I walked off the outside rec. cage and right as I approached the corner of the inside rec. cage, I dropped to the concrete floor and grabbed the bars tight, as if I was gripping the obese throat of the prison industrial complex itself. The C.O.s gave me a “what the fuck are you doing?!” look and then glanced over at DW who had just informed them that he was officially occupying the outside rec. yard. Two “situations” at one time. Delightful! They’re so used to inmates “going for self” that when two or more guys stand in solidarity with each other, it takes them by surprise. This system doesn’t like surprises. Too bad. “Will, what are—“ Look, there’s really no need for dialogue, y’all might as well go suit up the Team. I’m not moving or letting go of these bars. Y’all are going to have to drag me off of them. I explained numerous problems to the officers and then they called for a Sgt. To my surprise, Captain Bailey and Warden Hirsch came on the pod. Mr. Hirsch asked me what the problem was and I addressed several issues. Then, he went outside to talk to D.Dub. Cpt. Bailey told me that he would take the time to talk to me if I went back to my cell voluntarily but he wasn’t going to hold dialogue with me when I was in the process of “breaking the rules”.
Well, I continued to break the rules and I refused to move so the Cpt. went outside. While the Warden and Cpt. were talking to DW, I had an interesting conversation with several officers and the Sgts. One who is unfamiliar with the daily operations of TDCJ may think that staff members’, especially ranking officers’, main goal would be to maintain the security of this institution and prevent problems. That would be the logical thing to do, however, TDCJ is a very illogical system. Many times simple problems that arise can be easily resolved but more often than not, small problems with policy turn into personal power issues between staff and prisoners. I don’t approach staff with a “If you don’t do this, I’ll do this!” attitude. I don’t try to hold them hostage with threats. I’ve been committing major demonstrations—extreme physical protest—since right after I got here. They know what I’ll do and what my reaction will be to certain situations. So, their actions cause problems. They cause me to “disrupt operations”. I try to resolve problems but, in turn, I very simply will not stand by and allow injustice to occur, nor will I remain complacent while the fist of oppression beats the life out of those around me.
As I was talking to the other staff members, the Warden and Cpt. came from outside, escorting DW. “What’s up, D.Dub?” “They’re taking me to the office to discuss everything”. (DW had been conducting demonstrations because of some serious personal problems he had with a few particular staff members) After the Warden and Cpt. left with D.Dub, the other officers came at me with rhetoric like “Will, see, the Captain said he’d talk to you. All this protesting is just causing trouble…”
A political maneuver: “Alright, I’ll go ahead and go back to my cell. Y’all never want to follow your own policy and adhere to your own rules, but perhaps some miraculous change has occurred.” Then I went back to my cell, wondering just how soon I would have to commit another demonstration due to staff breaking their own precious rules.
From the Trenches,
With Strength and Love,
PS: I should add that not all officers on the Team are outright cowards; some are on the Team due to peer pressure and they actually do their job during Uses of Force and don’t go out of their way to assault inmates.