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  • Rob Will

Peaceful One Man Sit In

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Here I am once again, in my cell, with nothing besides 9 bars of state soap, one pen, a few pieces of paper, and my sheets. Lieutenant Ritchie and his minions took everything else — all of my hygiene supplies, all of my legal work, and all of my correspondence material. I’m sure he only gave me this little bit of stuff so if questions arise about why he took all of my property, he can say, “Hey, I didn’t take all of his property. I gave him hygiene and writing supplies.” 9 mini bars of soap and one pen and two sheets of paper; very funny.

Why did he take all of my stuff? About an hour ago, when coming back from the shower, I conducted a non-violent and peaceful “one man sit-in.” There are 14 cells on each section. 7 are on row one, and 7 are on row two. Each row has its own shower. I’m 83 cell, which is the next to the last cell on the run. The shower is on the opposite end. After I was handcuffed, the escort officers told the picket.

I told the officers that I wasn’t moving, so they might as well call the rank. Guess who came? Sergeant Brown. They usually call him for intimidation purposes and indeed, he can be intimidating to some. Sergeant Brown is around 6 feet tall, and weights well over 300 pounds, and more likely around 350 or 375. As soon as he came on the pod, he started his propaganda: “Get up! I ain’t trying to hear it, get up!” The entire time he was motioning with his hands as if he could will me back up to my cell.

Actually, I’ve seen Big Brown exert his will over people before and basically use his intimidating presence to mentally force them into compliance. He’s good at that, but none of the psychological tactics work on me, especially the tactic of intimidation. So Lieutenant Ritchie came and employed the dehumanization tactic of attempting to strip me of my humanity by taking all of the property out of my cell. Sergeant Brown and Lieutenant Ritchie took all of my stuff and sat it out on the run. Big Brown told me that if I went back in my cell, he’d give me all of my property back.

Since all of the staff know that we’re protesting execution dates and capital punishment in general, I took the opportunity to address specific problems concerning conditions here on death row. Tony Egbuno Ford is still in his cell without any property. From November 3rd until today, November 21st, Egbuno has only had his property for 2 days. There is no policy that allows staff to strip a person of their belongings for that amount of time. In fact, they are never supposed to be allowed to take a person’s hygiene, legal work, and correspondence material. It’s against Texas Department of Corrections policy and against State and Federal law. The only exception is if a person uses a specific item to cause “a threat to the security of the institution.” For example, if someone uses their blanket to barricade their cell door, they can be put on blanket restriction.

All Egbuno did was conduct a sit in to protest his execution date and capital punishment. They’ve kept his property all of this time, just for that. Plus, they haven’t been letting him go to the shower or recreation. So I’m addressing all of these issues with Sergeant Brown and the other officers when Captain Dickens shows up. “What are you doing, Will?” They just don’t let anyone be a Captain. A person has to have a certain level of intelligence to gain that position, though it seems Captain Dickens is more intelligent than most of the high ranking staff members.

He employed the omnipotence tactic: in a cool and rational tone, he basically explained that nothing I do is going to work. The omnipotence tactic is one of their most effective. When a Captain, which is the third highest ranking official on the unit, or other ranking staff members put forth an air of supreme authority and complete control, many get thoroughly discouraged. They want a person to feel like there is no hope and nothing will work. As Captain Dickens said, “(My) efforts are futile.”

So I continued with the dialogue until the ER Team arrived, stomping in unison, up the stairs, in full riot gear. They picked me up and carried me back to my cell. And here I am, staying unwavering and committed to the protest. A few minutes ago Sergeant Brown told another guy on our section that he wasn’t going to talk to him because I took up too much of his time. The divide and conquer tactic, of course.

Before I sign off, let’s inventory the various psychological strategies used by the staff today:

#1- Intimidation #2- Dehumanization #3- Omnipotence #4- Divide and Conquer

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