August 25, 2006 Friday Late Night
Yesterday, as Kevin Watts was being assaulted by the ER Team, inmates in the next section over, C-section, were banging on the doors and voicing their support for Kevin’s action. As a collective punishment divide and conquer maneuver the entire section was given disciplinary cases for “creating a disturbance.” (Even though most of the guys weren’t making any noise at all). Today, the entire section was dropped to Level 2 disciplinary status. I wonder how many of the 12 guys in C-section are going to protest this blatantly oppressive act? I wonder how many are going to simply accept having their property taken, special visits taken and all of the other Level 2 disciplinary sanctions placed on them? How many are going to rise up and protest? My neighbor says 1, I say 3. We’ll see…
August 26, 2006 Saturday Late Night
I just got back in my cell. Officer Stain just “shook my cell down,” meaning, he conducted a cell search. The excessive amount of cell searches that they’ve been doing lately is absolutely ridiculous. Stain stayed in my cell for an abnormally long time and he went through all of my property. I didn’t have any “contraband” so he couldn’t find anything but minor bullshit to take. As long as they don’t take anything I care about I’m not worried about shakedowns. If they take something I care about then we’re going to have a Use of Force every single time.
August 27, 2006 Sunday Nighttime
Early today I conducted a sit-in and addressed a specific problem. Around 7am the CO’s working the pod came around doing showers. Since yesterday, a Sgt. has been present every time any officers come on our section, the Level 3 section. This morning the officer’s came to my door accompanied by Sgt. Neal. They searched my clothes and shower items, then I went to the shower. While I was bathing, Sgt. Neal, accompanied by CO Conder, CO Moreno and another officer searched my cell. They stayed in there the entire time I was in the shower. Now, keep in mind that my cell was just shook down about 9 hours ago. Was I going to acquiesce and support this blatant abuse of authority by inaction? Was I going to remain dormant while oppression was being openly and purposefully forced upon me? Uhmmm…. No. Officer Moreno handcuffed me and as I exited the shower I promptly sat down and “occupied” the run (walkway).
Sgt. Neal and the CO’s just looked at me for a few seconds, then I began my protest speech. I explained to Mr. Neal that unlike the majority of inmates here I don’t care about Level 1, I don’t care about disciplinary cases, restrictions or anything else. Oppression only motivates me. As I was talking to Sgt. Neal, Sgt. Brown came on the section with another officer. No, I began what Major Nelson calls my “propaganda” with Mr. Brown. Sgt. Brown has been dealing with me for the entire almost 5 years I’ve been here; he cut my “propaganda” short, turned to St. Neal and said “Get Duff (the Lt.) down here and the camera, he’s not going to move.”
A few seconds later Lt. Duff came on the pod, followed a short while after by several other officers and the “incident (video) camera.” The camera was turned on and I was placed by in my cell. It’s rather strange to me that most anti-death penalty groups and organizations don’t support our actions. They say that they can’t “support us breaking the rules.” Well, I don’t support the death penalty, therefore, the “rules” of this System are invalid. That reminds me of an article I read a while back about the first lunch counter sit-ins conducted int the 60′s to protest segregation. At first, most civil right organizations including the NAACP wouldn’t support direct action sit-ins. I’m sure they said that the protesters were “breaking the rules” back then. Racial segregation has “officially” ended in the U.S. (In theory, but not in reality). However, the death penalty still exists and until it is abolished I will remain an unrepentant and relentless “rule breaker.”
With Strength and Love:
August 28, 2006 Monday Late Night
Today has been insane. I woke up early because the officer’s knocked on my cell door and told me that I was scheduled to go to recreation on the second round. I woke up, washed up and got ready for rec. My face looked better but the gash on my hand still looked bad. I put some medicine on both wounds, cleaned my cell up a little then went to rec. The officer’s put me on the outside rec. yard.
A little while after I hit the yard I noticed several officer’s going in and out of D-section. Then, Sgt.’s started rushing over there and pretty soon all of the ranking officers were on the pod accompanied by psychiatric department staff and medical nurses. The Emergency Riot Team came on the pod next. I didn’t find out what all went on until later…
As all of this was going on on D-section, the officer’s working the pod came to put us back in our cells. My neighbor was handcuffed and escorted back to his cell. I refused to leave. Officer McGoy asked me what the problem was and I told him that I needed to talk to the Sgt. about the disgusting condition of the rec. yard. (It was covered in bird droppings and filth). The officer’s left and I remained on the yard. A few minutes later I saw the ER Team come out of D-section with a guy covered in chemical gas and stripped down to his boxer shorts. (Note: as always, I don’t mention other people’s names unless I get permission from them). After speaking with the Sgt. and Lt. and addressing the problem I went back to my cell. Later on I found out exactly what happened while I was on the yard…
While doing “security rounds” officers McGoy and Munsen saw an inmate (who I’ll call “F.”) attempting to hang himself. Officer Munsen then assaulted F. with an entire canister of chemical gas. From what I’ve been told that’s the new procedure: if an officer sees an inmate attempting suicide then the officer is supposed to assault the inmate with gas. Isn’t that nice?
After I left the rec. yard and the incident with F. was concluded, 2 other guys went out on the yard. They occupied the yard, all of the rank came back on the pod accompanied by the ER Team, and a tear gas bomb was thrown on one section. I do believe that TDCJ is experimenting on us – testing new chemical weapons. The bomb they used today has never been seen by anyone before. It looks like a huge, all silver, shaving cream canister with a pin on the top like a grenade. When thrown, the bomb shoots about 8 inches of fire out each side and puts out thick smoke. (So think that a person can’t even see their hand in front of their face.) The bomb put out so much chemical gas that I was choking all the way in my cell. A few seconds after the bomb exploded, one guy came out of the rec. cage and the other followed a little while later. For the rest of the day all of the officers were scurrying around with their faces beaming with sadistic glee: their new torture device worked well.
August 29, 2006 Tuesday
I almost forgot to describe what all happened last Tuesday, exactly one week ago. Today has been relatively calm so I have a little time to sit down and describe in detail the direct action I initiated on the 22nd. I was supposed to jump it off on the 21st in commemoration of the assassination of George Jackson, which occurred on August 21, 1971, but, as you read I wasn’t able to.
For those of you who don’t know, let me give you a brief description of who George Jackson was. In 1959 at the age of 18, GJ was sentenced to 1 year to life in prison for stealing $70 from a gas station. While in prison he educated himself in various subjects, especially socio-politics. He became an organizer and relentless activist behind bars. On January 13, 1969 in Soledad prison (in Salinas, CA), 8 white prisoners and 7 black prisoners were sent out to an outside recreation yard. A fight broke out and the prisoners were fired on. Four shots were fired, 3 black convicts were killed and 1 white prisoner was injured.
3 days later a grand jury investigation concluded that the murders were “justifiable homicides.” Less than 30 minutes after the decision was announced, a prison guard was beaten to death. Though there was no evidence against him, GJ (and 2 other convicts) were accused and indicted for the murder. George Jackson was targeted, not because he was guilty, but because he was a leader and an activist. About 7 months later, GJ was assassinated by a hail of state-bought rifle bullets. Before his murder, George Jackson wrote 2 books, Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye. These works have inspired a countless number of prisoner activists and have made GJ the patron saint of prison activism.
I can ramble on and on about George Jackson’s writing, but I’ll just drop a passage of a letter he wrote Angie Davis that I particularly like:
War on the honky, it’s just another mystification, if not an outright move by the fascist… The blanket indictment of the white race has done nothing but perplex us, inhibit us. The theory that all whites are the immediate enemy and all blacks are our brother (making them loyal) is silly and indicative of a lazy mind (to be generous, since it could be a fascist plot). (Soledad Brother, Pg. 222)
Even though I don’t agree with all of George Jackson’s ideas and positions, he still stands as a prime example of what one can achieve behind bars, in the “Belly of the Beast.” That’s why I chose to initiate the direct action on the 21st, and of course, because Justin Fuller’s execution was scheduled for the 24th. Now, let me get to exactly what happened on the 22nd…
On August 22, 2006, last Tuesday, I went to the day-room first round for recreation. I was nervous because one never knows what might happen when the ER Team is involved. At approximately 9am Officer DeLuna and Officer Lane came to “rack me up” (i.e.: put me back in my cell). I cordially explained to them in a firm but respectful tone that I was occupying the day-room and I wasn’t going to leave – they’d have to gas me and drag me out. St. Tolley and Sgt. Newberry came on the section and I explained to them, basically, why I was about to commit an act of extreme protest: “Every action brings a reaction. Every effect has its cause. I believe that inaction in the face of injustice is direct consent, therefore, when I recognize blatant oppression I’m compelled to act in opposition to that oppression…etc., etc., etc.”
The Sgt.’s left and I knew the Emergency Response Riot Team would be storming onto the pod soon in full riot gear, so I got ready. Although I’ve faced the ER Team many, many times I always feel a bit of anxiety before dealing with them. As I mentally prepared myself I thought of Justin down on A-pod, on death watch. I thought of the damage the prison industrial complex is doing to society as a while. And I thought of how the death penalty, by its very existence nurtures and promotes a culture of violence… “The Team is coming,” someone screamed. I looked to my left and saw the ER Team stomping onto the section military fashion – left right left; “stomp! stomp! stomp!” The 5 man team lined up at the day-room gate: Black riot helmets with plexiglass and metal face masks, riot control black bulletproof/shankproof vests, arm plates, leg plates and combat boots. Both the #1 man and the #2 man had riot shields.
I braced myself against the wall with the day-room single-man mat held in front of me to deflect some of the chemical gas. ”Offender Will, submit to a strip search and hand-restraints or a 5 man team and chemical agents will be utilized!!” I refused to move. ”Sssshhhhhh!” – I was hit with a long blast from a canister of LE-10 crowd control chemical gas. My breath was immediately taken away. My first reaction, my initial physiological impulse, told me to collapse. My spirit and my mind refused. I held steady as the initial shock passed.
“They’re gonna hit you again from the left side,” a comrade yelled. The blast seemed to go on forever and before it ended the gate popped. With my head spinning I stood up to face the Team. Oppressor vs. the oppressed. 5 sadistic indoctrinated drones in full riot gear against on man standing up against injustice with the spirit of his comrades as inspiration. The team advanced quickly in a spread-out formation. I threw the mat and I was attacked from all sides. A riot shield was slammed into my face as I fought off blows coming from every direction. As I hit the ground I felt myself being choked until I was handcuffed and shackled. I felt a cut inside my mouth and I spit out blood as I was lifted to my feet.
Though I was dazed, beaten and bleeding from inside my mouth, on my face, hand and side and choking from chemical gas, I still screamed with all my strength: “We refuse to submit to oppression! There is an entire section full of death watch on A-pod and not everyone is going to remain inactive!” I don’t remember what all I said but I spoke on George Jackson and Justin Fuller. Most importantly, I remained vocal after being assaulted with chemical gas and being beaten. Just as I will always remain vocal in my opposition to oppression and injustice. And my thought and voice will always be followed by action.
In the Spirit of Love and Resistance:
August 30, 2006 Wednesday
The ER Team just brought another person on the pod. I just heard a bunch of noise, came to my door and saw the Team coming up the stairs carrying a guy I know named “Red.” He refused to leave the rec. yard down on B-pod. He was assaulted with a tear-gas grenade and then Red came out and made the Team carry him all the way down here to E-pod. Red has been here for at least 4 years (if not longer) and this is the first act of protest he’s engaged in. People are simply tired of the deplorable conditions around here and the control mechanisms this System uses are becoming invalid and useless. (Isn’t it wonderful?!)
With Peace and Strength: