Steve is scheduled to die in only 20 days, less than three weeks. This is absolutely horrible, and my mind keeps swirling with memories of him I have from knowing him for about the past 8 years. One time I even saved his Life.
O.K. Well, I didn’t actually save his Life, but that’s what I jokingly tell him when reminding him of the time when I helped divert some officers from beating him. Hold up…I’m still in the dungeon (the disciplinary pod) and I just walked to my door and looked out of the side down to the cells Steve and I were in back when this incident happened during a previous protest campaign. I’m in F-65 now and back then he was in F-68 and I was in F-70.
Steve had done a people’s confiscation of the instruments of oppression known as the handcuffs (i.e., he ‘jacked’ the handcuffs as an officer removed them from his wrists after placing him back in his cell). After gaining control of the cuffs—with one still around one wrist—he locked himself to the steel grate on the door, mirroring direct actions activists in the free world have committed.
You should have seen the look on the officers’ faces! Shock. Disbelief. Awe. After they snapped out of it they immediately radioed for a sergeant because they had absolutely no idea what to do. There are protocols for just about every possible occurrence in prison but this was something they had never seen before. The sergeant came, tilted his head down, crossed his arms, and just looked at Steve for several minutes in complete silence and, saying nothing, quickly walked off. Seconds later the lieutenant came and began hurling threats at Steve, demanding that he give back the handcuffs.
When he saw Steve wouldn’t fold he ceased with his ranting and just looked at Steve. Then he looked at Steve’s hand cuffed to the door. Back to Steve. Back to the grate. Silence. “Uh, what do you want to do?” the sergeant asked the lieutenant. Silence. One second. Two seconds. “Goddamnit!” was all the lieutenant said as he stormed off. In this environment any direct action situation is intense but I couldn’t help laughing to myself as I watched the situation unfold. It had been years since someone had done something similar and none of the officers on duty that day knew how to handle the situation and they were extremely agitated because of this.
Here comes the captain and with him came more threats and intimidation. Steve held firm. The way he was cuffed to the door would have prevented them from doing a regular run-in with the SWAT team because the door couldn’t be opened all the way. And the plexiglass covers the grate on the super-seg cells, so they just didn’t know what to do. The captain told the 3 other officers he was with to walk down the run and talk to him.
I quickly turned out my light so I could inconspicuously overhear the conversation. They stopped right next to my cell. In a very deliberate and malicious manner the captain told his fellow officers what they would do: He said they would catch Steve off guard and quickly roll the door, rush in, and “beat his ass” and take the cuffs back, a completely off-the-record attack. Blumpfh! Blumpfh! I kicked the door after quickly flipping on my light—which startled the officers—and looked the captain right in the eyes and explained to him that if he engaged in his cowardly little attack plan on Steve then he would have to deal with me as well, no need for compromise or discussion. One thing oppressors within this system hate more than anything is Solidarity amongst prisoners.
This diverted the planned attack and the captain told the lieutenant to call the maintenance supervisor and come figure out how to get the cuffs back. The supervisor was called in from home and he came in wearing sweatpants and cowboy boots, which was pretty hilarious. But what was even more hilarious was the fact that after he finally got the plexiglass shield off of the door and was just about to cut the cuffs off of the screen with a welding torch Steve slipped off the cuffs and said, “Oh, here, I guess you can have the cuffs back now.” Ha!
There are always moments like this in Struggle, genuinely humorous moments amongst the intensity and anxiety of righteous battle in this Orwellian Hell. And it takes a person who possesses an almost superhuman strength of will to bring about such moments. Steven is such a person. He’s literally risked his personal safety and sanity as well as possibly his Life in engaging in acts of resistance here on Texas Death Row.
Steve is scheduled to die in only 20 days. I may not have really helped save his Life back then, but you can do so now. Go to his website and Facebook and get involved:http://www.TexasKills.com and https://www.facebook.com/SaveStevenWoods.
With Peace, Strength, and Love: