by Mary Ratcliff
So we owe Marritte (pronounced like “merit”) – more importantly, we greatly respect this brave comrade and refuse to be silent while the Nevada “prisoncrats” endanger his life through deliberate medical neglect of his severe kidney disease in retaliation against him for educating and organizing his fellow prisoners.
According to the ACLU National Prison Project, “The level of medical care provided at Ely is as horrific as any we have ever seen at any of the prison systems that we track across the country.” Marritte writes, “Numerous individuals had killed themselves and elected to accept lethal injection rather than continue to suffer the horrendous medical care at ESP. … Unless I find a way to force these people to get me the medical care I need, I will continue to suffer this excruciating pain, locked in this cell 24/7, until my kidneys completely fail and they can give a toast to their greed: another troublemaker dead.”
Sparked by a Bay View email blast, the power of the people pushed prison officials to move Marritte to a prison accessible by the only doctor in Nevada who can treat his condition. But as of his latest letter sent Oct. 16, he still had not seen the doctor.
His first priority now is to find legal assistance. So if you know a lawyer licensed to practice in Nevada who might take his case, contact Mary at the Bay View right away – call (415) 671-0789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a packet of evidence for the attorney.
And can anyone visit Marritte? It’s important for prison officials to know that someone is watching, yet he has no family in Nevada. Calls and letters to the state prisons director will help too. Here’s Marritte’s current address – he’d love to hear from you – and contact info for the director. Marritte thanks everyone who has written and called the director already.
• Marritte Funches, #37050, P.O. Box 607, Carson City NV 89702
• Director of Prisons Howard Skolnik, P.O. Box 7011, 5500 Snyder Ave., Carson City NV 89701, (775) 887-3216
Marritte is a jailhouse teacher. Before he was moved, he wrote: “We’re not allowed to participate in any school programs. There are kids here who can’t do basic math or even read, just languishing in their cells, all of us locked down 23 hours a day.
“I have a 16-year-old brother across the unit that I’m trying to keep from going crazy or killing himself. He wants to learn math and spelling, but the school will not even send him a book. So I’ve been doing my best to help the young brotha, along with several others, by organizing a study group – except I’m giving them a lot more than math and spelling, and the prisoncrats don’t like that.”
He’s already set up a study group since he was transferred to Carson City and wants to “create a comprehensive correspondence class that these young people can join and obtain the tools to forever change their lives.”
Marritte had depended on the Bay View for his study groups and last month wrote the following tribute. It’s letters expressing thoughts like this – and they come nearly every day – that make us determined to find a way to raise the money to continue printing the Bay View as a monthly paper. (It costs $4,000 just to print and distribute each edition of the paper.)
“I send this word with a warrior’s salute to you all on that end. I’ve just read your letter detailing the disappointing news about the temporary shutdown of the Bay View.
“There have been many times when the only thing keeping me from lashing out, unleashing the beast raging in my chest from all of the myopia, the dehumanization, sadism, ignorance and barbarism surrounding me was the Bay View, reminding me that I was not in this struggle alone, that I could endure and that the best and most effective way to remove those in the way of righteousness and justice is to organize and educate our people inside these prison graveyards.
“The Bay View has been an inspiration not only to me but to all of the brothas – and our brown brothas and even some of the white brothas that I was able to pass it on to – everyone looking for something of substance to bring some light to this darkness and understanding for the reasons why – the corrupt courts, prisons, parole boards, government etc. They could read your paper and not only be informed on the truth, they could get a smile, renewed hope, something positive every time.
“I’d often find myself telling the young comrades they need to stop looking for wifey at the club and take a peak at Wanda’s Picks, go to some of the many movies she reviews, the Black Panther Party gallery displays, the Lil Bobby Hutton picnics, poetry festivals etc. and find a good woman. Or I might find myself looking at the back page wondering if I might see my daughter in the crowd at one of the POCC [Prisoners of Conscience Committee] rallies or at a conference listening to Stic.man or Fred Hampton Jr. speak.
“The Bay View means a great deal, not only to me but to a lotta brothas and sistas in these pens. And not only in a spiritual, emotional or inspirational sense, but in a practical sense. The info you provide in contacts for people getting out, people trying to figure out what they can do to fight these subhuman conditions – I’ve seen these things come to good use for a lotta people, including myself.
“And that’s why I say this is only a momentary shutdown. The Bay View means too much to too many people for us to let it die out. This needs to be part of yours and Mr. Ratcliff’s legacy that you’ll be able to pass down and see it continue on. And in spite of my own dire situation, I am prepared to do all I can to help you get the Bay View back up and running. … We must not surrender what little Black owned and controlled media we have.”
I hope that among us we can find a way to give Marritte some help – and to end the practice of caging people and to demolish the prison industrial complex. Thank you for whatever you can do.
Mary Ratcliff, Bay View editor, can be reached at SF Bay View, 4917 Third St., San Francisco CA 94124, (415) 671-0789, email@example.com.