The Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights held a press conference on Jan. 6, 2011, to discuss the physical assaults perpetrated on inmates by prison staff. The attacks took place in the wake of fact finding visits by the coalition to Macon State Prison and Smith State Prison, following last month’s prisoner-led work stoppage that spread to nine of Georgia’s prisons.
This piece includes interviews by Bruce Dixon of BlackAgendaReport.com with Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia Conference of NAACP Branches, Ajamu Baraka with the U.S. Human Rights Network, Chara Jackson with ACLU Georgia, Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary People Society, Charles Muhammad of the Nation of Islam and Hugh Esco of the Georgia Green Party.
by the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights
The Coalition is concerned about continued violent retaliation against the multiracial group of prisoners who staged a peaceful protest demanding pay for their labor, educational opportunities, access to family members, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and other human rights. The eight-day strike involved united prison populations at various prisons, including Hays, Smith, Telfair and Macon State Prisons.
Dean’s mother, Mrs. Willie Maude Dean, stated that since she learned from inmates that her son had been beaten, she has been given no information about his condition or whereabouts by the DOC, and that she and Dean’s sisters, Wendy Johnson and Natasha Montgomery, have been denied access to him since they discovered he was hospitalized at Atlanta Medical Center.
It was around the same time of this beating that the coalition was meeting with the DOC making the demand that a coalition fact-finding delegation be provided access to certain prisons to investigate conditions inside.
The DOC acceded to provide such access to a coalition delegation, starting at Macon State Prison. However, even as the delegation visited Macon State, the DOC was apparently covering up Dean’s reported retaliatory beating there by several CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) members, who witnesses reported restrained Dean after an alleged altercation with a guard, dragged him from his cell in handcuffs and leg irons, removed him to the prison gym and beat him unconscious. The beating remained unreported by the DOC even though the coalition specifically raised questions about reports of retaliatory beatings and about the status and whereabouts of 37 – or more – men the DOC identified as strike “conspirators.”
Mrs. Dean told coalition leaders last night that when she asked Macon State Warden McLaughlin where was her son, based on concerns raised by prisoner reports he had been beaten nearly to death, McLaughlin told her he was “in the hole” – an isolation cell. In fact, Mr. Dean was already in the hospital.
The coalition is raising concerns about the potential cover up of an attempted murder and the refusal of the prison to identify the missing 37 or more inmates deemed “conspirators” by the DOC. The coalition is calling for the DOC and other state officials to sit down with the inmates to start a process to realize the inmates’ human rights.
The coalition, which has grown into an entity of thousands of supporters and hundreds of organizations across the U.S. and internationally, includes the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the ACLU, the U.S. Human Rights Network, All of Us or None, The Ordinary People Society and many others and is co-chaired by Dubose and author-activist Elaine Brown.
A coalition fact-finding delegation visited Macon State Prison on Dec. 20 and Smith State Prison Dec. 29, where the coalition uncovered facts about Mr. Dean’s reported brutal beating. The coalition is planning to release a full report of its investigations and prison visits once the investigations are completed.
The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area solidarity with Georgia prison strikers
by Zak Solomon
At a meeting Friday, Jan. 7, we had the privilege to speak on the phone with three of the prisoners involved in organizing the Georgia strike. These are excerpts from those conversations:
Prisoner: We can discuss a lot of issues, first of all about the abuse – that’s wrong. … An incident occurred last Friday. Our bosses decided that they wanted to abuse a couple of inmates. They handcuffed ‘em – and people witnessin’ this from across the yard. … And they were hittin’ ‘em in the face … with hammers and batons – in their face – while they were handcuffed.
Prisoner: We ain’t askin’ for much, but we want what’s rightfully due to us. … We just sat down peacefully and it went on from there. … Sometimes you gotta stand up for something.
Bay Area supporter: You’re valuable, brother.
Prisoner: Thanks bro. I appreciate that. And we need that. … There’s so many guys that done turned they back on the struggle. … They leave and leave ‘em for dead. And that’s what the problem is: Ain’t nobody reachin’ back.
So what is to be done?
At present, hundreds of organizations around the country are collaborating and planning the first in a series of nationally coordinated days of action to apply pressure to the Georgia governor as well as the Department of Corrections to:
1) immediately release the status and whereabouts of the 37 prisoners deemed conspirators who were brutally beaten and disappeared; their locations are yet to be disclosed by DOC even to their families.
2) begin negotiations with CCRPR (Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights) on the prisoners demands, including fair compensation for labor, adequate medical care, educational opportunities, access to families, just parole decisions and an end to cruel and unusual punishments.
The first day of action will likely happen within the next few weeks. What we can do now is discuss what kind of action we want to take in the Bay Area and be prepared to put that into effect on the day of action. If you’re interested in participating in this discussion, email email@example.com with LOGISTICS in the subject.
We can also begin an educational campaign – providing informational materials to local communities and organizations and informing them of the situation in Georgia, the necessity for mass public support and that a day of action is upcoming. If interested in the groundwork of going to these groups or communities, email firstname.lastname@example.org with OUTREACH in the subject.
If you are interested in producing the materials themselves, most of which requires consolidation of available information, email email@example.com with RESEARCH in the subject.
For more information and to get involved, email Zak Solomon at email firstname.lastname@example.org.