Georgia prisons on fire

by Eugene Thomas

Written Nov. 28, 2011 – On Nov. 25, Hancock State Prison in Sparta, Georgia, erupted into a full scale riot, as prisoners ran off the guards in several of the cell houses (euphemistically called dormitories, as though this was a college campus) in protest over abuses by guards and grievances unresolved by administrators.

On Nov. 25, at about 9:45 p.m. EST, while I was in a political education class with Sis. Kiilu Nyasha, a report came in that Hancock State Prison’s prisoners were rioting. Not knowing whether this report was true – or at least an accurate representation of the facts – I began doing some investigative work. And to my amazement, Hancock’s prisoner populace was indeed in full riot – or revolt.

I was told by a comrade there that the spark that ignited this fire was a young female guard calling the prisoners there “bitches and hoes.”

These verbal abuses and disrespect caused this female guard to be “run out of the cell house.” It’s reported that she called for emergency backup, which is standard policy. The team of officers that came as backup were likewise “run out the cell house.”

All the guards were told by their supervisor to leave the prison compound, so that no officers would be present when the State Troopers stormed the compound. I’m told that from 6 o’clock in the evening until about 2 o’clock in the morning, no guard was working on the inside compound grounds.

Prisoners thus set several of the module living units on fire and donned guards’ jackets, danced, sang and celebrated. At around 3 or 4 a.m., State Troopers and local police took back the prison while the local fire department put out the blaze. Prisoners have warned, “This is only the beginning.”

As I write this, I’ve learned that five prisons are locked down. They are Ware, Hancock, Telfair, Valdosta and Smith state prisons. Mind you these were five of the major prisons that participated in last year’s Dec. 9 protest.

Dec. 9 is just around the corner. It’s been almost one full year – and no changes to date.

Tupac said it best in his song, “Changes.” He said, “They didn’t listen until my niggas burned it down.”

If rioting gets the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the state of Georgia General Assembly and the racist, unjust judiciary to listen, then I say, as H. Rap Brown (now Imam Jamil Al-Amin) said back in the day, “Burn, baby, burn!”

Send our brother some love and light: Eugene Thomas, 671488, G-2-148, Autry State Prison, P.O. Box 648, Pelham GA 31779.