Free South Carolina Movement statement on the first anniversary of the state-orchestrated fratricide at Lee County Prison

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by Efia Nwangaza

This statement was delivered at the State House Rally on April 13, 2019, in Columbia, S.C.

Free the Land!

On behalf of the Free South Carolina Movement (FSCM), we would first like to start off by thanking each and every one of you who saw fit to take the time out of your busy schedules to show love and support for our brothers and sisters in captivity. The struggle is real. And it is close to impossible to overcome without your support and effort. Therefore, we applaud your energy here today. There is power in numbers, and we don’t take a single one of you for granted. Please give yourselves a round of applause.

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We are gathered here on this day to commemorate the fallen comrades that made their transition in the Lee County Massacre exactly one year ago. If it weren’t for the innovative resources of prisoners, this travesty would have been downplayed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), or worse: It could have been swept under the rug.

It is no secret that Bryan Stirling has named cellular devices the culprit. If it weren’t for these devices, the public would still be oblivious to the dangers that prisoners are exposed to, whether a phone is nearby or not.

Cellular phones did not kill these fallen brothers – deadly weapons did. And if the same amount of energy was used to rid the prisons of these weapons as it is to rid prisons of cell phones, the fatality rate would decrease exponentially.

But that’s not Brian Sterling’s objective. His objective is to usher the carnage back into the dark, out of sight from the public eye. That is why more emphasis is being placed on the confiscation of phones than it is on the weapons that are still readily available to the prison population.

A quick investigation will show that SCDC has confiscated over five times more phones than they have weapons. And there are more weapons in SCDC than there are phones.

However, weapons have always done the state’s bidding, while the phones did nothing more than expose it. Contrary to popular belief, SCDC has not created the safest rehabilitative environment for prisoners to “pay our debts to society.” The greatest deception SCDC has the people under is that the prisoners committed into the Department of Corrections are here for rehabilitation. In all actuality, the majority of individuals released from prison come out worse than they were upon being admitted.

There comes a time in this evaluation that we should take a look at the ones in control of the environment, instead of focusing on the ones subjected to it. We owe this evaluation to all the fallen brothers and sisters, because the fact of the matter is, although a great deal of phones have been confiscated, the lingering threat of violence still lurks within the bowels of SCDC.

The reason is the Classification Department in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. It is creating the most hostile environments by placing the most disturbed prisoners in the same cell block with little to nothing at their disposal except for weapons.

Classification has labeled these cell blocks “high alpha” blocks. It is from these cell blocks that dead bodies come on the regular. Classification is well aware of this, yet they refuse to abort this dangerous degree of processing.

The administration has gone so far as to threaten prisoners with placing them in these cell blocks, knowing that for some prisoners it is a certain death sentence. Another name for these types of cell blocks is “the concrete jungle,” where people live by the code of kill or be killed.

Its residents know that waiting on a correctional officer to save you in that environment is certain death. Over 80 percent of SCDC fatalities come from out of these cell blocks, and the Lee County Massacre is but another testament to the fatal outcome of these type of cell blocks that have been designed by none other than SCDC classification.

The Free South Carolina movement consists of the remaining men and women within the concrete jungle that have gone above and beyond to prevent the senseless bloodshed stemming from these “high alpha cell blocks,” all the while carrying out the duties and objectives attributed by the state. They are: 1) Creating a safe environment for prisoners to coexist in, and 2) Rehabilitation.

You will not encounter one individual that would credit their rehabilitation to the state. If they don’t attribute their rehabilitation to themselves, they credit it to an influential brother or sister they encountered behind the wall.

A majority of these influential brothers and sisters have made their way into the Free South Carolina Movement. We have always played our part within the bowels of the prisons; however, SCDC has become quite effective in creating an even more dangerous environment for the prison population by removing the people of influence inside these prisons and spreading us out thin across the state, while compacting rival enemies in one cell block and leaving them to their folly.

Along with the seven deaths that took place in Lee County in April 2018, there was a total of 28 fatalities in Lee County alone that year. Before FSCM formed, the Freedom Fighters inside were individually involved with these troubled prisoners of war.

Freedom Fighters intervened in heated arguments that had major potential to become deadly without intervention. SCDC stripped Lee County – the biggest prison in the state – of its elders and people of influence, replacing them with troublesome brothers. SCDC knew that some of these men from other high alpha cell blocks had already been involved in a full-scale prison confrontation earlier in the year.

The Free South Carolina Movement has had enough of SCDC being the only voice the public ever hears concerning the prison populace. There is an old saying that, until the lion tells its side of the story, the story of the hunter will always be glorified. Well, these lions, FSCM, have successfully created a platform for our truth to be told.

However, this platform would be nothing without the brothers and sisters hearing the sound of our voice, or those later reading this statement. And we are here to tell you that we want to make our presence felt in our communities. We are focusing on what we can do to bridge the gap between us and the people we love, which is every last one of you standing here today.

We wish to utilize our foundation, not only to expose SCDC’s deadly tactics that ultimately backfire on our communities, but to also contribute whatever we may have of use to our communities, in hopes of making things better until we finally make our way back to you all!

Contrary to popular belief, we can make change for you all from back here. Not only do we make change – we are all gathered here right now because of what the Free South Carolina Movement has done! This is but a small beginning.

Our positive activity will spread into every community where we are welcomed, so that you too may benefit from the self-rehabilitated men and women who refused to let circumstances relieve us of our responsibilities as leaders. Therefore, the Free South Carolina Movement has made a call to all rehabilitated POWs from behind bars to combine resources and concentrate them into the communities that need us.

We have made it possible for us to be reached so that we may assist you all in the same way that you have assisted us. We plan to usher in “Back to School Extravaganzas” as well as coat drives in the near future.

The Free South Carolina Movement will prove that there are productive brothers and sisters behind bars and that we have truly outgrown this place. The system has failed in making us any better. Quite the opposite: It has only succeeded in making many of us worse, sicker. Regardless, the Free South Carolina Movement has overcome. We work daily and refuse to lose another life.

With that being said: we leave you with “Peace!” And until we greet again, “Peace! Free South Carolina salute!”

Free the Land!

Contact Efia Nwangaza and the Free South Carolina Movement at mxcentergvl@gmail.com.

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