Breaking COVID-19 news: Two prisoners report how California prisons’ contempt threatens their lives

Solano whistleblower Ivan Kilgore cruelly punished for telling Vice News the real story on California prisons’ coronavirus response

by #EyesOnCDCR

Ivan Kilgore

April 14, 2020 – The coronavirus is spreading in the US prison system with new cases emerging daily. People in prison are sick and rebelling.

Recently, Vice News did an interview with an incarcerated person who exposed the conditions of California Department of Corrections prisons and the system’s complete disregard for protecting the incarcerated population and CDCR staff against COVID-19 – a fertile breeding ground for the spread of the virus.

Since that video was published, Ivan Kilgore, incarcerated at Solano State Prison, has been accused of being the whistleblower and as a result he is being retaliated against by CDCR. The general population has had their liberties taken away and been told that Ivan’s actions caused their loss of privileges, from taking away exercise and day room activity to unwarranted cell searches.

CDCR also planted false information amongst the prison population to intentionally pit prison gang leaders against Ivan to take action against him as a form of retribution. This has bred a hostile environment for Ivan and is threatening his safety.

CDCR has now threatened to bury Ivan deeper into the system, essentially making him disappear to his loved ones, and restrict him from being heard by transferring him to another prison.

Ivan is the founder of the United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Incarcerated for the last 20 years and serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Ivan has created an organization that “rebuilds the community from within the community.” Through working with universities, sponsoring youth basketball teams, community reinvestment programs and prisoner book publishing projects, UBFSF is challenging the narrative imposed upon communities plagued with high incarceration rates, poverty, drug use and violence

Today we are asking you to help us stop CDCR from silencing Ivan’s voice and every other COVID-19 whistleblower who comes forward, whether incarcerated or a CDCR staff member. It is not uncommon for people in prison to be shipped from prison to prison or put in solitary confinement as a method of silencing them. We are asking you to help us stop this from being another one of those stories.

Let’s hold the American prison system accountable by ending this retaliation and protecting everyone in the system from being infected with COVID-19. Call Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office today – at 916-445-2841 – and ask him to put an end to the retaliation and negligence of CDCR.

Sign the petition at Change.org.

Send our brother some love and light: Ivan Kilgore, V-31306, CSP Solano FA3-232, P.O. Box 4000, Vacaville CA 95696.

Soledad prison guards refuse to wear safety masks amidst COVID-19 pandemic

by Talib Williams

Talib Williams

April 12, 2020 – Apparently, guards at Soledad State Prison didn’t get the memo from the CDC delineating the countrywide recommendation for citizens to wear “face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” which includes grocery stores, pharmacies and undoubtedly California’s notoriously overcrowded prisons.

They couldn’t be oblivious to these recommendations because every time yard is released, Officer Woods makes an announcement over the more than 30-year-old intercom system reminding the inmate population to practice social distancing and to wear a face covering when purchasing items through the canteen window on the yard, which is operated by “free staff.”

When asked why we are required to wear masks while correctional officers and free staff aren’t – although free staff often do cover themselves – it was said that it was to protect the inmate population from being infected by someone who may have brought it into the institution. But common sense would tell you that if this virus was to spread throughout California’s prison system, as it has already in prisons in the Midwest and the East Coast, that it would likely stem from the guards coming in and out.

Unfortunately, only the inmates are required to wear face coverings here at Soledad, and we can be punished for not complying, which is ironic because just weeks before the pandemic occurred, I was wearing a covering over my face to protect myself from contracting Valley Fever, which is prevalent in this area, as well as being more likely to affect African Americans, and was threatened by correctional officers who told me, “How many times do we have to tell you guys to not cover your face. If I have to tell you again, you’re getting a 115 (Rules Violation Report).”

When I told them that I was wearing it to protect myself from getting Valley Fever, which almost killed my Muslim brother, Dawud (David Turner, who has an open case in court against CDCR holding them responsible for having him work in an environment where they knew he’d likely contract Valley Fever) they responded, “We don’t give a fuck.”

I already knew that, so they didn’t have to tell me. But I didn’t give a fuck either as I turned the corner out of their sight and pulled my face covering back in place.

Send our brother some love and light: Marcelle ‘Talib’ Williams, V-69247, CTF, CW-121, P.O. Box 689, Soledad CA 93960.