Soledad warden ‘sympathizes’ with furious loved ones of 200+ Black prisoners brutalized in 3 a.m. raid

According to CACorrections’ Facebook page, this is Soledad staff, with Warden Craig Koenig in the center, and prisoners commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week on April 9, 2018. Koenig also received “Congressional honors” during the ceremony.

by Tasha Williams

The warden of Soledad State Prison near the central coast of California went on a massive excuse tour Tuesday afternoon after he received numerous emails from angry wives of the Black men who were assaulted under his command early Monday morning. As we reported, upwards of 200 Black inmates were ripped from their bunks at around 3 a.m. Monday, zip-tied, and held half naked, without shoes and, most importantly, without masks.

My husband was injured during the scuffle with guards dressed in ridiculous tactical gear, as if they were raiding a Level 4 (maximum security) building. And not only was my husband injured, but he witnessed numerous other injuries, including a sweet older inmate being tossed or knocked down a flight of stairs.

Tuesday, my husband reports numerous broken fingers, bangs and scrapes, but, according to Soledad Warden Craig Koenig, the violent raid went off without a hitch. Koenig claims in an email there were no injuries. Not a single one.

Koenig sent many emails Tuesday, and we have a few of them for you here, starting with the one he sent me.

The email reads:

“Good morning Ms. Williams,

“I am truly sorry for your anguish. My observations were that the men were socially distanced. However, based on your information I will have your husband interviewed regarding these allegations. My Grievance Coordinator, not involved in Monday’s actions, will be reaching out to him very soon. I take such allegations very seriously and will not tolerate inappropriate behavior from my staff. 

“I commend your husband for rising above prison culture. An investigation does not mean a condemnation; however, there were concerns which needed to be looked into. This operation did have oversight, so it is not any one individual’s thoughts or beliefs but rather a group of people independently reviewing the information and determining an appropriate course of action. 

“Thank you for your email. I sincerely appreciate you reaching out to me.

“Craig”

And the Oscar for best email performance goes to …

The ever-professional “Craig” wasn’t done there though. He responded to another woman with:

“Good morning Ms. Ketzenberg,

“I hope this morning finds you well. 

“I appreciate the time you have taken to email me; it is obvious this is a matter of great concern for you, and me as well. Let me attempt to put your mind at ease. The well-being of the men entrusted to our care is of the utmost importance to me. I would never put anyone in danger, nor would I allow my staff to do such things. I can tell you that I personally checked on this operation and nobody was abused, I would not stand for it.

“The event itself was a result of Security Threat Group (STG) behavior that has been on-going at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF). CDCR does not identify the men racially and those under investigation are suspected of STG activity. STG behavior jeopardizes everyone and especially, puts in harm’s way, those who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families. All the staff at CTF are fully committed to those efforts that help the men rehabilitate. There is a great deal of evidence which shows our rehabilitative efforts are successful. STG activity directly opposes the positive actions of the men applying themselves to being good citizens.

“Monday’s activity was done with great oversight as all of our actions are transparent. Nobody was harmed or injured and the institution resumed normal operations very quickly.

“Again, let me thank you for your correspondence. Family, friends and community are integral parts of the process aimed at reintegrating the men back into society, as such I value your insight and your thoughts. 

“Sincerely,

“Craig”

Craig is completely and utterly full of it. No inmates have tested positive because WE, the advocates, fought for the guards to wear masks well into the first quarantine.

Craig actually followed up on Ketzenberg’s response, which he says he never does, and why would he follow up on concerns from family members when his initial email was meant for nothing but to cover his ass. This is what Craig said when Ketzenberg pushed back:

“Ms. Ketzenberg,

“I apologize for the back n forth via email. Normally, I do not respond to follow up emails; however, your words affected me a great deal. My words are far from disingenuous, I meant them all very sincerely. My record as far as the treatment of the men here illustrates my caring. The fact that no inmates have tested positive for COVID at CTF is proof of our efforts. Monday all staff were masked and the men were socially distanced beyond the required mandates. 

“There is no cover up, I am and always have been extremely transparent. I wish everyone could see and realize the positive work that is being done at CTF, we are changing these men’s lives. 

“Again, thank you for your emails.

“Craig”

Tuesday afternoon, my husband was called in for an interview, just as Craig said he would be, and in this time, the inmate surveying my husband’s body to mark off abrasions on a clipboard body chart tried to get away with leaving the chart blank. My husband had to demand that he write in that his hands were bound so tightly and for so long that his hands are still tingling.

The fact is, officials at Soledad State Prison have been trying to validate my highly spiritual and anti-violent husband as a member of the BGF prison gang. They want him validated so they can get away with the constant harassment and beatings. Just one problem. My husband has never been affiliated with anyone, and that’s why Craig won’t talk about why peaceful inmates were included in this racist roundup.

Anyone inside Soledad and anyone who loves someone inside Soledad knows that Craig is completely and utterly full of it. No inmates have tested positive because WE, the advocates, fought for the guards to wear masks well into the first quarantine. And social distanced? Now that’s just laughable. These are blatant lies. Craig feels that he can lie and get away with it despite hundreds of eyes witnessing the opposite. Craig’s time is up. Warden Craig Koenig needs to resign.

Call or email now: Black Lives Matter! Stop the targeting of Black prisoners!

LISTEN on Thursday, 7/23 at 11:00 a.m. PCT,  to Tasha Williams and Makini Iyepo speak about this disturbing event at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad with host Nube Brown of Prison Focus Radio at KPOO San Francisco 89.5 or Live Stream at KPOO.com

Tasha Williams, an activist dedicated to bringing her husband home, can be reached at tashachildress@gmail.com.