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In a year where Islamophobia is at an all-time extreme in Texas prisons, I think it is a perfect time for me to shed light of the injustice Muslim brothers are facing here at the Clements Unit. I am not Muslim myself, but I am against the oppression of all humans no matter how unpopular their social standing is. Since I have been in solitary confinement at the Clements Unit, I’ve witnessed the administration fail miserably at recognizing brothers fasting during Ramadan.
On Feb. 17, 2016, Ohio state prisoner Cornelius Harris, held in the high security U.S. Penitentiary at Florence, Colo., after being transferred against his will from the state to federal prison system, began refusing meals, vowing not to eat until he is transferred back to Ohio. Recently, he has refused not only food but fluids. Cornelius is sacrificing his health and possibly his life because hunger striking is the only peaceful way he can try to be heard.
Food is routinely used by U.S. prison officials to summarily punish, torture, abuse and retaliate against prisoners. This happens with especial frequency in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) where prisoners are confined inside locked cells all day every day and must have all meals delivered by guards. Under such circumstances, we remain at guards’ total mercy “to eat or not to eat.”
The people who are housed in this institution, Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, Calif., are having a lot of issues with medical. It’s very degrading. Doctors are taking convicts off their pain medication, such as morphine, methadone and Gabapetine, known as Neurontin, saying it’s being abused. Correction officers don’t care about us convicts nor do the doctors.
Cornelius Harris was facing nine felony charges stemming from fights with guards at the Ohio State Penitentiary. Harris has long maintained that these fights were actually initiated by guards who have targeted him for harassment and abuse. Supporters are requesting that people call OSP Warden David Bobby on Monday, demanding that Mr. Harris be kept safe from retaliation and have his hunger strike demands met.
John “J-Rock” Carter was a juvenile lifer who was sentenced at 16 years old under a law that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled was unconstitutional in Alabama v. Miller. Irony of Ironies. J-Rock never lived to see it. J-Rock fought for justice. He put himself on the front line of the struggle against inhumanity – and paid for it with his life. But his contribution will never be overlooked, ignored or down-played.
According to multiple witness accounts, staff at Pennsylvania’s SCI Rockview killed John Carter, a 32-year-old man from Pittsburgh, during a cell extraction in the prison’s solitary confinement unit on April 26, 2012. One witness, esteemed writer André Jacobs, reports: "The murder was in retaliation for Carter protesting what began as guards denying him his dinner meal. ... During the collection of our food tray, guard Sherman said to me, “Your buddy’s going down tonight,” while smiling."
We here at Corcoran State Prison, prisoners in ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit), went on a united hunger strike, aimed straight at the beast: injustice and negligence. As a named petitioner, I was targeted for being a litigant and a spokesman for myself and the other Afrikans who are seeking justice and equal protection.
Yes, it was a battle. My first report on this riot gave people a look into the ugly violence and bloodshed. I’ve reported it the way it happened, but nothing is to be glorified or celebrated here. It felt good, though, to be a part of struggle and change, to see solidarity in action.
This is not my first riot but it was definitely the best. It’s so good to see solidarity in action, to see prisoners of different races and factions coming together like this. We need more of this before we can really start making positive changes in this system!