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If chemical weapons abuses in Syria that lead to people suffocating, foaming at the mouth and dying are evil and justify international military responses, who will intervene to stop U.S. prison officials doing the same to U.S. prisoners? Just an example of the utter hypocrisy of U.S. rulers who go around the world masquerading as opponents of injustice and pretending to have the moral – or might I say imperialist and racist – authority to police everyone else, when in reality they are the greatest purveyors of injustice in the world.
Known today as Florida State Prison (FSP), what was originally called Florida’s East Unit was constructed in 1961 and included another institution now known as Union Correctional Institution. Nearly 60 years old, FSP has been poorly maintained with cellblocks unfit for habitation. During Florida’s sweltering summer and autumn months, the cells, lacking air conditioning, become sweat boxes and infested with ants, spiders and huge cockroaches, with black mold growing on the ceilings.
It’s been a hard silence for the past five days since Operation PUSH launched a statewide prisoner strike in the Florida Department of Corrections prison system (FDOC or FDC) coinciding with Martin Luther King Day. Information from prisoners is coming in at a much slower pace than people on the outside had anticipated, but reports are slowly and steadily making their way through the walls, despite many obstacles.
On Aug. 24, guards here at Florida State Prison (FSP) donned special “formal” uniforms of black pants, dark grey shirts and black neckties. The special occasion? They were executing a man who was sentenced to die for a double homicide in 1987. Looking at each guard that day, I could only shake my head at their solemn pretensions and utter hypocrisy. There they were united in killing a man as punishment for a “crime” that they frequently collude in committing themselves.
Life in Florida prison cells is so like it is in other states. The police write bogus disciplinary reports, abuse inmates, then their brothers at Disciplinary Camps help to cover it up. I filed an abuse grievance. I have yet to be taken to medical; no one came and examined my injuries. All I get out of these people is “Fill out a sick call”; that way they can charge. I know that all that is going to happen is that they are going to cover it up, but that is what happens all throughout Florida.
On May 11, 2012, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison, because she fired a warning shot to halt her abusive husband from trying to kill her. In her defense, her lawyers cited the Florida “stand your ground” law, which months earlier made national headlines when it was cited by George Zimmerman’s defense team, after he killed unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin.