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California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
On Feb. 1, scores of men in Delaware’s largest prison, the Vaughn Correctional Center, took over one of the buildings in their facility. The prison, built in 1971 and known for its serious overuse of solitary confinement, is one of the state’s most severely overcrowded and punitive facilities. Hoping to push the state to improve living conditions at Vaughn, the prisoners didn’t just take control of Building C – they also took guards hostage. And to make the public aware of why they were protesting, they called the media.
Officer Akers sexually harassed the entire unit – most of which is New Afrikan – by conducting a striptease in which we were ordered to “squat and cough and spread your buttocks open,” solely for the sadomasochistic pleasure of Officer Akers. Let me explain that I am in Red Onion State Prison (ROSP), I protested, and in return for my protest I was put in “five-point restraints,” stark naked into a totally empty cell, just concrete and steel.
They are called the Dallas 6 – and we ain’t talking about Texas. Dallas, in Pennsylvania, is one of nearly 30 prisons in the state, located in its rural outback. The six are young Black men who, in 2010, tried to stage a peaceful protest in the prison’s “hole,” its solitary confinement unit. The Dallas 6 are potentially facing more prison time for refusing to submit to torture, for men have died, in America, while strapped into the torture chair.
I’ve been asked several times how it was possible that rivals from different racial and/or regional groups were able to see past differences and come together to form the Human Rights Movement. The Human Rights Movement is a concerted effort to end long term solitary confinement and make better the living conditions in all SHU and Ad Seg housing facilities across the state of California and the nation as a whole!
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
The battle over the future of Tamms became the most visible and contentious example of a phenomenon seen around the country: Otherwise progressive unions are taking reactionary positions when it comes to prisons, supporting addiction to mass incarceration. And when it comes to issues of prisoners’ rights in general, and solitary confinement in particular, they are seen as a major obstacle to reform.
The CDCR justification for Pelican Bay is rooted in two primary criteria: 1) to isolate the so-called worst of the worst, who have proved too violent to be held at other prisons, and 2) to presumably minimize prison violence. What the CDCR intentionally neglected to tell the public is that it was their policy, both in practice and intent, that was responsible for the rapid increase in prison violence! Pelican Bay State Prison is rooted in deception, exploitation, extortion, violence and murder.
Since Dec. 13, 1994, Indiana political prisoner Khalfani Malik Khaldun has been held in control units, i.e. administrative segregation or isolation. It began when police and prison investigators manufactured a murder charge against him after a guard was stabbed and killed. Brother Khalfani is a Muslim and New Afrikan revolutionary educator who professes a strong sense of radical politics and culture.
An estimated 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. prisons. If the struggle to end inhumane treatment inside prisons is to become anything more than a largely apolitical movement for so-called “civil rights,” it must put two long-ignored points back on the agenda: race and revolution.