06/12/2011 18:34


Day 3 of Hunger Strike 2, something worth sharing occurred. I was escorted to medical to be weighed, have my blood pressure taken, and give urine (so they can test Ketone levels as well as if we’ve consumed food.) One nurse told me about the damage I was doing to my body by hunger striking and how my refusal to take blood pressure medication in addition to the hunger strike would likely lead to a stroke. The other nurse wrapped a blood pressure cuff around my upper arm to take my blood pressure. I noticed this nurse was pressing the black pump but the cuff wasn’t tightening around my arm. She then asked the other nurse, “Um, what’s wrong with this cuff?”

The other nurse walked over, picking up the inflated tube behind me. “This is supposed to be in there,” she said pointing at the cuff around my arm.

I thought to myself, “now I know I’m gonna die”


Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton



Coming back from shower, I engaged in a sit in. When Sgt. Tolly and Lt. Price arrived to address the disturbance, as Lt. Price walked past my cage he said to the floor officers, “take all his property.” This came out his mouth before he said anything to me. This is just a small example of the entality of this administration we’ve been speaking on for so long. It didn’t matter WHY I was sitting on the run. All Lt. Price could think about was exhibiting his unmediated authority. This was his attempt to show me; to break me; to make me mind. They’ve been doing it for decades, and even did it to us when we first began this movement. I told Sgt. Tolly, “You know that’s against yall’s policy, you know that!” He hung his head low, shaking it in agreement with me. But because it was his Lt., his supervisor, authorizing this blatant retaliation, he would accept it.

As they took my property, I told the Lt. he could have all of it and that I didn’t want it back! The Lt. then walked up to me, asking what the problem was as if taking my property would make me forget why I had sat on the run in the first place; as if taking all my property would make me jump up and say "Oh nothing wrong boss; Issa good.” Naw, there was a chance to establish some understanding of issues of concern within his control, but that understanding went out the door with my property. I told the Lt. and Sgt. “the only justifiable reason for taking my property is if I’ve used it to threaten the safety and security of the establishment, which I didn’t do. You are retaliating against me for my non-violent protest!”

I was carried back to my cage.

Several hours later, they brought my property back. I’m convinced the only reason they brought my property back is because they saw I was unmoved by their taking it, and that they were only adding to my passion. Nevertheless, they’ll just try to find another way to break me, while breaking rules, instead of trying to find another way of thinking while mending wounds. DRIVE!

Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton








My People’s Keeper: A Freedom Song

I’m standing

on my Rock.

My steps are ordained by GOD.

I remain by far

Loyal to the cause,

my community

my people,

Whether they love me or not.


I will


the upliftment they need;

the air they breathe.

Lean on me, Naw,

Stand on me—


Their Mount Sinai.

And when I die,

I’ll be their pyramid,

A reflection of their excellence;

A reflection of their transcendence;

A reflection of their perfection.



You are beautiful.




you’re not dead.

Arise O’Lazarus!

For your freedom is here!



Oh! Today, Carlton Turner was wheeled into the pod on a gurney—he must have initiated a sit-in either at visitation, or somewhere in the hallway. WE WILL NOT COLLUDE TO OUR OWN DEMISE! DRIVE!

Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton



A group meeting was held this morning between Ryan Dickson, Daryl Wheatfall, Da’mon Simpson and myself on the subject: Abuse of Mental Health Patients. We have observed this administration abuse a brother on our section named Travis Green for a few days now. He spent 3 days in a cage without a working light or a mattress. Pod officers have refused to give him recreational time, shower, and have even denied him food. Daily he’s called “bitch” and “ho” by staff. What’s even worse, Green requested to speak to the psyche-lady, Ms. Roy, whom he told about the abuses he’s been subjected to. He showed her that his light didn’t work, that he didn’t have a mattress,

nor has he been to rec or shower in days, yet she did nothing.

Though Green, generally, is disrespectful to other prisoners, we were able to agree to look beyond these things and stand together to get this brother the things he’s supposed to have. We requested to speak to Lt. Price and told him how Green has been abused. Though we were notifying, the subtle message he understood was “if we are willing to speak on it, we are willing to do what is necessary to insure what we spoke on is acted upon.”

It wasn’t probably an hour before Green had a mattress and maintenance fixed his light. But this victory was tainted because when the floor officers started showering the section, I noticed they skipped over Green. I asked the floor officers, White and a female officer (who was filling in for Officers Richmond and Hollum while they were on break) when they pulled me out my cage why they skipped Green. White said, with a smirk on his face, Green had “V.R’d” (verbal refusal-meaning he didn’t want to go) on the shower sheet. I explained to him that Green hasn’t been to the shower in days, and not because he didn’t want to go. Before I went inside the shower I said, “Green will get a shower today!” This was a hint to what was we were willing to do to ensure Green got his shower. To avoid having to deal with me, White left me in the closet-size shower for an hour, giving Richmond and Hollum time to come back from their break.

Officer Richmond came to the shower and asked me what was up. I told him Green needs to shower. When he told me he would shower Green, I came out the shower and went back to my cage. Though its sad we had to go through all of this to get a prison brother what he was suppose to have, we were happy we were successful. And when Green thanked us, I praised GOD!


Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton



These brothers here in the lower trenches (level 2&3) don’t have access to radios, so at night when things quiet down, I might burst into song; maybe singing some R. Kelly, something everybody knows. This music vibrates everybody into that ONE. It’s beautiful to hear these brothers sing along, BEing in that ONEness, even if for mere moments. It purifies, revitalizes. Brothers on the other sections of the pod even tune in, and you’ll know because somebody might holler out, while banging on their cage door, “blow that song damn-it!”

Though most of the time I sing to mySELF to calm my mind amid one of the most-if not the most—oppressive environments in the world, to hear these brothers laugh, holler, and shout from the memories some of the songs evoke sends forth a rainbow in my heart. These brothers deserve so much. DRIVE!

Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton



Despite trying to survive under the threat of the “Gun” (the Russian Roulette appellant process endured ‘til execution) and the inherently oppressive conditions here on the ROW, brothers must also endure the folly of sadistic officers. With a broken grievance system, and no checks and balances within the chain of command to ensure rogue officers don’t have free reign on vulnerable prisoners, some prisoners feel that they are backed into a corner and their only means to discourage these sadistic officers from adding to each prisoner’s lot is through violence. It’s known that this “pressure cooker” environment creates ticking time bombs. And when they explode, they implode, for the prisoner lives in a vacuum, where his actions are portrayed as mere manifestations of his “violent nature”.

The “Gun”, pressure cooker environment, and the antics of a rogue officer lead to Ryan Dickson’s desperate assault on Officer Stane. Though Dickson admits he wasn’t “right”, he also said someone had to stand up to the “bully.”

In retaliation for Dickson’s actions, this administration further decided to violate policy when they took all Dickson’s property for 30 days! All he was given was state issue clothing, a mattress, sheets, soap, toothbrush and toothpowder. For 30 days, in violation of his rights, Dickson was denied access to any of his legal documents, religious material, or stationery. Then, mysteriously his I.D. card came up “missing” so he couldn’t purchase any stamps or stationary off commissary. Therefore his communication with the courts, his lawyers, family, and the free world in general was suppressed. Why was he held incommunicado?

Over the weekend Simpson, Wheatfall, and I decided to assist Dickson in getting his property back, property he’s supposed to have according to policy. Whichever one of us went to rec first would address the subject. Simpson and Wheatfall went first. When their rec time was up, after they handcuffed Simpson, as they escorted him back to his cage he engaged in a sit-in. After Sgt. Horton came to the pod, Simpson addressed the property issue. After Sgt. Horton gave his word that he would rectify the problem, Simpson walked back to his cage, as did Wheatfall.

Coincidentally, comrade Gonzales also engaged in a sit-in on the other side of the pod. Surely this had some influence on Sgt Horton’s decision-though Sgt. Horton is one of the more sensible sergeants.

By the end of the day, not only was the pod placed on lockdown, but the Sergeant kept his word (Dickson now has all his property) and comrade Woods was wheeled into the pod from a visit. He must have engaged in a sit-in between visitation and the hallway. And through it all, Hunger Strike 2 continues! –undaunted WE DRIVE!

Love and solidarity

from the trenches


Reginald "Omari Huduma" Blanton



We get chicken trays, I mean an actual piece of chicken, once in a blue moon, though we’re supposed to get it way more often. It was early in the morning and the nurse had come to our section, as she does everyday to check our weight, blood pressure, and take urine analysis. Before the pod officer opened our bean slots they said, “got fried chicken today, got fried chicken today. Are you coming out?” The moment we decide to eat, they can mark us off the hunger strike list, seemingly weakening the movement and lightening the nurse’s workload. However, we all came out, not giving in for some chicken. Though lunchtime would prove just who was sincere.

During the first Hunger strike, they had 2 milk crates full of well-cooked fish and chicken sandwiches they offered each hunger striker that went to the nurse’s office for his daily examination.

Just a couple days ago we were served enchiladas, and now, not just chicken but fried chicken. And in the same week? This is unheard of here (note: after they served pork chops for lunch the next day, we knew for certain they were doing it to break our hunger strike. NEVER have they served us enchiladas, fried chicken, and pork chops in the same week). I bet these meals go back into hibernation.

So lunchtime rolls around. They pass up all the Hunger strikers on my section to feed my neighbor. I tell the officer,” Come on with it!”

Oh, you want to eat Blanton? You’re coming off Hunger Strike?”

Man, that’s fried chicken! I gotta have my fried chicken.” Otherwise, they wouldn’t have opened my bean slot.

When the officer gave me the “fried chicken” tray, I told him to step out the way.

Oh, Naw Blanton, let us have it back!”

Naw, step out the way man, I’m trying to be nice.” After they stepped out the way, I threw that whole chicken tray on the run! Then started preaching. “You can’t use chicken to break us! We will not compromise our principles over chicken! We will not allow chicken to break our solidarity! We will not allow chicken to break our movement! Don’t ever try to use food to break us!”

Then another tray hits the run. Comrade Woods did the same!

I started hollering to the other sections, “we have some chickens on the run! We have some chickens on the run! Somebody apprehend that chicken!”


Love and Solidarity

From the trenches


Reginald “Omari Huduma” Blanton




On my way to a visit with my mama and twin brother, I saw Sgt. Brown. He hung his head, turned away from me, then said “shit!” He didn’t like that I was out my cage. Maybe it was that and the fact that I was actually having a visit. Anyway, I smiled and said, “What’s wrong Brown?”

Blanton, we bet’ not have any problems out of you today.” Brown said.

Problems?” I said. “I don’t know what chya talking about,” as I walked through the breezeway, on to visitation.

I wasn’t minutes into my visit when Warden Hirch walked behind my mama and brother. As he looked over to me and waved like a politician would to his constituents, I told my family, “Look, that’s Warden Hirch; the reason why our conditions are the way they are; the one with the power to change them. Tell him to come here right quick.”

My brother asked the Warden to come over, and I told him to hand the warden his phone while Mama listened on hers. I said to the warden, “I know you’re a busy man, but when you get a chance, there’s a group of hunger-strikers: Woods, Turner, Dickson and myself to name a few, not to mention other brothers from the DRIVE Movement you’re already familiar with like Gonzales, Will and Foster, who have legitimate concerns only you can rectify.”

Yall can’t handcuff me!” Warden Hirch interrupted. “Just because yall hunger strike doesn’t mean I will talk to yall.” Then he handed the phone back to my brother, walking off before I could explain to him that what he just said wasn’t the case at all. In fact, it’s more so the other way around. We protest because we are being ignored.

After the lovely visit with my family, and Warden Hirch’s words, which were reminiscent of the tirade he went on when comrade Foster and I spoke to him about the abhorrent conditions March 12th of last year (see Warden Hirch letter) as I was being escorted back to my assigned pod, I sat down in the hallway. When Sgt. Brown came, looked at me once before looking away with one hand on his hip and the other on the wall, I thought he would burst into a violent rage.

I told Brown the usual. The only thing he has control over is how he and the officers under him treat us. But he has no control over these sensory depriving conditions. I asked to speak to Warden Hirch and he refused to call him, though he was only making a guest appearance in visitation. When I asked to speak to Captain Dickens, he suddenly appeared but walked on by ignoring me when I called him. He acted as if I was the floor he was walking on.


My protest statement for the day could be summarized: continued indifference, continued resistance. DRIVE!

Love and solidarity

From the trenches


Reginal “Omari Huduma” Blanton




We could feel the tension building amongst ranking officials, so we decided to turn up the resistance a bit. We also knew that it would result in heightened repression, which would equate further civil rights violations.

The resounding DRIVE of our hearts is setting the vibe. Change has been planted like a sole flower in a desolate lot. The wind we make is pollinating the soil as we speak. It’s day 15 of our hunger strike, and when its all said and done, if we all make it through, this administration will know even after 15 days of hunger striking we’re only hungry for the right to be treated as human beings, as men, no, not just men, but men of probity.

Comrade Woods was the first soldier to the fields at 7 o’clock on a frigid, drizzling morning. He wasn’t coming off the rec-yard willingly; at least for a while, a long while at that. When Sgt. Tolly arrived, he tried to get him off the rec-yard, but to no avail. So he left Woods outside in the cold drizzle for a few hours thinking it would break him. Then after Lt. Price came, and realized his threats of allowing the 5-man assault team to jump him unfazed Woods, he summoned his officer accomplices to take all his property in violation of rules and regulations. Next stomped in the team – the biggest team I’ve ever seen! 4 out of 5 cleared 6’2 and 230 pounds. The biggest was about 6’6. They also had 2 battering ram shields. The “steroid taking” (as Lt. Price fondly refers to him) point man (he holds the first shield) was the always amped-up officer that trains the team. I thought to myself, “God, they’re trying to hurt comrade” especially with him weighing only 130-something pounds.

Sgt. Tolly went outside with the camerawoman. Then, I suddenly heard a loud burst, then pshhhhh, as I watched thick smoke rise on the outside rec-yard through the portal in the door. After the first grenade, comrade Woods came off the rec-yard, then laid down to be carried back to his empty cage in his boxers. First thing Woods said as he laid on the run was, “You see that team? I’m not stupid!” But it wasn’t over.


Though a little weak physically from the hunger strike, I would follow with resistance. When I got outside, it was colder than I thought. The officers said it was 31 degrees Fahrenheit. But I was able to find warmth in pacing and thoughts of our sacrifice birthing better conditions, a moratorium, or even abolition. These are not far-fetched dreams but the mere thoughts of men alive with hope.

After my hour was up and I told the floor officers I wasn’t coming off the rec-yard, Sgt. Tolly wasn’t sent to talk me off my ROCK, off my resistance, off my principles. They sent Sgt. Thompson. Sgt. Thompson is a man I respect wholly. A powerful statement since I don’t consider all males men, and though I respect all generally, there are many whose character I don’t respect. Sgt. Thompson is one of a few officers I respect as an individual. Never have I seen him mess anybody over. I’ve always seen him working hard to fix everybody’s problems, because when he comes around, everybody knows they can go to him with their problems. Sgt Thompson basically carries the load of all the neglectful officers including other Sgts and even his supervisors.

They sent Sgt. Thompson as a divide and conquer tactic. They would use Sgt. Thompson to appeal to my humanity by begging me to come off the yard and reminding me of all the things he’s done for me in the past, asking for “just this one time” favors. It’s a catch-22 situation. I would either give him this “one time” favor, compromising our struggle, or refuse to work with him and perhaps create a rift between us and the “good” officers, which may eventually lead to their turning against us completely, adding to the pool of minds and hearts we are trying to enlighten and open up.

The hardest thing to do was tell him I couldn’t, but only after sharing with him the respect I have for him and how the problem was beyond him. He was just caught in the middle of it as I was. He walked off the outside rec-yard, head hung low, while a pang of sadness flushed through my being.







Comrades Gonzales and Will engaged in sit-ins on the other side of this pod.

Comrade Woods handcuffed himself to his cage-door screen. Major Nelson finally made her appearance for the first time in a while, an appearance we didn’t need. As she walked on the section, she growled to Cpt. Dickens, “ I don’t want to talk to nobody,” before adding “I just wanted to come down to see what this stupid motherfucker looks like!” She then asked comrade Woods “Why didn’t you cuff yourself to the other side of the door so we could roll it open and beat your ass.” Comrade Woods, in his witty style said that was the whole reason why he didn’t do it. Major Nelson then called Woods a “coward”. After they took the plexi-glass off his cage door, and cut the cuffs from the screen, Woods relinquished them.


When they opened the bean slot at dinner I stuck my arm in, I put on my jacket and face gear (yes, with an arm in the slot) and didn’t relinquish the bean slot until after I was blasted at point blank range with LD-10 riot gas.

Though we don’t have confirmation of his death, we protested today because Jonathan Moore unnecessarily had his life snuffed away from him, his beloved family, and humanity. Our resistance today wasn’t a spite to the family of the victim, it was for the family and victim; both families and victims. We want what they want: justice, answers, a change. And if our resistance could bring back these lost loved ones, we would be getting gassed and assaulted everyday. We are fighting for a better way of Life, not just the lives of Death Row prisoners. We’re fighting for LIFE, Humanity. Let DRIVE’s actions speak where words won’t suffice. Our sincerest condolences to both families and victims that lost today. Our protest is dedicated to them.





This morning, Sgt. Brown, surprisingly came through doing showers with the floor officers. I heard him ask Comrade Woods, “Are you showering?”

Yes” Woods gave.

Well strip out” Brown demanded.

Shocked at the sudden change in normal shower procedures, Woods stuttered “What?”

Then Sgt. Brown walked on to the next cage saying Woods refused to shower. Sgt, Brown took his shower!

While the Sgt had his following two neighbors pulled out to shower, he cursed and taunted Woods and I with “bitches,” “cowards,” and “tricks”. When I called the new officer in training, Officer Johnson to my cage, to explain to him to be his own man, not aligning himself behind corrupted officers, even if they are his supervisor, Sgt Brown told him, “Don’t talk to that trick!” The officer-in-training walked off.

Then Sgt. Brown announced, “Blanton refused to go to shower.” When I asked him of his reason, he said, I “threatened” him. I told him to write me up for it and he said “I don’t do no write-ups, I have better ways to handle my business.”

On his way back from the shower, Daryl Wheatfall refused to relinquish hand restraints. Then like a schoolgirl giggling in the hallway with schoolmates, Maj. Nelson came to the section along with Cpt. Dickens, who held a gas mask and LD-10 riot gas. After Wheatfall was gassed once, he relinquished the handcuffs. As Major Nelson walked off the section, I said, “I guess it doesn’t matter Sgt. Brown is taking our showers for no reason?” She shook her head, shrugged her shoulders and said, "yall aren’t being church boys,” before walking off the pod.

Several hours later Woods was escorted to medical, but came back on a stretcher, held down by a team of officers, while Officer Cook choked him. Woods had refused to walk from medical.

Things will only get worse. They are now refusing our showers and Major Nelson and Cpt. Dickens are authorizing it. We need You, Drive supporters to let the TDC board and this administration know you will not tolerate this blatant retaliation from these high-ranking officers.

For the meantime, we will not be broken. Day 18 of our hunger strike, people and we continue to DRIVE!

Love and Solidarity

From the trenches


Reginald “Omari Huduma” Blanton




Sgt. Brown came through the section this morning a different person – because he has several. Everything was cool. He wasn’t boisterous. He wasn’t banging on or slamming anything. With a calm voice he asked cage-to-cage starting with Woods and working his way to me.

Blanton, you showering?”

Yes.” I said flatly.


Yeah” I answered, trying to get back to sleep.

Get out of bed Blanton, let me talk to you.”

Damn Brown,” I complained, climbing out of a bunk that was feeling pretty good to my starving body. But that was only partially the reason for my reluctance. I know Brown. He was going to play politics. Since he got what he wanted yesterday (our showers) he wanted to shake hands and call it even. He did this same thing when we began our protest over a year ago. He took Foster’s shower and food, and took my shower. When he didn’t want to deal with our protest, he would play the let’s shake hands and call it even game.


He felt like he made his point, “Yeah if I want to I can take everything from you and what can you do about it? So now I’mma let you out, being the good guy I am, and see if you gon’ act right now.” This is what he’s really doing. Then too, it’s his Friday. He doesn’t want to stay overtime filling out use of force paperwork. His smile was that of the fox and his words that of the politician.

Blanton, what happened yesterday – happened yesterday. We start new today.”

You had no business stealing my shower Brown.”

So what Blanton?”

So what? You owe me now then, huh Brown?”

Owe you for what Blanton?”

That shower you stole yesterday.”

Look Blanton, you gon’ shower now. I’mma pull you out. Are we gon’ have any problems?”

Brown, policy states I get to shower, period. You will either shower me or you won’t.”

Strip out Blanton,” Brown said with a sigh because he knew – we’ve played this game before. They ask these questions ahead of time to get our word that they won’t have “any problems.” This way, if they do, I break my word, which I won’t do. Therefore, because policy doesn’t dictate that I must answer these types of questions before I’m given what I’m supposed to have, I recite policy. Besides, if I told them I was going to protest, do you think they would let me out?

On the way back from the shower I sat on the run. Brown just walked up to me, and then looked away. His expression was one that said, “Damn, nothing will break him.” I was giving him the opportunity to violate more policy. We’ve been violated by this administration in every way possible. He thought taking our showers would break our movement. DRIVE!