THE WEEK OF THE 4TH
THE WEEK OF THE 4TH
On the 4th Comrade Gonzales was subjected to 2 bursts of chemical warfare. Sgt Brown had him moved to another cage on that section; as a level 3 prisoner, he remains encaged around less restricted Level 2 prisoners on the other side of the pod. They want to keep Gabriel separated from the rest of us. They attempted this tactic of divide and conquer in 2005 (when we first began this movement) when they kept Comrade Will on A-pod with Tony Ford who was on death watch (a section they place prisoners with death dates). However, we still demonstrated our ability to work, though separated, and work effectively.
I believe it’s not as much of a tactical decision as it is Sgt Brown’s reactionary ways. Here’s my observation, Sgt. Brown has been a counter revolutionary factor in our movement since the beginning. He’s well aware of our determination and ability to work as one-man units in a harmonious fashion. Besides, his history with our movement demonstrates his inclination towards reactionary repression.
Though our movement is about “action,” we understand the necessity of articulating our problems to the appropriate officers while also offering solutions. We don’t enter into protest, then informal resolution last. We enter, or at least attempt to use our minds first, then our bodies. Unfortunately, these informal resolutions are usually unsuccessful because many, perhaps most, ranking officers, and thus non-ranking pod officers (since their supervisors set the standard) don’t know their own policy, which usually means they don’t care about policy. Secondly their policy tends to conflict with the culture they try to create, or even with itself. Last but not least, in the landmark civil suit brought against T.D.C. (Ruiz v. Estelle 503 F/supp 1265) the courts even recognized:
“The combined total of Black and Mexican-American inmates constitutes a majority of the TDC inmate population. Both groups are from subcultures radically different from that of the rural whites who typically supervise them. Given the racial, ethnic, cultural and regional difference separating them mere communication between inmates and guards is not easy. Empathy and understanding, the latent corollaries of truly comprehensible dialogues are exceedingly difficult to realize.”
This is generally the case here. The only flaw with the courts analysis is they constrict it to a class of white instead of a social class. For we are discussing a class-consciousness among this administration that is based on the same precepts. The Black and White ranking officers tend to share the same mentality—we prisoners are inferior, sub-human and if we demonstrate even mere inclinations towards resistance to our oppression they must repress BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
However, with Sgt. Brown this is only a layer. He has worked for TDC for some 15 years, yet he remains a sergeant. Since I’ve been on Death Row I’ve seen several officers who have been in the system less than him make lieutenant. It’s significant to point out that Sgt. Brown used to be the sergeant everybody wanted to talk to because he rectified problems. But I noticed as the years went by his attitude began to change, even his demeanor.
After we began our protest, though we sought, sought, and sought informal resolution with Sgt. Brown, he would tell us anything to stop our protest. It got to the point where we gave him the silent treatment, protesting without speaking to him when he was summoned to address our protest. Eventually he came to the pod early in the morning waking myself, Gonzales and Foster saying, “We need to talk.” He said he knew he lied to us on several occasions but was going to do better in the future. We gave him future chances, and he continued to lie. So we continued to protest.
Many of his co-workers have said, “Sgt Brown went up for Lt. but didn’t make it.” Though we can speculate that he’s caught up in the racial biases and favoritism of his supervisors (who are predominantly white), nothing explains why Sgt. Brown hadn’t up to the inception of our movement made Lt. (he has demonstrated unprofessional behavior during our movement that would taint his record), while others less experienced have.
Now he has made our movement his personal business. He has violated all sorts of policy taking rec, showers, and food. Time and time again he has said he doesn’t care about anything since he’s going to retire. I’ve noticed how his supervisors rally behind him giving full reign in response to our protest. A perfect example of this is Jan 18th when Major Nelson shrugged her shoulders when I told her in front of Sgt. Brown, of his cursing us and taking Woods and my shower.
I’ve thought that Sgt. Brown saw his retaliations against us for our movement as a mean of getting in the good graces of his supervisors, so he can make Lt. I’ve also thought that he’s actually in a state of despair and is taking his frustration with a system he’s been a part of for so long out on us. Then once he commits an atrocious act against us, he’ll just “retire”. Either way, his supervisors are using him against us.
After comrade Gonzales was gassed twice, then moved to another cage, comrade Will was subjected to an extreme amount of chemical agents, then a 6-man assault team armed with two riot shields. After this extreme force for a non-violent protest, comrade Will was brought to our (comrade Woods and my) section on level 3. I kicked on my cage door and verbally protested to extend solidarity to my comrade, as he was taken upstairs.
There is much more, beautiful people, going on that I’m not at liberty to express at this time. But bear with us. We must continue to be strategic and not give ourselves to reactionary emotionalism. DRIVE.
Love and solidarity
From the trenches
Reginald “Omari Huduma” Blanton