For more information on the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March, click here.
Minutes from the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, DC on August 19, 2017
FREE THE F.A.M. 3: Non Violent and Peaceful Demonstrations threatened ADOC’s “Violent Culture of Control” Policies
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
P.O. BOX 186
NEW MARKET, AL 35761
“FREEDOM OR DEATH. AINT NUTHIN ELSE. . . STOP PLAYING WITH THE CONCEPT.” Dhati
Ever since solitary confinement came into existence, it has been used as a tool of repression.
While it is justified by corrections officials as necessary to protect prisoners and guards from violent super predators, all too often it is imposed on individuals, particularly prisoners of color, who threaten prison administrations in an altogether different way. Consistently, jailhouse lawyers and jailhouse doctors, who administer to the needs of their fellow prisoners behind bars, are placed in solitary confinement. They are joined by political prisoners from various civil rights and independence movements.”
And that’s exactly what Alabama is doing with their Solitary Confinement- using it to repress and torture anyone that speaks the words FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT. For exposing Alabama’s on going Human Rights violation James Pleasant, Robert Earl Council and Melvin Ray were targeted, singled out and labeled “threats to the security of the ADOC,” then placed in Solitary Confinement with indeterminate sentences.
At the time that these men made their decisions to address the ongoing Civil and Human Rights violations that were apparent in the ADOC, the prisons were historically overcrowded, there was a wave of violence brewing statewide throughout the prisons, living conditions were deplorable, food and healthcare we severely substandard and causing many illnesses and death, and the prison administrators, commissioners, and wardens were all refusing to respond and address the complaints.
Then, on January 1, 2014, under the banner of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, a Non-Violent and Peaceful Protest for Civil and Human Rights was launched at Holman Prison, as over 1000 men went on shutdown [work stoppage].
Three days later, on January 4, 2014, 1300 more at St. Clair Prison joined in. These demonstrations remained peaceful the entire time. ADOC officials acknowledged to the AP that these demonstrations were peaceful:
“On Saturday, Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett acknowledged to the Associated Press that since New Year’s Day, at least some prisoners have refused to work in kitchen and laundry areas and perform other jobs.”
“Corbett told the AP that the protests at the St. Clair and Holman Correctional facilities have been peaceful . . .”
Unfortunately for approximately 8 families with loved ones in ADOC, these peaceful ended too soon, because over the course of the next 14 months after the demonstrations ended, with no intervention or improvements from ADOC, approximately 8 men were killed. and hundreds more have been stabbed.
* Our beloved Lil Mook, Marquette Cummins, who came to prison at 17 lost his physical life on January 6, 2015, on the second day of the shutdown. His Spirit lives on and serves as a reminder to us all that we must bring these prisons to an end because they ccontinue to take life, yet give nothing of value in return.
Also, at the same time that these peaceful demonstrations were concluding, the US DOJ issued a report detail the two-decades long horror story that emanated from Julia Tutwiler Women’s Prison in Wetumpka, AL.
According to the report, which was completed after a long investigation, the women confined at Tutwiler had been raped, impregnated, sexually assaulted, abused and exploited for sex for over two decades. Children were born. Children were aborted. Women were beaten and raped, and it was estimated that at least 1/3 of the ENTIRE corrections staff had been involved in the abuses. In that time, less than 10 officers has been prosecuted, and the most time handed out was 6 months, with one officer getting 5 days.
Now, approximately 14 months later, and exclusively for organizing a “non-violent and peaceful protest”, these three men, Robert Earl Council, James Pleasant, and Melvin Ray, have all been labelled a “security threat”. In addition, F.A.M. and the family members and supporters, including those who had lost a loved one to the violence and who were supporting F.A.M.’s call for an end to the violence, were also labelled as a security threat.
Under ADOC rules, violence such as riots, assaults, destroying property, etc., all fall under security threats. In fact, under ADOC rules, a person who commits a murder while in ADOC custody must serve 30 [months] in solitary confinement. Yet, the people who are trying to stop this avoidable and senseless loss of life are subjected to indefinitely periods of solitary confinement. In other words, if any member of the F.A.M. 3 were guilty of committing a murder, they could look to be released from segregation in a definite period of time of 30 months, but for engaging in peaceful protests against the conditions that lead to violence and murder, these men became “security threats.”
Not a single ADOC rules prohibits “Non-Violent and Peaceful” demonstrations. In fact, the right to peacefully assemble is guaranteed and protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In response to the protests, in light of the conditions that were exposed by F.A.M. on social media like YouTube and Facebook, Gov. Bentley and Sen. Cam Ward created a Prison Reform Task Force and have since verified EVERY issue that F.A.M. complained of.
Additionally, EJI followed the demonstrations by filing a lawsuit about the violence at St. Clair, were hundreds of people have been assaulted, including one person by the warden, Carter Davenport, who has since been reassigned to another prison (he was a Captain at Tutwiler during the rapes, etc.). The SPLC has filed a lawsuit on the healthcare against ADOC after the demonstrations.
When Gov. Bentley, Sen. Cam Ward, Chief Justice Roy Moore, Attn General Luther Strange and other state officials acknowledged the problems within ADOC that were exposed by F.A.M., THEY were not labelled security threats. When al.com confirmed that Warden Davenport was the root of the violence at St. Clair they were not labelled a security threat. When the US DOJ reported on the abuses at Tutwiler, they were not labelled a security threat.
But when the people who live in the violence, the very people who are forced to live in the inhumane and uncivil conditions complain about the violence with -non-violent and peaceful protests”, they are labelled a threat to security, even where the violence levels, understaffing, and decrepit conditions show that there is NO SECURITY TO THREATEN, and certainly none to threaten with “Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests!!!
Join F.A.M. as we demand answers from ADOC and other Alabama officials about why these men are being punished for complaining about these ongoing civil and human rights violations.
Exerpt, “no one is suggesting that prisons should be hotels of comfort, but it goes without saying that they shouldn’t be animal cages neither.”