Greg Diatchenko stolen from our community

Six weeks ago, on Malcolm X’s 93rd birthday, we joined Sisters Unchained, Stuck-On-Replay, Jericho Boston, Black and Pink, and Young Abolitionists at a protest outside MCI Norfolk. We denounced the new visitor restrictions, the obscene new fees attached to sending money to people inside and the long-standing issue of toxic brown water. We named these as daily atrocities of prisons, police, and parole which exist to grind down Black and brown people, poor communities, women, and LGBTQ people.

One of the people who spoke was Greg Diatchenko. Less than one week later, the DOC showed up at Greg’s house with a prisoner transport bus and orders to take him directly back into custody.

By nightfall, Greg was at MCI-Cedar Junction, where he had been first incarcerated almost forty years ago. He was subsequently held in a solitary strip cell where the lights were on twenty-four hours a day and he was forbidden phone calls, visits or mail. A pastor who knows Greg personally was denied access at Cedar Junction despite special provisions in DOC policy for clergy access.

As a coalition, we made the incredibly hard decision to not make this public out of respect for Greg’s privacy and hopes that the legal process would recognize the fallacy of re-incarcerating someone for exercising their ostensibly-protected right of free speech. This was our mistake and this has not proven to be the case, and the DOC nor the Parole Board have shown any evidence of decency.

Despite a community of friends and family and his place of work waiting to re-receive him home, the DOC has doubled down on its process of repression and violence. In the time Greg has been there, the DOC has fabricated charges, threatened Greg’s life, and routinely worked to degrade and beat him down.

Two of the three official charges listed on the document supporting parole revocation were consorting with “known felons” and “engaging irresponsibly” at the rally. The irresponsible part, the DOC contended, was where Greg used his free speech to demand accountability from the DOC and stated that MCI-Norfolk needed to be shut down. The third charge was for a failed breathalyzer test at the time Greg was arrested.

Like most people released from long-term incarceration, Greg suffered severe trauma-related anxiety, some of which he was dealing with by using alcohol. In his last conversation with one of our organizers before he was picked up, Greg was adamant about wanting to seek treatment, but expressed a fear that this would be used by a retributive parole board as an excuse to bring him into custody. Unfortunately, this fear was well-founded.

The legal case is complicated and overwhelming. The moral case is not. As a coalition, we have been grieving our friend being stolen from us and working closely with Greg and his legal and medical team, ensuring we follow his wishes. Now, we have made the decision to stop waiting for our friend to come home; we’re ready to demand it.

More than we have ever needed your help, we need it now.

Here are the things you can do to support us for now:

1. Send letters and notes to Greg expressing your support and care for him; this will lift him up and signal to the DOC that the world is watching. You can write to Greg at:

Gregory Diatchenko, W38579
MCI-Cedar Junction
Route 1A, PO Box 100
South Walpole, MA 02071

2. Stay tuned for more information about a vigil in Boston the morning of Greg’s preliminary parole revocation hearing on July 11. Show up to support Greg and his family as we await the hearing results. [ facebook event page ]

3. Please sign up for our mailing list. Specific calls to action will be posted via email as not everyone is on Facebook. For security purposes, our mailing list is hosted via Mayfirst and we will never use your email for anything other than contacting you about campaign next steps. Nor will we ever divulge your address for any reason. You can sign up here: https://lists.people-link.net/mailman/listinfo/deeperthanwater

Greg Diatchenko “I live with it. With illness. I didn’t experience it like I had it and it went away. And look, this doesn’t just affect the guys inside, it affects everyone. Because one day those guys are coming home. Not all of them, but a good percentage of them. And they need to come out healthy.” [see interview here: facebook video ]