Mutual Aid Project Targeted

As most of you already know, one of the initiatives that we’ve been working on in 2019 has been a project that allows people inside to help meet the needs of other incarcerated and detained people through a Patreon subscription service that also publishes media from inside.

So far, we have sent back every penny that we’ve raised (and then some) to make sure that our family inside has what they need. All of these transactions have been recorded on a ledger and all receipts have been saved. Nevertheless, we were informed earlier this week that one of our inside organizers was questioned about the funds and told that the Department considers trafficking drugs to be the only explanation for why someone on the outside would send money to complete strangers.

This is emblematic of why we oppose prisons, detention and policing altogether: to believe in the logic of the carceral system requires us to suspend our love and support for each other, to see our own needs and those of the state as the only needs that matter.

This logic is the foundation of prisons, where prisoners face time in solitary confinement for simply sharing bottled water or toothpaste. Prisoners and detainees are forbidden from corresponding with one another, and when people are paroled, they are forbidden from staying in contact with their loved ones still inside. For many, this means leaving the only family they have left.

When people are released, they are also forbidden from giving their possessions to people still inside. People who recycle radios or fans are accused of theft and given disciplinary tickets. As of 2018, family members with more than one loved one inside are unable to visit, and attempts by prisoners to send money to family are routinely stymied.

It was in the spirit of trying to address this that we created the Solidarity Network platform, and it’s in this spirit that we intend to continue to do so.

Time and again we see that staff are the primary traffickers of drugs into prisons. And yet, the DOC uses the spectre of drugs and drug use to keep families apart and deny prisoners access to their support systems. The DOC uses this spectre to deny prisoners necessary medical treatment and pain management while conducting violent, violating shakedowns and “security” practices against prisoners and their visitors. Many of our inside members have endured recovery from surgery with no more than Tylenol. We see through this.

We ask supporters to be ready to take action should the DOC continue to escalate its intimidation and retaliation against prisoners and their loved ones. We keep us safe and we are all we have.

An inside perspective on the use of pepper spray

Several days ago a dear friend was recounting her terrifying experience of being pepper-sprayed last month while attending a rally outside the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where immigrants are being detained unjustly by ICE.

Many of you will recall how when peaceful demonstrators were attempting to prevent being run over by a crazed guard driving a pickup truck, the crowd was viciously assaulted and pepper-prayed by overzealous guards from that prison. (The guard driving that pickup truck– a Captain– resigned from his job the following day. Why he was not charged with attempted murder, or at least assault with a deadly weapon, is anyone’s guess).

The unprovoked attack resulted in several protesters requiring hospitalization and treatment for broken bones and or/respiratory issues. My friend described how, after already being pepper-sprayed twice in her eyes, nose and mouth, she dropped to the ground and blocked her airways with clothing. The threat of suffocating to death was very real for my friend that evening.

In turn, I began to share my own experiences of being gassed or pepper-sprayed, which is a regular occurrence at MCI Shirley, a medium security prison in central Massachusetts where certain guards carry pepper spray on their belts.

Fights happen regularly at this prison, a number of them in the chow hall during meals. In the year or so since my arrival at this prison there have been no fewer than thirty fights in the chow hall, with at least twenty-five of those resulting in the use of pepper-spray in order to separate the combatants. Once unleashed, usually sprayed in the direction of the persons fighting, the irritant quickly spreads through the atmosphere (in the summers, aided by the fans mounted on the wall), affecting everyone in the chow-hall, staff included. There is no place to go to escape the burning of eyes, noses and throats as all doors are quickly secured. You can taste it in the food, and you either have to eat it or go hungry. 

The use of pepper-spray in Mass prisons is relatively new. I don’t recall it being used at all in my thirty years at MCI Norfolk. And in my three and a half years at MCI Walpole, from 1981 to 1985,  other than in the notorious 10-block, tear-gas was used once in the general prison population to start a near riot (in 1984) when a rookie guard panicked when he mistakenly thought prisoners were taking over the prison while leaving the auditorium during the viewing of a movie.

I’ve seen a lot of fights in my nearly 36 years in prison, and I can tell you that once guards respond to a fight, it is broken up pretty quickly, without the need for mace or pepper-spray. Most guys won’t resist and tussle with guards for fear of being charged with assault and risking more prison time, so they cuff up.

Several months ago two prisoners were fighting in the chow hall not more than ten feet from where I sat and ate. As usual, no weapons were involved and the fight was quickly broken up. As one of the guys was being cuffed, an officer walked right up to that prisoner and blasted him directly in his face with a stream of pepper spray; a full thirty minutes after the fight was over! The poor guy was gasping for air as guards led him away while the rest of us in the area began to choke and rub our eyes.

It wasn’t the first time that that officer has done that, and I’m sure it won’t be his last. It was, and is, completely unjustified, but this is what happens when you allow people – particularly those in law enforcement to carry and use weapons that they don’t know how to use and who become overzealous in their responses to non-threatening situations, just like in Rhode Island, or in Boston at the “Straight Pride” parade.

Greg Diatchenko

NO MORE CAGES

This August 1-6th, the American Correctional Association will descend on the city of Boston for their annual Congress of Correction. The ACA annual conference is a massive gathering with thousands of participants from correctional officers to prison profiteers.

This year, the ACA is presenting an award to none other than J. David Donahue, the Sr. Vice President of GEO Group. In addition to being one of the largest private prison companies on the planet, is currently leading the charge to expand the immigrant detention and separation apparatus as much as possible. As part of GEO Group, Donahue is also focused on exporting the American neoliberal prison system to the rest of the world. Last year, in response to increased ICE raids and detentions, Donahue and his staff reported that they were “very pleased” with the exponential rise in prisoners and detainees seen in the wake of the Trump administration. 

Also in attendance will be corporations from all over the world from weapons manufacturers to groups like JPay, whose tablet interfaces are currently being pushed to replace in-person visits, extracting even more money from families and destroying the bonds that hold people together. This isn’t an aberration, this is their business plan.

In a time when all cages are overflowing with our loved ones, we owe it to ourselves and our communities to say: #NOMORECAGES

 

There will be events planned throughout the week that the ACA is occupying our city. For now, please help turn up as many people as possible to march on the conference itself on August 4th. 

 

Phone zap, call now!

TAKE ACTION TODAY! : 

The American Correctional Association (ACA) is flooding Boston with ICE agents, jailers, and detention center profiteers August 1-6! The ACA is an organization that accredits prisons that abuse transgender people, detain immigrants in concentration camps, separate families, and profit off of caging people. This year, they are even giving an award to GEO Group, the company that runs most of the immigration detention facilities in the US and regularly makes millions in profits from contracts with ICE.Learn more about them here: deeperthanwater.org/noACA

Boston Marriott Copley Place, Hilton Boston Back Bay, and Sheraton Boston Hotel have agreed to provide housing and venue space for the ACA’s “Congress of Correction”. By profiting off this conference they facilitate the strengthening of ICE, anti-immigrant institutions, and the prison industry.

Marriott (which operates Sheraton) and Hilton have BOTH publicly committed to not allowing their hotels to be used as detention facilities but why are they allowing them to be used by the people in charge of and responsible for the detention centers??

MAKE 3 SHORT CALLS on Thurs 7/25 and Fri 7/26 to tell Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton we see their complicity and REJECT their profiteering off injustice. We demand they CANCEL all contracts with the ACA. When you’ve called, please fill out our report-back form: https://deeperthanwater.org/callreport

Call:

**New numbers today!**

Marriott & Sheraton Corporate Social Responsibility – 301-380-3550 – ask for Barbara

Hilton Global Headquarters – 703 883 1000

Christopher J. Nassetta 
(President) ext. 31010
Stephen Arnold
(VP, Customer Service) ext. 66909

Phone Script:

Hello, my name is ________. I am calling because I learned that your hotel is profiting off the detention of immigrants, mass incarceration, and the abuse of prisoners by hosting attendees to the American Correctional Association’s conference in Boston August 1-6.

The ACA conference exists to strengthen the people behind the concentration camps on the border and the warehousing of Black and brown US citizens. Companies profiting off the detention centers are being honored at the conference, like GEO Group– the company running the horrific concentration camps at the border.

Your company recently publicly declared it would not allow its hotels to be used as detention facilities. The logical extension of this moral stance is to refuse to profit off of the corporations running prisons, jails, and concentration camps.

We demand that you immediately cancel all bookings related to the ACA conference and produce a public statement declaring your hotel will not be complicit in genocide and the caging of human beings.

Will you be canceling all contracts with the conference?

Tell us how it went at: https://deeperthanwater.org/callreport

 

#NoMoreCages Call Report

Please note: none of these field are mandatory. Only fill out what you feel comfortable sharing. This is to help us adjust our strategy as we go.

#NOMORECAGES, Shut Down the ACA! Call-in Action

Instructions here: deeperthanwater.org/zap

 

For reminders to join the phone zap on 7/25 and 7/26 to keep prison profiteers and detention center developers out of Boston, see the form below.

Background info:


The American Correctional Association (ACA) is flooding Boston with wardens, jailers, and detention profiteers August 1-6. The ACA accredits prisons that abuse transgender people, detain immigrants in concentration camps, separate families, and profit off of evil. Learn more about them here: deeperthanwater.org/noACA

Boston Marriott Copley Place, Hilton Boston Back Bay, and Sheraton Boston Hotel have agreed to provide housing for the ACA’s “Congress of Correction”. By profiting off this conference they facilitate the strengthening of white supremacist, anti-immigrant institutions, companies, and people.

Marriott (which operates Sheraton) and Hilton have BOTH publicly committed to not allowing their hotels to be used as detention facilities but why are they allowing them to be used by the people in charge of and responsible for those facilities?

**Sign up below to make 3 SHORT CALLS on 7/25 and 7/26 to tell Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton we see their complicity and REJECT their profiteering off injustice. We demand they CANCEL all bookings allotted to the ACA. #DeeperThanWater #NoMoreCages #NoHotelsForICE**

If you want, we’ll send you an email or text reminder with all the call info and a call script on Thurs 7/25 and Fri 7/26!

Update: our sign-up for 7/25 and 7/26 has ended but opposition to the ACA has only just begin. Sign up for the #nomorecages action list on Mayfirst and get ready for our big event going live.