Finding Outreach Opportunities in Crisis
On Sunday, 28 May 2023, Santa Clara County Main Jail went on full facility lockdown shortly after pill call when evening program (out of cell time) began.
This is not all that unusual by itself, as Main Jail goes on lockdown on average 10 times a month, often more, as it is facility policy to lockdown the entire complex for ANY disturbance, almost as if they fear a replay of the Attica uprising in September 1971 or the Lucasville uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in April 1993 (which I could see being a distinct possibility).
Yet what was different about this lockdown was the guard taking off at a sprint out of our unit after screaming “lockdown!”, before making sure we all were in our cells locked down (which is against operations protocol). We could see out our unit door to the 7th floor control booth where the guards rushed by into the elevator to get to wherever the incident occurred (our Main Jail is a tower complex).
After getting back to my cell, the guards who came by to do their hourly checks were extremely close-lipped and stone-faced which they usually aren’t after their usual “reindeer games” of hosing down with O.C. spray and prying apart lumpen-on-lumpen conflicts (they’re usually giddy after getting their adrenaline fix).
The next day we knew something “big” (at least in the pig administration’s eyes) had occurred when all GTL tablets were confiscated from prisoners without a word as to why or when they would return.
Persynally, this was only a minor inconvienance, as the only thing I really use my tablet for is to use the phone app in the privacy and quiet of my cell, as the “edutainment” platform “Edovo” on them is full of bullshit and bourgeois drivel aside from several collected works of Marx and Engels though even those are contained within a course with video lectures from the bourgeois perspective of a Yale professor.
It wasn’t until after reading an article in Wednesday, 31 May 2023’s San Jose Mercury News(1) and hearing whispers gleaned from the looser lipped pigs that the full picture started to come together.
A prisoner in one of the protective custody units on the 6th floor had taken his tablet, busted it down, and out of the smashed wreckage was able to make a “crudely made knife” as the article called it, and with said knife assault two pigs with it.
Of course the bourgeois media reported the usual drivel from the sheriff’s office, that it was a “shocking and unprovoked attack”. Knowing the hystory of Main Jail in recent years, from the 3 pigs who beat mentally ill prisoner Michael Tyree to death in his cell, to the recent report of the mistreatment of another mentally ill prisoner Juan Martin Nunez at the hands of pigs and medical staff in the psychiatric unit on the 8th floor of the jail which in the aftermath left the prisoner paralyzed, this seems highly unlikely.(2) Oh and don’t forget their usual closing line, “Our correction deputies (sic) play a critical role in maintaining law and order within the correctional facilities and this attack serves as a stark reminder of the risks our deputies (sic) face daily.” The lumpen can see these for the fearmongering lies they are.
In the aftermath many crafted grievances to attempt to get eir tablets back, which I decided finally against as the assaulting of 2 pig guards along with the problems comrades across the California gulag archipelago (as well as across occupied Turtle Island) are having with their facilities’ worthless grievance systems made a win highly unlikely.
Instead, I spent the time trying (actually with some success!) to get my collection of revolutionary literature (by comrades George, Mumia, Maroon, etc and all my MIM literature) out to the masses of New Afrikan, Chican@, white, and Asian/Pacific Islander comrades who suddenly had nothing to occupy their in cell time. Many finished books/zines from my collection, some only read an article or two from ULK, but it was all-in-all a positive outcome.
On 21 June 2023, the tablets were returned, with the pigs now lording over them and having to fill out a checklist every morning and night to make sure all tablets given out are returned to the charger carts at night. Yes, it took them almost a month to come to this “brilliant” idea.
While many have gone back to eir program of zoning out on their tablets all day, I am happy that at least a few have had eir interests piqued and luckily just before another organizing opportunity, Black August.
1) Austin Turner, 31 May 2023, “Sheriff says inmate attacked 2 deputies”, San Jose Mercury News.
2) Robert Salonga, 12 May 2023, “Jail report angers county leaders”, San Jose Mercury News.