Orange Crush, Sexual Abuse at Menard
Our voices are often suppressed by retaliation. Write a grievance addressing the crimes correctional officers are committing behind these concrete walls and you will find yourself on the wrong end of a bogus disciplinary ticket or a cell search that ends with your personal property (family photos, legal mail, etc.) being destroyed and your commissary both stolen and dumped out all over your cell. Have you ever seen what it's like when you dump multiple bags of instant coffee over your bed, clothes, TV and then pour soda over it? I have. The message was clear - what happens in Menard Correctional Center stays in Menard CC. And for ten years thereafter, I have kept my mouth shut. But you can only rape a man of his dignity for so long; for, eventually, fear be erased by disgrace.
So now I write these words for the world to read because what happened these last two days the world needs to see.
In my life, my well-being has never been more threatened or in greater jeopardy than when being beaten and battered by hundreds of men, wearing orange and donned in full riot gear. Yes, I am talking about the Illinois Orange Crush during prison shakedowns.
The Orange Crush (OC) are guards in riot gear, tinted face-masks, no name tags - concealed identities armed with powerful wooden riot batons, mace, handcuffs, leather gloves, Kevlar vests, and military boots. As if their identities weren't already secret enough, we are also told, "Don't look at me, don't look up, put your head down, keep your head down." Even when our heads are down, straining our necks to bend as far as they can possibly go, these words are still yelled directly into our ears.
And this time they brought dogs! These large German Shepherds were loud, snapping their teeth with blood lust in their bark. They lined these dogs up and made us "walk the line." As if the intimidation of a few hundred militarized men busting us with their batons wasn't enough, as if being cuffed behind our backs and having our heads shoved down into our chests wasn't enough, as if their constant screaming into our ears wasn't enough, they also made us feel the fear of ferocious dogs as we were pushed past their blood-curdling cries to do us harm.
Yes, I was violently pushed, prodded, and poked with their wooden batons - riot batons that look like wooden ax handles. Yes, I was yelled at, directly into my ear canal at a level loud enough to cause physical pain. Yes, I was cuffed behind my back and forced to stand "nut-to-butt" in a highly stressed position with my head down for hours on end. Yes, I went two days without running water. Yes, the cell I live in was demolished and my property was both stolen and destroyed. But I can handle that. That is a part of doing time in Menard. We prisoners down here go through OC shakedowns once a year, sometimes more. However, what I cannot handle and what I refuse to keep my mouth shut about is the sexual abuse and molestation that took place this last go around.
On Friday, 15 April 2016, the OC came running onto my gallery, hooting and hollering like a bunch of hooligans and banging their riot batons on our cell bars as they went by. They were there to shakedown our cells. Every OC shakedown starts with a full blown strip search: lift the penis, lift the scrotum, turn around and spread the cheeks, then squat and cough. It's routine. But this time it was different. It started out normal: strip naked, lift the penis, lift the scrotum, but instead of "turn around, spread the cheeks, squat and cough," this OC officer told me, "split 'em." I asked if he meant for me to turn around and spread my cheeks. "No," he said, "split your balls." I looked at him to see if he was joking - eleven years of OC shakedowns and I'd never head of this before. He didn't flinch. So I grabbed my balls - one in each hand - and pulled them apart.
"No! Split them," he yelled. I looked at him confused. It was embarrassing. I was standing there naked, at his mercy, and being belittled. I mean, I already let him view my body underneath my penis and scrotum. Now he's telling me to split my nuts. I did not understand what he was saying, but I did know that my well being depended on my ability to comply. The more I tried to "split my nuts" (whatever that means, I still don't know), the less he was able to contain his laughter. That's when it hit me. He was playing games, entertaining himself with my nudity and getting a kick outta my shame. Then he told me to lift one nut up and pull the other one down. It made me sick. Under the threat of violence I was still being forced to molest myself. And still I had to turn around and spread my cheeks for this guy; still, I had to squat and cough for this guy.
After his heinous abuse of power, making me molest myself, I almost refused spreading my butt cheeks for him. Again, it made me sick to think what was going through his mind. But I did not refuse, because anyone in an Illinois maximum security prison, whose been through an OC shakedown before, knows that refusing to follow the orders of the OC leads to excruciating beat downs by multiple men. And in my case (I was naked and if refusing to let him look between my cheeks) it would have been a naked beat down that ended with the OC holding me down, spreading me open, and physically exploring my orifice for contraband. They would have said I was refusing to comply because I was hiding something in there and didn't want them to find it. These guys are brutal and in the name of "security" they get away with murder. Think of all the videos you've seen of cops beating, even killing, civilians out there, in the public's view. Now imagine how much worse it is in here, for us, when they are never held accountable. Perpetual abuse hidden from the public behind the very walls that keep us in.
So I did what I had to do to survive. I let that pervert look inside of me. After this long nauseating moment of naked and forced self-molestation, I was cuffed behind my back, and again, under the threat of physical punishment, I was forced to strain my neck down, and herded to the chow hall. In the chow hall I, along with other prisoners, stood for hours, subject to the constant violence of being shoved into the backs of other prisoners. We were literally and physically forced to stand with our penises pushed into the butts and the behind-the-back cuffed hands of the men in front of us. Every time we pulled our penis off of the man in front of us, we were shoved back into him and yelled at, "If your cock's not in his ass, you're not close enough."
I cannot, will not, keep my mouth shut about this, lest I become a shell of the man I am today. These words are for the thousands that were abused in the same way. The OC should stand for "Outta Control" for this Orange Crush needs to be prosecuted and punished.