Strike Force Executes Surprise Pre-Dawn Raid in B1 Pod at Buckingham Corr Center
11 October 2022 – Around 2:05 AM, Tuesday morning, I was jolted out of my sleep by a familiar sound. Yes, that familiar sound of Strike Force rushing into the pod to execute one of their surprise raids. I didn’t even have to get out of my bed to see what was going down. Like I said, it’s a familiar sound of feet stomping, door slamming, guards shouting, and dogs barking.
An elder Panther told me years ago to always observe the guards during raids just in case they violate the constitutional rights of a fellow prisoner – or even worse kill one of us. So, I got up to witness the chaos out of practice. The scene is always the same.
During the wee hours of this Tuesday morning, Strike Force, accompanied by institutional investigators, were rushing to a pre-selected number of cells (my cell was not chosen this time. Thank god!), banging on cell doors to confuse and disorient occupants. Inside the cells, people were forced to strip naked, lift their testicles, squat and cough, and bend over, reach back, and spread their butt cheeks (this is done in full view of officers looking from the front and behind) before handcuffing their hands behind their back. The K-9s (drug sniffing dogs) were taken into each cell to find drugs, which always create sanitary issues, because the dogs sometimes sniff, lick, and tread on our bed sheets and laundry, leaving behind dirt, drool, and possibly feces. Replacement sheets and laundry are never issued, and they weren’t this time.
Strike Force then entered and ransacked each cell in search of any contraband the K-9s couldn’t find. Their personal property, including letters and family photos, are tossed around the cell for good measure. A lot of property is trashed and confiscated.
Other strike force members searched areas in the pod – in the trash cans, in the showers, under tables, on top of ceiling lights – for contraband that may have been hidden there.
I observed the chaos for two hours before getting back in bed to sleep. I found out later that this pod, B1, had been placed on lockdown all day Tuesday for unspecified reasons. We were allowed out of our cells on Wednesday morning.
I’ve been subjected to these surprise pre-dawn raids many times during my imprisonment. And I can tell you they are quite dehumanizing and retraumatizing. Can you imagine being jolted from your sleep in the early morning, being forced to strip naked and bend over and spread your butt cheeks while a stranger stands behind you and looks in your anus for contraband? It is so humiliating and emasculating. And every time I’ve been asked to do it, something inside me (perhaps my manhood?) always makes me want to refuse. Because deep down inside, I know it is not done to find drugs, but to remind us we have no agency. And that prison staff have utter and complete control over every aspect of us, even the most intimate parts of our bodies. But refusal means a write up, a rousting, time in solitary, or more time in prison. So, what can we do?
What I and many other incarcerated folks can refuse to do is be silent by writing about these abuses and sending them out into the free world hoping they’ll change people’s perceptions of these prisons and how the people locked in these cages are being treated in the name of “public safety”.