Torture and Abuse of Hunger Striker at Baraga Max Correctional Facility, Michigan

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[Abuse] [Grievance Process] [Hunger Strike] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Baraga Max Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Torture and Abuse of Hunger Striker at Baraga Max Correctional Facility, Michigan

[Text of a Grievance Form to the Michigan Department of Corrections]

I am coming to you because I am experiencing discrimination, retaliation, and cruel and unusual punishment here at your Facility. These violations of my constitutionally protected rights revolves around me exercising my First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike”.

On June 11, 2020, A/Sgt. Larson informed me that he has orders to conduct a strip search on my person and to move me to observation cell #1-144 under the authority of A/ADW S. Niemi. I voiced my complaint to A/Sgt Larson that moving me to an observation cell has no merit because I am already being strictly monitored and closely observed every 15 minutes by a qualified “prisoner of assistance” (POA) per the likes of A/warden K.Taskila. I then went on to state that nowhere in Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike” does it state that a prisoner engaging in a hunger strike shall be placed in an observation cell. With this being duly noted, I told A/Sgt Larson that I am being specifically discriminated against and unfairly singled out for exercising my First Amendment Right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 because no one else who has ever engaged in such activities were forced to submit to the type of punishment that I am being forced to endure simply for exercising my rights. A/Sgt Larson stated in response: “I know, but at the end of the day, I still have a job to do and orders to follow if I want to keep my job.” I stated to A/Sgt Larson that I will not comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi until I’ve had a chance to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi in person. At this time, A/Sgt Larson stated “okay” and walked away from my cell door.

Approximately 15 minutes later, a member of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) showed up to my cell door dressed in full tactical gear to warn me through intimidation that his team is authorized by Deputy Warden D. Peterson to deploy the use of chemical agent against my being in order to make me comply with the orders that were given by A/ADW S. Niemi. I stated to this member of the ERT that I comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi only if I am afforded the opportunity to speak with him in person first. I then went on to reiterate that moving me to an observation cell simply has no merit because I am already being strictly monitored and closely observed every 15 minutes by a qualified POA per the likes of A/warden K. Taskila. I also voiced my complaint that forcing me to strip search also has no merit because it is not directly related to any legitimate penological interests nor does my behavior warrant any suspicions. I stated to this member of the ERT that forcing me to strip search in front of a bunch of men is excessive and is strictly intended to harass, intimidate, and punish me for exercising my First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the Prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike”. Additionally, I state that the orders given by Deputy Warden D. Peterson to deploy the use of chemical agent against my being to make me comply to A/ADW S. Niemi’s orders is an act retaliation, excessive force, and discrimination because no one else who has ever exercised their First Amendment right to hunger Strike has been forced to endure the humiliation of being forced to strip search without cause and forced to move to an observation cell with extreme lighting to disrupt sleep patterns and without any electrical outlets to watch television. The member of the ERT stated that he agrees with me that I am being punished but he doesn’t have the authority nor the rank to override the orders of his superiors. I ended our conversation by stating that I would like to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson in person as they are both the issuing parties of these discriminatory and retaliatory orders. The ERT member stated “okay” and walked away from my cell door.

Approximately 15 minutes later, a group of ERT members, accompanied by the presence of A/Sgt Larson, showed up to my door and stated that they are authorized to deploy the use of chemical agent against my person if I do not comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi. I told A/Sgt Larson and the members of the ERT that I will not comply with the orders to strip search unlawfully and move to an observation cell until I am afforded the opportunity to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson. As I began to reiterate all of my complaints of retaliation, discrimination, and cruel and unusual punishment, A/Sgt Larson acted with excessive force by deploying two (2) rounds of chemical agent against my person. As the chemical agent overwhelmed my ability to breath, I had no other option but to submit to the humiliating and groundless strip search in order to leave the saturated confines of my cell and reach fresh air.

After I was forcefully removed from my cell (1-129) and placed in a restraint chair (even though I was not showing any signs of aggression), I was taken to the nursing station to be evaluated by a medical professional. The evaluation only consisted of checking my vitals, nothing more. I was then placed in an observation cell (1-144) without being given any access to a proper eye washing station to clean the chemical agent out of my eyes. I was also denied the opportunity to take a shower by the medical professional, members of the Emergency Response Team, and A/Sgt Larson alike; which hindered my ability to properly remove the chemical agent from my skin. Due to the deliberate denial of treatment in this matter, I was forced to endure the adverse effects of lingering particles of chemical agent in my eyes and on my skin which continued to inflict me with pain up to two (2) days after the incident took place.

I am now being forced to dwell in an observation cell which has no power outlets whit obstructs my ability to watch television, and which is constantly illuminated which disrupts my sleeping patterns overall. Nowhere in Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike” does it state that a prisoner shell be placed in an observation cell while he is engaging in a hunger strike (Policy Directive 04.06.120 is attached and marked as Exhibit A). Nor does it state that a prisoner engaged in a hunger strike shall submit to a strip search that doesn’t serve a legitimate penological interest. Therefore, the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson were strictly intended to maliciously and sadistically cause harm.

[… the grievance goes on to state specific claims of the violations of this prisoner’s rights, asks for relevant video documentation and requests that staff involved be punished, that the prisoner be transferred for fear of retaliation and that he be awarded financial compensation.]

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