I've been at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution for a relatively short time and since landing here I've been pretty amazed at the level of abuses carried out by the swine. They make up totally fictitious claims in order to write prisoners up for rule violations and throw them in isolation. In the past four months I've experienced this twice. Both times costing me visits with my family and broken or stolen property by the pigs. Once I was given a fine of $100. Others have been given fines plus 180 days in isolation and moved to extended isolation units called Intensive Management Unit where prisoners will spend at least a year in isolation.
In the regular housing units the swine routinely berate prisoners, threaten us with isolation and violence, put us in potentially harmful situations involving other prisoners, and they use any small rule violation committed by a single or two prisoners to throw whole groups of people in isolation. Most recently I've seen people get shoved into the isolation units for having the tongue of their shoe poking outside of their pants cuff or refusing to sit at chow hall tables belonging to other groups. I'm not arguing the "right or wrong" about divisive grouping or "ownership", I'm only pointing out the fact that pigs are purposely trying to manipulate us into harmful, potentially violent situations. If we refuse, we get shoved into isolation and given fines.
Because of the swine insisting on pushing us into conflict scenarios with each other at constantly escalating levels, people are beginning to lash out under the pressure. Unfortunately, for the extreme majority of prisoners, we really have no education in organizational strategy or structure; we've never been taught proper modes of function and effective progress. Unfortunately we've got this idea that taking lessons and direction from those more qualified than ourselves somehow diminishes us as individuals or makes us somehow inferior. Instead of making positive steps to educate ourselves and to apply ourselves productively, we fall right into the trap and lash out at each other.
Falling into that trap and lashing out at each other is actually the most counter-productive thing we could possibly do. Aside from reaffirming to ourselves that gang and race divisions are necessary for self-protection against our peers, it also confirms and justifies the pigs' assertion that we need to be constantly repressed, punished, abused — essentially victimized. They treat us like animals, so because of our refusal to take productive direction or self-educate, we resort to reactionary, self-inflicting outbursts. By reacting in these ways all we're doing is contributing to our own escalating repression.
Possibly the worst part of all this is all the fucking snitchery goin' on. Ben Franklin said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." I whole heartedly agree. In the context of this environment here. The "temporary safety" these coward rats are seeking is safety from the pigs who would otherwise make their lives even more hellish than it already is. If you don't tell on your peers, the swine will target you, write you up, take you shit, or put you in the hole. But if you do tell, they let you be.
The reason I can say these cowards are not interested in safety from other prisoners, but from the pigs themselves is because the rats are mostly those so-called "good dudes." It makes sense too. It's the "good dudes" who are always in the loop, who know shit. The meek among us simply want to be left alone for the most part.
So there you have it. The pigs crack down on us, we talk about doing something about it, we get snitched on and the snitches get less cracked down on than the rest of us while the pigs crack down harder. Those of us who chose to retain our sense of dignity and self-respect in the face of all this while also valuing our sense of self-preservation are left with the recourse of keeping our mouths shut, our eyes shut, our ears shut and trying to attract as little attention to ourselves as possible while we all get crushed together — even the coward rats.
Well, yesterday things took to a new level. On 29 August, a Friday morning, two friends of mine got into a simple minor fist fight. Instead of firing a warning shot, the pig fired into the chest of one of them. I watched him fall and as he rolled on the ground another pig came up and sprayed him then jumped on him. I watched my friend struggle to get a pig off of him while he choked to death on his own blood.
It took several minutes for the medical staff to even get to the yard. While waiting, I looked at the proud pig standing like Captain Morgan with his rifle laid across his arm. When he saw me looking at him as I lay on the ground, he put his rifle up to his eye and pointed it at me. Hopefully he saw my mouth say "fuck you" through his scope.
Finally, when the medical staff showed up to the yard, they walked slowly, across a basketball court, while a nurse was giving my friend chest suppressions and mouth-to-mouth. They shuffled across the track, while we all yelled for them to run, to hurry, they moseyed across the soccer field. The swine cleared everyone off the yard before the medical swine would do anything to save my friend. By then he was already gone. He was a young kid in his early 20s, and a phenomenal artist in any medium you could imagine. He applied himself to his own personal development and excellence with passion and he studied hard and made a point of constantly improving himself on a daily basis. He was funny and brilliant and had an endless depth of potential. And he was the victim of an ignorant murderer whose only purpose in life is to maintain a system built on the misery of us and our families.
Now the whole institution is locked down. All of us — white, black, brown, red — have been slammed down in our cells, and they say we'll be slammed for at least a week. Why? Because one of them killed one of us. We'll be eating sack lunches. Our family visits will be canceled. They've been pulling people out for "interviews" all night. I watched the ambulance pull out of the parking lot from my cell window. It was driving slowly. No rush.
Sure, I blame the pigs. But even more, I blame all you slimy little rats who do the pigs work for them. You little worms who deceive your friends and inflict them with isolation at the hands of your enemies in exchange for scraps and pats on the head. As much as you fuckers disgust me, I'll also say though that it's not too late for you to stop informing on your friends and peers. The moment we can create a real and true structure of unity — even a disorganized one at first — will be the moment we have the power to shape our own communities.
Update: I was pulled out for an "interview" last night. It was a detective from the Oregon state police. They interviewed every prisoner who was on the yard when my friend was murdered. The detective told me I was the last one he would be interviewing, which I found interesting and a bit suspicious. He informed me that as a matter of protocol it's his duty to read me my Miranda rights before the actual recorded interview. He read it to everyone, just a routine, ya know. Okay, I said. Go ahead. Let me stress certain points of what he said: He said anything I say will be used against me. He also said I have the right to remain silent, and that I also in fact have the right to an attorney. When he finished reading me this list of my so-called "rights" what I said in response was: "I have no problem speaking with you, but I'd like to invoke my right to an attorney before we begin." He looked at me in surprise and said "well...okay then" and shut off the tape recorder. After it was off, he said "Wow, I've interviewed almost 200 people today and you're the only one who asked for a lawyer." I asked if anyone chose to remain silent and he said only about four or five people. I said "imagine that."
Thanks to you all in solidarity.
MIM(prisons) responds: We share this writer's call for unity among prisoners. The pigs will try to turn people against one another, and will take advantage of those who want a few privileges in exchange for snitching. Building unity is one of the key principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons: "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity." It is not enough for us to criticize the snitches. We need to build unity with all who can be won to the side of anti-imperialism, and by solidifying this core we will isolate the snitches and make their jobs harder.
The existence of snitches underscores the importance of a solid security practice. You can't be sure that someone overhearing your conversation won't run to the pigs with what they learn. As one of our USW comrades wrote recently: "So often we hear prisoners commenting on how great the power of snitches and provocateurs are, and it bothers me that we are able to concentrate so much energy on them instead of on the tactics of countering their elementary crosses, and their state." Security is a key part of self-defense for the revolutionary movement at this time. We cannot predict what tactics you need to use where you're at, but we urge all serious about revolutionary organizing to think carefully about security and communications.