Urgent Action Alert: Camp Hill SMU torture
HRC-FedUp! URGENT Action Alert: 6 Prisoners
Assaulted in the SMU at Camp Hill; Chemical and
electro-shock weapons used; racist violence and
repression on the rise again; take action Today
Tomorrow and Next Week.
Forward further and wider than ever because enough is enough!
On January 20, 2009 guards in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at the State Correctional [sic] Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania assaulted six prisoners, reportedly citing as reasons that these men file grievances against guard misconduct and are engaged in civil litigation against DOC officials; contact outside organizations (HRC/Fed Up! and www.prisoners.com in particular) to expose conditions of torture; also to send a message-in their words: "fuck a historical day, y'all always going to be niggers."
Seven men inside the state's premier torture unit have testified to the following events in reports to HRC/Fed Up!, including six men who submitted Declarations of Truth pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 and subject to the penalty of perjury, adding to the hundreds of pages of prisoner reports, additional Declarations, institutional paperwork, and civil litigation documents sent to our offices from the SMU at Camp Hill alone since only June of 2008. The incidents have been verified in a personal interview with Mr. Damont Hagan, who has since been transferred (as we've been demanding for 5 months). Superintendent's Assistant Robert Volciak further verified that four or five men were subjected to forcible cell extractions on the 20th in a telephone conversation of January 26th. Several others around the state and the country, from Louisiana to California, have received reports of these assaults as well and contacted our offices.
We are asking that you read the alert, become angry, and act accordingly to help protect the men in the SMU and by extension all others subjected to the normalized white supremacist torture occurring on a daily basis inside prisons in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S.
David Smith #FZ5176: On 1/20/09 C/O Liddick, C/O Zeigler, and Lt. Kuzar approached Gary Tucker's cell upon the pretext of wanting to conduct a search, despite having conducted one on 1/15/09. When Tucker came to the door, Liddick said, "Since this guy likes filing grievances, let's make an example out of him." Tucker refused to leave his cell after Kuzar denied his request to have a Captain or Unit Manager present. Willie Robinson then refused to leave his cell out of fear for his safety. David Smith then consented to a cell search, and was promptly assaulted by the above named staff and thrown in another cell, separated from his property. Mr. Smith reportedly suffered undisclosed injuries.
Gary Tucker #FG8520: In his own words: "A little later that morning a cell extraction team came to my cell. I was then told to come to the door and cuff up. When I walked to the door a guard opened the slot and sprayed me in the face with a whole lot of OC mace. I backed away from the door blinded; seconds later more mace was sprayed inside the cell, trapping my lungs up, that's when about 7 guards (including Lt. Kuzar, C/O Brant) charged into the cell slamming me to the bed with electric shields [that discharge 50,000 volts of electricity]. These electric shields were pressed against my body and held there for several minutes while the 6 guards took turns beating, kicking, and shocking me with hand held stun guns. After cuffing me they continued beating me down and shocking me. The guard holding the camera maneuvered the camera so that the beating couldn't be caught on it. From D-12 I was dragged out the cell and hoisted into the medical cell. There the beating continued (shocking, choking, and punching) and a male nurse squirted a liquid in my eyes that didn't seem to help at all. Next I was airlifted up a flight of stairs (after protests from several inmates about my medical condition [which requires me to be] bottom tier status. I was taken into D2-20, slammed face first to the metal bed frame and the 6 or 7 guards continued jumping and shocking me with stun guns. After several minutes of this I was stripped naked, dragged to the floor and pulled up to the tray slot and the cuffs were taken off after they tried to break my wrists. I requested to see medical but was denied the request so my injuries weren't [recorded]. The injuries suffered were as follows: face swollen both sides; wrists with deep cuts from the cuffs; stiff neck (I can barely move my neck); severe pain in my lower back which makes it hard for me to move; my right arm dislocated; badly swollen right ankle that I can't put pressure on and a bloody mouth. Several inmates witnessed this assault and the Lt. Kuzar kept yelling, "Stop resisting" which was merely a means to justify their actions in assaulting me. Truth was I never resisted; I couldn't resist at all."
Damont Hagan #DS9488: In his own words: "I was approached by C/O Brant who threatened me, informing me that I had to come out for a search, stating 'the camera can be manipulated Hagan, remember that.' He also called me a 'nigger.' . . . After a while, I told Unit Manager Chris Chambers [about the threats] . . ., and informed him that 'I fear for my life.' He retorted, "Hagan, I'm tired of this complaining to HRC and www.prisoners.com and preliminary injunctions. Y'all did this to y'all selves, now y'all scared. You're coming out regardless, so write HRC [which he did-let's be there for him] or have .com write the Attorney General again, who cares.' . . . A cell extraction team came and the same SMU staff (Brant, Kuzar) were in suit. I also witnessed them abuse Gary Tucker. They told me to cuff-up and I told them I feared for my life (on camera). Sgt. Maxwell then sprayed me with OC which got in my lungs and eyes, forcing me to cuff up." After being cuffed Hagan was taken to a cell where his clothes were cut off of him and Sgt. Maxwell whispered sexually lewd comments to Hagan regarding Lt. Flowers (a female) being present. Mr. Hagan was denied water for two days, his food was tampered with when it wasn't denied altogether, and he was left naked in a freezing cell, which caused him to become sick. He was transferred on 1/27/09 to SCI Pittsburgh.
Ronald Jackson #CF3994: Mr. Jackson refused to exit his cell because of the threatening and assaultive behavior of the guards, and was subsequently attacked with mace and punched several times in the back and head by C/O Brant, carried to another cell where C/Os Brant, Liddick, Ziegler, Lt. Kuzar, and Sgt. Maxwell cut off his clothing and cut his dreadlocks. Mr. Jackson was left bleeding behind both ears, had numbness in both hands, and cuff markings remained on his wrists for 6 days. Mr. Jackson was left naked and without property or state issue items for six days-like all the others assaulted on this day. On January 26th he was returned to his cell, which was still contaminated with mace. C/O Huber, Jones, Sabolsky, Banks, Martz, and a Lt. stole and destroyed much of his personal and legal property. In a written response to Mr. Jackson regarding this theft, Superintendent Palakovich justified yet another unmistakable effort on the part of SMU staff to deny access to the courts under the pretext that his property was contaminated with mace and needed to be destroyed as a result. Given that several of the prisoners extracted that day have reported being returned to cells still contaminated with mace, this explanation cannot be taken seriously. Mr. Jackson's lawsuit against the DOC will likely be sabotaged by this theft and destruction of his legal documents, which is a widespread practice throughout the PA DOC.
Willie Robinson #FX7258: After refusing to exit his cell for obvious reasons, Mr. Robinson was attacked by the same guards with mace and thrown in a cell that had dried blood on the walls and floor for 6 days without bed sheets or underclothing. Following this he was returned to his former cell, which was still contaminated with mace, including his bedding.
Jamar Perry #DQ4432: Mr. Perry was also attacked with mace and cell extracted on this day. According to Michael Edwards, in a Declaration subject to the penalty of perjury, Mr. Perry is severely mentally retarded, constantly covers his cell and his person with bodily waste-which he also ingests-and suffers from suicidal tendencies. Staff, including C/O Flynn, Sgt. Jones, and Lt. Kuzar, frequently call him names such as "retarded nigger," and encourage him to kill himself. Mr. Perry has been constrained in a "restraint chair" on several occasions, including the first three days of February. These devices are widely recognized as implements of torture. He reportedly wants to die, and ranking officials, including Regional Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore-Smeal have witnessed his fetid condition and taken no remedial action, despite policy provisions against housing severely mentally ill and developmentally disabled inmates in the SMU.
White Supremacy and Repression
In another Declaration from Michael Edwards, Unit Manager Chris Chambers is again alleged to have threatened Mr. Edwards for his correspondence with HRC/Fed Up! Chambers and Huber and others have repeatedly threatened Damont Hagan and Gary Tucker about their involvement with HRC and www.prisoners.com, along with other efforts to expose torture and officially-sanctioned sadism inside the SMU at Camp Hill.
An all white staff in the SMU is holding hostage and waging a one-sided war against a captive, defenseless population that is "99.9% blacks and latinos," according to Mr. Edwards.
A small sampling of racist remarks made by SMU staff, according to Declarations submitted by Michael Edwards, are as follows:
*1/19/09: C/O Brant stated over the PA system, "I have a dream that one day all of you niggers will be dead," after which he laughed, clapped his hands, and lit a smoke; *1/20/09: Lt. Kuzar stated, "He [Obama] may have won, in my eyes he's still a nigger." Brant and C/O Flynn started laughing at this, and Kuzar continued, "There will be no showers or yard today. We are going to show you niggers who run this SMU."
*1/20/09: When told Tucker has a medical condition and is not to be housed upstairs, Chambers replied, "I don't give a fuck what medical says, I want that nigger upstairs now."
*1/30/09: After Chambers told Mr. Edwards he would not be receiving any law books or property in retaliation for his working with HRC/Fed Up!, Huber told the inmate, "Hey listen up nigger, I have the green light to kill your black ass," before walking away from the cell laughing.
*2/1/09: Lt. Kuzar stated to Mr. Edwards, "Nigger do you honestly believe we are going to let you, or any of these other niggers get away with what you are doing?"
Hagan, Jackson, Tucker, Robinson, Smith, Edwards, Terry Brooks, and others in the SMU are being targeted for their refusal to be silenced and submit to a regime of white supremacist torture. These men continue to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, and write family, friends, and other allies on the outside to expose the illegal and degrading conditions they are being subjected to.
Despite being starved, gassed, electrocuted, beaten, sickened, and subjected to racist death threats on a daily basis, these men refuse to submit, they continue to resist, and they are calling on us to take action again.
This action alert is more comprehensive and far ranging in the targets it lists than the ones in November and September (provide links). We have watched the Emergency Response Network grow considerably over the last 12 months, especially during the last 4, and countless people have answered the call to defend the rights and lives of prisoners. This is why we are asking even more from our allies this time, because we trust you will continue to intensify your efforts, channeling your outrage into action and building this movement against torture and racism and for human rights.
As Michael Edwards recently wrote from the SMU: "Keep doing what you are doing, because it surely is working. Some of these guards are just walking around here banging on any and everything, and using racial slurs. This means we are winning the war." I take this to mean that this latest outburst of hate and violence by SMU guards is a desperate reaction to growing outside pressure. They are trying to silence the men in the SMU through daily acts of terror, but it is not working. Resistance continues, and the outside pressure is growing. . . .
Action Alert Targets and Talking points
DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard-717-975-4918
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001
Superintendent John Palakovich
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001
Office of Professional Repsonsibility
Director James Barnacle (formerly with the FBI (i.e. u.s. political police) for 30 years-see the book Agents of Reprssion by Churchill and Vander Wall for more on the criminal nature of the FBI)
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001
1)-Report the truth of the Inauguration Day atrocity: six men were targeted for assault with chemical and electrocution weapons by guards calling them "niggers" in retaliation for these prisoners continuing to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, expose prison conditions to the public, and otherwise seek justice. Be specific, name the names of the prisoners, guards, the threats made and injuries suffered. Tell them that you are sickened by the endless reports of flagrant racism on the part of guards and the obvious approval of such by top officials in Camp Hill and the DOC. Grievances and civil suits reach Supt. Palakovich and Secretary Beard by the thousands regarding the racist attitudes and actions of staff under their command, and they refuse to take action
2)-Emphasize the role of Unit Manager Chris Chambers-demand he be fired: As our abuse logs indicate (http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup/abusereports.htm), Unit Manager Chris Chambers, who oversees the SMU, bears command responsibility for the actions of Jones, Kuzar, Sabalsky, Banks, Flynn, Brant, and the rest. We want to build his infamy and make him a liability to the PA DOC and SCI Camp Hill. If his superiors lean on him because of the heat they feel from the people, then he will lean on SMU staff to end the torture in order to protect himself. Tell Beard that you have reviewed the accumulated evidence from the 20th and the preceding months, and that Chambers needs to be held accountable for his crimes. Failure to do so will be understood as complicity in torture. Emphasize that several prisoners consistently report that Chambers has personally told them on multiple occasions that he is punishing them for filing lawsuits and contacting HRC/Fed Up! and www.prisoners.com.
3)-Transfers for Tucker, Jamar Perry, Michael Edwards, Terry Brooks, Ronald Jackson: These men need transferred immediately. When speaking of Gary Tucker tell them that his continued confinement in the SMU is a violation of DOC Policy 6.5.1 (which is top secret-forbidden to the public-and has been provided to HRC via clandestine means) which states that an inmate who does not show progress in the initial 12 to 18 months should be deemed a failure and transferred. Mr. Tucker has been in the SMU for 28 months. Furthermore, Jamar Perry suffers from severe developmental disability (i.e. reportedly mentally retarded) and needs an immediate transfer. Edwards, Brooks, and Jackson continue to face retaliation for filing grievances and lawsuits.
4)-Speak your own truths, make your own demands: If you have ideas of who to contact (press, lawyers, the Justice Department, law enforcement, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, ACLU) then tell the authorities of your intention and then get a hold of these organizations and have them contact us to learn more. Each one needs to conduct their own investigations to verify these truths. Also, be encouraged to tell them that they need to close down the SMU for good-it is a failed program that does nothing but torture vulnerable prisoners, and it is irredeemably racist. Please inform HRC/Fed Up! of your efforts so we can keep track of where this alert and the supporting evidence are sent and the various responses it receives. Be encouraged to become a point person for reaching out to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the NAACP, or whoever. Just make sure you are familiar enough with the talking points and the evidence that supports them and stay in touch with us.
5)-Prior Notice: Beard and Palakovich have been notified of the criminal acts of retaliation, racist hate crimes, denial of access to the courts, assault, medical neglect, etc. months ago. There is a paper trail leading to their office and their adamant refusal to accept accountability for the actions of staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers amounts to complicity in torture.
6)-Accountability: Let it be known, finally, that we intend to see criminals held accountable, and that each denial, evasion, and deception on the part of prison officials will only strengthen our resolve to pursue justice by every means possible. We want accountability now.
7)-Special for OPR: The Office of Professional Responsibility (which is neither professional nor responsible, but is-supposedly-an office), the DOC's own internal "investigation" unit assured an HRC/Fed Up! investigator in early January that they were in fact conducting an investigation into documented human rights violations inside the SMU at Camp Hill. After declaring that they always talk to the inmates, OPR Director James Barnacle went on to directly contradict himself by admitting that their "investigation" consisted of cross-checking our documentation with the prison's own records. Given that the prison records will report only what guards say, since the word of prisoners is deemed prima facie untrue according to their totalitarian (and, yes, racist) ideology, Barnacle more or less admitted that his investigation was in fact not an investigation at all. Furthermore, we have specifically asked several of the men in the SMU if OPR has interviewed them, and with one exception (Brooks was interviewed two or three months ago about an assault he suffered in 2007), nobody had seen OPR-despite several having contacted them-by the end of January. Tell OPR that we know they are not engaged in transparent and good faith investigations, because if they were SMU staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers would not dare perpetrate such atrocities. Demand responsibility and professionalism from Barnacle.
Governor Ed Rendell
See numbers 1-6 above. Rendell was informed at the end of November, with considerable documentation. He sent it to OPR.
Senator Stewart Greenleaf
Inquire into the appropriate process for requesting hearings in front of the PA General Assembly, and then request a hearing-to be organized by HRC/Fed Up! and our allies-regarding torture in PA prisons. Provide him our contact information and ask that his staff get in contact with us. Tell staff what is going on in the SMU at Camp Hill.
Local PA Representatives
Hammer away at them, make these lazy, incompetent, and corrupt parasites take a stand. Demand they petition Greenleaf for a hearing. Who are these fools anyway?
Reminders about demeanor, temperament, manners, composure, etc.
Just a reminder, it is acceptable and appropriate to express anger, be firm in our demands, and not tolerate deceptions and diversions. That said, it is critical that we control our anger and not vice versa, and maintain composure and dignity in our demeanor. We want the functionaries manning the phones and reading the mail to be impressed by our command of the facts and message consistency.
Mary Ann Kushner at SCI Fayette apparently told one of our allies that HRC people had been "nasty" to her. Given Mary Ann's less than sterling reputation as a truth-teller, I assume that means you were all doing your job and holding firm to our shared principles in defense of prisoners' rights and lives, which no doubt upset Mary Ann. So, keep the cursing to the minimum amount necessary and get at them day after day after day.
And pace yourself. Make a call today, two tomorrow, another the next day, and keep at it for weeks on end. This is a long struggle and we're in it for life. Invite others to join, today. Thank you.
We need lawyers! Please help us find lawyers with grit, intelligence, and integrity who are willing to go to war with the DOC.
PS-Taking it to the Streets
Phone calls and letter writing are important, very important for providing some measure of oversight and security to the men in Camp Hill and other torture chambers in PA and the U.S. But it is but one tactic amongst many. We need to take this to the streets and get on a move. Be on the lookout for an invitation in the near future, when the entirety of the country-and beyond-will be welcomed into the state to voice their collective outrage over the dehumanizing white supremacist torture of the PA prison system.
HRC/Fed Up! has accumulated over 100 pages of documentation of human rights violations in PA prisons in the last 16 months alone, supported by thousands of pages of prisoner reports, affidavits, declarations, grievances, requests to staff, and civil litigation documents, and further corroborated by hundreds of hours of interviews/conversations with prisoners and their loved ones on the outside. We can assert with absolute confidence and substantial-in fact, incontrovertible-evidence that torture is a widespread, systemic feature of the prison system that deliberately sabotages parole and increases recidivism, hence creating the conditions for continued market growth for the prison-industrial complex.
PPS-Call and/or write us!
Who are you? Have you taken action? Can we know one another and work together to beat back this insufferable brutality? Call, email, write whenever.
Please provide feedback as to your conversations with the peoples above and other efforts undertaken to protect the men in Camp Hill's SMU.
Solidarity, Health, Respect,
Trust, and Struggle
5125 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Investigate Torture in the Camp Hill SMU