Because of its urgency we reprint the following article from the San Francisco Bay View.
July 29, 2020
This photo of prisoners at Soledad shows men of many races, and all of them are subject to the dehumanization that is the “business” of prisons, where everything is designed to break people’s spirits. But when guards raid and brutalize hundreds of prisoners, all Black, shouting, “By the time this is over, you N—ers will have COVID-19!” that goes far beyond dehumanization. It sounds like attempted mass murder. Soledad is the prison where just last year families were protesting “gladiator fights” staged by guards forcing prisoners alleged to be from rival gangs to fight for the guards’ amusement.
by Tasha Williams
In letters addressed to myself, anonymous Soledad prisoners in a group known as “PHERM” detailed very unsettling facts about the violent 3 a.m. raid July 20 on about 200 prisoners–all Black–at the Central Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad, California. Here are the words of these victims verbatim:
“The victims I’ve spoken to indicate the following:
“On Monday at approximately 0300 hours, numerous pigs swarmed CTF Central attacking Black prisoners. The attacks consisted of, but were not limited to the following: snatching the victims off their bunks and slamming them onto the ground; placing knees on the victims’ necks; placing the victims in chokeholds and headlocks; dragging the victims by their ankles; punching and kicking the victims; and flex-cuffing the victims super tight, cutting off circulation and causing swelling, numbness and severe pain.
“The pigs used the word ‘N—er’ during this ordeal. The pigs also told multiple victims, ‘By the time this is over, you N—ers will have COVID-19!’ Numerous pigs did not have facemasks on. They only covered their names, not their mouths.
“The Warden (Craig Koenig) was observed high-fiving the pigs, yelling, ‘Good strike!’ Prisoner Berlan Dicey, MAC (Men’s Advisory Council) representative, witnessed this. By the way, Mr. Dicey was one of the victims attacked.
“Please provide a number that the victims may call you from the yard. I will provide a list of names along with their CDCr numbers shortly.
“Thank you for caring.
PHERM’S second letter
“We believe prison guards are making every attempt to agitate and provoke violent responses from the prisoners. Violent responses will contribute to their narrative that all prisoners are violent and undeserving of early release or rehabilitation.
“The Black prisoners have not been partaking in STG [gang] activity. In fact, the only prisoners who have been accused of taking part in so-called STG activities were non-Black prisoners: EME, Sureno, Bulldog, Paisa and White Nationalist affiliated prisoners. And even then, these prisoners were set up by prison guards to fight.
“We believe prison guards are making deliberate attempts to infect the prisoner population with COVID-19. An infected prisoner eliminates his chances of early parole due to COVID-19 prevention. Many of the prison guards were unmasked during the attack. They even expressed their intentions for being unmasked: ‘By the time this is over, you N—ers will have COVID-19!’
“We also believe the motivating factor behind the wannabe commandos’ use of excessive and unnecessary force on unarmed sleeping Black prisoners is racism. Plain and simple.”
We’ll soon have many more testimonies from inside Soledad State Prison coming your way. Stay tuned to SF Bay View to hear more about this brutal assault on inmates and the U.S. Constitution from the whistleblowers themselves. Also, please continue to contact state and prison officials demanding transparency from officials.
Call or email now: Black Lives Matter! Stop the targeting of Black prisoners!
- Warden Craig Koenig: 831-678-3951, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Corrections Secretary Ralph Diaz: 916-323-6001, Diaz@cdcr.ca.gov
- Gavin Newsom, 916-445-2841, email@example.com https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/, @GavinNewsom
Join the rally on Thursday, Aug. 6
“We Are Their Voices” is the name of the rally outside CTF Soledad on Thursday, Aug. 6, in Salinas. We’ll meet at 9 a.m. at the US101 Soledad freeway exit. There is a road that runs parallel with the freeway opposite the prison where we will gather. At 9:30 we’ll take a group picture; don’t miss that!
From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., family members will speak at the rally. Then we’ll load up and travel to Salinas City Hall at 1-1:30. At 1:30-2:30, we’ll hold a car caravan rally around Salinas City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave., Salinas CA 93901. Please come out to join the protesters and show the men inside we’re fighting for them! Everyone is welcome!
Sign the petition
Please sign the petition at Change.org, “Help Us Demand Complete Transparency After Violent 3am Raid On Black Soledad Inmates,” which begins:
“Now it’s time for us. You and me. To stand up to Warden Craig Koenig (firstname.lastname@example.org) and demand that he turn over every medical report, as well as 602 complaint filed by inmates after the raid. Koenig must be held accountable for lying about inmate abuse at the hands of his guards.” Read more here.
Tasha Williams, an activist dedicated to bringing her husband home, can be reached at email@example.com.