Received and transmitted:
*Please call Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Superintendent Richard Brown and Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Bruce Lemmon to protest the ongoing torture of inmates in disciplinary segregation at WVCF!
More information below.*
Richard Brown: (812) 398-5050
Bruce Lemmon: (317) 232-5711
“I am calling to protest the ongoing torture of prisoners in disciplinary segregation at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. The prisoners are being tortured by slow starvation and exceedingly cold temperatures in the cells. The food rations these prisoners are receiving are dangerously insufficient, and the staff keeps the AC on so high that prisoners are constantly cold. Please examine the practices of the staff at WVCF in regard to the provision of food to inmates in and their operation of the heating and cooling system in disciplinary segregation. Also, please repair the sink in the cell of James Phillips (DOC #106333), because it is currently broken to the point that he can’t get water to drink unless he puts his mouth on the faucet. Thank you.”
FB event here <https://www.facebook.com/events/937269289718747/>
From James Phillips #106333, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
To Whom it May Concern,
My name is James Phillips (DOC #106333) and I’m a mentally-ill offender at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Since I’ve been at this facility I’ve endured and been subjected to abuse and harsh conditions on all levels.
Last Fall and Winter I was housed in K-Housing Unit, which is the Special Needs Program for inmates with mental illness and after a month into attending the program my mental illness symptoms increased dramatically due to abuse, stress, and ineffective treatment. The cells have no heat in the wintertime, and we receive lukewarm air at best, and most of the time we have to sleep in all of our clothes (even our coats) just to stay warm. The areas where the officers are and patrol have fairly good heating and the temperature difference outside of the cell is considerably warmer than inside the cells. I’ve filed numerous complaints and nothing has been changed or done about this matter.
Also, while attending this program I’ve been racially targeted by officers and harassed daily, verbally and mentally, and received bogus conduct reports that are not true. I’ve also found that inmates in regular population have been subjected to the same abuse and conditions.
In February I was assaulted by two inmates and in return I defended myself and was discharged out of the Special Needs Program and sent to a lock-up unit, which violates my mental health code because it worsens my mental health condition. The two inmates who assaulted me were not sent to a lock-up unit and got to stay in the program, which is unfair and biased. I believe I was singled out because I’ve filed numerous complaints exposing
the wrong-doing of officers and staff involved in the program.
While in CCU lock-up unit my mental health symptoms have gotten worse. I started hallucinating and was seeing worms in my food so I quit eating and was brutally sprayed with Mace and OC Gas because I couldn’t get to my feet quick enough to be handcuffed. I didn’t eat for eleven days. I was then placed in a cell designed for holding inmates temporarily passing through which had no toilet, sink, or running water, for three days. I had to use
the restroom on the floor and had no water to drink, nor did I have proper bedding because the cell wasn’t designed for overnight stays so I slept on the floor. I was then removed from the that holding cell and placed back in the contaminated cell where I had been sprayed. They never cleaned the cell like they were supposed to.
I still struggle with paranoid thoughts of incidents I’ve been subjected to and that I’ve seen others be subjected to. Since I’ve been in the CCU lock-up unit I’ve lost thirty-five pounds due to lack of food being placed on trays, or small portions, which is done as a deterrent so offenders will not want to come back to a lock-up unit. I’ve filed complaints about this also and nothing has happened.
Also, officers are leaving us in the showers for over an hour after we’ve finished showering as a deterrent to prevent us from coming out of our cells to take showers, which makes their jobs easier. Every day it is a constant struggle and a different form of abuse. They are also tearing up our cells during shakedowns, when we come out to go to rec or shower to prevent us from coming out. It’s crazy here at this facility because staff rarely follow IDOC policy.
From the H-T:
Signs encouraging people to donate to nonprofit organizations rather than give to panhandlers were up for less than a week before most of them came down — and not with the city’s permission.
The city put up 28 signs last week around the downtown area that read, “Please help. Don’t encourage panhandling. Contribute to the solution. www.bloomington.in.gov/give.”
The web page includes a list of social service agencies that directly
provide services, including shelter/housing and food assistance, medical services, drug addiction treatment and education/workforce assistance, to those in need.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, 24 of those signs were missing, Mary
Catherine Carmichael, Bloomington’s communications director, said.
“We don’t know exactly under what circumstances they came down,” Carmichael said, though she added several businesses in the area have external surveillance systems that may have captured footage of whoever took the signs.
Carmichael said the city would like for the people who took the signs down to return them, but city officials will have additional signs created, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the city is looking at the incident as vandalism and will
deal with it as such.
“My hope would be that whoever did that might think better of their actions and decide maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, and, again, we would appreciate it if those were returned,” Carmichael said.
Students Against State Violence on the BLM Demonstration, Monday, October 10, 2016
Students Against State Violence (SASV) and the IU Black Student Union hosted a Black Lives Matter Rally Monday, 10/10, at the Sample Gates, beginning at 6:30pm.The rally and the march that followed were carried out to protest the series of murders of Black people by police around the country during the month of September, as well as to pressure the BPD to cooperate with the family of Joseph Smedley, an IU student who went missing and then was found dead last Fall under suspicious circumstances.
The demonstration on Monday was an opportunity for us all to express our grief and anger about the constant police violence against Black people. This September was a particularly fatal month: On September 14, 13-year-old Tyre King was shot by Columbus, OH police while in possession of a BB gun. On September 16, 40-year-old Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by Tulsa, OK police. On September 20, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who suffered from a traumatic brain injury, was killed by Charlotte, NC police. 23-year-old Korryn Gaines was killed by Baltimore, MD police after they invaded her home in response to a traffic violation from 5 months earlier. Her 5-year-old child was also shot during the incident, and on September 21 it was announced that the officers involved will not be facing charges. On September 27, 38-year-old Alfred Olango, an unarmed Ugandan immigrant, was killed by El Cajon, CA police, after his sister called emergency services because he was suffering from seizures.
SASV wants to make it clear that we think it is very important to not only focus on male, cis-gendered, or “innocent” victims of police violence. It is necessary for us to research the cases and know the names of Black women and trans people who have suffered at the hands of the police and other forms of state violence, and to defend those who the media and politicians ignore or portray as undeserving of sympathy or defense.
To bring attention to these murders, we heard speeches from Leah Humphrey and Kyra Harvey from Indy10 Black Lives Matter and Kealia Hollingsworth, President of the IU Black Student Union. Leah and Kyra spoke on the leadership role of Black women in the movement, and the need to lift up the stories of Black women who have been killed by the police, who are too often forgotten and ignored. Kealia focused on the experience of Black students on campus here at IU. Members of the theatre troupe for the upcoming play Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story, about the legacy of Black people in Indiana, provided 200 balloons with the names of victims of police violence on them, which were released at the end of the rally.
Angaza Iman Bahar and OBAM, founding members of IDOC Watch (Indiana Department of Corrections) who are currently incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, called in to the rally to express their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to inform us about the struggle against prison slavery here in Indiana. Angaza is 41 years old and has been incarcerated for the past 23 years, convicted of the crime of attempted murder of a police officer when he was 18yrs old. He is due to be released in the next 2-3yrs and hopes to return to society and use the consciousness he has gained to add another voice to the movement for justice and social change. His writings can be read here. OBAM is 49 years old, serving a 75 year sentence with 17 more to do. He is a devout vegetarian, and in his words, “a politically conscious brotha” who is working diligently to get his time reduced. In the meantime, he seeks to form quality relationships and network with those on the outside with similar interests.
Then we heard a speech about institutionalized racism in the university context from Yassmin Fashir and a speech by Bella Chavez of GlobeMed, whose uncle Miguel was murdered by police in Oklahoma City in June of 2016. Finally, Stanley Njuguna, of Students for a Democratic Society, delivered an inspirational speech, and we released our balloons, before we took to the streets in protest.
We marched down Kirkwood to College Avenue, and then back east on 3rd street, blocking the whole road, and chanting “Black Lives Matter!”, Whose streets? Our streets!” and “USA, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” as we marched. We blocked the intersection of 3rd and Lincoln, by the headquarters of the Bloomington Police Department (BPD), in protest of the department’s ongoing refusal to cooperate with the family of Joseph Smedley, a Black student whose body was found in Griffy Lake last Fall under suspicious circumstances. He had been missing for days without any indication being given by IU that a student was missing before his body was found, and his death was pronounced a suicide without sufficient investigation. For more information on Joseph Smedley’s case, please find and follow the “Justice for Joseph” page on Facebook.
During the intersection blockade, Indy10 Black Lives Matter led a call and response of the names of people killed by the police. Next, Andrea M. Sterling spoke on the need for active participation and accountability on the part of allies that goes beyond social media activism and one-off events. She called for sustained commitment to transformative change in our daily lives, through “solidarity, love, and support,” between and going further than protests and exciting actions. “Recognize that if you are here, and if you are really in it,” Andrea said, “then you’re not marching for me. You’re not rallying for me. If you’re fighting for freedom you’re fighting for your own as well.” You can read her speech here. Then, Peter McDonald, who grew up in Columbus, OH, not far from where Tyre King was killed, spoke on the situation in that city and the institutional forces that drive police violence. Before we left the intersection, there was a spontaneous poetry reading. The intersection blockade lasted over twenty minutes. After that, we continued marching down third street, turned left on Indiana Avenue, and ended the demonstration with a blockade and speak-out in the intersection of Indiana and Kirkwood.
The protest was peaceful: An overwhelming majority of vehicles were able to turn around and find other routes, but a few aggressive drivers ignored courteous requests and alternate directions. Any conflict between drivers and protesters resulted from vehicles attempting to drive into the crowd, endangering lives. At least one protester was injured by a particularly aggressive and thoughtless driver, who tried to ram his SUV through the crowd. The Herald Times,’ report on the protest, written by Abby Tonsing, simply parroted back the BPD and IUPD’s statements about Joseph Smedley rather than engaging with any evidence or alternate viewpoints, and their article focused on the one moment where violence broke out, blaming the violence on protesters. The violence enacted by protesters in that moment was clearly in self-defense: watch the video and see for yourself. The majority of the people in the video are white, because throughout the demonstration white and other non-Black allies formed a perimeter in order to protect the more vulnerable bodies of our Black comrades. Better reporting on the demonstration, by the IDS and WFHB, can be read here and here.
It is completely unsurprising that news reports would portray protesters as “violent” and “scary”; like the police, they work for the elite, and they share the goal of keeping people scared to protest, especially against police violence. News outlets are more able to garner greater attention and viewership by appealing to reactionary aggression, as seen in many comments on these articles, rather than by conveying the messages and voices of those standing up and unifying in the face of systemic violence against black and brown bodies. Additionally, reports of the protest on social media have been met with many disturbing, threatening comments, by State Representative Jim Lucas, among others, often calling for violence against the protestors.
The negative reactions to our demonstration on social media bring into sharp focus the normalized disregard for Black lives that pervades society, and further illustrate the need for transformative change through collective struggle.
A call out to discuss resistance to the city’s recent attempts at social cleansing in People’s Park. The DRO Police have instructed churches not to offer food to park denizens, have chased away citizens offering clothes and lunch, have attempted to target and ban Food Not Bombs, have threatened to chase out a local Street Outreach Project and have requested that the Indiana Recovery Alliance cease doing outreach early next month.
The mayor and police recently announced a plan to increase police
presence, which led to park sweeps and the arrest of multiple
“problematic” people just before the students returned. The police have also promised to install cameras to increase surveillance.
Of course, the city has offered no alternatives for food on Sunday
evenings, services over the weekend or space to exist without harassment for those they who will be negatively affected. Just the continuation of the criminalization of poverty, addiction and homelessness. City officials want our friends to disappear, or perhaps to float away on balloons, as a dear friend suggested years ago.
Join us before this event at 5:30pm for a presentation with Jesse Speer about homeless encampments and resistance in the Persimmon Room in the Indiana Memorial Union, then we’ll move to the Park by 7pm to discuss next steps.