By FW Chadrick, x385061
Greetings my friends. My name is Chadrick Fitzgerald, IWW membership number x385061. As I write these words, I am sitting in a cell on the Special Management Unit (SMU) gallery in Tecumseh Correctional Facility under investigation for the uprising that took place on May 10, 2015. The Nebraska Department of Correction (DOC) has been run poorly for some time; we have had a number of changes in directors and that’s about it. The number of problems are too long to list but somewhere at the top of that lists its overcrowding, lack of programming, and the mistreatment of the inmates.
To give you an idea of how out of control it has become, prison guards themselves have sued the state of Nebraska and won because they were being abused by co-workers using racial slurs at work. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has threatened to sue because of the overcrowding and current living conditions. The inmate population has tried many times to get programming that would help us upon release, and time and again: nothing.
There are a few jobs that pay more than $24 per month ($1.21 per day) and they are restricted to approximately 200 of the more than 1,000 inmates that live here. Those jobs include Cornhusker State Industries (CSI) wood-shop and laundry, and a few in the kitchen. So once again a group of inmates came together to make a list of things that need to be changed. This list was to be presented to staff at 2:30 p.m. on May 10. If the prison staff refused to talk with us, then work was to stop on May 11.
“What the future holds we do not know, but until there are no prisons left, we must fight.”
At approximately 2:30 p.m., a group of about 65 inmates went to the main compound area when medical sick calls were called over the PA (public address system). When staff noticed the group, they were confronted. Seventeen staff members were trying to stop more from joining the growing group. As the list was given to the staff by an inmate, the staff became aggressive and pulled out large cans of mace and told the inmate who handed them the list to cuff up, at which time he asked why. Shortly there after, there was a melee with staff spraying mace and inmates fighting back. Shots were fired from the gun tower and all became quiet as inmates and staff lay flat on the ground.
Staff regained control of the situation for a moment. They handcuffed a few and identified the rest, but before long, their verbal taunts became too much. The group stood as one and began marching around the compound. Inmates inside the housing units joined in at this time. Staff ran for cover, locking everyone out of their housing units. The group of inmates marching on the compound tried to break into the gym to let out inmates who had been locked in. This is when they shot inmate Washington in his upper leg. As inmates attempted to give first aid, the tower rained down bullets. The only two hit were Washington and Camancho. Inmates then carried Washington to medical where they refused to give him aid for some time before dragging him off by his arm to the medical sally port.
Once word got out, fires started burning. Hours later, local and state law enforcement, along with prison officers, came in and regained the prison by force, shooting inmates with less lethal rounds at point-blank range. Some were already cuffed when they were shot. Inmates were taken to the education building until all were accounted for. Many inmates were left cuffed with hands behind their backs for more than 48 hours.
At the time of this writing, that was eight days ago. We have been receiving only two meals a day since, with little or no way to make contact with our family or loved ones. What the future holds we do not know, but until there are no prisons left, we must fight.