Filed under: Incarceration, Political Prisoners, Repression, US
Aggressive actions and negligence over the past three months by Alabama prison officials have led to a rapid decline in the health of Kinetik Justice.
Robert Earl Council, a.k.a. Kinetik Justice, is a leading prison organizer with the Free Alabama Movement. He was convicted of capital murder by an all white jury for killing a man in self-defense in the early 90s. He has been highly politically active, and played crucial leadership roles in several acts of resistance in the last two years, most notably the nationwide prison strike that began on September 9th, 2016.
Kinetik’s most recent ordeal began with the “suicide” of Robert Deangelo Carter at Alabama’s Holman Correctional Facility on October 10, 2016. On that date Kinetik appears to have tweeted about the incident, “WE SCREAMED, WE KICKED, WE BANGED BUT NO ONE EVER CAME- in spite of telling the CERT TEAM4 times- He just HANGED.” Immediately after this, Kinetik was moved 100 miles away, to Kilby Correctional Institute, a facility notoriously referred to by prisoners and their supporters as a “bully unit.” Monique Gillum, policy strategist at the Southern Poverty Law Center, went to Kilby on October 12, 2016 to meet with Kinetik as part of her investigation of what the Alabama Department of Corrections referred to as Carter’s “apparent suicide.” Kilby staff simply told Gillum that Kinetik was not there.
Kinetik was moved again on October 21, 200 miles further, to Limestone Correctional Facility. In protest of his unsafe conditions, Kinetik commenced a hunger strike: “I made it explicitly clear to officers at Limestone CF that due to exigent circumstances, I felt my life was in danger… Due to my expressed fear and my inability to see if my food was being tampered with, I began a ‘Hunger Strike Protest’ in order to bring attention to Limestone CF’s disregard for my safety and well being,” he says, in a letter dated November 5.
Kinetik notified Pastor Kenneth Glasgow (FAM spokesperson and founder of “The Ordinary People Society”) that on October 27th, he informed a Nurse Haynes that the medical staff was failing or refusing to comply with the federally mandated policy regarding Hunger Strikes. Bureau of Prisons Program Statement P5562.05 requires, among other things, checking the health vitals and psychological state of persons on hunger strike. Nurse Haynes replied, “You are doing this to yourself, so don’t complain.”
On October 30th, Kinetik was found unconscious and non-responsive in his cell. Kinetik was taken to the infirmary, where a very low Blood Sugar Count of 52 was determined to be the cause. Medical staff with Corizon Correctional Healthcare administered glucose and an Ensure drink in order to raise his Blood Sugar Count above 96. This forcible feeding “reset” Kinetik’s hunger strike against his will, whereby according to the BOP policy he would not have to be checked for another 72 hours. The next day, Warden Gordee ordered a still severely dehydrated Kinetik to be placed in a “day cell” for observation. Day cells have no running water except for that in the toilet, no blanket, clothes, personal items, or reading material. By the order of a Dr. Robbins he was not to have his blood sugar checked unless he was “out of it.”
On December 2, at approximately 8:45 p.m., while in handcuffs and on the way to the showers, Kinetik was shoved to the floor and pushed into a janitor’s closet by a CO Shoulders. Once inside the closet, Shoulders began choking Kinetik, while asking (rhetorically), “You gonna tell I&I on me too?” Then a CO Dozier said, “Hold up Shoulders, hold up,” reached around him and sprayed over half a can of mace directly into Kinetik’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. The spray was so strong that Shoulders got up off of Kinetik coughing. Both officers ran out of the closet, leaving Kinetik laying on his back in a corner choking, and then called for backup. This entire incident was witnessed by 3 people already in the showers. Rather than reprimand the 2 officers, their supervisor, a Sgt. Whitfield, refused to let Kinetik make a phone call or file a complaint against the CO’s, and again placed him in a “day cell” where he remained hidden for 5 days.
Despite all this, according to a recent visitor, “He’s quite an inspiration. Been in isolation for 37 months, has to wear shackles and belly chain during ‘exercise,’ but still strong and able to smile.”
Kinetik has filed repeated grievances to ensure his health and safety. FAM and IWOC (the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee) call this an example of complete lack of regard by prison officials for people’s safety, and demand that he be relocated from Limestone Correctional Facility.
The Free Alabama Movement is part of a network of groups whose objective is to provide online content, educational material, and support to family members, activists, and other organizations in furtherance of our efforts to connect the “FREEDOM MOVEMENT”, which is the National Movement Against Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery, to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas in the South, and California and Illinois. We promote legislation that is drafted by the men and women on the inside in each State in a document we call our “FREEDOM BILL”, with an emphasis on Education, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Preparedness.
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee supports prisoners’ efforts to build their own labor union and organize for their own self-defense against inhumane treatment. We function as a liaison, building bridges between inside and outside to support prisoners organizing their local chapters. We advocate the abolition of incarceration, white supremacy, and capitalism.