Filed under: Action, Analysis, Incarceration, Interviews, Northwest, Radio/Podcast
On Saturday October 22nd. Members of the Portland Anarchist Black Cross, Portland IWOC and the Corvallis IWW joined forces to hold a noise demonstration at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras Oregon.
The demonstration was held in solidarity with IWOC prisoners at Deer Ridge who have been experiencing political repression and inhumane living conditions.
On Sept. 9th several prisoners at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI), in Madras Oregon, were placed on a preemptive lock-down to repress potential striking activity. Similarly all of the inmate kitchen workers were placed in the hole as a result of prisoner kitchen workers holding a wild cat strike.
Prisoners at DRCI are reporting that the administration is systematically employing methods which put the health and safety of inmates at risk. Inmates report that DRCI is serving under-cooked food despite being told by inmate kitchen staff that it is not ready and using unsanitary food substitutes to save money and ensure bonuses from superiors.
Prisoners also report the prison using food products marked to be unfit for human consumption and that are expired, using rotten, rancid and moldy food along with not serving inmates full portions. Inmates report that these practices are occurring on a daily basis.
Soon after Sept. 9th the kitchen workers and IWOC organizers were released from the hole. However, around September 19th IWOC outside supporters sent mail to Scott Elam (16883095) and Joshua Cartrette (12225965) detailing laws regulating prison food requirements. We also forwarded an email from the NLG to these individuals, in the mail, detailing the next steps and information needed to begin filling a law suite on this food issue against the facility.
On September 21st Scott Elam, Joshua Cartrette and 5-12 other prisoners were placed in the hole for their IWOC organizing, the whole prison had a shake down, investigation and charges were brought against several of the prisoners advocating for changes. Prison officials began interrogating prisoners about IWOC using the names of outside supports, making copies of all mail and then transported Joshua Cartrette and Scott Elam to Eastern Oregon Correctional, a higher security prison where they would be far away from their families. They also began confiscating and not giving prisoners mail pertaining to gaining support around contesting the poor conditions there.
We believe this was a blatant attempt to cover up and hide from the public the inhumane conditions at DRCI. And that this blatant act of repression was motivated by a desire on part of prison officials to suppress prisoners from taking legal action against the facility for its poor and illegal conditions.
Demonstrators gathered around 4pm outside of the prison walls with signs, banners, leaflets, drums and megaphones to send prisoners on the inside messages of solidarity and to contest the blaitant repression and cover-up happening behind DRCI’s walls. Upon arrival many family members who were leaving visiting time expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the presence and show of solidarity.
Leaflets were passed out and placed on vehicles decrying the prisons recent wave of repression at the hands of Warden Tim Causey.
Protesters then began marching around the parking lot of the facility. Prisoners could be seen walking out of the visiting center, where they could see demonstrators and hear their message and then being quickly shuffled off to their dorms by guards. It was then observed that along the outside doors of the dorms rooms of the prison, officials began posting guards at each entrance.
At this point a prison guard became confrontational and began yelling at protesters that they were putting correctional officers and prisoners in danger by broadcasting their message. Protesters responded by informing him and other prison officials that it was the rotten moldy food being served and the blatant acts of illegal political repression that were putting people in danger. The guard responded by stealing a megaphone from a participant.
Demonstrators carried onwards for about 15 minutes before leaving the facility around 5pm feeling powerful and sure that their message was received.
The next day on Sunday October 23rd. IWOC organizers along with KBOO community radio conducted an interview with Richard Molnar. A prisoner at DRCI and IWOC member. The full interview can be found below. Richard reports that prison officials are serving rancid meet on a regular basis, serving moldy hot dogs and often times giving prisoners no other options. He reports that while being interrogated about IWOC he was able to ascertain that prisons across the state have been given orders from the state capital to begin investigating any prisoner who receives union materials. Richard gives an in depth report back on the situation ad Deer Ridge and some of the difficulty facing those on the inside fighting for change.