A noise demonstration outside the Douglas County Jail on New Year’s Eve was well received by those locked inside. Inmates waved in the high windows and wiped them down with wet cloth, which temporarily reduces the opaque glaze meant to shield their view to the outside. They banged along to our drum beats as more arms and heads became visible in the windows.
Two uniformed Omaha police rolled up to say a 911 call was placed from inside the jail about “a group of noisemakers outside inciting a riot” and claimed we could be held responsible. Then claimed we were loitering, then claimed we were disturbing the peace. The officers couldn’t land on an actual complaint, or explain how the act of caging people is the peace we were disturbing.
In 2017, four inmates in a two month span died at the hands of Douglas County jail guards. One collapsed the day he was released due to untreated stage 4 lung cancer. Three were in pre-trial detention because they could not pay their bond amount. Monetary bond creates a debtors’ prison. These men were killed by the malicious incompetence of jail guards; tortured, attacked and ignored by the carceral state. No matter guilt or innocence, the prison system kills.
We must hold up the names of these murdered men and women, and all people held captive by the state.
April 17, Roger Cook was released from a six month county sentence and upon release was refused a request for an ambulance. He told jail staff for two months he was sick and they ignored him. He collapsed getting out of a taxi near his home. 10 days later he died from stage 4 lung cancer.
April 25, Steven Claycamp, 61, was tied to a chair and began convulsing. He had not been found guilty of any crime at the time of his death.
April 10, Matthew Tracy, 40, was found unresponsive in his cell. He had not been found guilty of any crime at the time of his death.
February 4, Robert Groenjes, 47, died after an altercation. Officials delayed the cause of death report. He had not been found guilty of any crime at the time of his death.
“The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
A list of all Nebraska prison, jail, and in-custody deaths for 2017:
Floyd Derry, January, 30 Tecumseh;
Robert Groenjes, February 4, Omaha, Douglas county;
Harold Nokes, February 23, Lincoln;
Gary Pope, February 23, Lincoln;
Michael Galindo, March 2, Tecumseh;
Damon Fitzgerald, March 2, Tecumseh;
Antonio Estrada, April 7, Lincoln;
Matthew Tracy, April 10, Omaha, Douglas County;
Roger Cook, April 17; Omaha, Douglas County
Joe Rodriquez, April 17, Lincoln;
Terry Berry, April 19, Tecumseh;
Steven Claycamp, April 25, Omaha, Douglas County;
Larry Holladay, April 27 Lincoln;
Daelan Lamere, May 6, Tecumseh;
Zachary Bearheels, June 9, Omaha, in-custody;
Robert Imus, July 29, Saunders County;
Lucius Turner, August 14, Lincoln;
Ronald Fort, August 22, Tecumseh;
Donald Krisor, October 10, Tecumseh;
Michael Juranek, November 29, Lincoln;
Steven Redmond, December 5, Tecumseh;
Kelly Berny-Garcia, December 17, Saunders County;