“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, and it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of whom they oppress.” -Frederick Douglass
Dear Fire Ant,
I’m no longer at Holman prison, I’m now at Easterling, which is a lower level prison. It’s also the only non smoking prison in Alabama.
In December 2019, I was thrown in lock up for coming to the aid of another prisoner who was being assaulted by a pig guard. I was threatened with physical harm while in lock up by the same pig guard, but thanks to the phone zap demanding that I be released from lock up and/or transferred, I was released back into general population at Holman in January. Then in February, I was transferred to my current address. While at Holman, I was informed that Holman would be closing part of the prison down, except for the tag and clothing plant industry, due to faulty electrical wiring and contaminated water. We’ve been complaining for years about the water; and I’ve come to find out that Easterling also has a water contamination problem.
Although water contamination and faulty electrical wiring has been attributed as the cause for the partial closing of Holman, what I and other prisoners believe is that Holman had become a place of constant rebellion and resistance to a degree never seen before. Prisoners at Holman had lost all respect for prison officials and expressed it daily. The environment there had become so hostile towards the pigs that the pigs started quitting their jobs; and it’s been difficult for the state to recruit new pigs to work at Holman. The morale of the pigs was at an all time low. It had become extremely dangerous for them. Nothing short of closing it down could have changed this. So, if Holman was closed down due to the contaminated water, it then reasons that Easterling should be closed down also.
COVID-19 hit a couple of weeks after I was moved. I was just getting the feel for the new prison. The former Holman inmates were somewhat cut off because, for some reason, they had us separated from the general population, even though we sleep in general population. We ate, exercised, etc. by ourselves…hmm!
It’s obvious that we are being lied to by prison officials as to the number of COVID-19 cases at the prison. We do know that a few guys from Elba work release and some from general population were quarantined in the college building for testing. I know of only one death from the virus here. Budaman was his name and he was my homeboy, one who had embraced me like we were old friends. I had just met him. He was a spiritual advisor for one of my other homies. This was a young brother. The last time I checked, there were 40 correctional officers diagnosed with the virus throughout Alabama.
The only way we could contract the virus is if one of the staff here brings it in, and it’s obvious that they have; so what measures have been taken to prevent this in the future? After witnessing the helter skelter manner in which they were mishandling the COVID-19 crisis, myself and prisoner Brandon Oden started a hunger strike to protest the lack of yard time, lack of access to the law library, lack of immune building foods, such as fruits, lack of access to fresh water, lack of proper testing and quarantining, and lack of disinfectant supplies. Several other prisoners eventually joined in. A phone zap targeting the commissioner and governor was started, and within a week, prison officials instituted a new yard time schedule, opened the law library, started serving fruit, making hand sanitizer available, and supplying the dorms with bleach, etc. There have been some releases, but I’m not going to attribute that happening due to the hunger strike. The state is vulnerable right now, and we have to figure out a way to exploit the situation to put a nail in the state’s coffin.
The so-called quarantine is a joke. How can you minimize the spread of the virus if you are constantly moving folks around, transferring folks in and out? We can’t practice social distancing in an overcrowded system. The state has passed out face masks to all prisoners at Easterling, but half the officers here refuse to wear them.
Since I’ve been here, there’s been a real absence of information coming in, or being put out among the prisoners here. So, I’ve been somewhat lost as to what’s going on. It seems as though anything can happen. Most of my information is coming from the television news shows. When I saw mass graves in New York, rent strikes, constant reporting of death counts, it was like watching one of those zombie movies. Scary! And being in prison at this time is really scary. Guys are discussing what measures we should be taking. Some are afraid that the National Guard is going to come in and gun all prisoners down. There has been no visitation since March. The state did put in visitation kiosks, but they don’t work, so there has been no face to face communication. Of course, there are cell phones, but nothing like at other prisons. Guys here are green to the prison abolitionist movement, or any other movement; even the Free Alabama movement. How can that be? I have been trying to spread information as broad and as fast as I can about the abolitionist movement and anarchism, by posting information on walls. Short and concise information. I try to spark up conversations that will question the normal thinking that says “just play by the rules.” The latest hot topic is that the billionaires are leading the fight for justice, equality, etc. and unequivocally state that “black lives matter.” The NBA is the troops for the billionaires. These fuckers are so smart that they not only joined the movement, but have taken over the movement to a great degree. Their recuperation efforts are extensive and aggressive. We can’t lose the movement. I know we are lost and confused as to what to do. We attack! It’s simple! The most significant action I’ve seen prisoners take in response to the pandemic was the mass escapes; but the average prisoner here is concerned with getting high, who’s fucking who, the latest rap video.
From what I can see, people are just not going for the same old crap. People are refusing to pay rent; there’s some real mutual aid projects in effect, people are in the streets daily, people are waking up. I know that people are being directed to vote for change. But things are a little different than in the past. People are saying “vote,” not to really change anything, but to get Trump out of office. We can’t get bogged down in debating the election. We must continue our work of anarchy.
I heard Jeremy Hammond, Jalil Muntaqim, and Marius Mason contracted the virus. I hope they all have, or will, pull through.
Back in March, all my property was confiscated, and they claimed to have misplaced it when it was supposed to be returned. So, I’ve been without my property for three months. Now that I have it back, I can write, and answer all the letters sent to me. So, if you wrote to me between February and March, that’s the reason for the delay in response. Also, mail here is not passed out daily. Only two or three times a week. I know that the mail room is holding and delaying my mail.
The only property I was really concerned about was my trial transcript. I had just purchased a copy of my transcript for $90. Fortunately, I didn’t have to purchase a new one. My attorney was able to obtain an electronic copy. He is going over it for mitigating factors for a motion for a sentence reduction.
On October 1st, a new law is supposed to come into effect, and if it does, it will put me on the streets. Back in 2013, Alabama put new sentencing guidelines in place that killed the old three strikes law, and put in its place a point system. The new law is supposed to make sentencing guidelines retroactive, which covers all those convicted before 2013. Lots of guys have already gotten their sentences changed through motions for sentence reduction based on Eighth Amendment of the Constitution and the new sentencing guidelines. I’m up for parole again in February 2021. I’m looking to be out in the next 5-6 months. This is a real possibility.
Supporters are already collecting clothes, shoes, luggage, etc. for the day of my release. I’m really excited. I’ll be out there with you all soon.
It’s September 13th, and I’m in lock up for assault on another prisoner. I don’t know what affect this will have on my motion for sentence reduction, but I won’t tolerate being disrespected because my age, sexual orientation, etc. by anyone without me expressing my displeasure; and I’m going to defend myself.
In the last six months, we’ve been able to purchase tennis shoes, boots, and hygiene items for a number of prisoners who would have went without. Thanks to all who helped on that! Anarchy is real! A LUTA CONTINUA! -Michael