Omnia Vincit Riot
Prison fights creep up on us general pop-pers. They’re actually kind of quiet, no cluster of shouts like you see on TV and in the movies. In fact, they’re so silent that you can usually hear that fist-to-cheekbone swap! that’s buffered by only a thin stretch of facial skin.
So when things lulled on the other side of the dining hall when I was waiting in line to grab a tray, my first suspicion was fisticuffs. I was right.
In my peripheral vision, I could see the entire train of prisoners waiting for their meals and no one in line stepped out of it. But there must have been an energy shift from turned heads, the line’s directing its attention at the dustup, that two lieutenants noticed because that realization of threat and its wide, unfocused tension came across their faces. Their knees bent and their hands stretched out in “Stop” position, palms at right angle to their arms. They were really scared. The word “shitless” came to mind.
“STAY BACK!…DON’T MOVE!…DON’T FUCKIN’ MOVE!…STAND BAAACK!….STAY BACK NOW!” they each shrieked to a collection of women who were stone still but not because they were following instructions. They were confused.
“Da fuck?” someone asked.
“Aint nobody goin’ nowhere,” another said in that tone that reminds staff members that they can’t really see what’s unfolding before them.
In being warned not to move, the other women assumed they meant not to exit the chow hall. But these weren’t direct orders, these were pleas for safety. I saw that a vulnerability so foreign to them had intruded on these lieutenants, like an unwanted, unannounced finger in their rectums; it zoomed right inside them and no matter how hard they resisted or pressed back, the only way it would vacate was on its terms, not theirs. And no one was even doing anything to them.
I looked at the ragged zig-zag trail of grey fleece sweatshirts and tattered denim legs leading to the serving line. Counted the tables; six women a piece. Calculated. Right now it would be 8 to 1 when I factored in all the C/O’s who were working before the goon squad zoomed in to break up the fight. And I realized, as I never had before, a potential that has persisted for centuries that inmates don’t even understand in themselves.
Holy shit. We can take this place.
THREE IDEAS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE FROM SEPTEMBER 4 – 11, 2016
STRIKE – A nationwide prisoner strike was planned for September 9, 2016, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising. Mask Magazine (which I had never heard of before researching the strike, so I can’t vouch for its reliability) tried to update people here on what was happening but it looks, to me, like the strike was a flop, which I expected, because, for the most part, inmates like their jobs.
THREE – The Guardian and the Marshall Project teamed up for a three-part series on public defenders this week. The first report, found here, contains links to the next two. There are actually no new revelations in any of these reports. They squawk to reporters ad infinitum, but stipulate to ineffective assistance of counsel on the record? Never. That might be effective.
YOU’RE OUT – Dallas, Texas District Attorney Susan Hawk stepped down on Tuesday, citing her need for treatment for her mental illness. This report by the Dallas Morning News shows how dysfunctional the DA’s office in Dallas really is. And no one is even mentioning whether certain decisions Hawk made while she was ill about who would be prosecuted and who wouldn’t should be examined to see if her illness contributed to someone else’s injustice.