[Ppnews] 6 Prisoners Assaulted in PA's Camp Hill SMU on Inauguration Day

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 17 10:35:00 EST 2009

From: Hans Bennett <hbjournalist1 at gmail.com>


On January 20, 2009 guards in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at 
the State Correctional [sic] Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill, 
Pennsylvania assaulted six prisoners, reportedly citing as reasons 
that these men file grievances against guard misconduct and are 
engaged in civil litigation against DOC officials; contact outside 
organizations (HRC/Fed Up! and 
<http://www.prisoners.com/>www.prisoners.com in particular) to expose 
conditions of torture; also to send a message-in their words: "fuck a 
historical day, y'all always going to be niggers."

Seven men inside the state's premier torture unit have testified to 
the following events in reports to HRC/Fed Up!, including six men who 
submitted Declarations of Truth pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 and 
subject to the penalty of perjury, adding to the hundreds of pages of 
prisoner reports, additional Declarations, institutional paperwork, 
and civil litigation documents sent to our offices from the SMU at 
Camp Hill alone since only June of 2008.  The incidents have been 
verified in a personal interview with Mr. Damont Hagan, who has since 
been transferred (as we've been demanding for 5 
months).  Superintendent's Assistant Robert Volciak further verified 
that four or five men were subjected to forcible cell extractions on 
the 20th in a telephone conversation of January 26th.   Several 
others around the state and the country, from Louisiana to 
California, have received reports of these assaults as well and 
contacted our offices.

We are asking that you read the alert, become angry, and act 
accordingly to help protect the men in the SMU and by extension all 
others subjected to the normalized white supremacist torture 
occurring on a daily basis inside prisons in the state of 
Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S.

Inauguration Day

David Smith #FZ5176: On 1/20/09 C/O Liddick, C/O Zeigler, and Lt. 
Kuzar approached Gary Tucker's cell upon the pretext of wanting to 
conduct a search, despite having conducted one on 1/15/09.  When 
Tucker came to the door, Liddick said, "Since this guy likes filing 
grievances, let's make an example out of him."  Tucker refused to 
leave his cell after Kuzar denied his request to have a Captain or 
Unit Manager present.  Willie Robinson then refused to leave his cell 
out of fear for his safety.  David Smith then consented to a cell 
search, and was promptly assaulted by the above named staff and 
thrown in another cell, separated from his property.  Mr. Smith 
reportedly suffered undisclosed injuries.

Gary Tucker #FG8520: In his own words: "A little later that morning a 
cell extraction team came to my cell.  I was then told to come to the 
door and cuff up.  When I walked to the door a guard opened the slot 
and sprayed me in the face with a whole lot of OC mace.  I backed 
away from the door blinded; seconds later more mace was sprayed 
inside the cell, trapping my lungs up, that's when about 7 guards 
(including Lt. Kuzar, C/O Brant) charged into the cell slamming me to 
the bed with electric shields [that discharge 50,000 volts of 
electricity].  These electric shields were pressed against my body 
and held there for several minutes while the 6 guards took turns 
beating, kicking, and shocking me with hand held stun guns.  After 
cuffing me they continued beating me down and shocking me.  The guard 
holding the camera maneuvered the camera so that the beating couldn't 
be caught on it.  From D-12 I was dragged out the cell and hoisted 
into the medical cell.  There the beating continued (shocking, 
choking, and punching) and a male nurse squirted a liquid in my eyes 
that didn't seem to help at all.  Next I was airlifted up a flight of 
stairs (after protests from several inmates about my medical 
condition [which requires me to be] bottom tier status.  I was taken 
into D2-20, slammed face first to the metal bed frame and the 6 or 7 
guards continued jumping and shocking me with stun guns.  After 
several minutes of this I was stripped naked, dragged to the floor 
and pulled up to the tray slot and the cuffs were taken off after 
they tried to break my wrists.  I requested to see medical but was 
denied the request so my injuries weren't [recorded].  The injuries 
suffered were as follows: face swollen both sides; wrists with deep 
cuts from the cuffs; stiff neck (I can barely move my neck); severe 
pain in my lower back which makes it hard for me to move; my right 
arm dislocated; badly swollen right ankle that I can't put pressure 
on and a bloody mouth.  Several inmates witnessed this assault and 
the Lt. Kuzar kept yelling, "Stop resisting" which was merely a means 
to justify their actions in assaulting me.  Truth was I never 
resisted; I couldn't resist at all."

Damont Hagan #DS9488: In his own words: "I was approached by C/O 
Brant who threatened me, informing me that I had to come out for a 
search, stating 'the camera can be manipulated Hagan, remember 
that.'  He also called me a 'nigger.' . . . After a while, I told 
Unit Manager Chris Chambers [about the threats] . . ., and informed 
him that 'I fear for my life.'  He retorted, "Hagan, I'm tired of 
this complaining to HRC and 
<http://www.prisoners.com/>www.prisoners.com and preliminary 
injunctions.  Y'all did this to y'all selves, now y'all 
scared.  You're coming out regardless, so write HRC [which he 
did-let's be there for him] or have .com write the Attorney General 
again, who cares.' . . .  A cell extraction team came and the same 
SMU staff (Brant, Kuzar) were in suit.  I also witnessed them abuse 
Gary Tucker.  They told me to cuff-up and I told them I feared for my 
life (on camera).  Sgt. Maxwell then sprayed me with OC which got in 
my lungs and eyes, forcing me to cuff up."  After being cuffed Hagan 
was taken to a cell where his clothes were cut off of him and Sgt. 
Maxwell whispered sexually lewd comments to Hagan regarding Lt. 
Flowers (a female) being present.  Mr. Hagan was denied water for two 
days, his food was tampered with when it wasn't denied altogether, 
and he was left naked in a freezing cell, which caused him to become 
sick.  He was transferred on 1/27/09 to SCI Pittsburgh.

Ronald Jackson #CF3994: Mr. Jackson refused to exit his cell because 
of the threatening and assaultive behavior of the guards, and was 
subsequently attacked with mace and punched several times in the back 
and head by C/O Brant, carried to another cell where C/Os Brant, 
Liddick, Ziegler, Lt. Kuzar, and Sgt. Maxwell cut off his clothing 
and cut his dreadlocks.  Mr. Jackson was left bleeding behind both 
ears, had numbness in both hands, and cuff markings remained on his 
wrists for 6 days.  Mr. Jackson was left naked and without property 
or state issue items for six days-like all the others assaulted on 
this day.  On January 26th he was returned to his cell, which was 
still contaminated with mace.  C/O Huber, Jones, Sabolsky, Banks, 
Martz, and a Lt. stole and destroyed much of his personal and legal 
property.  In a written response to Mr. Jackson regarding this theft, 
Superintendent Palakovich justified yet another unmistakable effort 
on the part of SMU staff to deny access to the courts under the 
pretext that his property was contaminated with mace and needed to be 
destroyed as a result.  Given that several of the prisoners extracted 
that day have reported being returned to cells still contaminated 
with mace, this explanation cannot be taken seriously.  Mr. Jackson's 
lawsuit against the DOC will likely be sabotaged by this theft and 
destruction of his legal documents, which is a widespread practice 
throughout the PA DOC.

Willie Robinson #FX7258: After refusing to exit his cell for obvious 
reasons, Mr. Robinson was attacked by the same guards with mace and 
thrown in a cell that had dried blood on the walls and floor for 6 
days without bed sheets or underclothing.  Following this he was 
returned to his former cell, which was still contaminated with mace, 
including his bedding.

Jamar Perry #DQ4432: Mr. Perry was also attacked with mace and cell 
extracted on this day.  According to Michael Edwards, in a 
Declaration subject to the penalty of perjury, Mr. Perry is severely 
mentally retarded, constantly covers his cell and his person with 
bodily waste-which he also ingests-and suffers from suicidal 
tendencies.  Staff, including C/O Flynn, Sgt. Jones, and Lt. Kuzar, 
frequently call him names such as "retarded nigger," and encourage 
him to kill himself.  Mr. Perry has been constrained in a "restraint 
chair" on several occasions, including the first three days of 
February.  These devices are widely recognized as implements of 
torture.  He reportedly wants to die, and ranking officials, 
including Regional Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore-Smeal have 
witnessed his fetid condition and taken no remedial action, despite 
policy provisions against housing severely mentally ill and 
developmentally disabled inmates in the SMU.

White Supremacy and Repression

In another Declaration from Michael Edwards, Unit Manager Chris 
Chambers is again alleged to have threatened Mr. Edwards for his 
correspondence with HRC/Fed Up!  Chambers and Huber and others have 
repeatedly threatened Damont Hagan and Gary Tucker about their 
involvement with HRC and 
<http://www.prisoners.com/>www.prisoners.com, along with other 
efforts to expose torture and officially-sanctioned sadism inside the 
SMU at Camp Hill.

An all white staff in the SMU is holding hostage and waging a 
one-sided war against a captive, defenseless population that is 
"99.9% blacks and latinos," according to Mr. Edwards.

A small sampling of racist remarks made by SMU staff, according to 
Declarations submitted by Michael Edwards, are as follows:

*1/19/09: C/O Brant stated over the PA system, "I have a dream that 
one day all of you niggers will be dead," after which he laughed, 
clapped his hands, and lit a smoke; *1/20/09: Lt. Kuzar stated, "He 
[Obama] may have won, in my eyes he's still a nigger."  Brant and C/O 
Flynn started laughing at this, and Kuzar continued, "There will be 
no showers or yard today.  We are going to show you niggers who run this SMU."
*1/20/09: When told Tucker has a medical condition and is not to be 
housed upstairs, Chambers replied, "I don't give a fuck what medical 
says, I want that nigger upstairs now."
*1/30/09: After Chambers told Mr. Edwards he would not be receiving 
any law books or property in retaliation for his working with HRC/Fed 
Up!, Huber told the inmate, "Hey listen up nigger, I have the green 
light to kill your black ass," before walking away from the cell laughing.
*2/1/09: Lt. Kuzar stated to Mr. Edwards, "Nigger do you honestly 
believe we are going to let you, or any of these other niggers get 
away with what you are doing?"

Hagan, Jackson, Tucker, Robinson, Smith, Edwards, Terry Brooks, and 
others in the SMU are being targeted for their refusal to be silenced 
and submit to a regime of white supremacist torture.  These men 
continue to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, and write 
family, friends, and other allies on the outside to expose the 
illegal and degrading conditions they are being subjected to.

Despite being starved, gassed, electrocuted, beaten, sickened, and 
subjected to racist death threats on a daily basis, these men refuse 
to submit, they continue to resist, and they are calling on us to 
take action again.

This action alert is more comprehensive and far ranging in the 
targets it lists than the ones in November and September (provide 
links).  We have watched the Emergency Response Network grow 
considerably over the last 12 months, especially during the last 4, 
and countless people have answered the call to defend the rights and 
lives of prisoners.  This is why we are asking even more from our 
allies this time, because we trust you will continue to intensify 
your efforts, channeling your outrage into action and building this 
movement against torture and racism and for human rights.

As Michael Edwards recently wrote from the SMU: "Keep doing what you 
are doing, because it surely is working.  Some of these guards are 
just walking around here banging on any and everything, and using 
racial slurs.  This means we are winning the war."  I take this to 
mean that this latest outburst of hate and violence by SMU guards is 
a desperate reaction to growing outside pressure.  They are trying to 
silence the men in the SMU through daily acts of terror, but it is 
not working.  Resistance continues, and the outside pressure is 
growing. . . .

Action Alert Targets and Talking points

DOC Targets

DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard-717-975-4918
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Superintendent John Palakovich
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Office of Professional Repsonsibility
Director James Barnacle (formerly with the FBI (i.e. u.s. political 
police) for 30 years-see the book Agents of Reprssion by Churchill 
and Vander Wall for more on the criminal nature of the FBI)
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

1)-Report the truth of the Inauguration Day atrocity: six men were 
targeted for assault with chemical and electrocution weapons by 
guards calling them "niggers" in retaliation for these prisoners 
continuing to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, expose prison 
conditions to the public, and otherwise seek justice.  Be specific, 
name the names of the prisoners, guards, the threats made and 
injuries suffered. Tell them that you are sickened by the endless 
reports of flagrant racism on the part of guards and the obvious 
approval of such by top officials in Camp Hill and the 
DOC.  Grievances and civil suits reach Supt. Palakovich and Secretary 
Beard by the thousands regarding the racist attitudes and actions of 
staff under their command, and they refuse to take action
2)-Emphasize the role of Unit Manager Chris Chambers-demand he be 
fired: As our abuse logs indicate 
Unit Manager Chris Chambers, who oversees the SMU, bears command 
responsibility for the actions of Jones, Kuzar, Sabalsky, Banks, 
Flynn, Brant, and the rest.  We want to build his infamy and make him 
a liability to the PA DOC and SCI Camp Hill.  If his superiors lean 
on him because of the heat they feel from the people, then he will 
lean on SMU staff to end the torture in order to protect 
himself.  Tell Beard that you have reviewed the accumulated evidence 
from the 20th and the preceding months, and that Chambers needs to be 
held accountable for his crimes.  Failure to do so will be understood 
as complicity in torture.  Emphasize that several prisoners 
consistently report that Chambers has personally told them on 
multiple occasions that he is punishing them for filing lawsuits and 
contacting HRC/Fed Up! and <http://www.prisoners.com/>www.prisoners.com.
3)-Transfers for Tucker, Jamar Perry, Michael Edwards, Terry Brooks, 
Ronald Jackson: These men need transferred immediately.  When 
speaking of Gary Tucker tell them that his continued confinement in 
the SMU is a violation of DOC Policy 6.5.1 (which is top 
secret-forbidden to the public-and has been provided to HRC via 
clandestine means) which states that an inmate who does not show 
progress in the initial 12 to 18 months should be deemed a failure 
and transferred.  Mr. Tucker has been in the SMU for 28 
months.  Furthermore, Jamar Perry suffers from severe developmental 
disability (i.e. reportedly mentally retarded) and needs an immediate 
transfer.  Edwards, Brooks, and Jackson continue to face retaliation 
for filing grievances and lawsuits.
4)-Speak your own truths, make your own demands:  If you have ideas 
of who to contact (press, lawyers, the Justice Department, law 
enforcement, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights 
Watch, NAACP, ACLU) then tell the authorities of your intention and 
then get a hold of these organizations and have them contact us to 
learn more.  Each one needs to conduct their own investigations to 
verify these truths.  Also, be encouraged to tell them that they need 
to close down the SMU for good-it is a failed program that does 
nothing but torture vulnerable prisoners, and it is irredeemably 
racist.  Please inform HRC/Fed Up! of your efforts so we can keep 
track of where this alert and the supporting evidence are sent and 
the various responses it receives.  Be encouraged to become a point 
person for reaching out to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, 
the NAACP, or whoever.  Just make sure you are familiar enough with 
the talking points and the evidence that supports them and stay in 
touch with us.
5)-Prior Notice: Beard and Palakovich have been notified of the 
criminal acts of retaliation, racist hate crimes, denial of access to 
the courts, assault, medical neglect, etc. months ago.  There is a 
paper trail leading to their office and their adamant refusal to 
accept accountability for the actions of staff under the command of 
Unit Manager Chris Chambers amounts to complicity in torture.
6)-Accountability: Let it be known, finally, that we intend to see 
criminals held accountable, and that each denial, evasion, and 
deception on the part of prison officials will only strengthen our 
resolve to pursue justice by every means possible.  We want accountability now.
7)-Special for OPR: The Office of Professional Responsibility (which 
is neither professional nor responsible, but is-supposedly-an 
office), the DOC's own internal "investigation" unit assured an 
HRC/Fed Up! investigator in early January that they were in fact 
conducting an investigation into documented human rights violations 
inside the SMU at Camp Hill.  After declaring that they always talk 
to the inmates, OPR Director James Barnacle went on to directly 
contradict himself by admitting that their "investigation" consisted 
of cross-checking our documentation with the prison's own 
records.  Given that the prison records will report only what guards 
say, since the word of prisoners is deemed prima facie untrue 
according to their totalitarian (and, yes, racist) ideology, Barnacle 
more or less admitted that his investigation was in fact not an 
investigation at all.  Furthermore, we have specifically asked 
several of the men in the SMU if OPR has interviewed them, and with 
one exception (Brooks was interviewed two or three months ago about 
an assault he suffered in 2007), nobody had seen OPR-despite several 
having contacted them-by the end of January.  Tell OPR that we know 
they are not engaged in transparent and good faith investigations, 
because if they were SMU staff under the command of Unit Manager 
Chris Chambers would not dare perpetrate such atrocities.  Demand 
responsibility and professionalism from Barnacle.

Political Targets

Governor Ed Rendell

See numbers 1-6 above.  Rendell was informed at the end of November, 
with considerable documentation.  He sent it to OPR.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf

Inquire into the appropriate process for requesting hearings in front 
of the PA General Assembly, and then request a hearing-to be 
organized by HRC/Fed Up! and our allies-regarding torture in PA 
prisons.  Provide him our contact information and ask that his staff 
get in contact with us.  Tell staff what is going on in the SMU at Camp Hill.

Local PA Representatives

Hammer away at them, make these lazy, incompetent, and corrupt 
parasites take a stand.  Demand they petition Greenleaf for a 
hearing.  Who are these fools anyway?

Reminders about demeanor, temperament, manners, composure, etc.

Just a reminder, it is acceptable and appropriate to express anger, 
be firm in our demands, and not tolerate deceptions and 
diversions.  That said, it is critical that we control our anger and 
not vice versa, and maintain composure and dignity in our 
demeanor.  We want the functionaries manning the phones and reading 
the mail to be impressed by our command of the facts and message consistency.

Mary Ann Kushner at SCI Fayette apparently told one of our allies 
that HRC people had been "nasty" to her.  Given Mary Ann's less than 
sterling reputation as a truth-teller, I assume that means you were 
all doing your job and holding firm to our shared principles in 
defense of prisoners' rights and lives, which no doubt upset Mary 
Ann.  So, keep the cursing to the minimum amount necessary and get at 
them day after day after day.

And pace yourself.  Make a call today, two tomorrow, another the next 
day, and keep at it for weeks on end.  This is a long struggle and 
we're in it for life.  Invite others to join, today.  Thank you.

We need lawyers!  Please help us find lawyers with grit, 
intelligence, and integrity who are willing to go to war with the DOC.

PS-Taking it to the Streets

Phone calls and letter writing are important, very important for 
providing some measure of oversight and security to the men in Camp 
Hill and other torture chambers in PA and the U.S.  But it is but one 
tactic amongst many.  We need to take this to the streets and get on 
a move.  Be on the lookout for an invitation in the near future, when 
the entirety of the country-and beyond-will be welcomed into the 
state to voice their collective outrage over the dehumanizing white 
supremacist torture of the PA prison system.

HRC/Fed Up! has accumulated over 100 pages of documentation of human 
rights violations in PA prisons in the last 16 months alone, 
supported by thousands of pages of prisoner reports, affidavits, 
declarations, grievances, requests to staff, and civil litigation 
documents, and further corroborated by hundreds of hours of 
interviews/conversations with prisoners and their loved ones on the 
outside.  We can assert with absolute confidence and substantial-in 
fact, incontrovertible-evidence that torture is a widespread, 
systemic feature of the prison system that deliberately sabotages 
parole and increases recidivism, hence creating the conditions for 
continued market growth for the prison-industrial complex.

PPS-Call and/or write us!

Who are you?  Have you taken action?  Can we know one another and 
work together to beat back this insufferable brutality?  Call, email, 
write whenever.

Please provide feedback as to your conversations with the peoples 
above and other efforts undertaken to protect the men in Camp Hill's SMU.

Thank you.

Solidarity, Health, Respect,
Trust, and Struggle

Contact Information
5125 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
<mailto:hrcfedup at gmail.com>hrcfedup at gmail.com

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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