THREAD: Why words matter. 100 humans caged in solitary confinement in Michigan courageously publish letters. Horrors. Suicide attempts. Abuse. Denial of food. Racism. Torture. Routinely for years.

Department denies all. How? They don't call it "solitary."…
Rutikanga Akesi. Solitary for years: "I know it's too late now, of course, but I want those people to know we are humans too."

Michigan Department of Corrections: He's not in solitary. He's in the "START program." Only difference: 1 hour of group therapy once a week.
There are dozens of ways to hide the brutal practice of locking people away in concrete cages for years. One of them is changing the name of their cage. In the United States, these are the names used for the places we bury people alive:
"Mental Health Unit." "Observation." "Temporary segregation."

"This is the techno jargon that keeps the system opaque. All these euphemisms are for essentially solitary confinement. Anything that forces someone to stay in isolation for more than sleeping hours is solitary."
Here's whats terrifying. When confronted with these 100 letters from solitary, these 100 voices of people currently suffering, the Michigan Department of Corrections Spokesperson, @ChrisGautz, either denied their experiences or told the reporter to make an information request.
This spokesperson @ChrisGautz's job is to use words, deflection, semantics to ensure Michigan--the solitary capital of the world--currently confining over 3000 people in extreme isolation, can keep torturing human beings. It's harder to fight back against something you can't see.
Michigan Department of Corrections argues semantics about “observation” versus “segregation” versus "solitary," nitpick privileges and hardcover books, while the thousands of people inside these cages suffer and starve and take their own lives with shocking frequency. Not okay.
The vast majority of the world has ended long-term solitary confinement. It has no place in just and civilized society, and while we fill the streets with demands that the police stop killing Black and poor people, that the state stop terrorizing our communities...
We must not forget those men and women suffering in solitary confinement in Michigan and around the country. Forgotten, abused, degraded. Silenced. 100 people caged in Michigan solitary confinement wrote letters to share their experiences. The result:
Shearod McFarland, who spent *over 9 years* in solitary: “I felt that the quiet, creeping violence of segregation was slowly tearing my soul apart. These abuses continue because no one can see what’s happening to us. Solitary is a kind of perpetual violence."
Brian Peterson: "I hate it in there. I feel the walls closing in around me even as I write this about it. It is a horrible feeling to be so helpless. If it wasn’t for my faith in Jesus Christ I know I would have died. I can’t write about that but one night I know it was close."
Andraus McCloud: "The further you go up north, it's like the South. You see more crosses burning."
Erick Johnson: "You said you wanted to hear more ok then hold on to your seat. Because this inhumane treatment to anybody living conditions. The prisons and C.O.s don’t feed us. We received small to little to none food. I enclosed a drawing to show the food trays they give us."
Abron Shakir: "I am most passionate about drawing, tattooing, & learning new mediums to express myself. Unfortunately being caged so early in life I never had chance to learn what I enjoyed. Mostly I remember I was at my happiest spending time w/ my family & friends."
Quincy Howard: "I have experienced countless years of all contact being cut off from family, children. Gassed over 100 times with chemical agents, no heat in the winter, no ventilation nor cool air in the summer, the target of foul language, threats, and sour and spoiled food."
These people exist. Their experiences are happening. @ChrisGautz and the Department he's paid to protect can try to silence them & pretend they don't exist. But you can't unsee this:
Thank you to @TanaGaneva for uplifting the powerful voices silenced in Michigan and for this powerful piece exposing the torture of Solitary in Michigan and the deflections and misleading statements of the Michigan Department of Correction.…

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More from @ScottHech

9 Jun
Meet Lynn. Her husband was sentenced to 34 years. 2 people on his jury voted "not-guilty." Any other state in the country: No conviction. Not in Oregon. KKK ensured minority voices could be silenced. It worked. "How many people have they done this to?"
Most think of the KKK in terms of physical violence. Intimidation. But they also used legal & legislative process to pass laws exacting legal violence. In Oregon they pushed a law to silence jurors. "Non-unanimous juries."
In Louisiana in 1898, the KKK pushed non-unanimous juries to “establish the supremacy of the white race" & “ensure African-American juror service would be meaningless.” In 1934, Oregon joined them. At the time of the law’s passage there were *34,000+ active KKK members in Oregon.
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4 Jun
GUTTING: "I recall hearing bones cracking, people screaming, & just blood."

A year ago today, NYPD attacked 100s in Mott Haven Bronx. It was planned. NYPD used the curfew to trap, assault, & arrest. Today, 24 people who were attacked shared.…
"We went there to protest police brutality and became victims of police brutality." Andom.
"I see one of the officers take his baton out and hit my brother. And I think that was the moment for me to realize that we’re being arrested." -Helen.
Read 7 tweets
30 May
The @nytimes right now is doing more damage to social & racial justice than any carceral force out there. Legitimizing a blatant lie (police budgets up everywhere & still no health/safety) by the architect of racist overpolicing. This is outrageous & dangerous stuff.
Bill Bratton is the architect of mass surveillance, broken windows, & targeted, racist policing in 3 different major cities (NYC, LA, Boston). When NY finally passed much-needed reforms he came back to lie & fearmonger it away. Even @nytimes ed board called him out. Now this.
Look at this gushing headline & this professional legacy photo. Designed to make you think: Respected & venerated public servant! Personable. Likeable. Trusting. Just hanging out and “dishing” the truth with real talk. He’s a bigot responsible for devastating Black communities.
Read 13 tweets
29 May
“Mom, please call them,” Jane wrote in a letter. I haven’t felt the baby all day.”

A young pregnant woman was caged for months pretrial in Texas. Thrown in solitary. No calls. Deprived food. Had to order cough drops to numb her hunger. She lost the baby.…
“Jane’s experience isn’t an anomaly in Texas.” is a digital archive that shares letters & spoken testimonies of people incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic who have survived abuse inside the state’s jails. Some have been held pretrial for years:
Horror in Texas: "I have a 5 y/o little girl & a 4 y/o little boy. I've lost the rights to them since in jail." Kdee suffers mental health issues & seizures. Caged a year pretrial. Denied medication. Hogtied. Attempted suicide. This is not okay. Torture.
Read 12 tweets
28 May
“The Boat.” Otherwise known as the Vernon C. Bain Center. A massive ship thats part of Rikers Island just floating in the East River. Cages 600 people. Pretrial. Nearly all Black or Brown. 47,326-tons. 5 stories. As large as 2 football fields. $161 million to build.
To get in you walk across this metal mesh enclosed tunnel bridge over water. So strange looking down and seeing water. Inside they have a wooden model of the ship in a glass case. Last time I went had elaborate Halloween decorations in intake & stringed autumn leaves on the wall.
Far more foreboding in person. And I’ve heard from folks that you can’t tell you’re on a boat when you’re inside. Not true. You can feel the swaying of this massive prison ship.
Read 4 tweets
28 May
CRISIS IN TEXAS: 40,000 caged pretrial. State violence, denial of medical care, starvation, solitary, infection. Today, this young man's death ruled a homicide by jail guards. Yet *right now, Texas poised to pass a racist law to significantly expand pretrial caging.* Thread:
Jaquaree Simmons. You probably haven't heard of him. Just 23. Caged pretrial in TX. Called mom almost every day from his jail cell. Crying & begging for help. One week later, found dead. That was 3 months ago. His family still has not been given any info.…
The night before his death, Jaquaree was attacked by a "detention officer." Hit the floor. "He’s small at 5-foot-3 & 125 pounds." Jail saying there's no video. “We still haven’t seen Jaquaree." Texas's answer back to his family: we're gonna pass a law to cage even more.
Read 12 tweets

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