Interview with anonymous inmate at Maury CI, Maury, NC, about anti-police uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I Wish I Could’ve Been Out There”
How did you first hear about the anti-police uprisings and #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, and other cities, of 2014-2015: friends and family, other prisoners, corporate media, and/or radical publications?
I first became aware of the riots and uprisings through the media as they were taking place, but for me #BlackLivesMatter has been an ongoing thing from when NYPD officers beat and sodomized Abner Louima, shot and killed Amadou Diallo after firing 41 shots at him. That’s when I really began to understand–but instead of it just being Black Lives Matter, it should be All Lives Matter.
How did you react? What were your initial thoughts and feelings?
My reaction was like, “Damn, they killed another young man before he could live his life.” My thoughts were, ” I wish I could’ve been out there to be a part of what’s going on.” My feelings were plain and simple. I wanted to do to them what they were doing to those that resemble me. But, what I wasn’t feeling was them destroying where they live, when [instead] you can destroy where they live.
There were and are a lot of contradictory and conflicting elements to these protests and rebellions. Right-wing media has used coded, racist language blaming “thugs” and “criminals”, while left-wing media and some activists have also at times decried the rioting, blaming it on “outside agitators.” Do you have thoughts on these conflicts over tactics and strategy? Do they resonate with debates going on over resistance inside prisons?
In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, whether it was religious leaders, activists, right wing left wing or whoever stated their opinion trying to blame the other as playing a part in agitating the situation more than helping, because instead of name-calling and pointing the finger at one another, they should’ve been putting their heads together to do something about why these uprisings came about in the first place.
Were other prisoners talking about these rebellions, and if so, what kinds of conversations were they having?: Did it stimulate discussion, organizing, and/or resistance in your facility?
Yeah, others were talking about it. Even had CO’s talking about it as well. But didn’t nothing come from it, but many thoughts and opinions.
Did it feel to you like there was a racial dynamic to how prisoners reacted to the news of these mostly Black uprisings? Was there more or less racial unity with regards to anti-police sentiment in the prison? Did it seem like white or Latino/a prisoners could relate?
Once again, this is just my opinion. I think that Latino’s, Spanish and Hispanic people can relate more because they go through similar situations more than caucasions, not to say that whites can’t relate because maybe they can and it’s not being reported the way it’s being reported when a non-white is killed by a police department. To add on this, there’s always some racial tension when these types of things happen.
What do you think the relationship can or should be between these anti-police rebellions on the outside and resistance inside prisons? Is there resistance or organizing going on at your facility you want to mention or hold up?
I don’t know what the relationship should be like between those in rebellion on the outside and those inside prison, but it could be something beautiful if both parties were in solidarity with one another.