Feedback from Menard Hunger Strikers on Noise Demonstration

1954 Missouri Prison Riot

The following excerpts are from people locked-up at the High Security Isolation Unit at  Menard Correctional Facility in Illinois, responding to a noise demonstration by outside supporters during the hunger strike there last month.

To the Drum Beaters,

…I have been in Administrative Detention for 15 years without ever being charged. I’ve seen a lot in my time—the brutal killing of two young black men in Stateville in F house by the gun tower and how all the blacks lock up and all of us was like “what’s up?” They sold out for jobs to come off of lockdown. I seen the killing of a latino in F house by a gun tower in Stateville and we burn it down, we took hostages in G Dorm and in F. house we just set it on fire.

All of these killings by the police was brought about by dirty and corrupt administration officials trying to control things their way. Which we all know it wasn’t to treat us right. I’ve been going back and forth with them for a long time. I finally realized who my enemy was. In 1996 my friend got killed in Pontiac by a police on the cat walk. It is during this time that they shut down the prison as we know it.

…When they brought me [to Menard] they put me in a jumpsuit that was nothing but rags and into a cell that had no heat nor any hot water and mouse shit everywhere. No matter where I go to I have to check my A.D. Status to see what is up, and by them just closing Tamms and me being locked down for so long they should of check up on me. No one did. So I went on a hunger strike.

I am one of the Menard hunger strikers and I heard your drums. I have been gone for a very long time and inside my cell I have a big window that I am able to see out of. And I spend a lot of time looking out of it so I can put memories in my head. [Until getting to Menard three months ago] I had not seen cars, people, trains or even a river in many years.

So as I was looking out of my window thinking about all of this stuff and the possibility of getting ship out of state I felt a little down. And then I heard it, “boom, boom, boom, boom.” What the hell! I thought that I was going crazy. Tamms did mess me up a little bit so I wasn’t sure. Then it got louder and this time with whistles. I look to my right by the side of the railroad tracks and then I see all of yous.

Yous walk all the way to where our cells window were and stop.

Then when you open that big banner and I seen what it said [“We Support the Hunger Strike”] my spirit lifted. I cannot explain in words the feelings that I felt only that I also felt sad for those who are around me did not stand up. Here you are not knowing me or us and you made a stand with us. Our voices was heard all around because of you and other people. Thank you for standing strong with us.

That second time that yous came they wrote some of us tickets and I got 3 months seg. and stripped out. It is alright though, one must fight for what they believe in. I will send you my ticket when I get my property. Just to let you know, I do not talk to a lot of people. I have lost some of my talking skills. Also, I tend to stay to myself. I got all kinds of problems now with guards and people touching me. It’s crazy. But I know that it’s this long term isolation effect.

Tell me a little bit about yourselves as well as what that red and black flag means. Also put me on your mailing list and keep my info—well, I have to stop here. I do not want to take up all your time.

Continue marching, never stop beating your drums and always fight with what you have.

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To who it may concern! I would like to be added to your mailing list…

My name is … and I’m being held at the Menard C.C. High Security Unit. Just wanted to give yous a shout out from across the “pond” and let you’s know. We respect what you’s stand for!!! It means a shit load to us here on the inside. As to them protesters who came down here beatin on their drums blowin their air horn’s screaming at the top of their lungs, gave us some hope. I also want to let you’s know the po-po hooked some of us tickets for disobeying a direct order for screamin out the window, didn’t no one get caught in the act, they (po-po) just picked and chose who to write up (fuck it). I got three months in the “bing” just want to send our thanks from across the “pond” from a bunch of misunderstood misfits. Holla.

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Greetings my Brothers and Sisters of our seemingly never ending struggle. I hope this letter finds you all in good health, high spirits and doing whatever the hell you want to do!

I am one of the prisoner/hungerstrikers at Menard Correctional Center, High Security Isolation Unit (HSIU), and Representative thereof.

You should be getting letters from approx. 15 of us here requesting to be placed on your mailing list, and expressing our heartfelt appreciation for your support, solidarity, and protest. Man that was Awesome! These pigs down here were mad as well and shook up! We ALL could see and hear you and it lifted our morale like you can’t even know. Thank you so much! I would really like to continue to receive your newsletter and even more importantly continue to correspond with you about our issues, our struggle and plans of battle. Our first battle was w/out a doubt a victory, but one battle does not win a war.

The time is right to continue our push forward to stop this inhumane isolation. The People are behind us and we can not back off while our enemy is on their heels.

Prisoners all across the country in these isolation units are rising up, and revolution is in the air. That is, peaceful revolution, of course…

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I’m writing you regarding your protest outside of Menard’s prison. Thank you so much for your commitment and time. If anything, y’all were the voice that these officers needed to hear but also hated with disgust. Behind me yelling out the window these officers wrote several of us up, for Disobeying Direct Orders. Please believe me, the 90 days in the hole was well worth it. Things are changing but at a very slow pace. Many of us or should I say all of us still don’t know why we’re being subjected to this program called Administrative Detention. They’ve been holding all of us in isolation for a long period of time, with no due process hearings of why. Once again, thank you for being that voice and may the fight continue.