SCOTT PERRY, MURDERED BY THE STATE
One year ago yesterday, guards at the St. Louis Justice Center held Scott Perry against his will, refused him medical treatment and let him bleed to death. Scott is one of six people known by name to have died in custody in St. Louis in the past few years from lack of medical attention. At least a dozen others (names unknown) have also been killed from lack of medical treatment in the same time. Within the last few weeks, two have died in the infamous Workhouse, and only one, Willie Woodberry, is known by name. The State has made it clear that arrests for the pettiest offenses – loitering, drug use, public intoxication, trespassing – can carry a sentence of death.
Yesterday, 30-40 family members and anti-prison sympathizers held a noise demo outside the Justice Center during the two hours leading up to Scott Perry’s murder. Air horns, signs, pans and a banner reading “REMEMBER SCOTT PERRY / MURDERED BY THE STATE” were all used to let those responsible for Scott’s death, as well as those locked up inside, know that we will not forget them. A pamphlet documenting the known deaths in city jails was handed out. Correctional officers coming and going were also heckled and harassed.
SCOTT’S TENACIOUS FAMILY
For the first few months after Scott’s death, his family held a weekly vigil – holding signs, and exchanging challenges and threats with coming and going COs – outside the jail during the same two hours leading up to his murder. Family members have come to every anti-prison demo they’ve known about in the past year, bringing their anger and the “REMEMBER SCOTT PERRY” banner.
They haven’t accepted Scott’s death as yet another burden they must quietly lug around in this fucked up world. They refuse the model of grieving silently, “respectfully.” They won’t quietly hold vigils with the hope that they can sway someone else who can then better address the murder of their loved-one. They’ve pushed and screamed and made those personally responsible for his death feel uneasy, maybe even scared for their safety. And as amazing and inspiring as all of that is, they’ve also managed to create a space where others can grieve, share their stories and turn their anger into action.
HOW COMMON IS THIS?!
While handing out pamphlets, four different groups of people said they personally knew someone who had died in custody from lack of medical treatment. One driver said her family member, Jerry Bostic, had had an asthma attack in the hole at the Workhouse in ’98. Jerry was 22 and died after hours of guards telling him not to worry and to stop faking his condition.
Another person walking down the street, stopped, pointed to LaVonda Kimble’s photo in the pamphlet and said, “That’s my sister.”
A car of people said that their loved one, Tom, had just been left to die in a cell, and that they’d been told by the jail for five days after his death that they couldn’t find his body. “When you go to the hospital it’s hard enough. When you in there you fighting life and death all on your own.”
Back at the picket line more stories were exchanged. A screaming, herniated man forced to stand for hours and taunted by guards. A concussed prisoner, so hurt he was unable to remember his mother’s phone number, told by nurses and guards he was totally fine. A woman who fell from her bunk, and despite her cellmate’s cries and demands for help, was left bleeding to death for hours, if not days.
EVERYBODY GETS OFF WORK AT SOME POINT
At 8:30, exactly one year since the death of Scott, his family and supporters went inside. One family member ask the guard to look up Scott Perry in their system. A moment after the guard picked up the phone to check, she yelled “You can’t, because you killed him!” “Murderers!” others in the crowd yelled. “You can’t find him, cause you murdered him! You killed my brother!” “Murderers!” “Why don’t you go home and tell your family that you’re murderers!” “Murderers!”
Back outside, distraught, grieving, raging, people taunt and challenge the guards to come outside. At one point some do, to tell the crowd to get lost. They’re drowned out by more shouts of “Murderers!” and “You killed my brother!” “Come on down here! Come on! Even if you don’t, you gotta get off work at some point!”
Eventually, a dozen or so police formed a loose line between both sides, and having been there the two hours they said they would, everyone trickled away.
RIP Jerry Bostic, LaVonda Kimble, Tom, Courtland Lucas, Bam-Bam Long, Vanessa Evans, Anna Brown, Willie Woodberry.
RIP Scott Perry and everyone who’s died at the hands of the State.
May you all have your hour of vengeance.