Black Liberation in Context: Political Prisoner Speaks on Torture at 2005 Human Rights Conference
Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army political/prisoner of war Sundiata Acoli told human rights activists “torture is nothing new” in U.S.
“The same perverted grins seen at Ghraib can be found in the faces and photos of White lynch mobs in the U.S.”
Greetings IHRI Conference:
First i want to congratulate the Keynote Speaker and Honorable Congresswoman, Sister Cynthia McKinney, on her triumphant return to Congress. But more so i want to personally thank her as being the only Congressional official who had courage or concern enough to make a determined effort toward my release when i was rounded up on September 11, 2001, and held ‘incommunicado’ from my family, my attorneys and the entire outside world. Meanwhile prison officials torturously interrogated me, looking for ‘any’ connection on my part to the destruction of the WTC or the later spread of anthrax thru the postal system. They openly threatened to hold me in total isolation for the rest of my life and their implied threat was to seek the death penalty.
So torture is nothing new to u.s. PP/POWs, nor to everyday people of color and others oppressed in the ghettoes, barrios, reservations, towns and cities thru out amerika. They don't call the Bronx's 44th Precinct, "Fort Apache," for nothing; or because they serve "tea and cookies" there. They call it "Fort Apache" because they whip heads there, bust lips, knock out teeth, blacken eyes, break ribs and even rape and kill there … and it goes on to one degree or another in every police station across country, big or small.
“They openly threatened to hold me in total isolation for the rest of my life.”
Abu Ghraib is not an aberration. Most u.s. prisoners instantly recognized amerika's fingerprints all over Ghraib; they match its prints in u.s. police stations, jails and prisons. The Ghraib perversions trace a straight line back home to White amerika's psychotic obsessions with the genitals of Blacks it lynched. The same perverted grins seen at Ghraib can be found in the faces and photos of White lynch mobs in the u.s. swarmed around Black bodies hung from trees. It's a perversion born in this country's racial-sexual degradation of its Black slaves and others of color since its beginning, and the lies told since then to cover it up. That same "cover-up" mindset also keeps most of the amerikan press silent about the many Iraqi women and children, young boys and girls, who were also raped, and probably still are being raped, at Abu Ghraib. Photographic proof exists and The San Francisco Bayview newspaper has it. For those adults who have legitimate need for such proof, the photos are available upon e-mail request for them at [email protected].
Now for some of my personal experiences with torture:
In 1969 NY cops kicked in my door for two other Panthers, Sekou Odinga and Kuwasi Balagoon, and without saying a word beat and stomped me unmercifully. Then they took me to the 32nd Precinct, Harlem, and threw me in the holding tank with Joan Bird, another Harlem Panther, whose lip was so busted and swollen, and eyes so blackened and swollen shut that i barely recognized her. She said that at one point during her beating they hung her out of the 3rd-floor window by the ankles, made sexual taunts and threatened to drop her if she didn't tell the whereabouts of Sekou and Kuwasi. They didn't find them and after holding us in jail for a month they released us.
“At one point during her beating they hung her out of the 3rd-floor window by the ankles.”
In 1970 during the New York Panther-21 trial we defendants were assaulted numerous times while cuffed, by Riker's Island jail guards who transported us back and forth to court each day.
In 1973, after my arrest in the New Jersey Turnpike case, i was held in strict isolation at Middlesex County Jail, NJ. Because of my placement there, and even tho i was allowed no visitors except my lawyer, the jail implemented harsh visiting rules on all visitors which caused the prisoners to protest by refusing to lock in their cells. New Jersey state troopers came in with shotguns, shot prisoners in the face and torso with bean-bags that broke noses, blackened eyes and bruised ribs, shot teargas that choked, blinded and burned, and drove prisoners back into their cells. i was already under 24/7-lockdown so they simply shot teargas into my cell, turned the water off and heat on, in mid-summer, which left me and similar prisoners to wallow in pain from the sweat-reactivated tear gas which we had no means to wash off.
In 1976 at Trenton State Prison (TSP), NJ, i and other Management Control Unit (MCU) prisoners were subjected to two-hours of gunfire by Jersey state troopers raking the Unit back and forth, trying to shoot into our cells. John Andaliwa Clark was killed by a double- ought shotgun blast to the chest and another prisoner, "Gunner," who came out with his hands in the air was shot by an M-14 rifle aimed at his head but tore thru his elbow instead. i and numerous other MCU prisoners were hit by shrapnel from bullets that ricocheted off the bars into our cells.
In 1977, MCU guards suddenly began demands to probe the anus of random MCU prisoners during their normal strip-search of us each time we were taken out or returned to our cells. And of course, we refused to submit willingly to such a degrading and asinine demand. All who resisted were jumped by the guards, beaten, wrestled to the floor and anus probed, then charged with assault on the guards which carried an additional 7-year sentence upon conviction. To avoid further anus probes, for the next seven months we refused all family visits, attorney visits, doctor, dental visits or anything else that required us to leave our cells. Prison officials then instituted a policy of "random" mandatory cell-changes so that they could continue to subject selected prisoners to "random" beatings, abuse and forced anal probes under the guise of changing our cells. The situation became so volatile and our families, attorneys and friends were so alarmed that a federal judge stepped in, forbade the prison to continue anal-probes, declared that a metal detector was just as effective as a search tool and that it be used instead of the anal probe and then summarily dismissed all assault charges that had been filed against us MCU prisoners.
“Prison officials instituted a policy of ‘random’ mandatory cell-changes so that they could continue to subject selected prisoners to "random" beatings, abuse and forced anal probes.”
In 1983, at USP Marion, Il, a federal penitentiary, guards locked down the prison and went on a six-month rampage, roaming the prison and beating prisoners at will and randomly subjecting some to forced anal probes. During that period i was sent to "the hole" whose floor and walls were covered with feces thrown by prisoners who had been beaten and anal probed. It was mid-summer, the heat was intense, the smell incredible, the windows were closed and i was confined sixty-days there without fresh air or relief.
Later in the summer of '83 i was taken by bus in chains to testify at Sekou Odinga's trial in New York where he and other comrades were charged with robbery of a Brinks armored truck and with liberating Assata Shakur from prison. After i dressed-out for the bus ride, the guard put a black-box over my handcuffs which is supposedly for high security prisoners. Any prisoner who's ever worn it will tell you that after a half-hour the box gnaws into your wrists and sets them on fire with pain. i had to endure the three-day bus ride with the black-box gnawing into my wrists all day, plus no smoking was permitted on the bus nor at any of its stopovers along the way, which in itself was also torture to me with a then thirty-year cigarette habit. At MCC-NY, the City's federal jail, they put me in isolation wearing only a T-shirt, pants and shower shoes, then turned the air- condition to near-freezing level so that i had no choice but to do push-ups day and night to keep warm. After three days of freezing and going without cigarettes, i testified in Sekou's defense and was immediately put back on the bus, cuffed in the black-box, for another agonizing three-day trip back to Marion, Il.
“They put me in isolation wearing only a T-shirt, pants and shower shoes, then turned the air-condition to near-freezing.”
In 1988, at USP Leavenworth, Ks., as happened on several occasions during my sojourn in prison, i was caught-up as an innocent bystander during a major prison disturbance. In such situations bystanders and participants alike suffer the same abuse by the intervening guards. This time it happened in the yard when a gang-war broke out between the Texas- Syndicate and the EMEs: two Mexican street organizations. In the ensuing melee, Rene, leader of the Syndicate, was stabbed to death and both groups sustained numerous stab wounds. Tower gunfire stopped the carnage as guards moved in to teargas and handcuff everyone, including me and other bystanders, facedown on the blistering summer-asphalt, then lifted us by the cuffs and threw us in the dilapidated and condemned "Building-63" without food or water until the whole thing was sorted out days later.
And last, in 2001, September 11th, at USP Allenwood, Pa., i was rounded up, held *incommunicado* and tortured four months with interrogations about the WTC and the spread of anthrax before being released back into prison population due to the efforts of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, my attorneys and many other concerned peoples.
Sundiata Acoli, USP Allenwood White Deer, PA April 21, 2005
This and other writings cab be found at SundiataAcoli.org.
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