"I learned there was no manual for protecting myself..."
This piece is written by one of our incarcerated friends who is participating in Project Solidarity. He has asked us to share this with the public using the name 'Dark Skin'. Following are excerpts from his upcoming memoir.
In 1992, upon entering Department of Corrections and Community Supervision or, DOCCS, I had no clue or idea that I would come face to face with unprovoked discrimination by DOCCS employees, physical and psychological abuse by DOCCS staff, and racism by employees of DOCCS.
No one could have prepared me for the journey of being discriminated against due to the religion that I practice, or the color of my skin tone, that I would experience from mostly white corrections officers or, CO’s.
Those who swore to protect and serve, in corrections, violated their oaths by physically and psychologically assaulting me for asking the question, ‘Who spit in my Vaseline?’ I was psychologically abused by Italian CO’s who expressed their hatred of Black skinned people, especially Black skinned prisoners, when they hinted at the idea of my food being tampered with while serving it, or my mail being delivered several days late.
I learned that there was no manual for protecting myself from racist white CO’s and DOCCS staff, who boldly verbalized racial epithets toward myself as Muslim, and how they felt about 9/11, saying, “We’ll never forget how you [Muslims] attacked our country!”
Huge signs were posted throughout the facility ‘ WE WILL NEVER FORGET 9/11’
I was denied several programs because of my faith, although I never displayed any hostility towards any staff member or prisoner. My academic and education experience was not considered by the program committee. I would experience racism at a higher level than what I was used to before my incarceration, which earned me the condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
You can ask basically any Black prisoner in the State of New York Department of Correctional Services and Community Supervision, what they think the DOCCS abbreviation means. They will tell you it stands for ‘Department of Corruptional Services’ because of the maltreatment we suffer behind these walls.
My personal experiences are far too many to mention. However, I would like to offer you, at the least, a glimpse through excerpts from my upcoming autobiography.
ROCKLAND COUNTY JAIL
Several months after I arrived at the Rockland County Jail. I was physically assaulted by at least five white Italian CO’s because I asked which one of them spit in my jar of vaseline during a cell search. I was punched in my right ear by a white CO over six feet all and weighing over 240 lbs, who kicked me in both my ears. I was then punished for receiving this beating by being starved for two days.
The first time I was able to report the criminal act of physical assault was about three days after the assault. I reported the incident to Donald Cooper, a Black Sergeant who called me a liar and advised me not to file a complaint against the CO’s who made the assault.
After I informed my private counsel about the event, he filed a motion in the court of Rockland to have me examined at a nearby hospital. I was scheduled for an outside medical trip to Good Samaritan Hospital where my eldest sister was employed at the time. The doctors discovered that I had a split eardrum as a result of a blow to my head. The medical records were mysteriously misplaced, which I learned when I filed a motion for interrogatories (written questions submitted to the opposing party in a lawsuit ).
Five years later, after I filed a federal lawsuit against the RDJ, I dropped the suit for fear for my life because of the continuous physical assaults I underwent by white CO’s when I reached NYS prisons.
I was advised by many supervisors ( Sgt’s , LT’s and Deputy’s ) to drop the suit or deal with the consequences, which usually meant physical and psychological abuse by the CO’s. So , fearing for my safety and welfare, I contacted the judge in White Plains and expressed my concerns regarding the above events, and that I wanted to drop the suit. Within 24 hours after I dropped the suit, the abuse stopped.
The next installation will be ATTICA