“Birthday, Transfer and OWS” by Sundiata Acoli

Birthday, Transfer and OWS
by Sundiata Acoli- 1/14/2012

Thank each of you for such warm Birthday (Jan. 14th) greetings, they brightened my day immensely but frankly it’s hard for me to fully comprehend that i’m actually 3/4 of a Century old. That is old by any standard!

i was transferred from FCI Otisville, NY because they’re supposedly converting it into a “Sex-Offenders and Debriefed-Gang-Members” prison. Otisville population stands at around 1200 prisoners. Staff  said they planned to transfer out 500 prisoners, mostly gang members and replace them with sex offenders and debriefed gang members, i.e., prisoners who have gotten out of the gang and off the prison’s gang list as a result of them debriefing by telling what they know of their gang’s operations and pointing out other unknown gang members to the staff.

Otisville had transferred out approximately 20 gang members (1 bus load) each week for a month or more when they added “convicted murderers” to the transfer list. i departed Otisville on the 2nd busload of prisoners convicted of murder. At each stop along the way, MDC Brooklyn, NY and FDC Philly, PA the prisoners there were very welcoming and helpful altho federal men’s prison are so overcrowded that there’s a widespread chronic shortage of the most basic supplies, prisoners are literally stacked atop each other and as soon as any prisoner transfers out, another moves into his bed space that same day or the next.

At MDC Brooklyn i received a much welcomed visit from each of my long time attorneys: Florence, Soffiyah, Marisa and Joan. Attorneys can simply show up at the Detention Center and visit. Not so for family or friends, they must be on a new visit list created at the Center. None of my family or friends were able to get on my list before the week or so lapsed by which time i was long gone to the next detention center.

The same visit rules were in effect at FDC Philly, PA. After a week or so there our bus departed on a round-about trip to FCI Schuykill, PA, our final destination. The first stop was Harrisburg International Airport, PA which looked every bit like a modern day slave market. 40 to 50 bus and van loads of prisoners, mostly Black and Brown with a splash of White and smaller splashes of Red and Yellow, chained hand and foot, sat along the runway of a “Con Air” transport jet disgorging hordes of cuffed hobbling prisoners from it’s entrails.  Empty,  and refilling its belly with just as many new prisoners from the buses/vans until finally sated, it turned, waddled down the runway , belched, and lurched into the horizon.

Other buses and vans mixed and matched, switched and swapped  prisoners till each bus was loaded only with prisoners going to the same destinations across the Northeast: NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, WV; the whole operation was surrounded by a cordon of federal marshals, prison guards, state troopers and county sheriffs.

It was here that all the prisoners on my bus were switched to a bus bound for FCI Schuykill…except me. Shortly, a guard i vaguely recognized from long ago came, took me off the bus and escorted me to another filled with different prisoners. Once seated i asked where they were headed. They said “Cumberland.” My property and traveling papers continued on to Schuykill. We arrived at FCI Cumberland and i was immediately put in SHU (the Hole) because they had no papers for me. I did 10 days semi-incommunicado in “the hole” until my papers arrived and was then let  out into general population. i thank all those who expressed concern about my welfare during the transfer, particularly Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa, the Jericho Movement and numerous others. i’ve since learned that at least 5 convicted murderers who left Otisville on the bus with me were rerouted back to FCI Otisville before reaching their transfer destination. They were all White.

i and SAFC support the OWS/OCCUPY MOVEMENT and i thank them for the evolving mutual support they’ve shown at various times and places for the Jericho Movement, the Black Movement and other Movements of People of Color and the Oppressed.


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