Protesters demand answers about DeKalb Jail abuses at county commissioners’ meeting

Members of Atlanta Anarchist Black Cross, the Street Groomers, and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee spoke at the DeKalb County commissioners’ meeting today about the abuses at the DeKalb jail.

During the public comment section Meg Dudukovich said, 
“I became involved in the protests about the inhuman conditions at the Dekalb County Jail after I saw a series of social media posts depicting men incarcerated there speaking out about abuses and showing the moldy food. Their signs said help us we dying, need food, and we sleep and breathe mold. I got in touch with the mother of one of the men who has been calling attention to the abuses on social media.  She says she has not been able to speak to her son since Sunday April 7, before her posts went viral. He is in solitary.  She has heard multiple reports from other men jailed there that her son & the other 2 men in the posts had their cell raided, were beaten, had their heads forced into toilets, and were thrown into solitary under the pretext that they had a cell phone, which is untrue–the photos were screenshots  from a permitted video visit. The mother of Darnell Thompson, one of the men in the posts, was unable to be here but sent these brief comments that I’m going to read now: ‘Why are inmates being stripped of their rights? My son, along with two other inmates, has been place in solitary confinement; their cells was swarmed and excessive force was used–for what reason? Produce evidence to show reason for the confinement. Since this post has went viral it is very evident that their reason for solitary confinement has been in retaliation; is it unlawful for inmates to take a stand for their rights to speak up against being subjected to abuse and inhumane conditions?  I want to know the physical condition of my son and the other inmates since their reported attacks by officers from several inmates as well as an investigation of every officer involved. (I received a tip that officer “Jones” was one of the attackers). Why are guards abusing their authority to use excessive force on inmates that lead up to physical impairment or death? What happened to funds that was disbursed to fix the air quality in the jail to remove mold and fix plumbing? Are you aware of the man y deaths that have occurred in Dekalb County Jail and no further investigations have been pursued to give justice to families of their loved ones? Why are inmates medical needs being neglected?'”

Later, Adele MacLean said, 
“After we heard about the viral social media posts of prisoners begging for help with the inhumane conditions in the Dekalb jail, we have been speaking to people who have been inside or had loved ones inside, and collecting stories of mistreatment and neglect. Lynn from Mothers of Sons in Prisons is here to support. Almost everyone with experience of the jail tells the same story: horrifying conditions and physical abuse. 
Every person who needs daily medication to survive or avoid serious health problems that we spoke to reported days-long delays in receiving their meds, or never got them at all. – my friend was denied the right to speak today, but he’s here. He ended up in the hospital because was denied his seizure meds for–how many days Haroun?–three days.- I spoke to a woman who went 3 days without her blood pressure meds. I asked did you get sick, she said, “Yeah I got sick! What do you think would happen?” – I spoke to a person in the jail two weeks ago who had just witnessed a diabetic man get ill after going without insulin. he says you have to request meds via the kiosk, which has a sign that says it can take a week for your request to be seen.  not processed, not addressed. there is no time frame posted for that. The other men imprisoned there had to shout at the guards to give him his insulin. I take daily medication, I imagine a lot of you do too. Any one of us could end up in there. Due to racial profiling and biased policing practices, some are at greater risk,  but any of us or our loved ones  could end up in there. For those of us who need meds, that could be a death sentence.   
Medical neglect is far from the only issue.  The outright abuse needs to be addressed. the extreme efforts to silence the men who spoke out in the social media posts shows the length they go to to keep these problems from coming to light. They are clear that speaking out will be met with severe punishment.  These brave men took their lives into their hands to bring our attention to these issues, so why are we still ignoring them? What has happened to these men? Why are they being held incommunicado? Why have their mothers been given no information about their whereabouts? Why has Malaya Tucker been banned from video visits with her son and anyone else?  Can you all speak to this? What do you plan to do? Are there going to be investigations into the allegations of abuse, or are we going to continue to allow the abusers to brutally suppress any criticism?”

The chairman of the commissioners said “now is the time for public comment only. Commissioners can speak during the time allotted for that if they choose to address the issues.” MacLean replied, “I would very much like it if you would ‘choose to address the issues'”.

After the activists stood up to leave one council member approached them and asked for their contact info, saying he would speak to the Sheriff and ask about procedures for investigating complaints. However he did not offer his own contact info or make an concrete promises to follow up other than that he would speak to the sheriff.

Groups involved in protest plan to continue tabling and speaking to people outside the jail, and a public meeting is planned for April 27 at 6 pm at the Little Five Points Community Center on the third floor. Protesters plan a large demonstration for ‘fuk 12’ week, the week of May 12-18.