By Jeff Cummings
Carrington Keys is a Pittsburgh human rights activist and a member of the Human Rights Coalition/FedUp. Every single day he puts his neck on the line to speak up against injustice. In retaliation, he has been beaten, harassed and humiliated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but he never backs down. He refuses to be silent.
You may say, I live in Pennsylvania. I’m an activist and I have never seen the state retaliate like that. Carrington is one of a fast growing number of men and women who reside in prisons but who refuse to remain silent. They are incarcerated eyewitnesses to the flagrant violations of human rights perpetrated daily by the staff and administrators of the PA Department of Corrections. The corporate media consider these activists’ efforts to be unworthy of the news.
In Carrington’s case, he was sentenced as a young adult to a minimum of five years. Seventeen years later, he is still incarcerated. Those 12 extra years were taken off his life not because of any misconduct, or because he posed any danger to the public, but simply in retaliation for his undaunted courage in reporting abuses. These abuses are: beatings, mental abuse, foreign matter in food–glass, metal, spit, feces, urine, semen–mail tampering, deprivation of human contact, withholding medications, starvation, and even coerced suicide.
Carrington hasn’t been the only witness. Many prisoners report human rights violations. From 2008 to 2009, dozens of prisoners cooperated with the HRC/FedUp, a grassroots organization of prisoners, ex-prisoners, families and activists, in compiling and publishing a report on human rights violations at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Dallas, PA. The guards retaliated immediately and viciously. Six of those prisoners stood firm and demanded to see public officials who could put a stop to the backlash. They became the Dallas 6: Andre Jacobs, Anthony Kelley, Anthony Locke, Duane Peters, Derrick Stanley and Carrington Keys.
These six protested nonviolently by placing covers over the windows of their solitary confinement cells. Instead of calling in the requested officials, the prison responded with cell extractions. In an extraction, five or six correction officers enter a solitary confinement cell wearing full body armor to remove the prisoner by force. One officer has a shield, one a taser, one pepper spray, one handcuffs, one leg irons and one a baton. All six prisoners were extracted one by one.
You can see video footage of Carrington’s extraction at https://vimeo.com/88784471, compiled by James Tedrow of HRC (Human Rights Coalition). All the guards involved in the extraction reported afterward that they were uninjured, but members of the Dallas 6 were left that day bloody, naked, burnt and in pain.
Following this assault on the 6 peaceful activists, hundreds of reports were made. Not once was the word “riot” mentioned. Only after civil actions and complaints were filed by the Dallas Six did the prison, the state police and the District Attorney form an alliance to bring riot charges against the activists. This alliance sought to make an example of them to other incarcerated activists and to distract the public from the real issue: the brutality and inhumanity of Pennsylvania’s prisons. In April, 2016, a jury trial was conducted to try the Dallas Six for rioting. It resulted in a mistrial.
On September 2nd, the riot charges were dropped for the remaining Dallas 6, but Carrington Keys will be tried again for assault. His trial had been scheduled for December 5th but will most likely be delayed. Go to scidallas6.blogspot.com to find out more information about how you can support these brave activists.On September 9th, 2016, prisoners across the country called for a Nation-wide Prisoner Work Stoppage to End Prison Slavery. That strike is gaining momentum in all 50 states every day. The Dallas 6 are some of the most dedicated incarcerated activists in the America, among the few in Pennsylvania so far. Please support them by telling others about their fight. Make a contribution if possible. Write to them. Show up at Carrington’s trial if you can. Contract Shandre Delaney, Carrington’s mother and director of HRC/FedUp, at 570-763-9504 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what you can do.
Jeff Cummings is a fundraiser at Donor Services Group.