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More Information On the Pepper Spraying Incident on 2/28/21

By March 17, 2021No Comments

 We’ve posted several messages we’ve received from incarcerated men at ERDCC in Bonne Terre regarding an incident on 2/28/21 when some Muslim men were pepper sprayed by MoDOC staff while praying. This incident is sad, infuriating, disgusting…

Here’s another letter from another Muslim man who was praying that day. 

I am writing this letter in response to an incident that occurred on February 28, 2021. I am currently incarcerated at Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correction Center, In Bonne Terre, Missouri. On the above Date at Approximately 9:15 pm, nine inmates, including myself were praying in accordance with our Islamic beliefs. We were making an additional group prayer, above our obligatory five prayers.

During our prayer two officers, Lt. ****** and Sgt. ****, came into the wing and proceeded to stand immediately in front of us. I then heard Lt. ****** state, “Stop praying, your only allowed to pray in the chapel.” A few people claim to have heard other statements. I have heard some hearing damage and we had an “open wing” with 20-30 other inmates talking and mailing noise. Between 15-30 seconds after standing in front of us, approximately 15 officers came running into the wing. I found out later that Lt. ****** had called a code 5, which is an call for an officer needing emergency assistance.
I made a quiet statement, to end my prayer, then stood up. Two of the nine in mates avoided the officers, and were left alone. After standing, I was ordered to, “turn around and cuff up.” I immediately complied with the order, given to me. Another inmate ******* ****, was cuffed up and led out behind me. The officer escorting me stated, “let’s get out of here before you get maced.” As I was being escorted out, I turned my head and witnessed five of my brothers being sprayed with the crowd control canister of pepper spray, while they were still one their knees. None of us said anything or offered any resistance. None of us made any threatening movements or gestures, nor made any eye contact. I saw one of the inmates being “roughed up”, by two officers.
While I was outside, I heard one inmate, ****** ********, screaming, “I can’t breathe.” I turned my head and witnessed 6 officers shoving him onto the concrete face first, with their knees on his back, while he was in restraints. We were walked to medical, only to be asked our names. Then we were taken to disciplinary segregation and stripped to our underwear. The temperature was below 65 °f, in the cells. We were given no matrisses, blankets, clothes, pillows, showers, or any medical treatment for approximately 14-16 hours. The five in mates that were sprayed with O.C. spray were not given showers or eyewash of any kind. I was later told that, they had to use toilet water to wash the pepper spray from their eyes.
We were given conduct violations for Organized Disobedience and Disobeying A Direct Order, from Lt. ****** and Sgt. **** walked into the wing, to when we were placed in cells in Disciplinary Segregation, less than 5 minutes had elapsed. The Segregation Unit is one quarter of a mile away from our Housing Unit. We were not given any time to comply with any orders, or anytime for the situation to Deesculate. Not including the fact that our Constitutional Right to Religious freedom was trampled upon we were treated inhumanly, there is, or was, video surveillance of this incident. There are also approximately 20 other inmates that witnessed the event.
Five of the seven inmates, ****** ********, ********* *******, ******* ******, ******** *****, and ****** ****** had a hate crime committed against them, and were violently attacked, solely because of their race and religion. ******* **** and myself, **** *********, were given ten days in solitary confinement due to our religious beliefs. When Christians hold prayer circles, in this prison, they are not assaulted and placed in segregation, nor are they given conduct violations, for praying, the systematic Racism and hatred for Muslims and people of color, in this institution is out of control. An investigation needs to be started and we need outside legal assistance”

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