Justice for Dashawn Evans who Died in the Durham Jail

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On May 27th, 2018, 23-year-old Dashawn Devonte Evans was found dead in the Durham County Detention Facility. He was a healthy young man with a bright life ahead of him.

Over the last few days, people who knew Dashawn have shared information about his compassion, generosity, and commitment to his family. Statements from 9 members of Dashawn’s family are provided below.

As the family of Dashawn Evans moves forward in their struggle for justice in the Durham County Detention Center’s failure to keep Dashawn safe and alive while in their care, his family demands the following:

  • An independent investigation beyond the State Board of Investigation (SBI)
  • A copy of the SBI’s report based on its investigation
  • For the Durham County Sheriff, who is in charge of the Durham County Detention Center, to be held accountable for Dashawn’s death.

For anyone who would like to support Dashawn’s family during this difficult time, please consider donating to this GoFundMe to help the family cover funeral expenses and legal costs for an independent investigation:

https://www.gofundme.com/justicefordashawn

Dashawn’s death is undeniably tragic, all the more so because it does not stand alone.  His death marks the seventh that has occurred in the jail since 2013, a reflection of the indifference and incompetence shown by the sheriff and many in the jail’s staff. We demand justice for Dashawn Evans and those before him: James Earl Staton Jr., Niecey Fennel, Matthew McCain, Raphael Bennet, Dennis McMurray, and Terry Lee. Their stories and testimony from their loved ones and fellow inmates are available on our blog. The jail must stop this pattern of neglect and abuse.  We cannot let them rest until it ends.

Please join the family for a PROTEST and press conference this Friday, June 1st, at 6pm, at the Durham jail.

 

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Statements from Dashawn’s family – 5/29/18

 

Valisha Evans, Dashawn’s Aunt: “He’s going to be missed. I loved him. He was always smiling. He loved his family and his children.”

 

Karen Kirkland, Dashawn’s fiancé: “I want to say that he was a great father, and he will be truly missed. And he was my best friend. I love you, Dashawn.”

 

Venise Jones, Dashawn’s grandmother: “Dashawn was in jail for some problems, but I can promise you that he got a charge that he didn’t do. I know for a fact, because it was on his birthday, he did not do it. I can say, he is a good child. Everybody has good children, and most people’s children do stuff. But he still was a good dad. He was a good grandson. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me. And I love him. Whatever it is [that happened in the jail], it will come out.”

 

Mercedes Jacobs, Dashawn’s sister: “I just want to say that, even though he grew up a little troubled, no matter how hard his life got, he always had a positive outlook or a game-plan and a big smile on his face. Everybody goes through stuff, but he was the type to get through it and not give up. I love my little brother, and I’m gonna miss him.”

 

Robert Miles, Dashawn’s cousin: “We had a lot of good times. We had a lot of bad times. One thing I can say about him: nobody in this family can out-gamble him! <laughter> He wasn’t a good child, he wasn’t a bad child. He was a family man. It’s sad that he’s gone. But it’s a blessing he’s somewhere peaceful. We don’t have to worry about him no more. But at the end of the day, what happened was wrong. He made sure everybody got taken care of. He loved his momma. He loved his kids. He’s gonna be truly missed.”

 

Shereka Evans, Dashawn’s cousin: “One thing Dashawn always did, when he saw me, was hug me. He always hugged me and told me that he loved me, regardless of anything. I will always remember that about him. He loved his family, and I know that he didn’t do anything to jeopardize himself being with his family. He did anything for anybody, whether it was a quarter, whether it was a bag of potato chips. It doesn’t matter what it was, he gave it. So, I know it was something wrong, what happened with my cousin. And we just want to get to the bottom of it, and make sure everybody has light and peace in this situation in the end.”

 

Lewis Jacobs, Dashawn’s father: “One thing I can say about my son is he’s a survivor. He’s always been a survivor through all kind of ups and downs. He’s a survivor and I love him to death. And I knew that he loved me and he loved his family.”

 

Sharnella McCrae, Dashawn’s cousin: “Growing up with Dashawn, you would never know what to expect. Dashawn was so active. Growing up around my house, my grandma had ten children, so there’s a lot of us on both sides of our family. He has a big family. So, Dashawn always was family oriented. Dashawn loved his family, loved both his grandmothers, loved his grandfathers. Dashawn loved to play. No matter whenever I’d see my cousin–if I’m driving down Main Street, Liberty Street, wherever I’m at–I can look out the window and say, ‘what up, Day-Day, what up, cuz, I love you!’ Every time we saw each other, we’d say ‘I love you.’ Even though he got on my nerves, when we departed from each other, we’d say we loved each other. No matter what it was, if I ever felt like I needed Dashawn, Dashawn would be there. I would be there for Dashawn. It’s just an unfortunate situation that we have to see a young man go away from two families that dearly loved this young man. He was really loved. He has two children that will miss him. They’ll never really get to see the young man that I knew Dashawn to be. But he’s looking over them, so that’s a positive. We’re gonna always keep Dashawn lifted. We love you. You’ll never be forgotten. And whatever it is, Dashawn, we will get to the bottom of it. Just know that we got your back, just like you had our back.”

 

Roy Dunkins, Dashawn’s uncle: “He loved his family. Anything he could do for anybody, he would. He loved being around his family. All I can say is he’s a family oriented man. Everybody has their issues, but at the same time, he’s a good dude. He’s gonna be missed by his family. He’s loved by his family. Anybody that comes up against him: we want to come together as a family, as a team, and show them that just because one person makes one bad decision, that doesn’t mean that’s their whole life.”

 

 

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“this for the Durham Association of Educators”

Dear g______ ________

I’m doing alright thanks for asking, yes we are doing a creative writing class where we get to express ourselves in different kinds of ways.  Rap, poem, drawings, speeches, & a lot more.  Curtis Barnette [another detainee] started the class & we sign up for it.  We start at 12 or when the multi-purpose room ain’t at use & any action book or drawing book is good & a dictionary, too.  I like making great drawings so I’m like more tattoo drawings.

this for the Durham Association of Educators, & the union of public school teacher: thank you for focusing on our Education.  I’m still enrolled in my base school.  I was 17 when I got here, now I’m 18.  I’m up in here for a couple a months now.  The government should focus on building schools & jobs instead of making money for the jail, b/c this jail system is so crooked.  I’m here with no proof of me committing any crime of what they blaming me for – no weapon found, no evidence of any stolen goods, no witnesses.  I’ve been just waiting for my court dates & they cancel my court date every time its been scheduled.  My lawyer just once he came and see be.  I haven’t been to court at all.  The DAs lying on everything, the court appointed lawyers ain’t helping, to be honest.  Fuck Durham County Jail, they want me to feel down & plead guilty so they can make money off me.  You know what they chose the wrong person, b/c I’m staying strong.  I got into the word of God & he helps me to stay strong & for my family & loved ones who support me they can’t even come to visit me.  I only saw my mom 3 times & now they ain’t allowing her to come.  I’m against the video visitation.  So many young teens like my age die in this cells & they just say they committed suicide or natural cause.  It ain’t true.  The COs allow it to happen & if they ain’t do nothing about it that’s how they move up to new positions.  The canteen be ripping us off of our money, they don’t return our money when we order canteen & they don’t bring our canteen, & they act like they don’t know nothing.  Man shyt crazy.  I can’t even trust the law & I never did & never will.  I speak for all my latinos up in here.  I got a friend here & they don’t let him have any visit.  His family want to see him but they don’t allow him to have any visit, & when they feel they loosing our case they put a deportation order on my people with out having proof of anything.  We get crazy rash on our body b/c of the sope & our clothes are being washed with only water & we get rash from it & we get back pain from the bed they give us.  They treat us like a bunch of animals.  They hold us over years & trying to make us commit suicide & if you don’t have money you can’t get no medical attention or get the medication you need to live.  Shyt crazy man.  They block the phone sometimes so we can’t call anyone.  People are still here fighting o live & some lost their life fighting the system.  Thank you IOA for working on protest to help us students & anyone up in jail.  Thank you and god bless y’all.

 

Sincerely,

ghost z:.

Video visitation: ‘It simply shouldn’t happen!’

Dear friends!

I was very glad to get your letter.

Thank you much for efforts to memorialize Niecey. It is extremely painful for me to think about her death.

Yes, I saw you many times on the streets in Durham. I used to work in one of the restaurants in downtown. But never did hear you being outside at the jail like now. I am on the 5th floor. Certainly I support from all my heart the protests against video visitation. It simply shouldn’t happen!! And “upset” about it is not enough to say!

…Thank you for your attention. With love and respect, F.L.

 

‘We made ourselves obsolete’

The whole concept of marching and protesting is only a facade. It’ll never produce long-term results, only a temporary pacifier. The only way to fight against this type of injustice is through the local elections. You see, our people have a misconceived notion when it comes to the voting process. When it comes to voting for the president, we’ll show up in record-breaking numbers, but when it’s time to vote for local officials from the governor down to the district attorney, the majority of us won’t lift a goddamn finger! I mean, how can we a people be so misdirected and irresponsible? We made ourselves obsolete by neglecting to use our voting powers within our local governments, and as a result, our local governments can treat us in any manner they see fit without the threat of any political backlash. This is why the cops can kill us and get away with it, and why the courts can unjustly give us 100 years! It makes no goddamn sense!

Sorry it took so long to write back.

Forever fighting,

N.S.

“the smack of the whip has been replaced with the slap of the gavel”

Peace,

How are you doing?  I hope all is well with you and your team.  Also, I am sorry to hear that y’all been sucked into the “system” and now all have court-dates.  As always, standing up for what’s right or disrupting the system come with a negative price.  Hopefully, nothing over bearing will come out of y’all court situation.  Also, I seen I.O.A. protesting against video-visitation.  I want to say GOOD JOB and keep up the good work.

I received “Mama’s Baby Papa’s Maybe” and WEB DuBois “Darkwater.”  I have read both of them and found the Mama’s Baby Papa’s Maybe to be the most interesting.  The Author really gives it up to let you see how America “thinks.”  She really hits home when she explain the misnaming factor which I think is so true.  I look at it this way.  We have been stereotyped so much with negative notions that whenever we are view by the public that’s all that comes to mind is that we are a people without a culture, a bunch of thugs, as Hillary way “super predators,” etc.  So, when society is fed these negative images, they really don’t care that we are being incarcerated at an alarming rate.  They don’t care that we are being mistreated inside the prison all, because by popular thinking we are not fit for society anyways.

Furthermore, America was built off white supremacy and free labor (slavery).  America has hid the ugly face of racism and slavery within the legal system.  So, instead of a black man being “lynched” by a lynch mob and tree wise he is being lynched legally in the decency of a court room, and the smack of the whip has been replaced with the slap of the gavel.  As a result, discrimination against race and class has forced the black woman to be the head of the family, this, too, being by design, because children coming out of a single parent home are more likely to travel on a road leading to prison.

On one note, the author quotes Goodell’s reading of the partus sequitur ventrem: the condition of the slave mother is “forever entailed on all her remotest posterity.”  You have to ask yourself what is the condition of the slave mother or, conditions of the slave mother and why it’s forever entailed on all her remotest posterity.  She’s born a female but she’s conditioned to act and perform as a slave just like the women before her and so on.  So, its safe to say that a slave like mentality would be passed on from generation to generation.  Furthermore, you can see the residue of slavery left in the modern day negro because we still choose to call ourselves “nigga” (the black community version of nigger) and the self-hate that we so adamantly express toward each other.  Also, as this is passed down, the fact that you are going to prison one day is passed down also, subliminally.  It’s to the point that prison is seen as a part of life now.

With this being said, I agree on the fact that we need to break apart, to rupture violently the laws of American behavior that make such syntax possible.  We need to empower people with the education necessary to seek out and destroy injustice anywhere.

Peace until next time.

– The Black Holocaust

PS: I read the WEB DuBois not so much to go off of, I need more information.  Also, if possible can you send me anything by Dr. Cornel West – books, internet, etc. – or Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow.

Love, light and noise on the last night of 2016

A small but spirited contingent of 30 or so people assembled in downtown Durham on New Year’s Eve and marched to the county jail for the sixth straight New Year’s Eve with a noise demonstration. Before starting out, the group briefly reflected on the struggles waged within the jail in 2016, as well as in prisons and detention centers throughout the land, and we looked forward to supporting and growing resistance inside in the new year. Continue reading

‘The hole: another form of control’

Hello Comrade,

How are you? I wrote you a letter last month and it was returned. I don’t know what that was about. As for me I’m still standing and always prepared to fight. I’m back in population now but I appreciated the solitude for them 30 days. I met a good brother and a comrade for life. Was that y’all out there about (three) weeks ago protesting, if so I heard y’all but I couldn’t see. Continue reading