One year later, we remember Matthew McCain

Matthew PancakesOne year ago today, Matthew McCain died in his cell at the Durham County Detention Facility at the age of 29. Just over a month before his death, Matthew’s daughter, Kinslee, was born while he was in jail. He never met her.

Matthew suffered from diabetes and epilepsy, two serious long-term conditions but certainly ones that can be managed with proper medical care and adequate resources. But competent medical care was never to be found at the Durham jail for Matthew, as is the case for many other people unfortunate enough to be caged there.

In the one year since Matthew’s death, there have been marches, speak-outs, and vigils; there have been balloons and candles, tears and rage. But one thing there has never been is an apology or a public acknowledgment of responsibility for Matthew McCain’s death by anyone connected to the jail, or Correct Care Solutions, the company that profits from providing detainees as little care as possible.

Sheriff Mike Andrews, whose office is responsible for jail operations, never apologized or acknowledged Matthew’s death, either, even as he glad-handed at events attended by Matthew’s girlfriend, Ashley, with Kinslee in tow.

Matthew’s death dramatically affected the lives of many people, including Ashley’s children; his mother; aunts; cousins; and friends, some of whom he got to know inside the jail. Besides the initial report of Matthew’s death that was shared with outside members of Inside-Outside Alliance by a comrade inside, many people on Matthew’s pod shared recollections of him and their own accounts of his death.

See the following: We still place his chair at the table; They do not listen; I feel they may have lied; Officials acted with neglect; There is a rumor going around; Something gotta give; Everything is a mind battle; They try to punish you for little things; Fight til you can’t fight no more

As we joined Matthew’s loved ones to press the sheriff’s office for answers about his death, we were contacted by the daughter of a man, Dennis McMurray, who had died at the jail a year before, and whose death was never made public. This fact made the brave truth-telling of detainees on Matthew’s pod all the more important and integral to the struggle.

The tragedy of Matthew’s death has helped to gain the attention of many who otherwise had not been paying much attention to conditions and treatment in the jail. Recently, the Human Relations Commission of the city of Durham published recommendations about the jail that they will share with the county commissioners and the sheriff’s office.

In the aftermath of Matthew’s death, in the struggle to obtain answers and demand accountability, we published a pamphlet, No More Jail Deaths, No More Jail. As then, we still know the only way to ensure there will be no more horrible, undignified deaths in jail is to get rid of these cages as we transform the world which produces them.

November 25, 2016 marked the day Matthew would have been 30 years old. A week later, his daughter Kinslee, full of life and spark, turned a year old. These birthdays and anniversaries hurt those who loved Matthew and they will continue to be painful. But we take today to say that we have not forgotten Matthew, and we will not forget that the jail killed him. For those who are able to, join us at the jail this evening, January 19, 2017, at 7 pm for a vigil to remember Matthew McCain.

Facebook Event: Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Matthew McCain

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Remember Matthew McCain, Remember Chuy Huerta. Rest in Power!

November 19 marked ten months since Matthew McCain was taken from this earth due to the criminal neglect of staff at the Durham County Detention Facility. Matthew would have been 30 years old next week.

It also marks three years since Jesus “Chuy” Huerta died in the back of a Durham police vehicle. The Durham Police are responsible for his death. Chuy was 17.

We continue to stand with their families and loved ones and mourn their passing, and vow to continue the struggle against the jail and the police.

Chuy Huerta and Matthew McCain, Presente!

Banana puddingEPSON MFP image

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NoMoreJailDeathsFINAL

This May Day: Smash the Durham Jail and Prisons Everywhere

This May Day: Smash the Durham Jail and Prisons Everywhere

On Friday, April 29, Inside-Outside Alliance and Triangle Area Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) invite you to stand in support of prisoners organizing against the racist violence of the Durham County Jail, the Durham Community’s struggle for an independent jail investigation, and prisoners on strike in Alabama and Texas, who are calling for a national strike starting September 9. Meet at 6:00 in Central Park and march to the jail. Continue reading

After Winter Must Come Spring

(this statement is included in a newly published zine by IOA called No More Jail Deaths No More Jail, which you can find here)

A statement from Inside-Outside Alliance, April 2016

Everything is everything / What is meant to be, will be / After winter, must come spring / Change, it comes eventually –Lauryn Hill

The days after Matthew McCain’s death on Tuesday, January 19th were as bleak as any this winter in Durham. On Friday the 22nd, a mixture of snow and ice pummeled the Triangle area. As they often do, media outlets focused singularly on the weather event, despite social media outrage about Matt’s death. But the determination of Matthew’s loved ones, and of those who had witnessed his death by medical neglect, could not be denied, and once the snow and ice had melted, the egregious inaction of jail staff began coming to fuller light. Further, Shakiyla Young, who had all but stopped hoping for a drop of information about the death of her father, Dennis McMurray, identified with the pain and helplessness felt by Matthew’s family and publicly came forward again with her story about her father’s death in the jail a year prior.   Continue reading

“Justice is what Love looks like in public” – Mia and Dre’s statement for March 4th

At 7:45 on March 4, 2016, while the community roared outside Disney’s The Lion King at DPAC, Le’Andre Demond Blakeney and Mia Hutchins-Cabibi dropped a banner inside the theater, reading “This Jail Kills: Enjoy the Show.”  They were removed and detained by police and, thankfully, later released without charge.  This is the statement that they wrote ahead of time to explain their action, which was also released to the press while they were in custody.

 

A great divide exists (Lk 16:26) between the ostentatious entertainment and frivolity of the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) and the starving, tortured, and dying prisoners in the Durham County Jail.  DPAC profits off of the invisibility of the lynching of black bodies across the street while exoticizing all things African on its stage.  On January 19, Matthew McCain died in the Durham County Jail after detention staff had medically neglected him for months.  As his family and other community members expressed their grief and outrage, it came to light that two other Durham residents had died in 2015, Raphael Barnett and Dennis McMurray.  In addition, the jail saw 12 suicide attempts in 2015 alone, as medical neglect, malnourishment, freezing cell temperatures, and price gouging at commissary continue to run rampant.  Meanwhile, Nederlander Theaters and the county government continue to invest in ignorance and inaction, betting that the public will remain silent.

Therefore, we have disrupted business as usual at DPAC; we will not remain silent, and by the time you read this we will likely be under arrest.  We have acted because, as followers of Christ, the God revealed to us in Jesus requires action, demanding “justice and only justice” (Dt 16:20).  God does not just want us to feel bad about this situation, but to do something about it.  Yes we are to pray without ceasing, but we are also to ransom the captive (Mt 25:36), and we are not to stop there.  Yes, we are to comfort the afflicted, but we are also to afflict the comfortable, and we are not to stop there.  “We’ve got to put our bodies and souls in motion,” to take direct action to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan plead for the widow.”  This is not an abstraction. These are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, colleagues, and neighbors. Hundreds of people incarcerated in the Durham County Jail are guilty of no crime other than being too poor to post bail, but their invisibility continues to turn a profit for the county and its corporate partners, who continue, in turn, to fill our community’s homes with orphans, widows, and widowers.

Money should not buy ignorance.  We refuse to allow middle and upper income people and white people to continue to “feast sumptuously every day” (Lk 16:19) while our comrades who are locked up in the jail are not even allowed “to satisfy their hunger with what falls from the table” (Lk 16:21).  We take this action not out of anger, but in love.  We act to militantly defend our neighbors who are under attack because we know that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” because this business “cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love,” and, because, in the words of Cornel West, echoing Christ himself, “justice is what love looks like in public.”

Le’Andre D. Blakeney & Mia Hutchins-Cabibi

‘Deliver a powerful blow to buckle the oppressor’s knees…’

Dear brother within the struggle!

Don’t beat yourself up, lol. I’ve been fine, your delay of your letters only shows you’re working hard!…

We must look at these deaths within this institution as nothing more than human disregard. NOTHING MORE. You may have already realized this I’m sure of that but the next question is what to do about it, what’s the next plan of action. The total system must take a substantial hit. Continue reading

“They All Need to be Kicked in the Ass”

Daughter of man who died in jail custody in 2015 still wants answers.

Medical Examiner’s Reports Point to Inaction and Incompetence by Jail Staff in Dennis McMurray’s death

In the days after the death of Matthew McCain last month, we found out about the death of two men in Durham County Jail in 2015. Although we still know nothing about the circumstances of Raphael Bennett’s death this past August, we know quite a bit about the death of Dennis McMurray in jail custody in January 2015. Although his daughter, Shakiyla Young, tried to get answers and media coverage at the time of her father’s death, she was rebuffed. She initially got out her story here, but she’s ready to tell more and make some demands on the sheriff’s office. We also include here the autopsy and toxicology reports from the state chief medical examiner’s office, along with some very basic questions that call to account the jail staff for its utter incompetence in preserving human life.

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The biggest, most glaring and horrifying fact is the complete lack of accountability and follow up by people in the sheriff’s office, which continues to this day. Here are some basic facts Shakiyla wants to share: Continue reading