Captain says: Speak English or not at all!

2-25-14

Hi, _____,

I know it has been awhile since hearing from me…Hey, though I’m far away here in Elizabeth City, NC, my hope is that you all are still able to help a spanish gentleman here, as well as all Hispanics locked up here with me. This man is Hispanic, lived in Durham, the western part. His name is N—- The administration here has taken him to solitary lock up twice for speaking spanish to other Hispanics. That’s all he’s done. He was locked up today for doing the same things in the prison dining hall at supper time. He was having a conversation with another Hispanic while eating, and a real arrogant, prejudiced captain, who goes by Captain Blow(e), told him to either speak English or nothing at all. When N—- ignored him, the captain said to him, ‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!!’ N— still refused (or didn’t understand), so he was put in handcuffs, hauled off to solitary confinement. A Black gentleman, a Captain Stokely, was the first captain to lock N—- up for the same thing. He was let out into population 30 days later. Now, he’s in again. Captain Blow is a caucasian (white male). Abuse of authority, here, racism, gross feeding, harassment, bogus disciplinary write ups, are all regular things in here where I’m at. So, today I was speaking with another Hispanic housed with me in the same dormitory and I told him I’d try to get N—- some help, a voice hopefully that will call here and speak to the prison superintendent about what’s going on here. His name is Mr. Taylor. Taylor. This incident is racism.

I’m asking you to call here or something, to help N— and other Hispanics like him. —-, Captain Blow carries himself daily in a threatening manner to all of us. Constantly abuses his power.

Also, the food that we’re given here is undercooked, raw, cold. The bread is mice-bitten. You’re given 5 minutes tops to eat your food. If you’re not finished, you’re threatened, yelled at, etc. There is in place here a grievance policy. To no avail!! No complaints by us are considered worthy to be addressed. Whenever we do complain to staff (officers) about their treatment towards us, we’re told by them, ‘If you don’t like it, write it up!’ knowing it will not go far. A voice is needed. These complaints are real!! The kitchen overseer here allows food to be served to us that is raw, cold, old, and at times the same meal is served 3 times in 5 days. In my closing: Thanks to all the I.O.A. affiliates for your continued support there in Durham, wherever!!

V.B.

Horrifying stories are part of the territory when talking about jails and prisons. But the writer, who was in Durham previously, pleads for folks on the outside to do something especially about the punishment for a prisoner speaking Spanish. Not obeying orders–likely because he didn’t understand them–resulted in Jose Ocampo being murdered by Durham cop R.S. Mbuthia. In this case, with the orders being arbitrary and racist (to say nothing of illegal), it lands a prisoner in solitary confinement. Call or write Pasquotank Correctional Institution and demand a an end to this English-only practice and a censure of Captain Blowe:

Felix Taylor, administrator

(252) 331-4881

527 Commerce Drive 
Elizabeth City, N.C. 27906

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