Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!
Mother’s Day Rally
To Restore Families and Communities and Bring our Loved Ones Home
Friday, May 6, 12-2 p.m.
City Hall (Broad & JFK), Philadelphia, Pa
Luzerne county jury refusing to convict is definitely a victory!
Left: Duane Peters gives a thumbs up after a mistrial was declared Wednesday in the trial of three members of the ‘Dallas 6.’
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
“A win is a win,” said Carrington Keys, adding that the men plan to continue fighting their charges “all the way.”
April 13th, 2016 at the Luzerne County Courthouse the jury could not come to a unanimous decision concerning the riot charges against Duane Peters, Andre Gay, and Carrington Keys.
The jury informed Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb that they could not come to a unanimous verdict after about 3½ hours of deliberations.
“We’re deadlocked,” the jury forewoman said.
For the past six years the men have been fighting felony charges of rioting after they each covered their cell window on April 29, 2010, in the restricted housing unit (solitary confinement) at SCI- Dallas. Guards in riot gear forcibly extracted the men from their cells after they were given orders to remove the coverings from their cell doors and they did not comply.
The Assistant District Attorney James McMonagle said in his closing statement, “The rule is you can’t cover your cell door.”
In defense of the men attorney Michael Wiseman argued that covering cell doors may be a violation of prison rules, but it was not a riot.
“It is absolutely obvious what their intent was,” Wiseman told jurors. “Their intent was to draw attention to their plight.”
Andre Jacobs, who represented himself during the trial, testified that the guards were extremely abusive after a report was published by the Human Rights Coalition on abuse at SCI-Dallas. Andre said in his closing argument the situation at SCI Dallas was “toxic,” which forced him to file multiple grievances and complaints against guards.
Andre said that he had covered his cell door at least five times in the past and had never received a cell extraction. “Considering it didn’t happen in those prior instances, you can conclude that wasn’t their policy and in this incident, that was what they wanted to do.”
Andre argued that he may have violated prison rules, but he didn’t commit a crime.
“I took an action on that day for my own safety,” he said.
McMonagle said he informed District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis of the result and will sit down with the DA in the near future to determine whether prosecutors will retry the case.
Court Report from Wednesday April 6 – Day 3 of the Dallas 6 Trial in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Highlights Day 3
Painful videos of the cell extractions were shown. (Some of the video Carrington’s cell extraction can be seen here). Andre Jacobs is heard saying “they are going to kill me” before they carry him out as he is unable to walk. Duane Peters was placed in the restraint chair. Carrington Keys was thrown naked on a cold concrete floor to be body-searched, and his wrists were injured.
Andre questioned Lt Mozier whether he recalls that he had complied and removed the covering on his cell, and why the use of pepper spray.
Carrington questioned the absence of evidence of and testing for feces. Wiseman, attorney for Peters asked why the men fingered in the HRC report are the ones chosen to remove the men from the cells.
Police investigator Corporal Wilson was grilled on why he took three months to file riot charges, and why he never in that time spoke to the men who were charged, why he took the DOC’s word that the men did not want to talk with him. He said, “There are two sides of the story and the truth is somewhere in between.” In a powerful moment, Andre asked if the April 28 incident (what we know is the 15 hours restraint of prisoner Isaac Sanchez) that prompted the April 29 incident was part of his investigation and he said they were not related.
The videos of the actual cell extractions, as opposed to the lead up to the extractions, were finally shown. Pepper spray is sprayed into the tiny cells before extraction and you can hear the men coughing. The guards rush into the cells of the men who are not resisting in any way, and Carrington Keys is heard saying “I am not resisting.” Two of the men have covered their faces and head to prevent the guards from pulling their hair and to protect themselves from the pepper spray.
Lt Mozier was questioned about his awareness of the reports of abuse and asked if it was a staged incident in retaliation. Andre also said the video showed he had complied with the order to remove the covering so it was not true that “at no time did he comply” and why was that not in the official report. Also missing from the report was his telling them that he feared for his life. Attorney Wiseman called the judge’s attention to the vigorous head shaking that an officer of the DOC was doing in the gallery which she said had to stop. Another witness was removed from the court who should not have been there.
Carrington Keys asked why, if there was feces thrown, did it take two hours to go to medical when the rule is to report contact with bodily fluid immediately, and nothing was mentioned in the videotape of the debriefing, no injuries reported, and no evidence of the clothing that was allegedly contaminated was preserved?
Attorney Wiseman’s questioning focused on the brutal aspects of the force used, from electric shocks to pepper spray to restraint chairs. He also cleared up that there were no hostages, which was implied by the psychologist who was called in from the hostage negotiating team.
Andre Jacobs questioned Corporal Wilson who filed the riot charges. He asked why he never interviewed him to ascertain if there was legitimate purpose for their action. He also asked the Corporal if he had a financial interest in this case as he is mentioned in a lawsuit, but the objection by the DA to that question was sustained. Finally, why was the April 28 incident that provoked the April 29 action not included in his investigation? Carrington Keys asked how he could identify him when he didn’t even meet him. Attorney Wiseman hammered on why he did not interview the men for his investigation, how one-sided the investigation was, why he didn’t go to the prison and ask to meet the men, and how could he possibly know their intent was to bring the violence of cell extraction down on themselves.
The day ended with the testimony and questioning of two of the guards who had been part of the cell extraction team. The first said that a liquid substance was thrown but it hit the shield and splattered on him on the sleeve and gloves. But Carrington Keys questioned how that could have happened when he was the last man in, and why the medical report said he was hit with a cup of urine and feces on his head, and why when the extraction was at 10:15 the medical report was not until 12noon. Further, why when he wrote an incident report was the throwing of urine and feces not mentioned. The guard replied that he only reported what he did, not what was done to him. Andre asked if he had met with the DA and on how many occasions.
Trial is continuing today, Thursday April 7, and then will resume on Monday April 11.
Daily coverage of the trial by NBC 28 Scranton (Note: exact link may have changed, you may have to search video on website)
Times-Leader (Luzerne County):
CAN YOU COME?
Trial is expected to last five days. Cars will be coming from Philly daily but you need to COMPLETE THE ONLINE CHECK-IN if you need a ride or can provide a ride from Philly or Pittsburgh, and/or would like to stay overnight – http://tinyurl.com/dallas6check-in
CAN’T COME? WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP!
MAKE A DONATION! Online at http://tinyurl.com/rally4dallas6 or send check/money order payable to Abolitionist Law Center, P.O. Box 8654 Pittsburgh PA 15221 Memo line: Dallas 6
DROP THE CHARGES!
Dallas 6 online:
Facebook – http://tinyurl.com/packthecourtd6
Twitter – Follow @madinah7 for trial updates
Twitter Hashtags – #Dallas6 #Justice4Dallas6
Video – March for freedom – March 18, 2016 – http://tinyurl.com/d6marchforfreedom
Truthout article by Shandre Delaney:
Letter to Luzerne County District Attorney to dismiss the charges against the Dallas 6, endorsed by the PA Council of Churches and signed by over 75 representatives of faith-based organizations.
Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign: Abolitionist Law Center; Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; Fight for Lifers West; Germantown Friends Meeting Mass Incarceration Working Group; Global Women’s Strike & Women of Color@GWS – US; Human Rights Coalition – Fed Up; Human Rights Coalition – Philadelphia; Marcellus Shale Earth First; Mishkan Shalom New Jim Crow Study-Action Group; Payday men’s network; Peacehome Campaigns; Shalefield Organizing Committee. Endorsements: Art for Justice; Brandywine Peace Community; California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC); The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC); Decarcerate PA; Defending Dissent Foundation; Global Women’s Strike & Women of Color@GWS – UK; Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP); Human Rights Defense Center – Lake Worth, Florida; Jewish Voice For Peace – Philadelphia; People’s Opposition to War Imperialism and Racism (POWIR) – Hollywood, Florida; Philadelphia Coalition for REAL Justice; San Francisco Bay View newspaper; Sin Barras – Without (Prison) Bars – Santa Cruz; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh; Welfare Warriors; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – Philadelphia. Individual Endorsements: Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Patrice Armstead, Building People’s Power and Coalition Demanding Reinstatement of Dr. Monteiro; Malik Aziz, Founder, Men United for a Better Philadelphia and Chairman, National Exhoodus Council; Pastor Antoinette Johnson, King Solomon Baptist Church; Dr. Anthony Monteiro; Rev. Bob Moore, Executive Director, Coalition for Peace Action (for id purposes only); Margaret Prescod, host of “Sojourner Truth” on Pacifica Radio; Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Professor of African American Studies & History, Temple University; Dr. Cornel West, Princeton University; Dr. Carla Willard, Africana Studies Program, Franklin & Marshall College. Partnering with: AFSC Prison Watch.
March for Freedom for the Dallas 6 at the Luzerne County Courthouse, March 18, 2016
After hard time at state prison, after months of nothing but prison-yard worms, after two bumpy buses and a train trek to Philadelphia while stashed away in a peanut butter jar, freedom was near for the Frog.
His unlikely captor, Eric Miskovitch, stood in the grass on the Schuylkill River Trail on Dec. 7, holding his palm-size jailhouse pet, until recently the pride of C Block. And if freedom was imminent for the Frog, it was a newfound pleasure for Miskovitch.
Only two hours earlier, Miskovitch, 39, of Allegheny County, had been paroled from Graterford Prison, where he had spent twelve years for a robbery and a string of car thefts – and for the very bad habit of leading police on high-speed chases through the streets and suburbs of Pittsburgh.
As reckless as the car chases were, he wasn’t a violent guy. But he had busted out of jail twice. A third attempt was foiled when he was found crawling through a ceiling duct. A firm believer in liberty.
“Nature does not belong in concrete and steel,” he said. “That was not what God intended for nature – and that was not what God intended for man.”
The Frog came into Miskovitch’s life two months ago. He was playing racquetball against the jail yard wall, when he noticed a small tree sprouting through a crack in the wall. With Christmas near, it would be a perfect decoration for the garden near the activities shed, he thought. He tried digging it out, but the roots were too deep. Then, something in the dirt hopped.
Later, he and some other inmates would read in the prison copy of the “F” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia that the Frog had likely been hibernating in the dirt.
Now, the Frog was stuck on the wrong side of the prison wall.
Leaving it in the yard meant a death sentence. Some inmate with a lesser appreciation for wildlife would surely stomp it. Or a hawk would eat it.
With parole near, Miskovitch could not afford any violations – even smuggling in a contraband frog. Once free, he was not coming back, he promised himself. He was done.
“I’ve hit my criminal menopause,” he likes to say.
In court, he had attributed his two-week crime spree in the summer of 2004 to a mental breakdown. He had slipped into a manic state after being treated with the wrong medicine for a bipolar disorder, his lawyer said. In his mind, Miskovitch was on a mission from God when he tried to rob that McDonald’s with a BB gun. When he stole that police cruiser. When he crawled into that prison duct.
His efforts toward rehabilitation impressed a judge enough for a lenient sentence. His jailhouse legal studies – and volunteer work with Lifers Inc., a prison group calling for reforms to allow some prisoners serving life a chance at parole – had so impressed his lawyer, Chris Rand Eyster, that he promised him paralegal work.
If he maintained his faith and a positive attitude, he was confident a world of opportunities awaited.
But he wasn’t going to just let the Frog die in the yard.
A friend agreed to sneak it past the guards by stuffing it in his underwear. On C Block, they made a habitat for it in a water basin. They made a moat out of a plastic bottle, and put in some rocks and spider weeds. They covered it with a piece of plastic. So the Frog couldn’t get out.
The Frog was unhappy in his unnatural habitat. He wouldn’t eat prison food, only worms from the yard. All day, he’d dive from the spider weeds trying to escape. All night, he’d ribbit.
The two-time escapee felt guilty.
“I felt horrible,” Miskovitch said. “I had an absolute appreciation for it.”
Plus, the Frog stunk.
It was agreed among the prisoners of C Block that Miskovitch would smuggle the Frog out – set it free.
So on Dec. 7, while making his way to Pittsburgh, Miskovitch found a spot along the river. He asked a stranger to film a video with a cellphone.
(Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4MlXT9gfmM)
He called the Frog by a new name: the Freedom Frog. He compared its situation to the friends he left behind – some of whom, he said, deserved a chance at freedom they may never get. He asked people to consider reforms ending life without the chance of parole in Pennsylvania.
Then, he unscrewed the peanut butter jar’s top and let the Frog go. At first, it seemed like the Frog didn’t know what to do. Like he had been behind bars too long. Then, he began to hop.
“I hope he does well,” Miskovitch said, closing up the jar.
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