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James Brown served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with PTSD. In exchange for his service and sacrifice, the 26-year-old father of two died in a Texas jail, where prison guards in riot gear stormed his cell and ignored his cries that he was choking on his own blood and unable to breathe.
James Brown, who reported to an El Paso jail where he was supposed to serve a two-day sentence for driving while intoxicated, died in 2012. While his family suspected foul play, only recently was the local news station KFOX14 able to obtain video recorded by one of the prison guards. The footage, which is extremely disturbing and painful to watch, shows that Brown has started bleeding for unknown reasons. When he doesn’t respond to the prison guard, as many as five guards dressed in riot gear storm Brown’s cell, forcing him to the ground. At no point does Brown appear to be resisting the guards. He does, however, state repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” and, “I’m choking on my blood.” He’s then taken to the infirmary, where he has a mask placed over his face and is given an injection. He continues to state he can’t breathe and, as evident in this exchange, is denied all requests to change his position or have the mask removed:
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the journalist and former Black Panther convicted for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, had his death sentence reduced to life in prison without parole in 2011, due to faulty instructions to the jury. Now in general population in a Pennsylvania prison, Abu-Jamal, 60, could find himself close to death once again. But this time it may be through medical neglect instead of execution.
On March 30th, Abu-Jamal was taken to the ICU of the Schuylkill Medical Center, after having collapsed from diabetic shock. The prison did not notify friends and family or allow visitors, initially. After pressure from social media and grassroots organizers, the prison relented and allowed some visitors, including Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College, a friend of Abu-Jamal and a coordinator of The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.
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Next time someone tells you we live in a post-racial world– after all, we have a black president– show them these stats.
- The number of black men currently in the United States prison system is higher than the number of black men who were slaves in the South before the war.
- There is a 32 percent chance that a black male will be in prison during his lifetime. For white males, the chance is 6 percent.