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.
*Trigger warning for descriptions and images related to extreme prisoner abuse*
It’s still not clear what exactly happened to Ernest Atencio, but we do know that just days after the Department of Justice accused of Sheriff Joe Arpaio “unconstitutional policing” and creating a “pervasive culture of bias” against Latinos, a 44-year-old Latino man, Ernest “Marty” Atencio, became unconscious while in one of Arpaio’s prisons, and is now brain dead and on life support. We know that Atencio got into a fight with the officers in jail and that he was put into a “safe cell.” He was found unconscious and taken to the hospital where he was declared brain dead. The family claims Atencio, who is mentally ill and a veteran of the first Gulf War, was tasered. Atencio’s brother Mike, acting as the family spokesman, said ”The sheriff’s office murdered my brother….That’s what I want to get out to the public right now:Sheriff Joe is murdering inmates.”