ROCKVIEW NIGGERS

by Julian Heicklen

Lieutenant Hoyt is the Food Services Supervisor at SCI Rockview on the day shift. He called the entire dining room (mostly Black inmates) "lazy Niggers" in January or February 1996. When an inmate, who asked not to be identified, requested a job change, Hoyt also suggested to him that he hang himself. When asked why he should hang himself, Hoyt responded: "You will feel better and will be doing us a service." Later Hoyt apologized. He said that if the inmates would not file a grievance, he would never say those things again. No grievance was filed.

In January 1996, during Ramadan, another inmate threatened to hit Correctional Officer (CO) Kachik. Kachik replied that if the inmate laid a hand on him, he would "beat him like all Niggers should be." A grievance was filed by three other inmates. Deputy Superintendent Whitman dismissed it on the grounds that those three inmates had no standing, because the remark was not made to them. The inmate to whom the remark was addressed was afraid to sign a grievance by himself. However another inmate prepared one for him that he did sign. The inmate that prepared the grievance was sent to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) for forgery, even though there was no forgery.

In January 1996, the inmates were requesting sign up for the telephone. Kachik was on duty and asked them where they had been. They said breaking fast. (This was during Ramadan.) Kachik responded: "That shit doesn't mean anything to me." The inmates requested grievance forms. Kachik handed them a pile of forms and said: "You Niggers can have all the grievances that you want. This is a white man's jail. Haven't you realized that yet? You cannot touch me." Other officers present were Sergeant Knight, Captain Carlson, and Lieutenant Dolan. Lieutenant Dolan admitted hearing the comment and said that Kachik was only kidding. He asked them to break it up, or he would lock them up. No grievance was filed at that time.

On another occasion Kachik said to an inmate "You are not getting a break. I am going to ride you, because you are beneath me, Nigger." The inmate replied that Kachik should be in court for that remark. Later that night the inmate was placed in Administrative Custody for threatening Kachik and his family. After a disciplinary hearing, he was sentenced to 90 days in RHU for disciplinary custody.

Another inmate, Shaikh Muhammad, says that while he was housed in the "pink cell" from April 28 to May 2, 1997, he was called all kinds of names by Lt. Knauff, CO Stodart, CO Rothrock, CO Bell, CO Greendoner, CO Jones, and CO Dobson. On May 26, 1997, Correctional Officers Stodart, Rothrock, and Greendoner called him Nigger, pussy, and dickhead. He wrote to Deputy Superintendent Meyers and also filed a grievance. He received no response. On June 25, 1997, Officer Rothrock went to the back of his cell and turned off his water for no apparent reason. On June 26, 1997, while making their rounds, Deputy Superintendents Meyers and Whitman reopened the water. On June 28, 1997, Officer Rothrock put something in his drink. When Muhammad asked for another drink, Rothrock said "Fuck you Nigger," and slammed the door slot on Muhammad's hand. Muhammad wrote to Deputy Meyers and also filed a grievance. He received no response.

Inmate Gregory Wilson claims that the staff and COs are threatening his life. He claims that CO Guida falsely accused him of putting his hands on him and had him sent to the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU). Guida calls him "Nigger." Deputy Superintendent Whitman came to him in RHU and said "If you ever put your black hands on anyone of my officers that he will make sure I would never touch a white man again. Then he told Wilson: "Nigger go sit your ass down." Mr. Walker, the inmate in the adjacent cell, wrote to me that he overheard Deputy Superintendent Whitman call Wilson a "Nigger" on April 17, 1997, between 10:30 and 11:30 AM. Wilson claims that other inmates heard CO Guida threatening him out in the yard on April 18, 1997. That is where CO Guida stated: "Fuck all you black Niggers out there and I hope you all die in hell." The inmates reported the incident to Lt. Davis, but he never did anything about it.

Wilson also reports that on the days that bedding is changed, COs Jose (probably Jose Rodriguez), Walker, and Dobson came to his cell wearing sheets over their heads threatening him again. He is scared for his life, because they are telling him, with the sheets over their heads, that they can kill him and get away with it. The dates of the incidents were March 18, March 25, and April 15, 1997. Wilson said there were two witnesses. One is Derrick Clark. He does not know the other witness. I contacted Mr. Clark, who said that he does not recall the incidents. However Mr. Wilson has assured me that they did occur.

Inmate Michael Redding claims that he received 90 additional days in solitary confinement for wearing his undershorts to the shower. He claims that the Muslim religion forbids him to be naked from his navel to his knees. The Muslim chaplain explained this to the hearing examiner. According to Redding, the hearing examiner replied "You don't have any religion while you are in the hole."

I wrote to Deputy Superintendent Whitman and the other correctional officers to have their comments on the allegations. Nine of my letters were returned by SCI Rockview, unopened and unanswered. I did receive a letter from Sam Mazzotta, Public Relations Officer at SCI Rockview, informing me that future mail that I send to employees would not be delivered. Further he stated that Deputy Superintendent Whitman denies the above allegations, and that Captain Carlson and Lieutenant Davis have no first-hand knowledge of the incidents reported above.