Saturday, 9 April 2016

Court Report Thurs April 7 – Day 4 of the Dallas 6 Trial

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DROP THE CHARGES!  For those who can’t make it to the trial but want to show support, please take part in a CALL-IN/FAX-IN to the DA demanding she drop charges. Details and talking points at -

Please note: the trial will resume on Monday April 11 and may wrap up on Monday or Tuesday. Let’s pack the court! Contact us about rides from Philadelphia (see below).

Highlights: Final prosecution witnesses called; defense witnesses begin.

HRC Attorney Bret Grote
Defense witness Attorney Bret Grote read out a press release detailing criminal complaints filed by Human Rights Coalition (HRC) against SCI Dallas guards for abuses, including for retaliation against Andre Jacobs who had won an $115,000 settlement against SCI Dallas.  
Prisoner Armando Lago testified that all of them on the cell block had covered their windows in protest that day, and that they had been asking for help but no one would help them.  
Isaac Sanchez
Former prisoner Isaac Sanchez testified.  His April 28, 2010 protest of guards' withholding food for Anthony Kelly led to his 15-hour torture in a restraint chair that sparked the April 29 incident.
The August 24, 2009 coerced suicide of Matthew Bullock, a white man with mental health issues, featured prominently in all their testimony.  An attorney with a law firm that brought a successful lawsuit against the prison on behalf of his estate also testified.  

graphic by Molly Crabapple
The final four members of the cell extraction team were called by the prosecution. Defense grilled them about how they could have all been hit by feces if they are lined up along the wall; why if they were covered in feces and urine did they not report to medical but instead continue with the cell extractions; why were instances of abuse in the extraction not reported; and did they know about the grievances filed against them.  Further there were discrepancies between where the guards testified they were hit and the medical reports.

Despite frequent objections by the Assistant DA to prevent his testimony as "irrelevant", Attorney Bret Grote was allowed by Judge Gelb to testify about the abuses he documented, as it went to the question of "legitimate purpose."  The jury heard for the first time not only the kinds of deprivations and physical abuse the men had suffered, such as withholding of food, toilet paper, yard time and water, beatings, and death threats, but also a little of the brutal conditions in solitary confinement and the men's and HRC's repeated attempts to get help and relief for their grievances from the DOC, the Attorney General of Luzerne County and the US Justice Department.  Singled out was the prison’s withholding of food as punishment, in the form of the "food loaf" policy (scarcely edible loaf of unidentifiable substance). Attorney Grote said he was always directed to the Superintendent's Assistant, who testified later that she forwarded the complaints on to various personnel.  Attorney Grote was able to state that 98% of the prisoners’ grievances filed were rejected, although the prosecution's objection was sustained.  He also testified as to the increase in retaliation, particularly of the defendants, after a local paper covered Matthew Bullock's suicide.  After Attorney Shelly Centini from the law firm that prosecuted the Bullock suicide case testified, Attorney Michael Wiseman put in a motion to dismiss all the charges for all the men which the judge rejected, saying the trial will continue. 

graphic by Molly Crabapple
Armando Lago who was also in the RHU with the Dallas 6 was asked if he had covered his cell window.  He said, "Yes.  Everybody on the tier was doing the same thing," because the guards had been punishing people by withholding food as retaliation. The day before they had put "a Puerto Rican guy" (Sanchez) in a restraint chair and he was screaming out.  Mr. Lago said, "the only way to get attention is by covering the door.  We had been mailing out complaints, trying to get help and we were ignored.  Everybody ignored us."  

Isaac Sanchez, now age 30 and free, then age 24, testified that he covered his cell door on April 28 to protest the guards not giving his neighbor Anthony Kelly his food.  He said, "I decided to be a man and stand up for the rightful thing.  Nobody was grasping what we were trying to speak about."  He described being extracted from his cell with tear gas, beat, punched, tasered, then dragged out buck naked and strapped into a restraint chair for 15-20 hours.  He was screaming out because the restraints were so tight his arms were turning purple and he thought he would die.  He named all the officers involved, until the DA objected that he was only allowed to mention the guards who had testified.

Several other prison personnel were called by Andre Jacobs and the day ended with testimony from Ms Lucas, the assistant to the Superintendent who received the complaints, to be continued on Monday.  

Court will resume on Monday April 11 and may wrap up on Monday or Tuesday. Don't miss it!

Debriefing with Attorney Michael Wiseman following Day 4 of the trial. Derrick Stanley of the Dallas 6 in the back, previously cleared of rioting charges, was among the crowd of supporters.


Now is the time to help these brave prisoner whistleblowers win a major victory for prisoners across Pennsylvania and across the US!

Please do the check-in if you want to come or contact by email or phone. Rooms are available in the area.  

If you cannot attend, PLEASE, do the call-in/fax-in.