Prison officers are alleged to have carried out another vicious attack on a Black Muslim prisoner

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Content warning – this article contains references to racism, violence, and sexual violence inside the prison system

Another report has emerged of a Black Muslim prisoner assaulted by prison officers at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire. This time the attack is alleged to have occurred in the presence of a prison security governor. Grassroots group Anti-Carceral Solidarity tweeted that this was the fourth attack on a Black man at the prison in just three months.

Read on...

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On 27 April, The Canary reported that a police complaint had been made after Black Muslim prisoner Dwayne Fulgence was left bleeding on the floor of his cell at Full Sutton. We also reported a complaint that conditions in the prison’s segregation unit were appalling and did not meet agreed standards.

Prisoners heard him say: I can’t breathe

The report by Anti-Carceral Solidarity highlights another attack on a Black Muslim man by prison officers at Full Sutton. It’s alleged that during the attack prison officers pinned the young man to the floor while he was cuffed and then grabbed “his genitals”. The young man was then reportedly stripped naked. Other prisoners reportedly heard him saying that he couldn’t breathe:

In the presence of a security governor

Anti-Carceral Solidarity report that a prison “security governor” was present at the time of the attack, and that he allowed the attack to continue:

“Overtly racist”

Anti-Carceral Solidarity alleges that the conditions at the Segregation Unit at HMP Full Sutton are overtly racist:

Similar allegations were made on 27 June by Prisoner Solidarity Network (PSN) over attacks on Black Muslim prisoners at another prison – HMP Long Lartin – by a prison officer called Mark Noah:

Nathan Lewis, a young Black Muslim, was attacked by Senior Officer (SO) Mark Noah and other prison officers who followed Nathan from the shower to his cell in HMP Long Lartin and punched him in the face. Officers then planned a cover up, with Officer Victoria Williams saying ‘we need to get our story straight’ within earshot of other prisoners. This is the latest in a pattern of racist attacks on young Muslims just by SO Mark Noah.

PSN also alleges that Noah has attacked two other Black prisoners:

There have been at least 3 [assaults] in the last 9 months: alongside Nathan Lewis, Hoppe and Daniel Neil have also been abused by SO Mark Noah. On all occasions, his report states that his violent actions were pre-emptive as he feared he would be attacked. All these attacks happen within prisoner’s cells.

According to PSN, two complaints have been made against Noah by two other Muslim prisoners at Long Lartin. Both of these prisoners have reportedly faced subsequent ‘intimidation’ from Noah – and sanctions inside the prison – as a result of making the complaints.

PSN is calling for the prison officers involved to be dismissed, and for the prisoners who made the complaint to be moved out of Long Lartin for their own safety.

Prison Service denies the claims

The Canary contacted the Ministry of Justice and asked if it wanted to respond to the allegations by Anti-Carceral Solidarity and PSN. We received this response from a Prison Service spokesperson:

These claims are untrue – we have zero tolerance for discrimination in our prisons and will not hesitate to take action where necessary.

A pattern of abuse

Over the last few months, The Canary has reported repeated violent attacks by prison officers against Black and Muslim prisoners behind prison walls. These attacks are part of a pattern of violence against Black prisoners, who are massively over-represented in the prison population. Black people make up 10% of the prison population in the UK, despite only accounting for 3% of the UK’s overall population.

Black people are much more likely to die in prison than any other group of people. A 2014 report by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) shows that between 1991 and September 2014, a massive 52% of the total number of people who died in custody in suspicious circumstances were Black, and that the majority of them died in prison. The same report also found that 34% of the total number of people who died in custody were either Asian or Middle-Eastern.

Need for action

The Prison Service could take action to prevent more assaults on prisoners from happening. However, it seems so far that complaints are going unheard. We need to pay attention to the racist violence that is a constant presence behind prison walls in the UK. We can’t let prison bars be a barrier to our solidarity.

Featured image via Dave Nakayama on Flickr

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Get involved

  • Check out Prisoner Solidarity Network’s action alert over the alleged attacks at HMP Long Lartin.
  • Find out about Community Action on Prison Expansion’s campaign to prevent the construction of new mega-prisons in the UK.
  • Take a look at this reading list on prison abolition put together by Abolitionist Futures and this Sisters Uncut guide to abolition.

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