imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Behind the Barbed-Wire with Sherman Austin

by Anon Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004 at 7:47 AM

Update about the last visit to Sherman.

Approaching FCI Tucson from desert Wilmot Road, I immediately noticed the

surrounding barbed-wire chains that separate Sherman from the "free" outside

world. I sighed at the thought that within minutes I would be able to see

him, but within hours I would have to leave the facility without him. I

pondered what our reactions would be.

I continued through the entranced door, and the metal detector caught my

eye as well as the guards staring at me. I felt their eyes on me, and

thought that at any moment they would say, "So you're here to visit the

terror boy." Instead, figuring I was new, they just handed me a form to fill

out, and I turned it in with my ID once completely filled out. Some of the

questions on there were quite ridiculous, "do you have any cameras, weapons

of mass destruction, food, electronic devices, narcotics, etc." It became

almost a joke when I came to visit after this first time, just thinking that

anyone that would actually have any of this would check yes.

While I sat waiting to be called I still wondered why the guards stared.

They probably

wondered why someone so young would have an inmate for a boyfriend. Whatever

the reason was, they

seemed very curious. When I had gone back to visit for the holidays after

this first

visit, a couple of the guards remarked to Sherman "that girl comes here a

lot doesn't she," and "why are you here, if your from LA?"

"Visit for Austin," the guard called. I got up and checked into a visitor

book. Meanwhile the guards checked my clear purse that held about 10 dollars

in loose change for vending machines and a hotel key; pretty much the only

things you are allowed to carry in with you in a clear bag. They then asked

me to take off my shoes and to pursue through the metal detector. I passed

without a beep, but was then asked to read a board. It said that I was about

to be tested for drugs with a special ionic machine that works like a

vacuum. I had to raise my arms while they sucked particles off my clothing,

and they then ran it through a machine. I felt awkward, but imagined it was

less than what Sherman has to go through daily. In one of his letters he had

mentioned that about every week they'd give him a breathalyzer test to see

if he's been drinking. Any person that knows him knows that he's Mr.

Anti-drugs & alcohol. I guess it doesn't matter there. We'll I passed the

test, being Mrs. Anti-drug & alcohol, and they stamped my hand. Again I was

sat down until a group of visitors were checked in, then they lead us into a

boxy white room where we had to show our stamp to another guard. Once we all

cleared, finally we were taken to the visiting room.

On the way there the barbed-wire was more apparent like Sherman wrote to me,

"I think they purposely put it in certain areas, like right above the

entrance to the Food Court so it's the first thing you see when you get up

in the morning and go to breakfast. It's there to remind you that your "a

prisoner." I got a turning feeling in my stomach partly experiencing his

physical & mental sentence. I saw food service inmate workers about 40 feet

away from our path, but we were separated by a chain link fence. I wondered

if Sherman was around there since that is his job at the prison, which he

only receives 8 cents an hour pay (that's with a high school diploma). It

rounds up to a month, that's what his last monthly paycheck came out to.

In the visiting room there were rows of colored plastic chairs under

exhausting fluorescent lights. Different colors indicated different types of

prisoners, like green/blue chairs were for INS, hold-over, and pre-trial

prisoners. I got the choice of red, yellow, or beige. I choose red since it

was about the only spot available in the packed visiting room.

I waited anxiously constantly looking at the clock. One by one inmate's

were let out from a corner door after they were padded down by a guard.

After 20 minutes of waiting, Sherman appeared in khaki pants, a khaki

collared shirt, and black steel toe boots. At first he glanced all over the

place looking for me like a lost little boy. Once we locked eyes, our smiles

were unstoppable. We rushed to each other and were allowed to hug and kiss

for a few minutes. He hugged me so tight that my back cracked about four

times. It was so refreshing to feel him and smell his long dreads. After our

"allowed touch time" was up we sat down and held hands throughout the visit.

He put his arm around me a couple of times until a guard came up to us and

asked if I was Sherman's sister. Sherman responded "No, she's my

girlfriend." Then the guard said that we were not allowed to do that then.

What a load of B.S. we thought, and we couldn't say anything back because it

would risk loosing visits. We were still allowed to lean on each other and

hold hands. I felt like I was back in high school with all the rules,

fences, guards/security, and uniforms. Sherman said he felt the same way.

Still the guards weren't that bad, a lot of them were friendly and

talkative, they just do what they are told to make a living. Something's

slide, some don't, you just got to know the ropes and types of guards.

Sherman and I constantly stared at each other looking for changes. I noticed

he gained muscle & a couple of pounds. He also seemed taller since he stood

up straight from doing incline push-ups and bench presses. He works out

about twice a day, because he said that having this routing helps the days

go by faster. By looking at him I could tell he wasn't kidding about working

out. He sets goals for himself like by the time he finishes serving time he

wants to be able to bench press at least 300 pounds. When he first came to

the facility he was struggling with 65 pounds. After 4 months, he's now at

185 pounds max. Another reason he keeps a routine he says "it's good cause

it builds self discipline." Amongst his other physical changes were his

dreads that seemed a couple of inches longer, and his face seemed to have

years added to it from all the stress he's been going through. In pictures

he had sent me from the prison for my birthday I could see his boyish stare

seemed hard-edged. But at our visit he seemed to regain some of his glow,

also at the upcoming visits with his mother and again myself. I guess the

hardened look could just be homesickness and prison life, either way I was

glad to have the lively Sherman in front of me. He is truly an amazing

spirit with phenomenal abilities to transcend all the negatives of this

situation into something positive. I love this about him. Even though his

physical appearance is changing a little, his heart and mind continue in the

same path of maturing strength, compassion, love, and intelligence.

We talked and talked about a variety of topics. Sherman said he is very glad

to be receiving support letters and reading all of them. He's sorry he

hasn't responded to a lot of letters, but it's quite difficult with the

shortage of stamps, time, and energy. That place seems to suck the life out

of him. He has mentioned a variety of his favorites from all around the

world like from France, South Africa, and a large majority across United

States. Letters seem to be part of his motivation to move forward and stay

strong. He sends thanks and appreciation to all of you that have taken the

time to write to him.

We also talked about books he finished reading that I had sent him. He

finished reading the Elaine Brown story "A Taste of Power" and "Lockdown

America" by Christian Parenti. He just started on two other books. The main

one he's currently reading sent by his mother is called "Decolonizing the

Mind," and "Fast Food Nation." So far he's got plenty to read, but doesn't

mind receiving more. He shares his books with some of his fellow inmates,

especially conscience literature. He feels that others should be able to

read books likes "Lockdown America" to better understand their imprisonment

because education is a powerful tool.

Sherman also mentioned that in this facility he gets the chance to play

music. He plays bass guitar for a prison rock band, and he plays drums for

the prison chapel on Saturday evenings. Many other facilities don't offer

this, so it's good he has this opportunity while serving time. It also helps

him practice for when he comes out, because one of his main focuses will be

writing music with conscience lyrics. We're still not sure if he will be

able to use computers for this art due the 3 year probation. I guess we'll

know when he meets with his probation officer.

As we continued with our visit, inmates that also had visitors would pass by

us and say hello to him, "What's up Sherm Tank (Sherms or Shermanator)?" I

found it a bit amusing. I was glad to see this interaction. He would tell me

about some of them. Like one of the guys was the singer of the rock band

that Sherman plays bass for at the prison. From what I saw, Sherman hasn't

had a problem making friends. Especially since this facility seems to not

inhibit any racial tension. When his mother visited the first time, she was

approached by one of the inmates. This inmate told her that she shouldn't

worry about her son, because Sherman was being looked after. On my visit I

could tell that he knew different people and he was well rounded. I got to

see that other inmates were not the Hollywood stereotypes, well at least not

in this federal facility. They also had families and loved ones on the

outside, like Sherman said "they are regular people." Most of them are in

prison for non-violent drug offenses, it really made me think about the

prison system. I noticed that many of these prisoners seem to come from

low-income families and majority were people of color. I wondered how many

of them were able to afford a private attorney or ended up with a

plea-bargaining public defender.

Sherman and I also talked about his case. It's a hard topic to avoid,

especially when there is still hope for a plea-withdrawal. Sherman further

realizes the all the railroading and manipulation that was involved in his

case to set him up. He was used to "set an example to deter future

revolutionaries." Being in that place he replays and analyzes facts over and

over. The injustice doesn't fade away. For Sherman and those supporting him,

this case isn't closed.

Our first three-hour visit flew by. The guards announced, "Visitation is

over. Inmates to the red chairs. Visitors to the door." We were again

allowed to give a quick hug & kiss goodbye. I felt like shrinking small

enough, so that I could fit into his pocket or vice versa. We joked about

this, to break the sadness. While Sherman held me tight in his arms, he

reassured me that this nightmare sentence would be over soon and he would

come out upgraded version Sherman 2.0. I couldn't help but to laugh at his

goofy humor and feel comforted. His positive energy made me feel more serene

with the thought that I would be back to visit him soon.

To add some personal insight I'll end this quoting Sherman from one of his

letters:

"I'm going to try everything in my power to not go back, ever. I never want

to go back to prison. The reality of the situation is though I'm not in full

control over being a target, but I am in control of how much I will fight to

not get locked up again. I'd like to go to school when I get out. It's not

going to get rid of the reality of the situation though. They are going to

be on me for the rest of my life. Trying to look good isn't going to change

it. If I take college classes it's not for me to try to look good, but to do

something for myself. This isn't something I can simply run away from or

hide from by a change of lifestyle. The only thing that can bring this to an

end is some kind of social change. I can lay-low for as long as I want, but

it won't ever change the reality of things. That's why I didn't really lay

low during my case, because it wasn't going to change anything. They still

wanted their conviction and the Judge always had 1 year on his mind since my

first court appearance. That I couldn't control, so I just continued to do

organizing work and spread more word out in the open about my case. Like at

first when everyone was telling my mom and me to be very quiet about

everything, because it could "hurt my case." It was false, because the

Judges mind and FBI's mind were already made up from the start. So really if

you think about it, the only thing that could have been done strategically

was to be very vocal about it and continue organizing.it would have at least

organized more people and increased awareness. Which is a key element that

eventually leads to change. That to me is more important in focusing on,

rather than "laying low," because it's not like you're loosing anything.

Your still going to struggle and end up in jail or struggle and live in

paranoid fear of running your whole life. Both things are a prison."

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Free Sherman 1Planet1People Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004 at 11:32 PM
ADDED INFO TO THE SHERMAN STORY!!! Lupe Monday, Jan. 19, 2004 at 8:03 PM
ADDED INFO TO THE SHERMAN STORY!!! Lupe Monday, Jan. 19, 2004 at 8:15 PM
WRITE TO SHERMAN ME Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2004 at 3:04 AM
I'm feeling very sexy tonight Hex anon Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004 at 3:26 AM

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator S19 12:51AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator S15 3:49AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Propagande de virus, virus de propagande S10 7:34AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates S08 6:17PM

Paraphysique de l'origami S08 7:11AM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Du réussissement putréfié S06 10:55AM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Log S06 4:25AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy