The incarcerated activist Kinetik Justice, whom Democracy Now! interviewed in 2016 during a nationwide prison strike, was severely beaten last Saturday by guards at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Witnesses say Justice tried to defuse an altercation after guards struck a mentally ill prisoner unconscious with an “ax-like” baton. Video shows pools of blood and a dislodged tooth in the cell. Both men were airlifted to a trauma center in Birmingham before being returned to prison Monday. Democracy Now! spoke to Kinetik Justice’s mother Ernestine Council after he was allowed to call her Wednesday and described his injuries.
Ernestine Council: “And his eye was swollen shut, where he had got hit in his eye, and that he had broke ribs, had two broke ribs, and bruises where they had beat him on the back of his head, his shoulder, his back and on his thigh. Those are the injuries that I know, that he told me that he had, and severe. They beat him badly. But thank God that he’s yet alive.”
In December, the Justice Department filed a major lawsuit against Alabama’s Department of Corrections for excessive use of force by staff in a dozen prisons, after an investigation detailed incidents such as a guard beating a handcuffed prisoner in a medical unit while shouting, “I am the reaper of death, now say my name!” Guards involved in last weekend’s attack are now “on leave,” and the FBI may investigate.