Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Indigenous Prisoner Demands Rights

Published Mar 13, 2011 11:07 PM

Following is a statement from Jason Campbell, an Indigenous inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary where Lucasville uprising prisoners Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur and Jason Robb recently won significant improvements in the terms of their confinement through a 12-day hunger strike and an international support campaign. Campbell chose to start his hunger strike Feb. 27 because it is the 38th anniversary of the struggle of Wounded Knee led by the American Indian Movement against the U.S. government. Campbell’s religious necklace was taken, even though this had been approved as a religious accommodation. To sign a petition to support Jason Campbell’s demands, go to iacenter.org/prisoners/campbellpetition.

Thank you for your interest in my current plight. I am grateful that there is at least one voice still willing to speak up on behalf of those in my position.

Since my incarceration in 2003, I have diligently fought for the religious rights of incarcerated Native Americans in Ohio prisons. I feel, seeing that I have the ability, that it is my responsibility to insure that we have the same protections under the law that other faith-based groups generally enjoy. Personally, I have requested everything I could think of, trying to get as much approved as I could — as I know it would set the tone for what others will be allowed in the future. Basically, I am being prevented from practicing my Native beliefs in every way. I have requested and been denied all of the following: tobacco, tobacco ties (twists), moccasins, feathers, beads (sewn into objects like a head band or medicine bag), fur, animal hair (such as horse and buffalo), head band (of a color other than white — where beads are concerned), sacred objects (for Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle), Native American flute, hand drum, rattle, access to sweat lodge (for purification), and to have a “Sun Dance” ceremony.

I also have requested and have been approved for a “prayer pipe,” Medicine Bag, and a Medicine Bundle, but I must point out that these are useless without tobacco for the prayer pipe and sacred objects for the Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle. Without tobacco, I am unable to pray. Without sacred objects for the Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle, they are just empty vessels — void of their purpose.

One last thing. My hunger strike is not considered “official” until after I refuse my ninth meal — which will be March 2 at breakfast. When I get to the ninth meal and refuse to come off of the hunger strike, I will be moved to the segregation block (the Hole). I’m told it is to prevent other prisoners from giving me food. In fact, I believe that it is to punish me into coming off of the hunger strike by putting me in a cell with no electricity. If you can find a way to address this as well, it would be much appreciated.

I hope, fervently, that this information can help you in assisting me — and through me — all other Native Americans in Ohio prisons. Present and future. Thank you again for your help.

“Mitakuye Oyasin” (to all my relations)

Jason Campbell #476-229

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