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Prison Strike Leader Transferred To ‘Bully Unit’ As Alabama Tries To Break Strike

One of the leading voices behind the national prison strike against slavery was transferred to Kilby Correctional Facility, known among Alabama prisoners to be a “bully unit,” where prisoners deemed disruptive are brutalized.

Kinetik Justice-Amun, also known as Robert Earl Council, is a member of the Free Alabama Movement and was previously incarcerated at the Holman Correctional Facility. He used contraband cellphones to communicate with journalists and publish videos and audio recordings from his solitary cell at Holman. The videos showed how prisoners like him are treated.

“That’s bad,” an anonymous prisoner reacted after he learned where Kinetik was transferred.

“Kilby is our bully camp,” said the prisoner, who is also a member of Free Alabama. “That’s where inmates go who they deem to be problems that they have to iron out with brutality. You understand what I’m saying? When they send you to Kilby, that’s where they break your arms and break your legs.”

The prisoner wondered where Kinetik went, and was concerned because he knew Kinetik was conducting interviews in the press using his name.

He noted riot squads recently filled in for corrections officers, who refuse to report to duty in recent weeks in protest against their work conditions.

The prisoner spoke to Kinetik, who said the riot squad sent an officer to Kinetik’s cell to “harass him.”

“[The officer] told [Kinetik] to bend over and cough. Robert Earl ain’t gonna bend over and cough, you know, bend over, spread your cheeks and cough. He ain’t gonna do that, and they know it. So when it came time for him to bend over and cough, he said you know man, I ain’t doing that. They had a few words, some cursing went back and forth, and they tried to rough him up.”

The prisoner tried to get the name of the officer that “mishandled Robert Earl” from the riot squad stationed in the unit, but he was unable to do so.

“I think they transferred him to Kilby until the riot squad leaves this prison,” the prisoner said. He worried Kinetik would eventually be sent to Limestone Correctional Facility in the northern part of the state.

“Limestone has this statewide lockup they have up there, where they send everybody and you have to spend one year in isolation. So I’m hoping Kilby is not a layover. By them sending him to Kilby like that, they may be sending him to north Alabama to Limestone Correctional Facility.”

“If he doesn’t reach Limestone he’ll be ok,” the prisoner said. “I don’t really like him being at Kilby because of their attitude and how they are…I know how Robert Earl is. He ain’t gonna back down. They lookin’ for that, and that’s not gonna happen. And I don’t want him to be in a place, where he has to face hostile officers knowing how he’s gonna be strong.”

The prisoner pledged the administration’s efforts to retaliate against Kinetik will not discourage other members of the Free Alabama Movement. “Even though Robert Earl is in isolation, we can’t let this slow us down. They’re removing him to destroy our momentum.”

“Because they brought in [the riot squad] and they’re removing him, I don’t know what they think is gonna happen, but ain’t nothin’ gonna happen. We just gonna continue doing what we been doing. We just gonna continue doing what we been doing.”

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.