NOVEMBER 27, 2018: Rattler held his head high walking into Sandstone prison in Minnesota, knowing he among thousands protected the land, water, and people. Please write to him, as the frontline is continuing behind concertina wire in prison:
Michael Markus 06280-073 Unit I
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 1000
SANDSTONE, MN 55072
If Western Union is available to you, please send commissary directly to his account through this link by typing his name and his eight digit inmate number without the hyphen:
If Western Union is unavailable, please donate money to his paypal and specify to us that the money is for his commissary:
Rattler has been sentenced to three years incarceration (excluding two months of time served) with three years of supervised release (AKA federal surveillance). Judge Hovland told us he will have to do at least 85% of his sentence, amounting to 25-30 months. The judge indicated he had no issue with his last year being in a halfway house, and eligible for work farm or minimum security prisons. The judge recommended a federal prison not far from the Dakotas. When released, probation can also decide after a year of supervised release if surveillance and monitoring will continue.
CONTEXT: It is not up to federal judges what state prisoners get sent to, what level of security prison they're sent to (work farm, minimum, medium, maximum) and how long probation will last. It's up to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP)...
- Rattler was sentenced September 27th, 2018 at 8:30 AM in Bismarck. Since he was not taken away immediately as we expected, he will self surrender to Federal Correctional Institution Sandstone (FCI Sandstone) in Sandstone, MN before 1:00 pm November 26, 2018.
- We will give updates about the overall status of the prison and Rattler's well being, statements from Rattler to give to the public, and other updates related to his case and sentence.
Water Protector Dion Ortiz, the youngest of all our family that received federal charges, was released from FCI Sandstone prison 4/3/19 and is on his way to Bureau of Prison's halfway house to continue the struggle of federal surveillance, potentially for the next 3 years, on probation.
Rattler has released a statement regarding Dion's release and their time spent together in prison:
"Dion is getting out of federal prison today. I have had the opportunity to serve time with him and help watch over him, but he also had friends that he made in here that helped him pass the time, guys his own age. He is a young warrior, and his people should be proud of how he took this time with his head high. He will leave here with his fist in the air proud of what he has done to help not only his people but all people that want a future for their children with Unci Maka. When his great grandchildren ask about the trees, it will be said that Dion fought for them. and when you take a drink of clean water remember this young man that stood up to oppression, that took the lies that the federal government threw at him, and still stood tall and proud representing the people of the Pueblo Nation. I am proud to know him and call him Akicita. I am proud to stand next to him."
November 2019: Rattler has been informed his earliest potential release date is December 2020, but may be as late as April 2021.
COMPLETE NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN OF ALL FEDERAL PRISONS JUNE 2020
FOR CONFRONTING SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE: "In light of extensive protest activity occurring around the country, the BOP – in an abundance of caution – is implementing an additional, temporary security measure to ensure the good order and security of our institutions, as well as ensure the safety of staff and inmates. In securing our facilities, our hope is that this security measure is short-lived and that inmates will be restored to limited movement in the very near future. The BOP will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust its operations accordingly as the situation continues to evolve.”
UPDATES FROM RATTLER REGARDING PRISON AND COVID-19
SEPTEMBER 12, 2020:
"The BOP is opening up visits on October 3rd. And I urge people not to come. I know that you want to see your loved ones in here, or in any prison. But for their safety and yours I beg you not to come. We have more corona cases every week and we all know that the BOP don't give a fuck about us. But I know that you all care for your loved ones in federal prisons. So unless its a video call that you can do from home DO NOT come to the federal prisons to visit. Again this is for your safety and ours."
JUNE 25, 2020:
Sandstone prison, where Rattler is incarcerated, had isolated a man with alleged COVID symptoms but the prison has yet to do any testing. There is now at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
Federal prisons all across the country barely engage in testing. The incompetency of federal prisons to actually acquire testing kits, then applying for approval through the Regional offices for testing to occur, with lack of personal protective equipment for guards and those imprisoned, with lack of space to avoid further spreading, with hydroxylchloroquine still being considered for use with prisoners as the guinea pigs, and bureaucracy preventing elligible release of prisoners, is inevitably compounding the reality of lock up's endless historical continuum of state sanctioned violence and neglect.
We were also informed Sandstone prison sent their own riot squads out into the streets of Minnesota to stand next to street cops to oppose the nationwide protests. Other prisons are doing the same. The oppression and violence enforced by guards in lock up is now in the streets.
Rattler was told although he may technically be eligible for home confinement due to the pandemic, he would probably not get approval because of bullshit bureaucracy: Rattler had to change his legal address that was provided on his Pre-Sentence Investigative Report (PSIR) to the prisons in order to adhere to the COVID requirements for early release specified in Attorney General William Barr's memo March 26, 2020 (one specification being its less likely to contract/spread COVID outside of the prison once on home confinement, and medical care would be more accessible outside of prison once released to a home asdress). He was considered "homeless" by the courts at Pine Ridge despite family support and having work there. His other "legal" addresses housed elderly people, making them ineligible for home confinement during the pandemic. Despite the hoops we had to jump through, we secured an elligible address for home confinement during the pandemic, only to be told the fact we had to change the address could prevent compassionate release. This is typical of prison: you do what is required but it will still be used to punish and oppress.
At the end of May 2020, Rattler's legal team sent memos to his Counselor, his Case Manager, and the Bureau of Prison Regional Office about his elligibility for home confinement during COVID and his new address that complied with the requirements for COVID release that were specified in Attorney General William Barr's memo. As of this week, Rattler's Counselor informed him he will not have his address changed within the prison system until at least August, the probation office won't go check the home for elligibility, and the prison WILL NEVER APPROVE HIM FOR HOME CONFINEMENT. This means we have to take further steps with filings in court, not only under the 2020 CARES Act specifically addressing COVID, but under Compassionate Release legislation.
Federal prisons are still under nationwide lockdown due to the necessary street protests against systemic violence: there is no ceremony or religious services, only one hour outside a WEEK (if they even get that), $50 limit on commissary (if commissary is even being made available), all meals are brought to their cells/bunks, and phones and computers are being moved into Sandstone's housing units so those imprisoned cant even get a fifteen minute break from their bunks. There are no visits. Under the CARES Act, federal inmates were given more phone time but due to the nationwide lockdown of all federal prisons, phone calls and emails are now limited, INCLUDING calls to attorneys/legal teams.
Prisoners are punished for demanding masks, or making their own. They're punished for questioning why guards are not wearing personal protective equipment. Medical units at Sandstone have guards wearing no masks. Yet inmates are the ones being required to clean much of the facility with limited access to sanitation products.
As of April 8th, people must sign up to use the 7/11 (computer rooms to message loved ones on Corrlinks). Communication to all inmates, including Rattler, is severely limited. Timeline for prison to implement full lockdown is indefinite.
APRIL 1, 2020: "Full lockdown for the next 14 days. Prisoners cannot leave their bunks. Guards designate shower time and potentially even bathroom breaks. No ceremony, rec time, limited commissary to $25, no TV room, no exercise. Staff claims they are following CDC guidelines, yet social distancing, masks, or sanitation has not been improved for guards or inmates."
MARCH 31, 2020: "Well the latest thing that is being talked about is moving people out of J unit, which holds 64 prisoners and sending them to other units thru out the prison. Then taking F unit which are gate pass prisoners, and putting them in J unit, then using F unit as a quarantine because F unit is made of cells. But even after all that moving and shifting we are still over crowded. There is NO social distancing at all. We are only allowed to eat 2 prisoners to a table in the chow hall."
MARCH 26, 2020:
"Because of the virus, they (Bureau of Prisons) think that sticking us all in our units for 20 hours a day or more is the solution. Starting the 26th of March there's lock down on us to keep us in our units and only let us out for 2-4 hours a day...They put the memo out that from the 27th until further notice they will no longer be serving supper in the chow hall. We are to get our food in a foam tray and take it back to the unit to eat... 3 [units at a time ] in rec at 4 hour rotating intervals. 6am to 10 am, 11 am to 3 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. We are allowed 7-11 [AKA Corrlinks electronic messaging] and the phone room even if we are not allowed in the rec room. There is talk of a total lock down next week...[We live in] 7 x 7 cube with bunkbeds and lockers taking up over half the room. Bunks are seperated by a 3 inch wall. 130 people live in 2 dorms. We all share 6 showers, 4 toilets to poop, 4 to pee and 9 bathroom sinks. These are divided in half to each side."
We confirmed no changes to sanitation or NIOSH approved N-95 respirators for airborne pathogens are in use by any of the prison staff. Not even basic face masks are in use.
Ratller also informed us: 300+ people at a time will be struggling to use the phone or message loved ones through Corrlinks. Any suspected cases of COVID-19 results in people getting thrown in the SHU/hole. Exercise equipment gets cleaned after use. Hand sanitizer is ONLY set up at the Corrlinks messaging station (7/11) and at the phones. No respirators or testing kits are available. Any new transfers to Sandstone are checked for fever before being given a bunk. Prison staff arent allowing commissary to be taken to their lockers so no food at their bunks.
He also confirmed any prisoners that get checked out respiratory illness is put into group isolation in the game room of unit K-3. Anyone in isolation can STILL use the group showers.
MARCH 13, 2020: Rattler has been told ALL visits have been stopped "indefinitely", except legal visits that will be cut "for the next thirty days" due to Coronoavirus. They now have 200 extra minutes on their monthly phone time (about 13 extra calls). Rattler keeps saying "We're like a petri dish in here. We (prisoners) are all right on top of each other. We've already gotten sick before from guards." We need people to acknowledge prison is NOT a "safe" quarantine. Prisoners are already designated as last on the list for health, safety, basic rights let alone when there's limited resources and limited knowledge during a pandemic. The more people have to start organizing/fighting to keep each other safe and informed, the more oppressive the tactics from bureaucratic/systemic institutions will become.
RATTLER'S PRISON STATEMENTS THROUGH THE NoDAPL FEDERAL/POLITICAL PRISONER SUPPORT COMMITTEE
December 25, 2019: "This is a holiday that I don't celebrate once a year. This is the type of holiday that people should do year round, but that is not their way. Because that would mean that they have to give a shit about people, when most only care about themselves. And they say that they care about their children, but that is a lie, well somewhat. More like they don't care about their children's future. Because if they did care about their future they would have been out there with us at Standing Rock [NoDAPL camps], at the Bayou Bridge [NoDAPL camps] and other places. But they are so brainwashed to think that the government is doing everything they can for them and that is a lie. The ones that went to camp know what it is like to live like we did before we found that guy lost at sea [Columbus]. Because at camp we cared for everyone equally. Every one was taken care of. Even the "homeless" people that showed up just to get fed, and they did [get fed]. In the end they became part of a community that was better than any city in the "US". And I hope that someday we can make that a reality for everyone in the country, and world. But they are more worried about money. That is one thing our people [indigenous] never worried about because we knew, and still know true happiness. That is why we never dug up the gold, silver and other things that they are digging up. People talk about Shangri-La and how they want to find it and live in the perfect world. Well that is what was destroyed when the plague that is the United States was spreading across Turtle Island. But we can have it again if they will only listen and learn. But to do that they have to empty their cup of all they think that they know."
November 29, 2019 letter to family, one full year in lock up: "...When I am out there, I am a person of action. But while I have been in here [prison] they have given me time to use my most dangerous weapon of all, my mind. I have been thinking about all that you [family] say, and building a snowball to start rolling down the hill and let it pick up momentum. And as I told you [family] before. If they were scared of me before the only thing they did to me by putting me in here was give me motivation and cunning to gather MORE people behind us then we have ever had before. They wanted to make an example out of us... ok here is the example they have set: that as long as we stay true to who we are and what we are fighting for, we are heroes. And the letters that I get from kids, kids in early elementary, the ones that we are fighting for, are cheering us on. That makes me feel like superman. And I will fight for them and our kids. I will continue to fight for the future of the children. If the future of our children is gonna cost me a couple of years in this place so be it. I think it is well worth the price. Because the children see us as heroes, and we don't wear badges. So when they knock us down we stand back up. We don't dust ourselves off, just stand back up and smile because the kids see who the true heroes really are. The water protectors, tree huggers, animal lovers and any other name they want to call us. They see the truth. And the ancestors are watching over us as we are in places like this.
...I wish I was getting out soon for you [family]. But like I said Tunkasila can't change the hearts of people that have none. But they do help me put more people on the path to fight for Unci Maka...And the ones that don't get on this path, I do what I can to help them find it in themselves to stay out of here [prison]."
September 2019, to NoDAPL Akicita/our family enduring the struggle of prison: "...sometimes its hard to see the rainbow through the heavy rains coming down. But it is there, even if we don't see it, others do and appreciate all that we are doing. The ones that I think of seeing what we are doing and love us for what we are doing is our kids, our grandkids and their grandkids. The ancestors are watching us. And the rewards will come. But if we focus on the rewards then we lose site of what we are doing and why. Like if I ran the Boston marathon I don't see me winning and getting a medal, I just want to cross the line and finish. And know that I didn't quit, even if it takes me 3 times as long as anyone else. There are those that feel they should be in the light and be the star. So they do what they can to shoot us down. Whether they do it for their own gain, or they do it for the gov, we are Akicita and we stand strong through all the bullshit. Did we go to Standing Rock to be facebook hero's? No. Did we do it to get rich? No. We did it because we are Sundancers and it was the right thing to do. And if we don't keep standing up, when they knock us down, i.e. throw us in jail, prison, mace us, beat us, shoot us, every time we stand back up. Because we are Akicita. They can't break our spirit. And they are trying everything they can to take us down. But we stand up and face them again. I do it with a smile on my face because I know that they are going to fail. I know they are gonna lose. No matter what they think or do to us, remember we are Akicita. And when we wonder if the decision that we made is the right one then we listen to our heart. Because the ancestors are in our hearts. Our ancestors are always with us. When we feel out of touch with them we need to load the Canupa and just sit and pray for a full day. Stop listening to the brain throwing negative bullshit at us and open our heart to the Creator and ancestors, they know what we do is good and true. And so does our heart."
August 15, 2019: "Prejudice is a colonizer's trait."
August 7, 2019: "Little Feather like the rest of us stood up to the government. He stood for what is RIGHT. He stood for the people, and they sent him to prison for it. The only reason that he went in the first place is because there is no more justice in the United States. The US has been bought and paid for by companies that view the destruction of the earth as their god given right. Little Feather stood when many others would not stand up for the people. When they talk about cops being heroes, they are wrong. The true hero is people like Little Feather, Dion Ortiz, Angry Bird and Redfawn. Because they stood against a giant and did not flinch at the cost of doing what is right. We did it without guns, against a militarized police force supported by mercenaries and paid for by people that would sell their own children for a profit, because they already sold their children's future and now they are trying to take OUR children's future. I thank Little Feather, Dion Ortiz, Angry Bird and Redfawn for bearing the cost of doing what is right when many others would not. I thank them for sacrificing years of their life because they care about the future of Unci Maka. My hope is that others will not be scared by the prospect of doing time, but encouraged by the willingness of people like Little Feather to stand up to big corporations so they too can stand with them. Remember when you think of a hero, think of Mike "Little Feather" Giron, Dion Ortiz, James "Angry Bird" White, and Redfawn Fallis, True heroes in the war for Mother Earth.
I'm glad that Little Feather has gotten out of prison, where he did not belong in the first place. I'm happy that he is back with our family and I hope that I get to dance with him someday at the place he decides to Sundance at. I am truly happy for all the people that get out of these places that thrive on human incarceration. Prisons are not here to help, they are here to house you and send you out in a world that is changing everyday knowing that they have done nothing to prepare you and betting that you will come back. While I am in here, I have been listening to some of my fellow prisoners tell me what they would like to do when they get out. I try to help them, because the prison faculty will just ignore them. I am doing everything I can to help them get out and reach that goal that they want. I think the Lakota or Native way is what we all need."
August 7, 2019: "When the prison required me to move from J unit, which I had been in since I first got here in November 2018, to I unit, councilor A said it was because he wants his cases in the same unit. My first comment was "Why? You have not talked to me once since that initial intake, or when I approached you repeatedly to ask about my family's visitation forms not being processed." I filed a BP8 and contested the idea of being moved to I unit because in J unit we all got along and watched out for each other... I told them I am just trying to avoid a confrontation between my new bunkie and I, because I found out that he is racist against people of color. Not that I am a wimp and can't take care of myself. I am just trying to avoid a situation where I feel the need to defend myself. It seems to me they [prison] like to have conflict between prisoners...When we go for our orientation from the prison staff, the first words they say to us prisoners is "We don't care why you are here". Which is a clear indication that we are just money signs to them."
May 9, 2019: "I decided that since I cannot go to Sundance or Hanbleciya ceremony this year and probably next, I thought I would show my support to my other half by fasting for a full 4 days. I do this with prayers in my heart and in my head. Since I also cannot make prayer ties, this is the only way I see how I can support. I do plan on doing another 4 day fast in July while my partner Sundances. I just wish I could be there in person. Fasting is a giving of ourselves for the people. Traditional ceremony is barely hanging on in prison. I don't know how it is in other prisons, but here there is no such thing as "we". It is all racial here with the prisoners. They have a hierarchy, even people have ownership of places to sit in the sweatlodge. But we have a small bit of some traditional ceremony in here. I just wish that we could have some medicine men or Sundance leaders come in here to lead the inipi sometimes. Prison gives us so little but threaten to take it away if we don't do ceremony they way they demand, calling it a security risk if we try to do it the RIGHT way, then we lose access to our ways all together. I am praying for strength for my partner to make it through Hanblechiya and for the people here in prison to find the guidance they need to get out of this place, find the path they need to stay away from here. I pray for Unci Maka and the continuing struggle to help her, that our numbers will grow and that we start making good decisions to better the way we live, that we start teaching others to live with all creatures and respect them. I said prayers for Water Protector Dion Ortiz and his family, and a lot of individual people that needed prayers. These are just some of the things that I have been praying for while I fasted. I felt good doing it. I still don't feel hungry, like I can go for another 10 days. But I'm not gonna continue because my mental self is pretty strong and I would end up harming myself."
April 4, 2019: "As a US Marine vet I am ashamed of the conduct of the Army Reserve. They obviously don't know that it is duty to protect people at Standing Rock, because they are and have been standing in PEACEFUL RESISTANCE. And all the brow beating that they got to make them bring weapons of war against the citizens. My Grandfather and his brother were code talkers in WWII. The government used our Native people to win their wars but in the next instant they look at us as terrorist because we want clean water and don't give a damn about the billonaIre's oil pipeline...but it also saddens me that the federal government has forgotten that they are obligated to represent all people not just the rich but the poor, especially the poor. Because the ones that don't have the money are ignored and stepped on, simply because we are not greedy. The poor will come together in a time of crisis and care for each other. It is time the middle and lower class stood up, because it is the right of every human in this world to have fresh clean drinking water and NOT have to pay for it."
February 19, 2019: "I'd rather have an 8x10 cell, it would be bigger than the living space we have now, which is only 7x7. There are 34 7x7 cubicals in this place. We only have 3 showers for 68 guys, 2 toilets and 2 urinals for all of us. VERY unsanitary. Not to mention no MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheets] for the chemicals around here that are used for cleaning. But hey, what do I know? It's only OSHA regulations. I think that's because the government is above the law."
January 17, 2019: (Referring to federal court) "What a bunch of cowards. I hope someday the roles will be reversed, and they have to stand in judgement in front of US. But fortunately for them, we look for truth, not revenge or money."
January 5th, 2019: "I haven't seen the sun in 4 days. These tunnels [halls] are like a maze."
December 24, 2018: "These guys [prisoners] were telling me the hoops they have to jump through...Hell they [prison] make enough money off of us just being in here. The greed of SOME will be the death of us ALL.
The feds and state knock us down, and kick us when we are down. They do it because they're scared of when we get back up, because we're stronger and don't fall for the same tricks. They are SCARED of us helping each other. Don't dust yourself off when you get back up. Just smile and let them know you own them."
Dec. 10, 2018 statement: "I'm gonna do everything I can to come home...so we can get back to doing work for Unci Maka. But as my partner said, I am still doing work while I am in here. After all, we are Sundancers, and what are we if we don't give to the people? We are giving while we're in here...I will do what I can. It may be only one person at a time, but it may be better that way."
Dec. 3, 2018 statement: "When a judge says "If you want a fair trial, get convicted then file an appeal", that alone should tell you that the state of our federal government is not about justice or people's rights. We all rallied around that news reporter (Amy Goodman) that got arrested at camp...Maybe some were thinking it meant justice would be done, but that was only happening at state court...if you threaten the feds with many years in prison from the knowledge the trial will not be a fair one, they will grab at any opportunity to not stay away from our families for long. RedFawn was looking at 25 to life and took a non-cooperating plea. Was she guilty? No. But the judge said "get convicted and upon appeal, maybe you can have a fair trial." In the meantime the world went back to sleep watching Jersey Shore or the Kardashians...Media, why are you so silent now?...Are the lives damaged in camp and after meaningless to you? Nov. 20th hundreds of people were treated for hypothermia. 20+ received treatment for major injuries for the less than lethal rounds fired at point blank range...Why is it considered an act of aggression to protect yourself from police brutality? ...Unlike law enforcement in ND, we cared about who got hurt. We didn't want to justify law enforcement's actions."
Nov. 2018: "All I can think of is what needs to be done out there. I keep praying people will unite so the powers that be will have to take notice...We fight not only for ourselves but for our future generations."
"When you say "Hi, how are you doing?" mean it. If they had a bad day, lend an ear and help a fellow HUMAN have a better day...UNITE. RESIST."