|Letter from Imprisoned SOA Watch Activist Rita Lucey|
The April Capitol demonstration presents an opportunity for peaceful civil disobedience as does the November gathering at Ft. Benning. The need for continuous discernment concerns us as we struggle to answer the question many of you have posed, "Should I become a repeat offender with the (almost) certainty of a six month sentence and a $3000 to $5000 fine?"
Perhaps knowing something of my (our) experience here at Coleman Prison (Work Camp) will help the decision making -
Daily routine is breakfast at 6 - work at 8, lunch at 11 and dinner at 4:45. In between are "counts" when we are 'recalled' to our quarters to be counted. After the 4pm count is MAIL CALL. Evening activities: bible study (fundamental), yoga, aerobics, painting classes, choir practice and the use of library (minimal - nothing current). There are also classes: parenting, AA, NA, GED (high school diplomas). Mary and I are teaching/tutoring the various levels in all subjects. Challenging and frustrating!
Culture shock, long a learning tool for me, is teaching tolerance in ways I don't like. The twenty four hour noise level in this 140 bed open dorm varies only in decibels. Overhead lights, a constant, are dimmed to about &half power from 10:30 to 6:30. (Co defendant and sister inmate lives by the back door in the red light district - she maintains a rosy glow) Our 3" cotton mattress (lower bunk assigned if your over 50) high fat, high sugar, and high salt diet round out the major discomforts.
A humbling experience? Certainly in may ways. Work assignments, prior to GED, required calling up personal dignity as we swept sidewalks and picked up cigarette butts. Another humbler - Mail Call. To stand there nightly, among so many, and receive 15 to 20 pieces of mail, while others received none. Our mail, mostly from strangers, who are strangers no longer, as we share support, caring and questioning.
For those who are asking "Will I cross the line - face the same fate as you?" We know your struggle. We support bringing it to prayers, discernment with loved ones and faith communities. After that, peacefully leave it with SOPHIA - WISDOM. When the hour comes you will know. SHE will accompany you.
Wherever you are called be in this struggle to "slay the SOA dragon" the grace and courage necessary becomes a part of who you are.
As we imitate the Spirit within us we can change the outrageous behavior of this country we love. And in so doing we too become part of "The Old, the New and the Now Testament." A new litany for all Peacemakers.
5525 Illinois Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20011