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Black Lives Matter: Everywhere!
Justice for Vincent Gaines!
For over 30 years, the Human Rights Defense Center has been fighting the long, hard battle to protect the basic human and civil rights of the poorest, most vulnerable people in American society: its prisoners and their families. At HRDC, Black lives have always mattered, everywhere, in the streets and behind the walls of this country's prisons and jails. Unlike the well-publicized murders of people like George Floyd, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, et al., the police state does not suddenly treat Black people better once they are off the street and locked in a cage. If anything, it is worse, much worse.
Have you heard of Vincent Gaines? If not, you should have. He was a Black man murdered at the hands of the Florida Department of Corrections and a private for-profit health care company named Corizon. This atrocity screams for justice.
Vincent Gaines was a mentally ill Black man from West Palm Beach, Florida, sentenced to 5 years in prison for burglary in June 2013. He entered the prison system at 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds. In prison, his untreated mental illness worsened resulting in his placement in solitary confinement at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford. The isolation worsened his mental illness. On December 3, 2015, guards found him unresponsive in his cell. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. At the time of his death, Mr. Gaines weighed 115 pounds, was unwashed, and had feces on his feet. He lost 75 pounds while in the custody of the FDOC. Adding insult to injury, prison officials did not notify the family of Mr. Gaines’ death and he was buried on prison grounds against the wishes of his family.
To date, no one has been charged in Mr. Gaines’ death. No prison official, guard, or the private for-profit medical company, Corizon, has acknowledged wrongdoing in Mr. Gaines’ murder by starvation. Each day, at least 6 different guards on 3 shifts physically saw Mr. Gaines caged in his solitary confinement cell, slowly wasting away from starvation, day after day, pound by pound. Yet they did nothing to save his life. Prison doctors and nurses did nothing to save his life, they stood by and watched him die.
It should come as no surprise that the Florida prison system and its political leaders accept and condone the murder of helpless, non-violent mentally ill Black prisoners like Mr. Gaines. Darren Rainey was another mentally ill Black prisoner who died in the Florida DOC in 2012. He was BURNED TO DEATH by prison guards in a scalding shower at the Dade Correctional Institution near Miami. It took the county medical examiner 5 years to conduct an autopsy and she ruled his murder was “accidental”. No one was charged in his murder either.
The Human Rights Defense Center is one of the very few non-profit organizations that advocates for the lives and basic rights of prisoners and seeks justice and accountability for those who lose their lives at the hands of prison and jail officials.
In 2018 HRDC filed suit against Florida prison officials and Corizon to hold them accountable for murdering Mr. Gaines. Before filing suit HRDC sent both the FDOC and Corizon a demand letter to attempt to resolve the matter without litigation. Their contempt for Black lives is so great, they did not even bother responding to our letter! For over 2 years now HRDC has been litigating vigorously on behalf of Mr. Gaines and his family as the state of Florida and Corizon refuse to acknowledge their role in starving Mr. Gaines to death.
We need your support to fight for justice for Mr. Gaines and the many others like him who are being mistreated, abused, raped, and murdered at the hands of the American police state. Things don’t get better when Black people get locked up. The difference is there are not as many witnesses with smartphones who can see these evil deeds and report them to the public at large via social media. How long did it take for Mr. Gaines to starve to death in his cell? No one said anything, no one got help, the people being paid with our tax dollars to protect Mr. Gaines were the ones who killed him.
Every dollar you can donate to HRDC helps us fight and advocate for the basic human rights of the victims of state violence in the US. People of color are disproportionately represented in American prisons and jails, as they are at every stage and level of the American criminal justice system. Policing is the beginning, jail and prison the middle with parole and probation at the end. Very few people care about the rights of prisoners or how they are treated. For 30 years HRDC has fought long and hard to vindicate the humanity of people in cages. Help us keep going, the need is greater than ever.