My name is Christopher Trotter, and I’m a political prisoner held inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.
I came into the prison system with a four-year sentence for theft. And with just three months to go, I was involved in a prison uprising. As a result of my participation- as a result of my participation in the prison up- riot, I received a multitude of charges ranging from attempted murder, criminal confinement, and rioting. All because I came to the defense of a prisoner that was being beaten savagely by racist prison guards while he was hand-cuffed and shackled.
I went to trial, which was nothing more than a political lynching. And the jury was prevented for hearing the whole truth. Ultimately, I was found guilty and sentenced to 142 years. And no one was killed in the riot! My life was basically over. It was like they had given me a slow death sentence.
Then I was placed in isolation. In a windowless cell. And I spent 20 years there because of my participation in the prison uprising. Because I had the courage to come to the aid of a fellow human being, because I had the courage to say, “Hey, well, this was wrong.” And I had to make that choice. Sure, I had to choose between my freedom and helping someone. When you have people in power in charge that should have did the right thing, but they didn’t.
And since I’ve been inside the DLC, they’ve been very vindictive. I’ve experienced some of the most dehumanizing and demoralizing days of my life in solitary confinement. As a political prisoner, you’re prosecuted for what you believe in, for what you stand up for. Even when it’s right, there are still consequences and you have to pay the price. It makes you understand that absolute power really does corrupt. They feel that they can do whatever. And you can’t say anything about it or do anything about it or you have no right to.
But I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees. I was always raised to struggle for a cause and that’s because if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.
The political prisoners in prison have it the worst. On every level they’re treated differently. We’re isolated. We don’t get the privileges that other prisoners get. They won’t allow us to have the jobs that other prisoners have. We’re constantly looked at as suspects, just like a Black man on the streets you’re looked at as a suspect. Political prisoners in here are looked at as suspects. No matter what, you’re a threat to them, because they fear that you have the ability to organize, to educate, to agitate the prison environment, and they don’t want that. They want control over the environment. They want to be able to divide prisoners, by race, by gang orientation. But the political prisoner knows the difference. They know who the real enemy is.
But they don’t want you to fit in here and try to educate prisoners, to try to mentor prisoners and put them on the right path so they don’t come back to prison. Because if you did that, they lose money. They want them to come back. So everyday I’m looked upon as this rebellious monster. Because I believe in something. I believe in justice. I believe in equality. I believe in freedom. I believe in doing what’s right and standing up for what’s right.
No matter who it is, no matter if they’re Black or white or Mexican or Asian. We all have the right to do our time, but they don’t allow it. And every day I go to the- go to court, the court system even continues to prosecute me. I was just re-sentenced in 2019, from 142 years to 122 years.
And the judge told me, he said they expect us to have their backs. They expect us to have their backs. That’s what the judge said to me. But who is expected to have the prisoner’s back when he’s being beaten by racist prison guards. Who is to have that person’s back?
It’s been a long road to freedom for me. I’ve been incarcerated now for 39 straight years. But I continue to hold my head high, I continue to educate prisoners. I continue to organize prisoners, and I continue to agitate where it needs to be agitated at.
Just like with COVID-19. I let prisoners know, “Hey, wait a minute, make them test you. Make them test you, and ask for the test.” They don’t even give them a copy of the test. So how you know if you’ve been tested or not? How do you know if they even sending out the test? Well, for the political prisoners, they’re putting them on lock ups and they’re letting them die. They’re not giving them all medical attention. Why waste money on giving these political prisoners medical attention, when COVID-19 is going to kill them anyway.
So this is what’s happening here Wabash Valley. Prisoners with COVID-19—political prisoners—are suffering a slow death. Does anybody care? Does anybody care what’s going on inside here? Prisoners’ lives matter too. Again, we’re strong but human.
My name is Christopher Trotter, inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Thank you.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.