Alabama Prisoners Speak + JJ Ayers of Winnemucca Indian Colony
This week on the show, we featured 2 segments: a chat with Michael Kimble & Gerald Griffin about conditions in Donaldson CF prison in Alabama; and Jim J. Ayers, a 42 year resident in 6 generations of lineage at Winnemucca Indian Colony facing eviction by the Tribal Council.
Conditions at Donaldson Prison in Alabama
First up, anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble and his friend Gerald Griffin talk about the current situation at William E Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Following the pause of prisoner work stoppages in October of this year, Gerald and Michael talk about violence at the institution, overcrowding and under staffing, lack of medical care, mistreatment of gay and other marginalized prisoners and other, hard topics. There is mention of extortion, violence, drug use, homophobia and other topics, so listener discretion is advised. You can information on how to get in touch with Michael and Gerald in the show notes, as well as Michael’s blog AnarchyLive , and we’ll be mailing out the latest Fire Ant Journal and our past interviews with Michael Kimble (5/19/2019 & 12/28/2015).
Michael Kimble #138017
William E. Donaldson Correctional
100 Warrior Ln
Bessemer, AL 35023
Gerald Griffin #247505
William E. Donaldson Correctional
100 Warrior Ln
Bessemer, AL 35023
If you’d like to donate to Michael’s legal and other costs outside of putting money on his commissary with his ADOC #, you can give a donation to our accounts and specify MK in the comment so we know where to pass it. Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross is also selling $20 Fire Ant Journal t-shirts designed by Michael Kimble as a benefit for him, linked in our shownotes. We hope to send out copies of the latest Fire Ant Journal with our patreon mailers at the beginning of January, for new supporters at $5 or anyone supporting at $10 or more per month, which goes to support our transcription costs. More on that and the places you can send funds directly to Michael at https://tfsr.wtf/support
Jim J. Ayers Resists Eviction at Winnemucca Indian Colony
Then, we return to the Winnemucca Indian Colony following last week’s conversation with Kyle Missouri who is resisting eviction from the colony in Humboldt County, Nevada. You’ll hear Jim Ayers, tribal council chairman until 2012 talk about how the current Tribal Council came to power at Winnemucca, the council’s wielding of private police and BIA officers to siege remaining holdouts to the eviction orders, Jimmy’s 6 generations of ancestors stretching back on the Winnemucca Indian lands and the ongoing legal proceedings heading through the ITCAN court as residents attempt to stop the council’s evictions, home wrecking and banishment actions.
- Sandra Freeman of Water Protector Legal Collective is currently representing Jim in legal proceedings and are a great source for updates on the situation and ways for, especially legal workers, to plug in
- Donations for the WIC residents can be sent to via cashapp to $DefendWIC
- a fundraiser to support South Side Street Medics, an Indigenous-led crew to support providing first aid and training to residents of the Indian Colony
- Jim Ayers interviewed in December 2021 by Honor Life youtube channel
- Video discussing Judy Rojo (chairperson of disputed Winnemucca Tribal Council) by Man Red
We should be bringing you a chat with Sophie Lewis on her new book, Abolish The Family: A Manifesto of Care and Liberation, out from Verso Books in October of 2022.
Asheville NYE Noise Demo and Bailout Action
If you’re in the Asheville area, you’re invited to join Asheville Community Bail project, Pansy Collective, Blue Ridge ABC and other local grouplets in a noise demo at the Buncombe County Jail, the deadliest jail for inmates in North Carolina, at 7pm on Saturday 12/31 at Pack Square. It’s suggested you dress warm and bring noise makers. Simultaneous, there will be a bailout action to get folks out of the jail. You can donate to this effort via the paypal for avlcommunitybail(at )riseup( dot)net or the venmo for blueridgeabc(at )riseup( dot)net, and any returned bail money will roll back into the community bail fund for future release activities. Learn more at avlcommunitybail.carrd.co
Phone Zap to Press Indiana to Get Treatment for Khalfani
IDOC watch is calling on folks to call and email the Indiana Department of Corrections to pressure them to move long-term political prisoner Khalfani Malik Khaldun (state name Leonard McQuay #874304) moved into a medical facility to remove the two cysts growing on his left temple since October of this year. Check our shownotes for a link to the blog post on idocwatch.org
Bad News #63
This month’s BAD News is now available! You can hear:
- 1431am on the eviction of Mundo Nuevo squat in Thessaloniki and the murder by policeof Kalo Fragoulis, a 16 year old Roma and the death of a 12 year old child because of inadequate housing conditions;
- Črna luknja shares a longer interview on the eviction of Mundo Nuevo squat in Thessaloniki;
- A-Radio Berlin with a contribution from an anarchist perspective on anti-militarism and nationalism during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s. A segment of a longer interview;
- Frequenz A concludes the show wih an interview with the accused in the so called “Luwi71-Trial” in Leipzig so-called Germany. The Luwi71 is a house (in the east of Leipzig) occupied for about 2 weeks back in august 2020.
. … . ..
- Ebb Tide by the Mar-Keys from Last Night
- Ghost Town by The Specials on The Two Tone Story (RIP Terry Hall!)
. … . ..
TFSR: Would you please introduce yourself for the audience with your location, or your name, or any other information that that they would find useful?
Michael Kimble: Okay, my name is Michael Kimble. I’m down in the Alabama prison system at William E. Donaldson Correctional in Alabama in Bessemer, AL, serving a life sentence for murder. I’m an anarchist, I’m gay, I’m a revolutionary, and I’m about abolishing the State.
TFSR: I like that.
So recently, Alabama prisons had participation by a number of people from a number of different facilities in different work stoppages and strikes, because the prisons require the workers to participate in order to function. I’ve heard some things about the conditions at places like Donaldson. People might have a thought that prisons look a lot of different ways in the US. Sometimes they’re Super Max’s and really constricted, and sometimes people have more access to outdoors and programs. But can you talk about what the conditions are like at Donaldson and why people were engaging in protest?
MK: Let me put it like this. I’ve been locked up 38 years. This is my third time at Donaldson. But this time here, they got me feeling like I’m coming to prison for the first time. Not just the officers, but the prisoners too. Here at Donaldson, the conditions are dire. You got all asbestos ceilings, paint, you have no security at all in the dorms. You are locked in a dorm with 118 other guys and we have no security. People are dying daily here.
Everyday there are ambulances at the back gate. We had over 30-40 deaths here within the last 15 months. Most of them due to drug overdoses, but some of them have been murders. Not just prisoner on prisoner, but guard on prisoners too. I think Gerald may want to say something about the conditions, because Gerald had been experiencing some conditions because he’s diabetic. He’s having a lot of problems with that. So he may want to share some of that with you.
Gerald Griffin: Hi, my name is Gerald Griffin. I’ve got a 22 year sentence. I’m originally from New York and I’ve just been in the Alabama prison system for the last 13 years. Just like Mr. Kimble was saying, this is not where you want to be. It’s a hopeless state of mind. We fend for ourselves. We guard, we we secure ourselves, we do everything that they supposed to be doing. I’m diabetic. They don’t give us [medications at a] regular time. They might call us at three o’clock or they might call us tomorrow at eight o’clock to get your insulin shot.
Dealing with insulin, you are supposed to take it at a regular hourly time. They don’t do that. Then when we fight about it, or when we say anything about it, they want to use their tactics. They spray us with mace when we’re not even being violent towards them. We are just asking for our medical health. It’s a lot of things that goes on in here.
It’s all over the news how many people are being arrested for corruption here, but it’s just like they do this and they do that but it’s still the same. They stay the same. This is getting more violent and dangerous because of the hopelessness that everybody has in this prison. You don’t have programs, we don’t do nothing. All we do is just stay and lock the door. We fend for ourselves. We see them, they come unlock the door and count and that’s it. That’s the last time we see them.
If somebody to be taken out for sickness, we have to literally knock the window out or bang for them to get attention. They are so short on staff. They don’t have no police, they don’t have nothing. We we secure and we police ourselves.
TFSR: Someone had told me before that because there’s no enforcement of giving people the cots that they’re assigned to or that they’re supposed to get, that oftentimes weaker people or older people, people with sickness, whatever get forced outside in the winter and all the rest of the time. Can you talk about that and what you’ve seen with that?
GG: Yes. You have people being kicked out of doors for whatever reason. Sleeping outside in the cold, sleeping on floors in the dorms, just unsanitary stuff. How can we say that this person can’t sleep here? This happens because they let it. They let it. No matter what, nobody’s supposed to be sleeping on is supposed to be everybody’s assigned to a rack. [Guards] don’t take time to do their job, to put somebody on the rack or anything like that. The corrupts run. Hold on.
MK: So they have these guys sleeping outside and in the cold, it’s winter time. Of course, they can come back in the dorm, but if you can’t house these people, you can’t protect these people and give them a ‘humane safe environment’ as your mission statement says… you have got to release them. More people are going out of this facility in body bags than making parole. The justice department has been here for the last three or four months doing investigations.
GG: DOJ was here while a murder took place.
Michael Kimble: Matter of fact, they was here while a murder took place. They had the riot team here too, at the time, and it still took place. We went on strike on September 26. We went on strike throughout the state of Alabama because we were complicit in our own incarceration and working for nothing. We say this is slavery.
[Background Commotion] Hear what they got going on right now, Bursts? Right now they are fighting now. They are fighting now and [guards] ain’t finna do nothing. You see these guys with these knives here and they ain’t finna do nothing.
TFSR: So when you’re talking about the DOJ that’s the federal government stepping in and saying, “We’ve heard reports that there is unsafe situations and that something needs to be done.” I think in Alabama, but at least like in Louisiana, and I think in Mississippi, the federal government stepped in at different times to say, “These are too dangerous of situations.” Why do you think the federal government hasn’t stepped in when the local government won’t? Just the same same thing, just different level
MK: Well, it’s really hard to say why, but when I really think about it… they got a bad federal prison system dealing with the same problems. So how can they correct anybody else’s problem when they aren’t correcting their own problems? It’s just for show. It’s because so much been going on. So many people been making noise, so they had to get involved. The city investigating the business going on since 2019. They’ve been investigating the State and threatening to file suit. Matter of fact, they have filed a suit on it, but still they hadn’t came in to take over.
Coming in and taking over isn’t going to do no good, because prisons are going to exist, and the condition of prisons are going to exists as long as they exist.
TFSR: Yeah, because these things are so ongoing and the Alabama prison system has continued not getting people out on parole, they’ve continued to be really badly understaffed and with facilities that are degrading and stuff… are they just waiting for a bailout to get new buildings built and then get kickbacks from that? Or they just don’t care?
GG: That’s what a lot of us feel like. They just trying to make this seem like it’s just so overwhelmed that they got to have new buildings. So that’s part of it. That’s part of the reason why they want to build a new prison and that’s the reason the governor, she don’t want to say that she got a problem. She knows she has a problem but she just don’t want to upset the community by saying, “I’m using this money, I’m using that money.” Stuff like that.
Right now, they know they have a problem and they don’t they don’t care. The only thing they care about is: New prison. That’s it. The money.
TFSR: Is it okay for your name to go into this? Is that okay with you? Could you spell your first and last name just so I get it right when I write it out?
TFSR: Do you want people who listen to this later to write you letters and get in touch with you or try to put money in your commissary or whatever?
GG: Yeah! That’d be cool. My number is #247505
TFSR: Awesome, that’s super helpful.
In the past, Michael had talked about how filling in the power vacuum, that it was mostly gangs that were taking control. Does it seemed like that still, or is it less organized?
GG: It’s more like cities now. The gang stuff is not really the problem no more. Because it’s everybody for themselves, for real. It’s like, “I get along with this person. I might get along with this person. I might get along with this group of people.” It just goes like that. Then you got the outsiders that got addiction problems and people look at them like scum of the earth. But how can you look at them like that and you’re selling it to them?!
Then there’re the gays. You got people will jump on them and send them out and do things to them. A lot of them, that’s who’s sleeping outside. But like I was saying, it’s behind closed doors stuff. A lot of people do stuff behind closed doors. They want to look good in front of their friends and then here you go, you take it out on the gay community or whatever like that. It’s just something that… the staff don’t help them. period.
TFSR: It seems like in some prison systems, there’s pretty active collusion between social disruption in space and the guards because by creating factions and pitting them against each other, and using snitches and whatever, it means that they can stop prisoners from organizing together. In Alabama, like anywhere, people don’t get along sometimes, but it has a really active history of prisoners getting together and making some noise, which is really impressive.
Did you see much participation in the strike in September? Or was it pretty spotty?
GG: It was pretty spotty. Because you had different factions. Like people gotta use different coolers and people can’t drink out of this water and stuff like that. So it’s separation. That’s what they want. They want us to have separation. They know that people don’t follow the rules or whatever like that, and they know it. Violence comes behind that. If they would come in and step in and do their job how they supposed to do it, we wouldn’t be having all these violent episodes. It’s something that they could have stopped. They curate it. Look at the conditions, you know? You have hopeless thoughts.
When you see nothing changing, people escape to do drugs. That’s why you have OD’s, because they try to escape it another way. But we don’t talk to no counselors. We don’t have none of that. We are supposed to have a mental health person come be able to talk to us every time, but we don’t see nobody. I’ve been here at this prison for over six months, now. I haven’t seen a classification officer yet. They don’t care. Once they send you here, they send you here. They don’t help, there is no help here.
So people like us, we gotta stay strong with each other and this is what we come up with. We are calling out for help. The people that’s listening and stuff like that, just know that all of us ain’t no bad people. We’ve made some mistakes and stuff like that, you know? We need help.
TFSR: Besides talking about what’s going on, do you have senses of what you want that help to look like from people? Should they be contacting the government? Should they be trying to get jobs at the prison to make it better? Or should they be trying to just send money into to folks? Or listening? Or what what would be helpful?
GG: The helpful part is dealing with people that we can contact. That will make us stronger, when we got a connection with each other and we all on the same page and I’m not sending you on a wild goose chase. I know that y’all have timing in the world, just like in here. You guys have a lot of stuff going on too, but we don’t want to send y’all on a wild goose chase. Contacting the prison,… keep doing it in mass. They hate publicity, they hate being on the news, they hate all that type of stuff.
So yeah, they might try to retaliate on us, but I’m in motion, I’m on a move like I don’t care what they do. I want change. Sometimes we have to go through the things that we have to go through to get change. I’m one of the participants that’s willing to go through whatever they get, to get some type of change. Because all we see is our friends going out in body bags. I’ve seen three people that I’ve literally had a conversation with a couple of days before they died and now they gone.
They walk past us. The officers walk past us, it ain’t their fault. They understaffed too. But something got to be done. They are scared to say something. You got some officers that are willing to participate and expose some of this stuff. But they want to cover their job because they got to feed their family, too. So I don’t look at them to break their neck for us and stuff like that, because this is a bigger problem. They know it’s a bigger problem.
TFSR: So has it been brought up that there aren’t officers around and people aren’t getting check-ins about their wellness or about their status changing. I think Michael had brought up that there was an issue with paroles, actually. This is the thing that I had heard in past chats with with folks inside or supporters, is that parole boards just aren’t getting people out. If there’s no programs, as has been mentioned, how do you get the the recognition that “you’ve made changes and you’re a better person should be that out” or whatever?
GG: That’s the answers and questions that we try to get from the commissioner, from the people that’s running the ADOC. “What do we have to do? What’s the criteria to make parole?” There’s no criteria. Y’all get paid, y’all are getting funded for these programs, but these programs, we’re not doing them. We don’t even step out of our dorm.
The only time when we step out that dorm is when they call “chow.” It’s like a controlled movement for the past year since COVID. They got us in real controlled movement. Why you think it’s so violent now? Because they have us so bunched up, there ain’t nothing to do. You got people that want to get a trade, you got people stuck inside these buildings that want to do something, but we ain’t able to do nothing. They only thing they feed us is, “We are short staffed.” Well, that’s not our problem. So how can we get to our fam? You know? We got Mike right here.
TFSR: Right. Thank you.
MK: Yeah, Bursts.
TFSR: Hey, Michael, so we talked a little bit about how difficult it is to get programs or anything towards parole. How the parole setup is just an absolute joke. I know that there’s discussion in a lot of states around the country, I don’t want to take it out of the situation that you all are experiencing, but a lot of activists have put in a lot of energy to get changes made in different States around the definition and like taking the ‘slavery clause’ out of the Constitutions and making sure that that term isn’t in there. That labor extraction is not in there tied to people being put in prison.
But even if you all aren’t working, you’re still being fed crappy food in small portions, you’re still in dangerous situations, you’re still being denied medical visitation, you don’t have programs, what what would you like to see? What do you see as next steps for alleviating the pain that so many of y’all are going through?
MK: It’s like this: I know Gerald was talking about these people, they have families to take care of out there, so they work here. Some of them, they might not be as bad at the other ones. But the slave has to take care of his family, too. My whole thing is this here: Of course, we are talking about the conditions as though we want to be living in better conditions. But they are not going to change. As long as prisons exist, it’s just the nature of prisons. It’s not going to change. So the only thing I know to do is to abolish prisons and to destroy prisons. That’s it.
The best thing that I know that we can do here, regardless of what the constitution say, regardless of what the law say, is how we relate to each other. That’s the only thing that’s going to change anything is how us prisoners relate to each other. How people on the outside relate to each other, and relate to us in here, and how we relate to those out there. The only thing that’s gonna change anything is our relationships. The longer we continue to discriminate against people because they are gay, queer, trans, white, Black, we are going to continue to have these problems and prisons are going to continue to exist.
So the best thing to do is find some kind of way to abolish the State, because that’s the only way we can abolish prisons.
TFSR: That’s the answer I was hoping you were gonna give. **laughs**
MK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They took it out of the constitution in Alabama. There was like four or five states that had a slavery clause removed. Regardless if they got a slavery clause or not, it doesn’t even matter. United States constitution will come right back and say that it makes sense that you can practice slavery or because of what you just said in the first clause, that it was outlawed. So it’s a conundrum.
TFSR: You’re trying to get out, right? Through legal measures.
TFSR: Do you want to talk about that at all? I can get with other folks on your support group to see what is good for like fundraisers, but what would you like to say about that process?
MK: Oh, well, I had just recently hired me an attorney, I had one a couple years before but he didn’t do his job. What I’m trying to do now, I’m trying to get back in court on a sentence reduction. It’s the most favorable thing for people who get the kind of time I got and did kind of years I had. In the county that I was sentenced under, Johnson County, has been the most favorable county for doing this. That’s all I’m trying to do is just trying to get back in court on a sentence reduction. My past few years, I’ve been trying to keep a clean disciplinary file. I’ve been up for parole nine times. Well, 11 times now. I got turned down and they put me on five more years. The way that works out is that there is no particular criteria, so you can’t challenge it in court. That’s why we haven’t been successful. There’s no statute or nothing that says that, “You got to do this” and then they have to do this to let you out after so many years. They don’t have none of that.
What they do have is: they have a parole board that consists of a State Trooper, a Parole Officer, the Assistant DA, they got a group called a “victim’s rights goup” that’s speaks at everybody’s parole hearing. What they’re doing at the parole hearing is they’re going up, regardless of if they know the person or not. It has nothing to do with their individual cases or nothing. They just speak on everybody’s case.
At my last parole hearing, my attorney and a couple of my supporters told me that 40 people went up there and nobody made it. Nobody. Some people had done 30 years and hadn’t had any disciplinaries, and everything was in order, and they can’t understand why they refused to give them parole. There’s more people going out in body bags that are making parole in Alabama. So the only thing I’m trying to do now is get back in court on this petition here for a sentence reduction. According to my attorney, I got 85% chance. That should happen this year, Bursts
TFSR: Fingers crossed. All right. That’s awesome.
I’ll find information for the show notes about where we can direct people if they want to give donations for that. Even lawyers acting for free, it costs them money to file paperwork and such. Fingers crossed on that.
MK: I wish I had Eric King’s lawyer! I read their transcript from the interview. They are awesome.
TFSR: Yeah, yeah. I’ll poke the CLDC and see if they if they have the capacity.
MK: Not many people beat these cases.
TFSR: Yeah, right?! The fact that they were able to get a federal judge, not a prison judge, obviously, but it’s just a federal judge to say, “yeah, you need to stop fucking with him.” It was so obvious when they spilled coffee in his room when he wasn’t even there and said a bird came in and did it.
MK: You know, I have three of those: Assault on officers [charges] that I got more time on for that since I’ve been locked up. Man, I know how hard it is to beat these folks [charges]. Yeah. He was able to beat them. Even though they came with all the ridiculous stuff and they was able to beat him. I’ve never seen that. I’ve never seen that. Not here. Now when they say one of us assaulted, we always get time.
TFSR: Yeah. Yeah, that’s how it’s set up for. Right?
TFSR: Oh, I just got a letter from him. He’s actually getting letters and I’ve been sending zines to him too, folks have been sending him books. So for the first time in years, he can have visits from his family. It’s amazing. I’m glad of that. But he’s at the ADMax in Florence. He’s at the highest security prison in the country, I think.
But yeah, we gotta get you out.
MK: Yeah. Well, I’m gonna get myself out before I get too old.
TFSR: Yeah. Is there anything else that I didn’t ask about that you want to talk about?
MK: Yeah, what I wanted to do, is for the person that was involved in, I just want to say how grateful I am, man. For what they were able to do for us and helping out. For years, I did the law stuff, the lawsuits, and the criminal court stuff, I did all that stuff for years. Mainly because I came out of the old Black radical Marxist tradition. So when I came out of it, my thinking started to change. What I started doing is coming up with ideas of what I think that can change how we relate to each other in here that make it better for us. The only thing that will make it better in here for us, is us.
So that was one of the things that I start intervening in. I started about two years ago. My partner at one time used to be a Crip, a gang member. I was Holman [prison]. What they did at the time was they would take all the ex-gang that became gay, they started kidnapping them. They started bringing them in their dorm, holding them in the dorm. This is a gang prison. It was really ran by gangs. They would prostitute themselves out, working for the gang. That’s the first time I had to pay to get her up out of that dorm. That’s when I started doing these types of intervention. Then I started a shoe program. Where one comrade coming out of Chicago, we had shoes, tennis shoes, and boots for people who couldn’t afford them. These are the kinds of things that I’m into. Some real practical stuff.
A lot of people don’t want to hear all this stuff. All these ideas floating around, these big ideas floating around. People want to be released.
TFSR: So how do you deal with situations like paying off folks debt? How do you avoid just being held ransom, like somebody recognizing, “Oh, you have access to a source of income, we could just do this over and over again.”
MK: Matter of fact, about a month ago, I thought they were going to black bag me, but it just hasn’t gotten to that point yet. I have always been able to come up and pay it off. Basically, when I say I was gonna do it by some time, it might be a week or two late they might add an extra few dollars on, but it’d be taken care of. I haven’t had another problem. But the problem with that is that some of them, they go back. They get to borrowing money or go back to the drugs. Not everybody, but majority of them do. But even if just one or two want to stop, that’s two lives you saved. That’s two lives.
TFSR: I can totally imagine people just having to lean on drugs just to shut the world down for a little bit. It seems like that’s a way to…
MK: You know, they use the drugs down here too because they control us with the drugs. They got drugs down in the prisons that they didn’t have when I first came. They didn’t even exist. You got fentanyl in here, they got all the psychrotrophic drugs to get high on, they got flakka , and all these other different type drugs, and the hallucinogenics. You got people just laid out.
The warden and the police they just walk by like they don’t even see them. People are just laid out naked. Here a guy just the day before yesterday was just standing in front of the door. Just standing in the dorm, it was the dorm that Gerald was staying in. He was there with all his drawers pulled all the way down with his butt cheeks apart. He was hallucinating. He’d get whooped for that because people feel like that’s disrespectful. But see, I understand what’s going on. So, I don’t feel like he needs to be whooped. What needs to happen is he needs to pull his clothes up and taken somewhere and come down.
TFSR: Yeah, drink some tea.
MK: Yeah, but these guys get kicked down and beaten with a belt. They took his mattress and all his stuff and just threw it outside and the police they say nothing. They put them in a cot, threw all of his stuff on top of him and just brought him outside. It’s brutal and cruel.
The drugs and the money… some of these guys are making some real money off these drugs. You got dudes calling real shots in here. You got people putting hits on people. The crip gang had put a hit on me, because of what I was saying about my partner at Holman. They put a hit on me.
TFSR: That’s scary.
MK: Yeah. So you know and then you can’t go to now or the cap guy came outrun Boost Mobile, AT&T and all. They had it was solid they could call in I’m not affiliated with nothing. They look at me, I’m just an old person. They don’t care nothing about me, nothing about what I did, nothing about what I do. They don’t care about none of that. All they care about is their pocket. Everybody wants to be a millionaire.
Anything else you want to know?
TFSR: You writing anything these days?
MK: Yeah. I’m still writing for Fire Ant. The only thing I have been putting out lately thought is explaining the stuff that has been going over here. That’s it. I haven’t been doing any other major writing or anything like that.
TFSR: A new issue just came out and they’re sending like 50 of them to us, so we’re going to try to send them out to some folks too.
Well, it’s good that you’re building feelings of solidarity between folks too. Helping them out.
MK: Yeah. You got a different affiliation gangs and stuff like that, but sometimes it’s like, “Man we might need to start our own god damn gang.” For real. If you a gay person, whatever happens to you here… don’t nobody care. They call you a fuck boy. So whatever happens to you, you deserve it. They look at gay people as lower than rats. Snitches. Yeah. This is the first time I’ve seen it. It’s the first time I’ve seen prisoners working for the police. Stabbing people for the police. Beating, jumping on people for the police.
It wasn’t too long ago, about three or four weeks ago, [someone] stole some stuff off a commissary truck. It ain’t got nothing to do with of the guys in here. But you know these guys… They went and got these guys, and jumped on these guys and took them to the police, because these guys went and stole the stuff off the truck.
These people here got keys. The police don’t open the doors. Inmates open doors. This is something they’ve never did. They never did this. In about 38 years, I’ve never seen it like in here. They don’t care. They don’t give a fuck what we do as long as we don’t go outside that gate. Do anything you want to do inside. They be out here grilling till three o’clock in the morning sometimes.
TFSR: So they’re like a little mini State, basically, a colony.
MK: Yeah. I want to get that picture for you to show you what is going on out here. I’m gonna get some of these clips and send them to you.
TFSR: Yeah, please do. Please do.
MK: Maybe a different clip. We going to just send them to the email.
TFSR: Yeah, that sounds good.
MK: You’ll see the stuff that’s going on. I’ll tell you that we was outside during the interview, right? One of the guys… He was what we call ‘wiggin.’ He was walking around, bent over, started throwing up just in the middle of nowhere.
TFSR: Just having a bad reaction to drugs?
MK: Yeah, yeah.
TFSR: If you send those clips, just make sure to note if you want them shared or not, so that I know what to do.
MK: Anything we send, you can share. It was nice talking to you.
TFSR: Yeah, you too. And it was nice meeting Gerald. I’ll definitely put his contact information in. He gave me his number and stuff like that. So I’ll put that in here. We’ll be in touch. Michael, take care and I’ll talk to you soon, okay?
MK: He wants some penpals. Okay.
. … . ..
TFSR: Would you please introduce yourself to the audience with your name, your location, preferred pronoun, any sort of affiliation that would help them understand who you are.
JJ Ayers: All right. My name is Jim Ayers. Jimmy J Ayers. I was born and raised in Winnemucca, Nevada, I lived here all my life. I’m 63 years old. And I’ve lived on the Winnemucca indian colony since 1980. I grew up and went to school here, worked here all my life, and we never had no problems on the Indian colony. I was a tribal chairman a couple of times for the tribal council. I’ve been on the tribal council several different times. That’s where I’m from.
TFSR: So you if you were on the tribal council a couple of times, and you were the chairman, can you talk about what happened in 2012 or 2011 with the tribal council and why it is that they’re now deciding that people like you and your neighbors aren’t allowed to be on the Indian colony?
JJ Ayers: Okay, In 2012 we had a tribal council. It was Jeremy Ayers, Linda Ayers, Alan Amber, Cheryl Applegate-Lawson, and Rosemary Thomas. We were the official tribal council in 2012.
Well, one Sunday, about just before noon we were all sitting in church and we had an alarm system on our Tribal Administration Building and our alarm system went off. My sister says, “Oh, I’ll be back to church. I’m gonna go shut it off.” She ran over there and by the time she got there, Judy Rojo and Bob McNichols, and all these goon squads that are kicking us off the Indian colony right now were over on our tribal building, they broke into the building and changed the locks. My sister went over there and they were going to try to throw her in jail for resisting arrest. They did eventually, but they didn’t get her for like three or four hours, because in her office, she has a steel door, and she just went in there and locked the door. They can’t get her out of there. But there was some guys from AIM from California, there was probably about 30 people armed with tasers and guns and everything and they were going to take over our Indian colony.
So what they did is they went in that tribal building and took all the files and records and our computers and all of our tools. Just took everything out of that building they could put it in a U-Haul and hauled it off. Then they went over to our smoke shop because we had a tobacco shop, we were selling cigarettes there for at least 20 to 30 years. We had a whole bunch of money from selling cigarettes in the bank. They were trying to take over our cigarette shop, but the gal in the cigarette shop did the same thing. She locked the door and they can’t get in there. She held them off for like three days, but she was an old lady and she needed her medication and stuff. So, finally she had to come out and then they took over our smoke shop too. After they took over our smoke shop, they were telling us that we didn’t have no rights and they’re going to kick us off to Indian Colony. They were the new tribal council.
How they got power is by a BIA superintendent. These people that took over the Indian colony never ever lived on the Indian colony. None of them are even from Nevada. All of them are white folks, they don’t got no tribal enrollment numbers or no Indian ID cards, and they’re in current control of our Indian colony today as we speak. Judy Rojo’s the name of the tribal chairman, but she thinks she’s like a president or something. She don’t even go by the Indian bylaws that we have. All Indian colonies have bylaws. She don’t go by no bylaws, she makes up her own laws as she goes. She got a bunch of crooked lawyers, crooked judges, she hired her own police, she has her own private police, and she has the BIA police in her pocket to do her dirty work for her.
The reason she got power is because… We took them to the Ninth District Court and we beat them. They were supposed to stop and turn the colony back over to us back about three summers ago. They never did, they just kept on rolling with their businesses. They started a marijuana dispensary shop under the name of Winnemucca Indian Colony, also. They’ve been making a million dollars a year off that place probably. They’ve been running that Dispensary for 13 years now.
So now they changed the name from the Winnemucca Indian colony. We had a deal. They were supposed to get 60% of the profit and they were supposed to give 40% of the profit to the residents on the Indian colony which was back then like 26 families. Now it’s down to like 24 families. A lot of people died from old age. But out of 20 some odd families, they kicked out 14 families. The families that refused to sign their contract and pay $400 a month to rent. There’s like five families up on the Indian colony right now that pay their rent and they could stay there. But everybody that didn’t pay their rent was getting evicted. They kicked us all off.
The BIA police beat up one young man, he’s probably about in his late 30’s. Beat him up. He had to take his grandma to Reno to the hospital and then when he tried to come back home to her home, they wouldn’t let him even go through. They got the colony barricaded off. They guarded one entrance on Bell Street and then on South Street, there’s only two entrances on the whole Indian colony. They got South Street locked with these big chain link fences and a padlock and cement blocks. That streets totally blocked off. They said that they got the Indian colony locked down to all public people except for approved residents.
So they won’t let the mailman come on here. They won’t let the electric people come on here. I tried to get wood delivered to my place, my son’s house, and they stopped the wood delivery. I could get no propane either. Same thing with propane. I tried to get propane delivered. No way they won’t let nobody go through. They said we don’t need propane because we don’t live there no more. My house got burned down. I don’t know. I think they burned it down, but I sure can’t prove it. But there was three big fires up here on this Indian colony. Barbara Mill’s house. She died and somebody burned down her house. I think it was Judy Rojo and Bob McNichols.
Then they are building a Tribal Administration Building, because we got 20 acres in town, and we got 320 acres up by water Canyon. They were building a Tribal Administration Building. They’re building some low income houses up there, too. They got about six of them built now.
TFSR: Is that for tribal members? Or is that for someone else?
JJ Ayers: They said it was supposed to be for tribal members, but they’re kicking all their tribal members out of there, so I don’t know. For their eligible tribal members, none of those people even live in Nevada, and none of them could even prove they’re Indian. But that’s their eligible voters. They got 26 eligible voters. And when we were on council, we had like 170 people that could vote. So these guys are really coyote and they’re just banking all that Indian money in from the dispensary in our smoke shop. Then they found out they can’t sell cigarettes because they didn’t have a cigarette license. We had a cigarette license, our tribal council, so they bulldozed down our trailer after they sold out all of our cigarettes and put us out of business so we can make no more money.
TFSR: Jimmy, did you mention that when like 30 or 40 people came out from California, did you say that they were like American Indian Movement, AIM, working with the BIA?
JJ Ayers: Yep, it was American Indian Movement (AIM). Today, they say they close that chapter and those guys don’t act like that anymore, but I really don’t know. I don’t really know those guys that well, you know what I mean? I imagine they got chapters all over just like a biker gang or something like that, I would think.
TFSR: Do you know where that chapter was from? The one that they said they closed?
JJ Ayers: California somewhere, Northern California. That’s all I know.
They built those houses up there. They burned down my place, burned down Barbara’s place, they burned down the Tribal Administration place. I’m pretty sure it was them, because all the fires have the same trademark. There was a big loud boom and then 30 foot flames in the air. Plus the fire department, they wouldn’t let the fire department put it out until the BIA cops give them permission to go on the Indian colony. He had to come from McDermott, which is 40 minutes away.
Meanwhile, the fire has burned in full steam for 40 minutes, by the time the firemen put their hoses out and hook up to the deal, that’s another two hours. By then your places burned up. My place, they didn’t even try to put out. They just let it burn. It burned from one in the afternoon till 11:45, maybe 12 at night. It caught up three other times early in the morning. They had to come and spray water on it again.
But after they burned down my house, then they got a court order to ban me from going on to the property to get my stuff that didn’t get burned up. They got cameras on the tribal building right across the street from my lot, and if I got caught going up there, they’re gonna hold me to contempt of court.
TFSR: You lost a couple of animals in that fire too, right?
JJ Ayers: I lost three dogs and a cat. Me, my girlfriend, Ed and my son, the four of us were living there. We lost everything we own. Everything, clothes, papers, titles, everything got burned up except for a few items in the yard that the flames didn’t get. Not one of these tribal Indians tried to help us after we lost everything. They didn’t even bring us a case of water, didn’t bring us no food. Nothing. You know what they did? They got a court order to kick us off the reservation. How’s that? That’s pretty low life to me, I think.
TFSR: Yeah. It seems like there’s been stuff going through the courts for a bit around these banishments and around evictions. I had spoken to Kyle last week, and I think that might be who you’re talking about who took his grandma to the doctors and got attack.
JJ Ayers: They tased him and beat him up. He’s in jail. He’s just getting out today. They sent him over to Reno Jail on Park Boulevard, and he’s just gonna get out of jail today. I don’t know what his bail was but I’m sure was a whole bunch. They dropped the trespassing charge and just got him for resisting arrest and not obeying the police officers orders or something like that.
TFSR: Kind of sounds like the same thing, but it’s funny how they just trump up a bunch of charges all at once.
So, the next step, the next legal step, at least, is the ITCAN Court that had a hearing last Thursday. They decided to change the link on the Zoom meeting for it, I guess beforehand. Was there a conclusion from that? Or the judges still discussing it?
JJ Ayers: We’ve got it in appeals court right now. And that’s another thing. They do court over a phone and all of us senior citizen Indians up here… we don’t have very good phones and we can’t even go on court to listen to our damn court, and what’s going to happen.
Another thing, when they served us papers to evict us off the Indian colony and stuff. They never served them to hand in hand. They threw them out in the damn street and zip tied them to the fences. Not one of us got served hand to hand, none of them.
A couple of people up here don’t even have lawyers. They didn’t even know they were getting kicked off the Indian colony. They just came in with the BIA police and herded them out like a bunch of cows out of the roundup corral. They were like, “You guys gotta leave. We don’t care where you leave. We don’t care what to do, but you’re not staying here.” Elders had to leave their medicine, their clothes, everything in their homes. They just had to leave right then and there. So that’s another big issue we’re having, trying to get a medicine and their clothes and food and lodging. We don’t have none of that and they kicked us out right before the holidays. Those young kids, they don’t even got a Christmas tree or no presents. All the Indian kids have got ran off.
TFSR: Where are those elders and folks staying right now? Are they still in the motels?
JJ Ayers: Yeah, all of us are pitching in and we got a GoFundMe for the Winnemucca Indian colony. We’ve got them in motels, but it’s been hard, because we’re not getting that much money for them. We’re still trying to feed them, we’re taking the meals and stuff. Whatever we could afford. All of us are disabled, so most of us lived off of commodities. They stopped the commodities on the Indian colony back in 2012, they won’t even let the Indians get commodities on the Indian colony, we had to go to our church, or to a senior citizen place a block away, to meet the truck to get our commodities. These guys are messed up bad.
TFSR: Is the GoFundMe that you mentioning get the SSSM to Winnemucca Indian colony’ fundraiser? I see somebody posted it in December. I’ll post that for sure and share that. Hopefully, that will get more donations. There’s a CashApp too that folks have been sharing, I know the water protector legal support was passing around $DefendWIC.
JJ Ayers: Those guys are raising money for motels and food for the elders.
TFSR: Yeah. So you’re packing up stuff right now so that if an eviction happens, you at least have your stuff, it doesn’t get destroyed, is that right? Or are you planning on leaving?
JJ Ayers: Yes. I’m just not listening to their laws. They’ll probably beat me up and taze me too any day. So I’ll probably be in jail. I probably won’t even be able to talk to you next. But the cops haven’t rat-packed me yet, but I’m sure they will. Because I’m like seventh generation on that Indian colony. They named the streets after my great grandmother and stuff. I’m staying at my son’s place, that’s where my great great grandmother died, in her house. My other grandma died right across the street from there. Her name was Irene Leyva. So I’ve been up here all my life. You know what I mean? Since 1980. It’s been a long time.
All my family, they outnumber how many legal voters the tribal council has. I got like 48 family members that could vote. They only have 29 eligible voters. So that’s why they’re trying to get me out of there, because they know I could be in power over the dispensary or we can, our family.
The residents should be in control over that stuff. That’s what I’m saying. You know what I mean? It’s not just ‘I,’ it’s not just me, It’s we, us. All of us elders that lived here forever, we should have say what’s going on on this Indian colony. Instead of having any say, we got booted to the street with crooked cops, crooked counsel, crooked lawyers, crooked judges. They all passed those ordinances so we could get removed. And it ain’t right.
I got a lawyer named Sandra Freeman, she’s from Colorado. She represents me, but my son, and my sister and my brother, they all need lawyers, because they don’t have any representation. So they got kicked off the Indian colony on December 2. But we never left. My family is still up there. We just barricaded the doors and we don’t answer the door. When the cops come we won’t answer it. We just stay in the house.
TFSR: That’s hard. What’s the weather like out there right now?
JJ Ayers: The weather is super cold here. It’s been below freezing for the last two weeks. It’s been in single and teens for the low. My waters been frozen for a week straight. We have to haul water. I have animals.
That’s another thing. I got four dogs and they’re trying to tell me I gotta get rid of my dogs or they’re gonna haul them off to the shelter if they catch them. So it’s been really hard up here for us. We’re just looking for some legal help and maybe some funds so we can get through the winter.
It’s the worst time of the year Christmas, we will get booted to the street. I can’t believe these guys. They are heartless, man. These guys have no souls. All they think about is money, money, money, that’s it. They stole all of our money and they’re trying to take more of it. Now, they’re not happy with that, they want to take our homes away. Kick us out to the streets.
TFSR: For anyone that’s listening that is a lawyer or that knows a lawyer, if your lawyer’s in Colorado, did they just have to be barred at a federal level or specifically around…?
JJ Ayers: I think they got to be educated in the Indian law and tribal courts.
TFSR: Should they reach out to Sandra and the Water Protector Legal Collective? Or is there a better place for them to put their attention?
JJ Ayers: Sure, I think that’s a good start. They can talk to Sandra, my lawyer, or the WPLC in the Nevada legal systems. They’re representing some of the elders on the Indian colony.
TFSR: I can definitely direct folks to the resources that I did last time, and then check in with Sandra too, because she’s connected.
You were saying before that you’re having to move all this stuff and pack stuff up and keep vigilant. So it’s got to be real hard to think about those extra things.
JJ Ayers: I don’t got no help with gas money. I don’t even have no muscle help, because they won’t let nobody go into the Indian colonies to help me. And yet, they want me to move everything out in a couple of hours. They’re like, “We’ll give you a couple hours to move your stuff.” I lived there since 1980. How could I move my stuff in a couple of hours? There ain’t no way.
TFSR: Since the stay on house destruction and eviction, have they been destroying more houses? Or are they holding off until the courts?
JJ Ayers: As soon as they get us out of our houses, they’re going to bulldoze down all of our houses and probably build condos and rent them to the lithium miners. Probably that’s my guess. That probably won’t even be in Indian colony after they run all the Indians off. They’ll probably change it to a white man’s “Water Canyon Estates” or some BS or something like that. A close gated community. That’s what I’m thinking they’re gonna do.
TFSR: Is something like this happening on their reservation too, or is this just the Indian colony that you can tell?
JJ Ayers: Well, I don’t know. I’m not on the reservation. All we have is an Indian colony.
TFSR: I guess, I thought that was the larger place that Kyle was mentioning.
JJ Ayers: 320 acres. They didn’t let nobody move up there. They just got a construction business that sells gravel. They are trying to build an administration building. They got a $900,000 grant to build houses. They got six houses up, they’re starting to build. They already built two on the 20 acres. The 20 acres is smack center in Winnemucca, Nevada. It’s right in the center of town. So that’s some prime land that those guys are trying to take from us.
TFSR: They aren’t even offering like, “Hey, y’all can move over to this other spot.” It’s just, “You’re not our problem. Get out!”
JJ Ayers: Those 320 acres up there, they don’t got no water, no power, no sewer, nothing like that. But where we’re at, all of us have that hooked up already. So that’s why they want to build where we’re at, because they got power, sewer and water. So they could slap those condos up real quick, start renting them out and make more money. So by us sticking around there, messing them up, messing up their plans. You know what I mean? I’m gonna mess up their plans because I’m not leaving. I belong there. I got proof: I got birth records, I got death certificates of my Indian heritage and my family. Those guys, that Judy Rojo, the tribal council lady, claims she is related to me, but she isn’t. That’s what she claims. She claims to be related to me and then tells me I’m a non-Indian, a squatter, a trespasser. Ain’t that something.
TFSR: People have been asking you in court scenarios for her to prove it, right?
JJ Ayers: Yeah. She won’t prove it either. That’s what we need. That’s how we won the Ninth District Court and the Supreme Court. Because those guys asked her, “Where’s your blood? Where’s your Indian card?” And asked if she ever lived on the Indian colony. She answered no to all those and then we beat them in the Ninth District Supreme Court. They were supposed to shut down and they never did. So, by all rights, Judy Rojo and her tribal council have been in contempt of court for three years now, because they never stopped doing their business.
I have a restraining order against Judy Rojo, Bob McNichols, and all their tribal council, and the BIA police. They won’t recognize it, they say it’s no good. I got that from a judge in Oklahoma City. She was an Indian judge. Her name was Marsha Harlan. She gave me that restraining order when we first started fighting with these idiots. I still have copies of it, but nobody abides by it. They just come and do whatever they want. They don’t give a shit.
See it’s funny. Those guys don’t have to abide by the law, but we do. And I don’t get it. How come Judy Rojo and Bobby Nichols and their tribal eligible members don’t have to abide by Indian law? But the elders that lived here all of our lives, have to abide by it and move out. That just don’t make sense to me at all. I don’t get it. Nobody else gets it either. But these guys are just doing whatever they want. And we need to stop them in their tracks because this ain’t right. This ain’t human. They’ve violated every civil rights we have. They’re still violating more of them right now as I speak.
TFSR: I’m really sorry that y’all are going through this.
JJ Ayers: I really appreciate your help.
TFSR: Good luck, JJ.
JJ Ayers: Thanks for listening to me.