New Allegations of Racism at the Durham County Jail Brought to County Commissioners | News

New Allegations of Racism at the Durham County Jail Brought to County Commissioners

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Demonstrators protested against conditions at the Durham County Jail earlier this year. - FILE PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
  • File photo by Alex Boerner
  • Demonstrators protested against conditions at the Durham County Jail earlier this year.
On Monday morning during the Durham County Board of County Commissioners' meeting, members of the Inside-Outside Alliance brought new allegations of racism at the Durham County Jail forward—including a petition with forty-four signatures on it (all inmates at the facility).

Greg Williams, with the IOA, read the petition to the commissioners;
Officer Faulkner and Sgt. Coleman denied inmates their soccer time after their 30 minutes of basketball. Officer Faulkner at 10:15 a.m. approximately made a highly offensive racial slur towards all African-American inmates, saying: 'If you’re not Mexican, you can’t play soccer, and Mexicans can’t play basketball.' This was after the fact of him originally stopping inmates from playing basketball. Inmates and Faulkner debated play time. Faulkner proclaimed thirty minutes recreation time, inmates argued one hour due to the fact that Hispanic inmates in pod 5A never play soccer, they willingly give their recreation to the African-American inmates to have additional basketball time. Faulkner threatened all inmates on the court  at this time that if they continued to play he would lock them back in their cells. They gave the officer the basketball and requested the soccer ball. He said no, and then made the comment that offended all inmates, Hispanics included. Sgt. Coleman was called to the pod 5A to be a mediator. Instead of resolving this issue, he told inmates flat out they would only receive thirty minutes recreation time and no one would be allowed soccer time. Inmates banded together to form this petition in reference to violation of our rights as detainees and to point out the correctional officers’ unprofessionalism, by approaching the kiosk to file grievances, and when Sgt. Coleman witnessed this he said to inmates that if a single grievance was filed, he would take recreation time for the entire weekend away while he was on duty. Officer Faulkner maybe was overwhelmed by the situation and right in front of Sgt. Coleman, he called every inmate 'little n***rs.' He should no longer be allowed to work in this pod. This is his outlook towards us as a Black/Hispanic community. [Sheriff] Michael Andrews as overseer of this facility, we expect something to be done about this immediately.
Willaims said the petition was sent to the sheriff, but no response was given, prompting the IOA to present the petition to the board. Other members of the alliance read testimony from inmates.

"All-in-all they knew the outcome was them running our time out, even though they knew it wrong ... they still got what they wanted," one letter about the incident read.

Another letter outlined verbal and physical fights that recently broke out in the facility and how one such incident left the author of the letter suffering from a head injury.

Commissioners did not comment on the incident during the meeting, however, Chairman Michael Page asked for a follow-up from the Durham County Sheriff's Office and county administration about the incident.

The INDY reached out to the DCSO, here's what the spokesperson shared with us: "Sheriff Andrews does not condone inappropriate language. He received the letter and made certain that it was reviewed, like all complaints, through the detention facility’s standard grievance process.Supervisors at the detention facility were unable to substantiate the grievance. However, it did give Sheriff Andrews the opportunity to remind staff members of the professional standard he expects of himself and all of his employees."

This is just the latest chapter in the long book of allegations against the sheriff's office and the jail.

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