Humboldt County boys, aged 13-18, already a target of criminalization, are being shipped off to Bar-O-Boys Ranch in Del Norte County so that the state can make profit off of their forced labor and internment. Although this facility claims to "rehabilitate" targeted youth, they are in reality employing slave labor. The same Ranch has even been accused of working a young boy, Benjamin Lucchesi, to death through "compulsory morning exercises" on October 9, 2000. The Ranch has since been accused of "cruel and unusual punishment" and lacking "adequate medical attention" in a wrongful death case against Allen Smith (director of Bar-O Boys Ranch), the Ranch itself, and Del Norte County.
What is seldom interjected into the equation of “correctional facility companies” is the money they receive by exploiting their wards as slave labor. Here’s how it works; You get paid, say $3,350 a month, for each person in your custody, then you get contracts, with say the forest service, to have those prisoners do back breaking labor in exchange for lots more money. You call it working on the prisoners “self-image, rule following, work habits, and values clarification,” but really it is just greedy slavery. If you really want to add the most evil of twists to this, already the worst of human exploitation, you would enslave children, say as young as 13 years old.
These are the words of Tad, a fearless advocate for youth empowerment rather than youth incarceration. Tad spoke up at a Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the continual criminalization and militarization of local youth on January 27, 2009. He was the first one up and the first one down; his voice was silenced as an example to any others who may speak out against the profiteering off our youth. This issue would have been swept under the rug, had it not been for Tad's lone voice. Even after hours of deliberate stalling by the Board of Supervisors, Tad was still there to speak about the issue and bring relevant communityconcerns to the attention of the Board of Supervisors. But the silencing of his strong voice was deliberate. The head of probation, Douglas Rasines, and local supervisor Bonnie Neely, exited the room just as Tad took the podium to practice his Constitutional rights to speak. These "liberal" local officials, as well as chairperson Jimmy Smith, actively silenced Tad through such means as interruptions, harsh language, and continual disregard for a public voice being expressed during the meeting. This behavior was not exhibited towards other public speakers during the meeting, despite the fact that they were well over their time limit.
But that wasn't enough. Tad was arrested long after he peacefully left the podium; he is currently in jail as a result of practicing his right to speak at a public meeting. In reality, just as Bar-O-Ranch is used not for "rehabilitation," but rather for slave labor, Tad's arrest is not an example of "disrupting a public meeting," but rather disrupting a space which is used to make maximum profit while claiming to be open to public dialogue.
Tad is currently undergoing a Hunger strike that began at the "Bored" of Supervisors meeting on October 20th, 2009. Tad is committed to continue 40 days of his fast, 35 of them taking place behind bars. These are his words:
I am a political prisoner right here in Humboldt County, and as such I will resort to the methods of political prisoners. Never in the history of humanity has an oppressor ever voluntarily surrendered their right to oppress. Only when we demand it will they even begin to pay attention.
You can read more of Tad's statements and articles, as well as his own current updates during this process and find links to video and an interview with Tad by an independent journalist on indybay.org at:
Watch the video of his commentary during the Board of Supervisors meeting at:
Members of the community will be standing in solidarity with his movement as well.
You can also contact
Jimmy Smith (707) 476-2391, the Chairperson of the Supervisors
Paul Gallegos (707) 445-7411, the District Attorney
to pledge your support for Tad and against the renewal of Humboldt County's contract with the Bar-O Ranch
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness… And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grandUtopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” – Howard Zinn