by Patricia Aiken
Supporters from across the country went to Pahrump, Nevada to protest the torture of political prisoner Ammon Bundy by guards at the Southern Nevada Detention Center, a private prison operated by the notorious Corrections Corporation of America, now rebranded as CoreCivic.
Ammon, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, was tortured on May 3rd. Woken from his sleep because of a shirt wrongly hung on the side of his bunk, guards put him and his brother Ryan, who attempted to intervene, in shower stalls. The so-called “infraction” of having clothing hung on the wrong side of a bunk is committed by many inmates without so much as a comment from guards. Ryan Bundy was taken from the shower after an hour and managed to make a call to alert family and supporters of Ammon’s torture.
Ammon was beaten, shackled and his hands were so tightly cuffed that his wrist was dislocated and his hands swelled due to lack of circulation. He suffered hyperthermia and feared he would die. The guards taunted, “We can leave you in here for 72 hours without water and meals. And then we’ll rush you to medical and hook you up to an IV so you don’t die.”
They relented only when the prison started getting a flood of phone calls. After 13 hours with no food or water, ankles bleeding from the shackles, a SWAT team in riot gear opened the door and dragged him out to solitary. They tore off his clothing then threw his clothes out the door and left him naked in the cell. He related being kept awake in intense pain for 30 hours, no place to relieve himself, no water, shivering and shaking with cold.
Ryan Bundy recently filed a lawsuit against the private prison in Pahrump for over 100 retaliatory strip searches. Ammon and Ryan endured 40 days in solitary confinement for refusing to submit to any more strip searches after video visitations and meeting with their attorneys. These degrading searches are clearly retaliatory since they come in contact with no one. Ryan’s hand lightly brushed a guard’s when he attempted to grab the shirt. Now they are threatening to charge Ryan with assault.
The facility was put on lockdown and prison officials threatened they would keep it on lockdown until the protesters left. The lockdown was ended and visitors were finally allowed in on May 7th, four days after Ammon was tortured. The protesters are planning on staying for at least two weeks, camping in the desert.
Attorney Dan Hill visited Ammon but Ammon was not allowed by the guards to show Hill the injuries to his ankles and was asked to leave.
Nye County Sheriff Sharon Werhly was away during the week, but when she returned met with protesters and assured them a full investigation is underway. Her deputy detective spent over two hours interviewing Ammon. Werhly has requested the videotape of the attack. No word yet if she’s received it. Other Bundy defendants have said they’ve sent several complaints about the facility to Werhly as legal mail but have never received a response. Elected as a “constitutional sheriff,” the pressure is being applied to have Werhly act like one.
The trial of “Tier One” Bunkerville defendants includes Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with their father Cliven, Pete Santilli and Ryan Payne, and was slated to begin June 26.
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