"They Will Never Break Our Spirit"

Brutally Beaten By A Frenzied Mob Of Guards

Nathson Fields

After nearly to a dozen years on death row, Nathson Fields won a new trial in 1997. But he has spent the last three years in Chicago's Cook County Jail while prosecutors appeal for more time to prepare.

Both in jail and on death row, Nathson has been the victim of brutal violence by guards. In this letter, he describes a terrible beating in late July.

Please allow me to share this recent incident with you.

Over the past eight months, a total of seven prisoners have been brutally beaten here on the unit where I am housed. Myself, along with prisoners Luis Sanchez, James Scott and Edward Mitchell, filed complaints. Cook County prosecutors say they investigated Lt. Byrne for the incidents we described, but no charges were brought.

Byrne told me afterwards, "We know you're behind all these grievances and complaints." I knew this was a veiled threat.

On July 29, all inmates were in the dayroom for a monthly shakedown of the unit. As we proceeded down the hallway to return to our cells, I noticed 25 to 30 guards lined on each side of the hallway. Most of the guards had black gloves on, with handcuffs wrapped around their knuckles like brass knuckles. I knew it was an "ambush."

Suddenly a guard began yelling, "You got a problem?" He broke through the crowd behind me and struck me in the eye. Immediately, I was being hit and kicked from all sides as I fell to the floor. I heard rumbling all about as the frenzied mob of guards were beating all the prisoners in the hallway. I heard inmates begging not to be hit or kicked anymore.

The guards took turns savagely stomping and beating us for about 20 minutes. We were handcuffed behind our backs, and our legs were shackled as we lay on the floor in pools of blood.

I was taken off the unit and thrown in a pump room on the floor, along with Sanchez, Scott, Mitchell and Andre Crawford. We had blood all over us and had difficulty breathing. Approximately 20 guards led by Byrne rushed into the pump room and continued the beating. As Byrne was stomping on my head, he yelled, "Now file a fucking complaint about this."

I lost consciousness. When I was revived, I was in the emergency room of Cook County Hospital. I remained in the ER for 13 hours! Afterwards, I was placed in intensive care under close observation.

Prisoner Scott was also in the ER. The doctors thought he had been stabbed because of all the blood splattered over his body, head and face. Prisoners Sanchez, Mitchell and Crawford were sent to Mt. Sinai Hospital ER. Crawford's ribs were severely bruised, his eardrum was busted, and he had numerous other injuries. Mitchell's eardrum was busted, his front tooth was knocked out and his spleen was ruptured. Sanchez also had his eardrum busted, his jaw broken and his bladder and kidney ruptured.

Although it's a miracle (Allah's will) that we're still alive, these brutal, criminal prison officials must know that they will never break my will and never break our spirit. Our protests shall continue.

Nathson Fields, #9817124
Box 089002
Chicago, IL 60608