Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Dix Prisoners Rebel Over Lousy Food
BY EUGENE A. SYLVESTER (prisoner of the state -- time of confinement: Sept. 4, 1968 to October 23. 1968)
I had been in the Fort Dix Stockade about a month when a food riot broke out in the mess hall. It seemed like there was never enough; and if you were the last compound to eat you waited on line for what seemed like hours.
On this particular day, supper consisted of cold, dehydrated potatoes covered with something closely resembling gravy but tasting like stale water.
As one cell block came to eat, one prisoner blew up. Having had all he could take, he let his tray fall to the floor, exclaiming, "I won' t eat this shit!'' That was all that was needed.
All the other prisoners began dropping their trays, some even throwing them they were so disgusted. Panic-stricken, the guards cleared the mess hail. From then on the cell blocks that had yet to eat refused to even enter the mess hail.
The word out: hunger strike until something is done to improve the food.
Just because we were prisoners didn' t mean that we should be treated like animals. We were human beings and deserved to be treated as such. After all, going AWOL because the military machine was too much to endure any longer (which was why most of the men were there) did not make you a hardened criminal.
In order to strike fear into the men and make them willing slaves once more, one of the MP officers, a man who prided himself on being able to scare prisoners, entered the hail block and began screaming that he wasn' t going to '' put up with this type of nonsense.''
Then he made his all-time threat.
He said that all those prisoners who didn't want to be charged with mutiny should step outside.
NO ONE MOVED!
The big, bad officer suddenly realized that the men facing him were just that -- MEN -- and that they were no longer afraid and that they were going to stand up to someone they considered no better than a petty tyrant.
His power gone, he had no other choice but to back down. You can't threaten men who refuse to be threatened and who aren't afraid to stand u for their rights.
There was no charge of mutiny against anyone and the food began to improve -- for the time being at least.
The Bond, vol. 3, no. 1