His mother christened him Robert Earl Council, but many people know him as civil rights activist Kinetic Justice. Although locked up in solitary confinement, he managed to speak with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! via a smuggled cell phone in May 2016.
“The reform and changes that we’ve been fighting for in Alabama, we’ve tried petitioning through the courts. We’ve tried to get in touch with our legislators. We understood that our incarceration was pretty much about our labor and the money that was being generated through the prison system.”
In mid-September, Pastor Kenneth S. Glasgow of The Ordinary People’s Society and the Free Alabama Movement put out an SOS on his behalf. A week or so later, the Alabama inmate made another covert call to Amy Goodman. Today, news about Kinetic Justice is nigh impossible to find. Still, this writer made a promise to publicize the plight of Kinetic Justice and that’s what I intend to do right here, right now.
The humanitarian crisis in America’s prisons started well before correctional officers began quitting their jobs at Holman prison due to safety concerns. Stories about overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are horrid, but they’re not fresh news. Violence among inmates is rampant, and the numerous facilities where Kinetic Justice has been serving out his life sentence are no different.
In a Free Alabama Movement press release dated September 16, Pastor Glasgow said the following:
“Several officers expressed dismay and fear after learning that two of their fellow officers, Officer Brian Ezell and another officer, reported to Warden Raybon that they had knives drawn on them and their lives threatened, and that neither Warden Raybon, nor Commissioners Jeff Dunn and Grant Culliver would take any action to ensure their safety. Both of these officers then quit.”
So, what in the world does any this have to do with the imprisoned man they call Kinetic Justice? Plenty.
Despite being held in solitary confinement with no easy way to contact the outside world, Robert Earl Council managed to co-found the Free Alabama Movement. The FAM espouses non-violence and exposure of prison corruption, prisoner mistreatment, and other issues that plague American prisons in the 21st century.
Robert Earl Council was scheduled to meet with Monique Gillum, a prisoner advocate from the Southern Poverty Law Center, at Holman Correctional Facility on Friday, October 21. The meeting never happened, as Council was transferred to another prison one day prior to his appointment with the advocate. Shortly thereafter, Council was transferred yet again.
Before being transferred from the notoriously violent Holman facility, even some correctional officers felt that Council’s solitary confinement was out of line, according to Pastor Glasgow.
“Officers have began to express support for the Non-Violent stance of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT and their efforts to expose corruption, violence and other issues plaguing Holman and other Alabama prisons, and have went so far as to make repeated requests to Warden Raybon for the release of F.A.M. co-founder and organizer Kinetik (sic) Justice from solitary confinement, because officers now feel that he is being wrongfully detained and because he has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to conduct peaceful demonstrations at Holman prison to bring attention to issues within the ADOC and Holman prison.”
On September 9, prison inmates in more than 20 states went “on strike,” refusing to work in prison shops in an effort to protest overly long, unjustified solitary confinement, meager health care, prisoner exploitation, and violence. It is worth noting that the strike occurred on the 45th anniversary of the infamous uprising at Attica state prison in New York. On September 24, guards at the Holman Correctional Facility also went on strike to protest untenable conditions at the prison.
This story is not over. The minute I get word from a reliable source, I will tell you what I find out. In the meantime, I leave you with these words from the man they call Kinetic Justice:
“FREEDOM… Make no mistake about it… That’s the business of Free Alabama Movement. At some point, we (prisoners) have got to get to the point where not only have we had enough of the inhumane and unconstitutional living conditions that we are confined in, but we also have got to get to the point where we are ready, willing, and able to do something about it”
[Feature Image via Markuskun|Wikimedia Commons|Cropped and resized|Public domain]