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OJ & The October Rebellion…

One of my favorite times of the day in prison was early morning . . . just around 5-am when the cell doors are unlocked.  Cleaning time, showers, getting ready for work and the early morning news on the common-area TVs. 

PigShitAs a former professional journalist, I like to think of myself as a discerning viewer, but sometimes any fool could see the reality for themselves.

By viewing the raw footage early, and then catching the edited version later, the differences are often quite remarkable, or at least, they used to be (the corp-media has since closed this avenue for real news).

I recall one such as morning during the final assault by the “jack-booted thugs” of the ATF and FBI on the Waco Koresh Compound, April 19th, 1993.

The early news included un-edited clips of the para-military police agents surrounding the compound, shouting with glee and high-fiving each other as the main building burned.  Raw footage showed survivors–men, women and children trying to escape the flames–being gunned down like rabid dogs.  Later, all that was edited out.  Since then . . . the media has become far more adept…

American GulagThe most extreme example of news control that I’ve ever witnessed (other than during my journalism work in the Middle East, 1969-71) was of the October Rebellion of ’95.  It was the largest multiple-prison uprising in the history of the world.  Never heard of it?

Perhaps one day some intrepid journalist will ferret out the corp-media archives, but don’t count on it. It’s been remarkably scrubbed from American Gulag history . . . the largest prison population on Earth.

The genesis of that multi-prison Rebellion involved O.J. Simpson . . . but first some background:

The crack cocaine Sentencing Guideline Amendment was scheduled on May 1st to automatically become law on November 1st, 1995 . . . unless Congress actively intervened.

Naturally, this change in sentencing law was a big deal, especially to black prisoners. Over 38,000 federal prisoners were scheduled to be resentenced and released upon its final automatic enactment.

(It was based upon crack defendants, over 90+% Black, having been sentenced on a 100-to-1 weight ratio to that of powder cocaine [white] defendants.)

Simpson'13RWhen O.J. Simpson was found not-guilty on October 3rd, 1995 in the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and Ron Goldman, I was working at the prison UNICOR prison factory at FCI McKean, PA.

Things were humming along in mid-morning when all hell broke loose.  Suddenly, without a hint of warning, the black prisoners—more than half of the 250 workers—went wild.  They were cheering and dancing around the factory, banging on the machinery with any tools at hand.  Their apparent glee at OJ’s not-guilty verdict was pure, unrestrained celebration.

Their glee mirrored that across the nation by African-Americans, which was major news on all the networks. The networks also reflected the total shock by whites.

Presciently, in the middle of this prison-factory reverie by Blacks, I was asked for my opinion by some of their leaders (noting that despite my well-known radical activism, I wasn’t joining with them in their celebration).

I recall saying at the time, “You guys got some serious problems.  Forget OJ; it won’t take much to kill the impending crack amendment due for enactment on November 1st.”

They laughed, “It’s a done deal, Mac.  There’s only a few weeks left for the enactment of the amendment; you’re just reacting to cultural racism.”

Republican Tea PartySure enough, in one of the fastest responses in the history of Congress, the Amendment was brought to the House floor and killed.  Essentially, it was a clear reactionary signal: “Maybe we can’t get OJ, but we can get the rest of you ‘niggers!'”

As it dawned on the prisoners throughout the system what had happened, they went off.  Starting at FCI Talledega, AL, rioting, destruction and arson soon spread throughout some 40+ prisons.  The entire federal prison system of some 116 facilities went into total lockdown . . . plus no contact, no visits, no phones.  It was largely by black prisoners.  Whites were mostly a captive audience.

Watching the initial incidents on CNN, there was soon a total news blackout throughout the nation.  To this day remains the most remarkable example of the public being shut out of any and all news that a major national event was in progress.  No news, no views.

To this day, I remain in awe of the lack of information regarding the extent of that rebellion and the number of prisons involved, including my own, with one unit and part of another burned out. The prisons were surrounded by local and state police–as much to act as back-up for prison guard’s retaliation as to contain the news.


SooPig-001For me at the time, as an ongoing student of doctoral studies (PsyD), this was also a living laboratory. The subject in this experiential circumstance was the psychological socialization of the evils of torture. (A pre-lesson to the national reactions in the later wake of 9/11.)

This was an opportunity for individuals in their capacity and authority as state-actors to engage in their lowest R-Complex behaviors toward others in what their frontal cortex rationalized (if at all) as “payback.” This is all quite well documented over the years and since by Drs. Stanley Milgram and Robert Jay Lifton.

Prison guards so inclined could volunteer for such “duty” thru the anonymity of para-militarized uniforms and masks that helped further objectify their ID and personal responsibility.

These organized gangs of volunteer squads roved the locked-down compound, throwing flash-bangs and tear gas canisters indiscriminately (we were all locked in our cells), selecting individual prisoners for any variety of reasons, or none at all, while screaming, “Get down, get down . . . Stop resisting, stop resisting . . . ,” and beating prisoners (whose any resistance whatsoever would be a summary death sentence).

(Note that the prisoners had long-since been “pacified,” locked in their cells, ordered to be naked and lie in their beds face down to await their fate. One of the more serious “crimes” adduced by guards was “eyeballing” . . . looking at their torturers.)

Each night for weeks this went on, usually commencing around 2:00 or 3:00 AM, being pulled out of their cells to lay naked on the ground outside, all the while being beaten as suited any individual guard. While black prisoners were certainly more targeted, whites were also “niggerfied” in these circumstances as suited the guards.

Prisoners were stacked 16 and 20 deep in the segregation “holes,” cells designed for two and four prisoners.  Thousands were bussed—diesel therapy, shackled head to foot—back and forth to different prisons.


Six major corporations owned and controlled some 90% of the main media, sports and entertainment in the US.  Six Justice Department/BOP phone calls are about all it would take.  Appeal to their patriotism and “forestalling the spread of violence.”

And OJ?  He and his crew played the race card to the hilt thanks to the infamous beatings and murders by the police at the time, which all played into the sense of oppression and frustration…

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD) August 2010

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2 Responses
  1. […] handle the matter the way the feds do in similar situations–as occurred for instance in the nation’s largest multi-prison uprising in the history of the US in October of ’95–then the prisoners can […]

  2. […] forward to October of ’95: The October Rebellion. The largest mass, multi-prison uprising in the history of the US occurred as the result of the […]

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