April 2, 2016

April rallies for Sam Harrell

5-Day Hunger Vigil and Rallies to Mark
Year Anniversary of Samuel Harrell Murder


Ideal media coverage: Saturday, 4/23, 2-4pm for the Beacon  NY Rally
(at Memorial Park, the western end, near Matteawan Rd.)
or  Monday, 4/25, 4-6pm for the NYC rally;
or anytime that Monday at the vigil site in NYC
Vigil dates: April 21 - 25
Exact locations New York City TBD

BACKGROUND:  Harrell, a 32-year old black man suffering from bipolar disorder, was serving an 8-year sentence on a drug charge. Four days after completing two weeks in solitary confinement and not receiving his proper medication, Harrell mistakenly believed his family was coming to pick him up and he prepared to leave. As many as 20 corrections officers handcuffed him, beat him, shouted racial slurs at him, and threw him down a flight of stairs.  No disciplinary action has been taken against the COs involved, and no changes have been made in the prison.

THE HUNGER VIGIL: At least 8 members of the Harrell family, plus more than a dozen others, will conduct a 5-day hunger vigil to honor Sam’s life, to call out for justice, and to seek critical changes at the prison, including use of body cameras by COs, restrictions on the use of solitary confinement, and additional training for COs. (See “Hunger Vigil Goals…” document.)


“Prison Guard ‘Beat Up Squad’ Is Blamed in New York Inmate’s Death,” New York Times, 8/18/2015  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/19/nyregion/fishkill-prison-inmate-died-after-fight-with-officers-records-show.html

Other coverage included Democracy Now!, The Huffington Post, The New York Daily News, The Albany Times-Union, The Poughkeepsie Journal, The Daily Freeman, and more.


Thursday, April 21 - The Harrell family will begin fasting in North Carolina where Sam is buried, while friends and supporters in New York begin fasting outside the Fishkill prison in Beacon with a candlelight ceremony.

Friday, April 22 – Sunday, April 24 – The family along with friends and supporters will gather near theFishkill prison for a 3-day vigil.  The site is being designed to be beautiful and honoring of the family and Sam.  Artists are creating portraits of Sam to display along with stories from his life. There will be a replica of a solitary confinement cell, speakers and workshops, religious leaders offering prayers, participatory art, and more.

Saturday, April 23, 2-4pm – Hundreds of people, including families of incarcerated people at Fishkill and other state prisons, will participate in a rally at the site of the hunger vigil with speakers, music, poetry, theater, and more.

Sunday, April 24, afternoon – The hunger vigil and running activities will move to New York City where the people fasting will camp out overnight.

Monday, April 25, 4-6pm– Hundreds of people will rally to close out the hunger vigil, including State Senators and Assemblymembers, plus speakers, music, art, and more.

CONTACT:   Jeff Golden   Beacon Prison Action   845-764-7112   info@beaconprisonaction.org