“Stop fighting!”

The tower guard is yelling. He’s out on the catwalk of the nearest tower, rifle up. His voice isn’t as urgent, not as commanding as it could be, as it has been on other occasions. The fight he’s looking down on isn’t serious. Kind of lame, actually.

Courtesy of Arthur Longworth

Courtesy of Arthur LongworthOn the ground, the young prisoner who started the fight reaches up to claw at Greg “Tex” Garner, who is astride him. Tex’s two short, chopping punches steal what remains of the young prisoner’s will to fight. Now Tex holds him down. Nothing more. It’s over.

The guards who had been standing near the Yard gate less than a hundred yards away are running. Five of them. They’re nearly there.

“Cra-a-ck!!!”

The sound is startling, lethal-sounding. Resounding off the walls without direction, everywhere. Instinctively, I cringe.

And the sound of breath forced out in a pained groan. Tex topples sideways and lies unmoving on the muddy track.

The guards arrive. Two of them pulling the younger prisoner to his feet and ratcheting cuffs onto his wrists. The young prisoner’s face is a wide-eyed mask as he is marched away.

Three guards stand over Tex. One orders him not to move, which is absurd because Tex isn’t moving. At all. He doesn’t appear to be conscious.

Put pressure on a wound. The thought compels me to take a step forward.

“Get down! Now!”

The tower guard is rabid. His rifle is targeted on me and there’s no mistaking his eyes. He will shoot. He is contemplating doing so already. Sinking down slowly onto my heels, I feel the irrepressible heat of anger rise within.

“You coward-ass PIGS!”

The Seattle Times:  In acknowledging the facts of Garner’s [Tex’s] death, “the result was, had [the guard] not shot, nobody would have died,” said [Superintendent Richard] Morgan, who has spent all but four of his 27 years with [Department of Corrections] at the penitentiary. “While that bothers me a great deal, I don’t want that to be blamed on the officer. He did what I’ve asked him to do.”

The shout comes from a group of prisoners gathered around a card table nearby.

The guards standing over Tex turn toward the group. They are trying to ascribe a face to the voice – the face of a prisoner they can handcuff and haul away – someone for whom it will be many months, or years, before he will again feel sunlight touch his skin.

There are more shouts now rising up around the Yard. For a moment, gaining momentum. And, for a moment, the guards look worried. Then more guards arrive.

Later, I feel anger rise again within me as I read the warden’s statement to the free world. There is no recording of the killing. Inside the high-walled Petri dish of the Walla Walla Big Yard, beneath the microscope of more than a million dollars worth of high-resolution cameras and security monitors that at all times record, there is no recording.

So no one outside these walls knows what they did. Until now.

Arthur Longworth is serving LIFE for 1st degree murder.

 

Arthur Longworth #299180

Monroe Correctional Facility (WSR)

PO Box 777

Monroe WA  98272

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