Protestors gathered at HMP Long Lartin on Saturday night to condemn the ongoing racist and Islamophobic abuse by prison officers. People held at the prison have said that Senior Officer (SO) Mark Noah participated in targeted attacks on Black Muslim prisoners. The protestors chanted, “No Justice, No Peace”.
There have been at least three attacks on Black prisoners who are practising Muslims in Long Lartin in the last nine months. The victims have said that Senior Officer Mark Noah was involved every time. In each case, Noah’s report states that he made a pre-emptive attack as he feared he would be attacked.
In one incident in June, Nathan Lewis, a young Black Muslim, was followed by SO Mark Noah and other officers from the shower and punched Mr. Lewis in the face. Another prison officer, Victoria Williams, was heard afterwards saying, “we need to get our story straight”.
Prisoners who dare to speak up about the racist violence are being punished. Mr Thakrar and Mr Aga have submitted official complaint forms about the racism they have witnessed and experienced. Mr Thakrar was officially punished by the prison for taking the knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter after Nathan Lewis was attacked.
Miran Thakrar said in an email:
“What is happening here is something of an unacceptable normality of prison life… I have been subject to this and know personally what it feels like to be on the receiving end so I can not simply stand by. The prison officers need to be exposed –they act within the security that they feel their identity is protected by the system and their actions will be contained by their friends and colleagues within the prison walls.”
Prisoners are also experiencing censorship, with letters between those inside the prison and their supporters outside going missing or the authorities openly refusing to deliver them for “security” reasons.
Over 15% of the prison population in England and Wales is Muslim even though Muslims are only 5% of the total population. In close supervision centres – prisons within prisons where solitary confinement is common – 50% of prisoners are Muslim.