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Racist Guards at Florida Prison

Rarely do you find reports of racist actions of prison guards in the mainstream press. Most editors wouldn't consider it news for white prison guards to display racial hatred towards their black captives. Ho-hum. But the Palm Beach Post featured several lengthy articles in December about the racist actions of guards at Florida's Martin Correctional Institution (MCI). The headline? "Racial Tension Growing at MCI: A Probe Details Racist Mail and Slurs Directed at Black Officers."

Oh, so that's it! Guards acting like racists towards other guards. Well, now, that's not nice.

The series of Palm Beach Post articles detail a long-standing tradition of black guards at MCI being harassed, threatened, humiliated and intimidated by their white co-workers.

Seven MCI guards filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Opportunities Commission, which conducted an investigation and released a 200-page report. The report details incidents such as: racist mail placed in black guards' employee mailboxes; a black doll hanging from a noose in the prison's control booth; dead animals placed in the parked vehicles of black guards; retaliation against guards who report incidents of racism.

Wayne Bythwood, a black guard who has worked as a recreation supervisor since the prison opened in 1985 was one of the seven who filed official complaints. Two days later white guards waited until he left work for the day and kicked-in his office. Locks were cut from tool and supply cabinets and his office was fairly torn apart during the raid.

"They're treating me just like an inmate," Bythwood said. "It's nothing but retaliation."

The implication, of course, of Bythwood's statement - and of the overall tone of the Post's coverage of racism at MCI - is that it's okay to "treat inmates" to racial hatred. It is only a problem, and it's only news, when black guards get the same treatment.

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