Tag Archives: felix garcia

For Felix and others like him

I’ve been writing to Felix Garcia for a while now.  He is a Latin@ Deaf* man serving life for a murder his Hearing brother has confessed to.  Felix has been in prison for over 30 years and many of those years were spent alone – amongst hundreds of other men – all Hearing and non-signing – a virtual sentence to solitary confinement for no crime other than being a Deaf man walking.

You can see Felix and other Deaf men and women in the Deaf in Prison documentary that H.E.A.R.D will be screening June 27-29 | 12am-11:59pm.  If you can host a group viewing in your area – let HEARD know so they can list it.  (you can see a list of different locations that are hosting a screening at http://www.behearddc.org/ scroll down for list)

See Trailer for the event and documentary below

I hope more and more Deaf people and allies will get involved with HEARD and start advocating for rights of Deaf people in the criminal justice system (Tmw 6/23 HEARD will be at a Teach-In on the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) discussing sexual assault of deaf, blind and disabled persons.)

For an update on Felix’ case – see Pat Bliss’ write up and scroll down for links to sign the petitions – http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/life-holds-no-guarantees-update-on-felix/

Its hard for me to write about this subject because it feels so hopeless and overwhelming but as Felix always reminds me, our “words help.”  Karen Christie’s poem does a superb job expressing the plight of Deaf, Deafblind and other people in prisons.  Thank you for letting me reprint it here KC.  Thank you Pat Bliss (Felix’ advocate), Talila Lewis (TL) and all the good folks at HEARD and the Deaf in Prison blogsite for all you are doing.

Felix and friends – stay strong.


For Felix

            And others like him

by Karen Christie


I imagine it started as a misunderstanding

And then

the handcuffs

Behind your back

so the right

To remain silent

was never


But enforced


I imagine it led to miscomprehension

of the lawyers vocabulary, the court proceedings,

the uninterpreted expressions

And the right

To be represented

Never represented


Your story

Your truth


I imagine the worst miscarriage of justice

Was the cruel and unusual sentence

To years of solitary confinement

Among other inmates

Whose physical proximity

Endangered and violated

your arrested life.


HEARD trailer for the Deaf in Prison screening and discussion groups

Dr. McCaskill returns to Chief Diversity post

Dr. Angela McCaskill has been returned to her Chief Diversity officer post at Gallaudet – see Washington Post article 

Im glad the matter is finally resolved.

I’d feel better if there was some kinda statement coming forth from Dr. McCaskill acknowledging and SUPPORTING marriage equality and denouncing Tony Perkins of the Family Resource Council, which has been identified as a hate group and Perkins having White Supremacist group affiliations.  Previously McCaskill had thanked Tony Perkins of the FRC and Rev. McCoy of the MD Marriage Alliance (another anti-marriage equality group).  (ie unpacking)

Dr. McCaskill was put on paid administrative leave to determine if her personal actions of signing a petition jeopardizing marriage equality in MD indicated that she held beliefs and values that would compromise her ability to perform the duties of her office http://www.gallaudet.edu/Diversity/About_ODI.html.

It is assumed that by virtue of reinstating her, Dr. Hurwitz has determined or been given assurance that she can adhere to the duties of her office.

I am hopeful the campus will engage in some type of dialogue re: diversity and intersectionality and marriage equality because out of a hard and painful time, there is much to learn.

I am also hopeful they will do a screening of Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin (check the DVD as the captions dropped out a bit from time to time at the RIT Screening) http://rustin.org/

I know folks have lots of criticism for Gallaudet and i know no community or campus is perfect.  I also know that Gallaudet has tackled a lot of VERY difficult conflicts largely by employing civil disobedience, peaceful activism, Gandhian and MLK Jr principles and percepts.  So I am hopeful they can come from love on this issue.

I recently read a long article in the NYTimes about Restorative Justice and while it relates to a horrible and hard criminal case – i have experienced the powers of the restorative justice circle after a Swastika-shape was burned on a street in our neighborhood and the young men apprehended.  The restorative justice process was painful yet very healing so I am hopeful that more places will explore it as I think it gets to core issues more deeply than other systematic approaches and allows for true reconciliation.

The article while long is very powerful and reminds me greatly of the words Felix Garcia, a Latino Deaf man in prison for 3 decades for a crime his brother has since confessed to with no release date in sight.  Felix had recently written in a letter to me:

“Unforgiveness clogs the faith channel and keeps you powerless against the mountain’s in our lives.”

The recent situation at Gallaudet is not on par in scale or intent to the article’s example nor Felix’ situation.  Yet they give me a great deal of hope of what can be achieved if and when folks confront with love and compassion injustice, prejudice, hurt, and inequality.

And I’ll close with a GREAT chart that Dr. John Bosco Conama of Ireland sent me.  Dr. Conama is a scholar in Equality of Condition and this chart, while not comprehensive & pretty U.S. centric, gives a great visual representation of parallel struggles and the evolution of equality as well as interesectionalities.


And while i know its very easy for me to preach forgiveness to the folks at Gallaudet – pls do know that i have lived my life trying to practice it.  That while i do not know if i could ever be as good and as amazing as the parents in the article or Felix in prison – that the times i have forgiven fully and freely, good things have returned to me.

I look forward to the day when all the states of this union say – no govt (local state or federal) shall deny Americans the right to marry the person they love.

May the healing begin.



stuff: vote, Deaf under Nazism, Sim-com, & Felix

heye all

thank u to the folks who checked in to see see if all was well.  all is.  just had a BUSY summer traveling.  the Viva Veditz celebration was GRAND – see Ruthie’s spontaneous and original 2-5 poem at the gravesite and click the AFA channel for other video from the ceremony.

And now after traveling here there and nearly everywhere this spring and summer – i is HOME and a busy bee again now that we all back to school – whoo hoo! hold tight!

so this is just a quick bunch of stuff:

1. VOTE – if ur not registered – GET THEE TO A BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND REGISTER!  this will probably be the most important election of our life time.  im serious.

if ya hate politics cuz u dont know who to trust – well like i told farmer abe when he asked me which candidate can i trust? – politicians generally are no longer trustworthy but some are worse than others so…do do?  VOTE!

this is a good website that compares Obama and Romney’s position on important issues – check it out as knowledge is power.  http://2012election.procon.org/

this site tracks LIES (liar liar pants on fire animated icon), Half True, and Truths – it also has links that explain in more detail – scroll down to bottom for over 120 pages of POLITIFACTS made clear http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/?page=2

2. BBC See Hear program about the persecution of Deaf folks under the Nazi Regime via the T4 (“euthanasia”) and Sterilization program (also covers Deaf Nazis) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjAn0YBe4ls&feature=plcp

3. folks discussing the pit falls of sim-com – scroll down for vlog from ella mae lentz and an older vlog by ruthie jordan.  ella’s vlog reminded me of Johnson, Liddell, and Erting’s Unlocking the Curriculum document – it was GREAT then and is GREAT now.  read and/or re-read and circulate it folks – its really important and still sadly VERY relevant


added – older blog from Dr. Don Grushkin re: Sim-com

and an older one from Ella on signed systems and “good enuf” mentality for ASL

4. Lots of folks make an outrage over a public school trying to change a Deaf child’s Hunter sign name but largely silent over a Deaf school changing another Deaf child’s name sign of ML on the heart given by his Deaf father to a sign name of “chubby” – hmmm

5. got a nice letter from Felix Garcia (Deaf guy in prison whose Hearing brother has since confessed to setting up) If you’d like to write to Felix see pix of address at bottom and include stamps if you would like him to write back.

Mother Jones article about Felix’ case http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

interviews with Felix at Deaf In Prison website (note some of the interviews discuss prison rape and is not intended for young audiences.  Link to transcripts under video box)

part I  http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/felix-in-his-own-words-part-i/

part II http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/felix-part-ii-is-now-captioned/

part III http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/felix-garcia-interview-part-3/

part IV http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/felix-in-his-own-words-part-4-end-of-disc-1/

In the News: Occupy roc, Felix, De’VIA artists, & Stem Cells

heye just a quick note of some news items – the bottom one is the worst so if u just wanna scroll down, feel free


1. Judge Johnson ruled to dismiss the charges against some of the Occupy Rochester folks who decided to stand in the park after dark for free speech, free assembly, and free press (a RIT college “Reporter magazine” reporter was arrested too)

Some folks arrested had accepted the ACD + 24 hours of community service but most of us decided to fight it

a total of 48 people had been arrested (32 on the first night and 16 a few days later) a few days after that the Mayor of Rochester reached an agreement with the Occupy Rochester folks to let them be there 24/7 and this week they have been celebrating 2 month in the part.  the agreement was to expire today but it is said it will be extended to the spring since the peaceful protestors have been so peaceful.  SWEET.

thanks to all who can and do stand up for our first amendment rights and thank u to all the folks who showed support, gratitude, concern, and love for me during all of this.  really im very moved by how good some folks are

NOTE: (added today 1/13) the Center for Disability Rights (CDR) had a meeting with Chief of Police Sheppard with two other representatives from the Rochester police dept. and invited me to join.  The meeting was great – Chief Sheppard seems very sincere and dedicated to doing right by Deaf folks and made several commitments towards that end.  Thank u to Rochester PD and CDR.


2. some folks had taken the time and heart to send Christmas cards or a note to Felix Garcia – a Deaf man who has been imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime his Hearing brother recently confessed to committing set up Felix to take the blame.  Felix has written back to some people.  i got a nice letter from him expressing gratitude for the card, sharing how hard things are and letting me know im on his prayer list.

I’m on HIS prayer list. this touched me deeply – that someone could be wrongfully incarcerated, experience horrible abuse, and suffer severe communicaSHUN access issues and he puts ME on his prayer list.  WOW.  im just awed by this.  so i hope ya all will take the time to write Felix or sign the various petitions out there.

don’t know who Felix is – you can get the link to the Mother Jones article about his case and see the Governor of Fla office reply to Audism Free America’s letter calling for Felix’s release at: http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2012/01/fla-gov-scotts-office-reply-to-afa-re.html

Ridor has said that a notable top civil rights lawyer has agreed to take on Felix’s case pro bono so lets hope it goes forward and justice is served.  This doesn’t mean you all can rest easy.  You should still do something if so moved (write Felix, sign the petitions, write to the different groups in the governor’s response etc)


3. Prolific and powerful De’VIA artist Nancy Rourke has a video up showcasing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvnUW11EJFU&feature=colike)

Solitary Deaf Prison by Nancy Rourke

her works from this past year and has already created several to ring in the new year.  One of her recent works is Solitary Deaf Prison.  I just love how she take contemporary Deaf issues and creates visual testimonies and records of these events and people.


Still image from a scene from Switched at Birth program - Warren Miller's "I Love You" artwork in the background

4. Warren Miller’s artwork will be the back drop in a scene from Switched at Birth.  Warren Miller is a great De’VIA artist who some folks at Switched at Birth TV program discovered via Chuck Baird Foundation emerging artists section.  The program has purchased four of Warren’s paintings and he just emailed me that his “I Love You” work will appear in the next episode.  Its cool that the program is so supportive of Deaf actors and artists!

NOTE: keep your prayers and thought on famous and marvelous De’VIA artist – Chuck Baird.  He has had cancer for several years now and it is tough.

clips from a film by Tracey Salaway about Chuck and his art at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPGr9gNf4Y0



5. Stem cell experimentation on Deaf infants ages 6 WEEKS old to 18 month old


im speechless and signless folks.  these are babies!  if these were baby kittens the PETA would be making a stink probably.  How did the FDA approve this?

H O W ????

and Wake the #uck up folks – i have been tired of being the town crier!

do ya believe me now?  coming for a pair of ears near u



Do something!

heye all

i want to shout out a bit about the dangerous trend going on in our country and internationally

the natives r restless and the SYSTEMS are getting repressive

this is what usually happens in times of economic troubles

and there are troubles folks with a big ole capital T

dont let your banks “free love” bs of a nice ole credit line fool u

dont let the bank of a me i can backing down on the $5 charge make u think its all good now because i got my way on that one time

nope – that aint how it works.  the message now is STAND STRONGER and

See Time Mag - person of the year. if u protested any injustice this year - that is YOU on the cover. take a bow and stand up again and again.


(and yes im very aware of the flame war going on about some lack of signing in a gally video and some over abundance of signs for hearing and speech – and NO  it is not an ant hill nor a mole hill.  it is important and folks should take a stand about it.  Right now i think they doing just fine and if they need me they know where to find me so im gonna put me eyes and heart on what is troubling me right now)

NOTE: you totally want to buy an issue of Time Mag. person of the year – cuz its us.  Folks who STAND and protest injustice and the article about the street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, who one year ago today ignited the light of folks taking to the streets for economic and social justice by lighting himself on fire in Tunisia is very important – among many other stories of ordinary people doing out of the ordinary things.

the national defense authorization act NDAA

u dont know what it is?  well u should cuz it could be coming for u.  It is basically a new bill that Obama is likely to sign that allows for Americans to be picked up and held without trial on charges of terrorism

and who defines terrorism?

and what happened to our mighty and precious Bill of Rights – several of them of which ensure due process and fairness huh huh huh?

See NDAA Bill Aims to Suppress Internet Freedom from the International Business Times (yes i get my news from reputable sources not bloggers)

Is the NDAA virtually empowering the US govt to perform acts of terrorism on its own citizens whom they suspect of terrorism and what of the folks who get caught up in this system unjustly or accidentally? hmmm

Anonymous (the hacker network and not the folks who have no courage to use their own name when leaving stupid comments here and there)pledges to expose Senator Portman (R-Ohio) who introduced this bill and has big money (> $200,000) from various groups that support the NDAA (like all the co. that make stuff for riot control and police gear etc)

The ACLU has out a call for folks to email President Obama and sayVETO this viciousness – its a simple form letter and u just fill in some blanks.  The ACLU is a reputable system or u can scope around for some others that u might like.  Even the tea partyers are not happy with this bill so folks get Obama to remember that Declaration of Independence and US Constitution that he loved so dearly when he came into office.

Bradley Manning

the young guy who got a bunch of the truths about our unjust wars out to Wikileak is facing military trial.  His lawyer is requesting the chief investigator (judge?) to recuse himself due to conflicts with his prior role with the Dept of Justice but he said no.  Manning has suffered some VERY bad treatment while in the various military prisons.

So we see the reason why the NDAA is not sweet.  Even when u get a trial – it aint always good now imagine when u dont even get one.

And the US charging others for revealing their dirty dealings and  well – its complicated aint it?

Transcript is below the video box


Veterans: 7 Facts about our veterans that will shock you

this is a poster out from moveon.org.  if u feel there is nothing u can do today  – i hope at least after u click the link below and read the 7 facts – you will click the twitter and facebook buttons to help these facts get circulated


we gotta get the truth out there

Deaf folks in prison:

im worried folks – im really worried about the “justice” system and Deaf folks.  Just the wee bit of experience i have had “within” the system – be arrested, detained, imprisoned, bailed out, arraigned, pre-trialed, trial (kinda), awaiting trial – i cant help but look around and see who is the average person in the system (not folks in there for exercising their constitutional rights and engaging in civil disobedience to right the wrongs of restricking free speech and assembly) i see that the folks in the system are predominantly disenfranchised folks – usually poor (most have public defenders), from an ethnicity, race, or nationality other than whitebread US of A, some speak other languages, and we gotta ask how did they get here and how r the gonna get out of this vicious cycle cuz there is little correct about the correctional system.  and now i worry – over the top worry about Deaf folks in this system

John T. Williams mural in Seattle, WA. Photo: Creative Commons/zverina.com

if Deaf folks can be shot down and killed on city streets in broad day light by police officers simply because they did not heed the call to stop cuz they couldnt HEAR IT – well i gotta worry.  Shot with bullets and now with stun guns.

Imagine pepper-spray in the eyes of a Deaf person.  This is not cool nor funny folks.

this is SERIOUS

now imagine them handcuffed BEHIND THE BACK and not given an interpreter cuz the law doesnt require it except for interrogation.  yep it is not even REQUIRED for miranda rights and for interrogation it does not have to be a certified interpreter.

Qualified is the buzz word and is defined by “effective communication” and who determines what “effective” is?  hmmm

and gosh forbid u got a family member who wants to get rid of u

this is the 2nd time ive read of a family member falsely accusing an innocent Deaf person and sending them to prison unjustly and unendingly

so not cool (see the castration and incarceration case of junius wilson) and this article in Mother Jones


im a thinking – once my case is all done re: the standing in the park after dark issue – im gonna start pushing and a hollering at our various Deaf legal folks to get the #uck busy about Videophone upgrading in police stations and jails and about Deaf folks defining what effective communication is – NOT the “systems”

unrelated to prison but related to who defines effective communication – i just learned of a case of a teenage Deaf kid in which the school district has decided “reasonable accommodations” for his education are to have an aid sit and when he cant understand the teacher to look at the aid who will then mouth what he missed.

Yep folks yep

it is insane and inane beyond words

so Do something – would ya

i will to – i promise

note: no wonder the govt wants to crack down on the internet – look at all the things i done learned this morning and i aint even had my cup of joe yet.

knowledge IS power

psst – i know this blog has got lots of typos – ill try to come tidy up later but i spent too much time finding images and the woods call.  so off i go.

– at the very least folks – consider joining or renewing ur amnesty international membership – its a gift u can give urself and humanity

Amnesty International POWerful animated short film

much peace