First-person Shango

Sep 19, 2001 at 12:00 am

In his words, here’s what Shango had to say of the events on Sept. 13, 1971:

"… I had to dodge the fusillade of bullets pouring down from every direction around me … Then, unexpectedly, the expected: Bang! I was hit. I just lay there, unable to move. When I tried to move, my legs felt as if a ton had been tied to them. I couldn’t move; the thought crept on me like a nightmare. But I was too proud to panic, to scream, to cry. Someone hollered, ‘Get out of here. They’re blowing up the place.’ One brother reached down to me and said, ‘Come on.’ I shook my head, indicating I couldn’t move. Others quickly reached down to help carry me out to ‘A’ Yard. The guards began hitting and jugging them with their rifle butts, indicating for them to put me down. The brothers held on to me. A guard began to attack one of them, ordering him to drop me. I thought they would put me down and comply with the order, but they didn’t. A guard shoved them with the point of his gun and threatened to shoot them if they didn’t turn me loose. The death threat was ignored. Partly dragging and partly carrying me, we all reached ‘A’ Yard. I will never forget those brothers because I later came to believe that had I not gotten to ‘A’ Yard, the guards would have definitely killed me …

"As we were passing through ‘A’ Block corridor, there were guards lined up on both sides of the wall. Each of them had a bat or club in his hands. As I was passing by, some of them spit on me. One of them said, ‘Look at that nigger bleed.’ Then another said, ‘Yeah, the black bastard is damn near dead or will be soon.’"

Borus testified that at this point, Shango was carried by stretcher to an area where several guards were standing, armed with pistols and rifles.

"One of them stepped forward, picked up one end of the stretcher and dumped me out, causing my head to hit the ground. He ordered, ‘Get up you SOB. Get up and walk for the last time.’ When I was unable to respond, they began attacking me with clubs and kicking me all over. One of them had a screwdriver, which he jabbed me with. Another screamed, ‘Get up nigger.’ I could only move my arms and the upper part of my body. ‘Crawl,’ I was told. I started toward the block by using my elbows to pull the rest of my body. I was forced to move naked like this through blood, glass, dirt and spit and placed in an empty cell …

"(I felt) someone poking me with a stick. A flashlight beam was burning my eyes. Standing in front of me was the guards. One of them set a small piece of paper on fire and threw it at me. ‘Don’t burn the nigger.’ ‘Here, let me put out the fire,’ another one said as he threw a cup of liquid mixed with filth at me. It smelled like piss and spit. A third flipped a cigarette butt at me and said, ‘Wake up nigger, we’ve come to kill you.’ He lifted his gun, cocked the trigger and pointed it. After clicking the gun once he said, ‘I got one bullet in here, nigger. Now beg. Beg like a nigger. Beg!’ He clicked the gun again. Raising his voice slightly, he said, ‘Beg, you SOB.’ Then he pushed the gun through the bars into the cell and, with a jerk of his wrist, clicked it again. When they finally left, I passed out."

The Killing Yard premieres on Showtime at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23. A special Detroit showing — a fundraiser for the National Lawyers Guild — takes place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 in the Friends Auditorium at the Detroit Public Library. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 313-588-4047 for more info.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. Send comments to [email protected]