On October 28, 2021, journalist Cara Castronuova republished currently incarcerated, Capitol Hill Protestor, Nate DeGrave’s impassioned letter, detailing the conditions that he and others are suffering while incarcerated and awaiting trial.
It is heartbreaking and terrifying letters like this one that inspire us everyday to keep fighting for his rights and for yours. Please consider contributing to Nate’s legal expenses as well as the expenses for the others incarcerated after the January 6th events, here.
We have reprinted the letter here in its entirety.
Dear Fellow Americans –
I never thought I’d write a letter like this, but we’re living in very different times. This is my cry for help.
My name is Nathan DeGrave, and as a non violent participant at the Jan 6th rally, I’ve spent the last 9 months detained as a political prisoner in pod C2B at the DC DOC…otherwise known as DC’s Gitmo.
The conditions here for Jan 6ers have been inhumane. In fact, some inmates are even begging to be transferred to GUANTANAMO BAY, where even THEY have more acceptable standards.
Class action LAWSUITS are being filed against this prison; and even the ACLU has gotten involved.
Senators Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene have since attempted to gain access to this facility and inspect the conditions of the jail, only to be denied.
The vile filth of what has become our daily life is being illegally HIDDEN from the members of OUR OWN CONGRESS.
So…let me tell you about what me and many of the other Jan 6ers have been experiencing in DC’s Gitmo. It is my hope that with MEDIA EXPOSURE and the awareness of the American public, that
SOMETHING may be done and this never happens to anyone ever again.
For the first 120 days in DC’s Gitmo, Jan 6ers experienced DAILY LOCKDOWNS for 23-24 HOURS before being allowed to leave our small 120 sq. ft cell. The PHYSICAL and MENTAL ANGUISH that results from this kind of SEVERE ISOLATION has caused many people to go on a RAPID mental decline.
As a result, a large percentage of us are HEAVILY MEDICATED with anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, which helps to cope with the psychological and mental ABUSE we endure.
Many times, the little rec we DO receive is STRIPPED AWAY if our cell isn’t up to the standards of the guard on duty. This changes from day to day. Jan 6ers have lost rec time and out of cell activity ANY TIME news interviews about the jail are aired on TV, people speak up about our conditions, or rallies are held in our name. We’ll probably have a lockdown upon the publishing of this letter. So I have already warned those I know in advance..
Masks are WEAPONIZED and used against us, even though we NEVER leave the facility. Officers have walked in with the SOLE INTENTION of needing to write 20-30 disciplinary reports against Jan 6ers, which adversely effects our chances of release and causes loss of privileges, phone time and commissary. Masks need to be covering both the nose and mouth AT ALL TIMES or we are threatened and locked down in our cells. Jan 6ers are always respectful to the employees around us, but C.Os maintain the need to invent reasons for discipline.
PRIVILEGED LEGAL DOCUMENTS have been CONFISCATED and gone missing from various cells, and HIGHLY SENSITIVE discovery (video evidence under attorney/client privilege) is watched by employees during our legal calls.
Jordan Mink, for example, had all discovery TAKEN by ERT officers on August 23rd despite the objection of his attorney. They handcuffed him, searched his room, and then proceeded to take all video evidence in his possession. Additionally, legal visits take 2-3 WEEKS or more to be scheduled, leaving little time to discuss our defense and prepare for trial.
The EXTREME medical neglect in this facility has caused a variety of adverse illnesses and disease. Some show signs of scurvy. And some even have Covid like symptoms, but medical personnel have refused to treat it.
Christopher Worrell, for example, is an inmate with Cancer, who also broke his hand in prison and requires surgery. Both have been completely ignored. Federal judge Royce Lamberth got to the point where on October 12th, he filed contempt of court charges against the warden of the DC DOC, claiming that Worrell’s civil rights have been violated, and demanding the U.S attorney general inquire further about his and other possible violations.
Another inmate, Peter Stager, WAITED FOUR MONTHS to receive his CPAP breathing machine, and has needed an MRI since spring, which has also been ignored by staff.
The harsh, unlivable conditions of our unit has caused health hazards that defy Department of Health regulations. And on at least five occasions, RAW SEWAGE has overflowed our unit, causing human fecal matter to flood the floors and rooms. That’s also in addition to the MOLD on cell walls, as well as the rusty pipes, and DIRTY WATER that flows from these sinks. White rags TURN BROWN when exposed to the water from our faucets.
We are undergoing SEVERE NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES and STARVATION. For breakfast this morning, I received a tray of flavorless paste, two slices of bread, and a slice of bologna. Lunches usually consist of rice and beans, but we’ll get cold chicken/beef patties if we are lucky. For dinner, we are sometimes fed a diet of cheese sandwiches, and bologna and cheese 4 to 5 times per week.
Without commissary, people like myself are FORCED TO STARVE. I suffer from HEADACHES and NAUSEA on an almost REGULAR BASIS from the malnutrition and constant hunger I am subjected to. I have lost ALMOST 15 POUNDS since I’ve been detained.
Our rights to personal hygiene are also totally neglected. Razors are PROHIBITED, and inmates are forced to either go unshaved, and grow long beards, or use a razor free cream that BURNS and IRRITATES the skin. But many other jails have allowed the use of razors without incident. Haircuts are also PROHIBITED from unvaccinated inmates. For me, it’s been nearly 9 months. I look VIRTUALLY UNRECOGNIZABLE in the condition I’m in. I fear even my family would not recognize me.
Contact with the outside world, from legal visits to seeing loved ones is HIGHLY RESTRICTED. After in-person visits, legal or otherwise, we are forced to undergo humiliating STRIP SEARCHES, despite ALL visitors being thoroughly checked for contraband. If it’s a legal visit, we are placed in a 14 day quarantine, with no out of cell time; EVEN IF your attorney is VACCINATED and tests NEGATIVE for Covid. Visits with friends or family members, for unvaccinated inmates, are NEVER ALLOWED.
As a result, many people have skipped critical meetings with their council, and NEVER get an opportunity to see friends or family. VIDEO VISITATION, while available to the rest of the jail, is RESTRICTED in the Jan 6 pod. Mail is delayed for MONTHS, and phone calls are limited to a MAXIMUM of pre approved 12 numbers. If there’s anyone else in our extended family or otherwise we’d like to call, we’re pretty much out of luck.
RELIGIOUS SERVICES, protected by the 1st amendment, are NOT provided to Jan 6ers. Neither are in person classes or other activities available to the rest of the jail. An inmate named Ryan Samsel, instead attempted to organize his own bible study inside the pod, until he was viciously BEATEN and LEFT FOR DEAD by correctional officers. He suffered a broken eye socket and brain damage as a result of the vicious attack. He’s now permanently blind in one eye. On another occasion, Scott Fairlamb was confronted by an officer in the middle of the night, and his life was threatened, once the officer’s body cam was disabled. Many, like myself, are afraid they could be the next victim.
And last but not least, we experience racism from many guards on a daily basis, being the ONLY WHITE REPUBLICANS in the entire jail. The false narrative is has been passed around the jail and to corrections officers that we are “white supremacists” (we are NOT). The inmate population is predominantly black, so we are at risk being here because of this false narrative. The guards are mostly liberal migrants from Africa who have been conditioned to hate us, and hate America. Jan 6ers have been mocked, beaten and ridiculed by guards for singing the National Anthem. The Corrections Officers despise our politics and the love we have for this country. At one point, an officer even yelled “FUCK AMERICA!”, and threatened to lock us down FOR A WEEK if we attempted to sing the National Anthem again.
THE TRUTH ABOUT MY STORY
Finally, I feel like I should touch briefly on the government and prosecutor’s portrayal of who I am as a person.
No, I am not a terrorist, extremist or any of the other names I’ve been called by the government. More than anything, I am a red blooded patriot and I love this country more than anything.
I am being unfairly prosecuted and definitely overcharged. I never assaulted anyone, destroyed property, or stolen anything. I walked through wide open doors to enter the Capitol, along with my camera crew hoping to get the rally on video. I was never even armed at any point inside the Capitol.
Our goal was to make a documentary, and get likes and shares on social media. Yes I wore a costume (that the prosecutor refers to as paramilitary gear and body armor) but it was for the movie and was nothing of the sort.
And yet, 9 months later here I sit, with 10 years worth of charges and no hope for a future. The surveillance footage shows absolutely no signs of assault, and despite attempts by media companies to get it released to the public, the government has denied it.
I think that’s because they are fully aware that this footage is questionable at worst, and exonerates me at best. Please don’t be fooled by the media. I am a loving and peaceful person with no history of violence.
This weaponized DOJ and their blatant resentment of my respect for President Donald Trump is putting me in a situation that makes me feel helpless in my current situation.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Despite me and other Jan 6ers experiencing these unthinkable conditions, all of us remain POSITIVE and HOPEFUL that, in the end, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL. We maintain a LOVE for this country and the Constitution like no other. The only thing keeping us going is our undying patriotism, the camaraderie between one another and our faith in God.
Please…SHARE THIS LETTER with EVERYONE you know: friends and family, senators, representatives, political organizers, civil rights groups and media outlets.
The truth HAS to get out. And the jail MUST PAY for what they are doing to this country’s citizens.
As a result of this unlawful detainment the last 9 months, I have lost everything. The successful business I spent 13 years of my life working on, my apartment in Las Vegas, social media accounts with a lifetime of memories…you name it.
The government has essentially CANCELLED ME. Not only that, but following the arrest, my best friend of 12 years robbed my apartment, stole my cat, and hacked my personal Instagram with 100,000+ followers.
Since then, I often go between feelings of hopefulness and moments of depression. I wonder if I can ever recover from this, but I have to remind myself to never give up.
There are major medical complications I now struggle with as a result of the jail’s neglect of my health since being here.
If there is any way I hope to recover, my only hope are the ones who are reading this. I was on top of the world once upon a time, and that life seems now only like a distant memory.
If there’s anything you can do to help, I would appreciate anything at all. Inmates here are being extorted with lack of nutrition, forcing me to spend most of what’s left on commissary which I can no longer afford.
I need desperate help with my legal expenses and just help staying alive in here with commissary and all the expenses I still have on the outside as my livelihood and life has been stripped away from me. Thank you for any her you can afford, even if it is a few dollars it goes a long way in here.
Sincerely and with love,