Letter to the Skunk Warden of Leavenworth from Fellow Worker Roy P. O’Connor, 1921.

Letter to the Skunk Warden of Leavenworth from Fellow Worker Roy P. O’Connor.

The unbreakable Wobbly inmate no. 13564, Roy P. Connor, photographed upon entering Leavenworth…and after two years incarceration. From his prison file, an October 21, 1922 letter Roy wrote to the warden, W.I. Biddle:

‘Skunk Warden: You are an insult to the human race. I wrote you when I was in the hospital and asked for my mailing privileges back. I also asked to be released out into the yard. I agreed to do a little work and obey rules. I now withdraw my request to go out and work.

‘A dirty degenerate who will take a man’s writing privileges for writing the truth about such a damn hypocrite and thief like you and then go and publish in paper like you did about me. You syphilitic bastard.

‘I wouldn’t work for a lying prostitute like you. You scurvy specimen of degeneration. I don’t care if I stay up here the rest of my life you damn platting inhuman barbarian. You are lower than any syphilitic whore who was ever born. You are a disgrace to the word human. You damn misfit. You thief.

‘I am on a hunger strike you god damn fruit merchant and I am demanding to be given medical treatment. You half breed cross between a skunk and a coyote. You lying diseased piece of filthy scum. You damn lover of stool pigeons and degenerates. You god damn unsophisticated, unprincipled narrow minded cock sucker.

‘You dirty bastard. You lying belly robbing thief. I want to interview you so I can tell you to your face just how low you are and if you got gall enough to look a man square in the face call me down to see you. The atmosphere in your presence will be obnoxious to me or any other decent person. You cowardly cur but I would stomach you long enough to tell you what every prisoner except degenerates and stool pigeons think of you as a lying degenerate prostitute. With contempt for all fakers, degenerates, stool pigeons and diseased offspring,

Roy P. Connor 13564, Isolation No. 2.’

Roy P. Connor was born poor in Kennesaw, Georgia around 1892. Leaving home, tramping and looking for work across the country, he joined the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union Local 400 in 1916, becoming an I.W.W. organizer and convention delegate. Picked up in the Palmer Raids, comrade Connor was a defendant in Sacramento’s ‘silent witness’ trial and would first go to Leavenworth in 1917. Released and arrested again in 1918, he was sentenced to ten years for violating the Espionage Act. Entering Leavenworth on January 25, 1919, comrade Connor immediately refused to break rock. Nearly four of those years were spent in isolation or segregation leading in 1922 to a series of hunger strikes against the prison regime. In 1923 comrade Connor was placed in the ‘psychopathic ward,’ a straight-jacket, force-fed, and subjected to torture. And still, he would not stop resisting. His parents, who had lost touch with him since he left home, contacted him and began to campaign for his release. While in prison, Connor wrote prolific letters against his treatment, including scathing letters to the warden himself. Along with many other prisoners, Roy Connor was released by the December 13, 1923 Presidential Order.

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