"We want to treat Mr. Mann just like anyone else-fair and firm," Middlesex County Sheriff John Buckley explained yesterday to a group questioning the segregation of Weatherman Eric Mann, currently in prison for his role in last Fall's raid on the Harvard Center for International Affairs.
Mann was segregated from the other prisons after his repeated attempts to organize other inmates,. Buckley said. "He was an organizer for trouble. He'd organized black inmates to have a sit-down strike, to light a fire, and do the sorts of things that could endanger the security of the institution."
Meeting privately with Buckley were Mann's attorney William Homans '41, Mann's brother Dick, and two clergymen. Buckley assured the group that Mann would come out of segregation sometime later this week.
"Furthermore." Buckley said, "segregation is not isolation. Mann simply can't mix with the other prisoners. He can still have visitors, mail, and food."
The group had been requesting information about why Mann was transferred from Deer Island to the Middlessex House of Correction and why he was placed in segregation upon arrival September 30. "They just wanted some answers and they seemed relieved by what was said this afternoon," Buckley said.
Homans said that the sheriff is a "victim of misinformation about Mann's prison activities."
"Eric feels that organizing is legitimate, but he has consciously refrained from doing it because he doesn't want to get into difficulties with the prison authorities," Homans said. "All the measures taken against him, however, are based on information from guards and inmates who claim that he was attempting to organize."
Homans said that the meeting with the sheriff had been only partially successful. "Though we obtained Mr. Buckley's cooperation in removing Mann from segregation, we won't get conclusive answers on the other issues unless we get a court hearing. Since Eric was placed in segregation immediately, it couldn't have been based on his political, activities in the Middlesex House of Correction. Still, I'm glad he'll be out of segregation."