The Crusader Newspaper Group

Anthony Gay awaits fed sentencing while planning anti-solitary confinement event

Photo caption: Anthony Gay and (right inset) his self-mutilated arm

Once again incarcerated for a crime he says he never committed, activist Anthony Gay is urging all to attend an anti-solitary confinement awareness forum, as he prepares to be sentenced on possession of a “bogus” firearm and ammunition charge he says was planted by Rock Island police.

“The police robbed me on May 23, 2020, of $1,500, my phone and my hotel key and about a week later they charged me with possession of a firearm and ammunition. They planted that gun on me and arrested me. Using my hotel key, they went into my room after my hotel room reservation had expired and planted the ammunition,” Gay said, referring to his Rock Island hotel room.

Having spent 23 years in solitary confinement and self-mutilating to get human attention, Gay doesn’t want his fight to end. That is why he and his supporters planned this awareness event. It is dubbed, “Why Is Solitary Confinement Still A Thing?”

The confinement awareness forum will be held on Saturday, May 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Gathering, 1718 2nd Ave., Rock Island, Illinois. It is scheduled before his 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 23, sentencing in the U.S. District Court in New York. That is where he will be facing a sentence of possible parole violation or 10 years in a federal prison.

This latest charge was filed against him in 2020 by two Rock Island officers who Gay says allegedly framed him on a “trumped up” gun and ammunition charge.

When the police arrested Gay, they claimed he had a gun and ammunition, a violation because he is a felon. He said it all began when officers stopped him and allegedly robbed him of  $1,500, his cell phone and his hotel key.

His nightmare began when he reported the police to the mayor, raising the ire of the police who allegedly planted evidence in his apartment that led to a conviction. “They framed me in retaliation of my reporting them to the mayor,” said Gay.

 “They [the police] waited until I was locked up, took my hotel key and planted the ammunition in my hotel room. The gun was not mine either. They said the Black officer found the gun, since he was the one following me, but the video proved he did not. They falsified the police report. An appeal of this case is underway,” Gay said.

After Gay sued the officers for falsely arresting him on May 23, 2020, he said, “I was in a car with my cousin. We had gotten shot at. My cousin jumped out of the car and ran. I stayed there. I was shocked and stunned. So, when I got out of the car, the police pulled a gun on me.

“He handcuffed me and forced me on my knees and put me in the squad car. I refused to talk. They robbed me of my $1,500, my phone and my hotel key, and they released me. They never arrested me. I reported the police actions to the mayor of Rock Island, and he said there was nothing he could do about it.

“I looked up the prosecutor’s personal phone number and gave it to two college professors, and they reported it to the prosecutor,” Gay said. “The police arrested him for a traffic stop. I wasn’t in a traffic stop. I was standing by a car, but they released me.

“Nine hours later, I was a passenger in a car and as I was getting out of the car, they pulled up, turned their lights on but I kept walking. The officers start screaming, ‘get on the ground.’ He handcuffed me and walked me back to his squad car. I asked him why are you harassing me? A white officer doubled back and said they had found the gun claiming that I tripped and fell where they found the gun, which is not true,” said Gay.

He said this case was settled for $22,500. However, on May 30, he said the police arrested him but let him go. On May 31, they arrested him again. “They lied and said I tripped and fell where a firearm was at.

“Then after they locked me up, they waited until my hotel room expired and went inside after they had already been in my hotel room and planted ammunition and said they found it in my hotel room,” recounted Gay.

He said the police lied during his first trial, where Gay represented himself, but he lost his second trial and now faces a possible sentence from parole to 10 years in a federal prison.

He is not happy about his upcoming sentencing. “I understand that it is part of the process. When you stand up against injustice, you can expect that injustice will stare you in the face. You have to go through the process in order to incorporate change. Even though I am not happy about it. I understand it,” he said.

But the ray of hope Gay hangs onto is the fact that even though the Rock Island police turned his case over to the feds and he was convicted of possessing a firearm and ammunition, which he denies, the video expert he hired has the alleged proof that the cops framed him.

Gay said he understands sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly and even though by then he will have been sentenced and sent to a federal prison, in the end, he believes he will be free again one day. “My fingerprints are not on that gun and my DNA is not on that gun,” he stated.

But in the interim, during the May 13 event, Gay said the winners of a student essay competition will be announced. The event will feature in-person and virtual speakers, including Illinois State Senator Robert Peters (D-13th), Lindsey Hammond from Restore Justice and Destinee Ortiz of the Will County Board. There will also be musical and theatrical performances inspired by Gay’s life and his social justice mission.

In an interview with the Chicago Crusader from the Livingston County Jail in Pontiac, Illinois, Gay, now 47, said besides keeping the anti-solitary confinement movement alive, the event will also honor high school junior and senior students. “Whoever writes the best essay will win $100.”

Gay said Curtis Dorsey will do an excerpt from the Rope of Hope, a play about Gay’s life, and during a musical performance by Ashley Stewart, she will sing a song about solitary confinement.

Senator Peters, who has been pushing HB 3564, which would have created the Isolated Restriction Act, better known as the Anthony Gay Act now renamed the Nelson Mandela Act, will speak via Zoom at the event. Representative LaShawn Ford (D-8th) sponsored and passed the bill in the House.

“I hope people will show up at the awareness event so they can become aware of solitary confinement and how it is a destruction of humanization, which needs to be stopped,” said Gay.

“The purpose of this event is to continue the fight to dismantle solitary confinement,” said Gay, who has spent 23 years in solitary confinement in several prisons, initially convicted of robbing a teenager of $1 and the teen’s hat, a charge he continues to deny. Gay said the teen lost both items during the fight. He vowed to fight these latest “bogus” charges until he is once again free.

Recent News

Scroll to Top