We were still on hunger strike, and continued singing our freedom songs. The guards became ever more hostile and threatening, banging on our bars with billy clubs. One night, just at dusk, workers came by and removed the screens from all the windows. In Mississippi in June, there are huge number of night insects and especially voracious mosquitoes. Remember that the lights are on in the cells 24 hours a day. Clouds of mosquitoes were a kind of biological torture which none of us had foreseen. We were asked if we would agree to stop our singing, “or else.” We kept singing. The insects came in in droves, and we had no protection what-so-ever.
The “or else” came at the 2 AM shift change. A guard came in and said “Why, look at all them bugs! We’re gonna hafta spray!” Shortly thereafter, we heard what sounded like a large diesel truck pull up outside the cell block, and what looked like a fire hose was passed in through on of the high windows. As the engine powered up outside, we were hit with a powerful spray of DDT. Being trapped in our cells with no protection, our bodies and every inch of our cells were drenched with the eye-stinging, skin-burning insecticide.