They Don't Regret Saving His Life, Even After Losing Their Freedom

spiral of wire
Zain Murdock
April 25, 2023

In 1985 Indiana, Christopher “Naeem” Trotter and John “Balagoon” Cole didn’t have much time left in prison. But one morning, they both heard a severe cry for help.

That morning, prison officers were beating jailhouse lawyer Lokmar Abdul-Wadood past unconsciousness. Those officers were members of a dangerous white supremacist group. 

Cole and Trotter’s intervention, joined by several other incarcerated men, ended after a brawl with club-toting guards, a lockdown, hostages, and accepted demands for improved prison conditions.

Still, after the dust settled, their trials were separated from the others. They were sentenced to over 200 years combined.

Decades later, Pendleton prison still used them as an example to scare other incarcerated people from organizing for their rights. But really, they’re an inspiration. And neither regrets what they did. 

“My mother always taught me that life was bigger than just myself, and you always have to be willing to help others no matter what the cost,” said Trotter.

Black people have always sacrificed our freedom, time, and resources to protect each other. That’s exactly how we’ll get to a liberated future. 

None of us should carry the weight of these anti-Black systems alone, and we all deserve freedom - including Cole and Trotter. If you want to join the fight to free them, visit