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W. L. Nolen, 20
Soledad, California
January 13, 1970

Agencies: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Last updated: 5 months ago

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In the summer of 1969, W.L. Nolen, a twenty-year-old inmate at Soledad prison who had been convicted in 1963 for robbery, began circulating a petition to file a lawsuit against the prison's superintendent, Cletus J. Fitzharris, charging that guards and officials at the facility knew of "existing social and racial conflicts" and that they had been seeking to excite them through "direct harassment and in ways not actionable in court", including the filing of false disciplinary reports and intentionally leaving black inmates' cells unlocked to put them in danger of assault.

On January 13, 1970, three black prisoners were shot dead at Soledad by corrections officer Opie G. Miller. Nolen was among the slain, along with Cleveland Edwards, then 21, who had been convicted in 1967 of assaulting a police officer, and Alvin Miller, then 23, who had been convicted of robbery. 

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