When They Call You a Terrorist

by

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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Monte is Patrisse’s older brother, the son of Cherice and Alton. He is a gentle and loving man who loves animals and started struggling with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager, experiencing destructive manic episodes and deep bouts of depression. Police roughed Monte up and searched him for the first time when he was only 11 years old and hanging out with friends; police went on to target him many more times throughout his adolescence. He started using crack cocaine and was in and out of juvenile detention, but after breaking into someone’s house while having a manic episode, was sent to prison for robbery at the age of 19. He was immediately stabbed by a fellow inmate and chose to spend the rest of his time in the mental health unit. Three years after he was released (during which his mental illness continued to destabilize him), Monte was arrested again and, this time, threatened with life in prison. Patrisse and Cherice worked hard to pay for a good lawyer, and his sentence was reduced to six years. Patrisse and Cherice were heartbroken throughout his trial, especially when they saw that he had been drugged to the point of incapacitation. When Monte was released again, Patrisse put together a re-entry support team and found him a job. Still, he struggled with his mental health and wound up unemployed and manic. Cherice convinced him to move to Las Vegas with her, but he ended up back in LA to live with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Cynthia, and their son Chase. At one point, when Monte experienced a severe manic episode and started drinking out of the toilet, Patrisse realized that this is probably what he had to do to survive in prison. Whenever Patrisse hears stories about nonviolent Black men being killed by police, she thinks of Monte and fears for his safety. In this way, Monte represents the broad trend of police officers, prison workers, and policymakers treating Black people (especially disabled Black people) as though their lives don’t matter.

Monte Cullors Quotes in When They Call You a Terrorist

The When They Call You a Terrorist quotes below are all either spoken by Monte Cullors or refer to Monte Cullors. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Black Lives Matter Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the St. Martin's Griffin edition of When They Call You a Terrorist published in 2020.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Whatever goes through their minds after being half stripped in public and having their childhoods flung to the ground and ground into the concrete, we will never speak of this incident or the ones that will follow as Van Nuys becomes ground zero in the war on drugs and the war on gangs, designations that add even more license to police already empowered to do whatever they want to us.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors, Paul
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

For my brothers, and especially for Monte, learning that they did not matter, that they were expendable, began in the streets, began while they were hanging out with friends, began while they were literally breathing while Black […] For us, law enforcement had nothing to do with protecting and serving, but controlling and containing the movement of children who had been labeled super-predators simply by virtue of who they were born to and where they were born, not because they were actually doing anything predatory.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

I know about crack. Everybody uses it, it seems like. At least in my neighborhood where there are no playgrounds, no parks, no afterschool programs, no hangout spots, no movie theaters, no jobs, no treatment centers or health care for the mentally ill, like my brother Monte, who had begun smoking crack and selling my mom’s things and is already showing signs of what we would much later come to know as schizoaffective disorder.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Gabriel Brignac , Monte Cullors
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

There are drugs to take when a person is having a psychotic break. Those drugs can bring the person back into a good or total semblance of themselves. This was not what they did to my brother. They drugged Monte to incapacitate him, to incapacitate his humanity. To leave him with no dignity.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

I have never seen him high before but I refuse to turn away. If he matters to me at all then he has to matter to me at every moment. He has to matter to me at this moment. Seeing him like this feels like my soul is being pulled over shards of glass but I do not turn away. His life is not expendable. Our love is not disposable. I will not be to him what the world has been to him. I will not throw him away.

Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

We learned quickly that intervention was either us alone and without medical professional support, or it was the police. The brutal memory of Monte's first break, during which we learned that there were no social services or safety nets for my brother, hung over all of our heads like a sword.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

I will learn later that my brother had been driving and had gotten into a fender bender with another driver, a white woman, who promptly called the police. My brother was in an episode and although he never touched the woman or did anything more than yell, although his mental illness was as clear as the fact that he was Black, he was shot with rubber bullets and tased.

And then he was charged with terrorism.

Literally.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

I am thinking of all the people, like my brother, like my father—who have been the targets of harm, not the harm itself. And yet they are the ones whom society views as disposable […] I am filled with a sense of rage and a call to action at the idea that my brother, my Monte, is considered someone disposable to these people. But to me and my mother and to my sister and my brother, to Chase and to Cynthia, Monte was never disposable.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors, Chase, Cynthia
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

Is this my mother who is gripped, albeit wrongly, with guilt? Is she in this moment wondering what she did or did not do to ensure her baby, her Monte, be kept safe from the nightmare he's been cast into? Is my mother the fallout, the collateral damage in the battle to elevate personal responsibility over everything, over all those decisions that were made about state budget priorities, about wages, about the presence of police, and even about damn grocery stores and access to quality food?

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Cherice, Monte Cullors
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

The sheer number of individuals who were kicked in the testicles, set upon and beaten by several deputies at once, individuals who were tased for no apparent reason other than the entertainment of guards, who had bones broken by guards wielding flashlights and other everyday tools that became instruments of extreme violence in America’s largest jail, is breathtaking enough. But other elements of the torture almost break me as I read the words of a civilian who testified about a wheelchair-bound prisoner whom deputies pulled off his bed, kicked and kneed in his ribs, back and neck and then shot with pepper spray in his face. I begin to hyperventilate and remember my brother on his knees drinking out of the toilet. My God.

I can’t breathe.

We can't breathe.

Related Characters: Patrisse Khan-Cullors (speaker), Monte Cullors
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
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When They Call You a Terrorist PDF

Monte Cullors Character Timeline in When They Call You a Terrorist

The timeline below shows where the character Monte Cullors appears in When They Call You a Terrorist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: We Are Stardust
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...the world’s population, it has 25 percent of its prison population (including Patrisse’s disabled brother, Monte, and nonviolent father, Gabriel). (full context)
Chapter 1: Community, Interrupted
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...outside Los Angeles. Patrisse and Cherice are both short, but Patrisse’s older brothers (Paul and Monte) and younger sister (Jasmine) are all tall, a trait they get from their father, Alton.... (full context)
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...another. Jasmine is the baby and Paul is the oldest, taking charge after Alton leaves. Monte is special to Patrisse because he plays with her and is very loving. One day,... (full context)
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Monte and Paul never talk about what happened, likely because they expect this behavior from the... (full context)
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Monte and Paul get arrested so often that Cherice moves the family to a different part... (full context)
Chapter 2: Twelve
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...the waist down after being shot in a drive-by shooting. (Cynthia has been involved with Monte and will eventually give birth to Patrisse’s nephew Chase.) Her car is a beaten-up station... (full context)
Chapter 3: Bloodlines
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...playgrounds, parks, theaters, or treatment centers, so what else is there to do? Patrisse’s brother Monte has even started selling Cherice’s things to buy crack and has started showing signs of... (full context)
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...the generation of Black people being viewed as prisoners (including Gabriel and, eventually, Patrisse’s brother Monte). (full context)
Chapter 4: Magnitude and Bond
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Monte goes to prison soon after Gabriel. He doesn’t pick Patrisse up from dance class from... (full context)
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...money going into schools (or school lunches). If young people of color don’t die, they—like Monte—cycle in and out of juvenile detention centers, being trained for prison as adults. They are... (full context)
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Monte and his friends try to stay safe from these police officers who “s[ee] the enemy... (full context)
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This time, when Monte is arrested, he is 19 and accused of robbery and goes to prison (rather than... (full context)
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Monte is facing six years in prison for attempted burglary, a crime he committed because the... (full context)
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...become very close to—and Carla, who is bold, loud, and queer. Patrisse tells them about Monte and they start writing to him in prison, too, such that he comes to feel... (full context)
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Monte is released from prison in 2003, two years after Patrisse graduates from high school. Carla... (full context)
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For the next few days, Monte doesn’t sleep or eat and acts erratically, rubbing toothpaste on the walls and shouting nonsense.... (full context)
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Patrisse and Cherice decide there is no other choice and call the police, explaining Monte’s history to law enforcement. When two rookie officers arrive, Patrisse makes them agree not to... (full context)
Chapter 6: Out in the World
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...Bernard sleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor (Paul has moved out, and Monte is in prison). Patrisse wants a normal life, so she invites Cheyenne over and they... (full context)
Chapter 7: All the Bones We Could Find
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...back in with her family (in a new larger apartment) to help take care of Monte when he returns from prison. He resists taking his meds because they make him sleepy... (full context)
Chapter 8: Zero Dark Thirty
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...is taken to the fire camp prison, Patrisse wakes up to Cherice telling her that Monte has been arrested again. Patrisse is in college at the time, studying philosophy with a... (full context)
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Monte moved back in with Cynthia, but, as a poor paraplegic in a wheelchair, she was... (full context)
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Cherice tells Patrisse on the phone that Monte is in the hospital, though she doesn’t know the details. Patrisse feels very afraid. Paul... (full context)
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Patrisse is angry to learn Monte has been charged with terrorism—a charge that can be used when someone says something threatening... (full context)
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When Patrisse visits Monte for the first time, he again asks for his meds, saying that they have only... (full context)
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Patrisse and Cherice go to visit Monte several times over the next three weeks but are turned away because he is “not... (full context)
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Patrisse demands to know why Monte isn’t getting treatment, but the bailiff doesn’t answer. There is a sudden disturbance—Monte is wheeled... (full context)
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...in the battle to elevate personal responsibility over everything,” feeling she is at fault for Monte’s struggles rather than state budget priorities, low wages, police, and lack of access to food.... (full context)
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...meet with the public defender and fire him after he says, with no concern, that Monte could be sentenced to life in prison and that he has no plan to fight... (full context)
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...a lawyer, but it’s difficult because this is before social media and digital fundraising infrastructure. Monte hears about a lawyer named Peter Corn, and Patrisse meets with him. He makes her... (full context)
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...all a chess game.” But Peter is a good lawyer and is able to get Monte’s second strike struck from the record, preventing life in prison. Monte will have to serve... (full context)
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Before Monte comes home, Patrisse and Mark Anthony organize a re-entry team for Monte made up of... (full context)
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...make up the time they lost. They have a calm night and, before Patrisse leaves, Monte asks if she can help him find a job. Little does he know she has... (full context)
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Several weeks later, Monte tells Patrisse he’s going to be fired. She calls the ED of the organization, who... (full context)
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Monte moves to Las Vegas but hates it and returns to LA against Patrisse’s advice, moving... (full context)
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...and the re-entry team meet the others at Cynthia’s, and they all try to convince Monte to go to the hospital. He associates hospitals with prison and has a flashback to... (full context)
Chapter 9: No Ordinary Love
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...consistency helps Patrisse heal her relationship with Black men—after all, both of her fathers and Monte disappeared. She doesn’t yet understand how social forces (job loss and the war on drugs)... (full context)
Chapter 10: Dignity and Power. Now.
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Monte has always been Patrisse’s closest sibling and was her first best friend. It will take... (full context)
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...wheelchair-bound prisoner was thrown to the floor, beaten, and shot with pepper spray. Patrisse remembers Monte drinking out of the toilet and feels like she can’t breathe. Another inmate describes an... (full context)
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Reading this report helps Patrisse understand more fully what happened to Monte. His story is not included, but he is a survivor, and so is their family.... (full context)
Chapter 11: Black Lives Matter
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...“Men don’t ask for help.” Though he likely scared someone, he didn’t hurt them—but, like Monte, he became another nonviolent Black man in prison. Meanwhile, killer police officers don’t get charged,... (full context)
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The story reminds Patrisse of Emmett Till’s murder in 1955. She also thinks of Monte’s son Chase, who is 14 when Trayvon is killed—will he be killed with no accountability?... (full context)
Chapter 12: Raid
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...Elmo’s. Patrisse and Mark Anthony have two cottages there and have used them to help Monte heal. Lately, Dignity and Power Now has been demanding that the sheriff’s department be held... (full context)
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...herself for the news of another child being killed or arrested and tortured the way Monte was. Have any Black kids been given a slap on the wrist or pointed toward... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Call, a Response
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...After, Wilson claims that he felt his life was in danger. Mike reminds Patrisse of Monte. This story shocks many, but not Patrisse; she is used to these kinds of public... (full context)
Chapter 16: When They Call You a Terrorist
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...grief and the fear of what will happen to her community, what will happen to Monte if he can’t access healthcare. (full context)