Thursday, September 09, 2010

Support Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

A letter writing campaign is being launched to lend support to Kevin Rashid
Johnson. Rashid is incarcerated in Red Onion State Prison which is located in
southwest Virginia. He is a member of the New Black African Panther Party, prison
chapter. (To clarify, this group has nothing to do with the racist group, the New
Black Panthers). He became political during his time at Red Onion. He is very
outspoken and a active organizer. Because of this there has been virtually
continual retaliation against him.

Housed at a super max facility which entails being locked in a cell 23/7, more or
less continual isolation, all inmates undergo trauma. But because of his
revolutionary politics, Rashid is under exceptional pressure. He regularly has his
mail withheld. Mail is a lifeline for these folks and to have it confiscated is
psychologically damaging. He is denied food and medical attention. On occasions
too numerous to recount he has been beaten and tortured by correction officers. He
often is put in 5 point restraint. This entails strapping a naked prisoner to a
bare steel frame bed with their hands and feet shackled. Prisoners are left for
days in this condition.

If inmates have no support on the outside these abuses go unchecked. Rashid has
asked that some action be taken on his behalf. If you could please send a letter
of support to Rashid and to Warden Tracy Ray informing him that you have heard of
Rashid’s situation and you demand he be given his mail. Receiving mail is a major
concern for Rashid.

Virginia has a reputation as the worst state prison system in the nation. It is
notorious for the abuses that occur. Super max institutions are the absolute
worst. In southwest VA we have Wallen’s Ridge and Red Onion. Folks who used to
work in the coal fields now have the prisons to work in. The restructuring of the
coal industry killed their jobs and their area. Prisons were built on blown up
mountains. Tensions between the economically deprived white rural prison employees
and the mostly Black urban inmates runs very high. Racism is overt. These places
are powder kegs.

Rashid and the other Panthers at these institutions believe it is the capitalist
system which oppresses us all. They know the root of gangs was to unite
communities to “police” themselves. With this in mind they educate fellow
prisoners to come together and end gang related fighting. The system seeks to
divide the prisoners so any show of unity is a great threat to them.

We can vouch for Rashid. He is a committed and honest person . You may send one
letter of support or end up with a relationship of letter writing. Rashid is a
consummate debater. Your support is urgently needed. I will point out that
writing to a political prisoner, who is actively monitored by the FBI and assaulted
on their behalf, will alert the “authorities” to your identity. You could use an
alias or a PO box. We use our names and address, but you have to ascertain your
own comfort level.

Solidarity Always, kim and than grove

Kevin Rashid Johnson #1002485
Red Onion State Prison
P.O. Box 1900
Pound, VA 24279

Tracy S. Ray, Chief Warden
Red Onion State Prison
P. O. Box 970
Pound, VA 24279

Gene M. Johnson, Director
Virginia Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 26963
Richmond, VA 23261-6963

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