Thursday, September 09, 2010

Support Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

i strongly encourage visitors to this blog to read the following call to support Kevin Rashid Johnson, put out by comrades Kim and Than.

As somebody who (tries to!) correspond with Rashid - we're working on getting a book of his writings out this Fall - i can personally attest to the fact that his mail is indeed being fucked with. Just the other day i received two letters i had sent him returned to me by the prison with a note saying "no approval" and "unauthorized correspondence". & of course i'm not the only one, this is just one example of the ongoing interference, part of a policy aimed at keeping Rashid and other politically active prisoners isolated.

So please take the time to read the following, and to write a few letters in support of this comrade.

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 Afrikan Black 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

Write to any or all of the following:

Kevin Rashid Johnson #1007485
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


  1. Hey Than and Kim,

    I've never even known of Rashid's "DOC#",
    and besides, you've got a "2" IN that DOC# which ought to be a "7" (1007485)according to the VDOC, but that's not my point; I've always used his "Inmate#" for years (#185492; and surmise that's maybe part of the reason his mails' not getting to him though they could make the connection from an understandable mistake like that if they wanted to.

    My next question is have you always used that # to mail stuff into him? That inmate # is what he's always had on his letters and what I've used; just checking on that with y'all.

    Twitch - ABC Para-Legal Services,
    Austin, Texas

  2. Hey Twitch,
    Thanks for pointing that out - and i have corrected the "2" to the "7" in the post for those wondering.

    When i've corresponded with Rashid i have used the 1007485 and mail has been returned along with a form saying "no authorization". One letter had a sticky-note on it with the question "Can he have this?" to which someone had scrawled "No".

    It's definitely not the DOC # as when i have written other people and gotten their number wrong, the letter comes back with something indicating "No such DOC #" or some such.

    Thanks for being on the ball and catching the typo!

  3. A quick update- he's just been moved.