WHEN: Anytime, but esp. on the week of January 16th-21st
WHAT: CONTINUE to Protect imprisoned activist-journalist Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
THIS IS A LONG POST TO ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING. SORRY ABOUT THAT. IT IS IMPORTANT THOUGH, A COMRADE’S WELLBEING, AND POSSIBLY EVEN HIS LIFE, DEPENDS ON IT, SO IF YOU CAN PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING AND TAKE ACTION. IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE SITUATION, YOU CAN SKIP TO THE “UPDATE” OR “WHAT TO DO” SECTIONS.
“I need serious and varied and inventive help. Advice won’t do much good. They already set me up for an assault while I was in cuffs and turned around and wrote me a disciplinary case for it. This captain is angling to take all my things. … I need serious help here. Continuous help, and directed against these threats, property takings, and the assault that already happened. … I need practical help a lot of which needs to be publicity and massive campaigning and questions that persist and don’t just fade after a few days or so, cuz these folks are persistent! They won’t get bored or burned out of fade back.”
– Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, recent letter to supporters
On December 21, 2016, activist, journalist, and jailhouse intellectual Kevin “Rashid” Johnson was the victim of an assault by guards at the Clements Unit where he is currently being held, just outside Amarillo, Texas. Rashid was sprayed with OC pepper gas while handcuffed in his cell, and then left in the contaminated cell for hours with no possibility to shower and no access to fresh air. It was in fact days before he was supplied with new sheets or clothes, leaving him in a bed covered with toxic OC residue. (For a more complete description of Rashid’s ordeal on and following December 21, see his recent article “Bound and Gassed: My Reward for Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners” at http://rashidmod.com/?p=2321 – note that Rashid is facing disciplinary punishment for having written this report)
Since then, things have gone from very bad to even worse.
Not only has Rashid not had his property returned to him, but he has received two disciplinary infractions related to this incident. First, he is being wrongly accused of not allowing guards to remove his handcuffs on December 21st. This is so that the guards can cover themselves, claiming that they gassed him in his cell because he was being uncooperative. Furthermore, Captain Patricia Flowers continues to make veiled threats about possibly confiscating Rashid’s remaining belongings.
On January 5th, Rashid was placed on so-called “high profile” status that same day he was moved to a new cell with a video camera right outside, putting him under surveillance 24-hours a day. As he explains, “It’s a status they use to harass guys they don’t like, where every time a prisoner has to leave his cell they use a portable audio-video camera, and a sergeant has to be present. This is the status they used to kill the fella Arcade Joseph Comeaux on, when he couldn’t breathe and they left him in the cell without help for a long while cuz the sergeant wouldn’t come to the cell to pull him out. They typically don’t allow prisoners to receive outside exercise/recreation like everyone else, cuz the sergeants won’t come to the pods to pull the prisoner out with the cameras.”
This is only one aspect of the attempt to silence Rashid. Additionally, Sergeant Victoria Gallegos, Jr. has issued a disciplinary infraction to Rashid for the report that was published on his website on December 31. Under a new rule – one that Rashid has already written about (http://www.rashidmod.com/?p=2126), predicting that it would be used in this way – prisoners can be punished for maintaining a presence on the web or social media. This is a blatant and outrageous attempt to silence Rashid, and to shield the abusive behaviour of Clements guards from public scrutiny.
So far almost 10,000 people have signed an online petition protesting these attacks on Rashid, and the warden, TDCJ Ombudsman, and Virginia prison officials have been inundated with calls. As detailed above, their response has been to escalate matters. (If you have not already signed the petition, please do so: https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/prison-activist-gassed-in-clements-unit-prison-texas-law-enforcement-is-violently-out-of-control)
WHAT TO DO
We need you to step up once again and make those phone calls. In fact, we need you to get used to the idea of making these phone calls, because it’s something we’re going to have to keep on asking you to do until Rashid seems to be out of danger. We know it’s a drag – but it’s definitely more of a drag for him, and he’s not backing down, so how can we?
When calling, let officials know you are contacting them about Kevin Johnson, ID #1859887, and the incident in which he was gassed and his property confiscated on December 21, 2016. Here is a sample script of what you can say:
“Hello, my name is ____________ and I am calling because I am concerned about the well-being of a prisoner at the Clements Unit. His name is Kevin Johnson and his ID #1859887. I am calling because I am very concerned about the ongoing harassment of Mr Johnson by guards, especially Captain Patricia Flowers, who confiscated his property on December 21. Mr Johnson should have all of his property returned to him immediately, the disciplinary charges against him should be dropped, and Captain Flowers and other staff involved should be fired for violating his human rights.”
The prison administration knows exactly what this is about, but if they act like they don’t you can also explain:
“On December 21st, while handcuffed and not posing any threat, Mr Johnson was sprayed with gas in his cell by guards, and had much of his property wrongly confiscated. Since then, he has been issued disciplinary reports for having written a report about what happened that was posted online. This violence and harassment against a prisoner is unacceptable.”
WHO TO CONTACT
The officials to contact are:
Warden Kevin Foley
telephone: (806) 381-7080 (you will reach the general switchboard; ask to speak to the warden’s office)
You will almost certainly be told that because other people have already called and there is an ongoing investigation – or else, because you are not a member of his family — that you cannot be given any information. Say that you understand, but that you still wish to have your concerns noted, and that you want the prison to know that you will be keeping track of what happens to Mr Johnson.
Complaints should also be directed to the director of the VA DOC Harold Clarke and the VA DOC’s Interstate Compact Supervisor, Terry Glenn. This is because Rashid is in fact a Virginia prisoner, who has been exiled from Virginia under something called the Interstate Compact, which is used by some states as a way to be rid of activist prisoners, while at the same time separating them from their families and supporters. Please contact:
VADOC Director, Harold Clarke
Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn
As well as the script above, it is worth telling these prison bureaucrats that:
“As Mr Johnson is a Virginia prisoner held in Texas under the Interstate Compact, Virginia is responsible for anything that happens to him. As he is being harassed and abused in Texas, we demand that steps be taken to return him to Virginia.”