by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The order to ban entry to the U.S. by travelers from numerous majority-Muslim countries is subjecting not only Muslims coming here but also those already here to a reinvigorated campaign of Islamophobia.
In 2012, I was housed at the W.J. Estelle Unit, located in Huntsville, Texas. Prison guards there were beating elderly, disabled and terminally ill prisoners.
I’ll repeat: Prison guards at Estelle Unit were beating elderly and disabled human beings brutally! I reached my breaking point, and on May 7, 2012, I voiced my frustration.
While attending a Unit Classification Committee hearing that day, I made the following statement: “From this day forward I intend on using all my Army training to escape from this facility. I will exact my vengeance against any staff member I see mistreating or abusing the elderly.” The background to this incident appeared in the Bay View in an article entitled, “Panther unleashed,” in 2014.
Now, in 2017, the state of Texas and its prison agency, TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice), is attempting to use this statement I made as justification to deny me my religious right to grow a fist-length beard and wear my kuffi prayer cap throughout any TDCJ facility.
I have been fighting this battle in federal civil court, and I am now requesting media exposure, legal aid and moral support from the Bay View family.
TDCJ has used this verbal statement to fabricate an escape attempt that never happened! This is how they operate in the Lone Star State!
Sisters and brothers, what does that statement I made in 2012 have to do with the practice of my religious faith? Was the statement ill advised? Yes. I admit I should have left out the portion about escaping, but I will never regret speaking out in regards to the brutal beatings I observed on the Estelle Unit.
What does that statement I made in 2012 have to do with the practice of my religious faith?
The Prison Justice League, a prisoner rights advocacy group based in Austin, Texas, released a 20-page report that set out details of prisoner abuse at the Estelle Unit. It was released in January 2015, at www.prisonjusticeleague.org. I highly recommend you read the report. (To learn more, contact Prison Justice League Director Erica Gammill at 512-815-2053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The hateful treatment of Muslims, both prisoners and employees, is a pervasive and systemic problem in Texas prisons. I am requesting all of you to contact the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Houston and Dallas, Texas, and ask that they send me some help.
I ask that you also contact KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston and request that Minister Robert S. Muhammad, Ph.D., and some of the community activists aid me in exposing the discriminatory practices of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (KPFT is online at www.KPFT.org and Facebook.com/KPFTHouston.)
The hateful treatment of Muslims, both prisoners and employees, is a pervasive and systemic problem in Texas prisons.
The only thing I want is to be afforded the opportunity to grow my beard and wear my kuffi in keeping with the precepts of my Islamic faith. I can’t fight these folks by myself. I need some help!
Dare to struggle! Dare to win! All power to the people!
Send our brother some love and light: Keith H. Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd 1, Lovelady TX 75851.