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Serving the people and the retaliation by the oppressors!-Part II
(The Protracted Struggle is Real!)
By Keith 'Comrade Malik' Washington, Deputy Chairman, New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter)
United Panther Movement - Texas Region
"The Vanguard party must provide leadership for the people. It must teach the correct strategic methods of prolonged resistance through literature and activities. If the activities of the party are respected by the people, the people will follow the example. This is the primary job of the party…" - Dr. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party, an excerpt from: The Correct Handling of a Revolution.
We have finally reached the point at which the oppressors who operate the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can no longer lie and misinform the public when we, the lumpen underclass prisoners, shed light on the ongoing acts of abuse and inhumanity perpetrated against us.
In June 2013 the Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) Comrade Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson was brought to Texas. Rashid was taken to the ultra-abusive Estelle High Security Unit located in Huntsville, Texas. Rashid was attacked three separate times while handcuffed and told by prison employees that he would either be broken or killed. While housed at Estelle Rashid began to report on the long-established culture of abuse, racism, and terrorism practiced by TDCJ employees at Estelle. Only a year earlier I too had witnessed and was victimized by TDCJ employees at Estelle who would create circumstances in which to abuse human beings. TDCJ prison officials would conspire with each other and boldly lie to the media claiming we were just a bunch of disgruntled Black Nationalist Extremists. This was the label placed on us in order to sabotage our effectiveness. This is a tactic frequently used against activists who many times assume the role of investigative journalist or whistleblower, mainly because of their close proximity to the abuse.
Neither Rashid nor I succumbed to the ploys of TDCJ prison officials to silence our voice of protest. Rashid was transferred to the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas which is commonly known as the Klan-handle of Texas. Rashid suffered a bout of acute hypertension and prison employees at Bill Clements used this as an opportunity to attempt to kill Rashid by refusing him adequate medical care! This is how serious Texas prison officials are about silencing the voice of any prisoner who sheds light on the true nature of their methods and practices of abuse and premeditated murder! And yes I did say murder!
I do not want to digress to the point of losing focus on the purpose of this essay. You see even though Rashid and I reported aggressively on the abuse happening on Estelle, no authoritative entity would step in to investigate or stop the abuse, but recently something changed. On January 27, a prisoner rights organization located in Austin, Texas finally shed a discerning light on some of the abuse at Estelle.
The Prison Justice League released a 20 page report entitled: Cruel and Usual Punishment - Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit. For a digital download of the report, visit: http://www.prisonjusticeleague.org. The report actually isn't focused on the Estelle High Security Unit. The Prison Justice League didn't have much access to prisoners housed there. The report describes violent physical assaults by staff against blind, deaf, and elderly prisoners housed at Estelle.
Rashid and I both were transferred away from Estelle but one New Afrikan Black Panther was left behind to face the racist and sadistic TDCJ employees who beat and target the most vulnerable prisoners. Comrade Oliver Eshman Lister AKA Ben Ammi spent approximately 2-1/2 years organizing prisoners housed at Estelle in order to stop the abuse. Comrade Ben Ammi wrote grievances, the media, countless letters to state legislators, and prisoner rights organizations, in an attempt to garner support. For months and months no help or support came.
Secret Societies and Racist Gangs
What did come, was a collusive and concerted effort from a secret fraternity of ultra-racist TDCJ officers. There are many white male TDCJ employees at the Estelle Unit who are members of a local Masonic Temple in Huntsville Texas. These men have close fraternal ties with a white supremacist gang known as the White Knights. These racist TDCJ employees targeted Comrade Ben Ammi for months and attempted to make his life a living hell. Comrade Ben Ammi was baited into physical and verbal confrontations, and he was given bogus and fabricated disciplinary reports. He was housed with known white supremacist prisoners and when Comrade Ben Ammi broke his hand while defending himself against these racists, he was withheld from obtaining adequate treatment, not for days, but for months! Permanently damaging his hand for life!
And this, my respected brothers and sisters, is how business is done on many TDCJ units located in rural sections of Texas! This is a closely guarded secret among the upper echelon of TDCJ prison administrators, who hold dual membership as "honorable" members of the local Scottish Rite Lodge is a covert allegiance to groups like the White Knights, Aryan Circle, and even the infamous Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. This is the secret war being waged against our esteemed Minister of Defense Kevin 'Rashid'Johnson.
I can tell all of you from personal experience not all Masonic organizations condone and sanction the abuse of the elderly or disabled human beings whether they are free citizens or wards of the state. My days as a Free-Mason ended when I became a convicted felon. Like Comrade Ben Ammi and Comrade Rashid, I am now a servant of all the people.
Anyone who is engaged in serious social justice work will tell you that repression and abuse come with the territory when you assume an adversarial stance against the agents of oppression. In September 2014 I met a remarkable prisoner named Nannon M. Williams. Nannon served 10 years on Texas' Death Row. I was referred to Nannon by another remarkable former Texas death row prisoner, Thomas Miller-El. While housed on death row Nannon witnessed the execution of 300 human beings he had come to know. Nannon is a human rights activist, he has written five books and in May 2014 Nannon teamed up with Dr. Betty Gilmore to release: The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisons. The book is phenomenal! I not only read it, I studied it.
On pages 208 and 209 I came across some incredible information concerning transformational change and some of the tactics the state of Texas uses to hinder change. I will quote a passage verbatim with the hope you will grasp this golden nugget of knowledge:
"We also need to examine the reason why Texas has been so resistant to change despite the known consequences to these inhumane and degrading extreme forms of punishment. In his book Conflict Revolution: Mediating Evil, War, Injustice and Terrorism, Kenneth Cloke identifies ways by which systems resist change. He says, 'Systems may benefit, for example, by encouraging adversarial communications and chronically conflicted relationships, isolating critics and dissenters and punishing transformational change efforts. These forms of systemic resistance may fuel hostility and magnify conflicts over change, if they also divert attention from transformational change.'"
Hear lies the motivation behind numerous attacks on political and politicized prisoners across Amerika. For decades, Mumia Abu-Jamal has been an ambassador of change. Mumia's voice has motivated an entire generation of human rights and civil rights activists. Right at the pinnacle of brutal executions of people of color by police in Amerika all of a sudden Gov. Tom Corbett signs Senate Bill 508 into law! This bill was written to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal! This bill was orchestrated by the Fraternal Order of Police which doesn't want to stop murdering young Black and Brown people on Amerika's streets. The last thing the cops want is transformational change, and if the system can't silence us, they will murder us!
Look at the case of our beloved fallen comrade and brother Phil Africa! Agents of the state of Pennsylvania conspired to murder Phil Africa - period! Thirty years ago the US government along with local police agencies in Philadelphia bombed the MOVE house on Osage Avenue. Phil Africa was a beautiful brother who was a committed revolutionary who believed in transformational change. I urge all serious human rights activists to contact Ramona Africa at: onamoveLLJA@gmail.com and ask her how you can help as the 30th anniversary of the bombing of MOVE approaches on May 13, 2015!
And what about the recent ploy by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to block newspapers such as the San Francisco Bay View or Turning The Tide from being received by prisoners held at Pelican Bay? You hear right-wing fanatics screaming about free speech but I never hear pundits such as Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity championing the constitutional rights of those Black, Brown or poor white men and women trapped in America's prisons! Never!
It Is A Class Struggle, Dammit!
I wrote this piece on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X at the Audubon Ballroom. It is very interesting how comrades like Malcolm, MLK, and Fred Hampton weren't exactly marked for death until they started preaching unity of the downtrodden working-class. Unity which transcended race, religion, or national origin. The enemy being the capitalist ruling class, and it was the capitalist ruling class which orchestrated the activities of COINTELPRO. And it is the capitalist ruling class which has sanctioned and condoned the murder of prisoners in Texas who toil in factory slave shops for the State of Texas. Journalists in Texas have been bribed and threatened to keep them silent. Thank goodness there are media groups such as Roots Action who will expose the inhumane activities in Texas. Ask yourself: "Am I an oppressor or am I oppressed?" These are the only two types of people in the world. Labor aristocracy, proletariat, lumpen, and Petit Bourgeoisie are groupings present today in America, but at the end of the day, you are either oppressed or the one doing the oppressing - which are you?
Our struggle is a protracted international struggle against imperialism. We will not allow the state to deter us from our mission. We draw knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from those who struggled before us. Even Mikhail Bakunin has something relevant to offer for those with ears to hear. Listen to the relevance of Bakunin's argument in this excerpt from a letter he wrote to the editorial board of La Liberte in October 1872:
"There is only one law binding all the members… Sections and federations of the International… It is the international solidarity of workers in all jobs in all countries in their economic struggle against the exploiters of labor. It is the real organization of that solidarity through the spontaneous action of the working classes, and the absolutely free Federation… Which constitutes the real, living unity of the International. Who can doubt that it is out of this increasingly widespread organization of the militant solidarity of the proletariat against bourgeois exploitation that the political struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie must rise and grow?" - Mikhail Bakunin
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due!
Comrade Rashid has said: "Revolution is a birthing process, the new society forming in the womb of the old one. Through struggle we create more favorable conditions for greater struggle. Nothing comes instantly. Changing social and economic relations must proceed and develop from a lower to a higher level."
The New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) would like to thank the director of the Prison Justice League Erica Gammill and her colleague Kate Spear for their work on the Estelle report, which shed much needed light on the abuse of prisoners. We would like to thank PJL special counsel Attorney Brian McGiverin for lending his legal expertise to PJL. The state of Texas desperately needs independent oversight over their prison system. However it will take a national outcry to get the attention of Texas state legislators, who don't think there is a problem with the status quo. Not my son or daughter up in there - who cares? I do!
You see, brothers and sisters, there is a media propaganda war being waged against those who expose injustice in Texas. The media in Texas basically have bought the narrative given to them by professional liars such as Jason Clark, the spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I encourage you all to join our online campaign #PleaseStoptheKilling. I must personally think Prof. Victor Wallis of Berklee College in Boston Mass, and Prof. Justin Adkins of Williams College in Williamstown Mass for their work in promoting our #PleaseStoptheKilling campaign. Truthfully nobody would have ever heard our cries for justice if it wasn't for Sis. Mary Ratcliff, the editor of the San Francisco Bay View or Carole Seligman and Bonnie Weinstein of Socialist Viewpoint. However special thanks must be extended to comrades Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, Michael Novick of Turning The Tide, Comrade Twitch of Central Texas ABC, and Alina Dollat in France! Thank you.
Dare to struggle, Dare to win! All Power to the People!
1. US Prison Practices Would Disgrace a Nation of Savages: Texas - A Case on Record by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
2. Odyssey of a Prisoner-advocate From Virginia to Texas by Karl Kersplebedeb, Socialist Viewpoint, volume 13, number 5.
3. The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisons by Dr. Betty Gilmore & Nannon M. Williams, Good Media Press, 2014.
4. Press Release by Prison Radio Critical Action Alert: Fraternal Order of Police Attacks First Amendment-Silencing Mumia, November 2014.
5. Press Release by Ramona Africa, Saturday, January 10, 2015: Phil Africa dies under suspicious conditions!
6. Socialism and Democracy volume 28 number 2 (July 2014), page 33, "A Letter to the Editorial Board of La Liberte" by Mikhail Bakunin
7. Right On! #10 Newsletter of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, page 37, Promoting Proletarian Consciousness as Prisoner Rehabilitation by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson(M.O.D.)
8. Cruel and Usual Punishment - Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit a report by the Prison Justice League written by Erica Gammill & Kate Spear. HTTP://www.prisonjusticeleague.org
9. Huffington Post http://www.HuffingtonPost.com/justin-Adkins/please-stop-the-killing-b-65...
Twitter and Facebook #StopTheKilling
(c) Keith Malik Washington/ Prison Radio firstname.lastname@example.org