Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a revolutionary prisoner and artist in Virginia. He is a founding member, and Minister of Defense, of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party–Prison Chapter, and maintains a website (rashidmod.com) where he shares his artwork and writings about political issues and also about prison conditions.
As a result of his activism and writings, in 2012 Rashid was transferred from Virginia to Oregon, then to Texas, then to Florida, under something called the Interstate Compact. In each new state he was targeted for abuse in an attempt to get him to stop documenting prison conditions, and in each state prison authorities eventually decided to get rid of him by sending him to a new state. Earlier this year, Florida decided they wanted to get rid of him, so Virginia (which always remained officially responsible for him, as he is a state prisoner) was forced to take him back.
Rashid was placed first in Red Onion and then in Sussex I state prison on death row (even though he has not been sentenced to death). As he continued to write on abuse and corruption in Virginia, it was a priority to exile him again, however it appears that no other state wanted to take him, likely because of the attention he would bring to the abuse in their jurisdiction and his level of public support. And so, on October 17th, Rashid was transferred to Sussex II (also in Virginia).
Following this recent transfer, Rashid has found himself in a crisis situation, and needs people’s help, urgently.
On arriving at Sussex II Rashid was greeted with attack dogs lunging at him while he was fully chained up. He is being served meals on a rubber mat, without utensils, and with no cups, so he is being made to eat with his hands. He was placed in a filthy cell that has blood in the toilet. There is no toilet paper or other hygiene products for him to clean himself with. He is currently refusing meals because he is being presented with the demeaning choice of eating like an animal in filthy conditions where he cannot clean himself.
He is kept in his cell 24hrs per day. He is being refused any recreational time. He has a guard standing sentry in front of his cell door 24hrs a day. All staff have been instructed not to speak to him, and with the exception of brief conversations with the warden and a nurse they are following through on that. About three cells on either side of his cell are being kept empty so he can’t communicate with other prisoners, and a sandbag was placed in front of his cell door to prevent any notes or messages being exchanged with other prisoners. As if to illustrate how dangerous they think his reporting is, they have placed a large chain and padlock on the solid steel door to his cell, in addition to the regular locking mechanism. He has not been let out of his cell since arriving on the 17th. He has been informed that when he does leave his cell he will be required to have a four-guard escort along with a supervisor. When he was taken in chains to have a shower he was escorted by four guards in full riot armor and a guard dog.
Rashid takes medication for his blood pressure; he was not given his medications upon arrival. He began having a headache at that time and repeatedly asked a Sgt. Morse for medical assistance. He woke up around 4:30am on the morning of October 18th with a severe nose bleed, and again repeatedly requested medical attention from the guard posted in front of his cell. He was ignored.
A nurse Burgess came by his cell on rounds at about 5:30am and gave him his first dose of medication. She said that with his symptoms and diagnosis he should be sent to medical for evaluation and monitoring of his blood pressure, but the guards refused to allow it. She went back to talk to her supervisor and was told that security would have to arrange to move him. Security never made those arrangements, and so Rashid is stuck in his cell without anyone monitoring his blood pressure or adjusting his medications while he is having a high blood pressure episode that could lead to a stroke. Rashid had a second nosebleed at 3am on October 22nd. He has not been taken to medical and his blood pressure has not been checked.
Prison officials are not allowing Rashid to send or receive mail. He filed an emergency grievance and got a response in writing that the Warden, Assistant Warden, and Unit Manager have ordered that he be denied incoming and outgoing mail. This includes blocking his ability to send outgoing mail to courts and lawyers.
At the same time, Rashid is being denied his personal and legal property. The Warden talked to him at his door about it and said that they would be going through all of his property and they would determine what he could have or not, including confidential legal papers.
Rashid has been told that he will only get two phone calls per month, unless lawyers contact the Operations Manager at Sussex II to set up other legal calls, and that his calls out to lawyers count against his allotted two calls per month.
Rashid has been presented with no disciplinary reports since being placed back in the Virginia Department of Corrections. These draconian attempts to bury this man alive, to deprive him of any contact with his fellow prisoners or with the outside world, to jeopardize his health at the risk of his life, are clear retaliation for his years of activism and documenting of abuses inside the world’s largest prison system.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We need everyone who can to start calling into Sussex II state prison to make demands on his behalf. The focus should be on his medical emergency, described above. Rashid needs to be taken to medical to have his blood pressure checked and in order for any adjustments to be made to his medications.
The Warden at Sussex II is Beth Cabell. The phone number is (804) 834-2678. Please call and if you can’t get Cabell on the phone, ask to speak with her assistant or with Assistant Warden Darden.
Comrades calling on Rashid’s behalf have reported that phones were not being answered at Sussex II on Friday. If you try calling but cannot get through, please call the central office at: 804-674-3000. You can ask to leave a message for Harold Clarke and/or you can ask to leave a message or email some of the people listed below:
Sussex II is Eastern Regional so Jamilla Burney-Divens, is the Regional Operations Chief. You can call VADOC central office to get her number.
Marie Vargo is head of offender management: [email protected]
Medical complaints can be sent to health services: [email protected]
Randall Mathena is in charge of Security Operations for the VADOC, and he would probably be involved in (or able to stop) what is happening to Rashid: [email protected]
Rashid is a revolutionary who risks his life on a continual basis to support other prisoners and expose the situation in america’s dungeons. He needs us to stand up for him – our doing so is his best protection. Please take a moment of your time to call or email the officials above!
FOR UPDATES CHECK OUT RASHID’S WEBSITE AT RASHIDMOD.COM
you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/