The Struggle for Prison Abolition Continues: Battleground UK and Amerika!

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What follows is an essay written by political prisoner Keith Washington, a member of IWOC and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, about ongoing prison struggles in the UK and in the US.

By Keith “Comrade Malik” Washington

“To rise beyond the limits of protest, we must chart out our political intentions, organizational goals, and a larger vision about our direction. First, and foremost, militant self-defense, and the capacity for larger militant actions must be addressed at the inception of the organizing process. While we must defend people from captivity as well as our political centers, we must also be astute enough to realize that we cannot be on the defense indefinitely. The state is in a weaker position today than it has been in decades, and since the moment we go into action is up to us, the government invariably remains in a defensive position. WE CAN ACT WHEN WE CHOOSE, AND WE SHOULD ACT WISELY.”

Burn Down the American Plantation, by the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement

Revolutionary Greetings, Comrades!

We opened here with some powerful words. I suggest you read the opening statement again and fully understand and grasp the meaning of the message we are trying to convey to you.

In Florida we have witnessed with our own eyes the lengths the state will go to in order to sabotage the effectiveness of our pre-planned direct actions. Our actions seek to shed a discerning spotlight on the corrupt practices of the Department of Corrections. However, premptive lockdowns have been the go-to tactic of numerous prison agencies across the United States.

Like President Trump, they (the corrupt prison agencies) don’t want to be exposed, they want to continue on, in a business as usual manner. It is our duty to disrupt and destroy these slave kamps and gulags.

As illustrated and explained by our comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson1, the “lay-down” in Florida prisons was called for extremely valid reasons:

A) forced slave labor – FDOC prisoners are forced to work without pay.

B) grossly overpriced commissary and package system – Florida is extorting the poorest cross-section of society!

C) murdering and abusing prisoners with impunity and then covering it up!

Florida is sanctioning and condoning the outright murder of prisoners in their care. A horrific case in point is the case of Darren Rainey2.

On June 23rd, 2012, Darren Rainey was locked in a scalding hot shower by corrections officers who had rigged the shower so they could punish prisoners who “acted out.” These were mentally ill prisoners housed at the Dade Correctional Institution.

In late January, 2018, the State of Florida announced that it would award $4.5 million to Darren Rainey’s family. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, refused to prosecute former corrections officers Ronald Clarke and Cornelius Thompson. So in essence, these pieces of trash have been allowed to get away with murder!

One of our key organizational goals in Florida should be to force the resignation of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle! Fire her now! There is no way in hell that the State approves an award of $4.5 million and no-one is held accountable for the loss of life!

What kind of message do you think is being sent to the pigs? “We protect our own,” that is the message. I want to explore this phrase, “we protect our own,” more thoroughly, but before I delve deeper, allow me to remind all of you that our struggle for prison abolition is a protracted struggle and the state targets the most advanced political elements.

Florida is attempting to place an inciting to riot charge on Comrade Rashid, but this smacks of an elaborate plan to retaliate against Rashid for exercising the same protected free-speech rights as reports and journalists at the Miami Herald!

Compare Rashid’s piece, Florida Prisoners Are Laying It Down, to Monique O Madan’s piece which was published by the Miami Herald on January 3rd 2018, entitled “Florida Prisoners to Protest Again…” Florida is blatantly violating Rashid’s constitutional rights!

We Protect Our Own – The Texas Way!

It is strange to me when I see members of the Attorney General’s office in Texas conspiring to harm a prisoner who witnessed a murder! The pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place.

Christopher Woolverton, Thomas Schmerber, Arcade Comeaux and Alton Rodgers, all of them abused and/or murdered by prison employees at the Bill Clements Unit located at Amarillo, Texas.3

Attorney Jesse Quackenbush is representing a couple of the families here in Texas who have filed multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuits against the State of Texas. (See: August 2017 issue of Prison Legal News as well as The Intercept, Amarillo.com.)

Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson exposed the pattern of abuse and murder which regularly takes place at the Bill Clements Unit. In 2017, prison officials conspired with members of the Texas Attorney General’s office to get some “payback” for Rashid’s courageous journalism.

First, they planted a weapon in his cell, then they stole all his legal materials, and when these actions generated a public outcry, they conspired with the State of Florida and spirited Rashid off to a Florida prison, deleting all information which would help concerned friends and supporters find Rashid! If it wasn’t for the passionate work of National Lawyers’ Guild Attorney Paul S Holdorf Esq, Rashid may have never been successfully located.

The point I want to make is this: there is a systematic and pervasive problem in US prisons where members of State Attorney General officers collude and conspire with members of their various prison agencies to cover-up the abuse and murder of prisoners and shield murderous prison employees from being held accountable for their actions.

Furthermore, we are also seeing a pattern in which prisoners who identify as humyn rights activists and jail house lawyers are literally being marked for death and systematically targeted for co-ordinated retaliatory actions.

Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton is complicit in these collusive acts and the FBI and Department of Justice seem to be 100% on board with the “We Protect Our Own” strategy.

Focusing in on Our Demands

Comrades, in each state and country there are prisoners and victims of modern-day slavery perpetrated by agents of the state! As a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), I am keenly aware of the problems that prisoners everywhere face. I would like to highlight some of the specific issues our imprisoned comrades face with the hope of promoting greater unity and understanding among our free-world supporters and imprisoned allies – so we can address these issues.

United Kingdom

Comrades, please let me be perfectly clear when I say that the pigs in London are just as corrupt as the pigs in Amerika – period.

Chairman Mao Tze Tung said “no investigation, no right to speak.” With that in mind, I’ll let all of you know I’ve done my research on the pigs in the UK4:

If I were to come up with a list of demands for our free-world comrades in the UK, the first would be:

  1. Tell the pigs to stop murdering our people – or else!

  2. Replace every member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission!

  3. Fire every member of the Crown Prosecution Service!

Radical demands? Well, guess what? I’m a radical – surprise!

UK Prisons5

The criminal justice system in the UK is racist to the core! This is actually supported by information published in a government report and reviewed by Labour MP David Lammy. Lammy found a clear, direct link between ethinicity and the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence if you are Black or Asian and living in the United Kingdom!6

Remarkably, the number of Muslim prisoners more than doubled between 2002 and 2016, going from 5,502 to 12,663. Muslims now represent 4.4% of the total UK population, but 15% of the prison population in the UK. Can you say “Islamophobia,” Theresa May?7

The prisons in the UK are overcrowded and violent, and the Ministry of Justice has decided to ratchet up the stress and discontent levels by banning tobacco in all closed prisons by the summer of 2018!8

Many of the prisons in the UK are suffering from deterioration and infrastructure decay. Prisons such as Long Lartin in Evesham, Worcestershire. Long Lartin is the oldest of the prisons designated as high security in the UK, and the only prison in which prisoners on some wings don’t have toilets and they still have to “slop out”!9

In other words, humyn beings are forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket in their cells, and if the guards decide to not allow them to “slop out”, then they are stuck in a toxic environment.

This is just one of the reasons that I have made an international call for solidarity to end prison slavery on June 19th, 2018.10

Nothing more clearly illustrates modern day slavery in the UK than the ultra-corrupt Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) policy. This scandalous policy, which was supposed to be abolished in 2012, continues to allow over 3,300 prisoners to be held hostages years after serving their minimum tarriff (sentence). Release IPP prisoners in the UK now! End prison slavery in the UK now!

Before I move on, I am officially inviting prisoners in the UK to join the Incarcerated Workers’ Organizing Committee, and as Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter), I am sending out a special invitation to UK prisoners to join the Black Panthers now!

Be advised that under the banner of the NABPP (PC), we have mass organizations for White Panthers, as well as Asian Panthers, and under the auspices of the United Panther movement I invite all street tribe members in UK prisons to consider joining the movement which seeks to abolish prison slavery.

To join the IWOC, contact:

UK: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 2EX

USA: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 414304, Kansas City, MO, 64141-4304

To join the NABPP (PC), contact:

Comrade Malik, c/o Twitch, PO Box 7907, Austin, Texas, 78713, USA

Amerikkka – the slave state!

Comrades, without a doubt there are common issues which plague every prison population in the world, but now I will list some specific issues and challenges we face here in Amerika!

Indiana – In Indiana, comrades Kwame Shakur and Khalfani Malik Khaldun struggle hard against “legalized” slavery in Amerika.11 In retaliation to their efforts, and the efforts of numerous other politicized prisoners in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) has instituted a new correspondence policy which forbids prisoners to receive or send materials and/or literature on blank paper!

Not only is this an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights, it infringes on their ability to litigate and receive information of any kind! The agency’s main goal is to isolate and silence the voices of all Indiana prisoners.

AlabamaFree Alabama Movement spokespersyn has initiated a Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.12 These boycott campaigns, spear-headed by FAM, seek to defund and bankrupt the capitalist pig corporations which prey on the poor masses who are trapped in prisons all across the “great” slave state of Amerika.

I am in full support of Bennu’s campaign, and this is one of the many tactics and strategies employed by the IWOC to end prison slavery in Amerika.

I would like to add that many of the high-ranking prison administrators and prison employees who abuse and oppress us are black. Yes, it’s true! So when you think it’s all about “whitey” keeping us down, think again – in ole Alabama there are many Uncle Toms and jeffin-ass House Negroes hurting the people. Remember that.

California – In California, Heshima Denham of the Amend the 13th Movement and Fati Yero Kambon of the WL Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP) have been pushing a dynamic initiative entitled: A Proposal for Developing a Community Release Board.13

This would be paired with another initiative referred to as Strategic Release.

The bottom line is this: prisoners in California, especially New Afrikan prisoners, are actually creating realistic avenues for freedom which can be utilized by all.

Kijana Tashiri Askari is the chair of the WLNMP, and he is committed to providing quality education and life skills to a new generation of aspiring freedom fighters and community leaders. Something wonderful is happening inside and outside of California prisons.

On the outside, prison abolitionist Nube Brown of California Prison Focus has teamed up with Marissa Garcia, Anna Marillo and numerous others to form a coalition known as the New Abolitionist Movement.

It is important for all imprisoned activists and freedom fighters to know that, without a dedicated cadre of outside supporters like Nube Brown, Kim Pollak, Mary Ratcliff, Dr Willie Ratcliff, Julie Sands, Noelle Hanrahan, Carole Seligman, Justin Adkins, Victor Wallis, Jamani Montague, and last but not least Brianna of the IWOC, nobody in the free world would hear our voices!

And then there are the unsung sheroes and heroes! Julie Schneyer, Sam Rosen, Ryan Policht, Michael Novick, Twitch Entropy, and our European comrades Annabelle from Prison Watch, Heinz Leitner and Alina Dollat – abolitionists!

Before I end this piece, I want to give a clenched fist salute to Calvin Burnap and Professor Dean Spade in Seattle, Washington.

Texas

In Texas, we face numerous problems, and dedicated members of the IWOC have helped us assemble a list of demands we will be requesting our family and friends to present to Texas legislators this year.

On Juneteenth (June 19th, 2018), I am calling for all Texas prisoners and all prisoners throughout the US, and our free-world supporters, to take time to meditate and reflect on past struggles for the abolition of slavery, as well as preparing for the struggle we have ahead of us. The most important thing I am requesting prisoners in Texas to do is contact their family and friends.

We want to provide Texas prisoners with the email addresses and fax numbers of key Texas legislators so prisoners can urge their family and friends to contact them and provide them with our core demands, which are:

1 The Right to Habeas Counsel – Every indigent prisoner in Texas should be appointed Habeas Counsel when filing their 11.07 Habeas Corpus.

2 End the “Quorum of One” practice for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

3 Meaningful Good Time/Work Time and Presumptive Parole – When Good Time, Work Time and Flat Time equal 100% of their sentence, a Texas prisoner should be presumed to automatically make parole or discharge!

4 Payment/Compensation for Forced Labor: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” – Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

5 End the $100 Medical Co-Pay

6 TDCJ Oversight Committee – This is a bill that has been up for a vote in the past two Texas legislative sessions. It will require all grievances to be processed and investigated by an independent outside organization. Prisoners in Texas are dying and being murdered and abused by staff at an alarming rate and we need independent oversight of this corrupt agency right now!14

Comrades, I was just studying the Yule-Winter 2017-2018 edition of Earth First! The Journal of Ecological Resistance.

I came across an article by Al Williams entitled “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road.” I came away with some excellent tactics and strategies which we can adopt for our abolition movement.

  1. Direct action is for everyone! Work strikes, hunger strikes, tear these slave kamps down!

  2. Engaging other activist collectives helps form an inclusive, diverse alliance.

  3. Diversity of tactics is key when deploying multiple direct actions against police forces (or prisoncrats) who know we are coming! (Juneteenth, y’all!)

  4. Alternative media is an important lever when the national news in the UK or US isn’t shining a light on prison slavery or abuse of prisoners.

  5. Corruption, collusion and violence are now endemic throughout the world!

Comrades, I wrote this essay with the intent of promoting international solidarity as we approach Juneteenth. Let’s plan to do something big.

Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people.

Your Brother and Comrade, Malik

Keith “Malik” Washington is a co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter. Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or you can write him directly at Keith “Comrade Malik” Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd. 1, Lovelady, Texas 75851.

1 Florida Prisoners are Laying it Down by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson (January 2018), also at rashidmod.com

2 Florida OKs $4.5 million payout for brutal prison shower death of Darren Rainey, by Julie K Brown, Miami Herald, January 26, 2018

3 Malnourished Prisoner’s Death Reveals Horrific Conditions in a Texas Prison, by Creede Newton, The Intercept, Texas Prisoner was Emaciated and Sick when Killed by Cellmate, Prison Legal News – August 2017, pg 27

4 Danny Dorling review, “Burn – Collective Memory is the Fire that Never Dies by Ken Fero”, Strike! Magazine, Sept-Oct 2015, issue 13

5 Exposed: ‘racial bias’ in England and Wales criminal justice system, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/sep/08/racial-bias-uk-criminal-justice-david-lammy,

6 https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/lammy-review

7 The Muslim Prison Population Has Surged, Here’s Why The ‘Stereotypes And Myths’ Are Wrong, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/lammy-review-muslim-prisoners_uk_59afcaa0e4b0b5e531022f26, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/lammy-review

8 Smoking bans are sparking a rise in violence and disorder in UK prisons, http://theconversation.com/smoking-bans-are-sparking-a-rise-in-violence-and-disorder-in-uk-prisons-83990

9 Prisons inspector condemns Long Lartin’s ‘cages’ and slopping out, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/jan/10/cages-slopping-out-long-lartin-jail, Long Lartin prison criticised over slopping out, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-16483319

10 See http://smashipp.noflag.org.uk/

11 San Francisco Bay View, September 2017, “Kwame Shakur indicts legalized slavery” by Kwame “Beans” Shakur

12 San Francisco Bay View, September 2017, “We must affect the bottom line” by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun

13 The WL Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP): A Proposal for Developing a Community Release Board by Fati Yero Kambon

14 Demands for Battleground 2018/19 by IWOC members

15 Earth First! Journal, Yule 2017/2018, “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road” by Al Williams


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IWOC
Members of the IWW have created the IWOC, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, which functions as a liaison for prisoners to organize each other, unionize, and build solid bridges between prisoners on the inside and fellow workers on the outside. Prison is a setup, a big business, there to make money off the People. Neither the setup, nor the slavery inside of prisons can be combated without the conscious participation of prisoners and the working class on the outside through mutual aid, solidarity, and the building of working relationships that transcend prison walls and the politics of mass incarceration. The IWOC has been actively reaching out to prisoners while at the same time prisoners have been reaching out to the IWW for representation and assistance in building a prisoners union. The IWOC has taken up the cause and is helping prisoners in every facility organize and build a union branch for themselves, which will together form a powerful IWW Industrial Union.