By RUWAN MUNASINGHE 

Kevin Rashid Johnson is a leading member of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party. He is a political prisoner that was sentenced to life in prison in 1990. As a Black political prisoner, Comrade Rashid has dedicated his energies to revolutionary work under conditions of incarceration including writings, artwork, prison organizing, and serving as Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter. For decades he has been the target of violence and torture for defending himself against the corrections apparatus and organizing incarcerated people.

He says, “In the past three decades I have endured every level of abuse they have to offer: I have been starved, beaten, dehydrated, put in freezing cold cells, attacked with attack dogs, rendered unconscious, chained to a wall for weeks. There’s nothing left to fear.”

 Recently this year, Rashid helped facilitate a 300-person strong hunger strike within his cellblock in protest of wretched conditions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, Kevin Rashid Johnson was attacked at Pendleton Correctional Facility (PCF). Fortunately, he was able to defend himself and survived with three stitches to his hand. It is highly likely that the PCF staff is behind this attack. That day, Rashid was put in a cage in a disciplinary segregation unit, and that night, the staff unsuccessfully attempted to force him into pitch-black, empty solitary confinement cell. Days later, Rashid was transferred from PCF to Wabash Valley Correctional Facility just north of Carlisle, Indiana.

Since the attack on Rashid, he has been deprived of life-sustaining Keep on Person (KOP) medication that he is required to take on a daily basis, internet access, legal property (without which he is unable to prepare a legal defense against the maneuverings of the correctional apparatus), and all his property.

Shupavu wa Kirima, the wife of Comrade Rashid, has issued the following statement to SR in his behalf: “This country has a long standing history of sabotage and attempts at constraint in regard to black/New Afrikan political expression. Within labor movements as well as social movements the normalcy and frequency with which state sanctioned frustration and co-option take place are well documented. From COINTELPRO, lengthy prison sentences as punishment to our national heros and freedom fighters, to outright assassination, as was the case with our comrade, Chairman Fred, the state knows no bounds and will go to any length to maintain control and protect the current capitalist-imperialist social order.

“The threat or promise of the “black messiah” looms large in the fevered minds of the shrinking ruling class. Those who would step from the shadows of the masses and assume the responsibility to lead this struggle for true peace and freedom do so at great risk to themselves and must be protected at all costs. Kevin Rashid Johnson is truly our generation’s George Jackson. He has been consistent in his practice and application of revolutionary principles while in the belly of the beast and facing the most brutal forms of abuse and repression for over 30 years. He has not wavered and we must not waver. 

“We must protect and defend our political prisoners. I am calling on everyone to make it clear to IDOC and VADOC that we are watching and will hold them personally accountable for any harm that befalls our comrade and that they must at the very minimum meet the demands that we have put forward. Return his property, including legal property and life sustaining medications, allow him his right to legal counsel immediately, and transfer him out of Indiana.”

Rashid’s partner and the international solidarity network have put forward the following demands:

• All Rashid’s property be returned, including his K.O.P medications, correspondence, legal materials, and writing effects.

• He be transferred to a cell that allows his tablet to work so he can communicate with the outside world.

• He be transferred out of Indiana immediately.

• He be allowed to speak to his attorney and any other legal counsel he deems appropriate, and his attorney’s phone number be added to his phone contact list immediately. 

Socialist Resurgence reaffirms support for the freeing of all political prisoners! Black Lives Matter! Dismantle the racist police and the criminal “justice” system!

Please call and/or email the staff at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility expressing your support of Rashid. Please use the following contact information to let the staff at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility know that people all across the world stand in defense of Kevin Rashid Johnson!

Warden Frank Vanihel, fvanihel@idoc.in.gov. Mailing Address: 6908 S. Old U.S. Highway 41, P.O. Box 500, Carlisle, IN 47838. Phone: (812) 398-5050. Administrative Secretary to the Warden Janna Anderson.

Deputy Warden of Re-entry Kevin Gilmore: kgilmore@idoc.in.gov

Deputy Warden of Operations Frank Littlejohn: flittlejohn@idoc.in.gov

Legal Liaison Michael Ellis: MEllis28@idoc.in.gov, (812) 398-5050 ext. 4198.