Prisoners Resisting Isolation Torture, From Palestine to Pelican Bay

Date of Alert: 
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

 Prisoners Resisting Isolation Torture, From Palestine  to Pelican Bay (by way of Red Onion @ Pound, VA)Much of the left ignores prison issues, or considers them at most a peripheral symptom of more fundamental social dysfunction. But some of us have begun to see prison as one of the most important tools used to regiment and fragment oppressed communities across the united states. This email newsletter is going out three days after prisoners have resumed their hungerstrike in prisons throughout California (Chino, Calipatria, Tehachapi, West Valley Detention Center, and of course PB-SHU confirmed so far). Their demands are simple, and can be seen here. Outside support is going to be critical, as this round promises to be even more brutal than the July strike. If we do not step up and take our responsibilities seriously, prisoners may end up dying. People are encouraged to organize their own autonomous actions in support of the California hungerstrikers, wherever you may find yourselves. To stay abreast of the situation, check out the Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity Coalition blog, and subscribe to Hungerstrike News (send email to (For more thoughts on this, check out the article i just wrote for Slingshot newspaper, and have posted to my blog Sketchy Thoughts.) At the same time, halfway across the world, a similar struggle is unfolding in israeli prisons, where Palestinian prisoners commenced a hungerstrike yesterday, with the following demands: "1. End the solitary confinement and isolation of our comrade, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PLO Central Council, Ahmad Sa'adat, Abu Ghassan. 2. End the policy of isolation for all prisoners; 3. End the policy of systematic humiliation by the occupation army against the Palestinian people at checkpoints and crossings, particularly targeting visitors to prisons, and end the arbitrary denial of visits to the prisoners, especially the prisoners from the Gaza Strip. End the humiliation and abuse of prisoners during transfer." As in the California struggle, solidarity is urgently required, and may be the only thing that will save lives. For more information, see The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat. (The Campaign has already declared its solidarity with the California strikers - let's hope this is reciprocated and leads to more powerful work together!) Isolation torture is indeed a worldwide scourge, used around the world to destroy those deemed enemies of the state. Friends of Kersplebedeb may remember the essay Kevin "Rashid" Johnson wrote last year, exposing the new torture unit that was being built at that time at Red Onion prison in Virgina (Abu Ghraib Comes to Amerika: Torture Unit Under Construction at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison). As in Palestine, as in Pelican Bay, the goal of such a unit is to be able to inflict a kind of social extermination on prisoners, all while pretending to not engage in torture. In all these cases, isolation-imprisonment is an expression of colonialism. The abuse - and, therefore, the struggle - at Red Onion continues, as sadly evidenced by these reports: Breaking Prisoners’ Fingers at Red Onion State Prison: Restraint Technique or Plain Old Torture?by Kevin "Rashid" JohnsonMinister of DefenseNew Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter)Some things are just so obvious you don’t need rocket science to figure them out.  But those in power will still try and convince you your eyes are lying, your basic sense is failing, and the suffering is just imagination.  Routine torture by U.S. officials of poor people of color is a case in point. I’m going to use the prison setting as an example.  Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison in particular. In her new book, The New Jim Crow,1 civil rights attorney and legal scholar Michelle Alexander exposes modern U.S. mass imprisonment, and the so-called Drug War as the latest phase of ongoing political and racial oppression and containment of New Afrikan (Black) people.  She doesn’t, however, talk about the institutionalized sadism, brutality and torture we prisoners suffer under the guise of prison officials maintaining “security,” which is what I want to touch on here. continue reading...   Escalation of political repression at Red Onion State Prison (Virginia: United States)Over the years long standing organizing efforts by class conscious prisoners in the Virgina state system’s two maximum security facilities (Red Onion and Wallens Ridge) have been met with systematic repression including beatings, assaults with electrical and chemical weapons, isolation in special segregation units, interdiction of communications and at least one shooting incident.

Most recently Kevin “Rashid” Johnson a founding organizer of the NABPP-PC (New African Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter) and author of the book “Defying the Tomb” has been subjected to an extremely restrictive communications regime including the suspension of all outgoing mail and deprivation of most telephone access.

This is being carried out within the context of a broader agenda on the part of the Virginia DOC to criminalize and smear prisoner organizing as “gang activity”.

According to a recent message from an outside supporter on Rashid’s current situation:

“Basically, they have stepped up their interference with his communication  network and also their efforts to stigmatize him as a  'gang-member.'

Under the direction of one M. Duke, a gang task-force member who wears a  T-shirt with the inscription GANG UNIT (in very big letters), Rashid’s cell was raided and all of his stamps were taken. While his cell was being  ransacked, Rashid questioned Duke, pointing out that the latter’s insignia was like a signal to incite violence on the part of the authorities. He explained to Duke that the NABPP opposes gang behavior and asked why he was being targeted. Duke’s only response was that he “just happened to be there that  day.”

All Rashid’s phone connections have been blocked… He thinks that all his outgoing mail has been blocked. He asks that protest be made to state officials. He holds Tony  Adams (an  “investigator”) responsible for the cutting off of his lines of communication.

Rashid wants “noise” to be made — to protest the interference and also to  protest the labeling of the NABPP as a “gang.”
From Georgia to California and across the country the prison struggle is a key link in the broader class confrontation today and we need to support those organizing on the front lines under conditions of maximum repression and control.

Please call Red Onion State Prison at  (276) 796-7510 or mail a letter to ROSP, PO Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279 to politely express your concern about the ongoing political repression and forward and repost this information as widely as possible.Kevin "Rashid" Johnson is the Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter. His book Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw was published by Kersplebedeb in 2010. Many of his other writings are available online at  Prisoner Organizer Beaten at Red Onion: Demand Medical Attention for Kelvin Khaysi Canada!On September 3, Kelvin Khaysi Canada, an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, was beaten by 4 officers while he was fully restrained.  He sustained a gouged left eye, dislocated right shoulder, and a fractured rib.  The medical attention he received was cursory and ineffective.  He was told he was fine.  He is asking that folks contact Red Onion (276)796-7510 and Harold Clarke, the director of the DOC, at (804) 674-3000 to demand he receives proper medical attention.    Khaysi has been housed in the SHU, special housing unit, due to his political activity.  The treatment of inmates in that unit is akin to a torture unit.  Politically active folks who stick up for themselves or others are repeatedly tormented by the prison officials.  Please lend support to brother Khaysi.The above reports from Red Onion are just the tip of the iceberg - for more information, check out Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC) - while the group does have some stuff up on their website, i have been told that this is not being frequently updated, so better to check out their facebook page     SHOUT OUT TO BURNING BOOKS IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK! Letting you all know about this newest addition to the radical landscape. The store is located at 420 Connecticut Street in Buffalo, and opening hours are between 11am and 7pm, Wednesdays through Sundays. If you're in the area, it's a way to pick up good reads and support a good project at the same time!(Read a newspaper article about the store from Art Voice.)    In Montreal Friday September 30th
Andrea Smith on Systemic Violence against Native Women and First Nations Land Struggles: Making the Links
 Presented by Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (Missing Justice) & the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy.  Friday, September 30 · 6:30pm – 8:30pm
H-110, Concordia University Hall Building
1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest
Montreal, QC
 Andrea Lee Smith is a Cherokee intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Her work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, and Native American women in particular. Smith is the co-founder of: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence–a national grassroots organization that engages in direct action and critical dialogue; the Boarding School Healing Project–which seeks to document Native boarding school abuses so that Native communities can begin healing and demand justice; and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations. Childcare available with 48 hours notice // Wheelchair accessible space. // Whisper translation to French available on site. Event is free of cost. Show up early to guarantee space! More info: // Contact: // // ————————–————————–—— Andrea Smith is the author of the following books:

  • Sacred Sites, Sacred Rites (1998)
  • Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (2005)
  • Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances (2008)

 Andrea Smith has edited/ co-edited the following anthologies:

  • The Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (2006)
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (2007)

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