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Panther unleashed

March 23, 2014

by Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington

“Our point of departure is to serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves from the masses, to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people.” – Mao Tze Tung “On Coalition Government”

'Panther Love' by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson, web
“Panther Love” by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591
Comrades, after nearly two years of 23-hour lockdown in Ad-Seg here in Texas, I have recently been released to general population. I am currently housed on the Wynne Unit located in Huntsville, Texas. I spent close to one year on one of the most notoriously abusive high security units in Texas, the Estelle High Security Unit located also in Huntsville. Unknown to the fascist oppressors who held me captive on Estelle, I kept meticulous records of the abuse and mistreatment I witnessed and fell victim to. I am now in a position where I can reveal these crimes against humanity.

The beginning

As I said, I have witnessed many acts of abuse, but there are some more heinous than others. In order for one to appreciate the true corrupt and vicious nature of the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice I must describe a couple of incidents in detail.

On March 14, 2012, I was at the Estelle Unit. At the time, I had been incarcerated in Texas for approximately four and a half years. My disciplinary record was spotless and I held one of the most coveted prisoner jobs in Texas. I was an ODR cook. That meant I worked in the Officers’ Dining Room, commonly known as the ODR. I prepared meals for the warden and all employees at Estelle Unit. Needless to say I was considered a “model inmate.”

As I was saying, on March 14, 2012, my housing block, G-2, was being let out for the dinner meal. An elderly, blind Mexican/Latino prisoner named Esteban Flures was also headed to chow. Esteban lived on the block with me and others on G-2.

Esteban had not been issued a walking stick. He was feeling his way down the hallway by touching the wall as he proceeded to the dining area. I was actually skipping chow that day in order to meet a Muslim volunteer who was coming to Estelle for the first time. As Esteban approached the dining hall doorway, a Black male officer named Terrell Beverly threw his hands up in a gesture for Esteban to stop. Esteban kept feeling his way until he got his fingers wrapped around the seal of the doorway.

You see, comrades, Esteban is completely blind as are many prisoners housed in Estelle unit. It’s a medical unit. TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) Officer Terrell Beverly slammed the door of the dining hall onto Esteban’s fingers. He let out a primal scream of pain. Officer Beverly said, “You stupid mother-fu***, I told you to stop. Now give me your ID. I’m writing you a case!”

After this extremely malicious and brutal act, Officer Beverly did not make one attempt to render aid nor did he show one speck of remorse. A White male prisoner, last name Wright, guided Esteban to the Infirmary. I went to the Chapel to meet with my Muslim brothers and made a mental note to check on Esteban later.

At 10 p.m. that evening, I returned to my housing block of G-2. Esteban had returned also and he was sitting in the dayroom looking blankly in the air. I looked at his hand and fingers and was shocked beyond belief. His fingers were grotesquely swollen. The medical service used common clear tape on his now yellow, black and blue fingers! No gauze, no antibiotic ointment, nothing. I could see blood seeping between cracks in the common clear tape.

Comrades, at this time my anger was kindled to a level it has not been at for a very long time. I asked Esteban in Spanish what happened. I also spoke to the good Samaritan who escorted him to medical. I put together an articulate and detailed complaint to Assistant Warden Christopher Carter.

I spent close to one year on one of the most notoriously abusive high security units in Texas, the Estelle High Security Unit located also in Huntsville. Unknown to the fascist oppressors who held me captive on Estelle, I kept meticulous records of the abuse and mistreatment I witnessed and fell victim to. I am now in a position where I can reveal these crimes against humanity.

My cellmate at the time was also a New Afrikan Black Panther known as Comrade Optimus Prime. Comrade Optimus wrote a detailed letter to Sen. John Whitmire, who is the chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Committee.

The Mexican/Latino prisoners on Estelle Unit saw how concerned we were about the personal welfare of Esteban. Some were ashamed that no one from “La Raza” was looking out for Esteban. Many actually thanked Comrade Optimus and me for getting involved. They vowed to look out for Esteban, taking turns escorting him to and fro.

As for TDCJ employee Officer Terrell Beverly? He was promoted to sergeant two weeks after the incident! Beverly was moved across the street to the notorious Estelle High Security Unit. So the question presented itself, were there not plenty of witnesses to this blatant act of abuse of a disabled human being? Yes, there were! Well then, who or what “agency” is in charge of investigating criminal acts that take place inside TDCJ? The answer: the Office of the Inspector General of Texas.

Why is this man still working for TDCJ? And, by the way, Beverly was promoted again to lieutenant in November 2012 and he was transferred to the Pam Lynchner Unit. So Texas rewards abusive and sadistic officers instead of prosecuting them? Ah-ha! Now you are getting it. Systemic, pervasive acts such as this are sanctioned and condoned throughout the agency.

Retaliation, threats and torture

As a result of my activism and my attempts to have Beverly held accountable for his behavior, I became a target. Two White male lieutenants, one named Jason Smith and the other Deward Demoss, began a campaign of harassment and retaliation aimed at me. This campaign manifested itself as fabricated and bogus disciplinary violations, such as facing the wrong way in the hallway, and then I was written up for blocking the chow hall doorway. Each time I was given maximum punishment and Smith and Demoss were deeply involved.

Comrades, it was clear that I was being retaliated against. I eventually began receiving physical threats to my personal safety. A lieutenant named Billy Jackson, another White male officer, was the person issuing the threats. Because of the increasing number of bogus and fabricated disciplinary reports, I was sent to Unit Classification Committee for what is called re-class. I made a volatile and threatening political statement to the committee members and that verbal statement landed me in Estelle High Security. The date was May 7, 2012.

As a result of my activism and my attempts to have Beverly held accountable for his behavior, I became a target.

I was initially housed on C-Wing, which is the disciplinary wing on Estelle High Security. There were many men suffering from psychological disorders. If one was to listen to TDCJ administrators, a guy like me with no history of violent behavior should never have been housed on C-Wing. But there I was. C-Wing was infested with roaches, there was a constant pervasive smell of sewage and there weren’t any electrical outlets for fans on 1-Row and I was housed on 1-Row! Summer was approaching fast.

On July 1, 2012, two prisoners died of heat stroke at the Regional Medical Facility on the Estelle Unit. The Houston and Dallas areas were suffering the effects of a vicious heat wave. Temperatures were topping out at 112 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooling system at the Estelle High Security Unit was broken. The air being pumped into the cell was super hot. Temperatures were reaching 98 F! I and many other prisoners housed on C-Wing 1-Row had fans, yet we had no outlet in our cells to plug them in.

On the evening of the heat-related deaths, a female sergeant, last name Smith, who had a strong German accent, made the decision to allow us to plug our fans into a utility closet outside of our cells. The show of humanity was remarkable, but the relief was short-lived.

On July 2, 2012, at approximately 7:45 a.m., a White male lieutenant named James H. Kent came to C-Wing. I was working out in my cell, sweating profusely and breathing heavily. All of a sudden my fan stopped turning. Under the auspices of a fabricated “safety hazard,” Major David M. Forrest, a White male ranking officer at the Estelle High Security Unit ordered Lt. James H. Kent to unplug fans knowing full well that his action would place human lives at risk!

What is almost comical, the Amerikan Corrections Association, commonly known as ACA, came to inspect and audit Estelle High Security on July 3, one day after Major Forrest’s barbaric, inhumane order to unplug fans. No inspectors came to C-Wing! This “secret” and covert agreement between TDCJ and ACA to hide, cover-up and turn a blind eye to inhumane prison conditions in Texas is nothing new. They have been doing business like this for years – decades even.

In response to this act of inhumanity, I wrote a special grievance step 1 (I-127) citing life endangerment against Lt. James H. Kent. Then I wrote a brief letter to the executive director of TDCJ, Mr. Brad Livingston, simply asking for plugs to be installed on 1-Row, C-Wing, or that I be moved to a cell which had an outlet so I could plug my fan in.

However, this was not just about me. Some men had no fan; some were older than me and had health problems. Many had mental disorders which caused many to be prescribed psychotropic medications that have contraindications for heat and sunlight.

With that being said, I went a step further in order to get some type of help and relief. I wrote to prisoner rights organizations in Texas, Concerned Christians for Inmates, whose home office is in San Antonio, Texas, and I also wrote Joan Covici and Michael Jewell of Texas CURE in Dallas. I gave them all the details and I told them about the recent heat-related deaths. Obscuring details and covering up facts is a specialty of TDCJ. I requested that these organizations file a formal citizens complaint with the Ombudsman Office, TDCJ-CID.

In two weeks I was moved completely off of C-Wing to a wing that had electrical outlets in 1-Row cells. Two weeks after that I received my Step 1 back and it was determined all prisoners housed on C-Wing, 1-Row could plug their fans into the utility closets outside of their cells. This was an example of Pantherism in action!

Comrades, at every high security unit, Ad-Seg and Death Row unit in Texas, there is one wing that is worse than others. It is used to house Level 3 prisoners. Level 3 prisoners have lost all of their privileges. They are allegedly the worst of the worst.

Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party prison chapter Kevin “Rashid” Johnson saw firsthand that wings such as C-Wing were used for something else. They are used to punish and torture politically active prisoners!

Furthermore, there are men and women who have serious mental illnesses housed on these so-called “disciplinary wings.” Some are deaf and mute! These human beings are treated the worst! Denied food, teased constantly and tortured. I’m not telling you what I think. I’m telling you what I know!

Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party prison chapter Kevin “Rashid” Johnson saw firsthand that wings such as C-Wing were used for something else. They are used to punish and torture politically active prisoners!

Prison Panthers in Texas

Racism is a reality in Texas but the NABPP fights hard for the rights of all lumpen underclass prisoners. When Comrade Rashid, our M.O.D. (minister of defense) was brought here to Texas in June 2013, it was a blessing to have the support of a dedicated network of free world comrades. However, it also was a curse mainly because Rashid has been subjected to the tortuous conditions I had already become accustomed to. Many ask why Comrade Rashid is our current minister of defense. The most concise answer is he is the most advanced politically within our ranks at this time.

Members who are New Afrikan cadre spend many arduous hours studying the political discourses of Marx, Mao and Lenin. We study the writings of Comrade George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Dr. Francis Cress-Welsing and countless others.

When we recount the serve-the-people strategies of the original Black Panthers, we dissect the deeper essence of, let’s say, the Free Breakfast Program. This revolutionary program did much more than feed hungry children. The original Planters exposed the inadequacy of the capitalist society and U.S. government, which claimed freedom, justice and equality for all but blatantly and callously ignored the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable members of Amerikan society at that time, inner-city youth and children who were mostly Black and Brown!

This exposure of the hypocrisy of the Amerikan government created an opportunity for the original Panthers to open up a dialogue at the prospect of overthrowing this capitalist-imperialist regime and installing socialism. Through all of our activism, essays and legal fights, at the end of the day WE, the NABPP, are revolutionary socialists.

Through all of our activism, essays and legal fights, at the end of the day WE, the NABPP, are revolutionary socialists.

At our table of unity sits every section of Amerikan society – Black, White, Latino/a, First Nation, Arab and Asian people represented by mass organizations who are our allies in struggle. The Anarchist Black Cross Network has provided the NABPP with invaluable support inside these modern-day gulags.

My next big step will be my upcoming parole interview next year. The fight to shed light on injustices on TDCJ is just now heating up. We can do nothing without the support of free world comrades like you reading this piece. Dare to struggle. Dare to win. All power to the people!

Send our brother some love and light: Keith Washington (Comrade Malik), 1487958, Wynne Unit, 810 FM 2821, Huntsville, TX 77349. Typed by Adrian McKinney.

 

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