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There is power in unity!

November 30, 2014

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

Revolutionary greetings, comrades and allies. “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” is a Steve Biko quote favored by Comrade George Jackson, member of the original Black Panther Party.

“It Should Never Be Easy for Them to Destroy Us” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

“It Should Never Be Easy for Them to Destroy Us” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

Comrades, for many months here in Texas, Comrade Rashid, our minister of defense, and I have struggled hard to shed light on the heinous acts of barbaric violence perpetrated by Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees against prisoners of every race, nation and creed. If it was not for Dr. Willie and Sister Mary Ratcliff, publisher and editor of the San Francisco Bay View, revolutionary voices might never be heard by the public at large.

If it was not for Dr. Willie and Sister Mary Ratcliff, publisher and editor of the San Francisco Bay View, revolutionary voices might never be heard by the public at large.

The bottom line is this: The lives of prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities in Texas mean nothing to the prison officials who have been commissioned to ensure their health, safety and welfare. But the problem is much deeper than that. Has anyone of you wondered why Rashid and I seek out the Bay View in order to aid us in broadcasting civil and human rights violations which take place in Texas? It is because our voices, which happen to be New Afrikan (Black), are excluded, marginalized and in most cases blatantly ignored by the mainstream media in Texas!

Looking for allies and finding them

In August 2014 I was elevated to the position of deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party and the United Panther Movement. My area of responsibility is the entire Texas region. I have been tasked with the job of forming partnerships and alliances with other Panther groups and like-minded progressive organizations who agree with our 10 point party platform and our United Front Against Imperialism.

In October 2014, I found such an organization right here on the Ramsey I Unit, which is located in Rosharon, Texas. Donsha “Brotha Akil” Crump is a New Afrikan prisoner serving a life sentence here on the Ramsey I Unit. In 2006, Bro. Akil founded a nonprofit organization called On Da Verg. Bro. Akil’s intention was to save young lives by instructing them in ways as to not get caught up in gang violence or the dope dealer lifestyle.

What drew me to Bro. Akil and what piqued my curiosity was On Da Verg’s unique strategies in reaching out to our youth and providing solutions to real world problems. The brothers and sisters who are members of On Da Verg believe our No. 1 job in America is our youth! And our No. 1 product in demand is realistic solutions!

In 2006, Bro. Akil founded a nonprofit organization called On Da Verg. Bro. Akil’s intention was to save young lives by instructing them in ways as to not get caught up in gang violence or the dope dealer lifestyle.

In order to reach our youth and target the key demographics of the youth, On Da Verg has picked five topics: 1) gang violence, 2) communication gaps that exist between parents and teens, 3) bullying, 4) teen pregnancy and 5) lack of education. On Da Verg has actually created solution-based models that they offer to the general public.

On Da Verg has also crafted corresponding manuals to the above-mentioned topics as well as establishing vital resources for prisoners and their families, especially children of incarcerated parents. What is extremely unique about On Da Verg is that they have a website, an iPhone app, and a social media presence!

These beautiful New Afrikan men and women have bridged the gap between the penitentiary and the free world, and free world folks in Houston, Texas, are very interested in the solutions On Da Verg is proposing.

But there is more! In August 2014 some free world members of On Da Verg took part in Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s Back to School Fest. Members were offered brand new backpacks with school supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, notebooks and colored markers. The Houston Independent School District has shown great interest in implementing some of On Da Verg’s programs which address gang violence and teen pregnancy.

From a Black Panther perspective, especially a New Afrikan Black Panther perspective, I couldn’t help but admire the “new wave” serve-the-people programs On Da Verg has initiated.

Bro. Akil has not always been housed on the Ramsey I Unit. In fact, like our illustrious Minister of Defense Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Bro. Akil was shipped to the “clan-handle” of Texas because he organized and mobilized men in Texas prisons to bring about positive change. In 2008, Bro. Akil was brought to Ramsey I in order to pursue a higher education.

Ramsey I is one of the only Texas prison units which offers prisoners opportunities to earn associate, bachelor and master college degrees. In 2008, Bro. Akil met another like-minded brother here on Ramsey I who would become his elder mentor in the ongoing structural development of On Da Verg platforms. His name is Yasir Malik El-Shabazz.

From a Black Panther perspective, especially a New Afrikan Black Panther perspective, I couldn’t help but admire the “new wave” serve-the-people programs On Da Verg has initiated.

Comrades, these men understand the realities of being young Black men and being labeled “high risk.” They realize Black men and women need to be educated and equipped with solutions to solve real world problems, and that brings me to the On Da Verg motto: “Bringing real people together to solve real problems.”

Bro. Akil would like to add this brief message to our Bay View readers. He says, “Everyone is on the verge of something, whether it is a critical decision or a life-changing choice. And since the No. 1 product in demand is solutions, we pride ourselves on not just pointing out problems but crafting realistic solutions. Our ‘action theme’ is to come up with so many solution alternatives that we wipe out and eradicate problems. What we have developed is a new technology in crisis management for an uncertain millennium.”

Comrades, with that being said, I urge you to visit OnDaVerg.org and see what solutions these New Afrikans have to offer. You see, I will be coming up for parole very soon and it is my desire to bring the New Afrikan Black Panther Party out of the prison and into the free world! I can’t make this transition by myself.

Victory and progress for prison Panthers

Comrades, many of you may have remembered reading my “Panther unleashed” article, which came out in the April 2014 Bay View. In that piece, I detailed the degradation, abuse and retaliation I and other prisoners were victim to at the hands of Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees. There was a special focus on an incident in which my fan and other prisoners’ fans were unplugged by a racist lieutenant named James Kent when the in-cell temperature was nearly 100 degrees, in July 2012. That article published by the Bay View got the attention of Professor Ariel Dulitzky, director of the University Of Texas School Of Law Human Rights Clinic in Austin, Texas.

The University of Texas School of Law Human Rights Clinic has teamed up with attorney Brian McGiverin of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin. These two organizations are aiding prisoners on the Pack I Unit in Navasota, Texas, who have a federal civil action against the state of Texas in regard to the inhumane conditions caused by the extreme heat inside Texas prisons.

The state is also fighting a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of 14 human beings who died in Texas prisons because of the unbearable extreme temperatures. Comrades, I’ve been down here for seven years and these prison housing facilities aren’t fit for human beings. They are brick ovens like the conditions of Auschwitz! We are being systematically murdered and exterminated down here in Texas!

On Oct. 9, 2014, three law students from the Human Rights Clinic came to the Ramsey I prison in order to interview me. They recorded our meeting and spoke with me about the extreme heat conditions and what TDCJ may or may not be doing in order to fix them. The three students were Kyle Shen, Cameron Njaa and Maxwelle Sokol. These three law students gave me hope that there still are people left in the world who are willing to speak truth to power and say “Stop!” when the fascist oppressive regime in Texas creates conditions which subject human beings to torture. Being locked in a cell for 23-24 hours a day when the cell temperatures sometimes reach 130 degrees is a form of torture!

Extra-judicial killings must be stopped

The study and report these students are preparing will be taken to Washington, D.C., soon for a congressional hearing on the topic of deaths in Texas prisons caused by extreme heat. However, the question has presented itself: What about all these stories of medical neglect and the murder of prisoners at the Bill Clements Unit located in Amarillo, Texas?

Should not the Human Rights Clinic, the FBI or the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division be up there interviewing Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson about the exposés he has written about the extrajudicial killing of prisoners housed in solitary confinement in Ad-Seg? TDCJ employees beat, stomp, kick, pepper-spray and in many cases murder human beings who are trapped in solitary confinement in Texas prisons.

Comrade Rashid is the voice of the voiceless prisoner who is crying out for help to a public that has been blinded and lied to by “prisoncrats” such as Brad Livingston, the executive director of TDCJ. There is power in unity! Noelle Hanrahan of PrisonRadio.org with the help of Carole Seligman, Dr. Willie Ratcliff and Sis. Mary Ratcliff have spearheaded the campaign to shed light on these murders perpetrated by the state of Texas. However, for some reason we have been unable to generate a significant public outcry.

Comrade Rashid is the voice of the voiceless prisoner who is crying out for help to a public that has been blinded and lied to by “prisoncrats.”

I believe the Bay Area’s Malkia Cyril has the solution. Malkia is the executive director of the Center for Media Justice which is also home to the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-NET). I ask that you read and internalize the following quote from Malkia Cyril: “The internet as a platform, as a vehicle for voice in Black communities has become one of the most powerful ways to bypass the exclusionary and discriminatory mainstream media.”

Comrades, is anything that I am trying to say resonating in your heart, mind or soul? Do you see that for 38 years the San Francisco Bay View has been offering a platform for Black voices to be heard, yet at times we hesitate to support the Bay View? There is power in unity! We must continue to support the people who support us! We must shed our embrace of tribalism in these Amerikkkan streets and realize the only way to stop the oppressor is to collectively unite against them!

Michael Novick of Turning the Tide, Victor Wallis of Socialism and Democracy and John S. Dolley in France have been my diehard supporters through thick and thin. But we need more help!

Do you see that for 38 years the San Francisco Bay View has been offering a platform for Black voices to be heard, yet at times we hesitate to support the Bay View? There is power in unity! We must continue to support the people who support us!

Comrades, the United Panther Movement is real and we are doing some real work on the ground in the trenches. I call on every Black and oppressed human being reading this piece to propose it in your heart today to strive harder in order to expose injustice. Save our New Afrikan Nation and help a fellow human being no matter their race, nationality or creed. The power of unity is real!

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

Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958, Ramsey I, 1100 FM 655, Rosharon, TX 77583.

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