Incarceration Nation

Rashid Will Not Be Silenced!

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson—transferred to Florida and thrown in solitary for publicizing abuses

By Carole Seligman

Editors’ note: This is an update on Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, whose artwork and articles exposing prison abuse in four different states where he has been imprisoned—Virginia, Oregon, Texas, and now, Florida— have been published in this magazine over several years. It is based on two articles by Rashid.1

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson was “unceremoniously packed off to Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) on June 22, 2017” from Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas, to the Reception and Medical Center (RMC) in Lake Butler, Florida. In an article titled “I’m Off to Florida and a New Phase of Reprisals for Publishing Abuses in U.S. Prisons,” Rashid describes a horrifying “welcoming committee.” 

“I was brought from the van, manacled hand and foot into an enclosed vehicle port, where I was met by a mob of white guards of all ranks. I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me.

“Their ‘chosen’ spokesman...stepped forward and launched into a speech consisting of threats and insults. He emphasized that I was ‘not in Virginia or wherever else’ I’d been. That ‘this is Florida, and we’ll beat your ass! We’ll kill you!’ He assured my ‘Black ass,’ that my tendency to protest ‘won’t be tolerated here.’ He went on and on, like an overseer explaining the plantation’s code of decorum and the ‘place’ to a newly arrived Black slave. The analogy is apt. ‘You will answer us only as ‘no sir’ and ‘yes sir,’ ‘no ma’am’ and ‘yes ma’am’ You forget this and we’ll kick your fucking teeth out,’ he barked.”

Rashid was brought before the “gang investigator” also known as the “Security Threat Group [STG]” investigator, who “admitted his purpose was to put an STG profile on me, refer it to FDC’s central office in Tallahassee to be upheld, and then be put on STG file, which would be used to stop my writings.” The investigator explained to Rashid that he knew all about his published articles about prison abuses and assured him that FDC “would put an end to it.” The investigator attempted to get Rashid to characterize himself and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, his organization, as a “gang!”

A constitutionally protected

Rashid explained that he is “a member of a constitutionally protected, non-violent communist party” and that the false charges the investigator was making were typical of fascist governments and would be addressed publicly and in court.

During Rashid’s time at the RMC, in which he was placed in the solitary confinement unit in a hot, filthy insect-infested cell with no bunk, no fan, and a commode that had to be flushed by a guard outside the cell, he was labeled and treated as “an extreme physical threat.”

For several days he was denied his blood pressure medication, which caused him to collapse and be hospitalized.

On July 6, Rashid was notified that he would be formally reviewed for placement on Close Management status—the FDC’s name for solitary confinement. The reason given—dangerous gang leader—was to justify suppressing Rashid’s writings documenting prison abuses. 

Rashid reminds his readers that this gang affiliation label is the same one that prompted “three historic hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and the successful class action lawsuit outlawing prolonged solitary confinement for it in 2014.”

He writes: “So, according to FDC officials I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations.” This, he reminds us, is all in writing, “and should you [the reader] protest, you will be labeled a gangster yourself.”

Protesting being thrown in solitary

A second article by Rashid from Florida is titled “Thrown in Solitary for Publicizing Abuses.”

He reports that on July 14, the hearing took place by the Florida DOC Institutional Classification Team (ICT). At this hearing the original charge of being a gang leader was amended to say that Rashid’s published reports of prison abuse and the public complaints resulting from these writings “somehow resulted in, or could have resulted in, serious physical injury to someone.”  Although Rashid gave a written statement refuting the actions of the FDC assigning him to solitary confinement, and outlining the illegalities of the FDC and ICT actions, he was thrown in solitary.

Rashid’s statement to the hearing begins: “The CM recommendation and supporting comments show that Florida Department of Corrections officials are not only lawless, but their actions and intentions against me are racist, politically intolerant and overall unconstitutional.”

His statement goes on to:

  • Put the gang profiling of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party in the context of the racial and political oppression of Blacks in the U.S. South;
  • Cite U.S. Supreme Court decisions upholding political expression and association for minority dissident groups;
  • Expose the gang profiling of the NABPP as a practice of open racism and political intolerance, quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Black’s 1959 statement that “History should teach us...that...minority parties and groups which advocate extremely unpopular social or governmental innovations will always be typed as criminal gangs and attempts will be made to drive them out.”
  • Cite that FDC officials are allowed to join the Democrat and Republican Parties even though President Trump “is a known racist, housing discriminator, habitual sexual assaulter of women, and has neo-Nazis like Steve Bannon as key advisers of his administration.”
  • Cite his being “targeted for indefinite solitary confinement...for my political association/expression/affiliation with the NABPP and publicizing…prison abuses.
  • Cite FDC’s statement that his writings are “a threat to security.”
  • State that the prison “admitted that the actual reason I’ve been interstate transferred now and in the past is because of my publicizing abuses.”
  • Cite five court cases upholding the free speech and expression rights of prisoners;
  • Cite as “ridiculous” the prison’s portrayal as gang activity that the public reads his prison writings and has protested the conditions and abuses he’s reported, again citing court cases upholding prisoners’ rights to petition the government for redress of grievances.

He concludes, “Apparently I’m being treated like an ‘enemy combatant’ being secretly renditioned to ‘Black Site’ prisons. This all shows that FDC officials are perversely and absurdly twisting perfectly legal and constitutionally protected actions on my, the public’s, and the media’s part, to speciously rationalize totally illegal designs on their own part.”

He writes: “...absolutely nothing is even hinted at that shows any actions by me that did, or could, cause anyone any physical harm at all. Everything I am described to have done is legal and constitutionally protected activity....”

Rashid’s conclusion

“As stated, the foregoing statement had no bearing on the ICT’s decision to throw me in solitary. In fact the hearing was only a formality—it had already been decided beforehand by the ICT and FDC’s HQ officials to put me in CM.

“Indeed, as I was being ‘escorted’ from my cell to the hearing by a Sergeant John Nyitray, he asked if my property was already packed or stored in such a way inside my cell that he could quickly put it all into a bag. I asked why, to which he replied I was going to be transferred immediately following the hearing. I’d already been told by various sources that if I was put in CM I’d likely be sent to Florida State Prison’s (FSP) CM unit, which was less than a thirty minutes drive from FDC’s Reception and Medical Center (RMC) where I was then confined. 

“It was then approaching 5:00 P.M., and only emergency transfers authorized by FDC’s HQ in Tallahassee are done at such a late hour. And so it was.

“Immediately following the staged ‘hearing’ where I was told by RMC’s assistant warden Polk that I have no rights, I was returned to my cell, instructed to pack my things, and was then promptly transferred to FSP’s CM unit, where I remain. How more obvious could a corrupt conspiracy orchestrated at the highest levels of authority be? How more blatant could officials be in their designs to suppress and punish the public’s inalienable right to know what a government that professes to be theirs is up to? How more evident could it be that the government is not theirs and they must therefore rein it in and replace it with one that genuinely is of the People, by the People, for the People.”

We urge you to write to Rashid and to protest Rashid’s confinement in solitary (CM) to Warden Barry Reddish at Florida State Prison, P.O. Box 800, Raiford, FL 32083.

Write to Rashid at:

Kevin Johnson #158039

Florida State Prison

P.O. Box 800

Raiford, FL 32083

Editors of Socialist Viewpoint, who communicate frequently with Rashid, know that he is not receiving our letters in a timely manner. Some letters we sent a month ago have not been received. We are trying to ascertain Rashid’s health status, his ability to receive our letters, and how to help him get relief from solitary, a condition of torture that no one should endure.

1 “I’m Off to Florida and a New Phase of Reprisals for Publishing Abuses in U.S. Prisons”

Thrown in Solitary for Publishing Abuses”