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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Crime & Police : Prisons : Race & Ethnicity

Urgent Action Needed: Help Rashid at Red Onion Prison

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, a prisoner at Red Onion State Prison in VA and prominent Black Panther leader is being abused regularly and is having his life threatened. Your help is needed to let them know we are all watching.
Re: Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, #185492, Red Onion State Prison

I am writing about an urgent matter. I am choosing my words carefully when I say I have reason to believe that Rashid’s life is in danger. Some of you already know some of the background on the current situation.

On Sunday, February 18, 2007 I visited Rashid with Lillie Branch-Kennedy of Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD). At the time of our visit, Rashid reported to me that earlier that morning he had been racially attacked, maced repeatedly, that his cell was not decontaminated, and he was denied a shower and medical attention: his nose was bleeding and he was in respiratory distress.

I received a letter in which he reported that immediately after our visit, his life was threatened and he was slammed into the wall by C.O. Dutton. The transcript of that letter is included below.

As you know, in May 2006 Rashid was tortured with a stun belt, after which he urinated blood for weeks. The abuse and torture continues and is now reaching a higher level. I was planning to go down to see him again this weekend, but just received word that his visitation privileges have been suspended. Earlier this week, I was told that his mail privileges had been suspended, but I talked to Counselor Stallard at Red Onion State Prison yesterday (Friday, March 2), and he assured me that Kevin is able to receive mail, a right which is guaranteed by federal law. However, as you know, there have been numerous problems with mail delay and obstruction, and there is no way of knowing whether he will be receiving mail until one of us receives his next letter. In the meantime, Rashid is now completely isolated, which leaves him completely vulnerable to grave physical harm.

If you can make one call, please call Warden Tracy Ray at Red Onion State Prison (276-796-7510) and check on Rashid on Monday March 5 or as soon as possible. The Warden needs to know that people are aware of the situation so that the guards do not take this "opportunity" to harm him- or worse.

If you can, please also call:

Gene Johnson, Director of the Virginia DOC, at (804) 674-3119
Governor Kaine, at (804) 786-2211

Issues that need to be addressed regarding Kevin Johnson, #185492:
-Harassment, threats, and abusive treatment by guards, especially C. Dutton
-Mail obstruction
-Revoking of visiting privileges
-Access to regular meals and medical care

I am also including the contact information for other Department of Corrections officials and government officials at the bottom of this email, so if you are able, please contact them as well.

We have contacted Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, AFSC Prison Watch, the Virginia ACLU, and Prison Legal News. If there is any other individual or organization you feel might be willing to advocate on behalf of Rashid, please contact them as well.

Also please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions and please circulate this email and attachment.

There is the famous saying from a guard to a political prisoner, “You are still alive because too many people care about you.?

Thank you all for supporting Rashid. His life and safety depend on all the support he can get.

becky sambol
The following is from a letter written to Rebecca Sambol by Kevin Johnson, #185492, dated February 18, 2007, received February 27, 2007:

The guard in question, C. Dutton, gave me a cold diet loaf which also was squashed with someone’s
hand(s). So I put my towel around the door’s tray slot to see a sergeant. Under such circumstances the sergeant or above must be contacted. Well, in comes Lt. Travis McCoy, Sgt. J. Artrip, and Sgt. S. Day (Day was involved in the electrocution incident with me), and several other guards with a 75,000 volt electric shield. While standing at the door waiting on the sergeant, Dutton remarked to me several times “you’re mad at me aren’t you nigger?? When McCoy and the sergeants came to the door I attempted to inform them of the situation to which McCoy replied “I don’t care, move you shirt out of the slot.? When I asked that he correct the meal he had the box on the door opened and sprayed me in the upper body with OC gas then stated to Sgt. Day, “don’t give him a shower, let him burn up in there.? Per policy any time gas is used the prisoner and cell must be decontaminated.

The nurse came around about 8:00 a.m. and I informed her of needing medical attention. My nose was bleeding- visibly - and I was complaining of respiratory distress. She said she’d have me brought out for an ECG and exam. I wasn’t seen. She notified me that I should rinse my eyes and face. I was never brought out nor confronted for an exam. I filed an emergency grievance about denied medical care at 8:50 a.m. It was answered at 9:00 a.m. by Sgt. D. McCowan who claimed I refused to come out of my cell to be assessed. The unit surveillance camera will show no one came to bring me out for assessment, and medical staff must personally verify any claimed refusal of emergency medical care and security staff are not to reply to medical grievances as McCowan did. Also per memo of the warden (on info and belief) anytime gas is used an audio/video recording must be made.

As you know Dutton escorted me with another guard who was involved in the incident to visitation- without incident. After you left and I was taken back into the back area to have my hands cuffed back behind me, there were 7 guards total and Dutton pushed me, while I was walking, into a wall twice, and kept repeating “nigger we’re going to kill you.? He also put the cuffs on so tightly they cut my circulation. He called me “nigger,? “bitch,? “pussy,? “scared,? etc, all the way back to my cell. That night he and the same guard denied me my dinner meal. He also denied dinner to another Black prisoner, D. Moore, #298267. They threw my loaf on the floor in front of my cell door. The other prisoner was able to tell Sgt. McCowan that he was denied his meal and McCowan laughed at him and walked out of the unit.

Dutton was assigned to this C-building but was told to escort me to and from visitation by McCoy, Day, McCowan, and Artrip so to try and provoke a situation to justify attacking me. Dutton’s entire performance was calculated to provoke me. But in that he threatened my life and assaulted me twice and denied me my meal, I feel I have a bonafide concern for my safety around him.

Warden Tracy Ray
Red Onion State Prison
P.O. Box 970
Pound, VA 24279
Phone Number: 276-796-7510

Gene Johnson
Director, Virginia Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 26963
Richmond, VA 23261
Fax Number: (804) 674-3236
Phone Number: (804) 674-3000

Larry Huffman
Regional Director, Western Region, Department of Corrections
5427 Peters Creek Road Suite 350
Roanoke, VA 24019
Phone Number: (540) 561-7050

John Marshall
Secretary of Public Safety
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone Number: (804) 786-5351
Fax: (804) 371-6381

Governor Tim Kaine
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351

Senator Yvonne B. Miller
Phone: (757-627-4212
Fax: (757) 627-7203
email: senatorybmiller (at) verizon.net

Delegate Kenneth Alexander
Phone: &757) 628-1000
Fax: (757)-480-1789
email: DelKAlexander (at) house.state.va.us

Delegate Maye BaCote
Phone: (757) 244-4415
email: DelMBaCote (at) house.state.va.us

Senator Janet Howell
Phone: (703) 709-8283
Fax: (703-435-1995
email: SenHowell (at) aol.com

Senator Henry Marsh
Phone: (804) 648-9073
Fax: (804) 648-2116
email: district16 (at) sov.state.va.us

Delegate Thomas Rust
Phone: (703) 437-9400
Fax: (703)435-6655
Email: DelTRust (at) house.state.va.us

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