Fighting for the Rights of Muslims inside Texas Prisons

Assalamu-laikum sisters and brothers!

At times I wish I was unemotional and not affected by the plights of others, but I am humyn, I have feelings, and sometimes I am hurt.

Such was the case when I read an article in the July 2017 edition of the San Francisco Bay View – National Black Newspaper, which described incidents in which Muslim prisoners at the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas being purposely starved during our Holy Month of Ramadan!

A multitude of emotions swept through me while I read the piece, which was written by a non-Muslim who just happens to be a friend of mine and fellow comrade in this wonderful New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) that we both hold membership in.

What broke me down is when the comrade, Jason Renard Walker, said “Comrade Malik, if you are listening, we need your help…”

It is my absolute duty to come to the aid of any Muslim who is being persecuted or mistreated on account of their faith.

While we are on that subject, I must say: I am currently being represented by the Albritton law firm in a Federal Civil Case in which the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has forbidden me to grow a 4-inch beard and wear my Kufi (prayer cap) throughout TDCJ facilities.

There are other aspects of my case which affect thousands of Muslims inside Texas prisons. For instance, TDCJ prison guards have been handing out major disciplinary cases to Muslims who trim their moustaches! However, our Holy Prophet Muhammed (saw) instructed all Muslims to “grow your beard to its full length and trim the moustache.” Furthermore, TDCJ has instituted a policy which forces all religious beard wearer to shave their beards on their birthday yearly!

I cannot comment further because my lawyer has instructed me to “chill out” a bit, but please know we are going to fight hard in that “paint” for all believers in Texas prisons! And let me be clear, I’m talking about all Christian, Jewish and Muslim believers who have become targets for discrimination because they choose to grow a “big boy” beard!

So as Muslims in Texas, whether you are incarcerated or free, we know there has been an increase in acts of hatred towards us and an uptick of Islamophobia. I have cried out for help to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR has defined itself as a champion for the rights of Muslims everywhere, so I am very hopeful that CAIR attorneys will shift their focus to Texas prisons.

The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild have also been actively confronting the Trump administration’s ban on Muslims who seek to migrate the United States from predominantly Muslim countries.

I am thankful for the legal materials sent to me by NLG attorney Ollie Jefferson and Yale University Law School student Maya Menlo who did not ignore my please for help. I hope to see more Civil Rights lawyers and activists helping prisoners in Texas.

What is really going on at the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas?

Sisters and brothers, near the the beginning of Ramadan 2017, the Administrators at the Bill Clements Unit decided to place the entire unit on a “security” lockdown. We are still not exactly clear on why this decision was made, but we do know that various Bill Clements Unit prison guards used this “security” lockdown as a pretext to mistreat and starve Muslims. We must understand that there continue to be unintended consequences to the overt hatred and Islamophobic rants that spew from the mouth of US President Donald Trump. Rural areas in Texas like the one where Bill Clements Unit is located have a history of intolerance to those who are “different”. The fact that many Muslims at the unit are New Afrikan (Black) only exacerbates the problem. So we are not just dealing with an issue of religious discrimination, we are also dealing with the dynamic of structural and institutionalised racism.

In Huntsville, Texas, we have the Director of Chaplaincy Services, Vance Drum. Mr Drum purposely ignores the increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism among TDCJ prison guards! Non-acknowledgement seems to be the new favored tactic by the oppressors who operate this bigoted and corrupt prison agency. Until we are able to generate a significant amount of media exposure in order to foment a public outcry for justice, we will continue to hear reports such as this from inside Texas prisons.

However, Bill Clements Unit presents an extraordinary case – this is the same unit where my comrade and friend Kevin “Rashid” Johnson exposed many “mysterious” deaths of prisoners housed in solitary confinement. I mean, if any intelligent persyn reads and studies Rashid’s exposes, they will clearly see prison guards at the Bill Clements Unit have had a “love affair” with sadistic behavior and the abuse of humyn beings in their care. Then what jumps out at you as you peel the onion back, is the over-the-top collusion between state employees, government officials, and, most shockingly, officers of the court such as judges and district attorneys, as they continue to try and cover up these horrible criminal acts and crimes against humanity!

The transfer of Comrade Rashid to the state of Florida (late June 2017) certainly serves as an indictment of these Satanic state employees and violators of the public’s trust!

Sisters and brothers, please use your intellects on this: If Bill Clements Unit administrators will promote, sanction and condone the abuse and murder of prisoners in their care, then surely they are capable of allowing prison guards to taunt and purposely starve my Muslim brothers during our Holy Month of Ramadan!

This is not the first time that this has happened! In 2016, while I was housed at the Coffield Unit located in Tennessee Colony, Texas, Senior Warden Jeffrey Catue, who portrays himself as a “Good Christian Brother” decided to lock the unit down during Ramadan. Major Guliermo Delarosa, Chaplain Henderson, and Kitchen Captain Urbina all conspired together in order to starve the Muslims during Ramadan at the Coffield Unit.

A rumor was spread saying “The Muslims are being handled rough because of that troublemaker Comrade Malik.” Well, it’s 2017, and I’m here to tell you that I’m still making “trouble for those who mistreat the Muslims!

At Coffield Unit in 2016, a Jeffin-House negro named Chaplain Akbar Shabazz betrayed the Muslims again! Shabazz conspired with Major Delarosa, and Muslims were unable to prepare their holy meals during the month of Ramadan 2016.

So in 2016, Ramadan was rough at the Coffield Unit. However, at the end of Ramadan, at our Eid celebration, Allah (swt) granted relief! It was literally “raining” fried chicken at the Coffield Unit! I’ve never seen so much fried chicken in my life.

In this prison environment, there are sometimes joys and many sorrows, but it is absolutely necessary for all Muslims, men and wimmin, to strive together in order to confront and expose the bigots and hypocrites who operate these slave kamps.

There is power in the pen and in the intellect Allah has blessed you with.

Salaam Abdul Malik

Keith “Malik” Washington is a humyn rights activist currently incarcerated in Texas. He is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. Malik is a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and he is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or write him directly at Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington TDC# 1487958 Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Road 1 Lovelady, Texas 75851 (936) 636-7321 ext. (**009)

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