we interrupt our regular news schedule to bring you an excerpt from “Defying the Tomb” a book by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson and “Outlaw”, revolutionary organizers in the Virginia state prison system.
the book is due to be published in October by Kersplebedeb (www.kersplebedeb.com), its a fascinating account of political education, organizing and agitation in one of the most repressive possible environments.
The except below comes from Rashid’s autobiography.
write Rashid at Kevin Johnson, 1007485, Red Onion State Prison, P.O.Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279 and buy the book when it comes out!
…I’ve been imprisoned for sixteen years (since I was eighteen), the last twelve of which I’ve spent in solitary, confined almost always within specially constructed and modified cells, and often totally isolated from other prisoners. Although I was not exposed to his writings until just some three years ago, my actions against the pigs and their proxies have been motivated by the same drive that motivated George Jackson, viz., “I have always been inclined to get disturbed over organized injustice or terrorist practice against the innocents – wherever … ” And even though I was under illegitimate capitalist influences before and during much of my imprisonment,I’ve always been engaged in something of a running battle with the establishment.
The forces that combined to ensure this last lengthy incarceration were driven by my having earned the label while in society as a “cop killer,” and personal revenge against me by some pig “victims”of my actions.
I was jailed twice in 1990; the first confinement being a brief one (I was acquitted), the second being upon the arrest from which I remain imprisoned.
In order to give some insight into my present incarceration, the first 1990 arrest must be detailed and other background facts given. While I do not wish to glamorize my past antisocial activities, I must give some account of my past to allow an understanding of who I am today.
Like so many young Blacks, I was involved in the street level drug trade; only I took a different tact than most in my approach to “the game.” I perceived myself as being a one-man army.
Under various pretexts I would position myself on others’ turf, first in a neutral role to study and take in what was going on, e.g., who the suppliers were, how much money came through the area in sales, pig activities, who amongst the sellers were about getting money and who were about gaining reputations as “gunslingers,” the various weights and sizes of products being sold, etc.
Upon gaining a good feel of the area, I’d move in and, using bribes and violence selectively, would basically take over. Those who sided with me had my complete loyalty. My methods led to many “wars” against rival groups, which I most often came out on top of. The opposition was all too visible, their hangouts, homes, and flashy cars being known and their patterns predictable. I, on the other hand, came and went unpredictably. I did no hanging out in clubs or otherwise, and had no known residence or method of travel. Observation, hit and evasion, was my mode of combat. When, because of these exchanges,an area became too “hot” for business, I’d move on to another area.
The last area that I frequented, I organized upon a more developed program. I didn’t need to establish myself there, because my reputation was already known in the area. I suspected that my name was also known by the city pigs. So, I focused on driving the pigs and any competition out. Ironically, I was never really concerned with profits; I was more concerned with unity within the clique and developing community affinity.
Each weekend, Saturdays and Sundays, we’d organize community galas. Each weekend a different member of our clique would pay all expenses. We’d buy bushels of crabs, cases of beer, and pay the local “shot house” people to prepare all sorts of foods and beverages.
Large, amplified speakers were set out on the curb, and everyone in the neighborhood ate and danced at no cost. This won us a lot of local affection within the complex and even with the complex manager. Violence within our group was strictly forbidden, as was flashing and randomly shooting off guns in the area. “Customers”were to be respected and no “sales” were to be made around children. Pig patrols were driven out, under gunfire. They only openly ventured into the area in convoys of six or more patrol cars, four pigs to each car. An isolated pig cruiser was apt to get holed. When they tried to set up watch posts in vacant apartments, the complex manager alerted us, with the result that the watchers got watched, and as soon as they left the post the apartment was raided and everything stolen or smashed.
The pigs finally took heart by building a containment fence(about twelve feet high) around the complex (we quickly opened holes around the fence); organizing neighborhood foot patrols by squads of pigs in plainclothes carrying rifles, shotguns and pistols in hand; and establishing a curfew in the area. If the pigs caught a young Black in the area after 9 pm without residential credentials, he was promptly arrested for trespassing. This is the context in which my first arrest in 1990 took place.
While sitting a block away from the complex one night, observing movements of the plainclothes pigs, a convoy of patrol cars converged on a brother I knew from the neighborhood, who was walking to his female friend’s home. The plainclothes had apparently called in the convoy, which had obviously been on standby close by. Observing this brother surrounded by a hostile crowd of some twenty uniformed pigs, I (defying my instinct to stay put and observe) disarmed and approached the scene to see if I could diffuse the situation.
Upon seeing me approach, a detachment of pigs broke off from the main group, stopped me some twenty feet short of the brother, and asked if I was his cousin, as he’d claimed upon seeing me approaching. He’d told the pigs, refuting their claims that he was trespassing, that I could verify his girlfriend’s residence, and her home to be his destination.
I acknowledged that we were related. I was asked my name, to which I replied, “Kevin Johnson.” One white pig named Oink turned quickly to the brother and asked,“If this is your cousin, what’s his name?” Not having heard what I said, the brother replied, “Rashid.” All attention then immediately focused on me. Oink replied, “So, you’re Rashid. We’ve been looking for you.” He then recited a list of citywide and local incidents in
which the name Rashid had come up as involved, including attacks on pigs.
I was promptly surrounded by the growing mass of uniforms with my back to a patrol car. Oink put in a radio call to a detective unit to determine if any warrants or indictments for my arrest were outstanding. There were none. Apparently, they had never been able to get an accurate identification on me. He then reached into the patrol car and came out with a Polaroid camera. As he prepared to snap pictures I began distorting my face. I crossed my eyes, protruded tongue, inflated jaws, flared nostrils, etc. Oink demanded that I straighten my face up. I informed him that I hadn’t consented to a photo shoot, and until I did to be satisfied with what he got.
Enraged, the pig forcefully pushed me back into the car. I rebounded, driving several jabs into his face. The other pigs converged, swinging flashlights, sticks, and radios. I drove through the mob leading the way with straight jabs, and just upon breaking out of the group of swinging pigs, I tripped and fell. I was promptly piled upon, handcuffed, and beaten further. Ironically, I wasn’t beaten too badly – too many pigs. They were beating each other more than me.
Experience has taught me something which may be of use to those resisting organized oppression: pigs don’t tend to spontaneously beat a person who fights back as brutally as they do one who shows fear or passively accepts being attacked. Anyway, Oink arrested me on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. They forgot all about the brother, who’d walked a short distance away and watched the spectacle.
At court I declined an attorney and recited to the judge what had happened. He took it all in with barely concealed humor. He was especially humored about my making faces and my described reaction to Oink’s pushing me. Oink was furious. When he turned to Oink asking if what I’d described were true, Oink replied, “Yeah, basically.” The judge admonished Oink and told me that I was free to go. On the way out of the courthouse, Oink assured me that if he saw me in the complex again it would be him and me. My young pride never allowed me to refuse a challenge. I replied that I’d be
On June 4, 1990, I stood deliberately in front of the forbidden complex, in broad daylight and armed, talking to a sister who lived in the area.
Suddenly, Oink pulled up at high speed, brakes screeching, and ran up onto the curb. He jumped out of his unmarked car with sidearm drawn – a .38 – yelling, “Rashid, I’ve got your ass now!”
I darted around a building to get the sister out of the line of fire and pulled my own weapon – a .44 with a very long barrel. When Oink bent the corner, gunfire erupted. He dove headfirst behind a concrete porch. While I stood prone facing him, he remained crouched behind the porch shooting wildly in my direction.
My gun empty, I ran through a nearby creek (ditching the gun in the process), sprinted through the complex, only to be tackled from behind (dizzy from blood loss) by about ten backup pigs. In the exchange with Oink a bullet had passed through my right deltoid muscle.
While I was lying handcuffed on the ground, with pig boots holding me in place, Oink caught up, .38 in one hand, my .44 in the other. He was hysterical, and obviously shaken but uninjured. He went into a frenzy, threatening to kill me, calling me every variety of“nigger” in the book, and pressing the barrel of the gun against my teeth.
When he removed the gun, I told him that he should either do what he threatened or “shut the fuck up!” His response was to crack me across the head with the barrel of my .44, lacerating my scalp. What followed probably saved me from a vicious ass-kicking or worse.
A brother came running out of a nearby apartment cursing the pigs for running around (chasing me) with guns drawn while his children played nearby. The pigs promptly swarmed and beat him
bloody as his kids looked on.
While going through my pockets, the pigs observed blood running from my jacket sleeve. Upon a rough inspection, my shoulder injury was discovered. Regardless, the battered brother and I were dumped in a pig wagon and taken to headquarters. I was held in the parking lot with Oink and others running a stream of threats by me. Oink was obviously in a quandary to justify confronting me to begin with. He wasn’t even on duty. He proposed that if I said nothing about his having shot me, he wouldn’t charge me with any felonies – particularly for attempted capital murder of a pig. I gave no response. When finally taken to the hospital (Medical College of Virginia) some hours later, my shoulder and scalp were sutured and my arm placed in a sling. The cause of my laceration and puncture wounds being “unknown.” I was charged with trespassing and merely pointing a firearm at Oink.
Upon entering the Richmond city jail this time I was compelled to take up an unfinished rival “war” where it had left off on the street. The opposition occupied an entire tier – some 120 cats – adjacent to my own. They were only prepared to jump me. I was, however, prepared to do a little more. I ditched the shoulder sling, procured some weapons, and the next day a standoff occurred. Me and five others against almost an entire rival tier. The pigs were apparently tipped off and swarmed the jail hallway before we’d revealed our weapons or the first blow was struck. I was packed off to another tier, only to sneak onto the rival tier (a dormitory) during the confusion of movement at mealtime several weeks later.
A battle erupted as soon as the tier gate slammed shut. I ended up with a head laceration and about four of them suffered stab wounds before the pigs invaded the tier to break it up. Upon my release from solitary a few weeks later, a similar situation occurred. By then I was looked at as a 175 lb., 5’9” maniac, by both pigs and prisoners.
The opposition offered a truce with amenities on the side. Upon agreement of some of my cohorts, the truce was accepted, but other conflicts persisted. Fights were frequent. I was stabbed in a couple incidents; in both of them my opponents were disarmed and butchered in return. It was finally accepted by all potential rivals that I was best left alone.
While jailed, an acquaintance of mine from the streets, J, was arrested. He’d been a fugitive for some time, as foremost of Richmond’s most wanted. Upon his capture he agreed to work with the pigs to get out of his own charges. Initially, he was placed on the tier with me, obviously to draw out information; however, I never discussed anything of substance with him, or anyone, especially since I’d observed that under conditions of confinement, he’d become a kitten.
This was in total contrast to the vicious image he’d portrayed on the streets.
It was around the time of Y’s capture that a flurry of indictments were issued charging one “Kevin Johnson” with among other things: murder, attempted murder, malicious wounding, etc.
It was obvious that he was responsible although no one wanted to
believe it. The incidents from which the charges stemmed were of
particular interest to the city pigs. One involved a person having been shot by an alleged sniper, shooting from inside a project building. The pigs had responded by surrounding the entire block and calling in their own snipers, helicopters, and swat team. The pigs
acknowledged seeing the shooter moving around in the apartment while it was under siege, yet when their swat teams raided it some ten hours later, they embarrassingly could find no one. Another incident involved the shooting of several people who were allegedly attacked because the shooter thought they were undercover pigs.
I was further accused of shooting up several patrol cars with pigs inside them, shooting at pigs, etc.; however, no formal charges followed.
Guilty pleas were entered on the sniping charges to clear a cohort of involvement – he had a long suspended prison term over his head. Upon the testimony of Y, his girlfriend, and others (including Oink, who was instrumental in having the charges issued), convictions were entered on the other shootings, with sentences imposed of life plus. Y was returned to society, where he was allowed to carry out any acts he pleased, under complete pig immunity, as long as he aided them in entrapping, capturing, and convicting others.
According to reliable sources, he’d become so bold that when the pigs converged on an area where he was present, he’d identify himself by name, state that he was armed, and then proceeded to finger everyone nearby him who possessed guns or narcotics and where the contraband was located.
He was also involved in planting drugs in peoples’ homes and then having the pigs raid them.
However, Y eventually destroyed his usefulness to the pigs by perjuring himself in a later trial. In that case (Commonwealth of Virginia v. Shawn Marshall), he testified to being present and
witnessing three Black males shoot a pizza delivery man.
When all other evidence at the trial completely contradicted his account, he admitted on the stand to lying for his own benefit. It was only then that Y was re-jailed on further charges and seriously prosecuted and convicted.
I had the brief pleasure of getting a few passing licks off Y on the day that I was transferred to the prison system from jail.
He’d been brought to the jail’s transport area from his protective custody tier for court. I was in the area waiting for the DOC transport to pick me up. I saw him pass by en route to the area and hid behind a shower stall.
When they brought him out, I managed to raise a few knots on his head – for lack of being able to locate any hard or sharp objects in the area – before the pigs swarmed in to pull me off him.
I was locked in another holding area. As a juvenile, I’d avoided many upstate commitments by feigning the “nut role.” I was very good at duping the “experts.” Upon facing lengthy prison terms on the charges against “Kevin Johnson,” I resorted to the same chicanery as an adult, to no ultimate avail.
For a time I persisted in this role while in prison, which only prompted abuses from the pigs.
The pigs have this instinctive tendency to openly abuse prisoners who are of unsound mind or of limited intelligence, since they believe that unintelligent persons are incapable of challenging their abuses, whether by direct action or by articulating complaints.
Because I accepted my lifestyle and all of its consequences, I was always reluctant to involve my family or others on the outside of prison in my conflicts with the pigs. I dealt with my own problems – directly.
For a while I accepted some of the milder pig abuses with relatively minor responses. They’d tamper with my meals or refuse them altogether or become unnecessarily physical with me.
My responses were to become counter physical. The situation intensified and ultimately led to my encounters with their goon squads on something like a thrice-weekly basis for months on end. Injuries
occurred on both sides; in comparison mine were relatively minor.
They were suffering broken bones, dislocated joints, and lacerations. Most of the goon squad encounters resulted in pigs taking injury leaves. The administrative costs of their mounting casualties
(pigs taking sick leave with pay – feigned injuries were routine) outweighed the subjective benefits of seeking revenge. It became quite clear that terrorism did not work on me, except to provoke the very
response the pigs wanted to suppress. They had no military option with me. So they pacified me in every way conceivable short of allowing me to walk free out of prison……