The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

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FEB 2020 Issue
Field Notes

Letter from Federal Prison

I send out peace and blessings to the entire Brooklyn Rail family.

In late 2019 I was moved from Texas state custody to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I believe that many people thought that this transition would bring me improved conditions. On the contrary, conditions have actually worsened. During the Christmas season of 2019 I was transferred from United States Penitentiary Beaumont, located in Texas, to United States Penitentiary Pollock, in Louisiana. Once again I found myself in a maximum-security federal prison plagued with synthetic drugs and over-the-top violence. The prison stays on lock-down approximately 9 months out of the year! It has now become obvious that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has picked up where the State of Texas left off in regard to the malicious and vindictive retaliation tactics used against me on account of my journalism and humyn rights activism.

I continue to ask myself: “When will I be afforded the opportunity to prepare myself for a successful transition into free society?” I have been offered employment, a place to live, and I have a large community of dedicated supporters in Northern California in the Bay Area. My supporters have been pleading with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to transfer me to a federal facility in California. As of the publishing of this essay in the Brooklyn Rail, I have approximately 15 months left on my entire federal sentence. In July 2020 I will be 52 years old.

With the passing of the First Step Act many Free World people were under the impression that the US Federal Government was getting serious about reforming a criminal justice system which has continually waged an all-out war on people of color and disadvantaged minorities. I personally have undergone an amazing transformation during my years and years of incarceration. I've gone from a drug-addicted criminal to an accomplished journalist/writer, a respected activist/organizer, and dedicated servant of the people—all of the people!! WHY CAN'T I BENEFIT FROM THE PORTION OF THE FIRST STEP ACT WHICH DIRECTS THE B.O.P. TO TRANSFER A PRISONER WITHIN 500 MILES OF THEIR PRIMARY RELEASE ADDRESS? Is it because I am an outspoken Black man in Amerika? Is it because I am a Muslim? Or it is because I speak truth to power and advocate for humyn beings who have been cast aside and forgotten by Amerikan society? I find myself in a position where I may have to actually file a lawsuit against the federal government just to get them to adhere to a law that they created. A law which was supposed to help people like me!

For some reason the federal government wants to see me and people like me fail. I believe it is because we represent something that neither the Republicans or the so-called liberal and progressive Democrats want to see gain traction in this country. We are the real face of anarchism, socialism, freedom fighters, workers, LGBTQ people who want to finally see meaningful change in this country. We are tired of the bullshit and the theatrics on TV. I specialize in prison abolition and that also is something that neither Republicans nor Democrats want to embrace.

Trauma, oppression, and abuse are part of being involved with the prison abolition struggle. The oppressors who operate these Slave Kamps and gulags are constantly seeking ways and means to break the spirit as well as slow down the momentum of our movement. We are seeing a strategy of prisoncrats and law enforcement officials to criminalize the free political speech of our movement leaders. The state has also sought to set many of us up for violent assaults and/or assassination attempts—and this is happening nationwide.

Kinetik Justice is a prisoner in the State of Alabama who has gone on hunger strikes in order to draw attention to the humyn rights crisis to which all Alabama prisoners are being subjected! When will the Department of Justice Act? Kinetik Justice NEEDS OUR HELP!

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa is a California prisoner who has sacrificed his freedom and health in order to radically change the prison system for the better. Sitawa is a warrior for peace who deserves to be freed this year! HE NEEDS OUR HELP!

My name is Keith “Malik” Washington and I am an incarcerated freedom fighter who seeks to preserve, protect, and uphold the legacies of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. WE NEED YOUR HELP! Share this essay on social media! Contact your US Congress Representatives! PROTEST IN THE STREETS! Scream at the top of your lungs! By all means necessary, END PRISON SLAVERY IN AMERIKA.

In 2020 the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, as well as our allies from Jail House Lawyers Speak, intend to introduce the entire world to our Prison Abolition Movement. As we enter this year and prepare for a period of unprecedented activism, I want to thank all of you for your unwavering support in 2019.

Sisters and brothers, I cannot impress upon you enough how important it is for us to continue supporting the Brooklyn Rail and to come up with a financial stability plan for the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. The current editor of the Bay View is an intelligent and beautiful white sister named Mary Ratcliff, aged 80. Mary has offered me the position of Assistant Editor once I am released from federal prison, which should be in early 2021. I must confess to all of you that I am humbled and honored by Sister Mary’s belief in me. The Bay View is the heart and soul of our abolition struggle for humyn rights. As I am subjected to an ongoing campaign of sensory deprivation tactics and behavior-modification strategies by federal prison employees, I hope all of you will think seriously about reaching out to Mary Ratcliff and my partner in struggle Sister Nube Brown to help support the Bay View. Mary Ratcliff can be contacted at Meanwhile, my critical perspectives would never have reached you if it weren’t for my comrades and friends at the Brooklyn Rail.

Dare to Struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!

Keith H. Washington can be written to at #34481037, USP Pollock, P.O. Box 2099, Pollock, LA, 71467


Keith "Malik" Washington

Keith “Malik” Washington is Assistant Editor of the San Francisco Bay View—National Black Newspaper. He is studying and preparing to serve as editor upon his release from federal prison. Malik is the cofounder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement and a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons Campaign. Visit his website at Please send our brother some love and light: write him directly at “Malik” Washington, #34481–037, USP Pollock, P.O. Box 2099, Pollock, LA 71467, USA.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

All Issues