Campaign Update from Missouri
Censorship Campaign Update
In April 2010, we embarked upon a legal campaign to protest the Missouri DOC's decision to place a blanket ban on all CDs and tapes which carry a parental advisory label. We suggested that prisoners send in a complaint to DOC and government officials, and other prisoners' rights organizations.
On 29 June 2010 the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri responded to the letter I sent to them. In short order, they said they couldn't represent "me" in the complaint set forth in Our complaint letter, although I stressed that this was an issue that affected the entire class of prisoners in this state.
On 13 July 2010, Natania Gazek, Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.$. Justice Department responded to Our complaint and letter. Her response was that the U.$. Justice Department would not get involved in "individual" cases, but does have the authority to initiate civil action in the name of the Unite $tates. against state and local officials to remedy conditions of confinement which violate the constitution.
We shouldn't be surprised by these responses. These officials represent the interests of the state, which is imperialist in word and deed. However, what surprised me was that I wrote to over 40 organizations and groups which have memberships in these prisons including but not limited to the NAACP, NOI, Missouri CURE, Human Rights Watch, Critical Resistance, rcp=U$A, ASPS, the Fortune Society and not one of these groups had enough respect for Our struggle to even respond to Our call for help.
From this you should take that it is exceedingly important that we support groups such as MIM(Prisons) and USW who have shown in their actions that they support our struggles. We must withdraw all moral and financial support of groups and leaders who don't give a damn about our repression, yet want our membership dollars.
I have current federal litigation filed that alleges that the censorship policy is a violation of Our 1st and 14th Amendment rights. This case deals specifically with DOC officials' censorship of issues of Under Lock & Key and other MIM publications.
What will strengthen this case and the new case that I'm preparing is if those of you in Missouri who have had issues of ULK and other literature from MIM Distributors censored would write out declarations or affidavits stating when and what was censored and send them to the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic, who will send them to me. I will present this evidence to the Asst. Attorney General as proof that these illegal actions are happening in other prisons and it is not just me as an "individual" who is suffering.
In all, the lesson here is that we can't expect "justice" from our enemies and that we must organize ourselves and build independent institutions that speak to our needs. Rest assured that our enemies know full well the social implications of their policies. A persyn can only proceed as far as their knowledge will carry them and they plan to keep prisoners ignorant, addicted and coming in and out of prison as a constant source of income.
Ups to all of those who took the time, energy and efforts to send in complaints, file grievances and educate fellow prisoners on these issues and others. If you have other ideas, suggestions or strategies please send them in. Keep your heads up, stay strong, unite and organize.