www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.
This is the question of our time. It’s the struggle that people go through when they’ve been wrongfully convicted of crimes.
It’s the outrage over Black men dying and our race being marginalized by this capitalist society. We’re targeted by fascist forces of white faces in high places who push the agenda of these racist polices.
Which perpetuates poverty and inflicts us with pain; we’re steady searching for the sunshine but all we seem to find is the thunder and rain.
In order for there to be justice, first there needs to be a change. To abolish the system that views a Black man as a cold-hearted killer or a member of an organized gang.
It’s a damn shame how they view our people as animals who needs to be tamed. When they can’t even seem to control these fascist forces of pigs who really needs to be trained.
Honestly, they really need to be slain for trapping our black bodies in chains, and for killing our brothers in the streets every day like it’s all apart of the game.
Justice is insane! It’s a process full of heartache and pain. It’s like the government is the Devil and we just caught in the flames.
Yankee politics are to blame for causing another Brother to be slain. “I can’t breath! Officer please” was his claim. So to overthrow the capitalist reign, we ain’t gone let that Brother die in vain.
What’s his name? What’s his name? George Floyd! George Floyd!
And to all the other Brothers and Sisters that we lost to this racist system. The People have become conscious; the revolution hasn’t quelled!
In early March , at the beginning stages of the public information campaign regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, I was informed of preventative methods such as wearing a mask and hand washing by family and friends on the outside. I began to educate the other prisoners at Valley State Prison (VSP) of the pandemic and how the administration was trying to down play the severity of the situation.
I decided to exercise my influence by leading by example, so my first step was to create my own face mask, second step I wore it in public every time I got the chance. At first I looked and felt rather silly because I was the “only one” wearing a mask not even medical staff were wearing masks, people were calling me paranoid and hypochondriac, they said it was not that serious and the virus would not come into prison. One day while going to A-yard dining hall a really rude officer named miss Avila stopped me and confiscated my mask and told me “Inmates are not allowed to wear a mask.” I was also warned by another officer that worked regularly in my building, that I was causing a hysteria among the prisoners by wearing my mask he also said he believed the pandemic was just a hoax.
By the end of April, CDCR’s Prison Industry Authority(PIA) starts creating and distributing masks to all of California’s imprisoned population. Medical staff began to wear mask, but custody staff officers still refused to wear any masks. Officers would harass any prisoners not wearing masks, although it was hot and the masks were uncomfortable we wore the masks as a symbol out of solidarity we want to protect one another in particular our elderly population and those with high risk medical conditions but the officers still refused to participate with us by wearing a mask. On 24 April 2020 we united around a common interest as imprisoned lumpen striving to build a healthy environment and we filed a group Appeal L (602) Log# VSP-A-20-01089 with 12 prisoners and on 5 May 2020 a memorandum was issued ordering “All Staff” Mandatory wearing of cloth barrier masks by warden R. Fisher Jr. On 5 June 2020 our inmate appeal was partially granted and all staff was mandated to wear “cloth barrier masks.” I want to thank MIM for encouraging me to exercise my influence by creating a united front and helping me to turn my knowledge into political organizing.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an example of real leadership. Recognizing what the material needs of the people are, and sticking your neck out to lead by example in how to meet those needs. The people soon recognized this leadership and followed. This is just one of many examples we have printed in recent weeks of prisoncrats actively resisting safety measures to protect prisoners (and staff). This is everyday treatment of those in U.$. prisons, it just has more immediate relevance to the outside world because of the global pandemic. Supporters of United Struggle from Within join these comrades in these day-to-day struggles to say “Prisoner Lives Matter!”
On 15 June 2020, swab tests for COVID-19 were performed outside East Block on what is called G yard. Donner’s 1st tier and 2nd tier (now occupied by a group of grade B condemned prisoners from the AC which is being used as a quarantine unit) are now waiting to see who got infected by the disrespectful sows too righteous in their own eyes to cover their snouts.
Since 29 May 2020 forward less and less care is being seen. Trays went from having no lids to being paper without much if anything protecting them from any number of pathogens during food seizure.
On the morning of 15 June 2020 and throughout early afternoon, locking cuff ports were installed on holding cages. When asked why no plexiglass partitions were installed (because the cages are literally only separated by the grated walls they’re made of) the installer’s response was “they’re doing a lot of stupid things right now.” That rings truer than wanted.
New rules implemented 1 June 2020 get rid of CDCR 22 forms. The purpose of such forms was, according to DOM54.090.1 policy, to document communication between staff and inmates. By getting rid of a way to document communication between staff and inmates it opens up a trap door for things like grievances to fall through. It also shuts down any prisoner’s attempt to resolve problems in a timely manner that could and now will spin out into oblivion. Of course, CDCR must have another purpose for invoking “emergency regulations” as regards the appeals process (see 15 CCR 3084-3086 on http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations). But CDCR hasn’t said what the emergency is concerning appeals and/or CDCR 22 forms. Why not emergency enforcement of 15 CCR 3052(e)(f)? Why not emergency training for disrespectful sows that don’t tuck their snouts into their masks?
On 16 June 2020 Donner condemned is allowed yard with 1/2 of East Block (one day after testing and before results). It turns out EB is getting fed with normal trays that have lids. When confronted, staff explained that it’s because the kitchen doesn’t want to chance spreading COVID-19. Nobody in Donner has tested positive, but 2 prisoners with “symptoms” were moved to the AC. Even still, how does serving food uncovered on a paper tray stop the spread of anything? The bullshit thickens.
On 22 June 2020 ABC News at 5 did a story called “Outbreak at San Quentin”. It did have snippets of testimony and video footage but it was edited to be misleading. It casts CDCR as being proactive and without cases until a transfer of inmates from Chino. Not only is that bullshit, it explains nothing about how death row prisoners became infected having no contact with those Chino prisoners. As of 15 June 15, at least 30 of the other 300 reported infected prisoners at San Quentin are death row prisoners currently warehoused in Donner Section.
The virus will continue to spread out of control because of staff’s extreme lack of care expressed by their actions and/or reckless disregard for the health & safety of both themselves and others.
Today (23 June 2020) two of the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner RC (Busseman and Peters) began their daily asinine antics by first prepping the RC prisoner food without face coverings. Later, the same two handled the 5th tier’s canteen without face coverings or gloves. Then they handed it to each of the intended recipients. Prisoners continue to be put at risk when exposure is available. This outbreak springs from an extreme lack of care NOT Chino.
According to the news ticker going across the bottom of the TV screen, KPIX 5 reports over 160 death row prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 (as of 26 June 2020). More than 1/4 of all DR prisoners! In addition to not wearing their masks properly or not at all, the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner continue to follow orders to do other really stupid things which facilitate the spread of the virus. Death row prisoners warehoused in Donner take showers in cages with no way to be more than 3’ from the prisoner in the cage next to them. Here’s another example of stupid from the guy who built them. When drunkard Ron Denis was warden at S.Q. he decided to prohibit prisoners from using the yard showers. Rumor has it that the decision was in response to female employees complaining about seeing naked men. A stenciled sign was also posted on each yard prohibiting “bathing”. That reactionary mole only detracts from what would be an available option. Death row prisoners have been denied yard for 12 days as of 28 June 2020. However, a continuing lack of care blinds the S.Q. administration’s ability to see and implement common sense solutions. The present plan seems to be keep everyone locked in the units (health professions warned have such poor ventilation) until all prisoners are eventually exposed to a lethal dose of bullshit. Appeal #SQ-A-20-01123 recently submitted 29 March 2020 was due 29 June 2020 but continues to be ignored despite the issues cited therein being major contributing factors to the spread of COVID-19.
According to KPIX News (30 June 2020) a 71-year-old man on the row died in his cell last week from COVID-19. CDCR is now assigning blame to outside hospitals to further bury the fact its own employees NOT wearing face coverings correctly or not at all are willing accessories.
The same report mentions 40 prisoners have been transferred to an outside hospital due to COVID. Stepping up enforcement of Newsom’s mask mandate has been and remains a joke as “essential employees” such as Busseman, Peters, Alwhart, Costa and others “on assignment” for now or who returned after being infected themselves remain a vector refusing to properly wear or wear a face covering at all. Unfortunately, it is that same selfish attitude that has led to the sharp spike in this whole state - this whole country. According to every employee asked who returned after a bout with the virus, S.Q. is NOT testing for the virus prior to their return. These employees explained all S.Q. did was basic symptom checks without any requirement to actually test negative for COVID-19.
Now that CDCR says all its employees at S.Q. have been tested it seems as if quite a few of those employees think a negative test means you’ll never get COVID-19. But they could now get it (or give it) walking into any cell block. Here’s another illustration to help make this point more clear: on 15 June 2020 all death row prisoners being warehoused in Donner Section were swab tested for COVID-19. Those who tested positive could have been infected 2 weeks or more before the test was done - BEFORE the transfer of prisoners from Chino even arrived. Those who tested negative could have been infected while en route back to their cell under “hands on escort” AFTER being tested.
On 1 July 2020 Gov. Newsom said nothing about the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 at S.Q. “Technical difficulties” prevented any questions from the media. The Gov. went on about contact tracing for a moment but the narrative surrounding the cause of the outbreak here remains fictionalized in the mainstream version of events.
On the same day, later that evening it was put out on the wire that another death row prisoner died. From what remains undisclosed at this time. Can Gov. Newsom put a moratorium on the Pestilence Pilot Program?
a CMF prisoner: From California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, CA, where we have no program.
So like so many Californians I watched the governor’s speech. Sitting in my 8x10 cell I watched yesterday as Governor Newsom spoke on the impact of COVID-19. The spiking of coronavirus in our state and the prison outbreak in California.
He spoke about coming out to Vacaville the day before to oversee the building of a tent city out on the yard. His project is meant to reduce the population of San Quentin State Prison due to out break of coronavirus and all the deaths there by moving them out. Implying the truth with out coming straight out and saying it, that they would move them here. Thereby, jeopardizing an already medically fragile community housed here at CMF, which is in fact a hospital. Most of us here are 55+ years of age with medical issues, many of which are the underlying medical conditions we hear them referring to all the time when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. I wonder, is this the Governor’s plan to reduce the population of CDCR?
But reducing the population of CDCR by means of population control by euthanization through coronavirus?
They are expecting the virus to spread like wild fire here, now like it did at San Quentin. Even more so because of the medically fragile population here.
But when it does, don’t believe the lies and fairy tales that CDCR will put out on it, and Governor Newsom stories of caring about incarcerated populations. Because his actions prove otherwise.
MIM(Prisons) adds: One prisoner recently told eir story of being released from San Quentin prison and dropped off at the San Rafael transit center, as is standard practice. After riding a bus to San Francisco, this persyn got off the bus with flu-like symptoms and passed out on a bench. Ey tested positive for COVID-19 immediately after release.(Snap Judgement on National Public Radio, 25 July 2020)
California, which began the pandemic as the good example in the United $tates, is quickly going downhill as capitalism demands business opens up to “keep the economy going.” Meanwhile, the San Quentin humanitarian disaster is an embarrassment for the CDCR across the country and in the global news. Yet, the staff still seem proud to violate safety procedures and endanger the people around them.
The sickness that is spreading throughout the population of the United $tates that is due to the COVID-19 virus is just a symptom of a deeper sickness that is the individualism and cruel sadism that has allowed the virus to spread so much more in this country than in others. It is no coincidence that this cowboy, settler, #1 imperialist country in the world sees itself as superior and invincible and enjoys inflicting suffering on others. These characteristics are required to keep imperialism going. Yet, this pandemic is an example of how these characteristics will be part of this empire’s undoing. They are intentionally spreading a disease among their own people, even as the oppressed and the imprisoned suffer disproportionately from their behavior. Recent events have only strengthened the oppressed peoples’ cries for organized resistance that serves humyn need. It is in these conditions that real leaders and servants of the people must act to bring us to a new stage of history.
I’m definitely looking forward to receiving more material that will benefit me in my growth in our movement. Of course the prison library here has nothing that is intellectually or politically stimulating. Any military or political writings are pro-amerikan imperialist, and only bitch about how the long-haired commies and commie sympathizers are tearing the fabric of this great country asunder. Blah Blah Blah!…
So a little background info that led to my radicalization, the charge that led me to prison is a murder in the 1st degree which is a life without parole sentence of 60 years at 100%. So I got tweaked on crystal meth, stayed awake for 16 days and unfortunately an innocent person lost their life.
Upon coming to prison my give a fuck button was busted. I felt like I had nothing to live for so I spent my time chasing dope and trying to remain numb. Also I’ve dealt with being a closeted pan-sexual since I was 12 years old. Prison was hard for me at the beginning. All of these bullshit prison politics revolve around race and I didn’t fit in with the “Aryans” so I constantly got jumped and beat up by them and then the gang bangers all saw me as an easy target cause I wasn’t cliqued up with the whites. So I spent my days trying to dodge these assholes and trying not to draw attention to my self. I started noticing how the pigs here were playing bullshit games and turned inmates against one another and stirring up confrontations that led to wars and bloodshed. Also I was slowly building up courage to “come out” and not give a fuck what others think of me.
I began to notice how narrow-minded bigoted pigs and inmates were both marginalizing people of the LGBTQ community. Along with all this, I started paying attention to politics ever since the people of the United Snakes decided to elect a fucking pompous troll for our president. Before this I never really had an interest in politics, but something clicked in me as I kept seeing innocent minorities being basically fucking murdered by the law enforcement who’s supposed to protect us. The blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community by these evangelical Jesus freaks and the draconian bullshit our “corruptor in chief” was trying to push against us. I got sick of Islamaphobia, systematic racism, fucking garbage Nazis, all of their shit.
One day I saw a live report from a “pro Trump” rally, out in the misdt of all these bigot bitches I saw these radical comrades from “Antifa” rallying against these fuckers and I started to do a little research with what limited sources I have and I got turned on to radical/revolutionary material and it hit me: this is what I was supposed to do.
My first step or personal liberation was “coming out,” than I realized I’m in a prime breeding ground of people who’ve been marginalized, demonized, and all together left behind by most of society. A lot of these people (including me) have no idea how to cut the foot off that’s constantly trying to be placed upon our necks. If a single person like myself can acquire the proper knowledge and put it to use, I have the ability to reach people and get them to see who the real oppressors are!
I’ve studied various people who have had a major influence on me: Weathermen, SLA, Malcolm X, etc. etc. and I’m trying like hell to get a full, well-rounded understanding of Maoist thought and the communist philosophy. And with that knowledge, there is no limit to who I can reach!
So that’s pretty much the way I was liberated from my own mental prison. I most definitely agree that drug use in prison is not only encouraged but it’s running fucking rampant! The two main things that are dealt are Suboxone and “bath salts.” Suboxone is basically the U.S. government and big pharma’a sleezy way to extort recovering addicts by getting them hooked on the “miracle drug” that is supposed to cure them. “Bath salts” is the same shit that’s reported in the news making people eat other people like zombies! So you can imagine the effects of a drug like that in a place that’s hyper violent and full of testosterone already.
I’m looking very forward to the next bit of material coming from you and I’m very excited and grateful to have been accepted into the study group. You know prison can most times feel like hell when you feel alone. With no type of purpose or meaning to your existence.
Well that’s where I stop the line. I want to not only educate myself and better my own situation, I want to give other people the tools to help themselves. This prison is unfortunately my life, so I want to spend my time fighting and advocating for every single thing that we are entitled to and raise hell until we get it! We must unite and educate before we can be liberated from these fascist fucks!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are excited for the fresh energy into revolutionary organizing that the Trump administration has brought. Most people stop at the call for simply getting rid of Trump, bringing back Obama, maybe shifting to Bernie or Hilary, and they are satisfied. The liberal media putting Trump on blast, plus the very visual images of Antifa activists, has helped some people see the atrocities that the Unites Snakes government has been doing all along. Seeing the difference between patriotic reformism and revolutionary communism is a crucial step in opposing the marginalization and oppression that Trump represents. Trump’s persona is unique, but eir policies and practices are not.
Seeing the difference between organizing against Trump and organizing against Amerikkka is an extremely important part to organizing against fascism. Where many people would prefer a Bernie-type of government, with more benefits for U.S. citizens with absolutely abhorrent internationalism, we see that trend in so-called “revolutionary” organizing actually a trend toward fascism. Where our comrade uses the term “fascist” in eir letter to be a persynality criticism, we prefer to use it to refer to an economic, social, and military system. We see a Bernie-type social democratic administration as paving the way toward a fascist government, that’s not just bigoted and outspoken like Trump, but protectionist and militarized like Hitler. Trump and Bernie are two sides of the same coin, and we must oppose all Amerikanism in order to oppose fascism.
While the common view is that “minorities” (comparatively small groups of people) are being oppressed by Trump, we take confidence from the fact that we’re not the minority internationally. The oppressed internal semi-colonies have a lot in common with oppressed nations across the globe, and more to gain from uniting with them than trying to integrate into Amerikkka. And oppressed people across the entire world would be behind them.
We’re excited that this author, who is just one voice among many, has chosen to unite with us in this internationalist struggle.
On 4 July 2020, 7-year-old Secoriea Turner was fatally shot with her parents present inside the car which she was shot in.(1) Her death has been widespread news in Georgia and has been a popular talking point on the discourse surrounding the oppressed’s action against the racial/national oppression of the United $tates today.
The scene of the incident was the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) on 12 June 2020. The leading narrative of how the shooting went down is that one of the armed barricaders of the Wendy’s had shot at the car that Secoriea was in.(2) According to Community Movement Builders – the Non-Government Organization who called for building of a “peace center” on the razed down Wendy’s site – there were threats by white vigilante-type organizations coming to the Wendy’s site and the local New Afrikan masses armed themselves to honor and defend the life of Rayshard Brooks.(3)
The Wendy’s barricade was started by the revolutionary spirit of the New Afrikan masses to defend themselves against amerikan chauvinism and so-called “white supremacy.” Members and supporters of the armed masses have burned down the Wendy’s site of the murder, and graffiti tagged signs of support for the broad mass movement of New Afrikans against occupying police and the life of Rayshard Brooks. Because they were armed; because they received threats of amerikan chauvinist presence; and because of the APD’s presence in Atlanta, a barricade and check point was necessary and the tensions were high.
It is not crystal clear as to how it went down at the hour of the murder of Secoriea Turner, but we do know the broad facts: APD committed an illegal killing of Rayshard Brooks; amerikan chauvinist elements threatened to come to the site of Rayshard Brook’s killing; New Afrikans barricaded and armed themselves from police and amerikan violence; and a 7-year-old New Afrikan child has been murdered along the conflict.
Should Communists Condemn the Barricade?
When the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) implemented a campaign of bombings across Great Britain (primarily Northern Ireland) the masses of the Northern Irish people were tired of the violence from all sides. Out of the masses the petty-bourgeois/national bourgeois elements were especially tired. So the current and then would-be compradors and neo-colonial leaders of the Sinn Fein signed a peace treaty called the Good Friday agreement, in which they ended up condemning the so called “terrorists” of the Irish Republican movement and the violence coming with it.
In Philippines today, a Protracted People’s War is being waged by communists organizing the peasants of the countryside. The communists have often been declared as the number one security threat by the fascist Duterte government, and within the revolution there are elements of the masses also tired of the violence coming with revolution. The Communist Party of the Philippines have been active in calling for a peace deal past years, but unlike the Sinn Fein of Northern Ireland which abandoned and condemned armed struggle, they did not call for the turning in of weapons by the New People’s Army and instead asked for the killings by the Duterte regime to stop in the cities and the red base areas of the countryside in which the communists had a “stronghold” in.
Both of these examples of calling for peace are from far away countries with different conditions than the ATL, but they are relevant as ever to the international fight against Neo-colonial tactics of imperialism. The violence that comes to the masses with revolution and the contradiction among the people are serious questions communists must be ready to solve in order to overthrow imperialism.
While we Maoists do see the death of Secoriea Turner as a tragedy and our hearts and condolences go out to her family and close ones, we do not agree with the neo-colonial New Afrikan “leaders” actions which have bulldozed the Wendy’s site and the paternalistic negotiation attitudes in which these “leaders” dealt with Community Movement Builders.(4) The comprador-bourgeoisie mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in fact alluded to the armed New Afrikans defending Rayshard Brook’s life and legacy as “the enemy within.”(5)
“We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets,” said the Comprador mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“We’ve had over 75 shootings in the city over the past several weeks,” said Bottoms. “You can’t blame that on APD [Atlanta Police Department].”
Maoists do not blame the APD for those 75 specific shootings in the span of several weeks. But we do blame national oppression, the pseudo-communists’ inaction in building independent institutions among oppressed nation communities, and the lumpenization that came with the so-called “war on drugs” on the 75 shootings. And we take action to combat national oppression and lumpenization as well.
Going Beyond the Barricade
The failures of the barricade shows the limitations of spontaneity, and the necessity for an organized and self-reliant people’s institution designed to serve the people. There are dogmatic revisionist “Marxists” who claim that the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory of an organized vanguard to lead the people’s struggle and build independent institutions goes against the writings of Marx. These “Marxists” claim that capitalism’s decay will naturally rise the people up due to oppressive conditions. Even in the Third World where proletarians and peasants are the majority, and with the writings of Marx and Engels on the Paris Commune, we see that a proletarian power and proletarian state is needed to overthrow imperialism and preserve socialism. And history has proved that ultimately, political power grows from the barrel of guns. Maoists do not condemn the masses desire to defend themselves from white supremacist and fascist presence, and in fact applaud it. We just believe that it should be crystallized into a more disciplined focus of serving the people and building independent political power.
Notes: 1. Atlanta mayor says ‘enough is enough’ after girl fatally shot near scene of Rayshard Brooks’ death, 6 July 2020, CNN. 2. Ibid. 3. Greyhound, July 2020, Interview With Community Movement Builders On Their Recent Struggle On the Wendy’s Site, Under Lock and Key. 4. Atlanta Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed gets demolished, 14 July 2020, New York Daily News. 5. Ibid.
Several weeks ago, Rayshard Brooks – a 27-year-old New Afrikan man – was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department on a Wendy’s at South Atlanta. Media reported that armed protestors have set up barricades at the Wendy’s which by then have been burned down and graffitied up with support for Rayshard Brooks’s life, the Black Lives Matter movement, and anti-police messages. On the 4th of July, it was reported that the 7 year old New Afrikan child – Secoriea Turner – has been fatally shot near the Wendy’s site in a car while with her parents.
Due to the tragic death of Secoriea Turner, and the violence that heightened at the 4th of July weekend among the Atlanta masses, Comprador-bourgeois representative Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared that the armed New Afrikans must be vacated from the Wendy’s. From then on, the organization Community Movement Builders (CMB) stepped in with regards to showing support and calling for a Peace Site at the Wendy’s. Here is the interview with CMB leader, Kamau Franklin:
1. The armed protestors in Wendy’s have been occupying the site since past several weeks. Have these protestors been part of the Community Movement Builders?
Actually no, these protesters armed and unarmed have been from the local community. They were inspired to act after the killing of Mr. Brooks. My understanding is that some protesters provided security because there were threats of white supremacist coming to the Wendy’s. We were just getting involved right before the tragic shooting of the 8-year-old girl outside of the Wendy’s. Our understanding is that there are competing narratives as to what took place. Which does not make the events any more tragic and has caused the protesters to expand their vision for the peace center to include the young girl.
2. On Monday of July 14th, there have been protests declaring to “Take Back the Wendy’s” and calling for a creation of a peace center. What will the peace center’s role be in the struggle against oppression and the goals of CMB overall?
The role of the peace center is to make sure that community control is established over that property and that Wendy’s is not allowed to rebuild another hamburger chop-shop, but instead something needed and valuable is established in the community. The center will create programing against violence and will at the same time highlight the American role in perpetrating violence on Black people and how we can stop it from happening. For CMB it is important for us that we continue to advance the call for liberated territory (places where the community is in direct democratic control of land, organizations and institutions) and against the corporate and development class with support from city officials who continue to treat working class, poor and Black people as expendable.
3. Mayor Bottoms has declared that the protestors should be cleared out due to the violence that happened in ATL over the 4th of July weekend and that she will no longer be “negotiating” with the protestors. How do you think the actions of “Take Back the Wendy’s” and the call to build the peace center affected this protocol by the city government?
Well the city was never negotiating in good faith. The city was stalling hoping the protesters would go away and or possibly maneuvering to take back over the space. It seems very disingenuous that Mayor Bottoms would hold a press conference with Turner’s family but has never done this is similar cases where people have been killed in senseless violence. Our goal is to keep the pressure on to force the corporate owners and the city to have dialogue over the future of this space.
4. A lot of the news media has covered the reports of CMB’s actions in the Wendy’s site. Has there been any misrepresentation of what the news media have been reporting? If so, what are some misconceptions hat you would like to clear out regarding CMB and its actions on the planned peace center?
I think its obvious that the media was looking for violence to break out and was looking to paint protesters as violent. The idea of community control over space as opposed to the capitalist private land grab model is what the corporate media supports and elevates.
A California prisoner asks: “What are MIM’s thoughts on”Antifa" and what and who are Antifa? Any information you can provide will be helpful, thank you."
MIM(Prisons) responds: Antifa stands for anti-fascist, and it derives from movements in Europe that have a deeper history that we won’t attempt to address here. It’s primary symbol is a black flag and a red flag, symbolizing the unity of anarchist and communists of all stripes in unity against the fascists. “Antifa” is a generic term in the United $tates. There is no central organization, only local collectives. Anti-Racist Action is probably the most active formal group that is akin to Antifa in the United $tates.
The Antifa strategy is one of confronting various stripes of racists, white supremacists, fascists, etc. in the streets and in their communities. When such organizations make a public stand, especially when they organize marches, Antifa will try to make sure there are more counter-demonstrators and will attempt to shut down their actions. The long-time Antifa activists often focus on researching these groups, tracking down their members, doxing them and exposing them.
MIM has never been involved in this type of organizing. Strategically we think it focuses on a fringe element rather than the real enemy – imperialism. Imperialism is murdering people in the streets, locking them away and torturing them, bombing countries, starving whole populations and polluting the world. Fighting nazis in the street does not contribute to ending imperialism at this time. Nor does campaigning against Trump.
That said, if fascism gains traction in this country, then we need to assess when to shift our strategy away from imperialism as the primary enemy and towards the fascists. At that time we will certainly be allying with and relying on some of the knowledge of those that have been following these groups closely for years.
Why is Antifa in the News?
So why is this comrade asking us about Antifa now? Probably because President Trump threatened to declare it a terrorist organization, among other rants against them over the years. So why is Trump talking about Antifa? As the self-proclaimed enemies of all things racist and fascist, the various elements of the alt-right/dissident right/third positionists and racists in online forums have accepted Antifa as their enemy (more on these groups below). Donald Trump rose to popularity in part by following the media outlets associated with these movements and echoing their talking points, one of which is the danger and threat that Antifa poses. Many of these groups use videos of street fights and confrontations between their members and Antifa as recruitment material. (Antifa as such has little to do with the recent uprisings in the United $tates, though certainly many who work in Antifa groups participated in the protests as well. Trump’s statement falsely implied that Antifa was behind these uprisings.)
The President of the United $tates stated that Antifa is terrorism. In other words, he said opposing fascism should be illegal in the United $tates. Quite a bold statement. One that thankfully received strong rebuke from the majority of the state apparatus at the time. In response to that statement by Trump, MIM(Prisons) joined the calls in the streets that “we are all Antifa.”
Is Fascism on the Rise Due to Crisis?
Since the 2016 presidential campaign we have published a series of articles addressing the question of whether fascism is here, or on its way. An article we published in November 2016, arguing that the crisis that would trigger fascism just wasn’t there yet, ended with, “That being said, based on Trump’s statements and actions, if Amerikan capitalism was truly threatened by the oppressed internal nations, Trump’s open chauvinism would easily transition to far heavier fascist tendencies.”(1) Now in 2020 we had the broadest display of street actions, largely by oppressed nations, seen in most of our lifetimes, if ever in this country. And we have a downward trend in the economy due to global pandemic that would be very hard to turn around due to the very low rates of profit available in the system right now. So we are in a crisis, and as the threat to Amerikan capitalism becomes more and more real, so does the threat of fascism.
Theoretically, fascism is always on its way in the advanced stages of imperialism. This is because of the inherent contradictions within capitalism that make it harder and harder to extract a profit from the circulation of capital. Without profit, the economy stops under capitalism. That is why the COVID-19 shut downs have been so disastrous. Under socialism, we could cut back production without threatening the future of the economy.
Denying this reality, one of the ideological leaders of the alt-right called on the Trump administration to just shut down the economy for a period and restart again like a long weekend. But capital must circulate, when it does not things begin to collapse like a house of cards. The amount of value being circulated in the realm of finance capital just got a shot of another few trillion dollars by the COVID-19 stimulus bills. This money was created by the Fed from thin air. This is made up value. It is not real industrial capital or material wealth. Everything from stocks, to real estate (even though it is based in a material asset) to currencies can lose value overnight, into thin air. These finance capital assets make up the bulk of the modern imperialist economy.
Parasitism Begets Fascism
Another alt-right ideologue, has recently put out a video denying that fascism is capitalism in decay. Eir thesis is that if there was a crisis in profitability of capital that the system would have to go back to some kind of feudal system and greatly reduce production to restore profits. Since fascism in Germany increased worker incomes and overall production, ey argues this proves fascism was not a response to crisis. This logic sort of makes sense from the revisionist “Marxist” perspective that anyone employed is exploited and that profits don’t cross borders.
The MIM answer to why the capitalism in decay thesis is correct is in parasitism theory. Really, few would deny that Germany’s economic flourishing came from the literal and brutal robbery of land, resources and labor (through enslavement) of other peoples. But similar things occur in all imperialist countries, even if just a bit more “civilized.” We point this out to show how revisionism calling itself Marxism plays itself nicely into the ideas of fascism. And it is through the appeals to a populist class interest of the labor aristocracy that the fascists, social democrats and revisionist “Marxists” all bolster support for imperialism, despite their rhetoric against war or whatever.
Another thing all of these forces have in common is labeling things based on their form rather than their substance. Whether it’s the “Marxists” who see Xi Jinping as leading a socialist country or the fascists saying that Mussolini was opposed to the bourgeoisie, they are putting ideas, words and symbols above substance. They say, “see the leader said this, therefore ey couldn’t support that.” The capitalists, as a class, do not care about the words as long as the economic substructure is still functioning to produce profits. Mussolini (and the King) ensured that it did as does Xi Jinping today. This is the same reason why today every multi-national corporation is tripping over each other to put out statements on and make donations to Black Lives Matter. Yes, there are ideologues within the bourgeoisie, but the class as a whole, in order to continue on as a bourgeoisie, must ensure that profits keep flowing. And if stamping Black Lives Matter all over their website and social media feeds can assist with that, then call Jeff Bezos anti-racist.
Oppose Left and Right White Nationalism
The alt-right is actively extending olive branches to the left wing of white nationalism, specifically those they refer to as “Bernie Bros.” Some in the alt-right claim to have 90% agreement with such social democratic types, specifically in their critiques of capitalism and calls for populist economic reforms and a state that can deal with a global pandemic. Our saving grace right now in the United $tates is in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, as well as the struggles against ICE detention which has also rallied significant support in recent years. The outpouring of support for BLM has been surprisingly strong. Even if the multinationals are just motivated by profits, this is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime. Clearly they have recognized where the winds are blowing, and it is not towards the racism of the alt-right.
The fascists argue that they are an alternative to the neoliberal bourgeois order and the Marxist communist order – hence “third positionists.” But Dimitrov critiqued this misconception for the COMINTERN during World War II, stating that “Fascism is the power of finance capital itself.” The fascists argue that finance capital did not and does not support fascism in its rise to power. MIM added to Dimitrov’s thesis in 2005: “It is only the finance-capital dominated petri dish where fascism grows. Today, the labor aristocracy of ONLY the imperialist countries is the”main force" of fascism…“(2) So again, all the groups we mention above, whether”left" or “right” are organizing this class and activating them towards fascism by telling them they are the oppressed and they deserve more.
More on Class and Economic Systems
MIM and the COMINTERN agree on the dialectical nature of class struggle under capitalism as it relates to the phenomenon of fascism – that is that capitalism is identified in the contradiction and interdependence of two economic classes: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In this view, there are two paths, or two economic systems: capitalism (of the bourgeoisie) or socialism (of the proletariat). Other classes exist and have their own interests. But they will not shape history in their image. Our world today is shaped in the image of the bourgeoisie, and Marx explained why the future lies in the hands of the proletariat, those who have nothing to lose but their chains.
The petty bourgeoisie (including the First World labor aristocracy) doesn’t have an image for the world. Their ideology is that of the bourgeoisie, steeped in individualism. And because of their varying lots in life, their interests are varied, made up of little groups just trying to make capitalism work for them. They can be united in the nation-building project that involves their nation being on top. But even this will not elicit much sacrifice from this class as a whole unless conditions are quite dire.
When we talk about the labor aristocracy of the imperialist countries being the “main force” of fascism, we still agree with Dimitrov that fascism is the power of finance capital. It is finance capital that gives these tendencies real power. This truth can be seen when you investigate the organizations in the fascist realm. The most successful efforts to unite these petty bourgeois forces and use them towards real political goals are led and funded by millionaires, with access to advanced military weaponry and international connections to intelligence agencies. While there are many small, organic groups that are in this realm, the ones that pose a real threat really aren’t so organic.
Our comrades in prison can understand this dynamic, where it is quite common for white nationalist organizations to have “special” relationships with the pigs, to the point of helping to enforce for the state. Some of our comrades who have served in the military have also seen direct coordination between the military and local white nationalist organizations around perceived threats of oppressed nation rebellions. It’s the same in prison.
From the proletariat comes the true guerilla, who starts from nothing, and gains their tools and supplies by taking from the enemy oppressor. The guerilla does not start out with high-end military equipment, the guerilla earns it. And even before we get to the military phase, the true mass character of the communist camp is evident. Even in the bought off imperialist core, you can see genuine organizers popping up in all areas, fighting for similar goals, from a real organic desire for change and humyn progress. In the United $tates this is fed by the oppressed nations and by the youth and by all justice-seeking people.
The proletariat of the world must distinguish itself from the parasitic populism of the First World labor aristocracy. Antifa has not done this. Antifa is open to militant Liberals because they tend to see this as a battle over ideas in peoples’ heads and don’t have an honest class analysis of what is going on.
The alternative that MIM offers is that those of us in the imperialist countries are criminals that must reform our ways. That the rest of the world wants us to reform our ways and welcomes us in joining in building a new world based on internationalism, humynism and solidarity. The oppressed people of the world must guide us towards true internationalism and not make excuses for the backwardness of the bought-off populations. Amerikans still haven’t made right the crimes they committed against the internal semi-colonies of this land. That is being discussed in the mainstream today. But we still aren’t discussing making things right with the majority of the world that we have exploited, polluted and murdered for the comfortable lives we live here. This is what we see as pro-active anti-fascism. And it’s not about taking on some guilty complex for your ancestors, it’s about saying that you will not pass the exploitation on to your descendants. And this must be part of the current struggles of the oppressed nations here today, or else we will just end up with more exploiters with more diverse skin tones.
In the prison where I am [Fremont Correctional Facility], about 64 people are in the quarantine. No deaths so far as we know. At the Crowley prison (CCF) there are more than 50 confirmed cases, and the place has been locked down for more than a month. This is from letters from two of my friends there.
According to a 13 July 2020 press release: Buena Vista Correctional Complex has tested 1058 prisoners, with 36 positives and 3 staff positive. Colorado State Penitentiary has had one prisoner test positive after several staff did, and testing of the population has begun. Arrowhead Correctional Center had 2 staff test positive, and has also begun broad testing.
The film 13th was released on Netflix in October 2016, just prior to the U.S. presidential election. It is clearly an anti-Trump film, although it is not clearly pro-anyone else. In April 2020, Netflix released the film for free on YouTube. It has been abuzz lately as a “must watch” film in the wake of the George Floyd uprisings.
The title 13th gives the impression that the film will focus on the 13th Amendment, and we assumed it would push the narrative that modern-day prison expansion is motivated by profiting from prisoner labor. We also thought it would be a film pushing people to focus on reforming the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Longtime readers of Under Lock & Key have likely already seen pieces debunking the line that the prison boom was motivated by exploiting prisoner labor. With our expectations from the title, we were pleasantly surprised by the film.
The film first focuses on the 13th Amendment, and explains the South needed labor after slavery was abolished. Where once there were slaves, there were then prisoner laborers. The exception in the 13th Amendment which allowed slavery for people convicted of a crime was primarily economically-motivated. From there, the film tracks prison expansion, which really took off after the exploitation of former slaves had ended, in response to social movements.
How the title relates to the theme of the film may be in that the 13th Amendment satisfied a dominant need of the time – white Amerika’s economic need for Black labor – and white Amerika has been adapting to meet its needs at the expense of New Afrikans ever since. 13th spans almost two centuries of U.$. history, and draws attention to many ways Amerika has adapted to meet its needs, whether they were economic needs or social needs.
13th does touch on the topic of prisoner labor for profit for private corporations, but doesn’t overly focus on it. Is prisoner labor for private profit a bad thing? Yes. Being that fewer than one percent of prisoners are engaged in productive labor for private profit, should we focus on it with all our energy, as if it is the main push for prison expansion?(1) MIM(Prisons) would answer this in the negative.
There are some economic motivations for prison expansion in recent-decades, but not for exploiting prisoner labor. 13th spends quite some time exposing the lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) role in prison expansion, as well as its present role in pushing for “community supervision” (read: ankle and wrist bracelet GPS trackers, and privatized probation and parole).(2) The economic interest in prison expansion is in job security for Amerikans, and state funding funneling into private corporations for services. There is a socio-economic benefit to Amerika in draining the oppressed internal semi-colonies of time and resources through expensive phone calls, long drives to visit families, and other exorbitant and arbitrary fees and expenses.
In the end, the audience is left with a call to remain vigilant to what’s coming next. It leaves the focus on ALEC and corporate influence in legislation. A take-away of 13th is that nothing has worked to get the white oppressors’ boot (or knee) off of New Afrika’s neck. Amerikkka just changes tactics, but the effect is the same.
That’s what we’re seeing today with the recent Black Lives Matter movement upsurge. We don’t need a less-funded Amerikan police force. We need New Afrikans to have their own police, and military, AND state to do as they please without having to cooperate with this clearly sociopathic Amerikan nation. On the whole, 13th affirms our view that prisons are primarily a tool of social control, and we will answer the film’s call to remain vigilant so Amerika can’t continue oppressing New Afrika any longer.