The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Can you make simple graphics? Help make infographics and maps to communicate our message. help out
[Education] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

Denial of Education in Tennessee, Symptom of a Bigger Problem

Recently I was front driver on a battle for education for another inmate. The prison industrial complex had him in a kitchen job at 17 cents an hour. He has been begging for GED for some time now, only to be told no and continue to work for private corporation Aramark in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC).

I recently wrote the commissioner for the Department of Education in Tennessee, which has zero to do with TDOC. I told her how many are being denied programming and education. How is one supposed to better him/herself without an education? I said "what social interest is served by prisoners who remain illiterate? What social benefit is there in ignorance? How are people corrected while imprisoned if their education is outlawed? Who profits other than the prison industrial complex itself from stupid prisoners?" The recidivism rate for Tennessee is 55% for/in 3 years. 55% will return to prison. That's fact. And at $64.21 per day, you tell me who profits! Not the innocent women and children who the burden falls on when you get arrested and locked up again.


MIM(Prisons) responds: These are the right questions to raise: who really is benefiting from locking up so many people and then offering no services to help these people gain education and work skills, or address problems that make it hard for them to live outside of prison?

Ultimately we don't see any profit coming out of the actual locking up of people: it's a net money-losing enterprise paid for by the government (i.e. by U.$. taxpayers). But certainly there are lots of businesses and individuals working in the criminal injustice system who are making lots of money off this system and who have a material interest in perpetuating it. However, these people aren't the main ones driving the creation, expansion or continuation of prisons, which we've analyzed in depth in past articles. The government, who is allotting so much money to prisons, is using them for the goal of social control, particularly targeting oppressed nations within U.$. borders.

Clearly the whole criminal injustice system needs to be dismantled. But in the short term it is folks like this writer, helping out fellow prisoners, who are doing the ground work to build a united movement strong enough to win the smaller battles today and the bigger battle tomorrow.

chain
[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia] [ULK Issue 59]
expand

Drugs Hold Back West Virginia Organizing

I completed the drug survey from ULK 56. As the days passed I could not stop reflecting on the article "Drugs a Barrier to Organizing in Many Prisons." Here in West Virginia dope is God and those who supply them are Messiahs. I decided to put pen to paper and add my thoughts to the discourse.

I am currently incarcerated at Mount Olive, which is West Virginia's highest security prison. Recently the administration severely restricted our yard time. This was done to punish us for the rash of recent murders. Some of the more militant brothers started organizing a peaceful sitdown to protest. The shot-callers immediately vetoed the sitdown.

I was shocked. Then I decided to follow the money, or in this case dope. The gang leaders did not want to antagonize the prison administration out of fear that they would restrict the flow of dope. Drugs were more important than our outdoor recreation privileges.

This is not the only power that drugs have given the administration over us. To curtail the flow of K-2 into the prison we no longer receive our actual mail. We get poor quality photocopies of our mail. There is still K-2 on the compound, but the price has doubled. If prisoners cannot get K-2 through the mail how does it get in? Simple, our captors bring it in. Not only are we enriching our captors, we are increasing their control over us.

Drugs drain all the money off the compound. When prisoners are broke and dope sick they not only rob and extort weaker prisoners, they are grimey with their brothers. This increases the violence on the yard. Instead of working together to improve our situation we make it worse. No unity.

As an old head I lead by example. I abstain from all drugs and alcohol. I do my best to educate the young bloods. No, I do not have much success. As soon as I turn my back they chase the dopeman. I hate to paint such a dark picture, but the truth is not always bright. I look forward to reading the other discourses on this subject.

chain
[Gender]
expand

Sex Offender Against Sex Offenders

In response to Sex Offenders Reconsidered in ULK 55, I am both in agreement as well as opposition. Let me explain. I am a sex offender who hates and believes that pedophiles and rapists should stay pariahs. But yet I am stuck in that category even though what I did, in 1990, should not have been a sex crime. I dated a girl who was 15 years old when I was 17.5 years old. We were in high school together. A 2.5 year difference. I turned 18 and she was 15.5 years old, 6 months shy of Florida's 16-year-old consent law. Anyway, I was convicted and am now considered a CHO-MO (child molester) who has to register for the rest of his life and can never go into the general population, where I feel I should be so that I can join the struggle for better prison conditions.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We get a lot of letters like this one, from people who were convicted on sex offenses but do not fit the stereotypical image of a violent rapist sex offender. This is good evidence for why we never trust the criminal injustice system to tell us who are the real criminals. There is a long Amerikkkan history of convicting people from oppressed nations in particular of false sex crimes just to put them "in their place." We refuse to allow the Amerikan government this power.

With that said, there are definitely people who have committed terrible crimes against the people, both sex offenses and other offenses, both inside and outside of prison. This is something that a revolutionary government will need to address. We do not think that there is some essence of a person that makes them incorrigible and a criminal for life. Instead we think the capitalist patriarchy molds people to do terrible things, and it will be up to a revolutionary society to re-mold these folks into productive members of society. That will start with self-criticism and a solid understanding of one's, errors and then agreement on how and why ey needs to change.

We're not in a good position to enforce this right now because we just don't have the resources or the power. And we know that it will take serious work for people who have committed anti-people crimes like rape and murder to reform and become productive members of a revolutionary society. But anyone who has committed crimes against the people and wants to take up revolutionary work today can still be judged by their work and their political line. We encourage these folks to engage in serious self-criticism. We are here to help with that. But we know that thorough reform and change will be very difficult under the patriarchy/capitalism. In the mean time we are only able to judge people by their practice. Even people who used to be cops, or fought for the Amerikan military, or committed serious sex crimes can take up revolutionary work and we will welcome that work.

chain
[New Afrika]
expand

Who Bought the Civil Rights Movement of 1964?

"On June 19, 1963, nearly a hundred chairmen of corporations, foundations answered the call of the president of the Taconic Foundation to aid the civil-rights movement financially. Meeting at the Hotel Carlyle in Manhattan, they pledged over a million dollars to five major civil-rights groups. These leaders of finance and industry perhaps assumed that by assisting the established black organizations to secure their goals they could preclude the emergence of radicalism that would fill the vacuum if the movement failed. Whatever their intentions, these funds, and the sizable contributions from other whites and blacks, enabled the black struggle to expand, to reach more potential supporters, and to plan larger, more ambitious campaigns." (Wedding, Vega, and Mark, 2003, pp. 186-187)
Yes comrades, the capitalists took over the movement by buying our leaders from organizations such as SCLC, SNCC and CORE, etc. This list includes Dr. King, James Former, Roy Wilkins and Cecil Moore of the NAACP. They were able to create this capitalistic buy out because of exploitation of the fear already in the rich white capitalist. The name of this fear was Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, which they found out about largely through media:
"James Baldwin's 'The Fire Next Time' which forced into the consciousness of whites a new sense of the rancor of blacks and the destruction awaiting America if it did not quickly and completely change its racial ways" (Wedding, Vega, and Mark, 2003, p. 185).

He described the Afro-American's past of

"Rope, fire, castration, infanticide, rape; death and humiliation; fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone; doubt that he was worthy of life, since everyone around him denied it; sorrow for his women, for his kinfolk, for his children, who needed his protection, and whom he could not protect; rage, hatred and murder, hatred for white men so deep that it often turned against him and his own and made all love, all trust, all joy impossible." (James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time" as reported by Wedding, Vega & Mark, 2003, p. 185).

This added to

"The popularity of the Black Muslims incitement of violent enmity, described by Baldwin, had first been impressed on white America by CBS's inflammatory documentary in 1959, 'The Hate That Hate Produced.' The Nation of Islam was depicted as an army of black fanatics planning for the inevitable race war. Little or nothing most whites read and heard informed them of Muslim success in rehabilitating blacks that others considered beyond reclamation, or of the Muslim gospel that blacks had to conquer their own shame and poverty by adhering to traditional American virtues as hard work, honesty, self-discipline, mutual help, and self-respect."

Things like this had a huge influence over wealthy white psyches. They began to fear these black Muslims. What I cite next took them over the edge, but Dr. King was ready to be the peaceful Negro leader solution.

"Malcolm X appeared on television more than any other black spokesman in 1963, and few whites remained unaware of his expressions of contempt for all things white, his appeal to blacks to fight racism 'by any means necessary,' and his insistence that the 'day of nonviolent resistance is over.' What often frightened whites instilled a fighting pride in blacks. An apostle of defiance, Malcolm particularly gave voice to the anger and pain of young blacks in the ghetto. His hostility and resentment toward whites epitomized their feelings, and they cheered when he preached 'an eye for an eye,' or when he brought 'whitey down front.' Such utterances expressed the rarely publicized longings of the dissident black masses. Malcolm's insistence on black unity and the right of self-defense, and especially his affirmation of blackness and his contention that blacks must lead and control their own freedom struggle, struck still deeper chords among the many in Afro-America who demanded faster and more fundamental changes in racial conditions and called for more forceful means to achieve these ends. To them, of all black leaders, only Malcolm seemed to understand the depth of the racial conflict; and only Malcolm appeared to view the black struggle for equality as a power struggle, not a moral one. To virtually all blacks, moreover, Malcolm X stood as an implacable symbol of resistance and a champion of liberation." (Wedding, Vega and Mark, 2003, pp. 185-186).
"The more Malcolm loomed as the alternative that whites would have to confront if CORE, SNCC and the SCLC failed, the more white officials acceded to the stipulations posed by the established leadership of the campaign for racial equality." (Harvard Sitkoff, 1981, "The Struggl for Black Equality:1954-1992, n.p.)

Using this, Dr. King and his cronies manipulated the power holding rich whites into sponsoring the nonviolent approach to civil rights, which they gained total control of, even picking who they wanted to be recognized as black leaders. This went so far up the political ladder that the POTUS of the era was effected and partially responsible for its growth as stated in the following:

"Kennedy began to act decisively on civil rights in the summer of 1963. He did so in part because of his personal sense of morality and in part because of his calculations as party leader and chief executive on how to respond to new pressure. He needed to satisfy the millions of Americans, white and black, liberal and moderate, protesting federal inaction and wanting an end to disorder. The president also had to dampen the explosive potential of widespread racial violence and to maintain the confidence of the mass of blacks in government. Additionally, Kennedy considered it necessary to assist Farmer and King and Wilkins in securing their objectives lest the movement be taken over by extremists." (Wedding, Vega & Mark, 2003, p. 187)

Once we see and know the truth about the fear and jealousy that King and his cronies had for the Nation of Islam in the persons of Honorable Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X whose membership was growing exponentially in 1963-1964, which the nonviolent wing of the civil rights look at as a rival or even worse a direct enemy. What motivated King and his cronies was not the people's needs. It was power, influence and money. What is not discussed is that by many blacks Dr. King was a sellout in his own time. Later on Dr. King smartened up and became aware of the true enemy of the people, i.e. capitalism and wage inequality, which lead to housing and consumer inequality. He was assassinated before he could make this address on the Washington lawn. Killed by the capitalistic system as an example to show who controlled the movement and what was and wasn't allowed to be talked about. The slave master's name is not "whitey." Its name is "capitalism", which is the creator of poverty. Just ponder what happened to Johnnie Cochran when he decided to take on the United States on the issue of reparations for the slaves' descendants. Mysteriously Johnnie checked out on some cancer shit.

We should all wake up and see our enemy!
"CAPITALISM"

Ask yourselves: "Who Bought the Civil Rights Movement of 1964?"
Notes: Rita Cameron Wedding, Eric Vega, Gregory Yee Mark (2003). "Ethnic America: Readings in Race, Class, and Gender", California State University, Sacramento, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 4050 Westmark Dr. Dubuque, Iowa 52002; ISBN 0-7575-0363-2
chain
[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
expand

Organizing Requires Organization: Proposed Structures for Success

Feminist Protestors

The idea of organizing, as we all know, is much harder than theorizing about organizing. I raised the idea of expanding the organized coordinated apparatus of MIM(Prisons) to states in a sub-chapter context. This would weaponize the public protest to influence policy changes, and pressure entrenched power positions to give way.

Yet, regardless of "how" this is supposed to work, the "who," as related to the public, is supposed to work this machinery is absent. There is an extraordinary lack in many quarters of the prison population, regarding outside support, who are engaged enough to work this machinery even with direction. Within the prison, prisoners are isolated and their access to outside sources of support or even an audience is hampered by a truly oppressive design geared toward just this work.

I cannot and do not expect MIM(Prisons) to produce what may not be possible and completely outside of any of our individual control, i.e. the interest, motivation and will of potential cadres to engage in this work. Yet, there should be a focused effort to attract, organize and mobilize people who have been on the web and who will deem the cause of this work noble enough to apply effort.

Finally, there is an extraordinary need to take the hidden means of repression used by this society and expose all its manifestations to the public. There are two reasons for this: 1. It de-fangs, embarrasses and exposes its naked shame by putting on blast the unlawful and inhumane abuses of those people who use the shelter of the institution to act as tyrants. 2. It raises conscious awareness in the public by removing the edicts, and cuts of media which claim to be fair and balanced, and demonstrates consistently from a human standpoint the hardships unnecessarily inflicted on a vulnerable population, often to put on a public show of toughness. The result of which is the identification needed on a human/personal level to raise outrage.

It's obvious the stagnant and retributive American prison system exists as it is today because it was a social means of controlling people who were deemed not to belong to this society, those who were not "All-American."

The webpage should publicize, state by state:
  1. Names of abusive staff who either assault or terrorize prisoners or implement abusive policies and tactics.
  2. Abusive tactics and policies specifically implemented, listed and explained for their effect in each state and institution.
State sub-chapters should be encouraged on a voluntary but organized basis. A volunteer State Director should be recruited to:
  1. Coordinate state campaigns between the community and prisoners, targeted at the state lawmakers and DOC commissioners in regards to complaints and protest relating to incidents in prisons, policies implemented and needing to be changed, and laws implemented, needing to be implemented or changed, within a state.
  2. Educate the public across states about prison conditions, with their social and class ramifications.
City sub-chapters should be encouraged on a voluntary but organized basis. Volunteer City-Community Coordinators should be established and recruited to:
  1. Coordinate community and state campaigns between prisoners/prisons and communities statewide, through State Directors, targeted at state lawmakers, DOC commissioners and local prison wardens and superintendents in regards to complaints and protest relating to incidents in prisons, policies implemented and needing to be changed, and laws implemented, needing to be implemented or changed, within prisons.
  2. Educate the public in those communities about prison conditions, with their social and class ramifications.
State administrative project departments should be encouraged. Volunteers and support members within different departments should be recruited to work on certain projects:

  1. Research tactics, strategies, and proposed policies to be approved by state directors, city-community coordinators and prison bases; and researching data and statistics that identify positive information which support proposed laws and prison policies.
  2. Political workers to inform and agitate within the state by promoting and organizing protest, phone calls and correspondence to state law makers, DOC commissioners and prison wardens and superintendents about complaints, proposed laws and policies to be adopted by state officials.
  3. Propagandists to coordinate media campaigns to inform the public about events and negative trends; measure the effectiveness and growth of information dissemination within communities across the state, with a targeted effort to inform local community members within small towns and rural areas specifically about inhumane treatment and cruelties which have inflicted demographic groups which are the same as the area being targeted.

Selected members from each of the above project departments will set the overall direction with state directors and all of the above shall provide support and statewide work that advances the vision. Thus what has been hidden inside prison walls for a century and a half will be exposed to the public. Webpage and popular social media campaigns can be interchangeable.

United Struggle from Within bases should be encouraged on a continuation of current MIM(Prisons) work and programs, but with an expansion of coordinating information-sharing and campaigns in regards to protest within the prison with community and state activities.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is laying the groundwork for an organizational system that could both expand and coordinate our organizing work beyond the prisons. Setting up good structures within which people can get involved is an important part of our work as leaders. We want to help people make the best use of their time, and become productive revolutionaries by taking up the struggle where it makes the most sense for them. So this idea of setting up organizing structure with clear roles and responsibilities and tasks could be an important contribution to our work. And this writer is correct that what we are missing now is the "who," i.e. the people who will step up and take on these roles of leadership and help build this structure for the outside struggle.

We hope to hear from others, both behind bars and on the streets, about ideas for a better structure to our work on the streets, and even more importantly from volunteers who can step up and implement these ideas.

There are likely many different structures that could be successful for our organizing, and each cell and group will need to figure out what works best for them. But what we should all have in common in the goal of putting an end to imperialism and the criminal injustice system that it uses for social control. Conducting educational and propaganda work is an important part of that battle for us today. MIM(Prisons) doesn’t see targeting law makers and others in charge to lobby for new laws as a particularly effective strategy, especially while we have so little power relative to the imperialists. But that work can be useful when paired with education about why these laws won’t ultimately take down imperialism. In the end we must attack the system from many sides, and we should all work to our strengths to put in the best anti-imperialist work we can.

chain
[Control Units] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

Security Investigation Division Goes Around Court Ruling

About two years ago the Third Circuit Court of New Jersey ruled that the Security Investigation Division (SID) could not keep prisoners inside of Management Control Units (MCU) without a way to get out of the unit. And now, two years after this ruling, New Jersey SID has found a new tactic for keeping prisoners in MCU.

A quick summary of what MCU is, for those who do not know. MCU is 4 special housing units meant for high security prisoners in New Jersey. These are generally high-level gang members, with vast networks and influence, cop killers or people who killed people in prison, escape artists, radical prisoners, etc.

A prisoner in MCU cannot go to the law library; he has to write a request slip and await for someone to come see him. He cannot be in contact with other General Population (GP) prisoners. His visits are much more restricted. You can't get college courses or other things that GP could get. And you have no movement.

SID had been keeping some prisoners back in MCU for 10, 20, and even over 30 years! Sometimes more! But as said above the Third Circuit Court ruled this unconstitutional and ordered these prisoners released.

After this ruling, prisoners were shipped all around the country and often put in the same conditions in the new states they were placed in. And since then SID has found a new tactic to fill MCU back up again, by placing high level prisoners that go to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for any infraction, no matter how minor, on an MCU tier for Ad-Seg. And when their Ad-Seg time is up SID places them on Involuntary Protective Custody (IPC). And the reason they cite is rival gang threats.

SID has done this now to about 20 people and this new tactic is spreading rapidly. Grievances, writeups, complaints, and inquiries have all gone nowhere. New efforts now must be taken in the courts to address this which may take years, and will be much harder now that SID can argue that they are doing it for the safety of prisoners.


MIM(Prisons) responds: New Jersey is following in the footsteps of other state DOCs that have lost court battles regarding long-term isolation of prisoners, only to come up with new work-arounds to lock up people in long-term segregation. It is important that we continue to expose the torture by control units, be they called MCU, Ad-Seg, SHU, IPC or by any other name. There is no justification for long-term isolation, regardless a prisoner's conviction, conflicts behind bars, lumpen organization history, or escape attempts. Torture is inhumane and can not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Our campaign to shut down prison control units has been going on for many years, and unfortunately it is no closer to victory than it was when we initiated the campaign. As long as prisons are a tool for social control for the imperialist state we're unlikely to win this campaign overall. But sometimes battles are won in court, which both help to expose the isolation as torture and help provide relief to some prisoners.

chain
[United Front] [Gulf Correctional Institution Annex] [Florida] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

Building Peace and Unity in Florida

solidarity

I'm writing you this letter in regards to trying to build peace and unity between the prisoners here at Gulf Annex. Same thing the guards don't want to happen here because there is power in numbers. I represent Growth & Development and recently one of my brothers had gotten into a fight with a Muslim over a petty issue. As we met up to find out what was the problem and try to work things out peacefully the guards broke up our little circle making comments like "you pick them I spray them." Sad to say we all laid down and went to our dorms.

Luckily we came to agreement to peace treaty, but if the pigs had it their way they'd be happy if we just killed each other. Sorry to say Florida prisons are probably the worst in the country when it comes to unity. Prisoners are quick to jump on each other over nothing, but won't stand up when they witness fellow prisoners being beaten, messed up, while in handcuffs.

ULK and have been passing them around. I have been trying to pass them to those who want to educate others, but I can only reach so many with issues I have. So I'm urging prisoners around the compound to subscribe to ULK so we can reach more prisoners in other dorms. Over the next couple of weeks you will be hearing from those wishing to have their own subscription. It's time for a change in Florida prisons and educating ourselves through MIM(Prisons) and ULK could be the start of something that will unite us. Now a couple of my brothers say they've wrote MIM but yet to receive a subscription. It can't be the pigs because I've received everything y'all ever sent me. So if anybody writes please send them a subscription.

chain
[Ireland] [International Connections] [Hunger Strike] [Organizing]
expand

REVIEW:Ten Men Dead

Ten Men Dead: the story of the 1981 Irish hunger strike
David Beresford
Atlantic Monthly Press 1987

This book chronicles the period and events in Northern Ireland leading up to when nine members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and one member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) starved to death while on hunger strike inside Northern Ireland's notorious Long Kesh prison. While reading this book one may be tempted to draw parallels between the actions of imprisoned Irish nationalists and the actions carried out by prisoners in California who protested the use of solitary confinement and indeterminate sentences in the state's infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) in 2011 and 2013. However, there were qualitative differences between these two movements. Whereas one was revolutionary nationalist in nature and sought to ultimately eject British imperialism by linking the struggle behind prison walls to that of every oppressed Irish national on the streets, the other was of a reformist character and has lent itself to the preservation of the status quo; AmeriKKKa vs the oppressed nations. [Today, the hunger strikes by Palestinians in I$raeli prisons are similar in nature to the Irish strike. - editor]

While the British first invaded and began to colonize Ireland in the year 1171, the focus of this book is on more contemporary times so we'll start there. Having failed to wipe out Irish nationalism thru sheer military might the British government sought to switch strategy, and in 1972 initiated a new method of oppression called "normalization". Normalization was the policy devised to crush the IRA and other Irish nationalists by criminalizing the struggle for national liberation & self-determination. As such, normalization was also termed "criminalization". Criminalization required a four prong attack on the Irish people:

First local police and British occupation forces would cease to refer to the IRA and other Irish nationalist groups as political organizations with a political mandate. Instead Irish revolutionaries would begin to be labeled as "thugs", "criminals" and "terrorists".

Second, criminalization would entail eliminating juries and diluting the rule of evidence in IRA and INLA trials to make it easier to obtain convictions. As can be expected the number of prisoners sentenced in Northern Ireland spiked from 745 in 1972 to 2,300 in 1979.(pg 19)

Third, criminalization required that Britain begin to pull its troops from Northern Ireland delegating national oppression to local police with special military and counter-intelligence training, thereby giving the public the impression that fighting the IRA was a law and order issue and not a war.

Finally, the linchpin towards normalizing Britain's 800 year oppression of Ireland would be the repealing of Irish political prisoner status known as "special category": special category was granted to captured IRA and INLA members. Prisoners granted special category were given preferential treatment. More importantly, however, from the IRA point of view the fact that special category existed was an admission of sorts that British occupation of Ireland was something to be contested, even by the Brits.

As in any struggle, the 1981 hunger strike didn't simply develop overnight, rather it was the product of a series of protests almost a decade in the making. When Britain announced an end to special category status in 1976, prisoners immediately got to work. For Irish revolutionaries the fact that they had been captured didn't mean the war had ended. Instead prisoners viewed Long Kesh as just another front line in the war for national liberation.

The struggle to re-instate special category was first sparked 16 September 1976, when a fight between guards and a prisoner broke out after the prisoner refused to put on a prison uniform while being admitted into the general population following a conviction on a terrorism charge. Prior to 1 March 1976, there was no such thing as terrorism charges being applied to Irish revolutionaries. Once in prison, IRA and INLA members were segregated from the general population. They were also allowed to wear their own clothes. Soon other IRA & INLA members began to refuse to wear prison uniforms which marked them as criminals. As a reaction to this resistance administration then refused to clothe prisoners who refused to comply leaving them confined naked in their cells 24 hours a day with only blankets to cover themselves.(pg 16) The "blanket" protest had officially begun.

Two years later, the "no wash" protest was initiated when special category prisoners were given one towel to wear around their waist on their visits to the bathroom while being denied a second towel for their faces. Rather than continue to be humiliated in this way prisoners refused going to the bathroom facilities all-together and were given chamber pots for use in their cells. Fights with guards soon followed however when guards refused to empty the chamber pots. These events then led to the "dirty" protest in which prisoners began throwing the contents of the pots out of their cells thru windows and tray slots. After windows and tray slots were covered prisoners began "pouring urine out the cracks and dispensing excrement by smearing it on the wall."(pg 17)

Wimmin also participated in the dirty protest after thirty-two prisoners at a Northern Ireland wimmin's jail were beaten by male and femals guards in a pre-meditated attack after prisoners attempted to defend themselves during a search. The search was for IRA military uniforms which the wimmin had worn in a defiant para-military parade held in violation of jail rules.(pg 20)

Afterwards prisoners began to organize more effectively when IRA leaders began to arrive in Long Kesh. In 1979 efforts by prison administrators to isolate IRA leadership backfired when top IRA figures were transferred to H Block 6. According to the author it was the equivalent of setting up an "officers training academy" inside the prison, as prisoners began to further develop "a philosophical and strategic approach" to Irish national liberation. (pg 18) Nine months later administration became alarmed with how prisoners had taken control of their new social conditions. They soon split up the "academy", but not before prisoners began to discuss hunger striking to protest normalization and an end to special category. However, outside IRA leadership was opposed to a hunger strike by prisoners on the grounds that the IRA's limited resources would be better spent on the military campaign against Britain instead of on building public opinion on behalf of the hunger strikers.(pg 21)

After much discussion the IRA Army Council and Sinn Fein the political wing of the IRA gave the go-ahead for prisoners to begin a ten man hunger strike to the death if their demands weren't met. However, the hunger strikers were prohibited from making any explicit references towards the re-instatement of special category or normalization in order to give the government some room to compromise. Instead the protest would officially be known as the struggle for the "five demands".(pg 27) The five demands the prisoners put forth were: "the right to wear their own clothing; the right to refrain from prison work; the right to have free association with other prisoners (a right implying freedom to separate from other paramilitary groups); the right to organize recreation and leisure activity — with one letter, parcel and visit allowed per week; and the right to have remission lost, as a result of the blanket protest restored. A suggestion that demands for the reform of the Diplock court system — the system of trial without jury and related dilutions of the rule of evidence — be included was vetoed by the external leadership as being too ambitious."(pg 27)

For the government to give in to the prisoners' demands from the IRA point of view would have meant a de-facto re-implementation of special category and a step towards repealing criminalization. Criminalization was turning out to be a very effective public opinion/smear campaign against the IRA and was having a real effect on how Irish Catholics were viewing the IRA:

"The phasing out of special category status in 1975 was an integral part of a new security strategy developed by a high powered government think-tank — which included representatives of the army, police and the counter-intelligence agency MI5 — in an attempt to break the IRA and end the fighting in Ireland. Known as the "criminalization" or "normalization" policy it was essentially an attempt to separate the Republican guerrillas from their host population, the Catholics; depriving the fish of their water to echo Mao Tse-Tung's famous dictum."(pg 15)

Once the decision to hunger strike was made it was decided that only ten of the most dedicated volunteers would be chosen being that they would be hunger striking to the death if the government refused to meet their demands. Leading the strike would be a young revolutionary named Bobby Sands. Sands was one of those "young Turks" deemed to be responsible for the "Marxist strain" that seemed to be spreading in the IRA at the time. At age of 19, Sands was made an officer in the Provisional IRA commanding one of the huts in Cage 11 where he was housed. According to the author, Sands "showed himself to be a prolific as well as a politicized writer: He read voraciously — his favorites including Frantz Fanon, Camilo Torres, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, George Jackson and of Irish writers, Connolly, Pearce and Mellows — keeping a fat growing pile of exercise books full of political analysis, quotations and notes. He was planning to write a book with it all, but they were destroyed in 1974 when the IRA in the compound burnt their huts in a dispute with the administration over rights and privileges."(pg 43)

Sands also contributed articles to the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News, which he was able to smuggle out of the prison thru the use of couriers.(pg 46) Something else that was relevant about Sands, and which is worth noting here, is that he showed the correct attitude with comrades when it came to discussing revolutionary politics. Sands would push his comrades hard on the topic of political study. Whenever he lent someone a book he'd question them on what they'd learned, and if he didn't think they'd seriously absorbed the material then he'd insist they read it again.

When Sands first arrived in Long Kesh he was sent to a segregated area called the "Cages". The Cages was where IRA, INLA and other nationalists were sent to prior to the 1 March 1976 cut-off date for special category. Because the IRA as a organization never developed or held to one particular ideology that they believed or upheld to liberate Ireland meant that there existed different cliques and factions within the IRA that believed that different roads would lead to Irish liberation. This had a huge impact on the IRA and surely contributed to many of the set-backs and stagnations in the national liberation movement there. One example of this was how the younger prisoners housed in Cage 11 were looked down upon and called "renegades" by the older, more conservative "veterans" of the IRA who were housed in Cage 10 due to Cage 11's belief in a socialist road to liberation. The veterans in Cage 10 despised Marxism so much that they went so far as to stage book burnings of such works as Marx's Capital, The Communist Manifesto and The Thought of Mao Zedong. Cage 10 outranked the younger Cage 11 and considered ordering them to stand down after word spread that the Cage 11 presented a series of lectures called Celtic Communism.(pg 42) No doubt, that prior to these lectures the speakers in Cage 11 studied On the Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State by Freidrich Engels, which is a revolutionary study from a dialectical materialist standpoint of how property relations and the patriarchy influenced and shaped humyn society from the primitive stage of humyn development to civilization.

The struggle for the five demands would rage for six months while the British government publicly refused to negotiate with "criminals" and "terrorists". Behind closed doors however was a different story as the government reluctantly began to give in on the demands after public opinion began to shift in favor of the hunger strikers. International pressure also became a strong factor as one country after another openly condemned the Brits. Also, Guerrilla attacks and bombings on British occupation forces were not only sustained during this period but were stepped up. The five demands were finally met, but not until six months had elapsed and the last of the hunger strikers had died of starvation-related health complications. On 5 May 1981 Bobby Sands was the first to expire, but not before managing to become an elected member of the British Parliament, a seat he won while in prison for an attempted bombing.(pg 39) 30,000 people voted for Sands, thereby dispelling the government lie that the IRA had no support in Northern Ireland.(pg 332)

Conclusions and Analysis

Unfortunately, the author doesn't tell us what happened next, even though six years had elapsed from the time of the hunger strike to when the book was written. A new updated edition of this book would be great to explain how Ireland's national liberation struggle has played out. According to MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism, printed in 1995, the Irish struggle had greatly degenerated as IRA leaders began to opt more and more for the ballot over the bullet. The belief that bourgeoisie democracy and/or the imperialists will ever consent to the people coming to power, or give up peacefully thru a vote, the territories they have stolen and occupy is a pipedream. Bobby Sands being put up as a candidate representing South Tyrone Ireland in the British Parliament was only intended as a move to agitate around the five demands and no one ever really thought he'd win, not in the beginning anyways.(pg 72) That said, it seems that Sands' victory spurned on those within the IRA who were already looking to put down the gun in favor of taking up electoral politics. But as MIM Thought has continuously re-iterated: the oppressed nations will never be free to control their destiny so long as the imperialists hold a gun to their heads.

Maoists understand that there can be no peace so long as the imperialists hold power, therefore the only solution for the oppressed nations is to take up armed struggle once the conditions are finally right. Instead of looking to put more people from the oppressed nations into the imperialist power-structure, [email protected], New Afrikans, Boriqua and First Nation people should be working to establish a United Front to liberate their nations and towards the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations.

Revolutionaries should always strive to push for the best possible deal for the people without selling out the masses or trading out our socialist principles. That is the excellent and heroic thing about what the hunger strikers in Long Kesh did, even when the movement began pressuring them to quit the hunger strike or settle for one or two of the demands instead of the five they refused to budge. In the words of Bobby Sands:

"They wont break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon."(pg 73)

The peddling of multi-culturalism, the temporary success of globalization following the temporary defeats of socialism and revolutionary nationalist movements as well as the election of Obomber have created the notion that the struggle of the oppressed nations are irrelevant. Even back in 1986 the author of this book was pandering this idea when he said that the 1981 hunger strike "belongs more to humanity than to a limited Nationalist cause, no matter how ancient ... "(pg 333)

The reality of national oppression however contradicts the author's idealism, this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so threatening to AmeriKKKans and why it has slapped post-modernism in its face, because it dredged up a reality they once thought distant and better left repressed — best to pretend like genocide, slavery and annexation never took place. Most importantly, however, because it signals the contradiction coming to a resolution and the smashing of empire. What the oppressed nations need are more national liberation movements, not less.

Another point worth drawing attention to is the false distinction the IRA made between political prisoners and "common criminals". We believe that is a bourgeoisie distinction and one that sets back both the prison movement and national liberation as they are inter-related. MIM Thought has consistently held that all prisoners under this system are political exactly because the system is political. One need only to look at mass incarceration in the United $tates and its many similarities to the criminalization policy that helped derail the IRA at a time when it was at its peak.

chain
[Legal] [Ohio]
expand

Fighting Envelope Denial in Ohio

Informal Complaint Resolution
Submitted to Warden: Mr. Hooks
January 1st, 2017

Complaint regarding: Appropriate Supervision/discrimination, to wit: A.R. 5120-9-04.

On November 17, 2016 the Ross County Correctional Institution mail room received twenty-five (25) embossed envelopes from a Mrs. [name omitted] that was addressed to be delivered to myself. However, on this occasion the aforementioned embossed envelopes were confiscated as contraband and were never returned to my wife or forwarded to me. A new policy, (75-MAL-01), has purportedly been instituted that bans all incoming embossed envelopes sent from the family and friends of those incarcerated at the Ross County Corr. Inst. As it stands, I [name omitted] am legally indigent, as I've been held to the monthly stipend of $10 for the past fifteen years, under the banner of court cost, fines and restitution and I can't afford to purchase embossed envelopes along with hygiene and miscelaneous laundry products. This new policy (75-AL-01) discriminates against every indigent prisoner on this compound and ultimately affects the quality of a relationship already deprived of hand-to-hand contact with friends and loved ones in free society, and the quality of tenure of incarceration.

Listed below are a variety of prisoners adversely affected by this new policy (75-HAL-01), who have no alternative means of purchasing embossed envelopes. Accordingly, we respectfully request the above mentioned new policy, be rendered moot and that the original policy, that allowed prisoners to receive embossed envelopes from family and friends be re-instated.

Please assist us in any way you deem appropriate.

Cc: Special Litigation Section
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530

MIM(Prisons) responds: Our job as revolutionaries is to organize people and bring them together. The primary task of U.$. prisons is to control oppressed-nation people, and to prevent them from organizing to change their conditions within this capitalist society. The above policy in Ohio serves no purpose except to exacerbate the already difficult situation of oppressed people to not only organize but also stay mentally and relationally healthy when locked up. This policy is one tiny piece of a much larger battle.

chain
[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
expand

Learning History and Organizing Thru the Walls

When I first came to prison my whole perception of organizing in the streets changed. It changed due to education of history: history of other movements and how to organize the streets from within the prison walls. I do believe that prisoners can have a great influence on activists due to our struggles in here. But as the saying goes, a prisoner struggle today is the street's struggle tomorrow. The work which must be done inside these walls to help influence other organizations is education, strategy, and unity among all workers and oppressed people. But what I find is happening in the streets is that everyone wants to choose what battle is most important to their cause rather than finding a solution to all organizers' challenges.

Here in prison we sometimes get caught up getting a big head for fighting an issue which just caters to a person's selfish desires, rather than challenging issues which change the system as a whole. So we must learn to unify under one umbrella to tackle the issues we face.

My target audience will be the workers 'cause I believe they have power but don't know it yet. But the difference that contradicts working with workers is some are so caught up in consumerism so that they will not organize, or they don't want to lose their status so they will not wholeheartedly strike or fight for better wages. The lumpen can also be tricky to work with, due to a lack of resources.

We will have to build public opinion thru certain media outlets, hip hop culture, sports entertainers, and thru magazines. The contradictions to capitalism must be exposed so the targeted audience will have something to fight for. But to conclude, prisoners can help street LOs by building unity and overstanding each others' issues and combining theory and using science to challenge the system of imperialism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about needing to be able to look beyond our persynal issues and desires to the broader problems of the oppressed. This is especially important if we hope to unite beyond our local set. And we can certainly use cultural outlets to build public opinion and unity.

On the question of organizing workers, we've written a lot about the bought off nature of the vast majority of workers within U.$. borders and we see this as a material explanation for what this writer notes: they are caught up in consumerism and don't want to lose their status. These workers are earning more than the value of their labor because of all the profits from exploitation in the Third World brought back to this imperialist country. And so the workers here do understand that their status is valuable and profitable. They have the money to spend that allows them to get caught up in consumerism. As a result, we have seen throughout Amerikkkan history that these folks are not a force for progressive change. And organizing them to demand higher wages is not organizing against imperialism. This is one of the reasons we focus on organizing the lumpen as a group more likely to have an interest in revolution.

chain