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Under Lock & Key

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[Culture] [Europe]
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Movie Review: Les Misérables

Les Miserable
Les Misérables
2012

This is a movie version of the famous Broadway musical championing the poor in early 19th century France. The plot centers on a prisoner, locked up for stealing some bread to save his sister's son, who served 18 years for this "crime." Jean Valjean is unable to make a life for himself after finally being released from prison, and is persecuted by the specter of parole for the rest of his life. He sometimes seems to be on the path to leading a selfless life, helping others, something he decides to do after divine intervention from the Church. But ultimately we find Valjean pursuing capitalist success due to his individualist beliefs, presumably learned from the Church that helped endow him with faith in life.

The French class struggle against monarchy and feudalism features prominently in the movie, featuring a young man who is inspired to fight for the people, but who is then distracted by his love for a girl he has seen only once. This girl is under the care of the former-prisoner, Valjean, who took her in as an act of charity. The revolutionary youth contemplates abandoning the revolutionary cause for love, but when the girl disappears he decides he has nothing to live for and so may as well fight for revolution. This is not a particularly inspiring message for revolutionaries: we should not be making decisions about devoting our lives to the people only as a last resort when our first choice of romance becomes unobtainable.

Valjean ends up in a position where he decides the fate of his former prison-master, now a policeman, the man who has been pursuing him ever since he broke parole. And he frees the man, in what we take as an act of religious good will. The policeman later catches up with the prisoner and lets him go free in return. This whole series of events, along with the early intervention of the Church in Valjean's decisions create a major subplot in the movie devoted to an individualist debate over morals.

As for the French revolutionaries, they are a caricature of activists, with a fervently devoted leader, a key participant stuck in the debate over politics vs. love, and one young kid who nobly stands up for the people. This is a cruel minimization of the ideals of the class struggle, which was led by the then progressive emerging bourgeois class, but included the masses of workers and peasants in opposing the continued rule of the monarchy following the French Revolution. The young man in love with the former-prisoner's daughter is saved, for love, while other revolutionaries are killed. The saved revolutionary easily leaves the struggle and his fallen comrades behind when given the woman of his dreams.

Ultimately the message of this movie is that loving an individual and having pure Church-supported morals, is the liberation of people. Inspirational visions of the struggle as a success at the end revive all the dead people, as if history can be changed with just a bit of love and individualism.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Dalhart Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Laying the Groundwork for Revolutionary Organizing in Texas

We've had a recent death here due to use of excessive force. We've been dealing with that, getting outside sources to reach out to and filing complaints on the inside. I've had only one response from outside: the Houston Police Department's internal affairs. They've told us that our complaint has been sent to the state Inspector General's office. I was told yesterday that 20 or so men who filed complaints have been given some sort of case for filing. I have to look into that.

Our close comrades have been busy coordinating weightlifting and basketball events. These events allow us to increase our profile and spread our message of unitary conduct. This also encourages others to adopt the principles which make us comrades. So, maintaining that as a sustained front has been a priority. This is how we are able to locate minds who are receptive to USW literature and who are prepared to come into greater degrees of organizing. We're finishing up our basketball season this week. We are signing up rosters for a soccer tournament which will begin next week. And we are beginning to coordinate our 3rd annual unit-wide collective fellowship meal, which has always been a powerful way of advocating for unity across ethnic and racial boundaries.

So, in addition to writing to you and four other outside groups united in our struggle, I need to, today, brief 5 other comrades who want to coordinate functions of their own under our banner. I mentor a young development of 2 others who are new to our collective. And I need to get at least 10 others some recent commentary to keep them in the loop. I absolutely need to delegate more. But even that is a process in itself in this environment.

While all of this is going on, I've had to mediate a situation where a young comrade had a conflict with a white guy. Because the white guy was so much bigger and older, Black families were upset. Because Blacks got involved and the white guy used to be associated, white families are upset. So, you try to keep the peace while pride and ego come into play. The whole time understanding the stakes involved, the potential for escalation, and knowing that the Mexicans are watching Triple C closely right now, judging how I conduct myself in the affair.

I realize always that lives are on the line. I do the work so that these men and their children can gain more power to determine their economic, political, and social condition. So much of that work involves meeting cats where they are at, and working to provide solutions to immediate needs; doing that while communicating one big picture, and while demonstrating methods of achieving evolved conditions of living.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the day-to-day ground work that revolutionaries engage in to build the movement against imperialism. While exercise, in and of itself, may appear unrelated to anti-imperialism, this is something that can be turned into a solidarity activity, especially in prison where even such basic activities are greatly restricted. We have reported on similar organizing in California prisons. This comrade is part of an organization that is in the United Front for Peace in Prisons which is focused on building peace and unity within the prison population. Wherever we can break down divisions between groups and build unity to fight our common oppressor we will contribute to a stronger anti-imperialist movement overall.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 33]
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Movie Review: Pitch Perfect


Pitch Perfect
2012

Here's a movie with a good-vibe attitude, very chillback, and the viewer will get a sense that there's not a problem in the world. However, the truth is far from this.

The setting of the movie deals with a womyn in her early 20s who gets involved in college by her petit-bourgeoisie father, who is a professor at the university. Her name is Beca and she likes to DJ and make music. Not willing to participate in any campus activities, her father gives her an ultimatum of trying an activity and if that doesn't work out he'll pay her way to LA to "pay her dues" as an upcoming DJ.

She tries out for the a capella singing group, and to her surprise is delighted by the mix of wimmin she finds herself with. Not really one who had friends, this movie is a good example of the stress capitalist society puts on individuals to "become" something and "fit-in".

While dealing with competitions Beca also confronts her sexuality by a man she becomes friends with named Jessie. Beca doesn't know how to "open up" and let her "guard down," but in a world dominated by patriarchy one can't blame her for closing herself to the world.

During most parts of the movie a lot of music gets played while side stepping the backwardness of some of the movie's song lyrics. It's important to note that culture helps shape peoples' ideology. Revolutionaries should not ignore how important music is to bringing in people to the cause. In other words, music is a great avenue for not only propaganda but also proselytizing. As MIM Theory 13: Culture in Revolution puts it, work should be done to comb through the culture of capitalism, knowing when to "leave hair intact or cut it off," to use this metaphor.

The good thing about this movie is that it shows an outsider coming in to change, and do away with, "traditional" ways of doing things, and shaking things up. On the other hand, as stated in the beginning, the audience will come out with the conception that everything is dandy and to attain one's happiness is the acme of success. This movie is a great example of how music has the power of influence, and more revolutionary culture should blossom to overcome the moribund culture this parasitic society in the United $tates spills out.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Security] [ULK Issue 33]
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Global Telecom Monitoring for Global Domination

A lot of talk and discussion has been flying lately about the recent exposure of the United $tates's massive worldwide spying apparatus. While the European Union superstructure of imperialist nations and empires cry "Foul!," their cries are for show only. In January 2012 the E.U super-state shot down a proposal that would have made it illegal for the United $tates to spy on E.U. citizens. The Amerikans threatened economic warfare and the U.$. administration heavily lobbied E.U. officials to crush the proposal before it was brought to member nations for referendum. E.U. officials promptly did so, proving the United $tates to be the current dominant world imperialist superpower.(1)

A reason some European countries/empires are reluctant to raise much of an outcry is because most communications at some point have to travel thru U.$. telecom and internet servers. European imperialist countries can then backdoor their own countries' warrant requirements by just requesting the information from U.$. spy agencies. Britain has also been known to do this to monitor insurgencies in its colonies.(2)(3) These revelations bring about the question, how else does this issue affect colonized peoples and the Third World?

The United $tates set up the notoriously corrupt Mexican government's entire telecommunications network to spy on its own citizenry, and of course to allow the United $tates to monitor all communications passing thru Mexico.(4) As stated above most of the world's communications will pass thru U.$. systems and systems set up by the United $tates. This allows the Amerikans to spy on the entire world's communications, thereby helping them to control entire populations, and manipulate governments and markets, which explains why the United $tates is so willing to export this technology.(5)

The United $tates and Israel have been exporting this technology for years.(6) One of the largest electronic surveillance companies Verint was founded by former Israeli intelligence officer Jacob "Kobi" Alexander. The CEO is Dan Bonder, former Israeli army engineer.(7) The United $tates uses a lot of Verint software for eavesdropping. Another major client of Verint is the government of Vietnam, who uses Verint technology to monitor dissidents and silence them.(8)

Another large U.$./Israeli intelligence firm, Narus, provides eavesdropping technology to the Chinese Government, which uses the technology to monitor citizens, silence dissidents and to prevent Chinese workers from organizing. Narus also provides and has provided its services to the oppressive regimes in Egypt (Mubarak), Libya, and Saudi Arabia.(9)

Without this U.$./Israeli technology these repressive governments could not track VOIP calls or block "unapproved" websites or track dissidents.(10) These systems allow these repressive regimes to impose a stranglehold on their citizenry/workers on behalf of the U.$. imperialists. This makes these U.$./Israeli firms not only responsible for helping to maintain this stranglehold but also largely responsible for the death, torture, and detention of the citizens and workers of these countries.


MIM(Prisons) adds:In issue 33 of Under Lock & Key we are focusing on the importance of independence in order to achieve self-determination. U.$. surveillance is just one more thing to consider in trying to maintain independence. One positive result coming out of the information released about the NSA's global data mining operations is a flurry of support in the First World (from people who haven't had to worry about things like COINTELPRO in the past) for independent, open source technology projects that focus on providing security to all. Many of these we mentioned in our article Self-Defense and Secure Communications in ULK 31. But using better technology is not the only lesson to take from this. Another lesson is that more traditional forms of communication, in societies less integrated into the imperialist system (where resistance also happens to be more fertile) will be an even better route than depending on technologies, such as social media, where the imperialists can easily dominate.

Sources:
1. James Fontaella-Khan, "Brussels bows to US over data protection", Financial Times, Thursday 13 June 2013.
article is called by
2. J.Mooney & O'Toole. Black Operations, Maverick House, 2005.
3. James Bamford. The Shadow Factory, Anchor Press, 2009.
4. ibid pg. 225-228
5. ibid pgs. 177,181,184,186,209,291,304
6. ibid pg. 254
7. ibid pg. 238
8. ibid pgs. 254 & 259
9. ibid pgs. 259
10. ibid pgs. 256 & 260

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[Spanish] [Economics] [ULK Issue 34]
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El Tema del que Nadie Está Hablando en el Diálogo del Primero de Mayo

1 de Mayo, 2013 — El llamado movimiento obrero en los países imperialistas ha tenido un respaldo social e influencia muy limitados desde hace mucho tiempo debido a las condiciones increíblemente privilegiadas en las que la mayoría de los primermundistas viven. Así, en un intento de parecer relevantes, y tal vez para ocultar su nacionalismo blanco, éstos proclaman su "solidaridad" con las luchas de los trabajadores alrededor del mundo. En el peor de los casos, esta "solidaridad" se utiliza de forma activa para dirigir erróneamente la lucha del proletariado hacia el economismo y el seguimiento del modelo de desarrollo del primer mundo. Pero incluso cuando esa "solidaridad" se queda en palabras, se utiliza para defender el privilegio de las poblaciones explotadoras del primer mundo. En este Primero de Mayo, la entrevista principal del programa Democracy Now! (¡Democracia Ahora!) resumió esta tendencia.(1)

Charlie Kernaghan del Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights (Instituto para el Trabajo Global y los Derechos Humanos) fue entrevistado en un segmento sobre la reciente tragedia en Bangladesh y la lucha obrera en general. Kernaghan nos informó que 421 personas han sido confirmadas muertas y otras 1,000 están aún desaparecidas, queriendo decir que probablemente han muerto bajo los escombras de la fábrica que se derrumbó. Explicó que los trabajadores no sólo fueron amenazados con no pagarles el mes, lo que significaría pasar hambre, sino que también se enfrentaban a la amenaza inmediata de matones con garrotes. Como nos enseñó la reciente explosión de fertilizantes en Texas, la búsqueda de los beneficios en el capitalismo pone en riesgo la vida de todos. Aún así, hoy una diferencia cuantitativa entre ser forzado a base de golpes a volver a una situación peligrosa, y el no ser consciente de que esa situación peligrosa existe. El riesgo relativo al que se enfrentan los trabajadores en el tercer mundo es más alto.

Como MIM y otros han mostrado en numerosas ocasiones, hay una diferencia cualitativa entre el salario que ganan los primermundistas y los proletarios explotados; el salario de los primeros está por encima del valor que generan, lo que los convierte en explotadores de los segundos(2). La conversación acerca de la tragedia en Bangladesh degeneró en nacionalismo blanco cuando la entrevistadora Amy Goodman comenzó a preguntarse sobre lo que deberíamos hacer. Después de defender la protección de los salarios Amerikanos, el invitado comenzó a pedir aranceles comerciales para las mercancías provenientes de países como Bangladesh hasta que puedan cumplir con ciertos estándares laborales similares a los de los Estados Unidos. Tal oposición al libre comercio organiza a los explotadores a costa de los explotados.

El tema tabú se hizo más difícil de ignorar cuando el invitado comenzó a hablar de trabajadores ganando 21 centavos a la vez que hablaba de la inmiseración de los trabajadores Amerikanos. Cuando Goodman empezó a danzar alrededor del tema de los salarios el invitado respondió: "Bueno, como dije con la legislación, no es nuestro trabajo el establecer salarios alrededor del mundo. Esto depende de los habitantes de cada país. Lo que si podemos hacer es exigir que si quieres traer productos a los Estados Unidos, debes dar a los trabajadores que los producen derechos legales."

¿Cómo es que podemos obligarles a aplicar leyes sobre trabajo infantil, pero en lo que se refiere a sus salarios el tercer mundo se las tiene que arreglar por su cuenta? ¿Cómo puedes hablar de "solidaridad internacional obrera" sin hablar de un salario mínimo internacional? La idea es ridícula y la única razón por la que esto sucede es porque los líderes obreros Amerikanos saben que el salario medio en el mundo está por debajo de lo que ellos ganan. Quieren seguir ganando más de lo que les corresponde y al mismo tiempo poner aranceles comerciales a los productos fabricados con mano de obra explotada.

Suponemos que las personas del Sur de Asia no confundirán a aquellos que ganan 20,000 dólares al año, o mucho más, como miembros del proletariado. Pero conforme nos acercamos al corazón del imperio la perspectiva de clase proletaria distorsiona más y más. No hay mejor ejemplo de ello hoy en día que el de Aztlán, donde trabajadores inmigrantes observan la enorme riqueza que les rodea y la posibilidad de obtener parte de ella. Después de que las naciones oprimidas tomaron el control del Primero de Mayo en los Estados Unidos hace siete años, el ala izquierda del nacionalismo blanco trabaja horas extra para infundir a este nuevo movimiento proletario en el corazón de la bestia con la linea política de la aristocracia obrera.

Hoy, conforme el gobierno federal declara estar cerca de promulgar una "reforma de inmigración" que equivaldrá a más excepcionalismo y favoritismo Amerikano, nosotros preferimos un enfoque basado en la reunificación de las familias que algunos ya defendieron en este Primero de Mayo en Los Ángeles. Este es un asunto que enlaza perfectamente con la cuestión nacional y no con las peticiones economicistas para un mayor acceso a salarios propios de los explotadores. La reunificación desafía la frontera represiva que mantiene a familias separadas, y mantiene a naciones completas alienadas de las riquezas que producen. Al igual que la integración dentro de los Estados Unidos ha avanzado, el desafio a la frontera y la lucha contra el nacionalismo blanco, o mejor dicho contra el primermundismo, necesita estar en el centro de un movimiento proletario progresivo en Aztlán. Estos son los problemas que realmente movilizaron a las masas en las manifestaciones del Primero de Mayo en 2006 en respuesta a la Amerika pro-Minutemen(3). Este es el espíritu con el que celebramos este Primero de Mayo.


Notas:
1. Democracy Now! 1 May 2013
2. Ver la sección de sobre la aristocracia obrera en nuestra página de materiales básicos.
3. Ver la página de archivos de MIM sobre represión en la frontera de EE.UU./México

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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30,000 Spark California Hunger Strike

9 July 2013 - Yesterday the third in a series of hunger strikes in California prisons began after months of preparation and many more months of attempts to negotiate with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to meet basic humyn rights. According to the CDCR, around 30,000 prisoners refused food on the first day, indicating this will likely be the largest show of unity in action that California prisoners have ever made. That's about 20% of the state prison population and is more than twice the number of people that the CDCR reported participating in the second round of the hunger strike in 2011, demonstrating the success of the last two years of campaigning around the mutual interests of prisoners in demanding humane conditions.

According to the LA Times:

Inmates in two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.(1)

We expect the numbers not going to work to increase, as a diversity of tactics was promoted depending on one's situation, with indefinite hunger strike being taken up by the most dedicated and most abused prisoners. While the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective has pledged to strike until their original five core demands are met, the last year has allowed prisoners to adapt the demands to address the most pressing concerns where they are at.

While we have no official reports yet, comrades in other states have also pledged to participate in the demonstration. We will post those reports as they come in.

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[Abuse] [Suwanee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Guanswaneemo Bay Continues

The following are a list of eye witnessed brutalities by staff against captives (prisoners) on close management (CM) at Guan"Suwannee"mo Bay (Suwannee C.I.) in Florida.

Early November 2012: a prisoner was targeted for being a writ writer. He was jumped on and cut with a razor by another prisoner placed in the cell. The police are paying extra trays to prisoners to jump on other prisoners. Currently one prisoner has been slapped with several fabricated DRs (disciplinary reports) and downgraded in CM status. He might remain on CM until he is broken from his writ writing ways.

Early November 2012: A mentally ill prisoner, after continuous daily harassment by Sgt Green and his crew, was gassed for no reason. He was used as an example to inflict terror in other prisoners.

December 3, 2012, CO McGuire and another CO jumped on a prisoner who was in handcuffs, hands behind his back. After being beaten the prisoner was slapped with a fabricated "battery on a CO" disciplinary report (DR) to justify this brutality. But how can one commit battery on CO with his hands in cuffs behind his back?

June/July 2012: A prisoner was jumped on by COs who sprayed chemical agents into his mouth and throat in the hallway of P-Dormitory at Suwannee Annex.

April 17, 2013: A prisoner was placed on strip because he said something to the recreation coach criticizing him for not announcing rec when he enters the yard, just so he can deny rec to prisoners who he deems not ready. He does this so that he will have fewer prisoners to take out to rec, less work.

April 18, 2013: A prisoner and his cellmate were gassed with chemical agents. The prisoner was given a choice to either be gassed or placed on strip. He chose to be gassed because when prisoners are placed on strip most of their personal property comes up missing. COs either throw the prisoner's personal property away or allow their orderlies to go through the prisoner's personal property.

April 19, 2013: Two prisoners were pepper sprayed by CO Mayo, then placed on strip.

April 21, 2013: Two prisoners were placed on strip. CO Mayo threatened one of the prisoners that he was "going to send him to CM if he's gotta fuck the mayor's daughter to get it done." He also called a prisoner a "pussy ass nigga" repeatedly, loud and clear, after denying this prisoner lunch and dinner by putting empty trays through his flap.

April 21, 2013: CO Mayo can be seen on GI cameras and/or heard on intercom audio recording extorting prisoners, charging prisoners canteen food items if they want to receive their purchase.

Many prisoners are falsely accused of gunning (masturbating) by female staff, just so prisoners can be gassed, placed on strip, and/or beaten and slapped with fabricated DRs, mostly by male COs acting in affinity with these female staff members, or just exerting DOC team spirit and loyalty. These sadist tyrants and their brutalities will not just stop on their own. There is no such thing as altruism towards prisoners in DOC/ Guan"suwannee"mo Bay. Altruism toward prisoners here is considered unamerikkkan and/or unpatriotic.

In October 2012, Taylor CI and Union CI underwent a major purge by higher authorities during which approximately 60 something staff members of all ranks were escorted off institution grounds due to their involvement in these brutalities and tyrant practices. Suwannee CI needs such a purge of sadists and tyrants like Lt. Martin (AKA white widow or misery) and Lt Harrold who are in charge of management wing goons such as Sgt Lynblade, Sgt Harvey, Sgt Patton, Sgt Silver, Sgt Gree, Sgt Kelly, Sgt Fisher, Sgt Linea and their subordinate ruffians like CO Murman, CO Mayo, CO Knowleds (who was involved in the Panama City boot camp murder of 13 year old Martin Lee Anderson, now working on CM here at Guan"Suwannee"Mo Bay and is still at his klansman ways), CO Barton, CO McGuire, CO Lynblade, CO Diaz, CO Landrum, CO Lane and CO Pope (who brags how he pays prisoners in G-dorm extra lunch trays to beat up other prisoners for him.) Also we can't forget their superior officers: captains, majors, colonels and wardens who not only condone, encourage and orchestrate, but participate in these willful and unlawful brutalities. There are also the classification officers, medical and mental health staff who are aware of the brutalities and either help cover them up or approve of them by not reporting them to the proper authorities.

The above mentioned brutalities are only a very few of the many that occur here on CM at Guan"Suwannee"Mo Bay (Suwannee CI) in Florida.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade has done the important work of documenting the ongoing abuse of prisoners at Suwanee CI. In a previous article incidents through most of 2012 are described. Our response to that article is important to repeat here: "The list of people this writer suggests need to be purged from Suwanee demonstrates our point that it is not possible to reform the Amerikan criminal injustice system. This is not a case of just a few bad apples, but rather a system of oppression and violence, in which employees must participate to receive a paycheck. We must expose the brutality, and fight the individual cases to create some livable space for our comrades, but we will only end the violence by dismantling the criminal injustice system entirely."

It is the systemic problem that puts us on the only possible path to liberation, from the criminal injustice system but also from the broader system of imperialism: communist revolution. We need to create a world where no group of people has power over another group.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Florida]
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Support Florida Prisoners Against Keefe Snack Sneak Attacks

We recently created a petition addressed to Governor Scott:

The families and friends of Florida prisoners petition for a state investigation of the Keefe commissary network contract with the FDOC. In this economy and in fairness, the people of Florida deserve a new contract that makes canteen prices more affordable or reasonable. (see www.tampabay.com/news/kickback/155046)

Keefe is one of the biggest if not the biggest prison and jail commissary vendors in the United States. Revenues from canteen operation for fiscal year 2009-2010 were $30,973,262. The prices prisoners are being charged are higher than prices for the same items sold in the free world. There are several vendors who bid for the FDOC contract who would offer a wider variety of available items at almost a 60% decrease of what Keefe presently charges. One has to "wonder" why were these other vendors not given the contract?

Keefe's sneak attack on snacks continue to prey on the families and friends of Florida prisoners who for the most part provides financial support to the prison population to spend on canteen. With the economy in recession it is doubtful prisoners families and friends are going to be able to spend more money.

Keefe, which is based out of St. Louis, MO, latest price increase has lead to more thefts, robberies and violence in Florida's prisons. Governor Scott, you can stop Keefe's price gouging with just one phone call, we urge you to be that champion of the fairness and justice that you promised all Floridians during your campaign by making that call.

The success or failure of this important project depends on genuine community interest and online petition signature support. To support Florida prisoners against Keefe's Snack Sneak Attacks visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/229/807/212/support-keefe-sneak-attacts-on-snacks-must-go/


CLASS="no-indent">MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed an article about Keefe back in 2009 with similar complaints from a prisoner in Pennsylvania. We don't hold out much hope that Governor Scott is going to turn his back on the capitalists to help out prisoners and their families, but the exposure of Keefe and education about the corruption in the criminal injustice system and its role in making lots of companies (and their employees) rich, is a valuable educational and organizing tool.

Also at issue here is the right to healthy and adequate food. Vending machine food is always going to more expensive and less nutritional. All pisoners should be provided with adequate, fresh food, so that supplementary snacks are a luxury.

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[Campaigns] [Gang Validation] [California] [ULK Issue 33]
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USW Health Campaign Brings STG Violations

In recent months the idea of developing a collective health campaign has been tossed around within United Struggle from Within in California. This was to build on and expand on the long-standing agreement to end hostilities by developing more peaceful activities that would help prisoners see each others' commonality. It also came in response to the proposed new Security Threat Group policies that greatly expand repression in California prisons and serve to isolate and divide.

In a piece supporting this health campaign, Cipactli wrote in part,

"Exercise is another aspect that needs to be taken seriously by all revolutionaries, exercise is so important that the state has targeted it and labels it STG activity. They will validate you and send you to solitary confinement for decades for doing push ups with a comrade. This is how much they see exercise as a threat, because it strengthens us as humyn beings and it is a weapon we use to combat the effects of prison life. The state seeks to strip us of any forms of resistance, anything we draw strength from hinders their project of instilling a sense of helplessness in all prisoners so that we go along with their oppression and never dare to resist the oppressor.

As revolutionary prisoners we need to develop methods of exercise to keep our bodies in top shape. This helps us not only physically, but science tells us that there is a connection between our physical health and our mental health. Exercise prevents not only disease but also depression, stress, anxiety and anger. Our world in these dungeons is filled with all this negativity which harms us just like the bullets and batons even though we often cannot see this damage in its physical form but we react to it in negative ways, so exercise helps us keep this stuff in check. These emotions will not go away but exercise helps us better deal with them without them overpowering our lives.

A good exercise regime is from forty five minutes to an hour, this is usually done from four to six days a week. I have found burpies and calisthenics to be the most fulfilling. Our bodies need to sweat in order to flush out the toxins and many times push ups just won't do it. California prisons no longer have weights so in the holes and SHUs people mostly do burpies. This tradition, which many Cali prisoners are not aware of, came from George Jackson and his comrades who developed exercise regimes utilizing burpies and calisthenics. At the time, in the 60s and 70s, prisoners were not exercising in this way as these were military style exercise regimes. Comrade George was a step ahead in identifying the inter-connection between a strong body and mind. The early 80s saw Chicano prisoners from Northern Cali develop this same exercise regime, and the late 90s saw Chicano prisoners from Southern Cali along with white prisoners soon follow this tradition that started with Black prisoners. This is good that prisoners exercise, it is a positive thing, but now the state is using it against us so we must find ways to combat this.

One way to fight the STG labeling of exercise is for all prisoners to work out together. If all prisoners work out at once it can no longer be seen as STG activity. I believe this is a positive step forward for a united front, however I don't think the state will thus be prevented from labeling group exercise STG activity, just as all prisoners of all nationalities participate in hunger strikes yet it is still seen as STG activity. But prisoners working out together would also be an unprecedented step forward. Since most group exercise are done in the hole and most holes consist of cages side-by-side, I can see a future exercise regime consisting of each cage calling out an exercise, regardless of what nation or sub-group one belongs to, and everyone exercising together. In the SHU we can't see no one, as everyone is in an individual cell. Some people work out and some don't so this is a little more difficult. If you find yourself in a hole and people are in individual cages, one is free to jump in and participate with those exercising but the ideal is to have everyone participate. This is something to work on and begin discussing, by working out together it does not mean we are one car, it does not mean you're joining another nation or LO, it's simply exercise. If we can starve together why not sweat together?

Today's prisons are no longer like the prisons of our grandfathers, conditions have changed and we must find ways to change with these times. If we are to ever regain things like trailer visits for lifers, weights, parole dates for lifers, and all the rest, we must be more in sync. If we want the 'end to hostilities' to really last than we need to do more, we need to implement methods which reinforce such policies as an 'End to Hostilities' and group exercise involving all nationalities and subgroups reinforce this."

Some righteous comrades in Calipatria State Prison took up the task of developing exercise programs that included all prisoners. They ended up receiving rules violations, as one comrade reported:

"The correctional sergeant who wrote up the rules violation report doesn't even bother to check to see if we're all in fact 'Southern' Hispanics, she just makes a blanket accusation and the Disciplinary Hearing Officer who heard the rules violation report takes the sergeant's report at face value and finds us all guilty. We are appealing our write-ups, but this is what can happen if others follow the tactical advice given in the USW Health Campaign letter."

This is a fair warning, but this is true for anyone who tries to stand up for prisoners' rights from behind bars. Even doing so from the outside results in repression in the form of censorship, and occasionally worse. So we do not put forth these ideas lightly and this is just one tactic. But it is in line with our strategic goal, which is currently to develop peace between different groups within the prison populations. Without pushing towards that goal, conditions for prisoners will only continue to worsen.

The people oppressing others for exercising are state employees who are supposed to be accountable to the law. Every issue of Under Lock & Key contains just a few examples of the illegal and unjust things that they are doing. The potential for abuse in prisons is well-known and it is a struggle to hold the abusers accountable. Our struggle right now is often just to get these people to follow their own laws, which forbid torture and cruel and unusual punishment, and their own mandates which claim to promote rehabilitation.

It is our job as an independent advocate for prisoners of the United $tates to challenge the legitimacy and legality of new policies that restrict the rights of prisoners. With the current trajectory in the CDCR, it seems that anyone who isn't sitting in their room by themselves watching TV will soon be considered a security threat. This department of "Corrections and Rehabilitation" is more and more becoming an Orwellian nightmare. Despite what they may think, everything they say or do is not state-sanctioned. Of course, we also know that much of what they do that is state-sanctions still is not right in the eyes of the oppressed masses and all who believe in justice.

This controversy regarding exercise is just one petty example of what we are trying to prevent with the draft goals that MIM(Prisons) published leading up to the demonstrations in July. The final point of that list is:

"no punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, or other organization - in other words a complete end to the gang validation system that punishes people (currently puts people in the SHU for an indeterminate amount of time) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws"

The idea that exercising can be against the rules or laws is just plain unacceptable. The same is true for any action that a prisoner takes to improve the health of hself or others around h. We continue to promote these tactics of the USW Health Campaign as part of the larger effort to maintain the end to hostilities among groups of prisoners.

The end to hostilities is at the heart of this stage of our work. It is what we have been promoting with the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which was based in our assessment that the principal contradiction our movement faces today is internal to the prisoner population itself. It would be virtually impossible to progress without resolving that contradiction. At the same time, breaking down these barriers requires uniting around common concerns as prisoners in California have been doing for the last couple years. The effort for peace and the effort for humyn rights in prisons reinforce each other.

We've just received word from Pelican Bay affirming the plan to go without food or work until the five core demands are met. Many within Corcoran have asserted their plan to participate again. And San Quentin's Adjustment Center has organized their own list of demands and will be participating in full this time around. Some populations facing less harsh conditions are opting to just stop work until the demands are met. Last time many prisons participated to varying degrees, and we expect similar support this time around. But comrades should think strategically about where they are based. You probably know by now whether there is a base for indefinite striking where you are. Such a path should not be taken lightly. The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have passed day 150 on their strike and they have not gotten anything from the state but force-feeding and abuse in response. While the response to a hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay is likely to be different from a response to a strike in California, any hunger strike will have to last a long time and gain a lot of public support to get the desired results.

Consider what results are possible where you are. Solidarity fasting for shorter periods can serve as agitational work to build unity and awareness. But we need to work on more long-term projects as well, like the health programs suggested here that can build solidarity in action at a basic level. It is not a crime to support each other in pursuing healthy lifestyles in a very unhealthy environment. And there are many other programs that can be developed around education, literacy and study groups and whatever other needs the people have where you are. Now is the time to do it, while spirits are rising and prisoners are looking for a way to be involved.

As always, let us know what is going on where you are. We will send you updates as we get information. So stay in touch and take care of each other.


Below is the statement from the four main representatives of the Short Corridor Collective as reported by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition:

The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms). Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we've patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR's failure to honor their word — and we have explained in detail the ways in which they've acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.

On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.

Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what's right.

We are certain that we will prevail.... the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?

The world is watching!

Onward in Struggle and Solidarity.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike]
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Yasiin Bey force-fed like a Guantanamo prisoner

yasiin bey force fed crying
Click the image above to watch/download the video of Yasiin Bey being forcefed.

Today prisoners across California are beginning round 3 of their strike against Security Housing Unit torture. It is fitting that a video has been circulating today featuring Yasiin Bey (rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def) undergoing the same force-feeding procedure that U.$. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been facing for months, and that California prisoners will likely be facing in the near future.

Hats off to Bey for being willing to do this to expose the torture that the United $tates is putting people through every day.

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