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Under Lock & Key

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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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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Abuse] [New Jersey State Prison] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 33]
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Protest at New Jersey State Prison

Prisoners at New Jersey State Prison, the only maximum security facility in the state, staged a non-violent protest June 6 through 8, 2013. Initially, prisoners on the West Compound, the older part of the prison, and one of the oldest in the nation, functioning since 1830, refused to go to the mess hall for the entire day. Despite some lack of cooperation at the breakfast movement, the mess hall finally remained empty at dinner time. The next two days the modern North and South compounds of the prison joined in the protest, bringing the institution to a complete standstill.

The protest came as a consequence of several factors. First was the issue of collective punishment. The prison administrator issued an official memorandum in which he threatened to suspend recreation and privileges to entire wings of any individual prisoner who had committed a serious offense (a common occurrence on a prison that houses close to 2000 people).

Ancillary issues involved the harassment of people at the central rotunda, a place of obligatory pass for any activities, including meals, recreation, education and religious programs. The officers, with little supervision, or perhaps encouraged by supervisors, overtly harass inmates, many times without probable cause, as demanded by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of New Jersey, and affirmed by the 10A Code that regulates prisons in the state. Prisoners are stripped searched at the mere whim of any guard. Made up charges that lead to lock-up time are usually the result of such harassment.

The last issue that weighed on the decision to stage a non-violent protest relates to the abusive language and arbitrary searches conducted by a second shift sergeant. Sometimes, the results are outright sad and curious, i.e., the same shank found in several cells by the same sergeant.

In conclusion petty management practices, abuse of power by supervisors, lack of concern by the administrator and superintendent (supervision from an Ivory Tower), collective punishment, and indiscriminate use of lock-up as an instrument of control, led the prison community to unite as one to express their concerns.

It is important to highlight that the prison, at any given time, keeps an estimated 750 inmates on closed custody units such as 1-Left lock-up, Ad-Seg, MCU (Management Control Unit), and P.C. (Protective Custody) — a full 38% of the prison population. More than one in three prisoners are kept in solitary confinement.

Although nothing has changed as of the writing of this report, it is important to highlight that the level of unity achieved across nations and groups, the effective organization of the protest, and the fearful response by the state demonstrate the power of non-violent resistance in a corrections environment. During the demonstration the prison was militarized by SAG, the special operations response team of the DOC, hundreds of officers were summoned to work, and all administration had to report to work. It is presumable that the cost of overtime hours, and the emotional cost of an oppressive power challenged by the masses will affect the way in which future decisions are made by the administration. A group of prisoners were transferred to other facilities across the state, some others placed in solitary confinement. As it usually happens, most were not organizers of the protest.

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[Control Units] [Medical Care] [Mental Health]
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The Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

The author Charles Dickens (in American Notes for General Circulation) wrote these words about solitary confinement in 1842:
"I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers, and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body, and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh, because it's wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear, therefore the more I denounce it."

Upon reading a study on solitary confinement I reflect on the following effects of this legalized tool of torture.

Significant decrease in the ability of the nervous system functions:

  1. Significant disruptions in hormone levels
  2. Absence of menstruation in women with no other physiological, organic cause due to age or pregnancy (secondary amenorrhea)
  3. Increased feeling of having to eat: Zynorexia/cravings, hyporerexia, compulsive overeating
  4. In contrast, reduction or absence of thirst
  5. Severe hot flashes and/or sensations of coldness not attributable to any corresponding change in the ambient temperature or to illness (fever, chills, etc.)

Significantly impaired perception and cognitive ability
  1. Serious inability to process perceptions
  2. Serious inability to feel one's own body
  3. Serious general difficulties in concentrating
  4. Serious difficulty, even the complete inability, to read or register what has been read, comprehend it and place it within a meaningful context
  5. Serious difficulties, even the complete inability, to speak or process thoughts in written form (agraphia, dysgraphia)
  6. Serious difficulties in articulating and verbalizing thoughts, which is demonstrated in problems with syntax, grammar and word selection and can even extend to aphasia, aphrasia, and agnosia
  7. Serious difficulties or the complete inability to follow conversations (shown to be the result of slowed function in the primary acoustic cortex of the temporal lobes due to lack of stimulation)

Additional limitations
  1. Carrying out conversations with oneself to compensate for the social and acoustic lack of stimulation
  2. Clear loss of intensity of feeling
  3. Situatively euphoric feelings which later transform into a depressed mood

Long-Term health consequences
  1. Difficulties in social contacts, including the inability to engage in emotionally close and long-term romantic relationships
  2. Depression
  3. Negative impact on self-esteem
  4. Returning to imprisonment situation in dreams
  5. Blood pressure disorders requiring treatment
  6. Skin disorders requiring treatment
  7. Inability to recover in particular cognitive skills (e.g. in mathematics) the prisoner had mastered before solitary confinement

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[Middle East] [Elections] [ULK Issue 33]
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Egypt Protests Demonstrate Power and Perils of Mass Protests

mubarak morsi the same
After a year under the elected rule of President Mohamed Morsi, in June and July the Egyptian people once again took to the streets to protest a government that was not serving their interests. Back in 2011 the Egyptian people successfully took down Hosni Mubarak and forced the country's first elections for President. As we wrote at that time in ULK 19: "The Egyptian people forced President Mubarak out of the country, but accepted his replacement with the Supreme Council of the Military — essentially one military dictatorship was replaced by another. One of the key members of this Council is [Omar] Sueliman, the CIA point man in the country and head of the Egyptian general intelligence service. He ran secret prisons for the United $tates and persynally participated in the torturing of those prisoners." But the Egyptian people were not fooled, and they rightfully took to the streets to force further change this summer. Still, we do not see clear proletarian leadership of the protests, and instead the U.$.-funded military is again stepping in to claim the mantle and pretend to represent the people.

Morsi is widely considered "Egypt's first democratically elected president." Prior to the elections in 2012 the country was led by an elected parliament and an unelected President, Hosni Mubarak, a former general who took power after the assassination of his predecessor in 1981. But it's important to consider what "democratically elected" really means. Democratic elections presume that the people in a country have the ability to participate freely, without coercion, and that all candidates have equal access to the voting population. Most elections in the world today do not actually represent democracy. In many countries dominated by Amerikan imperialism, there are elections, but we do not call these democratic, because it is not possible for candidates without lots of money and the backing of one imperialist interest or another to win. When democracy gets out of imperialist control and an anti-imperialist candidate does participate and win, they better have military power to back them up or they will be quickly murdered or removed by military force (see "Allende in Chile" or "Lumumba in the Congo"). We should not just assume that people participating in a balloting exercise represents democracy for the people.

There are some key political reasons why Morsi won the presidential election in 2012. Representing the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi was well educated and spent several years getting a doctorate in the United $tates and teaching at University in the 1980s. He is certainly not one of the 40% of the Egyptian population living on less than $2 a day.(1) The Muslim Brotherhood has long been a well organized activist group, which despite being banned by the government from participating in Parliamentary elections was allowed to organize on the streets as a counterforce to progressive anti-imperialist parties that faced complete repression.(2) Demonstrating the advantage it had over other banned organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood put together the most effective electoral campaign after Mubarak fell. It is telling that the runoff in the presidential election was between Morsi and Ahmed Shafiz, the prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, and the vote was close. Essentially the election was between a representative of the status quo that had just been overthrown, and a candidate who promised to be different but represented a conservative religious organization.

The military has once again stepped in to the vacuum created by the mass protests demanding the removal of President Morsi, pretending to be defending the interests of the people. This position by the military is no surprise after Morsi, in August, stripped the military of any say in legislation and dismissed his defense minister. The military selected the leader of the Supreme Constitutional Court to serve as interim president after Morsi stepped down. Morsi still enjoys significant support among the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who continue to take to the streets to demand that he be freed from military prison and returned to power.

The Egyptian military actually has a long history of institutional power. In 1981, after Mubarak took power, the military expanded with the help of Amerikan aid. This aid came as a sort of bribe, as up until the 1977 peace accord Egypt had been attempting to lead an Arab resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine, a cause the people of Egypt continue to support to this day. Since then the military has remained one of the top receivers of U.$. military aid, second only to Israel itself, until 2001 when Afghanistan became the largest. The armed forces in Egypt used this economic power to take up significant economic endeavors entering into private business with factories, hotels and valuable real estate.(3) It is clever leadership that allows the military to divorce itself from failed leadership of Egypt time and again while acting behind the scenes to ensure that only those individuals they support, who will carry out their will, gain the presidency. This is not a democracy. And the leadership of the armed forces will continue to serve their Amerikan masters, not the will of the people, as General el-Sisi is once again claiming.

MIM(Prisons) supports the interests of the masses of Egyptian people as they ally with the interests of the world's majority who are exploited by imperialism. We praise their ongoing activism in taking to the streets when the government is not meeting their needs. But we can learn from history that deposing one figurehead does not make for revolutionary change. Fundamental change will require an overthrow of the entire political institution in Egypt that is dependent on U.$. imperialism. And while President Nasser offered an independent road for Egypt during the anti-colonial era following WWII, true independence requires the full mobilization and participation of the masses in creating a new system based on need and not profit.

It is a truth in humyn history that those with the guns and power will not voluntarily step aside, but they will make cosmetic changes to try to fool the masses into complacency. We call on the Egyptian people, who have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice for the movement, not to be fooled and not to allow electoral politics to drain their momentum. The military is not on your side, and neither are any of the branches of the existing government. Seize the power you have demonstrated in the streets and build for fundamental, revolutionary change to a government that actually serves the people and not the elite.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 34]
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We'll Never Know


Logic & Last Resort
featuring Maverick Sabre, Akala & Big Frizzle
from the album True Talk (2012)

[Logic]
Let me start with the basic structures of a Western country
Imperialism, it's all about the money
While we moan and complain when it's not sunny
Little kids hustle foods, tryna fill their tummy's
And, every kid's seen a gun, when you go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan
While kids over here think that shooting's fun
Kids over there shoot to protect their mums
And, over here, we can't claim real hardship
Trust me, we don't really know what hard is
A hard life, where your family is starving
A hard life, where your family is killed by the army
A life where you're seen as a target
A life that you wish never started
But, they got big hearts, big smiles and energy to make a change
I make music for them to play

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
I said we'll never know
Because the places we've grown
Ain't nothing like what they know
Cause we'll never know

[Maverick Sabre]
Whoa little lad, I know you're feeling sad
Trust me there'll be better days you never had
The pain you face will never last
Try and say we ain't the same, walkin' to different paths
Why must I hate? Turn on the TV and just sit and laugh
But, that child'll never smile, he's lost his dad
Seein' foreign flags fly above his mother land
He's hearin' gunshots like shots from your block
When he bleeds, do we not bleed the same blood?
There's no lovin' growin' up as cold thugs
Imagine growin' up where every sip of water makes you throw up
Where soldiers patrol every road, throwin' stones
To protect your home, all alone, when there's no-one else
So they say we ain't relatives, cause the difference in our melanin
As hell as being relevant, fuck it all, to hell with it
This evil has been spreading it
And, even if my death comes quick
I'll be fighting 'til the end of it

[Sample]
We live in a period where our world has both the resources,
The technology and the know-how to end world poverty.
But, unfortunately we also live in a point in time
When at no other point in history has there been so much suffering

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
Cause we'll never know

[Akala]
Okay, let me make clear my position
I know your estate feels like shit to live in
And, watching mummy graft to stop bailiffs from ringing
Is enough to make you wanna hit the block and start slingin'
I've been there, no gas, no electric to the kitchen
Fridge cuts off, defrosts and starts stinkin'
Whether Gorbals in Glasgow, Mumbai or Brixton
May not be the same shit but it is the same system
But, this is Britain. As hard as some of us have it
We're still far better off than ninety-percent of the planet
And, that is what you learn, when you get to start travelling
Unravelling the bullshit that they are babbling
So, this is for the nameless, faceless
Millions that die everyday, but don't even get a funeral
And, we tell ourselves because where they were born
They are less worth, less intelligent or beautiful
Well, I don't agree, they are you and me
And we are them, but we're too blind to see
While some have everything, they ain't got shit
And, we tell ourselves, well that's just how it is
There ain't enough to go around, on this abundant planet
Of course there is, it's just that some of us are ganits
And, the habits we developed
That are so far divorced from the source
We don't even stop to pause, at the destruction everyday
Of counts of this human family, it's just normal insanity

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
I said we'll never know (We'll never know, never know)
Because the places we've grown (Places we've grown)
Ain't nothing like what they know (Ain't nothing like ohh-oh)
Cause we'll never know (We'll never know, never know, never know)

I said we'll never know (We'll never know, never know, never know)
Because the places we've grown (Places we've grown)
Ain't nothing like what they know (Ain't nothing like they know, ain't nothing like)
Cause we'll never know

music video for We'll Never Know

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 33]
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Death Row Prisoners Kick-Off California Hunger Strike July 1

Death row prisoners in the Adjustment Center (AC) unit at San Quentin State Prison are organized and united in planning and executing a hunger strike this summer of 2013 to protest inhumane conditions of isolation and long-term confinement of prisoners in the AC. We are also protesting:

  1. The lack of law library access, exercise and yard equipment
  2. The unfair administration and classification committee practices
  3. The controversial and unfair practice of using inmate informants, anonymous informants and confidential information to retain prisoners in the AC for years
  4. The unlawful and under-the-table use of labeling a prisoner as an alleged prison gang member, associate or affiliate confirmation and documents (such as 1030s, 128 A/B, staff information) to hold them in the AC as "grade B" prisoners yet treating them as SHU/Ad-Seg Grade D prisoners for an indeterminate amount of time
  5. The unlawful practice of group punishment tactics and lockdowns
  6. The unlawful practice of "interviewing"/forced interrogation
  7. The illegal use and excessive practice of property restriction or property control
  8. The degrading practice and policy of "shower shoes only," stripping prisoners at yard in front of everyone, and not allowing prisoner to be fully dressed in state blues when going to law library
  9. The denial of religious, hobby craft, library books and educational programs or materials
  10. The unlawful practice of withholding, censoring, denying and returning prisoners' mail without notification or legitimate reasons to do so
  11. The denial of contact visits, phone calls, participation in food charity drives, nutritional items, honoring medical chronos and legal materials when prisoners haven't done anything to merit exclusion
  12. Lastly the excessive abuse of power and authority by the warden, his administration and staff to do as they wish with SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners in the AC.

[also see full text of open letter to CDCR from San Quentin strikers]

In spite of the ongoing negotiations between the Pelican Bay Human Rights movement and top CDCR administrators, the San Quentin administration is resisting any attempt to improve the plight of death row prisoners housed in the AC. Ignoring Title 15, California's Code of Regulation for all California state prisoners, San Quentin top officials have concocted and enacted an exclusive code of regulations called the OP608 which mandates that death row prisoners are under the control of the Warden of San Quentin. It is this illegal and repressive code of regulations that AC death row prisoners are vigorously challenging as well.

The AC is a prison within a prison, housing 102 prisoners with over 90% of them being condemned prisoners. Many of us have been housed here since our arrival into the prison system as condemned men. The majority haven't had a disciplinary infraction, and those who have exceeded the time limitations triple the maximum set to be served for them. It's a punishment unit and a psychological torture dungeon. We hardly ever leave the unit unless it is to see a medical specialist. We eat and shit in our cells. We're kept confined to our cells 22-24 hours a day, only to come out to yard, which is held 3 times a week for 2-3 hours, showers, which are done 3 times a week, medical sick call, and visiting.

Visits are conducted behind a dirty plexiglass window, through a 25-year-old 2-way intercom that interferes with and shares everyone's conversations, leading everyone to shout over one another for an hour.

Prisoners here are constantly deprived, harassed, ridiculed, psychologically tortured and have our only form of communication (mail) withheld for weeks or months, both incoming and outgoing. Often times we will learn of the death/passing of a family member or friend 3 months after the fact, not allowing us to send our condolences or what we would like to have shared in our absence at their burials, causing our family and friends to worry about us, not allowing us to pay our last respects to our dearly departed. This treatment is used to intimidate and break a prisoner's spirit, in order to have us submit and fabricate information on fellow prisoners for their release from this torturous dungeon and gain better privileges.

Our hunger strike begins July 2013 in solidarity with the national strike this summer. Our demands are fair, reasonable, and create no serious threat to the safety and security of the AC. They are all within the power and authority of the San Quentin warden to order as immediate changes without delay. These changes will create a more positive and productive environment by ensuring that prisoners be treated fairly and with human dignity.

We ask you for your support as we place our health, bodies and lives on the line in order to bring about a positive change peacefully. None of us want to die, but due to our deteriorating circumstances, having been sentenced to death and now the administration unjustly sentencing us all to an unlawful indeterminate SHU/"grade B" program, we are already suffering psychologically torturous death in the AC. Their abuse of power and authority has left us with no alternative but to place what we value most at stake, our lives, for positive change and human dignity. We would truly appreciate and welcome your support. Your help will give us strength and will nourish our starving bodies.

Here's what you can do to support us. Write letters of support to the following addresses saying you support the Death Row Adjustment Center strikers and demand an end to the inhumane isolation and the depriving program. Ask that they honor our demands swiftly.

Warden
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94964

Internal Affairs CDCR
10111 Old Placerville Rd, Ste 2000
Sacramento, CA 95827

CDCR Office of the Ombudsman
1515 S Street, Room 311 South
Sacramento, CA 95811

The California State Senate Research Team
Attn: Senator Darrell Steinberg
Room 205
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 94248

Tell them to do their job and file a motion to Judge Henderson to make sure the Inspector General and the prison medical overseer/monitor is here at SQSP from July 1 until the conclusion of the hunger strike. They should be here to make sure there's no abuse, that no medical records or weight scale tampering is conducted by medical or prison staff and no retaliation is conducted by the administration or any of the hunger strike participants.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Nevada]
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Nevada Creates False Lists of Enemies

In Nevada, Security Threat Group (STG) and Disruptive Group (DG) designations have a formal process, so instead of attempting to STG/DG everyone they generate enemy or separate lists which are quite similar to the validation dilemma in California.

  1. There are no procedural safeguards so anyone can put anyone on these lists
  2. No investigation is conducted into the allegations
  3. You can't defend against any allegation
  4. You can't find out who the enemies/separates are because it's all "confidential" and ergo permanent.

Initially these lists were created to protect victims from predators and clashes between known enemies/factions, but they've become a weapon that staff and prisoners use to retaliate and cross out other prisoners.

While reviewing my file on an unrelated matter I discovered a document: "Nevada department of prisons central monitoring status sheet" (supposed to have been removed form the file prior to my review). On this document are detailed 2 additions of enemies/seperates. Both of these additions were placed there by staff to justify my transfer last year and conceal the fact that the transfer was in retaliation for my litigation. Both of these prisoners are friends, so it has the added consequence of insuring friends are permanently separated.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It's important that prisoners are aware of this tactic by the pigs to create false divisions between prisoners. It is in our interests to build unity, but the prisons see this unity as a threat. Separating people working together, under the guise of safety, is just another way the prisons try to stop our unified work against the criminal injustice system. The one constant (if you can get mail past the prison censors) is MIM(Prisons). If you stay in touch with us you will be in touch with the anti-imperialist movement no matter how isolated you are behind bars.

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[Organizing] [Federal] [ULK Issue 33]
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Solidarity: Dead in the Feds

There are certain "rights" that are made into "privileges" in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP): our right to adequate clothing, adequate sunlight and fresh air (outdoor rec), calorically adequate meals, and peaceful assembly.

On 17 June 2013 at United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, in the SHU we were fed a lunch that consisted of a one-ounce spoonful of pasta and a half-ounce scoop of green beans. On every meal we are to have at least two ounces of protein (meat, peanut butter, cheese, soy, etc) according to the BOP program statement. When asked about our protein we were told to not eat if we did not like the meal. The following ensued (taken from a prison report):

"On the above date while feeding Range 1 of the Special Housing Unit (SHU), inmate [X] received the noon meal in his assigned cell. He instantly ordered staff to give him a dessert and some 'protein.' The range officer instructed the inmates that there was no dessert or protein. Inmate [X] started chanting 'we want dessert, we want protein.' Inmate [X] told all the other inmates on the range to 'start bucking' and 'we need to be a group on this and not give up our trays and we will get what we want.' He began to call to cells and other inmates by 'nicknames' and saying 'come on y'all, don't bitch up.' Before SHU staff could exit the range, inmate [X]'s disruptive behavior had spread throughout the range and the range above. The result of which caused a security issue due to 53 inmates covering cell windows and refusing all orders given by staff. After several attempts had been made to collect the food trays, 46 inmates complied and were placed in 'alternative clothing' and three cells (including inmate [X]'s cell) required an 'immediate use of force team.' All actions taken by SHU inmates acting as a group were a direct result of inmate [X]'s disruptive actions."

Our clothing was taken away and we were all placed in paper boxers and a paper gown. This "alternative clothing" is reserved for prisoners on suicide watch and not to be used for disciplinary purposes. Me and my cellmate (along with five other prisoners) refused to give up our clothing while the other 47 prisoners gave their clothes up. I was gassed five times, and when the gas proved ineffective I was "sting bombed" twice. A sting bomb is a bomb full of rubber bullets and "ghost pepper" gas. Our peaceful assembly was met with force.

We are all also on "disciplinary meals" which consists of two sandwiches and a half of an apple, hardly meeting our 2,200 daily calorie needs.

If everyone would have refused to give up their trays and clothing the police and administration would have had to negotiate with us. Instead, the majority folded up like lawn chairs, making our collective stand futile in the end. It pains me to say it but solidarity is dead in the feds. The sheep are ready to be sheared.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We get a lot of letters of frustration from prisoners about the lack of unity and organization among prisoners. This letter actually demonstrates a relatively high level of unity as so many prisoners joined in a spontaneous protest action. The fact that most did not stick it out is no doubt disheartening to the organizer, but this points to the potential for greater unity. Organizing is a long slow process, and it requires the background work of education and building of unity that does not happen overnight. We don't know the back story to this incident but we urge our comrades to take lessons from these events and move forward to educate and build greater unity for the future.

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[Elections] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 33]
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Election Begs Question of the Road to Dual Power in New Afrika

map of kush region
Chokwe Lumumba — lawyer, activist, Vice President of the Republic of New Afrika, and cofounder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) — was elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi on 4 June 2013 with 87% of the votes. Accounting for 80% of the population, Jackson is the second Blackest city in the United $tates. Mississippi is the Blackest state with 35% of its voters being New Afrikan.(1)

Even though the rate of white voter turnout was more than twice that of New Afrikans, and some 90% of whites supported the other guy, Lumumba came out victorious.(1) All of these facts support the decision of the MXGM to focus on building a base of power within New Afrika in Jackson, Mississippi. However, elections themselves cannot be a tool for liberation or independence, and the only cases where MIM(Prisons) might promote them would be for tactical victories. This election was part of a strategic plan that MXGM released almost a year ago.

This plan states:

"The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) firmly believes that at this stage in the struggle for Black Liberation that the movement must be firmly committed to building and exercising what we have come to regard as 'dual power' — building autonomous power outside of the realm of the state (i.e. the government) in the form of People's Assemblies and engaging electoral politics on a limited scale with the express intent of building radical voting blocks and electing candidates drawn from the ranks of the Assemblies themselves."(2)

The idea of the oppressed nations building organizations that are independent of and not funded by the state can be a controversial issue in this country. While there is nothing illegal or inherently threatening about organizing independent from the state, Amerikans rely on repression in order to prevent the self-determination of the oppressed nations. If the oppressed nations are to break free from imperialism's choke hold, it will threaten the luxurious lifestyles of the average Joe the plumber who lives off the wealth of oppressed nations abroad. We saw one example of this mentality among Amerikans when recent issues of Under Lock & Key were censored in North Carolina specifically citing as the justification the fifth point of the United Front for Peace in Prisons — Independence.

While "independence" is a fairly broad term used to define a thing in relation to another thing, "dual power" has a much more specific meaning to Marxists. Independence on its own does not constitute the establishment of "dual power." When MXGM uses the term "dual power" they appear to really be talking about parallel strategies of community organizing and electoral politics.

The condition of dual power actually exists when there is an emerging state coming up against an existent, and dying state. This, of course, is the product of class struggle, the motive force of history. In discussing Engels' ideas in defining what state power is, Lenin wrote:

"What does this power mainly consist of? It consists of special bodies of armed men having prisons, etc., at their command. ... A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power."(3)

Dual, of course meaning two, would imply that you would have two different political structures with their own police, army and prisons, etc. in order to have dual power. Such a situation would mean that a civil war had begun. When Lenin first coined the term in 1917 he was speaking of the emerging Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies that would seize state power later that same year.(4) Certainly this is not the condition in Mississippi today.

MXGM recognizes their electoral efforts are limited, and considers them one pillar of their strategy of building political power in the region that is separate from their work to build autonomous structures (People's Assemblies).(2) But these People's Assemblies are not parallel to the Soviets in 1917 or the liberated zones in China in 1948 or even the countless regions in the world today where power is held by emerging states (see Palestine, India, Colombia, the Philippines, etc).

Within the context of oppressed nation territory, there is an argument to be made for engaging in electoral politics as a step towards building one's base. While the Lumumba campaign has a clear connection to revolutionary nationalism, it is not based in proletarian ideology. Revolutionary nationalism can come in different class forms. The lack of proletarian ideology leads them to succumb to populism. Populism threatens New Afrikan independence because of the economic pull of U.$. imperialism. With "economic development" as part of his political platform, it seems hard for Lumumba to avoid playing the role of bribing his own people with superprofits won from imperialism. This is one reason it is hard to justify supporting electoral work except to make tactical gains.

The MXGM economic program, the "third pillar" of their Jackson Plan, focuses on cooperative economics and building green economies. Such a strategy does not confront the structure of capitalism, but is a concession to petty bourgeois idealism. As long as capitalism exists people are either exploited or exploiters, so all efforts should be on exposing the need to end that system rather than white-washing it with co-ops and eco-friendly operations. There is no example in history of building new economic systems that effectively challenged capitalism without first establishing true dual power. Therefore if dual power is not feasible in our conditions, these economic strategies become reformist at best. We are better off struggling to maintain our political independence at this stage.

While running for and being elected Mayor limits Chokwe Lumumba politically, the public release of the Jackson-Kush Plan a year prior means that his landslide victory represents a majority of New Afrikans in Jackson who are at least open to the idea that political independence from Amerika is in the interests of their nation. Establishing that fact in the eyes of the New Afrikan masses is one small victory on the road to New Afrikan liberation. But electoral politics are a feeble bridge. The more people rely on it to reach liberation, the sooner it will fall out beneath them. Unless the bridge is strengthened with correct revolutionary theory, it will be doomed to leave the New Afrikan masses on the wrong side of history.

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[Economics] [Theory]
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Opposing Turning the Tide Attacks on MIM(Prisons)

I want to express that Under Lock & Key did well in the response to Turning The Tide's (TTT) improper misrepresentation of MIM(Prisons). TTT has no true political line and those who think differently should debate on this issue.

The petit-bourgeoisie is not only the white nation people. Anyone who posses the ideological and social behaviors or the political views that are influenced by private property interests are in fact part of the petit-bourgeoisie. In Amerikkka those whose ideological principles are on this level are part of the oppressor nation. Many TTT constituents fail under these principles.

And as for the individual claiming to have been dropped by MIM(Prisons), it sounds like that person never was attempting to build. For those who want to attack an organization that has been staunch in true struggle and who's line is correct in many ways, needs to, as the komrade who address this issue said, investigate before hs/she has the right to speak. Komrade Soso did well in the response and TTT should engage in "righteous" criticism not some back door attack on MIM(Prisons).

MIM(Prisons) must keep their energy on educating those who want to learn. Let's not waste energy on fictitious attacks. MIM(Prisons) has been doing revolutionary work for many many years and has proven results. As said, history will tell.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that TTT demonstrates a petit-bourgeois political line, though we must be careful with our definitions of this term. We define the petit-bourgeoisie by their relations to the means of production, as an economic status, not just ideological principles. The fundamental point of debate with TTT is around the MIM(Prisons) scientific analysis of classes in imperialist countries, concluding that the vast majority of people in these countries are part of the petit-bourgeoisie. This is not because they have political views aligning with private property interests, but rather these views stem from their economic interests.

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