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Under Lock & Key

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[Elections] [National Oppression]
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Prisoners Used to Boost Rural Census Counts

Lots of attention is being given to counting prisoners in the political arena, why?

Because census counts add prisoner population numbers to the community where the prison is located, more and more incarcerated inner city residents are being used to strengthen the economically weak areas of rural Amerika. More prisoners means more jobs, more government money and more political power.

Prisons, which were once eschewed have become a boom for many small towns. Cheap land and willing residents make these isolated communities the perfect location for this country's growing number of human warehouses.

Census numbers determine such things as highway funding, fire stations, hospitals, medicaid, foster care, rehab-services, schools and parks just to name a few. Most of these benefits will never be seen by prisoners. Prisoners are a lucrative commodity in the census game.

State officials are quick to cite the benefits of prisons in economically depressed communities. Government aid, indigent medical care, energy assistance, and revenue sharing are just a few of the selling points.

The majority of the nation's prison population is either Black or Latino. Locating these unwilling residents in a small, predominantly white towns fundamentally shifts the balance of political power through the redistricting process. It is not just federal money that follows us out of our community, it is political power as well.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prison-based gerrymandering is a problem that has been extensively documented by the Prison Policy Institute who explain: "The Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the towns where they are confined, though they are barred from voting in 48 states and return to their homes after being released. The practice also defies most state constitutions and statutes, which explicitly state that incarceration does not change a residence."

Unlike the PPI, we don't prioritize the fight to change the Census Bureau policies. The push for reform is insidious in the implication that we can improve capitalist democracy to make elections and government programs actually serve the people. But this is a good example of the hidden forms of white power that are executed through the state to this day in 2013. While oppressed nations are disproportionately disenfranchised of the vote in Amerikan democracy, white communities use these prisoners to skew financial resources away from the oppressed nations to themselves. This, of course, is only possible because of national oppression earlier on in the process where law enforcement targets oppressed nation communities, while drug use in white communities goes on with little interference. Such types of oppression and manipulation are inherent in a capitalist system.

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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The System Isn't Broken, it Works for the Oppressor

Fifteen years of prison, so-called, life, and still I am surprised at times by the way these pigs are willing to sink to new lows.

This 602 appeals system at Corcoran is extremely scandalous. Not only have I received the 602 appeals of several other people, having to get their mail back to them by a transporter and fishing line, in 2012, 5 appeals I sent to my "counselor" (nothing but a plainclothes CO) to be referred to the appeals coordinator, had just disappeared! And yet the pigs still ask you to submit evidence to them with your appeal. Why? So they can throw it away? 2013 is not any different. We get a total runaround and boldfaced filibuster.

In the past months I have been 602ing the issue of the pigs only choosing English on these silly movies they play. They know I have an issue with a few court rulings associated to it, and the game this time was to wait a month with my 602 in their hooves and send it back to me one month to the day, unanswered or stamped or even declared "rejected" which they do for incredible "reasons." Now, when I refile, they will say I didn't "take action" within 30 days, as if they didn't sit on my 602 for a month. As if I didn't do anything.

The other issues include trying to get SHU inmates to be allowed chess and cards, like on the mainline. I have received 10 dirty trick filibuster moves from them. One appeals coordinator says I attached "inappropriate forms" in my appeal, my response was to show how the form I got came from another appeals coordinator!!! Then they say I have to resubmit the original appeal because the new one duplicated what they stamped as "rejected." So, I tore up parts of that and submitted them as proof that the original is torn up, "can't retrieve from sewers" I wrote. They will reject that too for some ridiculous pretext. I am collecting all of their confetti, to show to the new convicts and people on the outside who don't know yet, this system isn't broken, it is meant to work exactly as it is, that is against us, against our interests.

I am incensed and enraged that I am undergoing the same type of gimmicks that I have read about describing the state craft of "Israeli rejectionism" where only if you are an obedient Israeli can you get a license to drive or build a home or work on a farm: they "reject" all attempts at life outside their monopoly. They want to maintain jurisdiction over me.

The same gimmicks were employed in South Africa, under apartheid where we learn from studying the example of that tyranny, how it "thrives on details." Bureaucratic delays and technicalities employed ad infinitum to deliberately runaround any application or petition or appeal. The paperwork would not work if filed by a Black African. "I can't hear you, I can't see you, I can't say anything."

The courts will reject you too if you don't exhaust your administrative procedures. It's good for prisoners to get this runaround game out of the way as soon as they get here, to learn that, wherever one class of people is slave to another class whether in a colony or the pen, or on a city street, such gimmicks have to exist alongside of the oppression. And its vital to know the futility of trying to beat the pigs, at a game played by pig rules. And it guarantees an explosive response.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree that it is good to work through the administrative procedures for grievances even though they are set up so that most grievances will fail. This does teach prisoners a lesson about the game that is played by pig rules. But we can also use these rejections to educate others to fight the system on their own terms. This rigged grievance system is why United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign in California, which has now spread to many other states. The petition is just one more way to put pressure on the criminal injustice system to play by their own rules. Some victories have been won with persistence. But we know that even with a systematic campaign we can not hope to fundamentally alter the criminal injustice system under imperialism. This is why the grievance campaign is just one small part of our larger anti-imperialist battle.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
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Amerikan Torture Culture Hits Migrants

Maoism Path to Prisoner Liberation
Proletarian migrants have fed much of the growth in the prison population within U.$. borders in recent years. As a result they are getting a taste of the torture tactics Amerikans use against their own citizens. A recent report showed that U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds about 300 migrants in solitary confinement in 50 of its largest detention facilities, which account for 85% of their detainees. Half of them are held in solitary for 15 days or more and about 35 of the 300 are held more than 75 days.(1)

While these terms are relatively short compared to what has become normal in the United $tates, the experiences are particularly difficult for migrants who don't speak English and have been the victims of humyn trafficking.

The authors of the article cited above cautiously state that the United $tates uses solitary confinement more "than any other democratic nation in the world." This implies that other countries may use solitary confinement more. One reason they cannot get stats on imprisonment practices in some countries is that they are U.$. puppet regimes purposely run under a veil of secrecy to allow extreme forms of repression of the most oppressed peoples. We have seen no evidence of a mythical nation that is torturing more people in solitary confinement than Amerika.

Amerikans imprison more people than any other nation even if we exclude the people they are holding in prisons in other countries. With at least 100,000 people in long-term isolation within U.S. borders, it seems unlikely that any other country can top that. Further evidence exists by looking at the state of prisons in many Third World countries, which are far more open than even the low security prisons in the United $tates. And the exceptions to this rule are all countries with heavy Amerikan military/intelligence activity, and usually Amerikans themselves are running the prisons.(3)

U.$. citizen Shane Bauer was imprisoned on charges of spying by the government of Iran, which is independent from the United $tates. Bauer offers examples of how his time in solitary confinement differed in both positive and negative ways to those held in Pelican Bay SHU in California. But one stark contrast is the time in solitary, which for him was only four months. In a comparison of the "democratic" U.$. injustice system and that of Iran, Bauer wrote:

"When Josh Fattal and I finally came before the Revolutionary Court in Iran, we had a lawyer present, but weren't allowed to speak to him. In California, an inmate facing the worst punishment our penal system has to offer short of death can't even have a lawyer in the room. He can't gather or present evidence in his defense. He can't call witnesses. Much of the evidence — anything provided by informants — is confidential and thus impossible to refute. That's what Judge Salavati told us after our prosecutor spun his yarn about our role in a vast American-Israeli conspiracy: There were heaps of evidence, but neither we nor our lawyer were allowed to see it."(2)

He later cites a U.$. court ruling:

"the judge ruled that 'a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.' In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary."(2)

California's notorious Pelican Bay reports an average time spent in the Security Housing Unit there as 7.5 years. Many who fought for national liberation from U.$. imperialism have spent 30 to 40 years in solitary confinement in prisons across the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) has not seen reports of long-term isolation used to this extreme by any other government.

The torture techniques used in Amerikan control units were developed to break the spirits of people and social groups that have challenged the status quo, and in particular U.$. imperialism. Thirty years after their demise, materials from the Black Panther Party still get people in trouble regularly, sometimes even with a "Security Threat Group" charge. That's the Amerikan term for a thought crime.

It could be that these techniques are being expanded into migrant detention centers as a form of discipline of the Mexican proletariat that Amerikans fear as a force of social change. Or it could just be a case of oppressor nation culture spreading its tentacles into other nations. Either way, this is just one of many forms of oppression that serve to undermine the propaganda myth of Amerika as a nation that promotes freedom.

For years, the United $tates has been under criticism by the United Nations as the principal state using torture in the form of long-term isolation. Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said, "We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold."(4) This was in a statement addressing the 166 foreign nationals held in Guantanamo Bay Prison for more than a decade, most without charges.

Just as high-tech weaponry could not win the war in Afghanistan for the Amerikans, the sophisticated torture techniques of the modern control unit cannot overcome the widespread outrage of the masses living under imperialist domination. The opportunities for making internationalist connections to the prison movement within U.$. borders only increases as more people from outside those borders get swept up in the system.

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[Campaigns] [Telford Unit] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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Fighting for Food in Texas: Grievance Strategy Response to ULK 31

In Under Lock & Key 31, a comrade from Lewis H/S here in Texas wrote about being fed two small corndogs and five prunes for lunch. Here at the Telford unit in Texas we are on unit lockdown at the time, and matter of fact today we were fed two small corndogs and a very small portion of raisins. But this is quite common during lockdown on all units. To our comrade at Lewis H/S, if it's a regular meal you were referring to, then a grievance will work just right. But like a grievance officer here once told us: "You file one or two grievances and they will not do nothing. But get people together and file fifteen or more, and you will get some action."

Here we were having problems with our regular and diet meals. Well a fellow prisoner stepped up and filed a grievance on both regular and diet meals. As we can see, he was willing to fight not only for himself, but for others as well. He needed some signatures. Many in Ad-Seg openly admitted being afraid of retaliation. We still got 46 strong to sign, but only after argument among ourselves. Two weeks later our portions were doubled. But that was only on the pod that filed the grievance.

I don't remember exactly, but according to the grievance we are supposed to be fed a certain amount of calories each meal. Which means that all that is served on our trays has to be measured by weight. Maybe there is a comrade out there somewhere who knows the right amount and can tell us.

Administration does get scared when a large group joins hands. And as we know, there are several organizations out there that will not file a lawsuit for only an individual prisoner. But when a large group joins hands, these organizations will take the case and file for prisoners. We need to file, file, and file. Don't be afraid of retaliation. If the pigs retaliate, add them to your lawsuit. If they deny your grievances, don't stop there, file a lawsuit. How will the state look with all these lawsuits coming from prisoners. We need to stick together brothers. Together we stand, divided we fall.

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[Censorship] [Education] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Study Group Responses Censored by Prison

These repressive forces (Michael Unit mail room supervisor and staff) have stopped my study group answers for the On Contradiction assignment and The Universality of Contradiction assignment. This is my first submission of study group answers from this unit and apparently they are misinterpreting and/or deliberately misconstrue the content of my study group answers. Well now they need to be checked and stopped in their tracks before they get to feeling themselves.

Note in the attached censorship notification they wrote: "Correspondence contains information pertaining to unauthorized group or organization." The form I signed off includes a postscript explaining that this office will notify the mail room of this address possibly being used by gang members.

How in the hell do my study group answers on philosophy correlate with information pertaining to unauthorized groups? Obviously they are trying to make a connection to my pseudonym and my official association, which has nothing to do with my participation in the revolutionary study group. They are also intimidated by any language that uses terms that they cannot fully comprehend.

I am never passive in my affairs and had intended to catch up on my study group activity after my recent unit reassignment caused me to fall behind. I do understand the repressive tactics and strategy that these opposition forces are well known for using. Anything to criminalize a real revolutionary.

I will expose them for their incompetence and harassment. I have previous documents that will show that my involvement in study group is long standing and has nothing to do with my official association. I will file a grievance if my appeal is denied.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We run political theory study groups through the mail for prisoners interested in advancing their education. These classes study things like the Mao essay "On Contradiction." The only "group affiliation" in these classes is work with MIM(Prisons), and as of yet we have not been banned as an organization in Texas prisons. We applaud this comrade for his diligent fight against this censorship. Prisoners interested in participating in political study classes can write to us to join the next session.

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[Education] [Adirondack Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Prisoners Struggle with Lack of Education Programs in NY

Upon entering the state of New York's prison system in 1992 I did not have my high school diploma, nor did I possess my GED. I am a high school drop out. Leaving my education behind was one of the biggest errors I committed in my life while coming of age as an irresponsible adult.

My biggest hurdle, besides my own roadblocks, was worrying about how my peers would judge me (in prison) if I was to enroll in the GED class. This prevented me from signing up. In the New York State Prison System (NYSPS) you cannot get a respectable job/program if you lack the credentials of either a high school diploma or GED. The most you can make is $6/bi-weekly. However, if you have this education then you can make as much as $30/bi-weekly. I was hindering myself from earning more money due to an attitude, misinformation, and pride which left me stagnated for many years.

A person incarcerated in NYSPS cannot enroll in any college programs without either a high school diploma or GED. This was another slap in my face when I desired to register in the "free" college program in 1993 while housed at Attica Correctional Facility.(1)

In 1999 the assistant to the leader in the Islamic Chaplain ordered me to enroll in the GED program when he learned I did not have either a diploma or GED. I enrolled in a GED class and after earning it in 1999 I enrolled in the Inmate Program Assistant (IPA) course which I completed with honors allowing me to land a program as a Teacher's Aid.

Through the years from 1992-1999 I witnessed a drop in the GED graduates among the prison population. This was partly due to, in my observation, the lack of concern the civilian teachers(CT) had for the education of Blacks and Latinos in the classroom, deficient supervision from the civilian teachers toward the hired IPAs who'd rather play cards with the student than help them learn, and poor administrative leadership which directly affects almost every student who really does want to learn. Albany administration limited the utilization of IPAs when the civilians failed to compete with the IPAs statistics in turning out more GED grads than the CTs. So a memorandum came down from Albany to reduce some of the IPAs in the classroom.

From 1999-2008 I witnessed a swooping change in the classroom which shocked my conscience. I saw very few IPAs in the classroom who were bilingual (speaking Spanish and English), I rarely saw Spanish-speaking CTs who could relate to the Latino speaking population. This lack of diversity in the State of New York prison system is hindering the chances for Latinos.

My experience at Barehill Correctional Facility will shock your mind, because of the laziness of the CTs who sit in boardroom chairs, leaning back reading the latest James Patterson novel, with no care in the world. As long as the students and IPAs remain quiet, everything is okay! The CTs get paid for sitting in a classroom doing absolutely nothing, just making sure the students don't tear up the classroom or fight one another. I have written Albany to explain the downfall in the classroom only to be dubbed the troublemaker, whistle blower, or snitch amongst the prison administration in NYS.

Right now I am struggling to continue my education in this facility. It is very difficult to pursue higher education in this facility because of the mindset of the administration (prejudice, racist, and bias) toward the Blacks and Latinos who desire superior education, as opposed to working as a porter around the compound. The waiting list for enrolling into school is at least 3-4 months. By that time many of the prisoners are preparing to either go home, see the board of parole, or transfer to another facility. According to some of the prisoners at Adirondack CF, there are only two civilians teachers who serve the population.

Notes:
1. While at Attica Correctional Facility in 1993-1996, the Pell Grant program was eliminated from the educational programming due to NYS legislature yielding to the public outcry that "prisoners have a better opportunity to earn higher education than their children, who struggle to pay their college tuition." so I was unable to earn a college degree sooner.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Lack of educational opportunities is a major element of national oppression in the United $tates. As we wrote about in an article on Affirmative Action, it is not just in prisons where the schools are inadequate. This is part of the system that prepared Blacks and Latinos for prison. One benefit of an education is jobs that pay higher wages, but the primary reason we focus on education for our comrades behind bars is to raise their political consciousness. Learning basic reading and writing skills is the place to start. We encourage all of our comrades behind bars to take advantage of any prison education programs you can find.

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[Campaigns] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Grievances Denied in Texas

A comrade recently sent a grievance petition to the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and he refused to answer and rerouted it to the central grievance office. The entire system is corrupt from top to bottom. However in order to get them in court via 42 USC ยง1983 or Birens we have to keep filing. I've had over 20 lumpen file on this fabricated and bogus case-writing lieutenant and all grievances being returned with same reply: no evidence found - officer denies allegations - no further action warranted. We are going to have to seek outside help: ACLU, media, legislators, etc. I personally have 6 or 7 step 2 grievances pending.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisoners in states across the country are building on the grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. In Texas there has been some success with this petition, though we know that for every victory the prison administration will try to take something else away or implement some other repressive policy. To win in court, as this comrade points out, you must be thorough in documenting the problem as a pattern. In addition to using their paperwork, Under Lock & Key is another way to document patterns of abuse for the masses to agitate around a cause.

We currently have grievance petitions for many states. Write to us for a copy and if you are in a state not currently covered by the grievance campaign, we will send you a template for the petitions and you can look up citations and policies specific to your state for reference.

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[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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Grievance Victories are Won Through Unity

I would like to inform you of a small but major win for your comrades who have recently joined you over at the Jordan Unit. I was on that unit two years. The entire time I was there I listened to people tell me how they fought the rec issues there constantly to no avail. This was my first flaw; I believed we could not win.

I realized this two years later when I was moved to another wing where the conditions were worse. This prompted a totally different response out of me. I researched the policies myself along with the prior grievances others had filed. I learned several things. One was that we were dealing with tyrants, and two, the people who were filing grievances had been ill-informed and were not formatting them appropriately. Their information was jumbled, they failed to utilize policy numbers, etc. This allowed the administration to play the crazy card.

Long story short, myself and three others went to different individuals educating them on what was and had been going on so that they understood. We got every grievance signed and dropped, and we organized two demonstrations. In one protest we converged on the rec yard simultaneously as a show of solidarity, and once told to disperse we dispersed into smaller groups simultaneously, and once told to disperse again, we went back to what we were doing.

The importance of these steps is to allow the administration to understand: 1) We are together, united on this issue, all peoples, all races; 2) We are structured; and 3) We are willing to follow orders. This is the reason for converging, breaking down into smaller groups, and then dismantling.

The second demonstration was an intentional 23-hour lockdown that drew the administration out to talk to us personally. We learned the policies they were leaning on, and their intended avenue of grievance, and in less than 45 days our first wave of grievances came back denied. And as they said they would do, they took their avenue of defense. But within one more week our last grievance succeeded, and two years of problems were settled in less than 45 days with the appropriate initiative.

There were things I felt could have been handled differently when I look back, but this is the first of many fights to come. The battle cry is far from over. I'm at a new place now, and we will see what experiences are to come. The grievance process as we all know is not always a working thing. How could it be? So in my eyes it is only a method of exhaustion when applicable. So we use it not only for our benefit but for the benefit of all those who stand beside us in the fight no matter what parts they play because they may not be as informed.

The main thing I learned is that the big fight is not our petty battles, but the fight we wage with ourselves. I met many people who could give 1000s of excuses why we couldn't win and not one reason we could. There are those who even believed that they deserved to be treated with no respect because they are incarcerated. And all I could think is, "Wow! How do we get to that point in our minds?"

So to all those that stood by in the fight I send one message: The fight must go on. It must continue even in the face of adversity, partiality, difference, and wanton tyrannical practices. This is the only thing that is certain. And that certainty is found in necessity of sacrifice. There are no exceptions, not for me, not for you, not for anyone. Prepare to give it all every single time until it becomes practice, and hope for an inch. Because unfortunately this is usually how it is gained, one inch at a time. And when we begin to see far enough, we realize that our fights were not to reap immediate benefits, but an investment in tomorrow. Our jobs are simply to keep the fight alive so that someone, anyone, may receive a return on the investment.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's message of the importance of unity, and the reality that we can only expect to win small victories through our day-to-day battles. We know that the grievance system in Texas and elsewhere is set up to defeat prisoners' complaints. But the USW campaign to demand our grievances be addressed is helping with small battles like those described by this prisoner. At the same time, we must keep in mind that these small victories are part of a larger battle against imperialism as a system. And we can't expect to win that overnight, but we can build, and educate, as this comrade says "as an investment in tomorrow."

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[Culture]
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Movie Review: The Avengers

The Avengers
The Avengers
2012

This movie is a revival of the Marvel comic characters that have been part of the media propaganda for generations. It was another case of white superheros saving the world from villains. What's a little different in this movie is the pseryn calling the shots for the unit of superheroes, the Director, is Black.

The Director is the commander of The Avengers which is a group of six superheroes. The Director is advised by a shadowy group called "The Counsel." The Counsel is a group whose faces are always in the shadows but they are men and wimmin who are dressed in business suits and so they obviously represent the ruling class from the boardroom.

The Superheroes include the Hulk, Captain Amerika, Thor, Stark, Black Widow and Hawkeye. These six Avengers are dispersed all over the world living their lives when these assassins are activated by the Amerikan government.

The premise is that aliens invade Amerika so the Avengers are called to save the country. Amerika is harnessing energy from space at a top secret laboratory called "joint dark energy" where a portal is created that opens into the other side of space. It is through this portal that Amerikans seek to exploit resources from space, but instead a white man known as Loki comes through the portal. (Loki by the way is a word from a First Nation language). Loki in this movie is the villain.

This film is set in New York City and has a lot of shooting and blowing up buildings in it. The one female superhero, Black Widow, is a spy of Russian descent now working for Amerika. She is of course highly sexualized and starts off in a skirt beating up a few men.

At one point Loki shape shifts into a viking-like persyn and has a crowd of people kneel in front of him while he declares rather arrogantly that humanity was "made to be ruled, in the end you will always kneel!" Loki is portrayed as an alien with a British accent who wants to rule Earth, but it turns out Loki and Thor are brothers, in a classic case of inter-imperialist rivalry fighting over resources that are not theirs.

The aliens invade Earth for a war that takes place in New York City that has the six Avengers fighting a whole army of space aliens with captain Amerika at the forefront. It's interesting to see Captain Amerika brought back to the movies, originally Captain Amerika was a comic character used during World War II as a propaganda tool that showed Amerika saving the world. Created in 1940 the Captain America comic book initially had him fighting Hitler. More recently, starting in 2005, Marvel Comics has turned Captain Amerika and its other superheros to participating in Amerika's modern wars. During this time Marvel Comics even created a series of comic books specially for U.$. soldiers in the Middle East, so the use of comic book characters for the advancement of imperialist interests is nothing new as this has been going on for decades.

At one point in the movie The Counsel asks the Director to nuke New York City, arguing that this is the only way to save earth, but the Director refuses and the battle continues. The battle has many "foreign" aircrafts flying into skyscrapers, an obvious allusion to the twin towers getting destroyed. The movie ends with a nuke being shot into New York City but it is intercepted by one of the superheroes named Stark who is also a millionaire who changes into a robotic superhero at will. Stark grabs the nuke and flies it into space, saving New York City. So it was finally delivered - a millionaire capitalist superhero saved the world, and so The Avengers plays out as a classic Amerikan propaganda film. One thing this movie did get right is there will be a final battle and Amerika will be one of the participants but the fighting army won't come from outer space, rather the fighting army will be the oppressed on the ground and the result will be much different for the oppressor.

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [California]
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Gearing up for July 8 California Hunger Strike

Currently all group segments here in the SHU at Pelican Bay are preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage scheduled for July 8th of this year. From what I gather, most are committing to ten days for now, although the Short Corridor Collective wrote a letter to the governor declaring an indefinite hunger strike until all five core demands are met. I've read that San Quentin's death row "adjustment center" is on board and even many female prisoners in California. So this one should be even bigger than the last two combined with all outside the walls brothers and sisters even more prepared than before.

Basically the prison administrators did not follow through with the positive changes that they said they were going to do during the hunger strike negotiations. Yes we were given beanies, allowed to order sweats, and we are allowed to purchase art supplies and take one photo per year if we remain disciplinary free. Plus they added a few food items to the canteen list. Those were all positive changes. However, besides that, the only thing that has changed is that they created the STG/SDP [requiring prisoners to go through a Step Down Program (SDP) to get out of STG, among other changes], which is not beneficial to anyone besides the gang investigators and the prison administrators. It's counter productive for us as it gives the prison administration an even broader range of prisoners who they will now be able to validate and place in the SHU. These are prisoners who before were not validated due to it being harder to tie them to a prison gang, like the whites and Blacks for instance.

The vast majority of us did not participate in the hunger strike simply to receive a bunch of miscellaneous crap, and since the prison administration did not follow through with their end of the hunger strike negotiations, the Short Corridor Collective has decided that another peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is necessary in order to force CDCR to the table and make them follow through with their promises of positive changes. This peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is to continue until they have met the five core demands or until the Short Corridor Collective has negotiated terms that are satisfactory and/or beneficial for all.

As far as the new STG/SDP is concerned, it's a straight joke that CDCR is actually attempting to push it out to the public that these are positive changes when they are in fact not. They are trying to go on a media campaign saying that seventy something people have been released and so many admitted into the step down program, but it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It looks and sounds good to the public but in reality it's business as usual for the pigs.

Nobody is acknowledging the so called "SDP" so anybody that they say is in it is actually not participating in anything. Nobody has been transferred yet for step three or four to Corcoran SHU or Tehachapi SHU. They have not raised the limit on canteen for anyone or given anyone a phone call or anything. All they did was dedicate one channel on the TV for a bunch of fake rehabilitation videos that are old and outdated and that nobody even watches. So there is no step down program in our eyes and in reality, just the prison administration's story of one.

In regards to the so-called reviews that they say they are doing, and the prisoners who are being released back out to the mainlines, this too is a sham, a way to sugar coat the story and make it look as if they are making changes when they are not. There is no reviews taking place here in Pelican Bay SHU, where I'm at, it's all just for show. All they are really doing is conducting the inactive reviews/gang status updates for those who have already been in the SHU for six years, that's nothing special. That's something that we all already have coming to us no matter what we do once we've been back here for six years.

The only thing that has changed is that Institutional Gang Investigations is now approving more people for inactive status instead of mysteriously coming up with bogus confidential memorandums. In my immediate vicinity I've seen around six or seven people get approved for inactive status, all southern Mexicans. I've also seen about four of them get denied as well so not everyone is getting kicked back out to the mainline. Those that were denied were given a new inactive review date six years down the line, so that means that they have to be in the SHU for six more years before they can again be reviewed for release from the SHU. So where is the change in that?

Like I said, it's all just for show, the only reviews that they are doing are the ones that they have to do and that's the six years inactive reviews. As far as Contraband Surveillance Watch, aka "potty watch", they are still using this unconstitutional method as a means of torture and intimidation. However, from what I've been noticing they have been utilizing it less than normal in the last year or so. I've only seen one or two people here and there when I pass by C Facility and D Facility "potty watch" cells while en route to the law library so that's better than them being overflowed at least. Although it shouldn't be allowed at all, because it is wrong and degrading. I speak from experience having been through it myself with my celly back in February 2011.

From what I've recently heard the "agreement to end hostilities" is holding here on Pelican Bay A and B yards and everybody is programming with no incidents of violence in a while. Yard visits, canteen and everything else is up and on track and each group segment is giving each other their respects. As a matter of fact northern Mexicans are starting to go to A yard now. After about a five year period of not being placed there by the prison administration, they are being housed in A3 from what I heard.

One more thing in regards to the peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage, you have to refuse food for at least seventy two hours before you are even acknowledged as being on a hunger strike and you're added to the statewide count of those who are participating. Also you can't order food nor coffee from canteen in July, only hygiene and stationary because if you accept food or coffee then you won't be counted as being on a hunger strike.

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