The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Recidivism] [Massachussetts Correctional Institution Shirley] [Massachusetts]
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MCI Shirley: Welcome to the Murder Factory

Welcome to MCI Shirley Prison where low-level drug dealers are turned into murderers. Where minor felons are instilled with such anger and resentment that they are talking mayhem as they depart through the razor wire gates. Where un-professionalism and abuse are the norm and the seeds of future killings are being sown one thousand at a whack. It is a place where it is hard to distinguish the real criminals. Do they wear gray scrubs? Do they wear paramilitary jump suits and badges, do they wear a shirt and tie, or do they wear Dolce & Gabbana skirts with Prada shoes? It is truly hard to tell.

Young men enter MCI Shirley (or "ShirleyWorld" as it is largely known) thinking they may be able to get an education through college courses or the trades. Those hopes are dashed upon the rocks of guard overtime, administrative nepotism, and complete lack of any semblance of order. The warden is deaf, the deputy is dumb, and the captain is blind. This barrel of monkeys chews upon taxpayer dollars while the young prisoner is further separated from the societal norms the rehabilitative process was meant to instill. You can see the death in their eyes. It is scary.

This vast criminal conspiracy that is the department of corruption is as much a killer as Charles Manson or Adolph Hitler were. They see with perfect vision the folly of their ways but press on with malicious intent: premeditated job security equaling death in the Mattapan Corridor. Drunken guards bring in drugs and cell phones, take out their ire on weaker prisoners and all the while talk about pay raises, time off and pension plans. They are the thieves and murderers!

The prison system spends $517,000,000 per year to diminish the safety of the streets. Criminal guards suck up $360,000,000 of that yearly budget while rehabilitative programs and education are allotted only 2% of that budget. An equation which is designed for failure. It assures repeat customers but that assurance comes at the cost of far too many lives. When will you, the taxpayer, become outraged? When will your ire replace the apathy that belays commonsense? This is a state, a country, and a land that is founded in second chances.

If you were ever afforded the tragic opportunity to tread the pathways of MCI Shirley you would witness first hand the systemic failures. There are guards everywhere — sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and multitudes of line staff — but each and every day some rehabilitative aspect of the prison is shut down due to "under-staffing." It is a lie. The DOC has 5500 employees for about 12,000 prisoners. The guard's union has injected so much propaganda that even Hitler would be proud of their achievements.

The time has come to reorganize the prison budget, to use these vast taxpayer dollars to actually protect the safety of the public. We must terminate the excess of secretaries, deputies, assistants, aides, clerks, etc., and invest that revenue in expansion of the college degree program. Prisoners who earn that degree in prison do not come back: they do not commit any more crimes. The recidivism rate for in-prison Boston University graduates is less than 1%. The statewide recidivism rate has hovered at about 47% for over a decade. Did you know UMass offered to come into the prisons and provide college courses for free? The DOC rejected them. Did you know that Fitchburg State had a free program at ShirleyWorld but the facility failed to support it? The reason for the folly is that there is no money in it for the DOC to have these programs.

Prisoners need real job training. Prisoners need transitional housing in lower security prisons. Such prisons cost only a fraction of what it costs to run the higher security prisons as they need less staff. This is why the guard's union fights this at every turn. Please join forces with those who have a plan for real and effective public safety reform. the time is now for you to get involved.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade does a good job exposing the Massachusetts prison system's lack of interest in rehabilitation and education. It is true that in Massachusetts, and across the country, prisons are providing good jobs to guards who have formed strong unions to lobby effectively for expansion of the system. It is a system whose employees have every interest in expansion and no interest in rehabilitation. The very fact that education has been proven to dramatically reduce recidivism but prisons across the country have cut or eliminated education programs is clear evidence. Further, programs such as MIM(Prisons)'s led study groups are censored as a threat to the safety and security of the prison. It's not the criminal injustice system that cares about safety and security, they care about job security and social control. And prisons conveniently provide both: locking up the oppressed nation lumpen who might organize against imperialism and giving jobs to the labor aristocracy in the prisons.

But we disagree with this prisoner that tax payers are going to become outraged and fight this system. Both the social control and the good jobs are benefiting those tax payers. The labor aristocracy wants to protect it's own jobs: and the prison provides a good number of these. If tax money didn't go to prison jobs it would go to some other labor aristocracy services. And these would not be jobs benefiting the oppressed nation lumpen: that's not something tax payers are going to get behind. On the contrary, prison guard unions successfully campaign for more pay and funding for defending white power, unlike most labor unions.

With that said, we do think there is value in exposing the lack of safety and security in the current prison system. We may gain some allies in certain battles, people who will see that the streets of Amerika are objectively less safe. But we don't want to mislead them by appealing to their persynal interests and pretending that substantive change to the criminal injustice system is going to actually benefit them in the long run. Anti-imperialism is not in the interests of the majority of the Amerikan people, because they benefit financially from this system. And the criminal injustice system is an integral part of Amerikan imperialism.

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[Police Brutality] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 30]
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Connecticut Youth Killings Underscore Unequal Response in Amerika

Like many of you who are reading this issue of Under Lock & Key, I was saddened to hear about the senseless killing of 20 young humyn beings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. They were babies, taken away from us far too soon. After shaking off the initial shock, my analytical Maoist mind kicked into overdrive. I went into my locker and I retrieved my July/August 2012 issue of Under Lock & Key 27. I would like to quote comrade Soso of MIM(Prisons) in her/his piece entitled "Trayvon Martin National Oppression Debate." "A recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement cited at least 110 Black people killed by Amerikan cops and security in the first half of 2012."

Is this report not alarming? Should there not have been public outcry? Did not President Obama state: "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon." Well then why the hell didn't he form a special task force then to address gun violence? Was not Oscar Grant enough? What about James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Mississippi? What about young Jordan Davis of Jacksonville, Florida, murdered in cold blood because his music was "too loud"? All these young men of color murdered by white men, however, for some reason their deaths did not solicit the same response. Five hundred murders on the streets of Chicago this year! One fourth were under age 18. President Obama barely mentioned the gun violence in Chicago during his campaign. Why?

Comrades, the sad truth of the matter is, a Black life is not equal to a white life in Amerikkka. And it is not just the lives of Black youth that are under-valued. Latino, Arab, Asian, all are viewed as less than, undesirable, or expendable by the Amerikkkan Injustice System. This problem is pervasive and saturates the racist news media. Now here comes new gun legislation and "new" task forces. Who do you think the alphabet boys are going to be carting off to U.$. penitentiaries? Not white bread gun fanatic NRA members, that's for sure. It's going to be us! The Black, Brown, Asian and Arab lumpen underclass.

I recently was listening to a Houston hip-hop radio show on KPFT (90.1 FM) called Damage Control. The host "young Zeke" said "if a Black man shoots a bunch of people in Amerika he is a criminal. If a foreigner does it, he is a terrorist, and if a white man does it he's classified as mentally ill - that's bullshit!" Remember comrades "to be aware is to be alive!"


MIM(Prisons) adds: Since this comrade wrote this reflection, there was an incident in New York City where an Amerikan womyn pushed an Indian man in front of an oncoming train and killed him. She's been widely quoted as saying, "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims — ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up." The victim, Sunando Sen, was Hindu.

sunando sen funeral
Sunando Sen's funeral in Queens, New York.

Erika Menendez was charged with murder as a hate crime, but has been ordered to have a mental health exam. Whatever Menendez's mental health, it is not like she said she killed Sen because he had brown eyes, or was too tall. She killed him because of his perceived religion and ethnicity, which are both proxies for national oppression. Sen would not have been murdered if Amerika did not promote hatred of other nations who try to free themselves from the grip of U.$. imperialism.

Just because most Amerikans aren't sophisticated enough to distinguish different religions and cultures does not make their national oppression any less real. Islam has been branded by Amerikans as the culture of a dangerous foreign enemy people. Armed resistance against imperialism has been strong across South and Central Asia for over a decade and it continues to spread. This is the material basis for Menendez's actions.

Some theorists that dabble in Maoism have hypothesized that nation is no longer principal in the age of neo-colonialism (simply defined as white power in black/brown face). But MIM(Prisons) still holds that the principal contradiction remains nation under imperialism today, even if it is not as black and white as it used to be. In the discussion around Trayvon Martin, we already said that George Zimmerman's Latino family does not preclude him from being associated with white supremacism. Similarly, we do not need more info on Menendez's background to state that she was clearly acting within the ideology of white supremacism. Neo-colonialism isn't just for those with political power anymore. There is a whole movement to enlist young men from Latin America to fight for U.$. imperialism in the Middle East.

The concept of nation is based in social conditions, not in phony ideas of genetics as race is. So while Amerika was a nation built on a racist ideology, it is in constant flux, like all things are. Similarly, nations can be transformed through assimilation. And even as separate nations exist in the United $tates, different segments of those nations will have different interests at different times. Those who use identity politics and simplistic expectations to negate the national contradiction ignore these ever-changing and interacting forces. In the United $tates the national contradiction is at a bit of a crossroads, but internationally the contradiction is stronger than ever. This is why the internal semi-colonies would be smart to stay on the right side of history and stand against imperialism as their ancestors did.

As we've discussed elsewhere, there is ample evidence that most "mental health" problems are social problems, which can be addressed with a re-ordering of the society we live in. By ending national oppression, ending militarism and ending the competitive individualism of capitalism where people get left behind and become alienated from society, we can prevent the types of incidents that happened in New York and Connecticut.

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[Censorship] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 30]
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Censorship Victories are Possible

In 2010, the Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), with the assistance of MIM(Prisons), initiated a campaign to fight censorship. BORO last provided an update on this campaign in ULK 17. Since that time there has been censorship of some issues of ULK and IRRs (appeals) and grievances were filed. Issue 28 was censored in October 2012 and we fought it. On 19 December 2012, we won the grievance and were issued the ULK on the same day.

Prison activism can be very discouraging at times, but we must hold firm to our commitment to struggle. Whenever an issue of ULK, or any other material, is censored, our advice is to not sign the censorship notification and covenant not to sue forms. Although signing these forms will allow you to send the material to whomever you want, you effectively give up your right to grieve the issue or file a legal complaint in the courts.

Another new development is that the mailrooms now have to notify publishers when they censor any of their mail sent to prisoners. This is a strategic win for us and should be further encouragement for those of you who complain "we can't beat these people".


MIM(Prisons) adds: To the comrade who wrote in asking for more news on Missouri in ULK 27, this is a good example of how to make news by carrying out work over the long term and reporting on it. We got another response to that letter from a comrade in Missouri who reported being on a solo hunger strike going on fifteen days on 1 January 2013. S/he wrote, "I'm hoping some other prisoners in Missouri will read this article and start to ride on some shit. The way they run prisons in Missouri is screwed up and it's time to stick together and change some stuff." We warn our readers that hunger strikes without support and planning can be dangerous and reckless. But make no mistake, not all prisoners in Missouri will accept abuse.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 30]
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Movie Review: Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

battle los angeles
U.$. Militarism saves the day from invading aliens
Here we have a movie (again) of extraterrestrials invading earth and killing its inhabitants. Meteors fall to earth that are actually complex life forms. Once again we see jingoism at its best by showcasing the Marines at the forefront of the fight for freedom and democracy. Scientists are at a loss to explain why the aliens are here until they see the water from the ocean receding. This is one thing the movie gets right when it shows a scientist saying that when a people are colonized for their resources, the colonizers must kill off/exterminate the indigenous population. My, are the chickens coming home to roost? Throughout the movie the director propagates heroism and sacrifice from the Marines, who in reality are at the front lines of genocide.

This movie has no use besides its sound effects. Perhaps an E.T. can come and obliterate the bourgeoisie in Amerika. That'll leave a power vacuum which we communists would be happy to fill. Another self promotion is what this movie is, as if Amerika has the solution to the world's problems. As a pile of shit walking around telling everybody they stink, so too does Amerika ignore the fact that it's the problem.

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[Campaigns] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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USW Grievance Petition Wins Battles in Texas

Well comrades after months of trying to get the grievance department to produce a grievance that they insisted was returned, the truth has come out! In June 2012 I was housed on C-wing on Estelle Unit High Security which is located in Huntsville, Texas. At the time, my cell and many others were infested with roaches, every meal was served cold, and the smell of sewage was extremely pervasive. I and a fellow comrade filed a Step 1 (I-127) grievance.

Unit Grievance Investigator Mr. Allen Hartley lied to me, his co-worker Ms. Monica Nichols, and numerous other TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) employees and insisted that he returned my Step 1 with response on August 22, 2012. However, I never received it. A TDCJ employee told me that Mr. Allen Hartley has a "special relationship" with the prison administration on the High Security Unit in which he has agreed to destroy any offender grievances which may shed a negative light on the High Security administration.

On October 22, 2012 I sent a grievance petition courtesy of USW-MIM(Prisons) to Senator John Whitmire who happens to be the Chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee in the Texas state legislature. I requested that the senator have someone investigate my "mysterious" disappearing grievance. I also addressed the cold-substandard meals served on the entire unit, rampant racism among officers, and administration, as well as the collusive and conspiratorial relationship that exists between unit grievance investigator Mr. Allen Hartley and Assistant Warden Steven T. Miller and Major David M. Forrest (bonfire Klansman extraordinaire). The USW Grievance Petition does an excellent job of articulating the true nature of the problem here in Texas. Our due process rights are being trampled on and we can't get fair and unbiased resolution of our grievances under the current system (period).

Comrades I am glad to report that the food service department at Estelle Unit - High Security has been issued "Hot-Carts" which really keep our food hot/warm! The portions have improved a little and so has the quality. We even get salt and pepper once a week. This may not be fantastic in some prisoners eyes but it is progress. I believe it was a collective effort by a small group of motivated comrades who got tired of being treated like sub-humyns.

In reference to the grievance problem, the central grievance office wrote me and stated that the grievance in question has been "lost." They offered me the opportunity to re-submit the grievance. However, they failed to address the main root of the problem and that is Mr. Allen Hartley's blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution! This is not the first time that these prisoncrats have played this game. This is an ongoing problem. Their actions have rendered the grievance process ineffective. So with that being said, I have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - utilizing the grievance petition as my guide.


MIM(Prisons) adds: 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. If you do this research and send us what needs to be rewritten for your particular state, we will gladly send an edited, accurate copy back to you.

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[Censorship] [National Oppression] [Legal] [Waupun Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 30]
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Court Rules BPP Program is Gang Material

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

"Give me liberty or give me death." - Thomas Pain

The above two quotes are admired citations that most Amerikans with any educational degree deem to be master slogans this country's freedoms are based on. But these same quotes or those similar, if stated by Black men or Black women, are deemed contraband and gang related.

On August 2, 2012 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision aimed at silencing and caging the spirit of the Panther. The court ruled that the ten point platform that the Black Panther Party (BPP) cited in every newspaper and later put forward as the core demands of the New Africans in the Amerikan ghettos, is gang-related when found in the possession of Black men. This decision was rendered from a case in one of the most racist and oppressive prison systems in Amerika: Wisconsin DOC.

The 7th Circuit Court's ruling in Tani Toston vs. Muchael Thurmer et al, no# 10 cv 288 stated that Waupun prison officials in Wisconsin could punish a Black man who allegedly has a tribal background (they used the pejorative, "gang") and who checked out two BPP books from the prison's own library, and purchased a 3rd book (To Die for the People) and copied from all three the Panthers ten point platform.

The oppressors argued that these ten points were being used to construct a gang structure simply because of the DOC's slant that he had a tribal background of defunct Gangster Disciples. They offered no evidence but their ethnocentric opinions. They punished the prisoner and gave 90 days segregation for learning Panther knowledge.

The plaintiff, who I call the Panther seeker, argued to the 7th Circuit Court that the ten point platform could not be a gang related security concern because the two books in the library recited the same program, and prisoners are permitted to get the books and to buy them. They were not on the state's book ban list.

In opposing the Panther seeker and rationalizing their reactionary measure, the prison defenders in the 7th Circuit stated: "...prison librarians can not be required to read every word of every book to which inmates might have access to make sure they contain no incendiary material. There is no reason to think that a librarian or other employee of the prison read cover to cover any of the three books that contain the ten point program."

Yet, they expect prisoners to know they could not write down the same, though they did reverse and remand the due process claim that the prison never told him he could not do so.

They further stated: "And even if the prison read the books and made a determination the book was not gang lit. on whole, that does not preclude disciplinary proceedings if an inmate copies incendiary passings from it."

It seems the court took issue with point #8 of the program, which calls for "freedom for all Black men held (implicit also women) in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails." The court states the seeker is Black and that the BPP were implicated in many acts of violence including murder, and Huey himself may have killed a cop. Their source is Hugh Pearsons The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America.(p. 145-46 1995). They also cited the case People vs. Newton, 87 Cal. Rptr, 394 (CA), app. ct. 1970) and the case in which Black Panther leader Richard Moore was convicted of assault in a shootout between Black Panthers and Oakland police (Clener vs. Superior Court, 594 p.2d 984, 985-86 (Cal. 1979), In Re Cleaver, 72 Cal. Rptr. 20, 23-24 (Cal. App. Ct. 1968)).

They even went so far as to cite a coloring book as their source research in coming to this ethnocentric ruling. "Black Panther coloring books" depicting children murdering police, which were developed and distributed under their own FBI's COINTELPRO.

Then they had the disrespect to cite our beloved brother Fred Hampton's estate lawsuit which was filed after the Chicago pigs' assassination of the beloved. Hampton vs. Hanrahan 600 F. 2d 600, 654 (7th Cir. 1979) (dissenting opinion).

They wish to project they are fair. But how fair are they when they cite all these biased cases and omit the fact that the police, FBI, and others were actively seeking to destroy the BPP and even pacifists like MLK, and these incidents were self-defense. The BPP was a self-defense response to a racist system. How can you fault a people who stand up for their human and constitutional rights and label them criminals for defending the same principles this country was established on? The answer is clear: what white leaders say, Black ones cannot say.

The court defended their ruling by saying: "The BPP is history. But the ten point program could be thought by prison officials as an incitement to violence by Black prisoners - especially since there is a new BPP active today, which claims descent from the original. And like its predecessor both advocates and practice violence."(Citing: Southern Poverty Law Center, New BPP).

They go on to cite disputing evidence to their conclusion by stating: "In context, in the book of Huey's writings, point #8 is much less inflammatory than when read in isolation on the paper the plaintiff wrote down and had in his foot locker." They claim, in all three books, there are explanatory commentary around each of the ten points and that explanation is "innocuous" on point #8. "We believe that all black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial." (To Die for the People. Bk. At. p5)

They seek to soften the blow of their ethnocentric cudgel: "...although Newton's book advocates revolution, it could no more be regarded as a criminal incitement than the Communist Manifesto could be. But this underscores the difference between a book as a whole and an arguably inflammatory nugget plucked from it." So what say they if we cite Thomas Pains "give me liberty or give me death"? Same as Huey's statement in point #8.

The court went on to justify their favoritism to a ethnocentric/racist prison by stating: "Not being experts in prison administration, but aware of the security problems in American prisons, judges sensibly defer within broad limits to the judgements of the prison administration."

How can the court make a fair ruling if they don't acquire some expertise in prison administration? That is the court's job as arbitrators of the case. We as prisoners need to present evidence on the expert level of how prison administrators exaggerate the facts and cite spookisms in their affidavits and summary judgement motions. As prisoners we are and should be experts in prison administration operation and the lies they tell. So why are we not illustrating the same in our litigation.

On the question of the "security problems in american prisons," again, these perceptions are all based upon what the prison officials report and claim; hardly a fair assessment as to what is really going on. This is possible because we are not disputing and putting the truth out there. We are not uniting and pooling our resources to fight the lies the prison system puts out.

The Beard vs. Banks case illustrates this fact. The lawyers/prisoners did not submit anything disputing the alleged facts in the defendant/prison official's summary judgement motion. As such, the court accepted all their exaggerations as true. Though they probably would have accepted the prison exaggerations anyway, we cannot make it so easy or allow them to justify it without exposing their favoritism and bias. The fact is that this case had lawyers, so the court could have given the disputes more weight than pro se disputed facts. This is the litigation war we are engaged in. No capitulations allowed.

The Van den Bosch case shows how censorship is allowed when we write articles like this one here. There, an article on how Wisconsin is #1 in creating conditions in segregation for petty stuff and these conditions leading to what I call intentional conditions for "suggestive ideation" (suicide). The court accepted the Wisconsin prison administrator's exaggerated security claim that criticizing these conditions could be viewed as incitement because people were killing themselves and the article stated officials were to blame. We cannot even complain or express our opinions.

We see how the court forgets that the BPP was attacked by the pigs and FBI, and they also forget all the cases in which the prison administrations have been proven busted and exposed for presenting lies. However, I stress again, it is our job to present such overwhelming facts/evidence to not allow the courts to easily accept the judgements and defer to the prisons, because we know they are straight up liars. This is war in facts.

This fact is shown by what the court wrote: "The nexus between plaintiffs copying the ten point program from "To Die for the People" and gang activity may seem tenuous, but the defendants argue that the likeliest reason the plaintiff copied the ten point program was to show it to inmates whom he hoped to enlist in a prison gang, a local cell as it were of the Black Panthers, the ten point program would be the gang's charter". They go on to say "this is merely a supposition, but it is not so implausible that we can dismiss as groundless the prisons concern."

They support that racist logic on the affidavit submitted by the prison's so-called gang coordinator, a racist named Bruce Muranski, who has been discredited in at least one case as possibly manufacturing so-called informant statements. "In the U.S. the main organizations that monitor intolerance and hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have deemed the new BPP as a hate group... there would be no other purpose...in the ten point program other than recruiting group members and establishing, reinforcing and maintaining an organizational structure for furthering gangs..."

In another part of the affidavit Muranski claims: "isolating the ten point from these library books allows it to be taken out of context, easily circulated and simultaneously possessed by gang members and changed or adopted for the specific needs and activities of the group... (another prisoner, other than plaintiff) was alleged to have unsanctioned security threat group items in his cell...(including) a hand written paper titled 'notes on African American leaders'. This sheet of paper contained the ten point which was identical in content to the ten point found in plaintiff cell..."

There we have it. All Black leaders who were willing to say in their own words or actions "give me liberty or give me death" are deemed contraband. Yet, I can have all the quotes I wish of white revolutionaries and Amerikan founding fathers. White "inciteful" language against the British crown is protected expression while George Jackson, or a Hoover or Malik, or Huey Newton is contraband.

The fact is that damn near every BPP or associated case, in law books or on the computer, has the same ten point program in it. So all we would need to do is buy a Panther case and circulate it if we wanted to share the ten point program. We see this decision is about intimidation and instilling inferiority. For even the cases the court cited have the ten points in them. Surely they knew that.

Still more, the case in which they made this racist ruling itself can now be used to promote and propagate the ten point program. So it's clear: the prison has no lawful reason to exclude the ten points even if they subsequently ban the books, which I'm sure they might try. The ruling is a joke and more about suppression and control.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While it is a set back for revolutionaries when important historical literature is banned or access limited to sharing this literature, it is something of a public admission of the strength and value of the Black Panther Party political line that this court felt the need to decree it as gang material. Prisoners who are labeled as part of a "Security Threat Group" are often actually organizing for the betterment of oppressed people, and promoting the peace and security of prisoners. This exposes the lie of the prison's claim that they want security. The only security prisons promote is job security for the guards and other prison workers. Prisoners' lives are far from safe and secure, due to conditions created by the guards and the criminal injustice system in general.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [California]
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Challenging Conditions of Confinement in SHU

I have a habeas corpus petition in the Superior Court which challenges the "conditions of confinement" in California Department of Corrections and "Rehabilitation" (CDCR) Security Housing Units (SHUs), and the pro forma sham "periodic reviews" that CDCR purports to conduct for possible release from SHU.

My "conditions of confinement" challenge is based upon the fact that 30% of the validated "gang affiliates" in SHU are actually "gang associates," which are basically prisoners who had a social relationship with one prisoner who was a former gang "associate" [or member], or an "associate" who had been classified by CDCR as no longer "active" in the gang, i.e. a guy who has been "inactive" for a minimum of six years, or who had a social relationship with a "gang" member. How such a one-on-one social relationship constitutes "associating" with the gang is a leap of logic only a CDCR mentality could make.

It is unconstitutional for the government to find a person guilty of "association" sans any overt acts of personal misconduct. So it is very curious that prisoners are the only group of citizens who are consistently placed in SHU on the sole basis of being "guilty by association" without any charge of personal misconduct, and without any finding of guilt of any acts of personal misconduct, or of any acts of misconduct on behalf of or at the behest of a "gang."

Since Title 15, Section 3312(A) mandates that all prisoner misconduct be handled in the specific manners set forth in that section/regulation. Either CDCR is in violation of Section 3312(A), or there has been no misconduct! If there has been no misconduct, then a prisoner cannot be subjected to punitive treatment. Punitive treatment includes conditions of confinement that are historically recognized as punishment. So, it is all about identifying the conditions in SHU that are historically recognized as CDCR (or general prison) punishment, such as: loss of privileges, loss of property, solitary confinement, etc.

I know that making the SHU more comfortable is not an acceptable alternative to closing the SHU. But if you take the whip away from the CDCR, and SHU becomes just another general population facility with just a "maximum custody" designation, it then loses its value to CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Why would the government want to torture people for talking to someone? Presumably they fear this persyn. This has nothing to do with "misconduct" or "safety" and everything to do with politics; one group oppressing another. Yet, control units are still torture, no matter if the population decreases or increases by 30%. As this comrade states, there is no humane alternative to abolishing the SHU altogether.

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 31]
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Debating Trans Rights

The sentiment expressed in the Men Against Sexism review in ULK 29 that we should not be fighting for sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy, is exactly the type of infighting that cuts comrades off from each other. How can a man be against sexism, yet support the oppressor's sexist stance on hormones? This is exactly why resistance is so watered down in Amerikkka. All the so-called resisters make a hobby of petty posturing and holier-than-thou attitudes which is nothing more than sugar-coated (and thinly at that) bourgeois ego games. The sad part is the gay crowd was at one point the outsider like us trans people are now but they are playing pass the shit-stick. How pathetic.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the article this prisoner criticizes, we wrote that we do not fight for sex reassignment surgery in the same way we don't fight for gay marriage, because both amount to further privileges for people already benefiting from imperialism. We could equate these struggles with the fight to get more women in executive positions in companies, or the fight to get a Black man in the white house. They represent steps forward in equality for Blacks, wimmin, gays and trans people in reaping imperialist spoils of war and gender oppression on Third World peoples. These struggles do not help advance the fight against imperialism, to liberate the Third World peoples.

Most trans people in the Third World don't have the privilege of even thinking about hormone replacement therapy, and Third World gays certainly are not pre-occupied with their right to marriage. These people are focused on day-to-day survival, getting enough to eat, and avoiding getting raped or killed by Amerikan-backed militias. We mislead people when we focus on battles that distribute the imperialist privileges more equally among the already privileged labor aristocracy. We must focus on the real enemy of the majority of the world's people, an enemy that won't stop exploiting and killing through the ballot box. Gay and trans people in Third World countries deserve all of our attention and energy, to help ensure their survival and ultimate liberation.

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[Theory] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 31]
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Expanding the Debate over the Political Prisoner Label

I'm responding to ULK 29, "Less Complaints, More Agitation and Perspective." While most of the position is on point, I believe that important considerations were left out by both this comrade and MIM(Prisons)'s response.

I agree with the broad definition of political prisoners as announced in MIM Theory 11: Amerikan Prisons on Trial (article "Political Prisoners Revisited") precisely because courts are maintained as a tool of political oppression and inseparable from political oppression. Thus the political component is inseparable from those who become further oppressed by imprisonment. The hierarchy of society, cops, courts and state is one of a functioning cadre in this country.

I also understand the distinctions this comrade makes between inmates, convicts and the rest — an inmate is the prison version of the "sleeping masses," but whether or not these people recognize their oppression does not determine whether they are oppressed. And we can't forget that distinctions such as inmate, convict, POW, PPOW, PP, PS, GP are meaningless outside of the prison context, rendering these issues inapplicable to society.

In terms of the bigger fight for prison revolutionaries, these labels are also somewhat moot outside of a strategic context as well; everyone will get the benefits brought about by revolutionary action or they will simply be "washed away when the dam breaks."

What was missed is part of a larger problem (largely analytical). Whether one is or is not a political prisoner speaks directly to the conditions which led to one becoming a member of their class (under the broad definition), but not the class perception and what it means, nor what to do as a member of that class. The political conditions of our confinement being a given, our focus, especially insofar as making revolution is concerned, should not be on whether or not one is a political prisoner, but rather if one, as a prisoner, is political (i.e. moved to political action). If we must distinguish between members of the same class (i.e. prisoners), and to a certain extent we must in order to accurately assess conditions on the ground, then let it be a functional distinction which advances the revolution as a whole.

Subcategories of class must be used in such a way that it produces knowledge, not conjecture. Even an "inmate" can be turned to use. Further, people change and there's no way to know the moment of awakening of political consciousness in others without objective observation. By assigning static labels and categories, we limit our objectivity.

I wholeheartedly agree with this comrade: there are many tactics which can be tailored to circumstance but the labor of these tactics is necessarily dispersed to many people of differing skill sets and levels of political awareness; some are dupes, others are not, some are soldiers, others are tacticians and printers.

Finally, I believe a common mistake we all make as revolutionaries is to become solipsistic. We forget that not everyone wants change or revolution; some are satisfied with their condition. In prison or out, this distinguishes one as counter-revolutionary. This distinction is functional and applies to society without getting bogged down in specific labels. It is part of the equation we must, as revolutionaries, deal with, but in the end, revolution depends on maximizing our resources, exploiting the weaknesses of our enemy and most important, unification of the people.

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[Organizing] [Religious Repression] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 30]
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Indigenous Group Takes Up Revolutionary Organizing on Death Row

I write this missive from the bowels of California's Death Row (DR), at San Quentin. Just wanted to give an update at what is going on and the progress we are making in regards to a wide area of issues which the condemned population has been experiencing.

Being an Indigenous person, we have been in a long struggle with the San Quentin administration and California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr) in regards to DR captives being afforded access to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Our rights are grossly violated by denying the access of Indigenous persons to the right to practice their religion/culture. In the administration's eyes, to have sweat ceremonies available to the DR population creates a serious "security risk." Each time the CDCr screams "security risk," the United Snakes courts fall into stride with the department's assumptions, allowing refusal of Sweat ceremonies, Pipe ceremonies, and access to smudging with sacred Native American medicines. "Safety & security" is an honored mantra here at San Quentin. Stripping us of our culture, religion, and traditions has been the norm for centuries for ALL oppressed nation peoples. It is obvious that no matter what we fight for, the CDCr views it as "Gang Activity/Disruptive." There are comrades that have been stuck in the infamous Adjustment Center (the Control Units) for over a life time simply because they decided to speak up and push back for what they feel they deserve and what they have a right to actually have.

In this situation, the administration dangles privileges in front of the captive, in order to make them do as they say, not as they do. Comrades are being forced to remain in cages away from other DR captives, being denied any sunlight or room to stretch their legs, because the administration feels that they are "too violent" to be placed on a programmed group yard where they can have fellowship with others, get some sunlight, and take a hot shower. This treatment is barbaric and uncalled for.

The institutional appeals office is no help. They are refusing to process any of these prisoners' 602s (grievances) by simply throwing their appeals away, or "losing" them until the time constraints to file on a certain issue have run out, preventing them from going any further with their grievances. Captives with a full program label are being subjected to disciplinary conditions, because the administration can do whatever they want. These comrades are pushing for the same fair treatment as any other DR captive who has privileges.

Due to the budget cuts, programs here have been cut in half. Education is almost non-existent, and yard days have been cut. Visits are being supervised by sergeants who violate Title 15 guidelines, and the captives as well as our families suffer. Medical is suppose to be monitored, but even that has failed to meet its mark. The treatment of DR captives is going from bad to worse.

After the Hunger Strikes here in California, the CDCr implemented a new rule, that anybody that participates in any type of strike will be placed in the SHU (Security Housing Units) for good. Those who participate will be "validated" as a member of a disruptive group, even if one is not gang related. The DR administration went crazy with that new rule. They ignore the fact that the last actual murder that took place here was almost 12 years ago. They have made comments to media that they have succeeded in finally having full control of the condemned population, and call this place "The Safest Prison in the State."

They use tactics of mental torture. They take and give back, then take and give again. It is a mental game and it has driven many good brothers to snap and completely lose their minds. I do not find that to be a weakness in them, nor is it their fault. It is the fault of the pigs here for the games they play. I fault the captives for allowing their minds to be stretched so far without assisting one another instead of sleeping with the enemy and snitching on each other. There are more snitches than crickets at midnight here, and sadly they are blind to the fact that when it is time for the needle to hit the vein, it will be done by the very pigs they blindly befriended while they were here.

So, with that said, a few other solid comrades and myself have decided to up the ante and are holding study groups. We struggle on a daily basis like the rest of our comrades around the U.$., and decided that the only way to begin to break this chain of ignorance is to teach and guide the ones who have the desire to overcome this oppression "by any means necessary." Along with the education we are receiving from MIM(Prisons)/ULK, we have formed a small movement that we hope will reach beyond the walls of this shit hole. We are the IPLF.

The IPLF (Indigenous Peoples Liberation Front) is composed of comrades from all walks of life, willing to stand firm on the front lines and fight as warriors against the (in)justice system. We are a selected few, pushing to break the chains of systematic oppression of any and all kinds. We are human beings, not animals, and not terrorists. We are a movement choosing to follow MIM theory, and assist our comrades in any way possible.

The IPLF will take part in the Day of Solidarity & Peace on September 9, 2013, and will take that day to focus on what needs to be done here on the row that will have a positive outcome. And if we end up in the hole, then fuck it! We ride or die for the cause! To all my comrades out there, to all our sisters out there - A-HO!

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