I have some concerns about articles that are from California prisons. Aren't these same things going on in Missouri prisons as well? There are Trayvons happening everyday in Missouri, but no one talks about it. In Missouri prisons you can't even come together for a strike or anything else because if you do you will be put in SHU.
All I am asking my brothers and sisters of MIM(Prisons) is to please take a look at these Missouri prisons.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade's desire to see more in Under Lock & Key about what's going on in prisons in h state. But this is really a call to h, and others who feel their state is underrepresented in ULK, to send us articles. We rely on our readers for news. Become a correspondent and send regular articles about what's going on in your prison and you will see more news about your state in ULK. Ask for a copy of our writing guide to get started.
Recently, prisoners have begun to rediscover their voice and power power in some of the most vile dungeons in Amerika. On May 22, 2012, the latest development has come from Red Onion State Prion in Virginia where prisoners rose up and defied the oppressor. This refusal to be passive in the face of brutality seems to occur more and more often these days. Red Onion shares the same oppression as Pelican Bay SHU prisoners and others across Amerika who face many of the same forms of abuse, cruelty and neglect.
There are over 90 thousand people in Amerika being held in solitary or segregation of some sort. Most of these 90 thousand are Latino or Black, making this mass imprisonment also a manifestation of national oppression.(1) But national oppression is also tied to the economic relations as today's developments with the world economies and social unrest point to the exhaustion of capitalism. This exhaustion coupled with the changing demographic where more than half of all babies born in the U.$. are non-white(2) is unleashing a mass imprisonment of Latinos and New Afrikans in unprecedented numbers. These are basically internment camps for the internal semi-colonies.
This rise in oppression is not simply in imprisonment; there has also been an economic offensive to go with it. Indeed, states comprising Aztlán and New Afrika have seen a more than 20% rise in poverty between 2007 and 2010.(3) We should see that it's not simply a case of a couple crooked cops, or some faulty prison administrators that cause us to be held in miserable conditions. It is much bigger and much deeper than that. What we experience is a long legacy of oppression unleashed on the people since the first settler stepped foot on this continent. This legacy can now be traced up to the highest levels of the ruling class, and sometimes reveals itself. But for the most part, the oppression we face is drenched in secrecy and washed in legalese to the point that laymen cannot grasp it even when experiencing it directly.
At the same time many prisoners are beginning to break through the shell of settler propaganda to see our oppression for what it is. We can see that when corporate media says prisoners are "gang members" they are simply attempting to cover up our brutal treatment. When it reports on a "riot" it is really an uprising. But prisoners, whether in California, Virginia or even the secret prisons, are all being oppressed with the same intent by the state: to break our resistance! This was revealed most recently on a news program where a self-described CIA operative Jorge Rodriguez described torturing suspected-Al Qaeda prisoners. It was in this interview where he described psychological torture inflicted to "instill a sense of hopelessness."(4)
Such was the intent of the solitary confinement: leaving prisoners naked, physical abuse, and the use of what he called "dietary manipulation," which is starving a prisoner with skimpy trays or rotten uncooked food — sound familiar? This was all done intentionally to instill this sense of hopelessness in order to force the prisoner to cooperate with the state. These methods are not materialized spontaneously but are designed from years of study in military and intelligence schools for psy-warfare. What we are experiencing in Amerika's superman prisons is a long legacy that is drenched in blood. Yet we are not victims, but survivors of capitalism. Our survival baffles the oppressor who cannot grasp that the people don't need profit to propel us, to motivate us on our path to freedom. Our drive is mysterious to the oppressor whose only action is brought on by profit.
Prisons will continue to have uprisings as more and more are now conscious and aware that things don't have to be the way they are, and torture does not have to be tolerated. Marx summed it up when he said "mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely it will always be found that the task itself only arises when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation. At the same time the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism."(5) What this is basically saying is once the productive forces develop to a point, they will naturally enter the next stage in social evolution. I think prisoners are at the stage in social evolution across Amerika and this is reflected in the uprisings we are seeing develop as never before.
The folks in Red Onion are a link in a long chain that reaches from concentration camp to concentration camp and the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter stands in solidarity with them in our common march towards human rights!
I was transferred to Lansboro CI on May 27. Lansboro is said to be the "most dangerous prison in North Carolina" and next on the list is Scotland. Recently, on June 6, the Prison Emergency Rescue Team (PERT) raided the prison 200-300 deep and ripped it apart. Their main purpose was to find drugs, weapons and most of all cell phones. They really wanted the cell phones to shut off any chances of communication from prison to prison. Their goal was to eliminate any chance of a future mass movement and current communication from top rank "gang" leaders.
In all, there were about 70-100 people who were nabbed. The PERT team brought with them a sensor detector (an enhanced metal detector used at airports) that they forced everyone to walk through. This detects drugs, weapons or cell phones. The people who set the detector off were then taken to "dry cell", in which the prisoner had nothing in their cells but their boxers, shower shoes and mattress. They were made to stay there for 48 hours until they used the bathroom - in which the officers would search the feces for contraband.
In their search for cell phones (which prisoners had hidden in their rectum), they also put the entire prison on lockdown until all contraband was confiscated. In the midst of the confusion, the PERT team confiscated some of our hygiene, threw prisoners religious items on the floor, personal pictures in the toilet and trash and even assaulted a couple of my brothers - all just as harassment.
These 70-100 prisoners have been sitting in an empty cell with feces in their toilets for 2-5 days; most of them have no contraband on them. After they have defecated, they will be forced to go through an x-ray machine, which the prison needs the prisoners' signed permission for, and they do not have it.
Our human rights have been violated by these oppressive prison officials and it must be resolved by the prisoners first. We must take a stand against this bullshit they think they can pull on us. Out of all 70-100 people they nabbed, they have only reported to have found 10-20 cell phones and modicum amounts of drugs and weapons. Their lack of effort to resolve the situation and get on with confiscating instead of leaving prisoners in their cells with feces is not only inhumane, but a prolonging of having the prison on lockdown. We have been on lockdown since June 6.
Segregation pods are already overcrowded to the point where they have prisoners on dry cell in the receiving area. They have to transfer prisoners due to so many receiving long-term isolation sentences (between 6 months and 1.5 years.) Prisoners here must turn our frustration and anger against our oppressors instead of each other. But I can say it is very difficult to do when you always have to watch your back because someone may stab you or your brothers at any moment - which is rampant here. It is possible, but it will take a hellava push by tribe members, who control this prison! Let's get to work!!!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for unity among the Lumpen Organizations (LOs) in prison. Many individuals and organizations have signed on to the United Front for Peace in Prisons to move the struggle against the criminal injustice system forward. The first principal of the UFPP is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
Often we hear or read quick quotes which are taken to mean something, or infer something different from the intended meaning. Marx's quote on religion is just such an example.
We have all heard or read Marx's "statement" that "religion is the opiate of the masses." This is not an accurate quote of what Marx wrote in his "Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right." This quote has given rise to the belief that Marx did not take the issue of religion seriously and dismissed it as folly. This is not true.(1)
Let's review in context what Marx did write about religion:
"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people."
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about conditions is the demand to give up a condition that needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain without any fantasy or consolation, but so that he will shake off the chain and cull the living flower.
Clearly Marx is not discussing the seriousness of religion, or the role it plays in the lives of oppressed peoples. Marx realizes the power of delusion that religion holds over people. I disagree with MIM(Prisons) that religion "is simply a belief in authority."(2) Perhaps that is true for some people. But I believe it is a panacea for woe and oppression — a search and hope for a better life than the one believers currently lead. It is the oppressed's answer to the question of existentialism.
Due to the anxieties of existence — anxieties people experience as the result of natural causes like floods, famine and earthquakes, or man-made causes such as enslavement, exploitation or oppression — that make people feel powerless, they often resort to magical thinking, or beliefs in supernatural agents as a plea for the anxiety to end. Thus was born religion, its roots in anxiety.
Religion is a potent tool of capitalism and imperialism. To eliminate one, all must be eliminated if the people are to experience true freedom and liberation.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall, we have great unity with what this comrade writes about religion and Marx's view of it. But eir disagreement with something we wrote is a bit of a strawpersyn argument. First, it is ironic to use Christopher Hitchens to criticize us as too dismissive of religion. Hitchens was popular for his atheist ideas among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie. His attack on so-called "Islamo-fascism" was better received than his allies on the left (led by Bob Avakian) and right (epitomized in David Horowitz). All three represent the spectrum of white nationalist thinking that uses religion as an excuse to attack the oppressed nations, primarily in the Islamic world today.
The MIM article also discusses pre-scientific thinking, addressing religion's role as a "panacea for woe and oppression." In pre-capitalist times, such thinking was the norm and religion was more than just an attempt to deal with the bad times, it was an attempt to explain all aspects of reality. Once scientific thought was developed and popularized, it has been the class interests of the oppressors that have kept religious ideology alive to serve their interests, as this comrade alludes. But that doesn't mean everyone who is religious is a dupe. Muslims are currently striking some of the greatest blows against U.$. imperialism, so they must have a pretty good grasp on how to actualize their own interests in a world that throws many horrors in their direction.
Comrades, I'm white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they love themselves too much more than anyone else more than anything else more than all else I love all else my mom's white my brother's white father and sisters white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they are killing my people and my planet all for green paper and towering white steeples I'm a traitor who grew up in a trailer I branded cows in my youth ninety miles to the south the nearest traffic light we pissed off the porch poached deer - ate rattlesnake comrades, I'm white But don't hold that against me because I hate this motherfucking country to death my pen's my weapon my blood - my breath my planet - my species above all else
I myself fully understand as well as live the principles the brother from Jersey as well as New York are speaking of in the Under Lock & Key article Time for Peaceful Revolution. Both brothers bring up valid points. There are 3 stages to that life within that LO and both of these brothers seem to be third stage brothers.
Now the origin and founder of this lumpen organization differs by who you speak to. But I believe the focus needed is to get the brothers from primitive stages to third stage. All these issues are intertwined but as leaders one can't speak for the whole (LO), no man can do that, that is why there is a chain of command in all LOs. The body moves everything at the end of the day. So it is one thing to tell these brothers to strap up or go on a hunger strike. They very may well follow orders. But once you're separated the fire will dwindle till it no longer exists!
Now if we take those brothers in the true cause of all LOs, which for the most part all have revolutionary roots, from such parties as the Young Lords, Black Panthers, etc. If we educate the body of the LO as a whole, then they will know what they are fighting for. That will be the difference between a few minor victories and the whole war. People need to know what they're fighting for. Then it will be a lot easier to get leaders of LOs to sit down and work towards our common goals while maintaining orders on our terms in these day kennels.
I respect 100% my brothers from Jersey as well as NY. We need to educate ourselves, so a rebirth of the mind is needed. But in a split second we need to be ready to turn it up if we have to.
In May the Department of Corrections in Radgowski Correctional Institution tried to shorten our visits and decrease the number of visitors allowed in the visiting room. So I organized a good amount of brothers to put pen to paper and the response was immediate. Some of us were shipped out of the jail and some to other parts of the jail. I myself was moved from the privileged part of the jail to the assessment drums.
A move is only done when you catch a ticket which I had not. I refused housing and went to the box. Since then drugs have been planted on prisoners as well as false positive urines. Now I am a level 2 prisoner but I am being housed in level 4 (max). I have basically just got the run around about my transfer. I am writing to the commissioner now with no hopes of a positive or righteous response, more so just to exhaust the administrative remedies.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Grievances are not only ignored by prisons but filing them often results in punishment, like what is described by this comrade as happening in Connecticut. Yet each state bureaucracy will go to lengths to explain the "systems" they have in place for prisoners to address any abuse they face on their watch. A campaign to demand grievances be addressed was initiated in California and has spread to Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. It is needed in every state because there are prisons in every state. We need volunteers who can modify the petition to work in their state. Write to us for a copy of the petition.
I was born of a womb of a mother who smokes grew of age in a concrete tomb choking on I-15's exhaust smoke my veins I must stretch to feel at ease This is what my life is like from conception to the grave unable to breathe quit what it is you hate while you still hate it three quarters done with my sentence hoping someone's still there to say "You've made it" Considered depressed and despondent since the age of five that's when I learned to pledge allegiance age five they taught us loyalty to one's country as I smuggled cans of copenhagen and snickers to my daddy in prison age five I was born of a country Built on and maintaining DOC brutality Pledged allegiance to a flag that destroyed my family So, you see this is what my life is like from conception to the grave Still unable to breathe
On May 20 prisoners at the privately run Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi, rose up in protest of the violence, abuse and neglect at this prison for non-citizens incarcerated for re-entering the United $tates after deportation and for other charges. Prisoners took control of the facility for over eight hours before SWAT teams took back the prison using pepper spray grenades and tear gas bombs among other weapons.
The prison administration is claiming the violence was a result of prisoner-on-prisoner conflicts but one prisoner involved in the struggle called a Jackson TV station and clearly articulated that the riot was due to mistreatment of prisoners: "They always beat us and hit us. We just pay them back... We're trying to get better food, medical, programs, clothes, and we're trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants." The prisoner confirmed his identity by sending photos from inside the prison.(1)
In recent years the U.$. has hit 400,000 deportations a year, the majority Latino nationals. Pre-deportation Detention Centers are the site of widespread abuse as the prison guards are accountable to no one and the prisoners are among the least valued people in Amerika by those in charge.
As we reported in a 2009 article "National Oppression as Migrant Detention", migrants are the fastest growing prison population and they face significant abuse behind bars: "The American Civil Liberties Union says that the conditions in which these civil detainees are held are often as bad as or worse than those faced by people imprisoned with criminal convictions. These detention centers are described as 'woefully unregulated.' The 'requirements' that they do have about how to treat people have no legal obligation, reducing them essentially to suggestions." So it should be no surprise that these prisoners in Mississippi are fighting back.
The economic motivations of the private company that runs Adams County CC, Correctional Corporation of America, is directly counter to the humyn rights of prisoners. Again from the 2009 MIM(Prisons) article: "The Correctional Corporation of America, a private prison management company who controls half of the detention facilities run by private companies, spent $3 million lobbying politicians in 2004. They want stricter immigration laws so they can have access to more prisoners, which will bring them more money. In turn, ICE is able to pay 26% less per day to house prisoners in a private versus state-run facility. This is possible because of the lack of public as well as governmental oversight at private facilities, where they reduce costs by getting rid of everything that would help prisoners, including necessary-to-life medical care. One reason state governments shied away from private prisons for their own citizens was the scandals that they quickly became associated with. In the year 1998-99, Wackenhut's private prisons in New Mexico had a death rate 55 times that of the national average for prisons. The migrant population's lack of voice allows these corporations to get away with their cost-cutting abusive conditions when contracted by ICE. This is another good example of how capitalism values profit over humyn life."
The distinction between legal and illegal residents of the United $tates is a clear example of the enforcement of imperialist wealth and poverty using borders. Those who happen to be born on the north side of the artificial border to Mexico have access to many resources and opportunities, and most of those born on the south side live in poverty with very limited opportunities. The United $tates can't let migrants through the border because that would open up jobs to all who want to compete, rather than keeping them for the well off labor aristocracy. Instead the imperialists set up corporations to suck the wealth out of Latin American countries, devastate their economies with loan programs and puppet governments, and benefit from the cheap labor that results.
Prisons are just one aspect of the imperialist oppression of undocumented migrants. We support the prisoners in Mississippi and across the country who are fighting back against inhumane conditions. We need more reporting directly from the prisoners involved in these protests. Help us spread the word by sending your stories to Under Lock & Key and request MIM lit in Spanish to spread our message.
I am writing as a representative of the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths(5PNGE). Although I cannot speak in authority on behalf of all Five Percenters, I aim to show how our nation's fundamental principles are in line with those of the United Front for Peace in Prison.
The first principle of PEACE is in line with the third principle of "What we will Achieve." Peace being the absence of confusion and chaos within ourselves, our communities, our nation, and the world. The attainment of PEACE in any fashion stems first from education and the subsequent enlightenment of the individual. Once the oppressed are emancipated from the mental slavery that results from the thorough indoctrination of self-destructive concepts presented by the imperialist elite, then we can truly stand together and defend ourselves from the now known enemy. The imperialist machine has done a great job of placing false labels upon us to keep us separated rendering us unable to attain any true Umoja amongst ourselves.
The first principle of "What we will achieve" (National Consciousness) is in line with the principles of Unity, Growth, and Internationalism in that national consciousness is the awareness that "we are all one people, regardless of geographical origins and that we must work and struggle as one if we are to liberate ourselves from the domination of outside forces" and destroy white supremacy, white privilege and imperialism once and for all. The labels Latino, African Amerikan, Asian, and Native American only help to separate us and keep us from realizing that we are only truly one people who share a common history. Somos originales. As the descendants of the fathers and mothers of civilization we have an obligation to humanity to restore the true culture of communal living and peace.
Now although the 5PNGE seeks to unite people of color and firmly resist white supremacy/privilege in all its forms, we do not exclude whites from our ranks. This transition is difficult for many whites because they are forced to realize that the overwhelming cultural history of Europeans consists of colonialism, murder, enslavement, and general exploitation of the world's inhabitants. After coming under study and rejecting this devilish, destructive legacy they have the opportunity to join the struggle of the Original People and overthrow the Devils Un-civilization (the imperialist machine).
The 5PNGE finds independence through the second principle of "what we will achieve": community control. This consists of regaining control of the educational, economic, political, media, and health institutions within our communities for ourselves. We must have control on the collective level so that we can maintain and advance the civilization. The current political/socio-economic system does not serve us as a people because it was not established for us. The United $nakes of Amerikkka (as well as all other imperialist countries that make up un-civilization) was born on the backs of the exploited class. It is futile to rely on the slave masters for substance when we have in us the tools to sustain ourselves in a more productive manner than any program the current system may provide.
Now although ULK serves as a forum for political and revolutionary discourse, it is the responsibility of all within the 5PNGE as well as all other LOs as part of the United Front for Peace in Prison to educate those individuals still blinded by the propaganda of the mainstream. Revolutionary education will build revolutionary minds equipped with the tools to make revolutionary actions. Remember P.E.A.C.E. Positive Education Always Corrects Errors.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall we have a lot of unity with this comrade, which demonstrates the ability of organizations with different ideologies to unite on common principles. We agree it is the goal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to unite lumpen organizations in the struggle while pushing them to a higher level of political action and understanding. We hope that others with 5PNGE will take up this comrade's call for unity of the oppressed and all who oppose imperialism. 5PNGE takes a religious focused approach to the struggle, while Maoists use the scientific method based in dialectical materialism, but when we both arrive at the same anti-imperialist conclusions then we we have fundamental unity at this stage in the struggle.