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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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More Appeals Sent to CDCR, Protest in Sacramento

MIM(Prisons) sent another stack of letters in support of the prisoners on hunger strike across California to the so-called Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with the cover letter below. There will also be a demonstration in support of the prisoners' demand outside of the CDCR office today:

Monday, July 18th
1-4PM
Demonstration outside CDCR Headquarters. 1515 S. St. in Sacramento, CA


Warden Greg Lewis

Pelican Bay State Prison

P.O. Box 7000

Crescent City, CA 95531-7000

18 July 2011

Dear Warden Lewis,

Two weeks ago we sent dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison. As the conditions outlined by the prisoners have still not been addressed by the CDCR we are sending additional letters of support (see enclosed). We are all aware that the conditions of many prisoners are becoming critical and we urge you to take immediate action to remedy the conditions. The conditions addressed by the prisoners demands are in no way conducive to rehabilitation and no one should have to die for these basic requests.

We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.

Sincerely,
MIM Distributors

P.O. Box 40799

San Francisco, CA 94140

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[U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 21]
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Assassination Nation: The World's Foremost Terrorist State is America

America is delusional. One need look no further than the Disney Corporation's attempt to trademark "SEAL Team 6," in order to market the image of paid killers as toys for children. How is this acceptable on any level? It's not, it's insane. In fact, a reasonable psychological diagnosis of the American state would conclude that it is severely schizophrenic.

Americans are indoctrinated since childhood to believe that America is a bastion of freedom, equality, and law; a bulwark against the lawlessness, murder, mayhem and terrorism that is rampant in the world today. Nevertheless, the reality is that America is the number one source of lawlessness and terrorism in the world today and has been for quite some time. Moreover, when America isn't committing acts of terrorism, it is abetting those that do, such as the European settler state in Palestine known as Israel.

America has many fine-sounding laws against assassination, hostage-taking, and torture (in a word "terrorism") but follows none of them. See the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 USC §1602 et seq.; Civil Liability for Acts of State Sponsored Terrorism Act of 1996, 28 USC §1605 (i.e., the Flatow Amendment); Antiterrorism Act of 1990, 18 USC §2331, et seq.; and Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, 28 USC §1350 (i.e., the Alien Tort Statute). Further, America is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and the International Convention Against Taking Hostages, codified at 18 USC §1203.

All the foregoing laws and conventions expressly forbid the majority of acts taken by the American military in the world, but America ignores them all when it comes to its actions and only applies them to other countries when they dare try to emulate America's propensity for murder and mayhem. Long ago America's rulers chose to follow the old Spanish Colonial aphorism that "the law is to be obeyed but not followed."

For example, in Elahi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F. Supp. 2d 97, 107 (D.D.C. 2000), the court found Iran's murder of an American citizen fit the definition of an extra-judicial killing, as follows:


First, ...the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, Cyrus Elahi was not afforded the judicial process contemplated by the statute. Third, as this Court stated over twenty years ago, assassination is "clearly contrary to the precepts of humanity as recognized in both national and international law."[citation omitted.]

The American government's murder of Osama bin Laden on International Workers' Day, May 1, 2011, is no different than Iran's alleged murder of Cyrus Elahi and meets all three of the criteria set by the Elahi court. First, the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, he was not arrested and brought to trial, i.e., afforded judicial process. Third, assassination is illegal in accordance with national and international law. Bin Laden was summarily executed because, as a known CIA asset, he would have exposed secrets the American government did not want exposed.

The American government admitted bin Laden was unarmed and surrounded by his children, who had to be cleared out of the way, and at least one of his wives, who was shot in the leg, so as not to interfere in the U.S. Navy SEALs' hit. And hit it was, as bin Laden was shot once in the chest and once in the head in the classic assassination style known as the double-tap. No doubt there were powder burns surrounding his head wound, where the coup de grace was administered by these cold-blooded killers as he lay on the floor of his home, but we will never know as his body was promptly disposed of as is common in many professional hits.

Earlier the same day, it was reported that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were murdered by NATO bombs dropped on their home. Whether it was done by American planes or not is of little matter, as we all know if the American government didn't support this bombing it wouldn't have happened. This was nothing less than an assassination attempt, that included the intentional bombing of civilians in their home, which was done in direct violation of the UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya via a no-fly zone and the laws and conventions cited above.

It should come as no surprise that the assassination target was Qadhafi, who was said to have been at the home and narrowly escaped along with his wife, as the American government has been trying to murder him for years. President Reagan had Qadhafi's home bombed on April 14, 1986, successfully murdering women and children but failing in his attempt to murder Qadhafi. President Obama has proclaimed his authority to assassinate anyone overseas, including American citizens, without a trial, so murdering Qadhafi would be no problem for him. Wives, daughters and sons are all just collateral damage.

America has never hesitated to murder civilians, men, women and children, in their homes. In WWII, America fire-bombed civilian targets in Germany and Japan's cities and used nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the Japanese government tried to surrender. Post-WWII, the American government has targeted the people of Korea, the Congo, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and, now, Libya. My apologies if I left anyone out.

This campaign of control through terror is by no means limited to the rest of the world. Here in the good ol' USA, on May 13, 1985, the infamous "Mothers' Day Massacre" occurred, perpetrated by the police, who murdered 11 MOVE organization members, including children, in their home and incinerated an entire neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the full cooperation of the American government, who supplied the explosives used in the massacre.

Not to be outdone, the FBI murdered 76 people, including children, in Waco, Texas, by blowing up their home and burning them alive on April 19, 1993. The FBI has proven time and again that it is willing to murder whoever, wherever, whenever, from Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago, Illinois, on December 4, 1969, to Randall Weaver's wife and son at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992. "No crime too foul" ought to be the FBI motto.

Speaking of mottos, the infamous mass-murderer and war criminal Harry S. Truman had a motto: "the buck stops here." No doubt, the buck should stop with the American presidents, but it also reaches back into the cesspools known as corporate boardrooms. Consequently, it is time to end this criminal reign of terror. Every single one of these criminals in high office, national or corporate, should be tried and hung as the murderers they are. To continue to allow them to run free, let alone run the country, makes us all complicit in their assassination nation. It is high time we, as Americans, put an end to our complicity and our complacency once and for all!

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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CDCR Gives Lipservice, Food Strike Spreads

Three weeks into the California Food Strike the CDCR has given it's official response, which can be summed up as "We'll look into it." On July 15, the CDCR made a proposal to the strikers at Pelican Bay to end the strike without promising any changes. The prisoners declined the offer and continued to fast, calling it "smoke and mirrors" and "insulting."(1) These guys are willing to die for basic rights they've been denied for years, decades for many, and CDCR comes to the table with nothing.

Our inquiries received similar canned responses from the Warden about "operating in full accordance to [all] law... while providing for the ethical, humane treatment of all prisoners." Even more outrageously, he claims they provide "the ability to safely program and actively participate in their rehabilitation." The strike is on because there are no programs or rehabilitation!

Those in close contact with the striking prisoners report that some in Pelican Bay who had stopped fasting have returned to the strike in response to the CDCR's negligence.(1) We've also received word from 4 comrades in the California Institution for Men in Chino that they have just begun a hunger strike in solidarity after getting news from MIM(Prisons).

Other recently received reports include that United Struggle from Within organized comrades in Kern Valley State Prison for a 24 hour food strike in solidarity. In High Desert State Prison, where the pigs were serving double the normal amount of food to prevent a hunger strike, a number of comrades didn't eat from July 1 thru 3rd. Whole sections of California State Prison - Corcoran are still on strike and doctors are coming in regularly to weigh the prisoners.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 21]
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July 2011 Censorship Report

2011 Censorship Graph

We rely on information directly from prisoners and returned mail to track our censorship. For the 2011 reporting year, only 72% of all mail was not reported as censored or received. This is a big improvement from last year's 83% unreported mail status. We see two causes for this change. One is that we stopped giving everyone who wrote to us automatic 6 month subscriptions, and instead required confirmation of receipt (or censorship) of a sample issue of Under Lock & Key first. This not only reduced the amount of mail we sent in by 30% from last year, but pushed those who wanted Under Lock & Key to confirm receipt of the sample issue, doubling the amount of people reporting receiving ULK.

Another contributing factor to the high reporting rate is the institution of Unconfirmed Mail Forms, which is a short form we send out to encourage individuals to report the mail they've received. We primarily send these forms to people we suspect are experiencing censorship of our materials. Even if you don't receive one of these forms, you should still tell us everything you have gotten from us since the last time you wrote. Since we ask about the entire history of mail we've sent in, not just in this reporting year, the institution of the Unconfirmed Mail Forms (UMFs) has improved our stats on past years as well. In the last year we've improved the amount of mail unreported for the July 2010 Report from 83% to 78%. We plan to continue using UMFs to better assist in tracking our censorship.

Like we reported in MIM(Prisons) 2011 Congress Summary and Resolutions, in the past six months we have been focusing our resources on building cases and recruiting lawyers rather than writing letters to administrators. Most of the victories in the fight against censorship come from prisoners filing appeals and defending Under Lock & Key in hearings. MIM(Prisons) plays a supporting role in ensuring that the administrators know that someone on the outside is paying attention and publicizing their illegal actions. So while it is not of vital importance that we write these letters, it has still helped overturn censorship in enough cases that we find it worthwhile to pick up this task again.

Victories

A major victory was won against Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico this year. A prisoner won a partial settlement for censorship issues. The settlement names MIM Distributors and Under Lock & Key and is in favor of prisoners' rights to receive "copied" material. If you are experiencing censorship for copies, write in for this information.

Red Onion State Prison in Virginia has been notorious for censoring Under Lock & Key to the point where we haven't heard of our newsletter getting in since issue 5 (November 2008). The Final Call and Prison Legal News both won settlements in favor of getting their newsletters into Red Onion in recent months. Since the treatment of The Final Call and PLN was similar to the treatment of ULK, we are hoping that those settlements will impact how ULK is received at Red Onion. This is yet to be determined.

Changes

A reasonable expectation for our anti-censorship work is that when we win a victory in a state, we should either continue to have victories there or no longer experience censorship. Of course this expectation wouldn't apply if the conditions within the state change and become more repressive. In the cases of New York, Illinois and Colorado there have been victories in the past but only censorship without victories in this reporting year. In Illinois and Colorado, some victories have been connected to outside pressure put on by MIM(Prisons). This leads to the logical conclusion that victories would be more likely if we continued to apply this pressure.

In New York there doesn't seem to have been a connection between outside pressure and victories. Those reversals in censorship came strictly from the hard work of New York prisoners fighting for their own rights. We are unsure if the current lack of victories is due to a change in conditions in the NYDOCS or a lack of prisoners fighting censorship.

There is a hunger strike happening in Pelican Bay State Prison in California that is well under way. In June 2011 we heard word that our mail had recently started getting in just prior to the start of the strike after experiencing major censorship there for years. In the last year 44% of the mail we've sent into Pelican Bay has been confirmed as received (13% confirmed as censored), compared to the previous reporting year's 25% received (57% censored). Hopefully the hunger strike will be successful in granting people held in PBSP their five core demands, including an end to mail tampering.

Future Struggles

While we try to win as many victories as possible through writing letters, if a facility or state won't follow the law, then it eventually becomes necessary to take them to court. Due to our limited resources and time, we encourage the prisoners affected by the censorship to fight the issue as far as they can. In Arizona we came to one of these brick walls related to the censorship of a study group assignment for "promot[ing] racism and/or religious oppression" without containing any words that refer to race or religion. We reported on this issue in Under Lock & Key 18 and are still struggling to find a lawyer that will take on this important case.

And yes, mailroom staff in California are still clinging to the 2006 memo banning MIM Distributors, which was nullified in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR way back in 2008. Can you believe it? The California institutions that are still favoring this method of censorship are Deuel Vocational Institution and Pelican Bay State Prison.

In Salinas Valley State Prison in California, rather than citing the overturned memo, the Warden creatively assures us that the staff was new at the time and have now been retrained, or claim to simply not see mail from MIM Distributors arriving there. This is completely bogus considering we consistently send in ULKs every time there is a new issue, in addition to persynalized letters and other literature. When we called the Warden out on the fact that there was no change after the "new staff" was "retrained," he simply baselessly told us there is no censorship and "no evidence the mailroom staff are negligent in their duties or MIM Distributors mail was illegally tampered with as you claim." No shit, there's no evidence if you just throw the mail in the trash! While some mail gets into SVSP sometimes, they are still highlighted on our list of brick walls we are determined to break.

In Nebraska the ACLU has picked up on censorship of our materials and has been doing research, writing letters, and may eventually file a suit on behalf of MIM Distributors and the prisoners facing censorship. They have reviewed most if not all issues of Under Lock & Key and have determined that "the prison is violating both [MIM(Prisons)'s] First Amendment rights and the rights of the prisoners." We are excited to be working with the ACLU to hopefully set a precedent in Nebraska that protects people held there against censorship. We encourage any lawyers on the outside to follow their example and get with MIM(Prisons) to fight censorship in prisons!

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[National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Phoney Gang Debate to Discredit Strike Support

The CDCR is trying to blame the organizing of the statewide food strike in California prisons on gangs. Meanwhile, the liberal line being put forth in the bourgeois media is that activists dismiss such accusations. Somehow prisoners across California, and even those transferred out of state, participated in solidarity with the food strike on July 1. We know that MIM(Prisons) was one of many organizations with newsletters that contributed to spreading the word, but none of us initiated or did the groundwork to ensure the effectiveness of this campaign. CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton tried to explain this as an indication of "the reach and the influence that prison gangs have on other inmates." She went on to say, "It's one of the reasons we have a Security Housing Unit, to remove gang members influence on other general population inmates."(1)

The media is juxtaposing the pigs' assertions about gang leadership to the denials of activists to paint strike supporters as idealistic know-nothings. The prison bureaucrats make careers out of being experts on gangs and criminology, and they rely on the public to trust in their expertise to keep them "safe."

In reality, this pseudo-debate being played out in the media is painting an idealistic view of prison society that ignores history. The pigs know that groups allied to the Black Panthers and other national liberation movements used to lead the prison masses. They know because they broke that up, partly by using long-term isolation, and they encouraged oppressed nation groups with more criminal tendencies to develop with bribery and by turning a blind eye. Now they condemn the monsters they created to justify more repression.

The line MIM(Prisons) has been pushing since before the hunger strike began is in defense of the First Amendment right to association. While countless people have been placed into gangs they've never even heard of by state officials in California, there are many in the SHU who are not trying to fool anyone into thinking that they aren't members of a lumpen organization considered an enemy of the CDCR. This is evident in the statements of the strike leaders which talk about uniting all "races," including "northern" and "southern" Mexicans. Aztlán is one oppressed nation that the pigs have helped draw a line through by promoting criminal organizations that must compete. It is only the fascist conditions within California prisons that prevents prisoners from even being able to speak of their organizational ties.

When we say there are comrades in Pelican Bay SHU who are respected leaders of lumpen organizations, there is no criticism implied there. Some of those comrades have worked tirelessly to orchestrate a Peace Accord between the major divisions within the California prison population, among many other positive projects for their people, including the current campaign. The lie that is promoted by the "tough on crime" bourgeois media is that to be a member of a lumpen organization you must be an evil persyn. Just like they did for Tookie, there is no redemption for the lumpen under imperialism, even when they do more than anyone around them to change the world for the better.

Central to the demands of the striking prisoners is that the state cannot claim to abide by its own rules while it punishes people using secret evidence and petty charges like who they talk to or get mail from, what books they read or tattoos they have. The bureaucrats hide behind the presumed neutrality of the bourgeois courts to defend the torture they put these prisoners through.

The striking comrades are some of the individual oppressed nationals that the imperialists find the most threatening within their own borders. That is why they are being tortured in long-term isolation. Yet, by all indications, the state is going to let these brothers die rather than grant them Constitutional rights to association.

The oppressed nations are free to organize in this country, as long as it's on the Amerikans' terms. If not, then even talking about such organizations will get prisoners thrown in long-term isolation and will get supporters on the streets censored.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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More on Anti-Strike Propaganda

"Solitary confinement is not something that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations engages in," according to CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton.(1) According to our surveys, California has around 14,444 people in Control Units, defined as "permanently designated prisons or cells in prisons that lock prisoners up in solitary or small group confinement for 22 or more hours a day with no congregate dining, exercise or other services, and virtually no programs for prisoners." This is more people than any other state.

Thorton claims that prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU) have access to cable TV, books, yard time, the law library, weekly visits with family, and correspondence courses.

Yes, it is true that prisoners can occasionally receive books through the mail, as long as they aren't by or about Blacks or Mexicans. If you're not in SHU yet, such books might be used to validate you as a gang member and throw you in SHU on an indeterminate sentence. Otherwise they are often just censored as "gang material."

Correspondence courses are occasionally allowed, too. But we've confirmed 35 incidents of study materials from a MIM(Prisons) correspondence course being censored in California, 15 of which were at Pelican Bay. We've also been told that a radio show that broadcasts to Pelican Bay was shut down there after broadcasting a correspondence course on a show popular among prisoners.

Interaction with family, inmates and staff is greatly exaggerated by Thorton. We've known comrades whose only physical contact with another humyn being for many years has been guards putting cuffs on their wrists. And while Thorton makes family visits out to be a regular thing, the distance to Crescent City, California for most families is the first barrier that makes visits rare at best. One family member who spoke with MIM(Prisons) at a table while we did outreach in support of the strike described how they went to visit their brother at Pelican Bay once and had to talk through a TV screen. They have not gone back since. Others who visit Pelican Bay talk about how their freedom of association is limited just as the prisoners' is. If they are seen speaking to the wrong persyn (another visitor) while going on visit they can be restricted or banned from coming back.

Thorton described "the two ways" one can get into SHU in California, painting prisoners as either violent attackers or mob bosses running organized crime. Yet, as those who were there when Pelican Bay was being conceived can attest, it was built in response to those who dared to organize and stand up for their rights as the thousands of prisoners who went on food strike across California have done. As prisoners continue to organize and move in a positive and united direction, it will become harder and harder for the state to paint the organizations of the oppressed as enemies that deserve any torture or punishment they receive.

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[United Front] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 21]
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BORO Calls on Leaders of Lumpen Orgs to Step Up

Within the Black Order Revolutionary Organization we educate to create real meaningful change. The old saying says "action makes the front." But to take this analysis a step further, "bold, intelligent, revolutionary actions make the front." The war is real and it's a war that is physical as well as psychological and educational. The imperialist strives to physically as well as psychologically dominate, subjugate, manipulate and control the masses in prison and out of prison by creating and engineering social conditions that fit their agenda. The enemy of humanity understands the driving force behind action is man's mental orientation. So if they control our mental atmosphere and mental appetites they will control our social behavior. This is the reason why we as front line Askaris must always understand our greatest weapon is a correct analysis of concrete conditions as we strive to crush imperialism/colonialism in its total. To do that the Askari must keep his/her mind sharp.

Comradez, I've been on lock down in a federal SMU program since 2008. Since the fedz closed Marion max the fedz have created the same lockdown scheme with the Special Management Units (SMU). It continues to be for the express purpose of controlling outlaw/anti-authoritarian revolutionary conduct. Every organizational structure across amerika can be found held within the lockdown yet there is no meaningful dialogue between parties, groups or organizations to effect meaningful change.

The project for peace in prison is a foundation laid so that inter-organization/multi-organizational communication can begin. But for the project for peace to work we need the leaders and spokesmen for these street and/or progressive organizations to accept the peace project. In a lot of these organizations, directions flow down the chain of command. The Latin King wrote in [to ULK] about Kingism, which was good. But he is only one man and cannot make an organizational commitment to accept the peace in prison project. That must come from Lord Gino, their crown. So I am calling on all leaders nationally from the Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Mighty Mighty Black Nation, G.D.s, and all those in between to unite in principle and contribute to our collective struggles. T-fly, Bay Bay, Minister RKO for the Vice Lords where y'all at? G.D. Crusher holler at us brotha, Crown Prince AB for the MMBN, OG Mojo New York Damuz and all the other unmentioned men and women that have a voice in their organizational community, let's squad up so that the peace in prisons project can be real and used as a weapon.


MIM(Prisons) replies: We echo this call to those in leadership positions to represent what so many of the LOs already have in their bylaws and histories. But we want to reach all potential comrades with the message of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, from the capo to the pee wee on the street. While some of the leaders mentioned above could have a quick impact, we've learned from the past the short-comings of LOs whose leadership went radical, but the soldiers only followed the leader and never embraced the movement. It is not sustainable. Slowly recruiting a hundred local chapters or representatives to sign on to the Statement of Principles will mean more in the end. And building solidarity between organizations around common struggles at each locality is how we can build real peace. In many places this is already happening.

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[Control Units] [International Connections] [National Oppression] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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SHU is War on Aztlán


[Editor's note: We want to remind our readers that USW is open to anti-imperialist prisoners of all nationalities, just as the strike is being led by prisoners of all nationalities. MIM(Prisons) agrees with the line put forth here, because it is by building movements for national liberation
from imperialism that we can best conquer the oppressive system we currently live in. And any genuine national liberation movement supports the liberation of all people. We want to be clear about this because there have been reports of the CDCR attempting to fuel divisions among the prisoners on strike along long-standing organizational and national divisions as they always do.]

A people's salute goes out to all who find themselves under lock and key in Amerika! I wanted to write and send a brief update on the conditions here in Pelican Bay coming from one of the participants of the hunger strike (HS) that began two weeks ago, on July 1 of 2011. I figured the historic precedent that the HS has accomplished thus far is worth noting as the cause of the non-violent protest is one in which many people find themselves in across Amerika. The material conditions that have forced prisoners to deny themselves nutrients and sustenance are not exclusively bound to Pelican Bay, California. Whenever imperialist lackeys run a country they will also be expected to round up the most rebellious and potentially revolutionary populations and bury these people alive as these are the ones who pose the highest threat to the ruling class.

The fact that the protest is in regard to torture chambers known as the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in California, a state that has more prisons than any other state in a country that has more prisoners than any other country, should be examined more closely for what it means to oppressed nation prisoners in general but to people of Aztlán in particular. The fact that the state of California, which is geographically in Aztlán, has initiated what amounts to a war on the people of Aztlán by setting up more koncentration kamps (prisons) in Aztlán than anywhere else in Amerika, along with incarcerating more Latinos in California than any other oppressed nations, and the fact that Latinos are now the largest population of captives held in Federal prisons, and the fact that most of the prisoners held in California SHUs are Latinos, all show that oppressed nation are under attack via the injustice system, and that prisoners from the Aztlán Nation are particularly targeted in Aztlán. California is also the state with the largest Latino population in Amerika.(1) Thus the scope of what is taking place should be seen for what it is - the assault on Aztlán is real and should be met as such.

What is occurring here at Pelican Bay is an attempt to break the will and desire to resist state repression plain and simple. The SHU was opened in 1989 and this facility was designed to isolate and deprive people of the most basic "human rights." Things like human contact, a cell mate, the ability to eat salt in one's food, the ability to correspond with friends and family via the mail, the ability to have natural sunlight or even to be able to read political literature have all been stripped from prisoners in the SHU. Brutality here has been documented for decades. Beatings and physical torture have even been brought to the courts to no avail. Recently the U.$. Supreme Court has ruled that California prisons constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." They are telling the state of California to clean up its act.

Medical services are even used as barter. One prisoner was told if he wanted medical treatment then he should "debrief" (snitch on another prisoner). This is the depraved culture that has thrived here in SHU. This is a world where prisoners who are most often poor Brown and Black people are subject to a whole plethora of experimental depravity which in some cases would probably have Mengele raise an eyebrow.

It is well known that solitary confinement causes very real psychological damage even if used for a few weeks, yet here in SHU prisoners have endured solitary for years and even decades in some cases. Human rights groups have condemned solitary confinement, yet the SHU continues this brutal practice. Once here in SHU the only way back to general population is to snitch on others (even if it is false accusations), die, or parole. Keep in mind the vast majority sent to SHU have not committed any crime or physical acts but are labeled a "gang member or associate" and thus locked in this control unit for one's supposed gang affiliation, i.e. one's beliefs. They are locking one in a solitary confinement cell, sometimes for life, for what amounts to thought crimes!

Placement in the "hole" or SHU is frequently due to political affiliation of prisoners who are members or may associate with revolutionary groups or lumpen organizations that the state labels as "gangs." In their play on words, any attempt at oppressed nations to organize in a way that is not state sanctioned, is a gang. Similarly, they call uprisings "riots" in a derogatory way, to hide the real causes behind them. But many times people aren't even members of any organization and are falsely accused by others who are trying to get themselves out of SHU. In either case, prisoners held in SHU conditions overwhelmingly qualify as political prisoners.

The world would gasp should they find out the thought police are goosestepping in lock step here in Pelican Bay, jack boots and all. The Gestapo in Nazi Germany rounded up communists and others and placed them in kamps and jails under "preventative custody." And now the imperialists' first line of defense keeps oppressed nations in neo-kamps (SHUs) under "validation custody." This is what the lumpen face in the United $tates; this is our apple pie in the home of the incarcerated, land of the oppressed.

Yet, prisoners have always defied the lash, because as Mao said, where you find much repression you'll find much resistance. This is the dialectical materialism that manifests itself and blossoms, even within cinderblock gardens, in the form of our united resistance.

The first of the five demands issued for the hunger strike here at Pelican Bay is to end group punishment. This happens frequently where one prisoner breaks a rule and that whole group or ethnicity will be locked down or penalized in some way. We are talking about one person doing something against prison rules and two or three hundred people are then locked down for months over it. This is common practice and is meant to pit prisoners against prisoners.

The second demand is to abolish debriefing and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Debriefing is used to force people held in SHU to give up names and activities of others in order to leave SHU - even if the information provided is false. The accused cannot even present a good defense as the informants are not identified and often times the accusations themselves are considered "confidential." Active/inactive status is when after six years if one has no new activity one may be given "inactive" gang status and released to the general population. But this is rare since anything qualifies as "activity." For example, participating in this hunger strike will be considered new gang activity.

The third demand is that the CDCR complies with recommendations from a 2006 U.S. Commission which called for an end to isolation. The fourth demand is to provide adequate food. The food here would make a racoon's stomach turn. Often we don't know what it is we are eating and we get no salt, so all food is bland. For punishment often times we get boiled beans with no salt, and this has gone on for years. The fifth demand is to expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners. This means those of us who must stay in SHU will be able to have educational courses, art supplies, and the ability to make a phone call, which some have not done for 30 or more years.

These points are basic things that should be given, especially to people who have not broken any rules to be placed in SHU in the first place! What is happening here in Pelican Bay SHU amounts to crimes against humanity. To have people in solitary confinement in some cases for decades is incredible, and it's incredible that this has gone on so long and that for the most part the public has been silent over this. Well, today the light is shining on these torture chambers and Pelican Bay prisoners will no longer be silent while taking the lash.


Notes:
1. The New York Times Almanac 2011. p. 285.

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Pelican Bay Striker: Drastic Approach Needed

I am one of the participants involved in the peaceful protest at Pelican Bay, basically and simply just to challenge our predicament. We've exhausted all other resources but no one within the system listens to our cries for human decency and respect. We are expected to abide by the designed laws of the state, but when we elect to exercise so-called given rights, we are condemned for such action.

A peaceful protest presents us the opportunity to demonstrate our humanity contrary to the misguided propaganda that's utilized to degrade and demean our intelligence. It is definitely a drastic approach and sometimes when there are no doable options, its necessary to take the struggle to the next level of development. Dialectical materialism teaches us about the science of reason and logical development in order to reach a synthesis to whatever that contradiction is, anything that isn't growing is definitely stagnant!

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Hunger Strikers Reaching Critical Condition

The hunger strike is reaching critical stage for those who have pledged to strike indefinitely, especially the elder and ill. The CDCR still refuses to negotiate and the leaders of the oppressed locked in Pelican Bay continue to exert their leadership. Here is the latest report being circulated by a point persyn on the outside:

Tuesday 8:30 AM: According to a SHU nurse, things are bad at Pelican Bay. The prisoners have not been drinking water and there have been rapid and severe consequences. Nurses are crying. All of the medical staff has been ordered to work overtime to follow and treat the hunger strikers. As of Monday, there were about 50 on C-SHU and 150 on D-SHU. They are not drinking water and have decompensated rapidly. Some are in renal failure and have been unable to make urine for 3 days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated. They have refused concentrated sugar packs and ensure. The staff has taken them to the CTC and given them intravenous glucose when allowed by the prisoners, but some won't accept this medical support. As of Monday, no one has been force fed with a nasogastric tube. A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up. Some of the medical staff is freaked out because clearly some of these guys seem determined to die. Not taking the water is crushing the staff because the prisoners are progressing rapidly to the organ damaging consequences of dehydration.(1)

CDCR is reporting 800 prisoners continue to refuse food at 6 prisons.(2) However there are multiple reports of groups of prisoners joining the strike this week and even planning to join later in the month.

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