The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out
[Censorship] [Minnesota Corrections Facility Oak Park Heights] [Minnesota]
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Fighting Minnesota Censorship Games

Okay, so yesterday I received a "Notice of Non-Delivery of Mail or Package" of a publication you sent to me that was stamped out of California on 20 August 2019. It did not properly follow MN-DOC policy or any law, even though DOC Policy Number 103.220 specifically says all employees must follow *ALL* United $tates Laws.

Up to this date, I have only received one issue of Under Lock & Key (May/June 2019, No. 68) and mail with information on "Poetry Writing Guide", "Second Introductory Letter", "Writing Articles" and "Invitation to Join Introductory Study Group 1(27)".

I have not received any other "Notices of Non-Delivery" for anything else. So if you have sent any other materials you should be aware that not only have I not received it, I never received a notice that you had attempted to send anything to me, which consequently means you most likely did not receive any notification of censorship.

This facility is and has been illegally retaliating against me for filing a civil suit against the mail-room staff and prison officials. And even though in all Supreme Court rulings they have held that I cannot be punished for filing a complaint about prison conditions to the Courts, I was given disciplinary segregation for filing a lawsuit in the Tenth Judicial District Court, in Washington County, Minnesota. This facility constantly opens my legal mail without my consent, and refuses to send sealed legal mail to Equal Justice Initiative Center for Wrongful Convictions, The Legal Aid Society, The Innocence Project, The Exoneration Project, The Lewisburg Prison Project, and will open the sealed envelope, tape it shut, and send it back to me with one of their "Notice of Non-Delivery" saying it was "Sealed in violation. NOT legal mail as addressed." The names of the mail-room staff responsible, along with the officials involved are: S. Henry, N. Leseman, Lt. Jason R. Hills, Assistant Warden of Administration Sherlinda Wheeler, and Warden Jeffrey Titus.

I just recently had to deal with these same people illegally censoring the newspaper "The Abolitionist" published by our comrades Critical Resistance. The mail-room sent me their little "Notice" and just like the one for your mail, it said "Risk to security of facility" and offered absolutely nothing else as to what in it allegedly was a "risk." So I appealed and sent a letter to Critical Resistance explaining the issue. In response to the first level appeal, Lt. Jason R. Hills claimed that "the publication contains things in violation of DOC Policy" and failed to cite anything else as is required by law. I appealed again, and have yet to get a response.

But Critical Resistance did respond, letting me know that they had not been notified by the facility, and sent a second copy of the newspaper. And guess what? Nothing in the publication violated policy at all. I sent a "kite" to Lt. Jason R. Hills with all the titles of the articles and asked him to please enlighten me as to which one had supposedly violated "DOC Policy." Obviously, he did not respond.

Anyways, if you could please take action on your end, we can hit them from two fronts for this illegal censorship and retaliation, and if you could notify Minnesota Public Radio, and other news outlets in Minnesota as to this illegal conduct, I believe it will prove as an ultimately versatile United Front against these people actively attempting to oppress and repress me. I only have numbers/addresses for the St. Cloud Times, Kare 11 News, and Fox 9 News: St. Cloud Times: 320-255-8757, 320-255-8775; Kare 11 News: 763-546-1111; Fox 9 News: 952-944-9999.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have sent this comrade more mail than what is noted above, which was apparently censored. This includes several political theory magazines. And we received no notification of this censorship. This violation of policy, and in fact violation of law, is common in prisons across the country. Prison administrators routinely deny mail without bothering to follow their own rules about notifications and required justifications. The censorship is typically targetting political literature, but has also extended to dictionaries, bibles, and textbooks. Retaliatory censorship is alive and well in Amerikkkan prisons.

This comrade is setting an excellent example of both documenting the problem and fighting back. When we receive notifications of censorship we always alert the affected comrades behind bars. And we need prisoners to do the same for us. In addition, all rejections need to be appealed. And if you can send us your appeals and information on the censorship, we can follow up with appeal letters from our side.

This multi-prong attack on the censorship can sometimes win small victories. Occasionally we will actually get the mail in. But even when we lose the appeals we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention, and this sort of politically-motivated censorship won't just slide by without protest. And getting other organizations to stand up and protest too is important to building the strength of our voice in this battle.

Fighting censorship is only a small part of our larger fight against imperialism. But as our movement gains strength the criminal injustice system will use repression of all sorts to try to stop us. It's particularly important that we fight censorship because this is the primary way that comrades behind bars can stay in touch with the movement beyond their cellblock. Without mail, prisoners don't even have access to study materials. So we take this struggle seriously. And we call on lawyers and paralegals on the streets to get involved. We need legal support to help with these battles.

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[Non-Designated Programming Facilities] [Soledad State Prison] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California Correctional Institution] [California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 69]
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CDCR Creating Volatile Conditions Across California Prisons

sept 9

We continue to try to keep abreast of developments in relation the Non-Designated "Programming" Facilities (NDPFs). And while MIM(Prisons) and USW have seen this as a potential opportunity to push our campaign to breakdown divisions between G.P. and SNY, most of our readers have recognized the integration as an attempt to create violent situations by the state.(1) Below are some reports that we have received recently on how this is playing out on the ground.

"I am a G.P. prisoner and only want to finish my time with G.P. prisoners. My family feels the same. We are being forced to be put in bad situations where they now have used STG (Security Threat Group) status. On 15 February 2019 me and many others were not part of a riot at RJ Donovan in San Diego. We have been in Ad-Seg ever since; limited to $55 at the store, 1 hour behind the glass no contact visits, three hours every other day yard, every other day showers. Locked all day in a cell. No disrespect but my family wants me to program as a mainline G.P. prisoner and not abuse the system like EOPs or SNYs. They all have their own real problems that I would like to remain away from."

We're not sure what this persyn means by "abuse the system like EOPs or SNYs." But we will reiterate that we do not take sides here. We have very good comrades in all types of prisons in California, and there is all kinds of bullshit happening in all places, as comrades in this issue of ULK allude to. Last issue, we heard the other side of the coin where more conscious comrades are being sent to NDPFs as a form of punishment.(2) While many NDPFs are not succumbing to the inter-prisoner violence that everyone feared, conditions are still problematic, and "programming" is reportedly non-existent.


From California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, a comrade reported on 1 May 2019:
"I was transferred from Centinela level 3 to SATF level 2 50/50 yard or so-called Non-Designated Program Facility (NDPF). Well, I will say the transition from SNY to an NDPF was an easy one here at SATF, but to call this a program facility is a stretch. They run a split tier type program, and night yard or dayroom is non-existent for the most part (on F yard, I don't know about the others). If they run program at all, it won't be until after 8pm to 9:15 with only 2 phones. It leaves only 8 sign up spots for 88 people so you can see the problem when you only get 3 night dayrooms a week. Prop. 57 said they were sending lifers to level 2 for more access to family and more program, well this isn't happening, not here anyway. Our MAC chairman just becomes a yes man to the free staff.(3) As you know, when you limit someone's family contact it causes stress and stress leads to violence. All of this is an easy fix but it doesn't seem to be going in that direction, not here anyway."

Finally, we heard reports on 15 August 2019 of a riot in Soledad State Prison in other press outlets. There were a reported 200 prisoners involved, 60 injured, and 8 had to be taken offsite for medical attention. Supporters in touch with prisoners at Soledad blame the practice of "gladiator fight" setups, where prisoners who are known to have beef are let out of their cell one-by-one to recreation. We have not read of Soledad being a NDPF, but we have never had much of a base there either.

As we approach September 9th, we reiterate the call for peace and reconciliation in California prisons. Though comrades will not get this issue of ULK until after September 9th, this struggle to weaken the biggest divide among the imprisoned lumpen in California continues. The Agreement to End Hostilities was a step in the right direction, and we must keep moving that way by including more sectors of the prison population into the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

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[United Front] [Lieber Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]
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Throwing Peace Signs, Building Unity in SC

When I think of unity, I think of "together." It doesn't matter your sex, race, religion, organization, age, or where you're from. Unity is putting all our differences aside, coming together to focus on the bigger situation. Like the saying "there's strength in numbers." If we're constantly battling against each other, how can we ever focus on the root of the problem?

I'm currently incarcerated in Ridgeville, South Carolina at Lieber Correctional Institution. I'm not a part of any organization, but I've learned about a movement going on throughout the yard, promoting "peace" as well as "unity." An older brother told me about the movement from my cell door, and he explained that you shake hands with 2 fingers, meaning "together" and "peace." Then I moved to another unit, where brothers are throwing up the peace sign passing by in the unit, and hollering out "peace" from across the unit. Now, I find myself peacing up brothers, and after reading ULK 68, I find myself peacing up brothers more than I used to. After reading ULK 68 I was impressed with the movement, and was eager to promote peace as well as unity, considering myself a leader, as well as being looked up to, as respected.

I began telling brothers about ULK, MIM(Prisons) and USW movements, and I'm dying to receive a copy of the next newsletter. To educate myself, as well as share to educate other brothers as I was educated by another leader about this movement. I'm in the process of putting something together on the oppression going on right here at Lieber, so I promise you'll be hearing from me again soon. Thanks, as well, for voicing our concerns, conditions, and struggles behind these walls, that the public never knew, knew and didn't care, or didn't believe what goes on back here.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 69]
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Redirect the Gangster Mentality

A quick thought on the topic in ULK 68, overcoming the gangsta mentality. I'll say first that like most of U this topic and the well-written articles by all the contributing comrades was very personal and thought-provoking to me. Reason being, I entered imprisonment 8 cycles ago as a 20-years-old die-hard gang-banga. I was ignorant to the brutal truths of the world and basically I was lost in the sauce. In all the ways imaginable I dedicated and sacrificed self for the "turf," Naybahood," and my "cuzzins."

At 21 I blew trial, narrowly missed Texas's legal murder machine (death row), yet wasn't so lucky to miss the alphabets (LWOP). Initially while in prison I went on mental auto-pilot. Physically existing yet emotionally dead. I continued to build my reputation by further acts of self-destructive behavior until I was quickly placed in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg).

It was here where I initiated my journey and courses of auto-didactic education. Through constant trial and error, learning, practicing, and relearning I've matured and with maturity and education (direction) I've learned to redirect the gangster mentality towards more productive revolutionary actions. The education acted as a fan to the fire that had been simmering. Understand, every gangster, or criminal, is a rebel to some extent. However a committed revolutionary is a notch above simple rebellion. This is why juvenile facilities and prisons are breeding grounds for radical revolutionary potential.

Like comrade and beloved ancestor George Jackson said, "That's the principal contradiction of monopoly capital's oppressive contract. The system produces outlaws." The so-called "criminal" is by nature a rebel and an outlaw, yet generally this type of individual lacks the direction and vision that should be provided by a vanguard group. However, this particular type of persyn is highly susceptible to internalizing revolutionary concepts and when/if this persyn ever commits themselves to the cause of the community of the world they will be a productive weapon for revolution.

It is for this exact reason why one should not attempt to "overcome" the "gangster" mentality. Instead redirect that mentality. Remaining disciplined will be a struggle yet the strong will carry on. It is no wonder nor coincidence that during the history of the inner-city survival groups within black colonies each has had a period of political consciousness. This occurred while many damus and rip-ridaz were held kkkaptive by the police state. One may note such consciousness taking form and awakening and more politicized formation(s). Gangster Disciples elevate to Growth and Development and there are many other examples. One must encourage would-be comrades to elevate the formation that is already dear to them by taking the communist road. As the comrade Pili expressed "I realized how my varrio will always be my varrio, my homies always my homies ... But to liberate Aztlán it will take more than being a rebel."(1)

The message to the lumpen should be to mold themselves through political education into the highest functionality of their persyn, and become the guiding light to elevate their org, nationhood, etc. through active revolutionary tactics. This road has worked for me persynally in my own journey as well as during teaching moments. A rev doesn't have to be a saint nor priest. A rev need only to possess an amount of awareness and conviction accompanied by the knowledge to pursue the most productive means to victory.

Gratitude to all the ancestors, present comrades, politikal prisoners and any and all who've ever sacrificed to further the reality of liberation. Peace and respect to u all from I ur comrade in struggle.

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[Organizing] [Migrants] [Puerto Rico] [Abuse] [ULK Issue 69]
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Revolutionary Organizing Amongst Mounting Protests of U.$. Koncentration Kamps

dekalb county prisoners starving
source: https://itsgoingdown.org/anger-grows-dekalb/

In the past several weeks propaganda actions have been carried out by revolutionaries in several cities as a response to massive immigrant round-ups and abuses against both interned migrants and prisoners by the imperialist u.$. state.

Several weeks ago in Atlanta, GA, local Maoists associated with the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) attended a march in solidarity with prisoners at the Dekalb County Jail facing extreme abuse. Prisoners were being denied proper food, beaten and tortured by guards, and barred from communicating with those outside to prevent a leak of information on abuses. The event was called by the Anarchist Black Cross after the public circulation of an image of an inmate holding a plate with the message "Please help, we dying, need food" written on it, along with complaints from the mother of an inmate at the jail. Due to anarchist leadership, the march was poorly organized and vulnerable to police violence, but demonstrators persisted and the marchers made it to the prison in spite of police pressure. Maoists distributed issues of Under Lock and Key to demonstrators and discussed the capitalist-imperialist roots of prison conditions. Once at the jail, demonstrators were attacked by police while burning an amerikan flag and attempting to communicate with prisoners in the jail. One prisoner broke a window and attempted to throw an object with a message written on it to protesters, but it was seized by guards. Police acted swiftly to disperse protesters with batons and excessive violence, arresting 4 demonstrators.

More recently in Atlanta, comrades attended another demonstration in support of immigrants harassed by ICE in a new sustained campaign of raids and deportations launched by the imperialist Trump administration. Specifically, the protests were sparked by the plans to build a new ICE detention facility in the city, and demonstrations had been planned to take place for several weeks to prevent it. Maoists distributed agitational materials in both english and spanish that summarized recent events from a Maoist perspective, and urging opposition to reject liberal so-called progressives such as those in various NGOs and the Democratic Party, proven enemies of the people, for their treacherous and pro-imperialist politics. Comrades also carried signs that read End to Ice, Power to the People, Hasta La Victoria Siempre! Other protesters held signs that read No one is illegal on stolen land! and Ice Freezes out Humanity!

In Binghamton, NY, Maoists attended a demonstration at the Broome County Jail, where prison officials were denying medical care to prisoners resulting in the deaths of at least 10 individuals since 2011. Comrades spoke with fellow demonstrators about jail conditions and distributed issues of Under Lock and Key, most of whom responded positively and were excited to see content written by and for revolutionary prisoners. Additionally, comrades discussed the plans to utilize the jail as a detention facility for migrants on their way to larger ICE facilities.

Later, comrades in Binghamton distributed issues of the Progressive Anti-War Bulletin around the local campus and elsewhere in the city, which covered u.$. imperialist aggression abroad as well as the war on immigrants and network of concentration camps currently run by ICE. At the university many showed interest in the content of the bulletin, but one "radical" liberal student group dismissed its content in a focused anti-communist campaign, demonstrating the liberal contempt for peace and support for imperialism. Off-campus, another bulletin was vandalized, but generally its message was well received, especially when delivered directly.

In Springfield, MA, Maoists agitated against ICE raids and the network of spies that assisted them. Flyers criticized liberal capitulationism and pro-imperialism, while pointing out Maoism as the only conceivable path to liberation for the masses held at gunpoint by ICE and the neo-fascist thugs that aid them. Flyers detailing amerikan abuses in Puerto Rico were also distributed, criticizing both u.$. imperialism and their lackeys on the island and in Puerto Rican communities on the mainland. The flyers, as well as the comrades who had distributed them, were mentioned on the local radio station on two separate occasions, including in a discussion with a man from the Sheriff's office, who chided Maoist propaganda as "misguided youth" that will "soon come to understand how the world works" and presumably give up their task. In spite of reactionary sentiments aired on the radio, none are willing to give up their task to agitate for revolution, for they already know "how the world works" and it is precisely this which motivates them to continue.

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[Theory]
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Revolution Begins in the Mind

As the vanguard of the countless oppressed people struggling from behind the walls of Babylon, I feel personally accountable to voice my opinion in terms of the revolution. Revolution deals with revolving, or a turning over, of your mental concept. In other words, it begins in the mind. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo Freire says, “almost always,” during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or sub-oppressors. Their ideal is to be men, but for them, “to be men is to be oppressors.”

Imperialism is violence in its natural state. The lumpen being conquered and mentally colonized has adopted a psyche of Western individualism and shuns Afrikan collectivism. So when we speak of “gangster”, it is all actually nauseating mimicry and pseudo-gangsterism at best, it is still a Greco-Roman phenomenon.

Mafia is an acronym developed around 1859 about an Italian criminal society referred to as “Camorra.” Guiseppe Mazzini was an Italian revolutionary and director of the Illuminati, whose last name “Mazzini” gives us the first letter of the acronym MAFIA. One may be compelled to learn how did the New Afrikan become so proficient in a culture so foreign to our historical traditions? The answer can be identified as a result of intense psychological operations. Mao said “when the revolution fails, its the fault of the vanguard party.” “True revolutionaries are guided by great feelings of love” according to Che Guevara. The true definition of love is doing the right thing to and for one another.

The New Afrikan community suffers from spiritual penury and prostrates at the altar of the oppressor, expecting some form of remedy for our malady. There is a statement in the Twi language of Ghana “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” Fellow comrades we must realize the depths of our untapped potentials.

Then on a personal note, i’m from the Southside of Chicago and I watched last night on A&E a documentary about a young sister from the very neighborhood I reside in, and it was truly disturbing. This is not to cast any aspersions on anyone, because I was at one point lost to myself, which personally to me is an even graver fate than being locked up. Even though innocent of said charge, I am still responsible for the deplorable and wretched conditions pervading the New Afrikan community all across the United Snakes. A willing participant in a self-destructive lifestyle, with selfish ambitions motivated by the illusion of capitalist gain, while helping annihilate my own people through chemical warfare.

The revolution fails because people always talk yet never do that of which they speak, because they suffer from cognitive dissonance. I’ve learned to say little and do much. Most of the comrades focus on outer factors, but yet never take stock of their own internal mind state. We are in a war and we are fighting for our very lives and all the lives who will move forward in our righteous struggle. We are trying to out “man” “the man” because cultural imperialism doesn’t simply state the existence of tribes, it reinforces and divides them. All the serious comrades need to ask themselves a question “Are you helping to win or are you contributing to a loss?” There are only two positions. It’s time to shit or get off the pot!


MIM(Prisons) adds: Building on what this comrade writes, we ask our readers, what can we do to build this revolution that begins in the mind? We offer educational materials, study groups through the mail, and support for prison-based study groups. But that’s just support work. The real education work is happening behind bars. By building a grievance campaign and spreading the word about that work, comrades are educating while also offering an example of organizing work. That’s just one example. Our work ranges from cultural (art, poetry, theater, music) to direct organizing (building peace between lumpen organizations, leading campaigns, fighting abuse), and always with an element of educating. We need creative minds coming up with new ways to build this revolution.

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[First World Lumpen] [United Front] [ULK Issue 69]
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Gangster Mentality Can Transform to Revolutionary Communist

Is it possible to defeat gangster mentality in ourselves? The short answer is: Yes. There is plenty of solid individuals who have turned their back on the thug life and criminal thinking. But, is that what is needed when building a revolutionary cadre organization? Instead, perhaps we should attempt to harness and direct our vision of revolutionary social force into a hammer to first shatter the old imperialist system. And then from the ashes and rubble shape a new and better society that will serve the masses free of exploitation.

As members of the revolutionary cadre organization, each of us has to be a leader, a teacher, an activist, a soldier and represent the future by our conduct. Individual members must take the initiative to bring together various organizations for a united front. For this to happen our members have to think beyond their neighborhood, set or clique. All of us are already soldiers of battles that take place right under the nose of pigs. The system does not care if we kill each other. Actually they encourage warfare between lumpen organizations. When we fight each other we do their job for them.

Fight the imperialist system by making peace in prison and on the street. Educate the young, think on an international level, and lead by example. Evolve from a gangster into a hardcore communist revolutionary. Consider your time fighting for your neighborhoods as basic training for the real battle yet to come.

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[Education] [United Front] [ULK Issue 69]
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Build Cellblock Schools as Independent Institutions

education over violence

Peace to all the Gods that's stuck in these chains. I would like to speak power to the truth. I'm a young God in prison, but I feel there is a need for U$ Afrikans on these prison yards to focus more on building up a school than to focus on these prison politrix. What will the curriculum be in this school??? Knowledge of Self (KOS)! Why?? Well my son, that's a question asked most by the 85 and less by the 5ive%. It's a necessity for U$ to gain this truth about ourselves and all of our stolen greatness, to remind ourselves who you really are: "Original Man."

Because the majority of U$ are living in a bunch of lies, believing the blood suckas and what we've been taught by them; the trick-knowledge, weak wisdom, slick-understanding enslaved our mind frames believing since I was born and came from the trenches I have to depend on the United $nakes government for GR, Section 8, SSI, EBT, etc. to live and function as a citizen.

Wake up, that's wrong G. See this issue we focus on the topic at hand, which is "Independence." That's 1 of our 5 principles in the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Correct and Exact. So we don't need no government assistance in building up a school, we just need brothers who are dedicated to show up to cipher, getting these lessons Father Allah gave U$ Gods. It's all about chain of command with the system. If custody sees brothers coming to cipher they should have no problem getting our cell doors unlocked for school. Word is Bond.

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[New Afrika] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 69]
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Assbackwards Politrix: New Afrikan Order?

There's this old reggae song that says "They always use one of us to bring us down." That totally fits the assbackward movement that is going on in the New Afrikan community at California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr).

It's completely redundant and pitiful for these watered-down O.G.s and paperback shotcallers to be instructing their own kind to be attacking each other in 2019, following the politrix [of powerful L.O.s outside the nation]. New Afrikans have enough trouble expressing their Uhuru (freedom) from being oppressed by this racist system.

We have come too far to start going assbackward to start helping the pigs with ridiculous rules and regulations out of fear. The same exact shit Afrikans have been fighting against for the past 40 years is now taking effect to control the entire New Afrikan Community.

The New Afrikan man/woman has the right to go wherever they please. This ain't no sugar-coated dictatorship. Unity and Peace starts with all of us respecting each others' manhood and personal decisions. This is no reality check that the Latino and the Caucasian is the enemy. No! The oppressor is the enemy and anybody working with him.

It's funny because most of these smacks got life telling young Afrikans they gotta do this they gotta do that. How bout you got 90 days to take off on the pigs since you trying to politik, coward?

All it is is a way for us to start going backwards all over again. I smell bacon! These cats are scary and they'll do anything for some zoom zoom and wham whams (AKA cellphones and dope). Going nowhere hella fast whatever faction you represent; Blood, Crip, etc, etc. All of them started as positive, constructive organizations to better the New Afrikan community.

We're New Afrikans because We were stolen from Afrika and brought to a new land. We broke from slavery with a new perspective to be free and to manifest our own destiny. G.P. wanna tell SNY what to do or how to live but ain't none of them politikin against the pigs. Ain't none of them taking off on them either. They're still using one of us to bring us down in Kalifornia.

Hotep! Umoja
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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]
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NC Prisoners File 15,000 Grievances; Organizers Face Retaliation

In 2018, North Carolina prisoners answered South Carolina prisoners' call out coordinating amongst each other in multiple states alongside outside supporters, agitators and Anarchist Black Cross by organizing their POW movement (prisoners of the world).

Three prisoners [names removed] staged a peaceful protest with the support of over 300 prisoners and outside public supporters. They even hung signs on the prison fence made out of sheets. Meanwhile nearly 100 public protesters piled out of dozens of cars, vans, and SUVs, armed with bullhorns, signs, and drums in solidarity with the prisoners while perimeter guards trained loaded firearms at the prisoners and the supporters. Then prisoners submitted a list of demands:

  1. Establish parole for lifers who demonstrate rehabilitation
  2. End life sentences
  3. End all 85% mandatory minimum sentences
  4. End long-term solitary confinement
  5. Abolish article 1, section 17 of the constitution of NC which permits slavery to those convicted of crime through the 13th amendment of the U.$. constitution
  6. End $10 administrative fees for the guilty disposition of a write up or rule violation
  7. Better food with real beef
  8. Better health and dental care
  9. Allow prisoners to purchase JP4 players/notebooks
  10. End security threat group policies that restrict contact visits with their wives, children and fiances
  11. Fair wages for our slave labor
  12. End exaggerated censorship policies
  13. More meaningful rehabilitation and educational opportunities

The following day, on 21 August 2018, prisoners at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Raleigh went on strike, refusing to eat our work, followed by prisoners at Craggy Correctional Center. Then reports began flooding mainstream media that thousands of prisoners across the U.$. were joining the international prison strike in solidarity with the POW movement.

The organizers were then each transferred to separate super maximum security prisons and charged for inciting a riot with the exception of [name removed] who was sent to Butner, NC to a prison that is so violent and popular for 5-on-1 fascist beatings that prisoners call it "baby Guantanamo Bay." After 8 months of cruel and harsh treatment with reports of fascists putting glass in food and feces in another, prisoners [two names removed], with the help of public support, organized their national grievance day calling on all NC prisoners and any similarly situated prisoner in other states who are affected by this oppressive rule to join them and file grievances against their director in their state to end the oppressive rule that prohibits anyone in the public from sending a prisoner money unless that person is an approved visitor on the prisoner's visit list.

As a result of this new restrictive discriminating policy, many prisoners whose families are poor and of color, who don't have identification or transportation to visit a particular prisoner to show em support, now cannot send the prisoner any money. This has resulted in a scarcity of funds to go around resulting in an uptick of gang violence and rule violations. For example, prisoners who can't hustle for money due to no artistic skills or other lacking reasons and whose family can't send them any money for hygiene, food, stamps or phone time now are forced to have their families send money gram, western union, square cash app or greendots to pay inside drug dealers for K-2, CBD, marijuana, suboxone, heroine, or other drugs that they can easily sell in order just to survive.

So in response to this intrusive rule, on 21 May 2019 both men and women prisoners stood together in solidarity and sent in more than 15,000 administrative grievances against the NC prison director. Then on 1 June 2019 North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) reported receiving more than 100,000 phone calls and emails from angry families and supporters internationally backing up email servers and phone lines nearly causing their site to crash, urging the director to repeal his 5 February 2019 Jpay rule. One outside organizer spoke with the public affairs office and reported that "there was an ongoing investigation and the director will be looking into it."

Outside activists and supporters are reporting good feedback from the NCDPS, and folks behind bars. Also an art gallery in New York contacted organizers from itsgoingdown.org and is asking for NC-specific art around this extension of our POW movement and wants to get behind NC prisoners to support them.

With the 21 May 2019 national grievance day, in addition, prisoners are beginning to coordinate amongst each other in multiple states, and working with outside supporters; word of the coordinated action has now spread all over the country.

Supreme Court shut down Prisoner Organizing

For nearly 40 years, prisoners in North Carolina have avoided the political arena surrounding prisoner rights ever since the United $tates Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Jones v. NC prisoners labor union, inc. 433 u.s. 119, 129 97 S.ct 2532, 53 L.Ed 26, 629 (1977), preventing NC prisoners from unionizing, meetings and solicitation of membership.

The union formed in late 1974 with a stated goal of "the promotion of charitable labor union purposes" and the formation of a "prisoners labor union at every prison and jail in NC to seek through collective bargaining... to improve... working... conditions..." It also proposed to work towards the alteration or elimination of practices and policies of the Department of Corrections (DOC) which it did not approve of and to serve as a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of prisoner grievances. By early 1975 the union had attracted some 2000 prisoner members in 40 different prison units throughout NC.

The state of NC, unhappy with these developments, set out to prevent prisoners from forming or operating a union. While the state tolerated individual "membership," or belief, in the union, it sought to prohibit prisoner solicitation of other prisoners, meetings between members or the union, and bulk mailings concerning the union from outside sources. So on 26 March 1975 the DOC (now North Carolina Department of Public Safety - NCDPS) prohibited that activity.

Since prisoners were on notice of the proscription prior to its enactment, they filed suit in the U.$. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of NC. That was on 18 March 1975, approximately a week before the date upon which the regulation was to take effect. The union claimed that its rights of its members to engage in protected free speech association and assembly activities were being infringed by the no-solicitation and no-meeting rules.

The district court felt that since the defendants countenanced the bare foot of union membership, it had to allow the solicitation activity, whether by prisoners or by outsiders and held "we are unable to perceive why it is necessary or essential to security and order in the prisons to forbid solicitation of membership in a union permitted by the authorities. This is not a case of a riot. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that the union has been utilized to disrupt the operation of the penal institution." The warden appealed to the fourth circuit who also agreed with prisoners. The warden appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who reversed the 4th circuit's decision.

The court deferred to the warden's conclusions that the presence and objectives of a prisoners' labor union would be detrimental to order and security in the prisons. The court held those conclusions had not been conclusively shown to be wrong in this view, and that when weighed against the First Amendment rights asserted, these institutional reasons are sufficiently weighty to prevail. In sum, the court's decision established that the institutional interest of the prison outweighs a prisoner's constitutional rights. The rulings in Jones, in hindsight, defined prisoners' status as "prisoners" and eliminated prisoners' rights to free association and essentially paved the future for correctional czars to place iron curtains between the First Amendment and prisoners with impunity.

Punished for writing a letter to organizers

Update: On 12 June 2019 and still claiming actual innocence as to why ey's in prison. Prisoner [name removed] was in eir cell writing organizers when a sergeant and two prison guards entered eir cell for a search. During the search one of the prison guards picked up the letter and began reading it. The prisoner was handcuffed and charged for inciting a riot for simply stating in his letter to outside supporters and organizers "thank you for helping put NC prisoners on the map and for giving prisoners a voice on May 21, 2019 and June 1, 2019 as we continue to bring our collective struggles to the battlefront. I look forward to the 2020 strike calling on all us prisoners to stand in solidarity to demand an end to slavery in prisons and to restore our freedoms."

At this time, this prisoner was scheduled to receive eir first visit in 11 years from eir sister who has no criminal record and who had been unapproved for no reason and was finally approved. Unfortunately, eir sister drove over 8 hours to visit and took vacation time plus a portion of eir husband's disability money to cover the expenses. What's worse is that eir son was just accepted at university which puts an even worse financial strain on the family. Meanwhile this prisoner remains in administrative segregation and faces another 8 month long-term lock up. While in lock up ey accused prison guards of putting feces in eir tea and poisoning eir food. Ey reported having diarrhea, vomiting blood, inability to hold down food, weakness, shakes, hallucinations, hot-cold sweats, stomach pain and dry heaving. Ey has since recovered after two weeks on a self-induced diet of milk.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are some important lessons in this report from North Carolina. First, the restriction on organizing and even just basic free speech of prisoners is pervasive. It takes the format of transferring or charging with crimes prisoners who initiate protests or even complaints against conditions behind bars. But it is also codified by the courts in rulings like the prohibition of union organizing. These laws and actions amount to telling prisoners that they must accept any and all oppressive conditions, that the so-called "rights" of U.$. citizenship do not apply to them.

We can take inspiration from this oppression. While the threats and retaliation will scare some out of taking action, revolutionaries will understand that our actions must be effective if we have frightened the prison and legal system into enacting rules and policies to stop our organizing work. And so we must continue! These organizers in North Carolina are continuing in the face of serious repression, and providing an example of determination and perseverance for others.

Whether your work is focused on educating others, or directly taking on repressive actions by the administration, it can all contribute to building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. This United Front challenges the criminal injustice system through the unity of the oppressed behind bars. We need more stories like this one about the battles being waged. And for those looking to get involved, write to us for resources, educational materials, and support for your struggles.

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