My current status and situation, and what led to my current housing status and prior events, correlates to both articles. I arrived at Pleasant Valley State Prison (level III) in December 2009 from High Desert State Prison (level IV), on a bi-annual favorable transfer. In January 2010 I attended my initial classification committee (ICC) and received my CDCR 128-G chrono. It indicated I am a member of the "Ansar El Muhammad" (AEM) disruptive group.
When I arrived in December 2009, while being processed through receiving/release (RR) I was called an extremist-terrorist by CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) staff and my religious properties were confiscated. At the time I didn't give this event any value, except that I filed a CDCR 602 (complaint). But since then multiple incidence of retaliation, harassment, false claims and the confiscation and destruction of my religious property has occurred. Furthermore housing assignment staff and building floor staff have been putting active gang members in my cell, and as result I've been assaulted, received multiple threats of violence from prisoners and staff, labeled a snitch, received a rule violation report (CDCR 115) for refusing to cell up with any more gang members, and currently I'm in Administrative Segregation (pending SNY) transfer.
CDCR staff have falsified chronos in my central file (C-file) dating back to 2006, and I didn't discover this until 2010. It is my strong belief that prison officials have manipulated and orchestrated prisoners since 2006 to cause me physical harm, as I was stabbed and assaulted in 2006.
In 2009 I settled out of court for a §1983 civil complaint I filed in 2007 for the stabbing of 2006. But I strongly believe that somewhere in my central file prison officials have kept a record that I received an out-of-court settlement against prison officials (CDCR), which is what is and has motivated prison officials (Green Wall) to use these tactics of falsifying records and manipulating prisoners to continue to cause me physical harm.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This false jacketing of prisoners and setting up divisions and fights as retaliation against those who exercise their legal rights to protest abuses in prison is a common practice. This is a strong reason for our campaign to build a United Front for Peace in prisons. A key principle of this United Front is unity among those facing the same struggle.
The campaign initiated July 1st by prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) against the torturous conditions of long-term isolation has received broad support going on for weeks now. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [sic] (CDCR) has admitted that 6600 prisoners refused food trays last weekend across 13 of their 33 prisons.(1) Meanwhile, numerous organizations have organized demonstrations and mobilized support across the United $tates and Kanada leading up to and following the start of the hunger strike. Over five thousand people have signed an online petition pledging their support. Volunteers with MIM(Prisons) have interacted with thousands of people on the streets inside and outside of California with info on the hunger strike, gathering dozens of signed letters and a handful of donations.
According to CDCR 1,600 prisoners remain on food strike one week after the start.(2) The media is reporting a sharp drop in the number of prisoners refusing food in a tone that implies the strike is losing steam. But this is hardly the case. Many prisoners we've heard from outside of Pelican Bay only pledged to strike one or two days in solidarity. One reason for this is because it is hard for them to know when the strike ends or what is happening despite the efforts of outside supporters to send updates. Even in Pelican Bay many of those protesting specified the number of days they would fast beforehand. Only a minority of participants have pledged an indefinite strike until the demands are met. The rest of us work in solidarity with them until the end.
Despite all the noise being made, word from those organizing to mediate negotiations is that the CDCR is refusing to negotiate with strikers or mediators.(3) We know the CDCR has been talking to hunger strike organizers, but it seems that no resolution is in the works as of July 8.
We've seen the ripples of this campaign in our own work as we connect with many new people in California and reconnect with people who we have been cut off from by the state. We've also seen record traffic on our website with the hunger strike campaign page and the article featuring the prisoners' demands bringing in a lot of hits. This increase in readership is a direct result of the organizing of prisoners in California. However we must admit that a good chunk of the traffic is coming from state officials trying to gather intelligence from our reporting.
Donations we've collected so far are less than a tenth of the printing and postage expenses for outreach, mailing protest letters and sending communications to prisoners in California. As always, we can use donations of money and labor to keep up with this important work.
The hunger strike comes almost a year and a half after a formal complaint was filed with the governor of California regarding the torture and violation of Constitutional rights that prisoners face in Pelican Bay. After being ignored by official channels, they turned to outside supporters who came together and organized a press campaign and negotiation support. There was enough lead time that MIM(Prisons) was able to send campaign info to all of our California subscribers prior to the strike. We also hit the streets to gather signed letters of support and explain to people the importance of this struggle leading up to the strike.
A rally in San Francisco in June against the drug war featured the Pelican Bay prisoners' demands prominently. A comrade representing MIM(Prisons) spoke on the upcoming hunger strike, stressing that Pelican Bay was developed as a tool to repress political organizing in the California prison system and that those being targeted with indefinite SHU terms are largely leaders and influential people among the imprisoned oppressed nations. A former California prisoner also spoke about the torturous conditions in Pelican Bay, urging people to support the hunger strike.
During the march, supporters of the "Revolutionary Communist Party - USA" (rcp=u$a) were chanting, "Once we have the revolution, there'll be no mass incarceration!" Which revolution are they talking about? Even on a simple issue like opposing torture in prisons, rcp=u$a's idealist/chauvinist colors showed through. As we point out in every issue of Under Lock & Key, all Amerikans should be viewed as criminals who need to reform under the dictatorship of the proletariat. When the revolution finally hits U.$. soil there will likely be an increase in incarceration of U.$. citizens, as the majority of the world experiences freedom they have not seen for centuries. The difference is that proletarian prisons focus on reform and reintegration into society not torture and isolation as the imperialist system does.
The Campaign Continues
Once the strike began, MIM(Prisons) stepped up efforts to reach the public about the sacrifices and struggles of our comrades in prison. While comrades were able to reach visitors coming to CDCR prisons with fliers and letters of support, repression was reported from a few public spaces inside and outside California. In one case police forced comrades to leave for accepting donations without registering with the state, in others merely handing out fliers on public property got shut down. One police officer claimed that activists could not set up a table on a public sidewalk to solicit support for the strike, contradicting California laws and illegally shutting down our free speech. There are contradictions in a country that locks 100,000 of its citizens in isolation cells and prevents people from distributing leaflets in public space to support their struggle against torture. Their repression only strengthens resistance, and this campaign is a prime example of that. It is ludicrous to consider the label "free country" for a country that does not even provide equal access to political dialogue to all people.
In addition to talking to people on the street, comrades made efforts to reach people through independent media and art. MIM(Prisons) hosted a video clip on its website from the documentary Unlock the Box explaining the history of control units and how they were developed to repress those whose politics were in opposition to the state. Comrades also did outreach at hip hop shows and talked to a revolutionary Chicano group called BRWN BFLO who pledged active support to spreading the word about the hunger strike. Allies in the United $tates and Kanada hosted screenings of Unlock the Box as part of the campaign. Other organizations did interviews and programs on various radio shows.
Those doing outreach reported many interactions with people who had been in Pelican Bay State Prison, in some cases multiple people in the span of a couple hours. All strongly agreed with our criticisms of the conditions there. However, some people concluded that there was nothing that could be done, and that oppressed nations will always be treated this way.
There is a common attitude among current prisoners as well that struggling is useless. The SHU was invented to reinforce that idea. The best way to change those people's minds is by showing them the possibilities. We do that by fighting smartly, as these comrades in Pelican Bay have done resulting in people all over the world knowing about their fight. Serious, diligent organizing work is needed in our struggles for liberation, and basic rights such as the right of association, communication with the outside world and access to educational materials and programs. There are no quick fixes.
Fuck the hatred It's time for changes To free this world from the oppressor It's time for us to make some better arrangements In order to make our lives better Revolution's the lesson Not oppression as a profession Anti-imperialist Being groomed for a new session Educate each other As we're one within this struggle United in this Front for Peace Because Revolution is on the bubble
I am doing an indeterminate SHU program for being validated in the last place I was at. And the reason they validated me is because I was doing a lot of Aztec art as well as Aztec tats, which they didn't agree with because they considered it to be associated with the “big boys.” So they locked me down. But what they fail to realize is it's all part of our culture. Yet to them it's based on association, so they see a direct link to prison politics. So here I sit on the shelf locked down in this crazy and very sad place where it's all about no movement whatsoever.
I was brutally beaten by seven correctional officers (COs) in December and was transported to the hospital as a result. They almost killed me. My hands were restrained the whole time while they maced and punched me in the face continually. I was kicked in the stomach and elsewhere.
This is the second time that I have been sent to the hospital for officer brutality. The first time was when CO Goins cut my hand wide open and I had to get stitches. I have been forced to endure constant harassment, degradation, malicious behavior, discrimination, etc. All of this has happened to me as a result of "retaliation" for the many grievances that I've submitted for CO Goins stealing my jewelry out of my property bag. When I started grieving this and other matters, other officers joined him in retaliation against me.
There's a lot more to this matter but this letter is just to reveal some of what I've gone through and am experiencing. This beating took place six months ago, but the campaign of harassment has been going on longer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Unfortunately brutality is not an uncommon response by prison guards against prisoners who try to fight injustice and illegal guard abuse through the grievance system. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated a campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. There are currently petitions for California, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, and we need help to create petitions for other states. Write to us to get involved.
He Recibido su propuesta para promover la paz entre las masas inferiores. Está en circulación.
Mi crítica es que, al menos aquí en Tejas, hay muchos chavalones que no tienen conocimiento alguno de cómo manejar relaciones sociales. El nivel de comprensión de estos jóvenes es muy bajo. El apoyo y respaldo [de ULK] ha amparado nuestra lucha, pero aún el problema persiste en que el promedio de los presos en mi bloque tienen 20 años de edad. Debido a recortes presupuestarios, nuestras oportunidades de educación son cada día menos. Todas nuestras solicitudes para programación educativa en el bloque han sido negadas. Y aún dicen que no calificamos para ningún tipo de programa educativo, debido a nuestro estatus civil y contradicciones en la política administrativa.
Estos chavalones no pueden ni leer ni escribir ni hacer simple matemáticas. ¿Cómo es que van a entender las obras de Marx, de Mao y del Che? Estoy pidiendo su apoyo para realizar un curso básico que le ayudaría a nuestros jóvenes desarrollar su conciencia social.
Yo soporto y respaldo completamente sus propuestas de paz. Pero, el plan de Tookie es demasiado básico. ¿Cuáles la esencia de este plan? Estos mensos necesitan aprender a leer y a escribir y a desarrollar su capacidad para resolver problemas antes de entrar a la arena política.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: ¿Qué clase de sistema opresivo le quita la oportunidad de educación a aquellos en los rangos menores? El sistema está creado con el propósito de perpetuar el estado inferior de las clases marginales en la nación. Esto demuestra la importancia de MIM(Prisiones) en la lucha por programas educativos para nuestro pueblo. Necesitamos donaciones, mecanógrafos y otros recursos para seguir ampliando este importante labor.
Como se destaca en esta edición de ULK hemos ampliado nuestros cursos de estudios preliminares y actualmente estamos desarrollando un glosario revolucionario, ambos con el fin de educar a los ignorantes. Sin embargo, todavía necesitamos más clases de recuperación. Estamos investigando esta cuestión y le agradeceríamos sus opiniones para corroborar este tipo de trabajo. Estamos de acuerdo que uno solo no se puede enseñar a leer y a escribir a través del correo. Es por eso que nuestra vanguardia debe luchar para realizar este tipo de programación educativa desde adentro. La educación es un requisito importante para la creación de una Frente Único hacia la paz.
On this fourth day of July, Amerikans all across the country are celebrating their freedoms with beer and bangs. Yet in the same country there are more people locked in tiny cages for 22 to 24 hours per day, with little or no access to the outside world, than in any other country in the world. In Pelican Bay State Prison in California many are in such "control units" because of who they associate with, and they were put there based on secret evidence. For any student of the U.$. Constitution or the Bill of Rights it is obvious that the promised freedoms of Amerikkka are not granted to its internal semi-colonies.
Today we are sending dozens of signed letters from residents of California who share our concerns for prisoners forced to live in these torturous conditions and who support those in Pelican Bay engaging in a peaceful hunger strike.
Warden Greg Lewis Pelican Bay State Prison P.O. Box 7000 Crescent City, CA 95531-7000
5 July 2011
Dear Warden Lewis,
Included with this letter are dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican bay State Prison. We are sending these letters to you in support of the prisoners on hunger strike. The letters are asking you to do all that is within your power to do to change the conditions in PBSP to meet the strikers' demands.
We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.
MIM Distributors P.O. Box 40799 San Francisco, CA 94140
To view a copy of the general letter that people signed, click here.
Please stop any abuses that are going on inside the prison complex. - Oakland, CA
Stop locking up prisoners who need other kinds of help (drug, etc.) P.S. Wasting my tax dollars 4 real! - Berkeley, CA
P.S. U.S. signed the Convention Against Torture. It has been ratified. It is the law of the land. Please do not violate our laws! Thanks. - Richmond, CA
Please attend to this!!! NOW! - Oakland, CA
I just don't understand how people in this day & time are still so devilish, when they got power & it's a very fucked up feeling because we are human beings & you all treat us like shit! -Oakland, CA
Dehumanizing prisoners is sickness; you are helping commit crimes against humanity by abuses and deprivation of basic rights and needs of prisoners. -Eureka, CA
In the letters to Warden Lewis, the California cities of Hercules, San Francisco, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Stockton, Napa, Chula Vista and Vacaville were also represented and supporters have forwarded letters they wrote from as far as BC, Canada.
Here's an update on what's going on at High Desert State Prison: A second Correctional Officer was busted for bringing in drugs and phones. Boby Joe Corby was arrested for accepting $10,000 for that. And we just had an Afrikan national overdose on heroin 3 days ago.
The pigs here were feeding us double the amount of food to prevent us from going on the hunger strike - it only lasted a couple of days (July 1 - 3).
I have been doing a lot of organizing to unite the nations captive in these U.$. warehouses. A lot of my homies tell me I am crazy because I want to revolutionize my mentality, as well as my fellow brothaz, from criminal to revolutionary, to stand up and fight for true freedom.
We in facility "A" Ad-Seg Unit A1 will be following suit with a hunger strike July 8 2011, one week after the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) strike begins here at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Your support would be highly appreciated.
I am requesting to be provided the PBSP SHU strike campaign update with flier. Any information that you could assist in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated.
Letters or phone calls made in support of the abolishment of these foul, inhumane and unsanitary living conditions would be highly appreciated.
Thank you. Could you please forward most recent Under Lock & Key.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We have received news from other A units in Pelican Bay that they are going to be participating in the hunger strike as well. Isolation is so severe in Pelican Bay that many had not heard of the strike until receiving our notice, but word is spreading through many avenues and supporters on the outside and support is strong and growing.
Myself and others have founded the National Liberation Revolution of Oppressed Persons (NLROP), to educate and liberate the oppressed and disenfranchised. Furthermore, to end the suffrage and disparagement of formerly incarcerated persons who are never truly free or relieved of their debt to society, constantly being subjected to various civil and humanitarian rights violations - "The New Jim Crow." We fully support the United Front for Peace in Prisons, and the principles thereof as proclaimed by MIM(Prisons). The NLROP also fully supports the Prisoners' Bill of Rights as proclaimed by Incarcerated Citizens Coalition, the internal chapter of the Human Rights Coalition.
I have discussed the principles of UF for Peace with our members, and as Chairman I speak on behalf of the NLROP and do confirm our signing and full support of the United Front for Peace, and the principles thereof.
A committee of seven members from different affiliations is currently being constructed to oversee day-to-day operations in and outside of prison. Our first newsletter magazine is scheduled for production and release October 2011.
The NLROP is currently comprised primarily of incarcerated and affiliated persons within Tennessee prison colonies. However we do not limit ourselves or pose any restrictions on expansion, and welcome with open arms those who are committed to the cause and agree with our guidelines and/or principles internally, and that which we agree to as a whole, externally.
The reason UF principles are important to us as a movement is that they transcend those principles and guidelines that we already follow and believe in, and expound on such in a very clear and concise manner.