I long ago came to the realization that oppression exists everywhere, regardless of our current position or circumstance. Within concentration camps such as this "La Lucha Continua" - The Struggle Continues! When we submit and allow our oppressors to dictate our actions and decisions then we lose major points within our struggle. Our oppressors know that we're more of a threat alive than dead and so that's why our oppressors strive to push us into that fatal state of defeatism. And so, for those comrades who've walked a suicidal line, for those who're contemplating suicide, I say "Live! Our youth need you! The community needs you! And brothers within this crooked system such as myself need you!"
Every time I receive a newsletter from MIM(Prisons) I read about comrades in Wisconsin, California, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois! And so, I want to give our readers a peep behind these steel doors and concrete walls in the state of Tennessee. In a failed attempt to mentally and physically break me into submission because of my rebellious nature against oppressive authority, the warden at West Tenn State Prison (WTSP) had me transferred here to DeBerry Special Needs (DSNF) and placed in Unit 7 which is supposed to be a mental health program, but to all TDOC employees and correctional officers here, Unit 7 is knows as the "Gladiator's Academy!"
Everyday, prisoners who are mentally stable or unstable are verbally, physically and sexually assaulted, abused, mistreated and tortured. In Unit 7, L, D and F pods, TDOC correctional officers will give a prisoner a razor blade or 2 sheets and tell him to make the world a better place! From 2003 to 2010 several prisoners died suicidal and violent deaths at the hands of these TDOC employees who've sworn to uphold the law (their law)! Certain prisoners won't get fed for days and the results of this type of torture is fatal for the prisoners.
If a prisoner files a grievance in regards to this matter then he's immediately placed on rec, shower, mail and food restriction. And it's not uncommon to witness a gang of TDOC employees beating a prisoner or hitting him with the taser gun or electric shield because he refused his prescribed psychotic medicine. The warden here, Jennie L. Jobe, and the deputy warden Debra Johnson are fully aware of what's going on in Unit 7 here, yet they've made no move to put an end to this madness.
Here at DSNF in the state of Tennessee and everywhere else in the world, oppressors/downpressors are at their best because they're united! If only all of us would do the same...unite!! I don't consume any type of psychotic (or non) medicine yet I'm still here. I've requested to be discharged several times but all of my requests have been ignored. And if I become too rebellious then in the name of mental health my oppressors will inject me with their poison medicine. I know that one small dose could alter or completely destroy my mind.
The pigs at CCI Tehachapi SHU are monitoring revolutionary correspondence and materials coming through the mail; not censoring but delaying them by as much as three to four weeks. This specific instance was a personal experience, but it can be concluded that if one individual's revolutionary activity is being monitored, then all revolutionaries may be monitored.
Due to a medical condition, I must be taken out of my cell and to medical for a weekly injection which I use as an opportunity to butter up loose-mouth pigs and gather intelligence, catching a general idea of the internal condition of the pigs' camp. Never at any time have I mentioned or alluded to my revolutionary standpoint or activities in any way.
While going to medical this past week a pig made a very revealing statement inadvertently, immediately tipping me off that my mail was being monitored, specifically what I'd mailed to MIM(Prisons) the previous week. The pig's statement could not have been reaching because it contained the word "revolution" and related content of a letter to MIM(Prisons).
Let this be a warning to revolutionary activists and comrades across the U.$. injustice system, and California concentration camps in particular, that even if there is no censorship at your facility, if you participate in any serious revolutionary activities, then it's sure to be monitored.
Practical steps may be taken to combat this issue, such as working with and notifying MIM(Prisons) of censorship issues while going through the grievance and court system, if able to do so. Keeping eyes and ears open to detect if you are being monitored is not difficult to do.
If it feels like you are being watched, then you are. Remember, paranoia can be the better part of prudence in the control unit.
by a North Carolina prisoner November 2010 permalink
I am a prisoner at Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg, North Carolina. I am writing to you because of the fact that the legal mail that you sent out to several prisoners here [containing a letter MIM(Prisons) sent to the Director of Prisons regarding ongoing censorship at Scotland CI] was opened by the mailroom staff and treated as regular mail.
Even though the mail had "Legal Mail" stamped on it, the mailroom staff still opened it. By DOC policy I have to witness them opening my legal mail, and I have to sign for legal mail. By them opening this legal mail, they violated DOC policy and broke Federal law.
This requires some sort of action. I am filing a grievance on this matter and when I receive a response I will send it to you.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This letter is just one example of the long history of mailroom staff at Scotland CI unjustly censoring, banning, and trashing mail from MIM(Prisons), with the collusion of Assistant Superintendent Karen Stanback. While this comrade is filing grievances and organizing other prisoners around the issue, another comrade in North Carolina is working on bringing a case against the NC DOC to hopefully reformat the whole censorship and grievance system. If you want to get involved, or support this case, get in touch. Both methods are correct and necessary if we want to combat censorship.
Last month in October a brother was written a misconduct report for having Soledad Brother and From Niggas to Gods. They reasoned that George Jackson is a "known Panther" as if that is a valid reason to write him up. They said From Niggas to Gods was banned in Green Bay Correctional Institution. I guess 'cause they don't want us to go from calling ourselves niggas, behaving like niggas, to calling ourselves children of God or behaving as such. They want us to still be their niggas and we best not be caught trying to learn or read any books of substance. But we can read an "urban" novel that promotes all type of Black-on-Black murder and violence. He was given 210 days in the hole.
On November 2 2010 my comrade's bunk was searched and the racist pig Van Laden took several books from him, i.e. Soledad Brother, Noam Chomsky, Niami Akbar, Cornel West's Reader and a couple more. They also took some 4struggle newspapers because they mentioned the Black Panther Party. For several days they didn't give him the conduct report. They usually come within 2 days. He was called out to talk to the pig Van Laden and Van Laden told him that he will see him in court, meaning at the conduct report hearing.
On November 8 2010 he was given the conduct report. It is a witch hunt. The pig Van Laden says Soledad Brother mentions the Black Panthers, that 4struggle mentions the Panthers' 10 point platform, and phrases like "clenched fist," "power to the people," "red black and green." This pig said the material and books are "black supremacy" literature! I'm still trying to understand what is Black supremacy and what does that mean. The use of the word supremacy means one group is saying that they are superior to another. Nothing in any of the material points to that because if it did he would have written "page so-and-so of this book says they are superior and whites are inferior." But he can't because that is not what any of the material advocates. He claims to be a Security Threat Expert and states in the report that the Panthers are on the list as a security threat group. Thus any material that mentions it is banned and anyone caught with it is in violation for having this reading material. Same as slavery.
But dig this, comrade has receipts for every book they say is a threat to their security. They let them in, then say you can't have them. They have a list of banned books and none of his books are on the banned book list. Not even Soledad Brother, because nothing in it is a security threat. George ain't advocating nothing of so-called violence or Black supremacy. Like I said before this is just a witch hunt to break us up. The two brothers I mentioned are in the dorm with me, we are in a social environment, not fighting each other, and teaching these younger brothers. That is the security threat to them. They don't want us to learn about our history and gain a sense of self. They want us ignorant running around here being good n's. Reading is forbidden unless it's fiction. He was charged with Group Resistance and Petition and awaits to go on his hearing.
On November 5 2010 I was called up to the CO desk and asked how another prisoner got my book. She said if I didn't give it to him she would write him up for theft. I said the regular CO Zellner that works here said he can read it as long as I get it back by the end of the night. She said "well I'm giving you a ticket for unauthorized transfer of property." She called another brother to the desk and gave him his book back without writing a ticket for him. The title of my book was Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party. That is why she wrote me up but gave the other brother his book back.
I got the conduct report on November 8 2010 and Group Resistance and Petition was on it too. This charge is one that they use to lay someone down in the hole or send to Wisconsin's supermax in Boscobel where I have been for over 4 years already. The report says I gave my book to someone else to read which is a violation 9.e. unauthorized transfer of property. Even if a CO gave you permission it is still unauthorized transfer of property under their 1984 newspeak semantics. It also says that the Black Panthers are an "unsanctioned" group, and the book is confiscated. But I worked in the library here before and I've seen this same book come in on inter-library loan on several occasions; Soledad Brother and From Niggas to Gods too.
The fix is in. My comrade and I still await our hearings. We talked to white shirt and the security director about this fix. This way they have knowledge of it and can be added to the lawsuit. Because none of this is a threat. I had this book for almost six and a half years! We're trying to get the word out about this. They have a list of banned books but none of these books we are written up for are banned.
Also I wrote a book about change and let a young brother read it. His bunk was searched and a new pig brought it up to the Sergeant and he called me up to the desk and asked if it was my book. I said yes. He asked, "who gave you permission to write this?" I said, "my mind! What you mean who gave me permission?" He said he was calling up to security to see if I could do that. About an hour went by and he called me to the desk and gave me the book back. But the thing is "who gave you permission?" As if I need someone's permission to write down my own thoughts. This same pig has a confederate flag tattoo on his left arm.
Saying we can't read or gain a sense of self by learning our history or that we need "their" permission slip to write our thoughts is the same as the slavery that our ancestors went through. But most can't see it. They just see these racist pigs as having a job. This is not a job, this is a form of oppression. Capitalism is a form of oppression. We are a means for them to be employed through our oppression. And I try to get these young and older brothers to see this. Slavery was capitalism. Prisons are capitalism. Whites were the ones that ran the plantations. Whites are the ones that run the prisons. It's all the same just a new way.
I have recently received your MIM Theory 13 magazine and your letter and the ULK newsletter. I am a Tamms C-Max incarcerated individual who has been living and experiencing the Tamms life of daily struggles and misfortunes for the past year of what seems like an estimated five to ten years before review and actual consideration for an eligible transfer. Although fixed annual and quarterly reviews are held for us here, nobody goes anywhere, especially for what most of us are down here for which is allegedly being gang leaders and influencers over a Security Threat Group(STG). Really we're just conspired against by those in general population who can't stand to live among a different mindset which is hated on by those who can't figure one out.
So the birds chirped and the masses spoke to get rid of yet another innocent man just trying to get back in count and enjoy a few contact visits. I was brought here in January and have kept to myself since then. I'm antisocial and goal oriented, silent to the land but outspoken and observant for the blind. So with that said, I've been silent to the land concept and scheme which revolves around my 90 thousand dollar a year head and stay here in the worst of the worst prisons. I've observed enough and must now speak out for those who are blind and out of sync with what's really transpiring behind the walls of Tamms.
On my first day here from being transferred I wasn't fed on the ride here so I spoke up and was told my next meal was going to be a 3-11 shift, but then I stood light headed till four that afternoon hungry from breakfast which was my last meal before waking up at 7 to be told to pack up what property never got sent here to my possessions. I got discriminated and retaliated against for something I wasn't even a part of. I only retrieved my personal electronics, clothing and food but all my legal mail and personal mail never showed up... "mistake", i think not.
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Oakland to mourn Oscar Grant and express outrage at the light sentence given to his murderer, Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle shot Grant in the back while he lay face down on the ground. For this execution-style murder, he got 2 years in prison with credit for time served on an involuntary manslaughter charge. The judge gave the jury incorrect instructions for how to apply the gun enhancement, and decided to just drop it, thus lowering Mehserle's maximum possible sentence to 4 instead of 14 years, rather than retry the case. According to those inside the courthouse at the time of sentencing, the judge openly blamed Grant and his friends for the murder.
We didn't expect justice from the system, but the whole struggle did bring advances in revolutionary organizing in the region. The November 5 demonstration looked like others from the movement for justice for Oscar Grant, but missing were the non-profits trying to run the show and divide the protesters. It was refreshing to hear consistent messages that encouraged people to get organized, stressed the need for nation-based organizing (while uniting Black and Brown), refused to work with the government and denounced the outside agitator line.
The city-sanctioned demo ended with a live performance of "Operation Verdict (Fuck Dat)" by local artists Unity, Sinista Z, & Ras Ceylon. Here's the last verse:
Revolutionaries speak with clarity and overstand an injury to one affects us all like Oscar Grant. Cuz I am we and we are he So you will see us in the streets Yellin "Fuck da Police!" No justice, no peace these non-profits is weak tryin' to water down the movement and cut off free speech gettin paid by the beast to calm the rage of our seeds that are sick of the oppression that they daily gotta see and live with. You idiot ain't no outside agitators 'cept these murderous pigs with the gun, badge and a taser so see ya later if you tryin to claim that leadership you ain't nothing but a snitch and a politician's bitch Fuck dat! Police out here knockin brothers down Fuck dat! Trying to move the cats to somewhere out of town Fuck dat! You know the state wanna water this shit down Fuck dat!
...I would have responded much sooner to give notice to the fellow comrades at MIM(Prisons) that I received ULK 16. However, at the time I was forced to remain in solitary confinement for organizing an intellectual study group, which included members affiliated with organizations such as Bloods, 5 Percenters and Latin Kings. This oppressive institution of confinement and confusion charged me with "group demonstration." I am currently housed in Administrative Segregation for that charge and serving a 365 day sanction. But in any event, I received the ULK 16 and wish to be added to your mailing list.
The basis for unity among lumpen is class. The lumpen are the disenfranchised who derive from the economically depressed areas - the Barrios and ghetto projects - and are for the most part oppressed nations people. The lumpen are known to the oppressor nation as the 'criminal element' which is code word for persyn of color. The lumpen usually come from a lumpen organization that the oppressors call a 'gang,' or survive as some type of parasitic hustler. Although we do make choices, often times in imperialist society our choice to engage in crime is a logical one due to the national oppression we endure.
As communists it is our job to fully understand the laws of social development, and the lumpen are an essential part of these laws today, especially here in the imperialist stronghold. In Marx’s theory of ‘social relations of production’ lies the question of ownership, that is what ‘class’ owns the tools and what ‘class’ uses the tools. In this imperialist society the lumpen neither own nor use the tools. We are excluded from production and live under the heel of capitalist relations of production. The propertied class has monopolized the productive forces. The lumpen play a crucial role in Amerika in the creation of new productive forces that will come into contradiction with the decaying social relations of production. The current economic crisis is helping to streamline this process.
The lumpen is a class, regardless of what nationality one comes from; we all have similar relations to the tools of society and the distribution of society’s wealth. It is a group that experiences the same oppression and is fighting the same imperialist monster.
It is understood that as national oppression exists it is thus only natural for there to also be national liberation struggles to combat the unevenness in this society, and for revolutionary national struggles to work to bring safety to the people who live in a constant police state in areas of the oppressed nations. This is the correct stance in the face of any oppression. But we can't get caught playing the same dog-eat-dog game that the imperialists play on us and our fellow lumpen. We need an Aztlán Liberation Front that is in unity with the lumpen.
The lumpen in Amerika must begin to realize that we are a class and lumpen fighting lumpen does nothing to liberate any oppressed nation. On the contrary, lumpen-on-lumpen crime will only strengthen the imperialist vice grip on our necks! This is why unity amongst the lumpen is the first step to liberation of all oppressed nations in the United $tates. We don't have to agree on everything, but we must have unity and work together with the full realization that we are up against not just the same monster but one that happens to run the world militarily.
It is essential for the lumpen to come together in a united front in order for liberation to ever be a reality on these shores. Without the critical element of the united front, liberation struggles of any kind are simply idle talk and will not produce. The function of the united front for the oppressed nations and ULK should be 1) to practice peoples' power within the prison system and thoroughly politicize the U.$. prison system, and 2) to practice peoples' power within the Barrios and ghetto projects out in society and thoroughly politicize these oppressed nation areas. These functions should be done with the idea of preparing these grounds for future insurrection.
Lumpen Unite with the International Proletariat!
The basis for unity between the lumpen and the international proletariat is again class-based. The lumpen are connected to the international proletariat by their common oppression by the imperialists and their popular resistance to this oppression. What we must keep in mind is the imperialists think and act on a global scale so we must do the same. Just as many have used the saying "don't show up at a gun battle with a knife," we don't want to show up with a "not in my backyard" mentality when the imperialists show up with an international colonization mentality. We must think of the big picture and on a grand scale of things. Of course we must first work in a particular area, as MIM(Prisons) works primarily with the prison population, to start from one area and eventually expand to include larger or multiple fronts of struggle. All our efforts should be with the intention of chipping away at imperialism.
Regardless of one's oppressed nation, it really is the same struggle against the same opponent. Currently this is seen unabashed by the imperialists' mega-prison system housing millions of Brown, Black, Red and Yellow people. It is seen in people of color hunted down in urban communities by the police and shot dead as if there were safaris in the inner cities. It is seen in the unequal treatment that has been festering in Amerika for over 500 years, the lynching of the body and the lynching of the mind. Therefore, it is not just understandable or justified but damn right necessary for these oppressed peoples to struggle for national liberation. Until New Democracy is achieved, as Mao spoke of, and we finally achieve equality for all in all aspects, the oppressed nations should continue to struggle for self-determination.
As communists we should always maintain focus on our goal of international communism rather than degenerating to simply Brown capitalism or Black capitalism, etc. This is why our unity must be with the international proletariat in mind as this will be our moral compass. Some may say or think "If I can liberate my people in this or that country why would I care about countries in another part of the world?" Well, as I've said before, we are all up against the same monster that cannot be defeated by one group of people, and even if one could somehow liberate one group of people, the imperialists worldwide would smash this isolated nation. We saw it happen in Grenada.
When Marx and Engels put together the theory of communism, it was with internationalism in mind as they saw even back then that the bourgeoisie would not sit back and allow the people to begin liberating themselves. We must always work in unity with the international proletariat in order to rise from lumpen to true revolutionary. Only then will we liberate our people.
La Lucha Continua!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade did a good job of stressing the importance of internationalism in the united front, and in particular pointing out that the international proletariat must be our moral compass. The question we need to ask though is to what degree the imperialist country lumpen's interests are united with the international proletariat, and therefore how they fit into the united front as a class. What this comrade wrote about the need to support everyone's national liberation is true for any oppressed nation in the world, but we face particular challenges due to our material conditions.
MIM(Prisons) sees the lumpen in the United $tates as a bourgeoisified lumpen, in that the whole country benefits from imperialism in the form of basic needs like food, clean water, electricity, etc. as well as in the form of cheap consumer goods. The latter allows the lumpen to own small amounts of capital, creating a spectrum of wealth where a minority in the lumpen organizations are at the level of national bourgeoisie due to their relations to production, distribution and ownership. Even for the relatively poor majority of the lumpen class, a combination of state welfare and the drug game have allowed for access to the material benefits of imperialism the proletariat do not have.
We are watching closely the efforts of the white nation to take away welfare and local drug markets from the lumpen, as well as jobs from the undocumented. Even if these trends are successful, we see compradors among the lumpen and a popular desire for and belief in the Amerikan dream. While the lumpen are a class forced into criminality, there is a class consciousness and culture that derives from this criminality that is individualistic and parasitic. As this comrade alludes to, there is a transformation that must occur to replace the lumpen mentality (in particular its capitalistic elements) with a proletarian one. No national liberation struggles can succeed in this country without tackling this great challenge.
In addition, a growing lumpen class due to imperialist crisis will also touch the white nation. As we wrote about in ULK 14, a declassed white population is the makings of fascist foot soldiers. History has shown this to be the case for oppressor nations. So we agree with the author's alternating use of lumpen and oppressed nations in most cases, but disagree when s/he says the lumpen have the same interests regardless of nationality. Only if the oppressor nation lets go of its white privilege would this be true. This is an even stronger reason why a thesis that the lumpen in general in the U.$. are a progressive force does not hold true.
Sergeant S. S. Crandell, Yega, S. Motto, S. Byers, and Fish victimized me on 15 October. They stole my television and lied, saying it had wires sticking out.
Guard Yega handcuffed me and took me to the program office over a 602 [grievance] for indigent envelopes I never received. When I returned to the cell, all my legal materials were in a large pile on the floor, covered with shampoo, coffee, hair styling gel and baby powder. My television was gone. Officer S. Motto threatened to kick my ass if I 602ed it.
Can you please help? My aunt has cancer, and my family is sick living on a fixed income.
1 November 2010, The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and in addition to the tens of thousands of fans in the stadium, an estimated 12 million people watched the game on TV (not counting the millions watching in sports bars, restaurants and other public venues). As in other winning cities in years past, the city of the winning team erupted into “joyful mayhem,” as the San Francisco Chronicle calls it, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in drunken celebration that included property destruction, traffic disruption, and violence.
In classic bourgeois press form, pretending neutrality, the SF Chronicle’s headline article today was titled “SF Giants Series Celebration is Joyful Mayhem” and stated: “On Market Street, the celebration quickly turned wild and unruly, with an estimated 7,000 revelers in the streets, some jumping on cars, rocking Muni buses, tossing beer bottles, lighting fireworks and blocking traffic at Seventh Street.” A much smaller article, hidden on the Chronicle website, also mentioned “In the Mission, there have been reports of fires, broken windows and an alleged stabbing.” Compare this with the same newspaper’s January 8, 2009 report on the Oscar Grant protests. The article was titled “Protests Over BART Shooting Turn Violent” and gave a negative review of the protest which “mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets.”
We see that the same street violence is condoned when it’s in the name of professional sports. Police wandering the streets after the World Series were friendly, often clapping and cheering, and shutting down streets to help out traffic while enabling the celebration. During the Oscar Grant protest the cops showed up in riot gear and attacked the crowd.
While we’re no fans of imperialist elections, the World Series victory happened the night before election day and begs the comparison: people are more passionate about baseball than they are about the political future of their country/state/city. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with the decadence of Amerikan imperialism. Amerikans don’t need to worry about politics – the government is working in their interests to secure resources at the expense of Third World peoples to maintain wealth at home.
Sports passion includes a remarkable number of fans cheering “we did it!” and “we won!” as if they had anything to do with the team that won the game. In reality the SF Giants, like all professional sports teams, are made up of players from across the country, who are paid a ridiculous amount of money to wear a jersey for this team. Their allegiance to the city lasts only as long as the paycheck continues. In fact people point to statistics about the Giants' last World Series victory 56 years ago when they were based in New York as if that team had something more in common with the SF Giants than the font they use for their logo.
MIM(Prisons) would like to take all the sports passion in Amerika and turn it against imperialist violence or world hunger. We’d even call it progress if people get off the couch and play sports rather than get drunk watching millionaires play. Perhaps the improved circulation would help people think a bit more rationally about politics and the relative importance of professional sports.