Even with my release date approaching, the spread of COVID-19 in prisons means that there remains the very real possibility that not only myself, but many others may not make it out of here alive.
The outside public may raise an eyebrow at this statement, and to an extent I understand why. Their reaction might be, ‘Do the crime, do the time – along with everything that comes with it.’ Granted, prison isn’t intended to be a steel and concrete paradise. From the moment you wake up to the time you close your eyes you can expect to be perpetually stressed, depressed, anxious, isolated – a whole range of negative emotions. But does that mean that we should be subject to a form of roulette that could be tantamount to a death sentence?
Most casual readers of articles concerning incarceration in the U.S. are aware that there is an overcrowding issue in their jails and prisons. The facility where I am housed is no exception. FCI Petersburg Medium has a population of 1,500 spread among three buildings containing twelve housing units of 120 men each. We are housed two, sometimes four to a cell about the size of a handicapped parking space, with a toilet and a sink thrown in. Remaining socially distant is out of the question. Despite the feeling of sitting on a powder keg, prison strangely felt like a sort of protective bubble from the effects of the pandemic raging unchecked on the outside. I never would have perceived it in that manner before.
In mid-September 2020, the first cases were reported in the building furthest from ours. There was a heightened tension in knowing it had finally arrived, yet it was still this nebulous thing that felt like a problem of the outside world. The outer defenses had been breached, but some of us are still safe. We wonder at the fate of the others – who has it? How many? Did they recover or not? Official answers are few, and it seems deliberately so. They do not want to create a panic, so rumors abound.
We immediately enter into a lockdown period, meaning complete cell confinement save for a ten-minute shower three times a week. This experience is psychologically taxing, however it is a reasonable precaution. I am struck by the fact that during this period, none of us are tested for symptoms despite a memo proclaiming daily testing. This is a disaster in the making, but with protocol typically disregarded by staff in day-to-day operations, it does not come as much of a surprise. After fifteen days, we are allowed a degree of freedom once more, to collect our meals, to venture outside … with a sense of foreboding. I found myself wondering, ‘is it too soon?’
Eight days later, on the 6th of October, more cases were reported, this time in the building next to ours. Still a separate place, but nearer now. The feeling it evokes could be compared to hiding from someone with no possibility of escape, and being able to hear each footfall resonating ever louder as they close in… it is unnerving. The protective bubble has turned into its opposite, and we are trapped. We are immediately placed back on lockdown. I didn’t have a chance to let anyone know why I won’t be calling anymore, so I hope they will infer the reason why and not be overly alarmed. Thoughts such as ‘Am I still being thought of? Do they care?’ become amplified, as anyone who has experienced being alone with your thoughts in isolation knows it can be challenging at times. I begin mentally preparing for the days ahead. I look forward to any word from the outside.
Twenty days in, and suddenly, voices emanate from the ventilation system: In the unit above ours, we are informed that someone is showing symptoms. It is here. They have moved the affected person to a separate cell for monitoring, but it is still in the same unit. We all continue to breathe in and share the same recycled air. Is there nothing else that can be done? There is less talking now. My cellmate and I cover up the vent as a precaution, but it does not block out the sound of muffled coughing that has now begun in earnest somewhere above us. I don’t know what will come next, but I’ve prepared for all eventualities.
As Revolutionaries and Communists, we must organize and agitate our fellow captives to demand that our health, safety and human rights be respected by the prison and medical staff. A tall order, knowing that our oppressors are here merely to collect a paycheck and the additional hazard pay that has undoubtedly accompanied these lockdown measures, but a just fight during these trying times.
I have enclosed a bulletin that has been enforced on us here at Federal Correctional Institution - Manchester. I don’t think it’s legal but have no way to find out either way. So I’m reaching out for any help in this matter. This is not Federal Bureau of Prisons policy, only here and by this warden.
The bulletin reads in part:
“Effective February 8, 2021, the following procedures will be implemented for ordering any book. There will be a book”catalog“, placed in Education. The catalog will be the only vendor authorized… any books ordered through any other vendor or purchased by family members will not be accepted into the facility.”
MIM(Prisons) responds: The Human Rights Defense Center (Prison Legal News) already fought them on this and won 2 years ago. They will be contacting the counsel representing the prison to put a stop to this again.
The oppressor continues to break their own laws to prevent the oppressed from accessing information. The other issue we are having at this same facility is a restriction to only 5 one-sided pieces of paper per envelope. This prevents comrades there from receiving any of our resource guides or study assignments. If you have any information to provide on either of these issues please get in touch so we can hold them accountable.
Internationalism - A policy of cooperation among nations, esp. in politics and economy. (Webster’s New Basic Dictionary)
Internationalism is the basis of building a United Front with all concerning the same political & ideological line that is relevant to the People; social, political, military, and economic needs to produce equality, independence and land. Internationalism is mainly pushed to build a strategy within theory & practice against the oppressor and to stretch its resources of economics, military and allies out to the point of weakness to either attack or defend in order to control and secure its power.
If everyone is on the same accord politically & ideologically within a true socialist/communist aspect, while really practicing the theories and strategies given through history and philosophy within their conditions NOW to further design solutions in socialist/communist theory & practice to accommodate betterment of our existence through the stages to lead to the weakness of capitalism/imperialism nationally (locally & regionally) & internationally (other countries).
When we tend to practice nationalism in an aspect of Mao [editor: revolutionary nationalism] it shows a sense of commonality to others that are nationally oppressed and helps them understand the true scientific socialist way/dialectical materialist way. This observation is a common point of the same struggles against capitalism/imperialism oppressors where the oppressed is just of different nationalities but concerns the same fight of human rights being violated socially, politically, militarily & economically. That’s why internationalism is a bridge to a strenuous fight towards ending capitalism/imperialism and also helping with resources needed to continue our survival now, during, and after the time is here, seized and power is taken to rebuild land, necessities and socialist government structure until a communist way of life can be obtained.
Once the capitalist/imperialist oppressors and its allies have been stretched over the world, thinning out it’s security & structure, then would be a time to take action militarily due to no proper defense system. It is our job to ensure that the People everywhere are at a conscious state at that time through revolutionary stages to properly prepare & plan it’s strategic tactics within a People’s War.
Recently, rising Chicago rapper King Von has been shot and killed in an Atlanta nightclub at the age of 26.(1) Born as David Daquan Bennett, King Von was associated with the lumpen organization “Black Disciples” and was close childhood friends with other notable Chicago figures such as rapper Chief Keef and Lil Durk. While there were rumors that he was the grandson of David Barksdale, the founder of the Black Disciplies, there have been no notable proofs confirming this fact.(2) However, he was given the nickname “Grandson” amongst older B.D. members while he was in prison due to his demeanor reminding the older prisoners of David Barksdale.
The shooting happened when King Von and Quando Rondo’s affiliates started to confront each other in the nightclub. Sooner or later, a fistfight occurred which resulted in guns being drawn. There was also two off-duty police officers that were present in the shooting.(3) Alongside King Von, two other men were killed with many others injured.(4)
Due to the news and social media’s coverage of this shooting, both camps – the Georgia L.O.s affiliated with Quando Rondo and the Chicago L.O.s affiliated with King Von – have publicly threatened each other on social media. Quando Rondo – who survived the altercation – has had his concerts canceled while social media gossip has poured fuel into the fire.
What we aim to do with this article isn’t to take sides on which party was in the right or wrong. While our articles like to point out that lumpen organizations have revolutionary potential, we also emphasize the dual nature of the lumpen class and the reactionary side of these organizations. “Gang” conflicts have done immense jobs in sowing divisions among the oppressed. With Hip-Hop music and “Gangster rap” becoming a nationwide phenomena, the music and culture of the oppressed nation lumpen have added fuel to the fire. We encourage our readers to go beyond the diss tracks while also not falling for the trap of individual survival and apathy – ultimately, they will return the oppressed back into chaos.
While serving as fuel of lumpen violence, these expressions also show the righteous resentment to society harbored by the most lowest sections of the oppressed – especially the youth. The fact that the amerikan patriarchs are so adamant that mere music infecting white children into delinquency and drugs shows an interesting trend in youth of all nations in the U.$. expressing their alienation towards capitalism.
Drill Culture in Inner Cities
Hip-Hop as a genre started in the east coast cities in the late 70s and early 80s. It wasn’t just simply a genre of music like the amerikan music critics would like to believe, but a mass expression of oppressed nation lumpen youth who dominated the Hip-Hop Scene. From the clothes, the hairstyles, graffiti, and dance all the way to the rapping has become a form of expressing the fear, anger, and righteousness that the Black/Puerto Rican youth who lived in the police state-like conditions in the inner cities.
What was called “Reality Rap” reflected the early pre-scientific consciousness of these lumpen youth. The bleak portrayal of amerikan cities flipped the idea of the amerikan dream and the bourgeois ubermensch making profit and “getting theirs” on its head. After all, if the “founding fathers” and the “captains of industry” could become the revered mega-rich through criminal acts such as slavery and thuggish exploitation, why can’t the corner boy dealing dope one day become a CEO of a mega corporation one day? Would it be so much more wrong to sell drugs to get a head start compared to selling people?
This also sheds light on how the hip-hop industry is a big way for the lowest section of the masses to become a national bourgeoisie or even a comprador bourgeoisie in the oppressed nations. Former street rappers turned CEO of record labels often end up being the one exploiting the oppressed nation masses in the ghettos and barrios themselves. In some cases, these musicians will end up exploiting the international proletariat in the Third World.(5)
While hip-hop in general has been becoming a bureaucratized multi-million dollar industry for the amerikans, the “drill music” scene has arisen from urban areas – notably Chicago. Lumpen Organizations in the country’s murder capital have often used music videos and rap lyrics to diss their rivals and the dead. The lingo that was used only in certain blocks and neighborhoods of Southside Chicago can now be heard from all major cities in the United $tates from Atlanta to Los Angeles. There is something to be said that social media and the internet has made the culture of Oppressed Nation diaspora – in this case Lumpen “drill” culture – more interconnected. New Afrikan L.O.s in Chicago now have a strong hold in the deep south in cities such as Atlanta and L.O.s who previously have never made contact with each other might start to form beefs.
NGO Tactics VS Building Independent Political Power
Peace treaties, alliances, and betrayals between lumpen organizations have been going on forever. Organizations from the Nation of Islam to the countless Non-Governmental Organizations have attempted to build peace in the ghettos and the barrios. However, building treaties can only go so far unless the root of the problem is attacked and made aware by the masses. The conflict of the L.O.s are bigger than individuals and sets. They are a bloody symptom of amerikan capitalism. Even if every Blood and Crip individual goes through psychological rehabilitation and shake hands with each other, more “gangs” will rise with the next generation. Oftentimes, the “rehabilitated” individuals end up back to the lumpen life within a year due to the political-economical instabilities in these areas; and many “peace treaties” are more so ceasefires to have the dope business in a more stable control.
Despite decades of these peace treaties, we are still in the very early stages of being able to unite the lumpen masses. Leaders within prisons working to push the United Front for Peace in Prisons can speak to this from experience. The story of the state isolating the conscious leader and the masses returning to oppressed-on-oppressed violence is all to common. Others have tried to revolutionize their whole L.O., and failed. While the leadership is there, we have not yet created the conditions that make this a viable path for the masses as a whole. That is the challenge we face as we continue to build revolutionary leadership that has a plan to end capitalism, and find ways to offer incentives for the masses to abandon the current system and risk their lives for a new tomorrow.
Notes: 1. Alex Zidel, November 06, 2020, “King Von Reportedly In Critical Condition After Shoot Out With Quando Rondo’s Crew,” Hot New Hip Hop. 2.Olivia Olphin, December 01, 2020, “Was King Von David Barksdale’s grandson? Rumour explained,” The Focus. 3. Emmanuel Camarillo, November 6, 2020, “Chicago Rapper King Von Killed in Atlanta Shooting,” Chicago Sun Times. 4. Rebekah Riess, November 7, 2020, “Rapper King Von shot and killed outside Atlanta nightclub,” CNN. 5. Sirin Kale, May 17, 2016, “How Much It Sucks to Be a Sri Lankan Worker Making Beyoncé’s New Clothing Line,” Vice.
This is a galvanizing poetic call 2 action, The Soledad Comrade, George Jackson, Once declared: “capitalism is the enemy,” Meaning: you and me, The common man and woman of poverty, Are more family than enemy, Because we are poor, Fighting a common enemy of imperial elite capitalism, Not 2 allude 2 the day 2 day, Systemic Amerikkkan racism, There’s truly no time, For us 2 be killing and fighting each other, When in arms together, We are sista and brotha, Therefore we must come together, In a clenched fist alliance, A peaceful defiant display, Of unity and excellence, Unite or die, Is a true rallying cry, Wherefore, we must join forces, And overthrow the corrupt, racist, imperialist, Capitalist Amerikkkan government, Ergo, the clenched fist alliance, A resolute display of resistance, And defiance, There’s no time 2 pray, March and cry, It’s either unite or die, Truly, unity is the most dominant, In the face of all inequality, We are living in a truly, Provocative span of time, So what is it going 2 be, Unite or die, And commit 2 memory: “Capitalism is the enemy.” We must unite or die.
I am a citizen of Colombia. In 1993, I was sentenced to a 45 year prison term, here in Texas. I was to serve 22 1/2 years before I would be eligible for parole. While serving my time, I was summoned to an immigration court, where an ICE judge informed me that upon release from the custody of TDCJ, I was to be transferred to an immigration facility where I would await deportation.
On 25 March 2016 parole denied my release for these reasons:
The record indicated that the offender has repeatedly committed criminal episodes that indicate a predisposition to commit criminal acts upon release.
The record indicates the instant offense has elements of brutality, violence, assaultive behavior, or conscious selection of victims vulnerability indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others such that offender poses a continuing threat to public safety. (3 year set off after serving 22 1/2 years)
On 14 May 2019 set-off again, for the same reasons. (3 year set-off). I committed a crime when I was 21 years old. I’ve been in prison for the past 27 years, where I’ve never had a single altercation. In 2007, while taking my GED a new law was passed, prohibiting prisoners with immigration detainers from participating in school activities; I was kicked out of school. (parole uses me not having a GED against me each time I come up for parole). I’ve taken Bridges to Life, Voyager, Peer to Peer, Job Skills, Over Comers, Tutoring, and at the moment I’m finishing Cognitive Intervention. My last infraction (case) was in 2014, six years ago.
The parole board here in Texas has its own agenda as far as who will be released and who won’t. When a prisoner comes up for parole, the prisoner can’t speak on his own behalf. No type of evaluation is conducted to see if the prisoner is ready for society. It’s all done through paper work. The board members review each folder for no more than 3 minutes and come to a decision. How can a proper review be done in 3 minutes? At the moment I’m on my second three year set-off. I am being set off for the same reasons over and over again. How can I be a continuing threat to public safety, if I’m not even going to be in the United States?
How can the parole board state that I’m a violent person? In 27 years of being in a violent environment such as prison, I’ve not even had a single fight. I have no type of violent infractions (cases) towards prisoners nor officers. That itself should show a pattern of change. There’s a lot of prisoners (who will be deported) being held in Texas prisons, under numerous set-offs, because we have no voice out there and the state can abuse its power and claim we’re not ready for society or we’re being rehabilitated, but what the public doesn’t know is that there is no rehabilitation here, there’s more drugs and corruption in this place than out there. The only reason we’re being kept is for the federal funds these prisons receive.
I humbly request that our comrades at MIM please help spread the word about the injustice that the parole board and its associates commit against prisoners who will be deported and have no voice to help them out there. I thank you very much for your attention to my letter. God bless each of you.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Concentration camps for migrants without U.$. citizenship are the one sector of the Amerikan prison system where private prisons have been widely used. This puts another level of financial incentive into the criminal injustice system as this comrade points out. In a system built on profit, and not people, there will always be injustice.
Meanwhile, the lack of rehabilitation is not unique to migrant camps. At this stage, we build or Serve the People Re-Lease on Life program to help our comrades transitioning out of prisons. But for many, like this comrade, they just aren’t getting out because of financial incentives, and the need to control oppressed people to prevent social change.
In every issue of ULK we indicate our alternative to this system (see p.2). We propose a system where the real criminals are imprisoned; the people who have stolen thousands of lives by locking up hard working people, or bombing their homelands. And a system where everyone has access to all the resources they need for rehabilitation. Even those outside of prison need to transform themselves for a new world based on a common humynity. We are all shaped by the current system. Check out Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett for a glimpse at what socialist prisons can be like. ($5 stamps/cash or work trade from MIM Distributors)
In early June, a book arrived here at this facility that was intended as a birthday gift from my family. The day the book arrived I asked the property officers if I had received any books and they responded “No,” despite the fact that my sister confirmed that the book had arrived. When I informed the staff that I had gotten my family to track the package the staff acted even more standoffish, dismissive and suspicious. I suspected this type of behavior from the staff was due to the very controversial information contained in the book, but still, knowing my rights and also the purpose of the First Amendment I would not tolerate it without taking necessary legal action.
Almost ten days after the book had arrived the only thing I was given was a ‘Notification of Publication Disapproval Form’ that was signed by the Warden. But I was told the book wasn’t here, correct?
The Warden, property office and mailroom clerk all stated falsely that the book contained “material that promoted violence, terrorism or criminal activity that violated state & federal guidelines.” I know this is not even remotely the case, being that I actually read the book in 2014 prior to my incarceration. Knowing this I was highly offended & saw the property officer’s actions and reasons for violating my First Amendment rights as not only an attempt to impede on my freedom of speech but also as an insult to my intelligence. The definition of ‘promote’ is ‘to advocate’ so I forced the staff to prove, legally, that this book, entitled The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders ‘promoted’ or ‘advocated’ ‘violent acts’ or ‘terrorism.’ Close examination of this book will prove anything but that.
The book actually promotes the opposite – principles almost identical with those of the United Struggle from Within and MIM(Prisons). It promotes Peace, Unity & Solidarity between tribes, gangs and lumpen organizations. And it also depicts the violent, cold-blooded & terrorist acts committed by the FBI, the CIA & local police forces in Amerikkka. We call this domestic, or, homegrown terrorism, used to reinforce the fascist policies of the capitalist social order.
My first action to get my book was to file informal complaints & grievances for violation of my First Amendment rights as well as Operating Procedures code 803.2 on the rights of prisoners receiving publications. Operating Procedure 803.2 clearly states that if the Warden or property officer found something ‘questionable’ about any publication or literature sent to an inmate then the inmate is to be notified and consulted before the officer in charge of passing out property takes further action. Then the inmate is given three options:
Have the book sent home.
Have the book sent to the Publication Review Committee.
Have the book destroyed.
The primary issue is that I wasn’t allowed the liberty to explain to the staff what the book was really about & that I never gave them the consent to hold or send the book to the Publication Review Committee (or ‘PRC’), as they claimed they had done. So, in fact, code 803.2 was violated by the property officer and the warden who signed the Publication Disapproval form which lacked my signature of consent.
This is a perfect example of fascist style censorship and violation of First Amendment rights within the Virginia Department of Corrections (D.O.C.). As Operating Procedures Code 803.2 states, “Offenders at D.O.C. institutions should be allowed to subscribe to, order, and receive publications direct from any vendor – so long as the publication does not pose a threat to the security, discipline and good order of the facility and it is not determined detrimental to offender rehabilitation.” As I mentioned earlier, Potash’s book would reveal to the reader that it actually promotes peace, unity & solidarity between tribes, gangs and lumpen organizations (very similar to the Maoist-promoted United Front for Peace in Prisons policies).
I also talked to an institutional lawyer who was very helpful & who also agreed with me 100% concerning the book. He looked up the title of the book while I was on the phone with him and he quickly observed, in his own words, that this was a very “historical” and “political” work. Policy 803.2 clearly states “educational and historic publications are not detrimental to offender rehabilitation” and that when it comes to disapproval of literature, “this criterion shall not be used to exclude publications that describe such [violent] acts in the context of a story or moral teaching unless the description of such acts is the primary purpose of the publication. No publication generally recognized as having literary value should be excluded under this criterion.”
Point of fact, the so called ‘violent acts’ or ‘terrorist acts’ that the property officer tried to use to keep me from getting this book are actually committed by none other than Law Enforcement and also covertly ‘promoted’ by the intelligence community who controls the mainstream media and who work in collusion with the local police who, as we observe on the daily news, continue to beat, shoot and murder innocent men, women and children, which can only be described as very ‘violent’ and ‘terrorist’ acts.
After constant confrontation & inquiry the staff finally gave me my book on 3 September 2020, but still tried to use psychological manipulation to make it seem as if I were the one who had done something wrong. They said I had ‘raised hell’ and caused a lot of trouble about the book when all they had to do was give the book to me to avoid all this.
On John Potash’s The FBI War on Tupac Shakur & Black Leaders
The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders was written by an activist and investigative journalist John Potash. He describes and documents historic events in comparison with more current events and describes, using documents & eye-witness accounts, how the U.S. intelligence & FBI target, assassinate, harass and imprison all individuals & organizations (Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American) that ‘promoted’ & practiced ideas that were contrary to mainstream capitalist & fascist indoctrination that challenged the social order and the establishment’s chokehold on 90% of the world’s resources.
J. Edgar Hoover (former director of the FBI) once stated that the FBI must “stop the rise of a black messiah or anyone who could radicalize the civil rights movement”, “by any means necessary.” Meaning harassment, imprisonment and trumped up charges, destruction of public image or assassination. There are countless leaders; Black, white, Latino & Native American who met this messianic description and all of them fell under the cruel fate of COINTELPRO – including Mutulu Shakur, Afeni Shakur, Tupac Amarau Shakur and many of his relatives.
Potash describes Mutulu, Tupac & Afeni’s efforts to create peace between the Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Black P. Stone Rangers, Latin Kings & Young Lords and also to convert them into political organizations that would serve the communities that they exist in. This program is a direct influence of Huey P. Newton & Bobby Seale’s strategy that was used to create the Brown Berets, Chinese Red Guard and the Young Lords.
Potash also details the predatory and very cold blooded nature of the ‘Far Right’ neo-conservative, fascist & capitalist powers in the U.$. and how the intelligence community utilizes informants and undercover agents to harass, spy on, falsely accuse, set up, imprison & assassinate leftist revolutionaries or any musician, actor or politician as well as business person associated with revolutionary organizations or movements, that promote peace & unity rather than violence.
After reading & examining closely, for the second time after seven years, I feel an obligation to quote and cite John Potash’s work as well as all the revolutionaries he worked with before and after this book’s publication.
In Chapter 21 (pp. 101-104) Potash describes what is called ‘Penal Coercion’, which is a way to break down certain prisoners psychologically, physically & spiritually.
“They found that the U.S. Department of Corrections had a ‘Special Services Division’ to carry out operations on prisoners. Researchers working from divergent groups, such as the Bureau of Prisons and Amnesty International, described several particular prison tactics as akin to both torture and brainwashing and referred to them as ‘penal coercion’.”
“A 1983 Amnesty International report on torture presented CIA-designed techniques outlined in Biderman’s Chart of Coercion – 8 general penal coercion methods prison officials used to psychologically tear down individuals in order to manipulate them. These methods are isolation, monopolization of perception, induced debility, threats, occasional indulgences, demonstrating omnipotence, degradation, and enforcing trivial demands.”
One of the most tragic & ironic cases of this is that of Afeni Shakur’s son – Tupac Amaru Shakur. Tupac was targeted the same way his mother was – five assassination attempts, constant harassment from so-called law enforcement and incarceration under false charges. He was practically sentenced to ‘Death Row’ for his revolutionary work, forcing him, after FBI ‘penal coercion’ into a corner after which he finally gave in and went against his better judgement and signed with Suge Knight on Death Row Records, a label whose symbol & trademark was a man sitting in an electric chair. This label promoted drugs, sex, violence and ignorance and no higher social causes whatsoever – going against all Tupac & his family of activists stood for. Potash writes, “Tupac’s jail conditions also helped influence Tupac to finally sign with Death Row Records.”
“Tupac finally stopped rejecting Time Warner’s request to sign with its subsidiary, Death Row. Tupac had spent 10 months in jail. The appeals court refused Tupac’s 1.3 million bail offer for those many months that he waited for his appeal trial, but within days of Tupac’s September 1995 signing with Death Row Records, the Court of Appeals accepted virtually that same bail offer and released Tupac.”
“…Years of accumulated evidence supports that the FBI orchestrated the murder of rap icon Tupac Shakur, and that they used similar tactics to murder other leftist black leaders. Thousands of pages of U.S. intelligence documents reveal how the FBI and other intelligence agencies have waged a war on black leaders. The U.S. Intelligence targeting of Tupac and his Shakur family provides a window into intelligence targeting of leftist black leaders from 1965-2005. U.S. Intelligence (Defense, CIA, FBI and police intelligence) historically opposed leftists – those working to make changes in society to gain more equitable sharing of wealth and resources. The CIA’s leadership, the directors of intelligence agencies until 2001, were comprised of the wealthiest American families. Their founders also saved thousands of Nazis [after the end of WW2] and put them to work on intelligence projects.”
So be watchful of all correctional officers, deputies, staff and prisoners because the capitalists of the ‘criminal culture’ that is fueled by drugs, sex and violence has captivated the minds of the 85% (majority of oppressed masses). And they have no real loyalty to any higher social causes and they will sacrifice anyone, and anybody, to keep whatever they gained from capitalist society and for whatever material or position they are trying to acquire. No matter how low they are on the pyramid, as Paulo Freire writes, “the oppressed class subconsciously emulates, imitates and identifies with their oppressors.”
All conscious, political & revolutionary prisoners, within and without, in prison & at home; the intelligence community has perfected the art of utilizing the informant and the undercover agent for decades and has been proven to be their most valuable asset, used to assassinate (as in the case of the late Nipsey Hustle PBUH) and bring down countless revolutionaries. Be wary of all people (inmates and staff) who become super defensive and ultra-sensitive when you are critical about the current social order and the establishment. Most likely they are either active agents, informants or have friends & family members who work for Law Enforcement, the CIA, FBI, or U.$. Military – three institutions that are interlocked in the same criminal network.
All of our great leaders and revolutionaries; Black, white, Latino, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern or Native American, have all pointed to the same facts and for this, like Tupac Amaru Shakur, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Clarence 13X, Marcus Garvey, George Jackson and Geronimo Pratt, they were harassed, imprisoned unjustly, or assassinated for it. Peace be upon them, for they are the true prophets and messengers of this age, and it is only men & women like them who will lead us into the new age of Revolutionary Transcendence.
In Under Lock & Key No. 71 we printed an ad for a free copy of the book Punching the Air. We did so based on an agreement we had with a Director at Harper Collins that we would provide access to our readership to recruit readers for the book, and they would cover the costs for them to receive the book while promoting our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program on their Instagram.
Ebony LaDelle, Director of Teen Marketing for Harper Collins Children’s Books originally reached out to us about the promotion to get free copies of the book to people in prison, especially youth. We agreed to the arrangement above, and went ahead and created and printed an ad in ULK to find out who would want the book. We sent the final version of ULK with the ad we printed at our cost, and asked Ms. LaDelle about the ad they were going to post for us on Instagram. It was at this point that she informed us that there was no ad because we had missed a deadline a month ago. This was despite the fact that we had sent her the art and url for the ad almost 2 months prior. And this was the first time we had heard of a deadline or that we had missed it.
One reason we were open to this project is that the book was authored by Yusef Salaam, who was part of the Central Park 5 as a youth, and who had a story we thought would be relevant to our audience. So when Ms. LaDelle made it clear they would not be promoting our Serve the People program we reached out to Mr. Salaam, but received no response. At this point we cut off relations with Harper Collins and this project.
We say this was an opportunist error, because we accepted the arrangement with Harper Collins hoping it would benefit us without being vigilant about our politics being represented. We can also say that our state of feeling a bit desperate for support played a role in our willingness to jump on the promotion. Ultimately our politics were completely left out of the promotion, and we stopped working with Harper Collins in response. But we had already run the ad.
We are self-critical for this because we ended up using our comrades’ time and our money to print an ad, for free, for a large corporation, while getting nothing in return to benefit the independent institutions of the oppressed.
Certainly this is a small aberration on our history of managing 6-digits worth of funds over the years, which has gone directly to serving the people through independent institutions of the oppressed. Nonetheless, we should draw lessons from this error to maintain our track record.
While donations of stamps from behind bars, and the occasional donation from the outside is not nearly enough to keep our projects running, this is where we should be looking to develop more support.
And it is not just financial support that we need. More than that, we need people to do the work. We also depend on the masses and comrades out there for ideological support. It is your ideological questions and feedback that allow us to keep applying the democratic development of theory and practice as we go through this precarious time. Certainly there will be many more learning experiences like this to come as we go, and we can’t do it without all of you providing criticism, support and feedback.
Harper Collins did publish a small post listing some of the other groups that they worked with on this promotion. What we do differently is build independent institutions of the oppressed to serve the people. We do not run charities. We are trying to change the world. And our programs serve to help others join us in that project. That is why we are explicit that it is a Free Political Books to Prisoners Program. And we wonder if that is why Harper Collins was not willing to promote it.
It is our grounding in the masses that led Harper Collins to reach out to us in the first place. And to make up for our mistake in trusting that they would promote mass work, we will be sending everyone who requested the book an introductory book on the philosophy of dialectical materialism. And like everything else we do, this will be done mostly with money out of our own pockets. If you are reading this and want to see more revolutionary literature making it into the hands of prisoners of the United $tates, please do get in touch, or just send us a donation (see our Get Involved page for how).
As of today [20 November 2020] this is day 22 of this hunger strike that [2 members of the local USW cell and one other comrade] have been on at CSATF D-Facility. Reason that we’re on this hunger strike is for CDCR, the state of California and the Governor of California Gavin Newsom’s failure to protect us prisoners from any harm.
Our strike has been reported on by ABC30 through a group called “Oakland Abolition and Solidarity.” Our 3 demands are as follows:
Universal, voluntarily applied testing and treatment for COVID;
Return of safe program and basic necessities, namely: Law library, telephones, showers, dorm cleaning supplies, hot meals and canteen;
Create mechanisms of accountability by which independent family and supporters on the outside have visibility on CDCR’s plans and actions during and after an outbreak like this.
This facility is locked down and all means of congregation have been canceled completely. The program has been such since early April 2020, but has become more dire since July. Meanwhile, like other facilities in California and across the country, staff regularly interact with prisoners with no mask on and are the source of the virus for those of us locked in these cages.
The overall population has been in a state of panic, fear and complacency. But leaders have been on hunger strike since 29 October 2020; abstaining from all hard/solid foods. This includes meals offered by the Department of Corruption and the institutional canteen.
The brothers here are still putting in work and continuing their studies.
Sisters and Brothers, i raise my clenched fist and salute all of you striving to stay strong through these adverse times. i am a New Afrikan man currently incarcerated at Maryland’s E.C.I. koncentration kamp. Due to COVID-19, there have been a lot of changes here.
We are supposed to be locked in 23 hours a day and out one hour, but the actual scheduling is 35 hours in, and one out, meaning we go out once every other day.
The scheduling causes brothers to come out at nine in the morning to shower, call loved ones etc, then sit in the cell until nine the next night. Some brothers have nothing – no T.V. or radio. All they have is the mental voice and that isn’t always kind to brothers behind the wall with no information about the future. We are given yard time two times a week, if suitable for our korrectional oppressors. Our yard time length is fifteen to twenty minutes, and we can’t use weights or any other yard equipment. They claim they are giving us 30 minutes, but brothers with timers on their watches have disproven this. When we show the korrectional oppressors our timers, we are told ‘it is what it is’ while they make a show of having their hand on the Mace canister.
We get visitation once a week, where we can Skype approved loved ones. We are brought a sheet weekly where we sign up for a time slot during which we wish the conversation to take place. They try one email choice two times, if no one responds you are sent back to your designated building. This causes issues – not for the korrectional oppressors, but for us. Most brothers strategically choose their times when loved ones won’t be working, and children won’t be online doing schooling, etc., but at times they call you for your call two hours ahead of your scheduled time and no one is there to pick up. Brothers have raised grievances about this and given political responses. Even if you do get through on Skype, the connection is poor, and noise in the visitation room can cause mics to cancel each other out – sometimes when your loved ones speak Skype mutes them, thinking that the noise in the room is you speaking.
Our food is now brought to our cells. For breakfast we get one cereal and two slices of bread. For lunch and dinner we are brought takeout containers that have sat in the foyer until they are cold. Often everything is mixed together and not fully cooked.
Most brothers now sit idle with no school or self-help programs/groups. As i watch my brothers, it grips my heart to see how this pandemic and the uncertainty of the future is causing brothers to slide back from the growth they were making. i have been doing my part by creating community building topics and self-reflective exercises, though i can only reach so many.
Inside Maryland Correctional Enterprises
One big change at this kamp has been at M.C.E. (Maryland Correctional Enterprises) Plant #106, where I work doing furniture restoration and refurbishment for the MTA, schools, colleges, prisons and other state institutions. During the pandemic, in addition to our other tasks, we make face shields and masks which go firstly to for ‘essential’ workers – $tate workers, korrectional oppressors, and secondly to our sisters and brothers behind the wall. Brothers were acknowledged by the $tate’s Governor ‘Lyin’ Larry Hogan in multiple newspapers for our hard work with a picture of him wearing a mask made by us. Within two weeks after the article praising us, brothers were given a memo stating that there would be layoffs from the plant, and that those who weren’t laid off would not receive base pay when they are not scheduled to work. The managers at plant #106 laid off 25 workers that week. As of the 6th of November, they laid off 29 more brothers, leaving them high and dry after working hard for relief on their sentence and pay.
Plant #106 is the lowest paid plant in the $tate. Our base pay is 35 cents an hour. Other plants around the $tate’s kamps clear $100 checks on the regular (i should say, i am truly happy for my brothers and sisters behind the wall making money to support their family and themselves). Our low pay is due to the Plant #106 manager Dan McGarity and regional plant manager/supervisor Matt Hall setting the pay we receive per job, which has gotten lower and lower. For example, we used to receive four dollars per bus seat. Now, we receive one dollar for the same work, even though the job estimate given and accepted by the MTA is the same. So why are brothers now receiving three dollars less in our incentive pay (incentive pay is a flat daily pay added to out base pay if we worked, if you don’t work you used to just receive base pay)? Brothers who work nearest to Dan McGarity as office clerks say that when McGarity is speaking with his peers, he has stated that he doesn’t want to be audited or have anyone look too deeply at the books. i find it no coincidence that brother’s base pay was taken away due to ‘lack of work,’ which was not true. On the east side kompound, here at E.C.I., their plant is still receiving base pay. When brothers inquired as to why east side plant was receiving base pay and we were not, we were given the runaround. Brothers were told our regional manager/supervisor is different (which makes no sense, we are one kompound split by a wire). Brothers were told we were not considered essential, after Governor ‘Lyin’ Larry Hogan told multiple newspapers that we were.
Korruption and Resistance
E.C.I. is known amongst the brothers for its korruption. In 2015, former warden Kathleen Green was let go from her job for pocketing grant money meant for programs in the prison. We are frequently punished for the negligence of those paid to do their jobs. This has caused a divide among the population. This koncentration kamp gets more restrictive and oppressive every couple of months, with constant rank changes and rule changes. We’ve had to coordinate multiple peaceful protests, just to receive our basic rights.
For example, in 2018 the brothers had decided we had enough of being locked down weekly for random, unjust reasons, losing yard access because the guards didn’t feel like allowing it, food being uncooked, verbal and physical abuse, and other issues. We had planned a mass sit-in at east and west side kompound, brothers were not to go to school, work groups, or to chow. Kapitalist industries hate when money is wasted and not made. Unfortunately, due to korrectional pets/sympathizers, our plan was sent into a state of confusion. The korrectional oppressors used one of their pets to spread word that the day of the protest had changed (which was false information). At this time i was housed on a different tier in the same building. The confusion tactic, sadly, worked. Brothers on the east side kompound had a major sit-in, refusing to go back in their cells. Some of the brothers who worked for M.C.E. Plant #106 at that time didn’t go to work. The protest caught the korrectional oppressors attention, though due to the coordination being disrupted, the effect was not powerful enough.
The east and west side kompound was put on complete lockdown for four months that summer. Brothers were given sweaty lunch meat brown bags for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No showers, visits, phone, just straight twenty-four hour lockdown until we entered step down phase. The local media had caught wind of the lockdown, through an unknown brother that had his people inform them on the injustices taking place in the prison (this was before the protest was to take place). The first newscast on the kamp’s lockdown spoke on the injustices that brothers were exposed to, and how it was a peaceful protest. The next newscast later that evening flipped and spoke on the “plight” of korrectional oppressors, showed images of oppressor’s family members out front the kamp holding signs. The signs claimed korrectional oppressors were overworked, etc. In most simple terms, we were forgot about and villainized for the rest of the news coverage, which went on for months. That 2018 situation seemed to be what broke some brother’s mindset, causing them to become submissive and just look out for self. Even though some brothers became more cooperative with injustice, it only gave fuel to the korrectional oppressors to become more oppressive and the line of division among brothers continued to widen. For the brothers who refused to go to work at Plant #106 on the day of ‘protest’ were fired. Plant #106 oppressors used this to their advantage to help the koncentration kamp by offering jobs back in exchange for information. Brothers at this kamp have an extreme lack of unity.
The ACLU came out here about two years ago and told the prison to double our food ration. The prison followed orders for a week, then went right back to the portion they been serving. When brothers were asked to raise their voice, most were afraid of having their cell tore up and going to lockup for whatever reason korrectional oppressors chose. During audit time here at the kamp, the korrectional officers turn into masters of deception. They do a mass clean, plant flowers (that come up right after the auditors leave) – in simple terms, the put on their ‘Sunday best.’ They only send oppressor’s pet to talk to auditors. Once auditors leave, it is oppression as usual. Any advice?
Some of these brothers that work at Plant #106 slave to get jobs done, only to be taken off the schedule while the oppressor’s pets are left on the schedule to collect incentive pay they just watched others generate. The brothers who deserve that money, need that money to get by in prison. The injustice at this kamp is real.
Update: as of November 3rd our kompound was put on lockdown due to a spreading of COVID-19. We are out our cell individually for fiteen minutes a day. This outbreak was due to the kapitalist mentality. While COVID-19 cases were down amongst Maryland’s koncentration kamps, brothers who were supposed to go to the minimum kamp were finally shipped out, taking the population way down. This, in turn, meant that this kamp would not receive as much money, so this kamp made moves to get a busload of brothers from another kamp. These brothers were not tested or given quarantine time. They were just placed in cells. Then began the COVID-19 outbreak. On my tier they let out one of their pets to do laundry and pass out meals, only to find out the brother has been infected by the virus and told no one! Brother had to put him on blast to get him to admit he had symptoms. This is crazy – our safety depends on those in charge. Sisters and brothers lives are in the korrectional oppressors hand’s and they could care less about us. Their concern is ca$h. My sisters and brothers outside and behind the wall, i urge you to do your part in the fight against the machine. We all have a part to play in Vita Wa Watu. If we don’t care for each other, then who will care for us? Keep up the good fight comrades – and much love to those who work hard at M.I.M. to educate our brothers and sisters in the struggle. Any advice or resources welcome.