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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Hoke Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 15]
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Sleep deprivation to control oppressed

I am currently in the hole, and on May 19 after the 6 p.m. shift change two second-shift Correctional Officers came on duty here on the lockup unit. Almost immediately these two COs began making their rounds, which was unusual. It seemed every few minutes one of them was knocking on our cell door asking if we were alright, which was certainly unusual. As the day turned into night I noticed these annoying visits did not stop. Around 11:40 p.m. I was awoken several times. I then asked the CO what was going on, why she keeps waking us up every few minutes. She advised me that the shift captain ordered that every prisoner in solitary will be awakened every 30 minutes to ensure no one slips into a diabetic coma. I was flabbergasted by their reasoning for depriving us of sleep.

This prison has recently become a medical unit, but not all of the prisoners here are sick; 75% of us are completely healthy. Nonetheless, there are 20 of us on lockup, and only one prisoner is diabetic. Around 2:30 a.m. the shift captain was making her rounds. I got her attention and I asked who authorized this new practice and its policy. She advised me that she was ordered by our current assistant superintendent that until further notice we shall be awakened every 30 minutes to assure we are responsive. We are suffering, and as a result of us being deprived of sleep we lack the sense of concentration. It seems our assistant superintendent can and does alter the rules at will. No one questions or challenges his decisions or his authority. Nonetheless, we just want the proper sleep we are entitled to. I filed a grievance on this issue with no reply as of yet. I want to let others know what we are going through here at Hoke Hell.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Hoke "Correctional" Institution's purpose is to "correct" and control the behavior of people who they see as a potential threat to their structure of domination. Sleep deprivation, just like psych meds, nutrient-lacking food, and environmental toxins, is one form of physically attacking the humyn brain, with potentially long-term health effects. It's a joke that this is common practice in places that claim to be about "correcting" people, when they are clearly about degrading people for easier control.

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[Civil Liberties] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 14]
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Nation trumps class around Arizona law

The new Arizona immigration bill SB1070, signed into law in April by Governor Jan Brewer, is the latest and most overt action in the ongoing battle against oppressed nations within U.$. borders. This law, which will take effect by August, assigns state police to question anyone they believe is in the United $tates illegally, and requires everyone to carry papers proving their legal status. It is even a crime to be caught without this proof.

As Arizona is a state bordering Mexico, it has a large migrant population, disproportionately from Mexico. In 2006, so-called "Hispanics" accounted for 29% of Arizona's population — most of them are Mexican. This is double the percentage of Latinos living in the United $tates in 2006. More than half of the Arizona residents in the "Hispanic" category were foreign born. While there is a concentration of Mexicans in Arizona, the portion of the population that is foreign born (14%) is not much more than the typical percentage of foreign born residents in the rest of the U.$. which was 12.5% in 2006.(1) But in Arizona it is skewed towards Mexicans (and migrants born in other Latin American countries) while other areas of the U.$. have larger concentrations of Asians, europeans, Africans and people born in other parts of the world. In the U.$. in general, 45% of the foreign born population is from Latin America, which means they make up less than half of the 12.5% of foreign-born migrants living in the U.$.(2) According to the U.$. census these numbers had not changed much by 2008 (the latest statistics available) in terms of the proportion of Mexicans and foreign-born residents in Arizona and the rest of the country.

This law is a logical step forward, or backward for the oppressed, in the Amerikan spiral down the anti-immigration toilet. Those who act like this law is un-Amerikan are missing a fundamental fact of Amerikan imperialism: it is founded on national oppression. The Arizona law is most definitely Amerikan, and for this reason we must oppose not only this law, but all so-called immigration reform. Immigration is a false issue of Amerikan imperialism which requires militarized borders to protect the wealth that it stole from the land and labor of people in other countries.

Rather than get caught up in talking about which people should be allowed the privilege of coming to the United $tates (generally people from other imperialist countries, or those who have done Amerika political favors like the Cubans who oppose Castro), we need to be fighting to open the borders. Recent migrants in the United $tates should be treated no different from those who came here over the past 500 years — we are all living on land stolen from the indigenous peoples. In contrast, the Mexican people migrating north have a legitimate claim to the land now comprising the southwest of the United $tates.

Between 1846 and 1848 the United $tates fought one of its earlier wars of external aggression, against Mexico, ending in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty established U.$. control of what is now the southwest of this country, but ironically guaranteed Mexican residents in that territory the right to retain their land and enjoy the rights of U.$. citizens. This portion of the treaty was promptly ignored by Amerikkkans and land owned by Mexicans was illegally annexed after the end of the war in acts of both private and government sponsored national oppression.

Labor aristocracy benefits from closed borders and illegal workers

It should be no surprise that a recent poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal found 46% of Amerikans strongly supporting the Arizona bill, while only 24% were strongly opposed. In fact, 24% might seem high to those of us who understand that the labor aristocracy has a strong interest in protecting the wealth of Amerikan imperialism and their role in benefiting from the exploitation of the world's people. This interest leads the labor aristocracy to support imperialist wars of aggression and reactionary anti-immigrant policies. However, this law in particular is one that will be opposed by a lot of Latinos, even if they may support wars of imperialist aggression. Because this law takes such a broad sweeping attack it is hard to get behind if you might look like you could be in the country illegally (read: are not white). So that 24% strongly opposing SB1070 includes people who are otherwise strong supporters of Amerikan imperialism. This is an example of why there are more allies to anti-imperialism in the Brown and Black labor aristocracy, even if they are not consistent.

Citizens of the United $tates are profiting just by being citizens, enjoying artificially high standards of living propped up by imperialist profits brought home and distributed in the form of high salaries with benefits, as well as services. As the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) explained in MIM Theory 1 and 10, the wealth in Amerika is not created in Amerika; Amerikan citizens are parasites. And to maintain this parasitism the country must keep the borders closed. Open borders would lead to a deluge of people migrating into the U.$. looking for an opportunity to partake in the wealth stolen from their countries.

Rather than share the wealth in the United $tates, borders are militarized and "illegal" workers are allowed in only when there is a need for truly cheap labor, because Amerikan citizens are not going to provide that labor. So Amerikan citizens benefit again from closed borders, in the form of workers to pick their crops, and do the jobs that no citizen wants, for cheap enough to keep the price of food, restaurant service, and house cleaning down.

Trust the prison industry?

One ironic element of Arizona SB1070 is the provision that they trust the police to pick out who might be suspected as an illegal immigrant without engaging in racial profiling. The reality of the criminal injustice system is blatant racial profiling as just one aspect of national oppression. The injustice system overtly targets oppressed nations within U.$. borders, from the police on the streets profiling or just setting people up, to the laws and courts which are skewed against oppressed nations, convicting disproportionate numbers of Blacks and Latinos and giving them longer sentences for the same convictions, to the prisons themselves which target oppressed nations to deny parole and lock in control units.

Everyone knows the police already engage in racial profiling, so why would they stop just when enforcing this law that is, in itself, requiring racial profiling. No one is going to stop a white person and say "Hey, I think you are here illegally from France, can I see some proof of your immigration status?"

Further fueling the prison industry, SB1070 gives the Arizona criminal injustice system an easy way to lock up more migrants, a growing trend in Amerikan prisons. As we reported in the Under Lock and Key #11 article National Oppression as Migrant Detention: "As of July 2009, there are 31,000 non-citizens imprisoned at the federal level on any given day in the u.$. This number is up from about 20,000 in 2006 and 6,259 in 1992. There are more than 320,000 migrants detained each year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and as many as a quarter of them are juveniles. These numbers include only those imprisoned under federal custody, although they may be located all around the country and in state prisons and local jails." We went on to point out that locking up more migrants helps fill empty prison beds, something that private prisons in particular are lobbying for.

Fight national oppression with unity

A dozen Black and Brown hip hop artists from Arizona came together to do an eight minute remake of Public Enemy's song By the Time I Get to Arizona called Back to Arizona to oppose SB1070 with a similar militant message. The original song documented the struggle to get racist Arizona to reinstate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday two decades ago. That history drove home the connection between struggles of all oppressed nations, which is a repeated theme throughout the video.

Among activists opposed to the new Arizona law, the slogan 'Do I look illegal?' has been gaining popularity. This question calls out the clearly racist intent behind the law which will require cops to pick out people who don't look like good white Amerikkkan citizens. As revolutionaries we call on all oppressed nations to join the fight against this latest legalization of national oppression. As anti-imperialists we must stand against all limits on migration. The two articles [ 1, 2 ] on this page written by comrades behind bars demonstrate, this unity and correct understanding of history.

Notes:
1. Pew Research Center Publication "Arizona's Population Growth Parallels America's", January 24, 2008.
2. Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2006, Pew Hispanic Center.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Northern Correctional Institution] [Connecticut]
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Revolutionary POWs fight to abolish control units

Northern Correctional Institution in Connecticut is a control unit that houses security risk group safety threat members (SRGSTM), chronic discipline prisoners, administrative segregation (A/S), and death row prisoners. Both authors of this are labeled SRGSTM and because of a peaceful protest are now A/S prisoners. One author has been in this control unit for almost 4 years and the other for 1 year.

We are locked down 23 hours a day and 24 hours a day on the weekends. We are only allowed 3 showers a week with leg irons on our feet. Visits: behind a window, SRGSTM gets 1 hour visit, A/S and chronic discipline 30 mins, only immediate family members. There is no school, except for prisoners under 21 years of age with disabilities who qualify. No job training to anyone. No law library except to death row prisoners. No real medical assistance. Telephones: the state of CT has a control contract with a phone company that forces us prisoners to pay far more for our calls than people in the world. We are only allowed a list of ten phone numbers that has to be approved. SRGSTM are allowed three 15 minute calls a week and A/S and chronic discipline one 15 minute call a week and all telephone conversations are monitored and recorded. We are all also cuffed with leg irons and handcuffs while on the phone. We are cuffed this way for all out of cell movements.

Recreation yard is 1 hour on weekdays. SRGSTM are cuffed behind our backs while in the yard for our 1 hour of out of the cell rec. A/S are taken off of cuffs once we are placed in a rec yard cell about the same size as our cells. Sometimes they make prisoners pick between hot food or their rec. If you go to rec, your food will be given to you cold. You are not allowed real footwear in A/S or hats and gloves in the jail, same for SRGSTM, CD, and death row. Meaning no matter how cold it is outside we are never allowed inside dayroom rec. We are only giving things to clean our cells once a week.

A lot of the time they force prisoners to go in the cells with other prisoners who have life sentences and have already told the administration they do not want cell mates and they will kill the person they put in their cells. Most of the time these prisoners they put in the cells with these lifers are short timers and parole violators. Northern has already had 5 killings because of this about two this year. They will not give prisoners personal hygiene items, writing paper, envelopes, copies of legal work, or cloths if your account says you have had money in the last 90 days, meaning you have to not have money for 90 days in order to receive any of those things.

The grievance procedures are set up to prolong your rights to the courts. They only have 30 business days to answer your grievances. If that time is up they can file for an extension. The problem with that is there is no limit to how many extensions of time they can give for one grievance.

I know you are well informed about in-cell restraints and 4-point restraints (both authors have gone through this a number of times). In cell restraints are for 72 hours, you can't use the bathroom and if you somehow find a way to, you can not clean yourself. Food comes in cups and no utensils are given to eat with forcing you to eat with your fingers at the same time you are not allowed soap or any kind of hygiene items (but if you were how would you use them on restraints?). The in-cells are never cleaned after another prisoner comes out and one goes in, you can't flush your bathroom, nor are you allowed a role of bathroom paper. These are some of the things that take place in this control unit.

They also have dogs next to you every time you leave your cells. You are strip searched for all out of cell movement even when you have not come in contact with no one. You have officers who retaliate against prisoners who file grievances on them or their fellow officers. Prisoners are beat, maced in the mouth, face, eyes, even after the situation is under control.

We stand ready and willing to assist any way we can to abolish these control units.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 14]
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Forty-three to one


I never learned to turn the other cheek,
to bow down to oppression I think is being weak;
And who taught our children to love thy enemy,
how can they have pride in themselves and,
yet be accepting of tyranny;
I will not allow our youth to be confused by
false Amerikkkan history;
I will teach them honor of Marcus Garvey, George Jackson and Joseph Cinque of the Amistad mutiny;
I will show them unity, though it be a fist of solidarity,
gloved and also in a clench,
I will dispel the myths of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Bush and the notorious Willie Lynch;
You hold up images of Armstrong Williams, Clarence Thomas and no child left behind,
yet you outlaw Malcolm, Huey, Nat Turner and Bobby Seale's Seize the Time;
Your greed is fed by capitalism which creates
a world of endless war zones;
You sell Israel F-14s, yet you watch Palestine
defend itself with nothing but sticks and stones;
You proclaim equality, so we had hope during the trial of Rodney King;
You spoke of love as an eventual reality,
but in 1968 you assassinated our dream;
You exploit our words with pawn shops,
liquor stores and broken down shacks;
You sell our kids guns, pork chops, Jordans,
Lil Wayne, Kools, heroin and crack;
you brainwash our youth to be killers and to
fight for ole Uncle Sam, but when they lose
an arm, a leg or just need a helping hand,
you say there's no money in the nation's
wealth care program;
Innocent until proven guilty, at least that's what
the supreme court say;
It took you almost 14 years,
but you still came back to make O.J. pay;
Your credibility is reminiscent of chickens
being in the care of a sly old fox;
You gave the Amerikkkan natives a trojan horse,
infected with small pox;
You invaded the motherland, with a smile, a pistol
and filled with the holy ghost, and in the blink of an eye
it turned to mischief and bloodshed,
on Afrika's west coast;
You stole kings and queens and tried to turn
them into slaves,
but some chose the Atlantic ocean to be their cold wet graves;
Some were passive and obedient, they did what
they were told,
some were like Harriet Tubman and sought
their freedom on the underground railroad;
One refused the draft as he floated like a
butterfly and stung like a bee,
while one used nationality and religion to help
uplift fallen humanity;
one was on the move, got bombed, so you know
that we had to keep her,
One used a podium and socialism and we coined
all power to the people;
We've produced lawyers and doctors
and Langston Hughes a very poetic talker;
And with great ingenuity, our first female
millionaire was the incomparable madame CJ Walker;
Some tried to shake names like Toby or George
or even Cassius Clay,
But some were called Oscar because of "Monster's Ball" and Denzel's Training Day;
So now we have Obama, the 44th President is our own native son,
but you still find reasons to hate us,
even though you're still winning "forty three to one."

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Mahanoy] [Pennsylvania]
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PA transferring prisoners out of state

I'm writing from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA about the department of corrections new policy of saving money off the backs of prisoners. They are getting contracts for shipping PA prisoners to Michigan and to Virginia, shipping them out by force and making them buy new products if they are not clear/see-through: radios, TVs, footlockers, you must trash or send them home. If you don't want to be transferred they use force.

Second issue is the law library isn't always open, it is supposed to open 7 days a week for people to have access to the courts.

Number three is the medical department staff don't check older prisoners for cancer, or any other medical problem in a timely fashion. Mental health doctors and medical staff won't give people that are arrested prescription medical for medical and mental health issues.

The prison staff tell you that if you try to put any paperwork of any kind it will go in your personal file and it will look bad for you when you try to get pre-release or parole.

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[Civil Liberties] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 14]
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No to SB1070!

Them good ol' boys are at it again. As much as Amerikan pre$ident Barack Obama would like us to believe that we have reached a new stage in Amerikkkan society, in the form of a "post-racial Amerikkka," which is an oxymoron by the way, state sanctioned racism raises its ugly head yet again. This time it is in the form of Arizona's racist and illegal Senate Bill 1070. Racist, because it obviously gives Arizona's occupational forces (law enforcement) the right to stop or pull people over solely for the color of their skin.

Reactionaries in high places as well as other proponents of SB1070 argue that the power to stop and card people will only be called for with "probable cause," and that this power to card people for their citizenship papers is wholly sanctioned by the 4th Amendment of the constitution. However, we from the oppressed communities know full well that "probable cause" is a very loose and flexible term as applied by occupation forces. "Probable cause" can range from "gang attire" and looking "suspicious" to being seen by pigs in the wrong neighborhood. We from the oppressed communities recognize at a glance the obvious implications of "probable cause" such as "driving while Black." Only a fool or a racist would think this oppressive tool, SB1070, is right in any way.

Although the Amerikan judicial system has given occupation forces and the kangaroo court system wide berth and due deference when it comes to the way that they apply "probable cause," we must note that technically the way in which probable cause is actually applied is illegal. So it is no surprise that many people have expressed outrage at the idea of this racist and illegal law.

While "probable cause" has hystorically been directed at the lumpen class within the U.$., SB1070 now gives the state of Arizona the power to not just target the destructive side of oppressed nations, but the power to further oppress, harass, detain and deport whole nations of people within their jurisdiction, not to mention the authority that Arizona will now have to incarcerate people.

Just days before the signing of SB1070 into law, piece-of-shit republican senator Hunter of California appeared before news cameras touting the excellence and morality of the racist law. He then took it one step further however, when the good senator began advocating that the 14th Amendment be repealed to deny children born in the United $tates citizenship status if their parents are undocumented.(1) This further drives home that being Amerikkkan is about the fictional concept of race and not about where one is born, raised and pays taxes.

A week later, following the huge May Day protests that took place across the U.$., we saw the reactionaries and their allies attempt to push back with their meager show of support for the newly signed law by organizing counter-protests in bands of tens and twenties. These counter-protests were largely made up of the most backward Euro-Amerikkkans, however they did have some interesting mouthpieces at the front.

First, we heard from an openly gay man about how all "illegal aliens" should just go back to Mexico because all they brought to the table was crime, drugs, etc.(2) Then we heard from an African-Amerikkkan who was participating in the counter protests in a show of solidarity with his fellow Amerikkkans as well as claiming to represent a sell out organization called "Black Shield." He spoke of how Black people could no longer find good jobs or decent middle class jobs because Mexicans, and other "illegal aliens" were stealing them all.(3) It wasn't Mexicans who threatened to kill Blacks every time they tried to work in an Amerikan factory or study at an Amerikan school over the last 400 years.

Last, but certainly not least, we heard from a seemingly orthodox Jewish man, indeed he spewed the most vile hatred towards immigrants. Among other things this man said that there was nothing wrong with having to present proper identification to law enforcement officials if you appeared to be "illegal." He stated that this was a constitutionally protected right and just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. (4) Ugh, what? Weren't the enactment of similar laws in Nazi Germany preludes to the forced display of Stars of David by Jewish people and eventually the dispersal of the Jewish peoples across Europe into concentration camps and genocide?

Days later at a candlelight vigil in support of immigrant rights, the reverend Al Sharpton addressed the Black nation, perhaps as an answer to Black people who might of been asking themselves and each other, as well as the Rev. Sharpton, why they should support immigrant rights and oppose SB1070. The Reverend answered, "… because at night, we all look Latino."

Notes:
(1) ABC 7 News, Los Angeles. 25 April 2010.
(2), (3), (4) Noticiero Telemundo 52. 3 May 2010.

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[Organizing] [Oklahoma] [ULK Issue 14]
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The situational ethics of snitching

An issue that was addressed in ULK that deserves a bit more comment is the involvement or non-involvement of so-called "snitches" or Special Needs Yard (SNY) prisoners in any political movement and/or prison reform activities.

The philosophy of the snitch is contradictory. I've been in prison for over 16 years. I have done time in three states and I have seen the hundreds of ways people have been labeled "snitches." For example, here in Oklahoma a prisoner is labeled a "snitch" if he files a grievance, even on obstruction of mail. It's seen as "snitching on staff." Prison administrators will utilize that to try and get other prisoners to ostracize a person and/or otherwise abuse, distrust or spread rumors about a person.

This is especially true when it comes to prison officials who harm or abuse prisoners. If you report the abuse, you're labeled a "snitch." Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot and a guard is harmed they run to the "snitches" for information. It's contradictory and it is also what is called "situational ethics."

Situational ethics is when a person uses a particular situation and action to justify their immediate needs, be they financial, safety, etc. If they do not like a person, for example, they'll label him a "snitch." But if they have a friend who has done the same deed they will justify his actions. It is purely situational.

The psychology of it all is baffling. But in the political sphere it has no place. As a prisoner in ULK no. 13 noted, violence on SNY is much, much less, and there is more unity on SNY. I can't attest to that myself because I've never been on a SNY, however, I do believe it to be true. I've heard that same story over and over about so-called "soft yards."

Information gathering is a valuable tactic in the political sphere as well. This is true whether it is the oppressed or oppressor. Information can be used to protect or harm. How you utilize your sources can be beneficial. If you know someone is a "snitch" or you have reasonable suspicions, then feeding that person false or beneficial information can help you and others. For example, if you know someone will run to the cops and report you then the information you tell them should only benefit, not harm you. They become an unwitting agent of good.

Lastly, prison reform will never come if you constantly look to others to motivate you. Just do what you have to do, and when you come across like-minded people - or even people who may not support your beliefs but support your efforts - you can add them to your album of associates.

MIM(Prisons) responds: What this comrade calls "situation ethics" we would also call "subjectivity." Like s/he said, subjectivity has no place in politics. We need to have a set of ethics that serve the most oppressed people in the world. We cannot let our criticism be swayed by whether we're cool with whoever did the action. This is true in all actions, not just sharing info with the pigs.

On the group or political level we define our ethics by our class perspective. It makes sense for the COs to both persecute snitches and utilize snitches depending on who they are snitching on, as this writer describes. Similarly, we want COs to expose other COs for abusing prisoners. In general, opposing snitching is progressive, because it is a source of conflict and repression as people are opportunistically spreading information to benefit themselves in the short-term. But to take an absolute moral stance on snitching ignores the fact that we need to expose the oppressor to the people.

The only point we disagree with this comrade on is that they say we should only control the information we share with known snitches or people we suspect to be snitches. We would push this one degree further and say that we should only share information on a need-to-know basis, and assume everyone is a possible informant. We went much more in depth on this topic in ULK 13.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 14]
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Reflections on organization, strategy, and unity

In order for us to succeed in any of our objectives and goals, we must have organization. This is an incontrovertible fact. We cannot even begin to visualize the thought of abolishing this injustice system (as it now exists), until we raise the level of consciousness of the masses of the people and obtain power. In order to obtain the power to destroy national oppression, exploitation and capitalist-imperialism, we must acquire the use of the weapon/instrument of organization.

"Such organization demands that we be conscious, skilled, disciplined and united in thought and action. It demands fundamental change in our thought and in our practice, it demands acquisition of a sense of confidence, a belief in our ability to struggle to win, to break the chains (physical and mental) and so on to build and control a new way of life for ourselves.

"Just as organization is the weapon/instrument that we must have in the struggle to obtain the power we need to effect revolutionary change, correct ideology/philosophy, theory and practice are required weapons/instruments we need in order to ensure effective organization. . .

"The chains that bind us are mental as well as physical. We cannot organize sleeping people around specific goals until awareness and understanding of the need to fight has been achieved, until the will to fight has been inspired, until the belief that we can win has been acquired.

"These mental/psychological chains obscure, mask and misdescribe the way the real world works. Incorrect philosophical approaches prevent awareness and understanding of real social, political and economic relations. Backward philosophy stifles the growth and development of genuine revolutionary consciousness, causes repeated confusion and frustration, apathy and disillusionment, conceals the need that we have to fight, dulls the will to fight, erodes our confidence and impedes effective organization for revolutionary national liberation struggle."(1)

We are oppressed together, let's stand up together

If we don't take the initiative to fight and struggle, how do we realistically expect people on the outside to go all out for us? There is a real war being waged against us and thus far our response to it collectively has been pitiful. In his seminal work The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon made mention of the natives' fear of the oppressor and that he strikes out against a fellow native instead of his real enemy, out of fear. Similarly, we are afraid of the pigs for fear of losing whatever, but will hurt each other at the drop of a hat.

So not only do we have to deal with the superiority complex of the racist correctional officer, we have to work with and struggle against the inferiority complex of the prisoners.

There are over 2.3 million men and wimmin in U.$. prisons and jails. Of those, 35,000 are in the state of misery (Missouri). What's really fucked up is that I know thousands of these men and wimmin and can't name 50 who are committed to the anti-imperialist struggle thru their actions and not just words.

However, one thing that you will see quickly are the great divisions amongst us on all levels and schools of thought - NOI, orthodox muslim, moors, kansas city, st. louis, northside, eastside, southside, westside, blood, crip, disciple, vicelord, bullshit, meaningless divisions. We are however, united in our pain, misery, suffering and oppression. We all get maced, denied parole, eat the same shitty food, go to the hole for the same bullshit violations and have to deal with the same overpaid, barely passed the GED-ass pigs!

For many years now, I've been labeled an "agitator" and "gang-leader" by the prisonkrats and have suffered much. But what they don't know is how many stabbings my comrades and I have stopped from occurring, how many staff assaults we've curtailed, and we're not looking for pats on the back.

It is said that if you are doing nothing but sitting on your ass, then you really have no right to complain about your oppression. Missouri and all prisoners stand up. You ain't gotta stand tall, but at least stand up! Unite and organize!!

Is violence correct?

During the course of my kkkaptivity I have experienced first-hand and witnessed many incidents of physical and psychological torture of many prisoners. I have seen with my own two eyes a couple of prisoners savagely murdered by sadistic corrections staff. I've heard of cases that make the abuses at Abu Ghraib child's play. Imagine being in a shower and having corrections staff throwing oranges at you until your brown body is battered and bruised. Saw it with my own eyes!

Conversely, from subscribing to and reading many of the prisoner newsletters that are in circulation, it has become patently clear that the physical and psychological terror and abuse in U.$. prisons is a part of the standard operating procedure for the imperialists and their repressive apparatus. They are not merely "isolated" incidents of abuse of power. The question is, how do we combat effectively this problem without exacerbating an already explosive, deadly situation and environment?

We do not, nor do the various prisoners' rights organizations, such as MIM(Prisons), promote the use of violence against corrections staff as the proper response to their inhumane treatment of us. Of course, we also understand the principle of self-defense. And it is a historical fact that violence has been necessary to end violence.

In the environment of the correctional facility, when a prisoner or group of prisoners, move with violence in response to ill treatment and abusive conditions, the prison administrators and politicians blame the victim (prisoners) and use whatever actions taken by us to further legitimize their repression, add more abusive laws to the books and to give these righteous souljaz additional time. We can't win this way no matter how righteous the act is when a no-good pig falls on something sharp. Imperialism is the enemy.(2)

Respect your supporters

While trying to build a support group and a united front against imperialism from behind electrified fences and stone walls, I have personally encountered a situation that must be seriously addressed amongst U.$. prisoners. Some years ago, I met a beautiful comrade and righteous sista in St. Louis who had just started a prisoners' rights magazine. Her husband was a political prisoner in Michigan so she understood our struggle well. This sista would respond to all letters sent to her, but all of a sudden brothaz lost discipline and started writing her pornographic (freak) letters - that shit wasn't cool. As a result of this, among other things, the sista directed that brothaz write to her husband (which is against some states' mail policies). In the end, the brothaz ran a righteous project off with some bullshit!

I hope that this is not a problem we have with a lot of you souljaz. Of course, we all want to have someone to share our most intimate thoughts with, but this was not the time nor place. In this struggle we have to be conscious as well as disciplined and show respect to those who support us, because they are few and far between. Our resources are few as individuals, but our numbers are great and we can contribute much to support those who support us. Unite and organize!

notes:
(1) "On Agitation, Education and Organization," Atiba Shanna, new African POW Journal, Book One, Spear and Shield publications
(2) To read more about peace in prison, get ULK issue 7

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[Control Units] [Florida] [ULK Issue 15]
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Rolling with the punches

I'm in disciplinary confinement for 300 days. I'm informing you to let you know they are all about punishment. However, there are several benefits to confinement as opposed to general population.

First, as an analytical thinker, I have the solitude to concentrate on what's more important, instead of the normal population activities of doing what Masta says and spending my people's money on the high-priced zoom zooms and wam wams. Second, I can think of ways to further the struggle and communicate with you all from within this "think tank." Last, regardless of where on the plantation I am, the clock still ticks, so 300 days is that much closer to my max date.

I'm getting much rest and I'm preserving my mind and body for the revolution and the future. So if I can help formulate any ideas and/or literature to help enlighten and educate the masses, just let me know.

It's a shame that these people try to make the public think they're all about trying to make prisoners better people so they'll be productive members of society, yet in confinement we are not allowed any books except a bible. We can't have a dictionary or any other book to educate your mind. It's obvious that they couldn't care less about our betterment when they use education material as a punishment.

They also use hygiene products as a punishment. In confinement I can't have my soap, lotion, toothpaste, dental floss, etc. They give us half of a hotel bar of soap to last a week, and a hotel toothpaste to last a month. So I'm only able to brush my teeth once a day or it won't last for 30 days. If food gets stuck in my teeth, I have to get a piece of string out of the sheets or boxers.

Socks are also not provided so the ones I came in with have to last 300 days. With no soap to wash them, I have to take an all-water shower once a week to save the soap to wash my boxers and socks. But hey, I'm learning survival skills and I'm stronger for it!

A weak mind will take this punishment or these conditions and feel degraded, but I often think about the conditions my ancestors endured on those slave ships, and the savage, degrading and humiliating conditions of life on these plantations under forced servitude and criminal bondage. Their only crime was being born with melanin in their skin. I think of how the Masta cut up a hog and took all the lean meat for ham, pork chops, bacon, and sausage, then threw the garbage to the slaves like the intestines, the feet, ears, tails, etc. Yet they made "soul food" with it. They made swamp grass into collard greens. And everything else that was used as punishment they used to become stronger, resilient, and more hardened to whatever the enemy came up with.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Adapting to whatever challenges the oppressor throws our way is an important part of survival under imperialism, including maintaining mental health. Long-term isolation is probably one of the greatest mental health challenges the oppressed will face. So we commend this comrade's positive outlook and willingness to do work, even though it is much more limited while locked in isolation.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Texas] [ULK Issue 14]
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Our Unity vs. their Crisis

In today's prison society, prisoners are losing constitutional rights at an alarming rate under either the security rationale or the rehabilitation rationale. Yes, our United States Supreme Court has effectively shut the constitutional door on prisoners and individuals charged with crimes. A fair trial is now impossible as any misconduct by the prosecutor is considered "harmless error." Additionally, many individuals plead to charges they have not committed due to judicial extortion; "Take this five years or we're going to give you 99." It's all sad, but reflects the state of our society and country as a whole, and the corrosion of our criminal justice system.

In the newsletter, I read that many prisoner have begun food strikes; one wanting to commit suicide, the others want to sign a petition. The sad and unfortunate truth is, none of these work. Yet there is a way to be heard that is peaceful and has a dramatic effect.

Prisons are run by prisoners from laundry, food service, landscaping to maintenance of the institution. Additionally, many prisoners work in industries that manufacture anything from stop signs, chemicals to office furniture for the state and the prisons themselves. What if we were to just stop? Yes, stop supporting the imperial system that oppresses us at every level? Incarceration costs would rise exponentially overnight. Correctional officers would have to be hired to pick up where the inmate population left off. The cost of incarceration would be so great that states could not afford to incarcerate people en masse as they do today. Until the prison population itself makes a stand against the draconian justice and prison system, they will continue to lose the most basic and fundamental rights inherent to man.

My brothers and sisters, it is us, the prison population that runs and perpetuates the injustice of the justice and prison system and it is we who can peacefully break its back. The courts have failed us; the politicians have failed us; our country has failed us. Must we continue to fail ourselves? Must we continue to be dehumanized, degraded, mistreated and tortured so others may prosper and/or be entertained? It's time to see this realistically and stand together peacefully, to battle an unjust system as one. Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he [or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [or she] stands in times of challenge and controversy." Are you a person of character who can stand as one or individually in the face of adversity? If we can't stand together as one then no matter what we do, we lose. Give some thought to this. All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We couldn't agree with this comrade more that there is no real justice to be had by the class system of imperialism. We don't expect petitions to solve the heart of the problem, though we may achieve partial victories. And we've already cautioned comrades that hunger strikes without outside pressure and support tend to be ultra-left tactics that can lead to sacrificing of lives.

But as we explain elsewhere, petition campaigns are two-pronged. One prong is to improve our ability to organize by fighting winnable battles, and the other prong is agitational to expose the state's repressiveness.

The facts behind this comrade's proposal are solid, as we discussed in ULK #8 on prison labor. And the argument is particularly strong as most state's are facing extreme financial shortages. They cannot afford to run their prisons if the labor aristocracy must do all the work.

However, in most cases, the level of unity does not exist to carry out this tactic effectively. Another comrade who proposed this same strategy simultaneously complains about this reality. Again, this is where more agitational work comes into play, like petitions, lawsuits and even small fund drives that some comrades have led. These things establish unity among people on the issues. With that unity, we can begin to talk about mass actions, such as boycotts.

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