The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Culture] [California]
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What is Culture

A people's culture is as important to their survival as food is. Without the guide-posts and direction signs that a culture offers to its adherents, they can soon become disillusioned, confused and easily led into self-detrimental paths. That "lostness" is what is being demonstrated by the hip hop culture of today. Obviously, hip hop has taken on the 'look' of a culture, but what kind of culture is it? From this writer's perspective, it is for the most part, a very negative and rebellious way of life. Make no mistake, the dominant culture that we live in here in Amerikkka is definitely not the way that we are supposed to and should live, but with that clearly understood, to put in it's place the glorification of violence and the degradation of your women, is just as bad!

As far as hip hop having a revolutionary value that can generate a positive environment that is conducive to rearing a nation that is capable of taking control and making manifest Justice and Equality for all, this has yet to be demonstrated. This culture-of-death that we operate in today has taken complete control of the hip hop movement and any signs of life; any signs that hip hop may have some redeeming values is quickly put to death through this culture's use of materialism and ruthless violence!

The awakening to our true culture is going to happen and a Hip-Hop culture that is dominated by artists such as: KRS ONE, DEAD PREZ, ASKARI X, etc., will play an important role in that culture!

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's critique of hip hop today as needing to take up more revolutionary politics and disavow glorification of violence and degradation of wimmin. See our article on hip hop for a more complete critique.

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[Legal] [ULK Issue 13]
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Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.

Jailhouse Lawyers book cover
Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.
Mumia Abu-Jamal
City Lights Books, 2009.

Many prison activists focus their ire on the 14th Amendment, which proclaims slavery to be legal for the convicted felon. While we support economic struggles of u.$. prisoners, we do not see this law as deserving particular focus in the struggle to end the injustice system. A law that might better be a strategic focus for anti-imperialists and other progressive forces is the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), passed much more recently, in 1996, by then-President Bill Clinton.

The PLRA has significantly hampered the ability of prisoners to combat the injustices they face on a daily basis, effectively delegating them as second class citizens in the eyes of the courts. In what he says is the first book on the subject, Mumia Abu Jamal's Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. accurately places the PLRA in historical context as modern day Black Codes, keeping the oppressed in their place.

This week, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation went so far as to cite the PLRA in claiming that federal orders to decrease the prison population by 40,000 people in California to relieve the current tortuous conditions are illegal.

Class action suits for humyn rights were an integral part of the prison movement of the 1960s and '70s. The PLRA has greatly changed the context for such struggle.

Mumia reinforces how much the state fears legal struggle by citing an interesting study that showed jailhouse lawyers to be the most punished population in u.$. prisons; followed by Blacks, the mentally ill, gang members and political prisoners (in that order). Though we often stress the repression of oppressed nations, politically active and other organized prisoners, we have seen over and over people being punished for filing complaints and lawsuits against their abusers. The Illinois Supermax, Tamms, brags of holding the most litigious prisoners in the state.

Mumia opens Jailhouse Lawyers with a story that paints the clear picture that there are no rights, only power struggles. While being interviewed by Mumia, Delbert Africa describes prisoners spending all their time reading law books, fighting their own cases, and then going literally crazy when they lose. Why? "They go crazy becuz, Mu, they really believe in the System, and this System always betray those that believe in it! That's what drive them out they minds, they cain't handle that."

Mumia minces no words, and is clear that getting a fair hearing by the imperialist system is a joke, particularly for the oppressed nations. For the most part he condemns street lawyers for their failure to effectively defend prisoners and soon-to-be prisoners.

In the conclusion, Mumia points out that jailhouse lawyers can also help prop up the system by providing the illusion of justice to the outside and as a pressure release for those on the inside. As a result, things like the PLRA, and rules forbidding prisoners to help each other serve to heighten the contradiction between the oppressed and the state within the u.$. prison system.

He goes on to quote former political prisoner Ed Mead about the need for organizing to go beyond the very limited scope of legal work. That is why MIM(Prisons) is working to build legal campaigns and a new Serve the People program run by jailhouse lawyers within the context of our greater organizing work. In fact, the right to organize in itself is a legal battle that our movement has been and will continue to be heavily involved in. As Mead says, "It used to be against the law for workers to combine, to organize, to unionize, and workers just went ahead and did it. And that's how they won their rights. And that's the same with prisoners."

Overall, Jailhouse Lawyers is well-researched and an easy read, exemplifying Mumia's journalistic skills. MIM(Prisons) recommends this book, particularly for the analysis of the law provided by Mumia with thorough historical examples. Such an analysis is crucial for anyone who wants to effectively battle the injustice system on its terms.

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[Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 10]
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Kkklinton Continues Persecution of New Afrikans

Dear Brothers and Sisters at MIM,

Despite today's harsh realities, my warmest. I have not received the latest MIM newsletter and I know the reason why: Clinton.

Today is the 28th of July and the population here just got off lock-down. The reason is simple, "annual tribalism". In fact I wrote to the brothers and sisters at MIM about our last incident around the same time last year.

This year marks the second gang "nonsense" which these CO'S (corruption overseers) love because they get to reap the real benefits of "sectarianism". While we as a people continue to run around with this "thug of the year bops" and claim a "G'd up status or mentality" these sick pigs enjoy the following: punching you and anyone that looks like you and I in the face, kicking out teeth in which the pig who did the most damage (more than 2 or 3 teeth kicked out in one kick) receives kudos from his co-workers, throwing you and anyone that looks like you and I down the stairs while in "full facility shackles". Not to mention 2 - 3 "justified Murders" a year and I can not forget the overtime hours, plus the compensation pay.

Now comes the fun part (notice my sarcasm because I'm laying it down pretty thick.) There was a 8 man rumble in the yard on the east side, which we on the west side had nothing to do with, yet we still suffered 5 days with no showers, small portions of our already inadequate food, groping by some pigs who had no gloves on, and the list goes on and on. I just know that I'm going to hear some disturbing news about brothers receiving their "annual torture" for something that did not involve them. See while some of the so-called "gangsters" bang on each other the "pigs" bang on us all!

I really hope brothers can work it out because as I see it, for the past 15 years it just keeps getting worse. As a brother I try to talk with the vanguards, O.G's, etc. of these gangs in a way that our brother Fred Hampton, Sr. Did with the rainbow coalition. (May his benevolent soul rest in solidarity) We as a people need to bring about a tangible change! We need solidarity instead of hostility. Towards one another, unification is the grassroot for upward social mobility.... Lets Unite!

PEACE AND SOLIDARITY FROM ONE OF YOUR COMRADES AT THE CLINTON PLANTATION

MIM(Prisons) Adds: In our recent censorship report we mentioned Attica Correctional Facility as being notorious for not allowing mail correspondence to prisoners, creating a virtual blackout on news from within. Clinton Correctional Facility isn't so bad, but is perhaps the second most notorious facility in the New York State system. While generally very bureaucratically accountable, the NYSDOCS allows these facilities to continue as they do, proving that their willingness to play by the rules is conditional. Clinton has been particularly repressive towards New Afrikan Maoists and their literature. MIM(Prisons) has also had little success getting literature to comrades in Clinton, as this comrade attests to. We haven't confirmed anyone receiving ULK in Clinton in 4 months. Historically, Clinton has been the destination for many high profile and overtly political prisoners.

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[Legal] [Abuse] [California]
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Wasting Money Prosecuting Lifers in California

I would like to shed some light on a scam being run by the establishment here on level 4 SHU yards in California. I'm certain if tax payers knew how their money was being wasted they would have a problem. People here in the SHU with life sentences already are getting taken to court for frivolous prosecution for knives, mutual combat, participating in riots, crap like that.

Now if a person with life doesn't murder anyone you can't upgrade his time so the question arises, why are they trying lifers for petty crimes? Then it dawned on me, these capitalist crooks don't pass up a chance to make a dollar, even if they have to waste resources. California is broke, but the pig has the audacity to waste money on frivolous prosecution, just so they can boost their conviction rate and feed that propaganda to the public about how awful prison is. And in doing so the public is not paying attention to the wastefulness and lies of the establishment. I thought I'd share this fraud with the brothers locked in the struggle.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner exposes a good example of the criminal injustice system creating reasons to pass around the profits of imperialism and keep the prison system growing. This is very wasteful, but we are under no illusions that alerting the tax payers to this waste would rally them to join the fight against the criminal injustice system. Even in this economic downturn, Amerikan tax payers are benefiting from the profits of imperialist exploitation of the majority of the world's people. And the prison system is a tool of this imperialist system. A majority of Amerikans will continue to support that system even when presented with evidence of it's abuses. Just like a majority of Amerikans support the imperialist wars that murder innocent people around the world and cost billions of dollars.

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[Abuse] [Massachusetts]
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Fighting Pig Brutality in Massachusetts

I've recently received the latest issue of ULK 9, July 2009. I must clench my fist and pound my chest to salute all who contribute to make ULK happen, for it is a contributing factor in allowing us all over the world to know and become aware of the conditions and ongoing struggle inside amerika's koncentration kamps.

I'm currently at a Massachusetts Maximum Security prison due to my affiliation (ALKQN) and undying will to be free. I haven't come across too many conscious comrades or even unity amongst the people inside this prison. Although the other day I experienced a feeling this ink-drop will never be able to describe. Two slave-keepers (correctional guards) aggressively jumped on a fellow comrade (we are located in a controlled unit setting, 96 total capacity).

Me and the comrades who were out 30-35 in total (all races) immediately took to the incident, got between the slave keepers, removed and protected the comrade they jumped on. As more kops rushed in to back up their own, armed with billy bats, shields, chemical agents, etc. (approximately 50 in total), we stood our ground and stood up to the oppressor pigs. They asked for peace.

To anyone who is reading this: that is true freedom. I don't care how long you've been in the belly, or how much time you are doing, we must come together as one oppressed people, no matter your affiliation, organization, or set you claim. We must stand up to the injustices as one people, and for the people. That's keeping it true to who you are and the flag you fly.

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[Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 11]
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Response to Legal Help Request

I just got my first issue of Under Lock and Key (July 2009, No 9). Needless to say, I sure appreciated it. The mail room personnel did not censor it, but that does not necessarily mean they won't in the near future. I write to respond to the letter that was written by the Georgia prisoner (Pig Enables Stabbing of Prisoner in Riot, May 2009). Hopefully you will print my letter so our comrade can read it and use the information therein.

First, to our comrade, you've got to file your complaint at the unit level and keep copies of it and any other documents that you file with the administration because you'll need to file a title 42 United States Code Section 1983 lawsuit for a redress of grievances. Write down everything that happened to you, as well as everything else that you have done since to secure medical care, etc., for this will definitely come in handy for your lawsuit. If you've got any witnesses that are willing to help you out by testifying you need to try to keep in contact with them.

Second, you need to do some legal research in the unit's law library to better understand your situation and to go about filing your lawsuit. You can write the district court where the incident occurred and request the necessary forms to file your suit. The district court's address should be in the unit law library (there should be a "venue list" or simply request the address from the unit law library). There's a lot you need to know and do and there's not enough space here to expound.

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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 14]
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Education: Still Much Work to be Done

I read ULK 9 and enjoyed the attention given to education in this issue. The political education of the lumpen should be central to the revolutionary movement of north amerika. There are three pillars in any true revolutionary process: organization, politicization, and mobilization of the masses. In other words, theory before practice and unity before everything else. I am in my fourteenth year of incarceration on a life sentence. I came in at the age of 18 and I have observed the forging of lumpen alliances for a number of various reasons over the years. Very rare is it to find a lumpen organization (LO) with a sound political line and/or agenda, and even more rare is it to find an LO of such a professed platform that actually practices what they pretend to preach. I am also a representative of the ALKQN and so I write from the same side of the battle lines as the rest.

It should go without saying that a movement absent foundational theory is bound to fail, but the truth is these things need to be said, explained, understood, and accepted. One of the primary and principle things that we, as individual and collective members of today's LOs have to establish is the question of political theory and exactly what kind of society we aspire to affect. The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons is aiding us in this way, yet there is much more political work to be done amongst ourselves. The ability to define the difference between capitalism and socialism is fundamental to our level of education. But so is the realization that we, in general, as the lumpen proletariat, referred to by Marx as the 'underclass,' have the task of eradicating the remnants of the former (that are so deeply planted in our subconscious that we more often than not fail to even realize or acknowledge) before we can truly even hope to successfully set out to establish the latter. Sufficient political work needs to be undertaken in the goal to raise collective political consciousness. Classes are essential to such a program. We need the demand for unity on every corner, and the serious dedicated attempts to effectively study and debate the materials we are afforded by such groups as MIM(Prisons).

Some of our respective LOs have histories that stretch back into the 1940s. Many of our LOs have revolutionary grassroot origins. There are those of us who realize this and who are struggling to re-align ourselves, and those around us, with the spirit of those beginnings. But it is a mistake and an unseen obstacle in our failing to analyze, consider, and take into account the opportunism so many of our leaders began to shroud themselves with at the beheading of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. This opportunistic spirit is what helped magnify the influx of both the drug and "gang-banging" culture we so readily embraced throughout the late 70s and all the way into the early 90s. It also resulted in the influx of brothers and sisters who were met with open arms, and empty heads. That era, for the most part, was declared a victory by the federal government. Our communities were war-torn, drug and crime infested, and the U.$. prison industrial complex was impregnated with more bodies of color than any other place in the world. And a new era began, the era of programming.

All these things need to be taught. If we are to become serious and elemental in the fights against imperialism we must come to accept ourselves, the lumpen, first as a product and consequence of capitalist society, and then, as the spear-head of the revolution - a true socialist revolution, for ourselves, and for the people of the Third World.

Every one of us has a responsibility and an obligation to the true meaning of our respective LO to manifest it in our every breath, action and thought. The label must become second to the representation. For in the end there can be no division nor dividing factors in the United Front. As revolutionaries, we are perpetual teachers. We must teach ourselves and each other, and in some cases even our very own leadership. A plunge in morale is a result of our own fears and failures to teach. As revolutionaries it is up to ourselves not to become discouraged or weary, and it is up to ourselves to muster the physical, moral, and intellectual effort it takes to dare others to learn and to teach. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Much work remains to be done among us all to raise the level of political consciousness so that every cadre, however high the position they may occupy, is schooled in the policies of our movement, its character, its strategy and tactics."

Education/political consciousness is key; unity in that line is the lock; the safe is the imperialist/capitalist mindframe that must be cracked; and the new man or woman, the turning wheel of change, the revolutionary, is the hidden treasure within.

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[Prison Labor] [Georgia]
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No pay for work in Georgia

Prisons in Georgia cut down trees, scoop waste from pipes, make clothes, cook food, repair equipment, do plumbing, fight fires, till the land, teach school, make boots, and many other things. Yet we don't get any benefits, workers comp, or pay, whatsoever. Any labor, whatever the work, is done for free. Wages don't exist in the Georgia Department of Corrections. The only way you can earn money is by working the last 6 months of your sentence in a halfway house or pre-release center.

Most of the public has no objections to Georgia prisoners not being paid. They support laws that make it harder for us to succeed or enjoy life. They want us to stay in prison forever. When we get out they don't want us to be able to get a good job or live anywhere near them.

Politicians talk about rehabilitation but that ain't what they really want. They want only to exploit others for gain and retain power. This system we are under doesn't care about the people, they only pretend to care.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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The Hate U Gave Lil' Infants Fucks Everyone

THUG LIFE
T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.
Sankyika Shakur
Grove Press, 2008.

This novel by former Eight Tray Gangsta Crip, current New Afrikan Revolutionary and captive of California's Security Housing Units promotes peace, unity and discipline among the lumpen of the oppressed nations. As such, we rate this book positively as a cultural work. The story weaves the THUG LIFE code promoted by Tupac and Mutulu Shakur throughout. In this reviewer's limited exposure to the collection of fiction branded as "street lit" and marketed mostly to younger New Afrikans, we see this as a superior example. A thorough analysis of this genre might parallel our discussion of hip hop music in a lot of ways.

The bulk of the story is gangster, but lessons and gems are peppered throughout. In the context of the ongoing conflict between the gangs of Los Angeles, the author introduces principles of dialectical development, though he doesn't develop them very extensively. Cultural references to revolutionary music and movies are also dropped in the story in a way that may promote further investigation by readers who are attracted to the overall gangster story. A comrade and obvious admirer of Tupac Shakur, Sanyika seems to take a similar approach in his writing that Pac took in his music.

In one of the tensest moments of the book, Shakur paints a picture of a disciplined unit of gangsters awaiting a raid, "These bangers had grown fed up with police tactics of intimidation, false arrests, no-knock raids, and summary executions that always seemed to accompany their public 'protect and serve' image. They had made a pact to stand and fight when confronted without an escape route."

Following another police raid, this time of the main character Lapeace's apartment, we briefly meet Mrs. Delaney, founder of the Black Scouts Youth Brigade, who gives us a lesson in security: "what I do ain't no secret, it's just nobody's business but my own."

Later, Sekou, Lapeace's road dog, promotes scientific thinking and attacks identity politics, "I could care less who speaks the truth, I want to hear it." This is in reference to the Tupac character named Askari Shakur. Interestingly, characters in the book regularly listen to Tupac songs, while this character, Askari Shakur, is used as a stand in for Tupac in the Las Vegas beef that ends in his fatal shooting.

Throughout the book there is a theme of Lapeace searching for a family legacy of revolutionary resistance that he knows little about. Meeting Askari Shakur really encourages this desire for him, but the relationship is cut short by Askari's assassination. This story line is typical of New Afrikans as a whole who are very ignorant of the struggles lived by their parents just a generation before. In ULK 9, a comrade told a story very similar to Lapeace's. His mother was in the Black Panthers, resulting in their home being raided regularly as a child. But until her death, he thought she was just a criminal gangster.

The THUG LIFE code is a step. Gangsters living by the code aren't gonna get us free. Really, gangsters aren't gonna get us free, period. Not until they start transforming into something other than gangsters. Many lumpen organizations have a parallel analysis of the development of their members that start in the criminal mentality and transition to a more conscious one, in some cases the ultimate stage being promoted is of a revolutionary nationalist nature. To different degrees they promote trading in lumpen individualism for identifying with one's people, or the people. The problem with these programs is that they are usually presented in a way that is limited by individualism itself. As if each member must go thru these stages. If everyone's development is the same then we never advance. How we advance as a group is that each generation takes the lessons of the previous generations and builds on them, not making the same mistakes.

By erasing revolutionary history of the oppressed, the government has done much to set back progress. As the lumpen stand in a state of ignorance and criminality, they can only progress as a group through revolutionary nationalism and proletarian internationalism. The progression from nihilistic gang-banging to a code of conduct like THUG LIFE is just one small step, one that has not yet been taken up by the group.

One of the main roles of culture is to create idealized images that represent something that the people can relate to and emulate. Lapeace seems to be a character that merges the author's past with his present in a way that idealizes the best of the gangster culture. Recognizing the stage we are in is part of a materialist approach to change and to culture. Lapeace is a positive image at this stage of the struggle. And a code of conduct like THUG LIFE is an important stepping stone to where we ultimately need to get.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Unite for change

I am a prisoner in Texas and a member of the ALKQN. I want to shed some light on those who are members of my beloved nation and to those who are prisoners or in the struggle. It is time we unite to judge the oppressor and his ways. We must no longer stand asleep not knowing that for so long we been letting the oppressor keep us as subjects, where our minds are programmed to do what he says.

We must start by awaking our people to realize that we can make a change in our communities and in the court system. We must also have the will to stop selling drugs to our people, because we are killing them with the oppressors ways. For every minority that catches a drug/murder case the oppressor sells them to a prison, or should I say one of these industrial complext warehouse, to get rich. So when are we going to change for the betterment of ourselves? The question lies within you!

I'm not just talking to my King brothers or Queen sisters. I'm talking to every person who belongs to an organization or is just independent. I ask that we stop dwelling on yesterdays and start thinking about tomorrows, because our time to change things is now. I also ask that whoever reads these newsletters start educating yourselves by getting a GED, business degree or degree in anything. Also to start learning the law, so we can teach our families and children on how to not be subjects to the oppressor and his system, but to beat his system within their own laws and rules. Let's stand united as a whole sun and shine our powers into the mission of human service for if we put our minds together we shall accomplish many goals to live in freedom.

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