The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 10]
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An open letter to my fellow prisoners of war

Greetings to my brothers in this universal struggle for freedom against the imperialist power structure that warehouses human beings like livestock in grossly overcrowded penitentiaries, where prisoners are forced to live one on top of the other, like new age slave ships. This predominately affects New Africans and Latinos. Being consciously aware of the fact that the injustice system, the United $tates BOP and the various state DOCs are being used as one of the most effective and detrimental reactionary weapons against the political, economic, and social growth of both the New African and Latino communities.

I was deeply disappointed to hear of the recent infighting between Blacks and Latinos within the Chino plantation. For years now I've heard of the "great Black/Brown divide" amongst New Africans and Latinos in general (Mexicans specifically). I've never fully understood why. As two groups of oppressed people we have a shared history of revolutionary collaboration, from the brave Che Guevara fighting to liberate the brothers and sisters of Angola and Mozambique all the way back to the great General Toussaint of Haiti who led a revolution to free the island of Hispaniola from its colonial oppressors.

Also as an oppressed people we all suffer from the same by-products of American racism. Both our communities share the same poverty stricken ghettos, we're all subjected to the same sub-par educational system from neglected and grossly underfunded schools. And we're both suffering from years of economic suppression, political disenfranchisement, and complete apathy by the racist/classist oligarchy power structure of america towards the daily plight of our people.

And so with a clearly defined and established common enemy and a shared struggle for improved economic, education and social equality, they're a hindrance to our unity and dangerous to the struggle. And if we are to ever get beyond our current turbulent and intransigent relationship we must not focus on our petty differences but unite and rally around our shared interests and common goals. Until there is unity there can be no victory. So until there is victory, the struggle continues.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We share this comrades sentiments regarding recent events in Chino. For years, leaders in California have been working to develop a Peace Summit in the prison system, but these efforts have been thwarted by the administration while the lumpen continue to attack each other. Once a strong example of an organized front for humyn rights, the California prison system now shows how bad it can really get when the state is able to manipulate the oppressed to do their bidding.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 10]
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Organizing LOs for revolution

I'm not presently a member of MIM's USW movement but as a younger Black male growing up in the system with a 23 year prison sentence I've come to feel that prisoners and society as a whole have somehow managed to find tranquility in triviality and ignorance. So the USW is something I'm promoting throughout NC prisons using my gang affiliation as a Hoover Crip to represent the need for reform and unity among the rival street gangs. Hopefully I'm successful in building an understanding with the United Blood Nation and Gangster Disciples who are far more numerous in NC State prisons.

Those of you who are still affiliated with your LOs need to step up and speak to help build others' understanding. Speak by directing your comments to us independently of everything else. You have many of us who are in the closet about our growing desire to represent our LOs while also truly standing up for revolution, anti-capitalism, anti-racism and anti-sexism, but without the encouragement to do so. It's not out of fear but let's be honest with ourselves, many of us aspire for growth but have found it hard in the beginning, and even now harder to maintain the goals we're striving for.

I'd like to know from ULK readers who are active LO how they define revolution and what makes them revolutionaries, what are the actions they've taken to enlighten other LOs that could possibly be continued in other prisons throughout the u.s.

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[Abuse] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 10]
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Abuse in wimmin's prison

This wimmin's prison has a lot of corrupt pigs. I was physically and sexually assaulted here. I was put in restraint chairs, strapped in over my shoulders, around my waist, my wrists and ankles as well. I was made to stay in it 18 hours straight. And a few hours later I was put back in and left in it for another 16 hours. I was starved for 17 days straight here.

There are a lot of other abuses here too. My water was shut off for a week. My physical and mental health has declined significantly. I'm refused hygiene. They refused to let me brush my teeth for 10 days. They stole my property, including my children's and family's photos, they stole my incoming and outgoing mail, they denied me my sentence appeal hearing, stopped me from seeing parole, they refuse to transfer me to a out of state prison, they refuse me visits and calls to my family and I have not seen them in over 3 years. They stole my legal work as well.

This place is worse than Iraq. I think I'd rather be there. I rebel. I get them back every chance I get. I put forth lawsuits on them. I have 8 lawsuits against this prison. This is not rehabilitation what so ever. Tax payers pay for their lawyers while I have no one to represent me. I do it all by myself and that's why a lot of prisoners lawsuits get dismissed and they get away with violating us. We should be afforded attorneys as well.

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[Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Brutality leads to death

I would like to reach out to my fellow prisoners, by this true and law breaking story. This happened in the wee hours in the morning.

I lived just on the opposite side and above and several doors down from a man who you might call a mentally challenged prisoner. He was heavily medicated since first coming to this wing. Over periods of time, he would have his outbursts, beating, banging on the walls, door, etc. Even at times rubbing feces on and around inside his cell. At times not eating meals.

Late last night this prisoner was brought to a stand up cage made out of fence. It's a 3x3 cage, 7 feet tall. He was brought to this cage because he took abundant amounts of pills. So then a nurse came to speak with him and he was given a cup of charcoal to drink. It coats the stomach and intestines. Several hours later he was moved to a cell unknown exactly to us, but he died.

You must keep in mind that we live on a super-seg prison in TX. One of the most high secured. This is a 24 hour lock-down unit. How did this challenged prisoner get or accumulate these pills that were so detrimental to him? The nursees pass out AM and PM meds. They are supposed to watch each prisoner swallow their meds. They fail doing this, only because they think it's a burden of time on their hands.

Why weren't his vitals taken every 15 minutes to watch for elevating blood pressure? Instead, they stuck him back in a cell and allowed him to slip away into total darkness. Why wasn't he taken to a hospital?

His stay to the guards was only a joke, and in fact a way for them to retaliate and finally get their revenge. They blame him for his mistakes. But really, they are pointing their bloody fingers the wrong way. They knew he was a challenged prisoner. So why allow him to accumulate pills to a detrimental level? Where did these pills come from? Only the inside could let this happen.

When the free world investigator showed up to check his cell, he ignored our calls for help. As we screamed desperately for his help about the murder, he shrugged his shoulders and took a few pictures and was gone in a few moments.

Someone is always dying, being an overdose or suicide. How are these things ongoing? They allow us no rights! Here there are days some prisoners don't get food. My mail is on a constant watch. I will speak out about these criminals.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Florida] [ULK Issue 11]
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Unity Only Possible Among Friends

Your opening statements in the issue I received are true with regards to the need for unity among the masses in the concentration camps nationwide. I've been in the system 13 years now and I've felt helpless and hopeless for a lot of years because it seems impossible to accomplish.

This is a very complex issue to approach because the division that separates us is multi-faceted. Never mind the different gangs that believe in their individual causes to be against another gang, but you have Blacks can't unite, whites can't unite, Latinos can't unite. And then you have the younger generation of prisoners that are divided from the older generation. Then you have the short-times with little time left to serve on their sentence who are unwilling to stand for a cause that a lifer will stand for because of fear of getting more time.

You have the haves and the have-nots in prison who separate and create yet another division because those with no money or regular source of income will not stand with those with money when it comes time to start a protest by refusing to go to food service for the lack of sufficient amounts, to the spoiled and rotten food regularly served.

The divisions between prisoners is equivalent to blind people trying to put together a 2 million piece jigsaw puzzle. Right next to quite impossible. Having said this, I still believe some effort at the attempt, no matter how futile, is much much better than quiet and docile acquiescence.

Under Lock & Key is an intelligent yet small step in the right direction. I say "small" step because it may be that several generations will come and go before universal consensus is reached that we need to stop fighting each other and start helping each other. Nevertheless, I accept my responsibility in this cause and become educated in the ways of the brothers and sisters that came before me like Huey P. Newton, Assata Shakur, Malcolm X and others.

I believe when no one will listen to words the only way to lead is by example of personal actions. If various states ban, censor, or put restrictions on ULK those of us have a vested responsibility to live the ideology as best we can under the circumstances.

While living the cause each day we should try to come up with solutions to the various levels of our division. For example, Amerikan tax-payers work each week and taxes are deducted from their paychecks to fund the prison system in each individual state, yet very few tax payers question the use of those collective funds. Paying taxes is an established institution in the U.S. so hardly any question the use when the challenges of making ends meet are more pressing. But if public safety is the justification for taking more and more taxes each year then why is crime not being eliminated? Simple, because crime creates jobs, jobs generate revenue and revenue funds the elitists who own the corporations that ULK works hard to educate us about.

So one way we all can help is by not only focusing on our divisions, but instead trying to educate the masses with information about the abuses of tax-payers' funds on some of the things inside the system. For example, here in Florida the taxes run the prison system yet still each day thousands of prisoner receive money orders from family and friends to help us keep our hygiene and other necessities, only for the Florida Dept of Corrections central office to tax each money order, twice. They take 50 cents from each prisoner deposit, and they take 10 percent of the total amount each prisoner spends for the week. So for example, if a prisoner spends the entire $75 weekly limit, they take $7.50. This is already on top of the money our loved ones pay in taxes each week, month and year.

It takes money to right money so the dissemination of information on the abuses we endure with the criminal injustice system must be only the foundation to which this movement is built upon. We must create think-tanks out of the cells they use to confine us. We must be educated on the knowledge of social engineering.

The anti-imperialist movement hinges on a backbone of resistance to the direction in which the elitist is taking the world. We are the corrosive element in their motor. We must come together ideologically, socially, personally and even financially to gain strength in this movement.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this prisoner's call for unity and the hard work of educating and organizing people to fight the criminal injustice system. However, we do not think the strategy of organizing taxpayers for their own financial interest is correct at this time in Amerika. The vast majority of Amerikan workers have a financial interest in imperialism. And the Criminal Injustice System is a prop used to keep imperialism running strong. Amerikans recognize this and strongly back the police and locking up more people. Frankly, if you brought these issues to their attention they'd probably cut the funding for food and toiletries more. Families with loved ones in prison would be the exception.

As we think about our organizing strategies, we must first have a clear idea of who are our friends and who are our enemies. This does not mean we cannot influence or even ally with enemy classes at times, but we must not treat them as friends and allies in our struggle. MIM(Prisons) focuses on organizing prisoners, and we know that without organized prisoners there is no real prison movement. Prisoners should be looking to each other (as this comrade suggests with think tanks), as well as their families and communities that are affected negatively by the injustice system for solutions.

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[Medical Care] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting for Sanitary Conditions in Texas

Since being at Connally Unit, going on a year since I was released from administrative segregation, I can honestly say that conditions are at their worst. I've submitted grievances and nothing has been done about it. For one, we have five showers to each pod, each pod holds 48 prisoners, each shower has only one shower head, and we are limited by the time we receive during day room, which is less than 2 hours a day. These showers are only opened during that time. If you go out to recreation before or after day room, you are not allowed to shower. These showers are locked most of the time during and after recreation. And to finish that off, the temperature of the water can cook a soup.

I am also concerned about our health and the drinking water in the day room that we don't have, with this hot weather, the hottest in South Texas record. Our water fountain has not produced water since the beginning of the summer. Prisoners here have passed out, dehydrated, and have had bad chest and headaches since this started.

We get our mail stolen from time to time, racist staff employees harass and abuse their power and authority as if they have something to prove to the white man (most employees here on Connally Unit are Latinos and Blacks). They like to see us divided, fighting our own oppressed brothers, they want us blind and confused and then on top of that you have these puppets who cater to their masters, by snitching and who help keep us down.

Our food is not properly washed and cleaned such as our beans and greens. Sometimes I find pieces of rock and dirt mixed in there. Our greens are spoiled and have been for the past six months, our bread most of the time is baked with mildew.

Exterminators for mice and ants and other insects have not done their job. Mice get into our lockers and eat our food, the ant eats what's left from that food. Our hygiene is not properly attended to, such as tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shower slides, etc. Speaking about shower shoes, all this is sold to us through the commissary store, and if you don't receive money from your family, you can't afford to purchase these items because here in Texas you don't get payed for working in prison. In our cell rooms we don't get any kind of chemicals to clean our toilets, sink, floor, walls, bunks, and lockers from germs.

Our showers have fungus on the floor and walls. Just recently they (prisoners working for the system) came with their boss (state employee) and laid down a layer of sand glue to cover up the fungus under it. Just imagine if you have no shower shoes: that causes one to see medical due to foot fungus.

You only have 10 people you can put on your visitation list, and if you receive money from anyone, no matter who that person is, if that person is not on your visitation list and you receive money unauthorized by administration, you can receive, such as I did, a 15.0 trafficking and trading case, which is a major case.

So let us unite our strengths and fight for the oppressed masses, which are many, and not our personal gains and recognition. Let us stand side by side and demonstrate, for a better way of life.

As Mao told us that an army "is powerful because all of its members have a conscious discipline; they...come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation."

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[Legal] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 13]
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Anti-Censorship Lawsuit Strategies Used by a Successful Jailhouse Lawyer

This article was submitted a year ago after the author won a successful anti-censorship lawsuit in Wisconsin where the prison administration was censoring materials because they were critical of the department and encouraged legal challenges to their abuses. As MIM(Prisons) continues to stress, censorship has nothing to do with the safety and security of humyn beings and everything to do with the safety and security of the state and its use of repression. This article is being posted as we work to release a collection of legal documents and launch a Serve the People program for jailhouse lawyers. We apologize for not publishing this sooner.

Dear MIM Distributors,

I am glad to share with your readers the successful strategy used in my First Amendment case that could be used by other prisoners in the future. However, I would be remissed if I didn't acknowledge the assistance of well known Legal Activist and Para-legal "MoSo" who actually litigated the case.

He provided me with this information for your article. He indicated that prison officials always rely on the trusted and well used excuse to deny your rights by asserting "security" or as in this case, that the material was "inflammatory".

This derives from the well-known phrase that although you have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, you cannot shout "Fire!!" in a crowded movie theater. Even the Supreme Court has recognized there are limits of what a person can say, including things such as "Fighting Words". These types of restrictions are amplified in the prison context, of course, and are over exaggerated by prison officials.

Thus, the first thing in litigating such issues is to make sure to continue to remind the court that it is their Constitutional duty to review those decisions "independently." This is true despite the assertions put forth by prison officials to support their decisions, and despite the fact that the court owes such decisions some deference. So once you can get the court to step outside of the prison official's mind set, and look at the issue legally, then you have passed the first hurdle.

Most of these conservative Republican judges simply read what the prison official says and accept that as being a valid reason to infringe upon a Constitutional Right. However, a judge's job is to "protect" the Constitution, not act as a supervisor authority for the prison or a rubber stamp, nor be a sympathetic ear for something bad prison officials did against you.

Whether the Court is in your own Circuit or an outside Circuit (if you can't find one in yours), try to develop arguments that show that the Court had ruled against whatever it is the prison officials did. A lot of prisoners make the mistake of thinking the more cases you cite for a proposition, the stronger your argument is and the court will be impressed. What I have learned is stick to one or two cases that are factually the same and continually argue from those cases, showing such excuses are either not valid, with no connection to the "concern," or are exaggerated to such a concern.

In convincing a court such excuses are not valid or are an exaggeration, I used the "comparison" technique. There is well-known case law which holds that if you can show other prisons of the same security allow certain things, even publications, when another bans it, the concern put forth by that prison has been shown to be either invalid or exaggerated. So in the case cited as Lorenzo Johnson v. Rick Raemisch, et al., Case No. 07-CV-309-bbc. (W.D. Wis), we got affidavits from other prisons showing the publication was allowed in those institutions and yet was banned from mine. [note: MIM(Prisons) can often provide documentation of where certain items have been allowed if needed.]

In addition, in discovery, I requested what specific material the defendants deemed objectionable. Then when arguing in the briefs, proved that all that same information alleged to be inflammatory was in fact available to inmates from other sources allowed in the prison, such as on the computer, news paper articles, or even in prior published court decisions.

And lastly, what I would like to import to other prisoners attempting to litigate any First Amendment claims is the fact that most publications are denied based on prison officials' conclusions that such publications create a risk to security because they are either inflammatory, or contain gang symbols or racist materials. So one should make sure to read and cite the Supreme Court's decision in Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1976). Another case I would recommend to read is Bressman v. Farrier cite as 825 F. Supp. 231 (N.D. Iowa. 1993). These are just good cases to keep in your ammo belt.

I hope this information helps others. I believe Judge Crabb's decision in Johnson, supra, could also be helpful if cited, as it was finally a principled decision based purely on law and showing that a true judge's Constitutional responsibility is to uphold the Constitution, no matter who's right and wrong. The judge is supposed to be "impartial."

Justice for all!!!

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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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