The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Expand ULK. Send us $50 concealed cash with an address and we'll send you a stack of each issue for the next year. help out
[Organizing] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 9]
expand

LOs Must Organize for the People

I'm writing this letter as a growing New Afrikan prisoner and gang leader and founder of the NC State East Coast Consolidated Crip Organization (ECCO) prison group. What prompted me to write this particular letter was the March 2008 #7 Under Lock & Key interview with Comrade Mfalme Sikivu. Even without having an affiliation with the Ujamaa Field Dynasty, I can agree to their message and that of their doctrine from what was given in the interview.

I believe there comes a time in our lives for those of us who live our life illegal, or gang members, prisoners, etc., that we realize what oppression is and how we take active roles in repressing ourselves and our communities. Not for all, but for most of us, I'd say it's natural to want to contribute to productive change and liberation from what ignorance has bound us to. I encourage all my comrades in Lumpen groups to contact the UFD to have a better understanding of the UFD and their goals as to realize their struggle is our struggle, their liberation is our liberation. It takes all of us as responsible adults to fight for what we know is right and to learn from each other.

We can be gang members and still identify with the set and hoods we're from while deprogramming ourselves and killing our own for rank and a name in some cases. There's no sense to it. Anybody with common sense should realize violence for any number of reasons normally is responded to with equal or greater violence. As a Hoover Crip I've killed or harmed more Crips from rival chapters than the United Blood Nation. I'm not justifying or advocating my actions, I'm making a point from what I know. We each have the potential to do right, if we make a dedicated attempt. While I do agree with the statement Mfalme made that lumpen will not fundamentally change, I do so because I don't feel we have enough educated leaders and programs in and out of prison to help us come to a new understanding.

The Crips and the Bloods have decades of bad relations and bloodshed between us that has spread all across the United States, Africa and South America. A 6 month to a year program, half run by capitalist and police who don't know or care about us, who in most cases entice us to kill each other, can't be expected to change the damage.

Remember, it's on us to defeat our criminal mentalities and create a future for our families. No one can break our bad habits for us and for us as gang members, pimps, drug dealers, etc., to continue down the same path is self-destruction for us and those who care for us, or depend on us. Each one, teach one and we will obtain the light we seek. And support the UFD goals, if not the UFD, learn from them and apply what's taught to your own groups to help our communities grow and prosper.

chain
[Legal] [Abuse] [Mule Creek State Prison] [California]
expand

Retaliation for Fighting for Legal Rights

When last I wrote I shared my struggle to get typewriters in our prison law library. Makes sense to have typewriters in a law library, doesn’t it?

Well, for my efforts I was thrown in the hole when I was attempting to use the law library facilities in order to finish some work for a case that was scheduled for a telephone hearing the following day.

Now similar to my brother’s situation in North Carolina (ULK #7, March 2009) I was placed in a “security cage” (California prisoners are familiar with these) and left there from 6 am until 2 pm and I had an abscessed tooth at the time (documented and since crowned) and medical refused me my antibiotics and pain medication. By 2 pm I was so delirious with pain that they felt the need to cover the security cage I was in with a wool blanket and dump two fire extinguishers full of chemicals; one of them is known as 505 (lethal).

The next thing I recall was waking up in a cold bare cell with no means of comfort (mattress, blanket, nothing).

Since that attempt on my life I attempted to file a board of claims to the state, but it disappeared after my CCI got it from me. I had to give it to him because I had to get a registered trust statement from him to file with the state. California keeps her “ducks” in a row.

So, as a result of my injury, the state of California’s prison at Mule Crrek accommodates their medically assigned bottom bunk prisoners to bare naked cells in the hole. No property, no bunk, just a mattress on the floor. This is common practice, my neighbor is a seventy plus year old man, forced to sleep on the floor!

If a nation is judged by the way she treats her prisoners, this country is damned.

chain
[Organizing] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 9]
expand

Lumpen Organizations and Revolutionary Organizing

As a young revolutionary, I find myself coming up on 10 years of being an Almighty Latin King member. It has had its ups and downs, but it's made me into the brother that is sitting here writing these words. Sometimes, I find myself getting mad when I read MIM's newsletter and somebody writes talking about they were x gang members. Why would a person have to leave all they believe in for years to change their life? If I would have to leave my nations to make a change for the better, these last 10 years of my life would have been nothing but a lie. I don't look at the ALKQN as a gang, because I've never in my 10 years gangbang'd or put on colors, but that doesn't mean I haven't made mistakes as a man. I've been coming to Amerika's concentration camp for a better part of my life. I've learned how to read and write here, and how to be a man. If not for the ALKQN I would still be a lost soul, deaf, dumb and blind just like the imperialists like us.

When I read ULK and hear of brothers in New Jersey who are teaching other Kings and the UBN how to read and write and not just passing XXL and Vibes around, that's what Kingism is all about. Not gangbanging. Me being from Brick city I know first hand how the NJDOC is, so my love goes out to all your comrades in the GU no matter what your affiliations are. You don't have to stop being you to stay out of prison, don't let them fool you young brother.

As one of the most revolutionary brothers of our beautiful island once said (Albizu Campos), "Despierta Boricua!; Defiende lo tuyo!"

MIM(prisons) responds: We learn things throughout our lives that lead us to make changes in what we think and do. Learning about revolutionary politics and moving out of a Lumpen Organization (LO) to be involved in revolutionary organizing does not make one's history a lie. Some comrades working with MIM(Prisons) stay with their LOs and some choose to leave when they come into revolutionary politics. These decisions are often based on what their LOs are into, and what the individual comrades think they can accomplish as a member. If a person is a part of an LO that is not supportive of anti-imperialist work, it may be time to move on from that LO. On the other hand, we respect those comrades who want to stay with their LOs and promote anti-imperialism within the group. There are important roles for both approaches.

chain
[Prison Labor] [Choice Moore Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 8]
expand

Work, Money and Good Time in Texas

I live in a "transfer facility" known as the Choice Moore Unit, in Bonham Texas. This facility houses 1,200 prisoners in eighteen 68-man dorms. Being that this is a transfer facility, people will stay here about 2 years before we are actually integrated into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's prison system. This facility is known as a "farm" because it's main operation is the farming fields around our facility. The majority of the prisoners work either in the fields, kitchen, laundry, or go to school.

There are only a few classes here, and all of them are not vocational. The classes provided are: cognitive thinking changes, GED, and voyagers (which is a religious class). The rest of the jobs here are: supply room, kennel/horse worker (for trustees), dorm janitor, administration helper, inmate commissary, and that's about all. None of these jobs pay us and from what I understand, TDCJ does not pay any money to prisoners. The TDCJ pays us by gaining us "good time" credits and "worktime" credits.

People in the TDCJ system are really forced to work, and here's why: If a person refuses to work, they get a written major case for not working. Once brought to a disciplinary hearing and found guilty, you lose commissary privileges, recreation privileges, and go down in line class status (line class is what gives you privileges, % of work time/good time credits, and is used for classification reasons also.) If after a period of time you were assigned another job and refused to work again, you would be written up for a major case again and the consequences continue to get worse. If continued refusal to work happens, you may end up on a max unit in the "hole" doing all your sentence. Here's another aspect of what happens to us here. Any major or minor case will be forwarded to your parole board. The parole board uses major cases (any case whether petty or not) to give offenders one year set offs, up to 3 year set offs, until they can be up for parole again. So basically any case write-up in here is like being sentenced another year.

Let's say I make 100% of my work time credits and I go up for parole and never had a write up for misbehavior. Now I get a 2 year set off from parole, even with no cases and 100% of my work credit done. Now let's say a guy had 30% work time, 25% good time credit and 2 major cases and he's up for parole. Somehow they let him go home on parole. Parole here does what it wants and all the good time and work time is just for show on paper. They do not actually honor it.

Now for crimes considered "aggravated," they make people do half their time before they are eligible for parole, but they do not get good time credits. They do, however, get work credits. But like I said, it's all for the look - we really don't get shit. A person can get 100% work time and be at half his sentence and not get released on parole (so there's no pay). People can have 3/4th of their sentence done flat time and have 150% work time credits, but still be made to serve all their sentence (there's no pay again). My point is, we do not actually get any pay or reward for working and are therefore slaves to this and for this system.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Culture] [Idaho]
expand

Rap Music and Society

Rap music has recently been under fire for its misogynistic, materialistic, explicit content and for delivering negative messages to today's youth. But upon deeper examination, one tends to see that those ideas are merely the same ones being transmitted to the society at large by the institutions which govern society.

The parallels between the ideas propagated through the mass media and other sources; and the ones rapped about on the radio by recording artists are not hard to recognize. While this society proposes to thrive on such "rights" as "freedom of speech" and embraces such abstract concepts as individualism, materialism, and using sex to make profit, it lambasts and condemns artists who are the products of such defunct ideas and who have chosen to endorse and promote them for monetary gain—similar to their capitalist counterparts and employers—only creatively set over catchy beats in rhyme form.

While the hip-hop/rap culture is made up primarily of lower-class, urban youth, generally from the New Afrikan community. the question that arises is: Why are these destructive, negative values so unacceptable now? It seems that as soon as these inner-city youth find a way to use this society's own value system to their benefit, and use their experiences an conditions of poverty, drugs, and crime as an avenue to create material wealth, they are demonized for their efforts. "Rap music" as a whole is condemned. This is as backwards a reaction as is a child growing up around parents who constantly use foul language, then reprimanding that child when he uses that same language, without holding the parents to account.

Before further analysis, the distinction must be made between what is referred to as "rap" and hip-hop. This may seem minor to some, but it is an important contrast in regards to the subject at hand. The difference between the who can be compared to saying "I love you" to somebody (rap) and being IN love with somebody (hip-hop). Rap is a more commercial venture, where the artists typically brag about who has the flashiest jewelry, the hottest cars, the highest body count, and the most extravagant sexual exploits. Included in this category would be such popular artists as 50 Cent, Young Geezy, and Lil Wayne. Hip-hop, on the other hand, tends to be the expression of the artist's perception of life, their experiences, and an art form where they can articulate ideas and feelings. Artists falling into this category include Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, and Dead Prez. Unfortunately, both categories are lumped together and branded simply "rap" by the mainstream.

Most of the concepts being attacked come from artists in the "rap" category. Here, one can find rappers largely objectifying wimmin, advocating individualism and gangsterism, and supporting their general materialistic message by endorsing such acts as murder, robbery, and deceit, among others. After identifying these trends in rap music, one can't help but see the similarities between rap and the society at large.

Every time one turns on the television, they can not help but notice the many overt references to sex. Wimmin are scantily clad in commercial advertisements to sell almost any commodity imaginable. Wimmin in bikinis walk around boxing rings holding placards showing what round has begun; reality shows televised with wimmin competing for some random guy while employing a wide array of seductive tactics; the list could continue much further. All this is available to a general audience at any given moment throughout the day. The underlying idea is that "sex sells," and this idea is overwhelmingly used by men to objectify and exploit wimmin participants for profit.

Then there is the main reason that these wimmin are objectified—money. They stand next to an expensive car that is supposed to be the fastest and most popular; are in advertisements selling the "classiest" jewelry and apparel; and generally promote obtaining as many of the newest, flashiest, in-style material possessions as possible. This idea has become so widespread and acceptable that in schools the youth who are found to possess the newest, flyest clothes and products are the more popular, while those without the latest trendy clothes and items are the less socially acceptable.

Then there is also the issue of crime. While rappers are being chastised for glorifying violence and criminality, the chastizers fail to confront the underlying causes of such crime and its solution, instead placing the blame on rap culture. From a young age, youth are taught by society that accumulation of wealth is the desired goal of life, to look out for yourself and obtain as much as you can. At the same time—through acts of war at home and abroad— our country reinforces the idea that during the quest for the "almighty dollar." any means may be employed to get more money, including violence, murder, and deceit (among others)—only accepting those from the lower-class. When a person not from a privileged upbringing and background employs these same tactics, even for the same objectives, they are labeled "criminals" and are subject to incarceration and, in some cases, death. The laws that govern this country blatantly display the fact that they were made to protect the privileges of the upper-class at the expense of the lower-class.

This is not a defense for the clearly negative aspects of a culture that influences people from all kinds of different persuasions and races. Objectifying and degrading wimmin, and glorifying drugs and crime are definitely counter-productive and really reflect a symptom of a far wider problem. I am simply attempting to show the correlations between rap music and society, how they both inherently share and promote the same ideas and values, and how by and from the former they are criticized and scorned, yet by and from the latter they are accepted and embraced.

If we want to get to the root of the problem, our attacks shouldn't be aimed at a rap culture that developed from the harsh conditions of this society and which only reflects the same backward ideas and values that have been indoctrinated into the masses since birth. Instead, our attacks should be concentrated at a capitalist system that institutionalizes these degenerate values and ideas, and the ugly conditions it has consequently created in this country. Only when we begin to confront the root causes of crime, poverty, unemployment and racism will we be able to teach and educate our youth, and society as a whole, to new positive and progressive ideas and values, based on people helping and caring about other people-in one world: socialism. Anything short of this is a failure to confront the real issues and is simply a step backward.

chain
[National Oppression] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
expand

Unite to Fight the System

I’m writing from the Michael Unit plantation in Tennessee Colony, TN. For the past few months we here at the Michael Unit have been having racial altercations, and it isn’t even the summer yet. It’s been mainly behind frivolous stuff: “wasted energy on a wasted cause.”

I’ve tried time and time again to get my Latino and Black brothers to open their eyes to the real struggle. Why fight each other? The system should be the ones you’re fighting. The more we stay divided, the more we can’t win our fight. It’s crazy!

Here in Texas, our unit comes through every few months and separates Mexican and Mexican cell mates and the same with whites, and integrates them with Blacks, when they know none of them can live together, and know something will happen because they have nothing in common.

This system is designed to divide and conquer the masses. If only everyone would open their eyes and realize what they were doing, then maybe somethings would change for the better.

I used to be one of the ones who was for my people and you couldn’t tell me different. If it wasn’t Raza I didn’t care. It’s fine and all good if you love your culture, but it’s time that we break down the walls of ethnicity and look at the big picture. It’s us against them and without knowing this, then we will always lose. It’s not a white, black or brown thing, but a struggle thing.

I just hope someone will spread the word about the big picture. It’s not “let’s make it better for our race.” It’s “let’s make it better for everyone.” We are the ones living in the trenches of poverty, blindness and no hope. And if we don’t change, this struggle will never defeat the system.

chain
[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 8]
expand

Remove the Profit Motive

I am currently incarcerated in California serving a 220 year life sentence that I'll never finish.

I know every state is a little different as to how it taxes its prisoners and uses the sweat of our slave labor to promote the prison industrial complex. Following is an outline of a few of the ways they do it here in California.

Some of our taxation comes in the form of "restitution," for which we are taxed 55 percent of all money that lands in our prisoner trust accounts. Ten percent of that goes to the prison for administrative costs and the remainder goes to the state's general fund.

The next money-grabber comes in the form of a $5 co-payment for all medical and dental visits, which is outrageous considering that we are provided substandard and unconstitutional medical, dental, and mental health services under the control of a court-ordered receivership.

Another tax comes in the form of our prisoner welfare fund, which gets collected in various ways, the most common of which is a 10 percent tax on the purchase of an appliance, quarterly package, special purchase or hobby supplies.

A lot of guys - and girls - are unaware of the money that gets clipped from our friends and family. For example, every time we make one of those collect calls, our friends and family get clobbered with outrageous phone bill charges, which the phone companies kickback to the prison for allowing them to provide us with phone service. To give you an idea how badly our families are being taxed by these calls, last year the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) received over $25 million in kickbacks from phone companies.

A similar tax can be found in our visiting rooms by way of the "super high" prices of vending machine items. The vendors, like the phone companies, pay kickbacks to the prisons for the privilege of putting their machines in our visiting areas! I don't know what this amount is annually, but I assure you, it's a lot.

Also in the visiting area are the sales of pictures for which all the profits go to the inmate welfare fund, which gets quietly shuffled into the general fund. The same applies to the profits from our canteen purchases.

Next we visit the prison labor issue. Here in California we've been operating with a pay scale system that was developed in the 1970s and there hasn't been a cost of living adjustment since it was implemented. In fact, the only change that has come has been the elimination of paid positions, because there is always some desperate prisoner who is willing to work for nothing just to get out of his or her cell. This practice must stop if we are ever to see a pay increase.

We pretty much make everything for the state prison system and government offices: Clothing, food, bedding, cleaning products, tables, chairs, and even modular offices. We make license plates and the tags that go on them; our labor saves the state $billions annually. Yet we continue to jump at the opportunity to work for 10 cents an hour or for nothing at all!

I could go on for hours about all the ways the state is extorting our money and the sweat of our labor. It's endless, and all we are doing is making it possible for them to hold us longer and, quite possibly imprison our friends, neighbors and loved ones to expand their prison industrial complex. This has got to stop.

Now, here's my solution. This should work, considering the current economic crisis affecting every state, but it won't come easily or without sacrifice.

I call upon everyone to use up or send out all the money in your prison trust account. This will deprive the state of millions of dollars that they acquire from interest on our money, as well as funds they won't get from restitution, fines, inmate welfare and other bogus charges, because we'll have no money to spend. Second, everyone must stop using the phone and start writing instead. Third, stop working for nothing. I guarantee you this will quickly get the attention of your administrators - but don't collapse under pressure. Last, demand prisoners' rights, including the right to vote. Once that is established you will have the power to do just about anything.

For everyone's information, I want you to know I have already undertaken this plan of action. I have remained indigent since my incarceration in 2005 and, as a direct result, the state pays me 20 metered indigent envelopes a month, all my necessary hygiene equipment, soap, razors, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb and so forth. They also pay for all my legal copying services, paper, envelopes and postage of which I have used many. I have deprived the state of the interest from my money and the $850,000 it claims I owe in restitution. I have refused to work from day one and will continue to do so until I see radical changes in prisoners' rights. I don't pay for my medical visits or my medications, which are numerous and extremely expensive.

Again, I could ramble on for days, but I want you all to start thinking about how you are contributing to the prison industrial complex and start taking actions to change this environment in which we live. If done nationwide, we can and will stop the heart of the Prison Industrial Complex by removing the profit motive.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade points out a lot of ways that prisoners can take legal and non-violent actions against the so-called prison industrial complex. This sort of organizing is important. However, this will not remove the motivation for imprisonment in the United $tates. While people are making extra money off of prisoners through all the methods listed above, the fundamental source of money for prisons is still the government. Prisons are not profitable in the sense that they do not generate enough value to pay for themselves. They are a subsidized industry that pays a lot of people a lot of money to build, fill and operate. And so the portion of this that prisoners can impact by the direct actions described in this article is limited to a minority of the money. That doesn't mean these actions will be useless, but we can't fool ourselves into thinking these actions alone will stop the heart of the Prison Industrial Complex.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Gender] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 9]
expand

Response to Gender Issue of ULK

I am writing to let it be known that I had no problem receiving the January 2009 issue of ULK. It is such an honor and a privilege to be a recipient of such a fine publication.

While reading the latest issue of ULK I noticed something that made me stop and think really hard. That something was that throughout the entire newsletter there was some type of mentioning of women in nearly every issue. I point that out because I have a story to tell about how women are making life harder for prisoners.

Before I go any further with this please let me say to my fellow comrades that I love women to the utmost. The way they smell, the sound of their voice, the way they look, the way they walk, everything; I'm the furthest thing from a sexist anyone can imagine. Let's face the facts though, women are some very emotional beings. Emotions that when not contained or kept in check could prove to be very detrimental to a person such as myself.

When dealing with women working in a men's prison, one has to be very careful about what they do, and what they say. Because you never know when you'll become a victim of one of her emotional outbursts.

Case in point: One morning on return from gym call, as I headed to my cell for an institutional count I had asked the female officer in the booth over the intercom was she going around for count to which she replied, "no". I was going to my cell to wash myself since I was all sweaty from playing basketball in the gym, and I could not take a shower before lunch call because the showers don't cut on until 5 o'clock. I had asked that female officer, was she coming through for count, out of respect because I knew that there was a slight possibility that she would, being that we can't cover our cell door windows, and I knew that I would be washing myself. Out of respect for women I did this. So when she told me no, that she wasn't coming around for count, I went to my cell, got completely naked, and proceeded to wash myself.

You can imagine what happened next. Unknown to me, the very same female officer walks right past my door to count me while I'm standing there completely naked washing my body. It wasn't a problem to me but I didn't want this lady thinking that I had disrespected her. So after count was cleared I went looking for her to apologize. I couldn't find her for the rest of that day. I thought that maybe she was called to another unit to work.

The following day however, I was called to the sergeants office, and was told that I had a write up for being naked in my cell, stroking my penis in an up and down motion during count time when this particular female officer came past my cell door to count me. What? I was outraged. I tried calmly to explain the situation to the sergeant, but if you're a prisoner you already know that a prisoner's word versus an officer's word is no good, and whatever that officer says is what it is. I felt completely defenseless. I was, because I knew that no matter what I said or did this facility's disciplinary board was going to find me guilty. I tried though. I tried to get them to understand the situation, but these people are truly stuck in their ways even when the truth, and facts are right before their eyes.

In the disciplinary hearing the hearing officer stated in their summary that they find that this act was not intentional, but still found me guilty. Resulting in the punishment of $10 taken out of my account (money that my people send me, I only get $20 every other month), 45 days segregation time, loss of telephone privilege for 30 days, 10 days credit time less, 40 hours extra duty time, and one month limited draw (meaning that I can only spend $10 a week instead of 40). On top of all that I've been red-flagged to be placed on I-CON (intensive control) which is being placed in segregation for at least 6 months, because this is my second high level offense within the last 6 months. The first one was refusing to produce a urine sample for a drug test. I got that because I couldn't piss on demand.

I've shared this story with you comrades so that you can see for yourself just how easy it is for a female working in a prison to cause so much hardship for a prisoner. On the outside looking in you just see that I'll be doing a lot of months in segregation. You don't recognize what effect that has on me and my family. Because now that I'm in segregation visits are now behind the glass, meaning that I can't hug my sons, mother, and sisters if they choose to come see me shackled, handcuffed, and chained up behind a glass window. Now my people think that it's a waste of money to have to pay for write ups, using money that could've been well spent somewhere else; resulting in them not really wanting to send me money anymore. I also have another charge added onto my DOC record which will be looked at by a judge being that I'm trying to get back into court. Now the judge is going to see that I can't behave myself in prison, why should he really grant me a motion for appropriate relief if I'm unable to control myself in prison? That's what he's going to be thinking. Now my chances of getting a motion granted are even smaller.

These are just a few ways that my life and the lives of my family and loved ones are affected by a female coming to work emotionally distressed. Nothing I can do about it either. That's the sad part. All I can do is live my life one day at a time with hopes that I'll be released from captivity earlier than the 2020 release date set for me.

Throughout my entire life women played a significant role in how things went for me, some good, some bad. It just goes to show that that saying is true, "women, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."

MIM(Prisons) responds: First we want to dispel some mistaken ideas about what sexism is. This prisoner suggests that because he loves women he is not sexist. But sexism has nothing to do with what one likes or loves. Sexism is the systematic view that women are in some way inferior to men. And in the case of this prisoner, his characterization of women as "very emotional beings" is actually a good example of sexist views. We're not trying to say this prisoner is unusual in his sexism. In fact, right now we all live under a patriarchal system that teaches us sexist views from birth, and that's not something we can just wish away. It's more important that we work on fighting systematic oppression than attempting to change an individual's well ingrained attitudes and views. But we mention this here because it is important for everyone to see how their views run counter to the goals of our overall struggle against all forms of oppression.

We do not doubt the truth of this story about the female officer mistreating the writer. But there is nothing in the incident that suggests that female officers are more dangerous or emotional than male officers. The pages of Under Lock and Key are filled with accounts of male officers taking advantage of prisoners' (both male and female) position of powerlessness to abuse them, file false accusations, and even take sexual favors. Male officers can be just as emotional and illogical as female officers - in both cases this is more about abusing power than some inherent irrational nature. Giving people positions of power in the Amerikan criminal injustice system encourages this sort of behavior.

What is interesting about this prisoner's story is the demonstration of a womyn exercising gender power over a man. This is not because this womyn was irrational and emotional, but instead because of the systematic position of powerlessness faced by (mostly male) prisoners in Amerika, and the relative power enjoyed by the guards (both male and female). Behind the bars men as a group end up gender oppressed, but on the streets they enjoy gender power over wimmin. The common theme of gender in the issue of Under Lock and Key that this prisoner read was meant to demonstrate this and put gender oppression in the context of the Amerikan criminal injustice system.

chain
[Organizing] [Mule Creek State Prison] [California]
expand

Don't Feed the Prison Beast

CDCR CCPOA Mafia BeastAs I write this letter I am once again incarcerated in the administrative segregation dungeon (ad-seg) of Mule Creek State Prison for refusing to conform to the CDCR-CCPOA Mafia underground corruption rules of forced double celling.

This time they have incarcerated me in what is called the disciplinary detention bubble for no reason.

1. I have no RVR115 rule violation guilty ruling.
2. I have no RVR115 disciplinary detention sentence.
3. I have no psych evaluation 114 order.

They put me in the bubble to shut me up, to silence me, to stop me from teaching truth to the blind ignorant inmates.

In this letter I have drawn an image of the CDCR-CCPOA Mafia machine multi-billion dollar monster that holds you captive. Every time you feed the beast your money you empower the beast and the beast grows another arm.

- All prisoner telephone calls feed the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.
- All prisoner canteen purchases feed the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.
- All prisoner special purchase (Walkenhurst-access packages) purchases feed and empower the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.
- All special food sale purchases feed and empower the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.
- All prisoners who work and program in their pseudo (no pay) work/vocational/education schemes, feed and empower the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.
- When prisoners conform and comply with the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia's underground corruption rule of forced double celling they empower the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.

Stop empowering your enemy the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia. A plan + a goal + an action = freedom.

My comrades, I challenge you to ask yourselves this question: why, at a CDCR RVR 115 disciplinary hearing, does the disciplinary officer not restrict a prisoner from making purchases in the CDCR-CCPOA-Prison canteen as part of the RVR115 punishment? Because it's part of the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia's life blood!

Ask yourself, why does the CDCR not stop prisoners from making prison canteen purchases in the CDCR-Adseg or the CDCR-SHU? Because it's part of the CDCR's life blood.

They have us like blind sheep and cows ignorantly empowering them. Stop empowering the enemy. Stop helping them. 65% of all purchase money in the canteen goes to the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia beast.

The next time you give your money to the prison canteen CDCR-CCPOA-Prison mafia beast think of this image drawn for your education, think about how you're empowering the CDCR-CCPOA-Mafia to grow another arm to incarcerate you, your son, your father, your brother, your sister, your mother, your wife, your grandchildren, your friends and comrades.

chain
[Political Repression] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

Peace in the Streets

street orgs in revolutionary unityFor our Peace Issue, MIM(Prisons) had solicited a number of allies who are doing work for peace among the lumpen on the streets. Though the Peace Issue is done, our pages remain open to those who are doing such work, as we want to build as many connections as we can between what is going on in the streets and behind prison walls. This article will make some of those connections in a mostly historical way. Similar stories can be told about the largest street organizations based in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and beyond. And as we'll see, the use of prisons to isolate the peace makers is having a very real impact on efforts in oppressed communities.

Chicago

The Chicago story could start in the late 1960's with Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party, who was shot in his sleep by the FBI for attempting to unite street and youth organizations under a revolutionary banner of the original "rainbow coalition." While some legacies of that work remain, COINTELPRO was quite effective in preventing thousands of lumpen youth from joining the anti-imperialist United Front. During the same period, other street organizations were joining a coalition with city and business leaders in Chicago. The Conservative Vice Lords (CVL) were one of these groups who became a significant force for building Black businesses and serving the lumpen youth of the community. Despite their turn from petty crime and street fighting to a positive community organization, their attempts to work with the pigs and the business establishment failed again and again. Eventually their leaders were targeted for frame ups and put in prison like the revolutionary Panthers, despite a program that never attempted anything but integration into mainstream capitalist society. Their differences with the Panthers seemed to be based on misunderstandings of the Panther strategy (1), which others have suggested were a result of COINTELPRO misinformation campaigns.

In the end the CVL leadership saw that the next generation was coming up looking to undo everything they had built. And sure enough the streets of Chicago succumbed to more violence and chemical warfare following the destruction of the Panthers and efforts like those of CVL. The next generation produced Larry Hoover who also came around from the criminal mentality to create institutions like "Save the Children," support legal Black business development and register thousands of people to vote. After being imprisoned, Hoover's Gangster Disciples (GDs) hosted perhaps the largest peace summit in u$ lumpen history in Chicago in 1993. After his 13th parole denial Hoover released a statement in which he said things such as:

Drugs are our enemy, destroying many of us with the lure of profit, more of us with addiction, and still more with the crime that results; we must join our voices with those across the land, of whites and blacks, churchgoers and convicts, gays and straights - all who share the purpose of taking the profit out of drugs and ending the slaughter made easy by guns. (2)

And this was not just talk, as the GD's had demonstrated their ability to achieve such goals. The biggest immediate threat to the imperialist establishment that the lumpen can make is to end the meaningless destruction of oppressed youth life while destroying the profits from chemical warfare thru imperialist-run drug cartels. The state responded by sending Hoover to the federal supermax prison ADX in Colorado for conspiracy charges to deal drugs.

New York

In New York City the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation is a well-documented (if not always accurately) example of the modern repression of progressive mass organizations of lumpen youth. With constant targeting by police, most of the local leadership ended up in prison. The main architect behind the Nation's growth in New York, King Blood, has spent 12 years in complete isolation. King Tone, who was the popular spokespersyn for the Nation in NYC during their politicization in the mid-1990's has also been in prison since those tumultuous years. Their pro-Puerto Rican community organizing made them greater targets than they had been as a street gang engaged in criminal activities. Statements like,

"We are not AMERICAN, we are one of 22 million Puerto Ricans who are victims of Americanism... We are Revolutionary Nationalists but we are remembered as proletarian internationalists, heroic fighters in the struggle against oppression and imperialism." (3)

led one pig to state,

There's no way we're gonna let a bunch of gang-bangers think they're the Panthers or the Young Lords.

As more Kings & Queens went to prison, they took their goals with them and began to build educational programs and promote peace within the new gang units that were popping up at the time. MIM's Free Books to Prisoners Program helped comrades in New Jersey build a library of thousands of books where Kings were not just teaching other Kings, but also members of the United Blood Nation and others to read. UBN, like the New York ALKQN, was formed within the New York prison system. And like King Blood, one of UBN's co-founders, is in a control unit for his organizing, just recently getting his sentence there extended to 2021 by the NYSDOCS; greatly limiting his contact with the outside world. He reports that extensive COINTELPRO tactics were used against them in conjunction with the ALKQN.

Today the ALKQN is clear that none of its senior leadership is involved in any illegal activities and the leadership continues to define it as an organization for the betterment of the community and the self-determination of oppressed nations. As with all of the mass organizations discussed here, whose popularity has exploded, often beyond the influence of its founders, there are many who claim the flags that play into government efforts to dirty their names.

Los Angeles

Perhaps the most well-known peace effort came in Los Angeles around the time of the Rodney King verdicts and the uprising that followed. The state responded swiftly when Bloods & Crips came together in the streets. Not to mention that the unity in action also included a majority of Mexicans and a significant proportion of white participants.

As discussed in the article We Want Peace! They want Security. the unity of the oppressed is a response to the unity of the oppressor against them. Therefore, when the Panthers were destroyed, the Crips came up from a history of Black street organizations that formed to protect themselves from white violence. Eventually, other Black groups united under the Blood flag to protect themselves from the Crips.

When these groups came together for peace in the early '90's, once again we saw the targeting of leaders of the oppressed by the state. Just to mention some of the most high profile attacks, Crip leader Sanyika Shakur (aka Monster) who had taken up Black Nationalism was sent to a Security Housing Unit (SHU). Imprisoned Black Liberation fighter Mutulu Shakur had worked from a distance to develop the Thug Life code promoted at the peace meetings by his step-son Tupac. Federal Bureau of Prisons papers document that Mutulu Shakur was moved to the original control unit in Marion because he was effectively organizing young Black prisoners. The warden of Lewisburg, in recommending his transfer, wrote the following: "I firmly believe Shakur needs the controls of Marion, as he appears to manipulate the entire system. This shrewd behavior coupled with his outside contacts and influence over the younger Black element will have adverse affects on the mission." (4) Mutulu continues to be isolated in the newer federal supermax prison, ADX, while Tupac was assassinated following his work around the peace treaty.

Over a decade later, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent Tookie Williams to be executed because he had dedicated his books to leaders in the Black Liberation struggle. A Crip co-founder, Tookie spent many years in prison writing children's books to counter the anti-people activities of street organizations, while drafting up peace protocol for those who were involved in the gang wars. He was a shining example of rehabilitation (no thanks to the state), which the CDCR added to its name and allegedly to its mission around the same time.

The state's success led to the bloodiest years the California ghettos, barrios and prisons have seen. Those who could do something to stop all the violence were part of the first large scale experimentation in long-term isolated captivity of humyn beings (or were dead). In this context, the leadership became more concentrated within the prison system, where the state had already begun dividing the system up along the lines of Blacks, whites, northern and southern Mexicans. These became the battle lines for the years of "race wars" that continue to this day.

One of the most violent battles took place in Pelican Bay State Prison in 2001. Prisoners responded by calling on leaders representing each group, who were being held in SHU, to negotiate a truce. (5) This truce seemed to be on the road to success when the CDCR's Institutional Gang Investigation unit intervened, along with others in the department, to carry out a negative propaganda campaign, similar to what has happened every time prisoners have tried to come together in peace. (see We Want Peace! They want Security.)

As one prisoner explained what happened,

I have yet to hear of any of this, however, I did hear about the 2001 attempted peace treaty. Which of course was purposely sabotaged by CDC. The very last thing these bastards (CDC) wants is peace amongst the races here in prison. It is not in the material interest of the white middle class who work for CDC to have this violence come to an end. Any time an institution goes on lock down, prison officials automatically get what's called "Hazard Pay" which doubles their pay. So for every violent incident they (CDC) can provoke, they stand to profit from it.

And it's not only the CDC that stands to profit. Other outside organizations are also profiting from what the CDC has created. Organizations such as the Sheriffs department and other police agencies, which of course are staffed with middle class white amerikans. Every time an incident from in here spills out into our occupied communities, it is these organizations that come in and lock up everyone in sight, not to mention harass, beat and even murder us.

According to those involved in the 2001 peace talks, the failure stemmed from a lack of community support. This allowed the pigs to spread the rumors and squash the organizing efforts. This is why it is crucial to develop links between the peace efforts on the street and behind bars.

Only with growing mass support, inside and outside prisons, will the CDCR agree to allow for a peace process. That is why MIM(Prisons) is promoting the petition initiated in 2006 to restart the process. (6) As one veteran leader of the California prison movement said in an interview regarding the Pelican Bay Peace Summit,

A peace accord, or a peace summit itself. If that's real. Then I wanna bet it's real in a sense that both your politically motivated SHU prisoners and your regular gang member- motivated prisoners have both come to the realization that they are both doomed to hell! No matter how many differences exist between them, that they are united in the fact that they are doomed prisoners. And that's the only way that they're going to get that condemnation off of them, is if they join forces to change the policies that allows them to live in the naked abyss. And that means that they would have to work together. And in order to work together they would first have to arrange a successful peace summit. So that they could combine forces. Now I kinda think that that's a natural course of events. That they would come to that conclusion, whether they wanted to or not, the conditions are gonna force them to come to those conclusions.

...I know that a peace summit has to be a prelude to something more significant. And that something more significant has to be what we always fought for, you know what I'm saying, the humyn rights of all prisoners in general, regardless of what clique or what race they're from.

The story we see over and over again is that state attacks on lumpen organizations are superficial as long as the organization is engaged in activities murdering and poisoning their own people. It is only when these groups begin to help their communities that they are crushed by the state.

COINTELPRO continues its misinformation campaigns against lumpen organizations today and historically through the mainstream media like National Geographic and BET who have jumped on the sensationalized gang life bandwagon. They pretend to investigate both sides of the story while painting all of these organizations as evil. Part of this is a continued campaign against the Black Panthers almost four decades after they were effectively neutralized. Organizers today need to be prepared for the attacks by representatives of the State who claim they want peace, but in reality only want peaceful submission to imperialist profit.

notes:
(1) Dawley, David. A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords. Waveland Press, 1993. 2nd edition (orig. 1973).
On p.112, the Vice Lords claim that the Panthers tried to convince all of the street organizations to go on a rampage burning the city down. This would have been contrary to the consistent line and strategy of Fred Hampton and Huey Newton. The Vice Lords do admit to breaking up underground organizing in response to the assassination of MLK as part of their partnership with Chicago business interests. Yet, still the establishment never came thru with their end of the deal of providing loans and other business development support.
(2) Hayden, Tom. Street Wars. The New Press, 2004. p. 284.
(3) Brotherton, David C. & Luis Barrios. The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation. Columbia University Press, 2004. p. 298.
(4) http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~kastor/walking-steel-95/ws-florence.html
(5) Support Pelican Bay Peace Process
(6) for more info on this campaign and petition click here

chain