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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 7]
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USW Leads Organizing for Real Peace

United Struggle from Within is potentially the most potent prisoner’s organization. USW is intended to take the vanguard position in the overall prison liberation movement, by tackling the multiple battles which we face as prisoners in this injustice system. Such battles are, but not limited to: instituting the national minimum wage to prisoners, fighting censorship, fighting the isolation cell-blocks which are a form of psychological warfare, doing away with the capitalist “death penalty,” promoting peace between street-organizations and guiding these sisters and brothers to a more purposeful meaning of existence (operation), obtaining proper educational programs and courses to enable the prisoner to make a successful re-entry back into society.

Many more can be stated, as our USW movement has a lot of work to tend to. Which ultimately comes to the doing away with the capitalist-imperialist injustice system – without the causes of crime and recidivism what’s the use of having this major system of confinement?

Yes, the program of USW is intended to impact the individual’s life and community to the point we decrease the drug/alcohol use and abuse, recidivism, violent crime and youth crime. The penal system hasn’t tackled these problems of the people, so the people must tend to these issues. I must admit, I am grateful to be a part of such a movement and organization.

As I take up the struggle in Ohio and in forming a committee of the USW (where we will study socialism, organizational tactics, law, and past socialist movements in history), I have been met with many obstacles ranging from prison officials to even comrades of our struggle. One of the main obstacles that weighs heavy on my mind and heart is the barriers we have amongst us (prisoners, proletariat at large….). I’m trying to penetrate the walls of ignorance that pervade the prison system and the community.

This police state (Amerikkka) has given birth to a criminal culture/prison culture. USW must battle for the minds of potential revolutionaries. Our battle also goes against gangsterism, gang-banging, race-hate, and illiteracy. Bringing together opposite street organizations and race/culture oriented groups to the round table in a common striving for self-determination, liberation, and protection is a feat we USW comrades are instructed to accomplish. Bringing peace and a mutual understanding through organizational cooperation and aid is a prioritized objective of USW.

We all face the same problems coming from disenfranchised and socioeconomic oppressed communities, enduring the turmoil of being snatched away from our families and thrown into cages, stripped of our dignity and denied the adequate opportunity to reconstruct our lives in a proper way with education and assistance. Hence, we must educate ourselves. We must organize ourselves in cells/collectives that go beyond the prison fence and wires by establishing ourselves in the communities we come from and work together for the common good of each member. Our common goal is to get back to society. The system won’t provide us with the essentials to ensure our success so we must provide it ourselves. But, our course of action should be in a peaceful mode. And, as we engage and advance we must recognize and respect those who strive in the same way.

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[Spanish] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
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Oppresión en el SMU de Pennsylvania

Oppresion en el SMU de Pennsylvania esta a lo más alto que nunca. Aquí es donde los peores de los peores son mandados, pero no es ninguna forma de rehabilitación, en vez es para que sean abusados. Muchos de nuestros hermanos fuertes están haciendo abusados fisica y mentalmente en un atento de quebrar y de acabar con su espirito guerillero. Nota: los oppresores temen a lo que no pueden controlar.

Es dicho que todos de nosotros que tenemos la abilidad mental para organizar la mayoría y estructrar cualquier tipo de movimiento para el mejoramiento de nuestra gente "necesitamos" ser encerrados.

El abuso en SCI Camp Hill corre muy adentro, hasta el punto en donde los debiles serán quebrados. El otro día un hermano (recien llegado) se abrió su propia cabeza en un atento para que lo cambien se lo llevaron al medico por 3 dias y lo regresaron para tras al SMU. Yo personalmente he visto mucho abuso. Yo soy considerado por la oficina central y bajo el Security Threat Group como un Blood de Nueva York de alto riesgo, y con eso me quitan mi literatura, correo, fotos y material legal (todo lo consideran "gang related").

No podemos comprar jabón, desodorante, pasta ni loción de la cantina aunque tengamos feria en nuestra cuenta. Cada vez que pidemos copias de estas reglas nos dicen que no podemos tener eso en el SMU. Todo es considerado un riesgo a la seguridad de este campamento de concentración.

Cualquier otro lugar me ha dejado tener Notas de MIM menos aquí los oficiales no obedecen sus propias reglas y lo toman en sus manos para determinar que podemos o no tener. Yo he escrito un grievance sobre esto y un numero de violaciones aquí incluyendo riesgo de salud y estoy planiando meter un Class Action lawsuit con otros camaradas. Nuestra meta es para que cierren este lugar.

Estamos ahorita trabajando con un numero de organizationes que nos han ayudado mucho, yo escribo para que todos sepan lo serio de esta situación. Los oficiales nos golpean aunque tengamos esposas y estemos amarrados. Esto no es rehabilitación en ninguna manera pero es oppresión a lo peor! Pero de todas maneras nos mantendrémos fuerte y concentrados en cerrando este pinche lugar!!

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Unlock the Box Research in Texas

I'm writing in regard to the Unlock the Box research. I myself am in administrative segregation, where we are confined to a cell for 23 hours a day, seven days a week. We're said to be allowed one hour a day recreation, in a day room with only a pull-up bar, toilet, and in some pods a table. It is only one person per dayroom. Twice a week we're allowed outside recreation in which we are locked inside a cage with four walls. On this recreation area there is one urinal, basketball, basketball goal, and pull-up bar. The "outside" part of it is conceived through the small amount of daylight we receive from the top of the cage that has no wall. Showers are given afterwards. In some situations or institutions rather, such as the one that I am in, we are escorted to the shower which is a tiny little space and locked in for a given time. On other units showers are built into the cell to assure the prisoner never has to come out, or that he comes out as little as possible.

Food is brought on a meal cart and received through a tray slot built into our cell door. Necessities are brought to us also, as is our mail. For any movement we are escorted by two officers and handcuffed behind our back. In some cases we're required to be shackled from ankle to waist to wrists.

There are no religious, education, or other services or programs given to us. Ramadan however is revered. There are approximately five hundred and four cells for administrative segregation here. However, there are also solitary confinement cells used for disciplinary reasons that follow similar circumstances. Inside our cell there is one toilet with sink connected, one desk, one steel bed, and a big light fixture with enough light to illuminate the small cell completely for when they turn them on by a control panel in the picket. The cell is measured at around ten by seven feet; though no completely, considering angles of one wall imposing over those measurements.

Ad-Seg here is only one building. The unit is about a three thousand man unit, consisting of general population, close-custody and medium-custody. There are some units that are entirely for Ad-Seg prisoners only. Some units that I know to have Ad-Seg are Allred Unit in Iowa Park, TX, Beto Unit in Tennessee Colony TX, Clements Unit in Amarillo TX, Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony TX, Conally Unit in Kenedy TX, Darrington Unit in Rosharon TX, Ellis Unit and Estelle Unit in Huntsville TX, Ferguson Unit in Midway TX, Hughes Unit in Gatesville TX, Lewis Unit in Woodville TX, McConnell Unit in Beville TX, Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony TX , Robertson Unit in Abilene TX, Smith Unit in Lamesa TX, Stiles Unit in Beaumont TX, Polunsky Unit in Livingston TX, and here where I am at Telford Unit in New Boston TX.

I'm sure there are others I'm unaware of. The unit I'm on was built around 1994 or 95. I believe that all maximum security units built at that time are built the same as this unit, Ad-Seg and all. That year was when the state built a lot of new prisons at once.

Most people back here in seg are primarily Latino, with whites falling in second and Blacks last. If I had to guess percentages, I would have to say about 60% Latino, 30% white, and 10% Black. If someone is confirmed as a gang member, he is put in ad seg. If he is considered a "threat to security", he is placed here. Or if he is in protected custody he is sent here. I am here for being a so-called "threat to security" for unjustified causes.

There are some units that have another unit next to them (though considered the same unit) that are entirely for ad seg only. therefore, some units have two separate entities of ad seg unit housings.

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[Environmentalism] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
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Environment and Prisons

I recently read MIM Theory 12 "Environment, Society and Revolution" and I got to say it was very educational. Being in prison "the environment" is not something prisoners discuss too often, much less study, debate or develop into a correct line so to be able to read the polemics, MIM's line on environment as well as the cops line, and how the comrades over in the Philippines put their theory into practice in struggling for the environment in a revolutionary way was a great help in getting me to understand not only how to fight environmental destruction but how to do so in a Maoist way.

What I have learned in the years of working with MIM and developing my line is all oppression whether it be patriarchy, environmental destruction which poisons the people, racism, fascism in Amerika, class oppression, etc. can all be tied together into one root cause. In order to find a solution or eradicate a problem you need to make a scientific analysis and find the root cause. What is causing these symptoms all comes back to imperialism. Imperialism is the root cause of all oppression whether that oppression is here in the U.S. or internationally. So rather than taking on individual issues in mass organizations and work for reform to alter these circumstances it is more logical to pull the whole weed out by the roots and truly solve the problem.

So as I read this MT12 thought of what environmental destruction does to prisoners here in Amerika. A historical materialist view will show that prisoners especially in Amerika get the uncut version of imperial fascism, we are given the worse processed foods, often times that which U.S. consumers would refuse to purchase, the worst water (any prisoner whose been through California's Tracy prison remembers the brown water coming out of the faucets) that anywhere else is U.S. society would be tagged for health hazards. The pollution and waste involved in building the many prisons that house the 2+ million prisoners in Amerika is all environmental destruction that is caused like any injustice in U.S. society by capitalism. The root cause is capitalism that puts profits in command and the people's interest comes last if at all.

The main thing that I learned from this MT12 was of the overwhelming toxic dump sites in and around oppressed nations areas. I wonder how much media attention and public outcry would occur had the city announced a new toxic dumpsite to be opened in Belair or the Malibu hills? Yet we hardly hear a murmur from the media when toxic dumps spring up in areas where the oppressed nations swell. Third World countries have become the imperialist dump site. I watched a news program around a month ago about how petty bourgeois here in the U.S. were setting up these scam "recycle" centers for computers and "e-trash." These "recycle" centers would turn around and ship off this toxic junk to Third World nations and turn a profit, even though there's supposed laws prohibiting this toxic dumping (for Petty Bourgeois and small time entrepreneurs) it is still continued with a nod and a wink. The bourgeois, big business, transnational corporations etc. are a whole different story. They continue to dump toxins on the Third World nations with only encouragement from imperialist economists.

The document written by the Communist Party of the Philippines "on the issue of the environment in the world and in the Philippines" was an excellent example of how to deal with environmental destruction caused by capitalism, I learned a lot from this article. One of the things I learned was how a lot of the so-called "environmentalist groups" here in the U.S. or in other imperialist countries work to pass laws to "protect the environment" and stop things like logging or toxic dumping, but these so-called "green activists" are only acting in a chauvinistic way. I always looked at them as they were protecting the environment but their protection of the environment stopped at their backyard. These laws would stop these big businesses and transnational corporations from destruction in imperialist countries so these companies would simply go to Third World countries to conduct their dirty business.

What got me even angrier is I thought how here in the U.S. the majority of people get their living needs from the corner supermarket or have one of the many water companies deliver clean water jugs to their doorsteps or simply turn on their faucet whereas the people in the Third World countries often live off their local forests, grow their own vegetables in the soil and drink and catch the fish they eat in their rivers and lakes so the environmental destruction unleashed on the Third World people really is genocide on the people of Third World countries!

The most important environmental policy adopted by the CPP was their 25 year ban on logging for export. The comrades of the regional committees would enforce their many policies in the areas they controlled. Their actions had more impact then any kind of "green activists" collection of signatures or the voting in of "environmentally friendly" politicians in the U.$. When a people get down to the root problem of anything, only then can a true remedy be found, otherwise only the surface is scratched, imperialism is proven to infect all levels of society from the homeless, to trees, to prisoners; any form of oppression can be linked to imperialism.

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[Control Units] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 7]
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The Trick of the Beast: Control Units in Wisconsin

I am writing about this unfair Wisconsin DOC racist system and how they are confining prisoners to "Super Max" solitary but dressing it up, saying it's a maximum security prison. See, the oppressor has found a way to use this maximum security prison, which was really supermax, by changed the name when people started protesting about the conditions of the people who they were holding.

Supermax was supposed to be for the worst of the worst, but by this system not having enough so-called "worst of the worst" prisoners to fill 600 and something beds, they had to do something to keep this prison running and generating revenue for their community. So they started sending any prisoner who receives 180 days in segregation or more to Supermax. They did that for a little while until the outside got wind of it, then the head people tried to change it up, by changing the name and making half of it a maximum prison and the other half a program prison, but all of it is still run like a supermax prison.

When supermax was running, a person had to be screened by the psychologist to see if they are stable enough to be placed there, and now they are using the same methods for the people they are sending to that same prison which is supposed to be a maximum prison now.

My question is, why are people being screened to see if they are fit to be placed in another maximum prison? Whereas, when a prisoner is being transferred to any other max prison they are not being screened, it's just when one is being transferred to this prison that they are screened.

This institution does not have all of the same privileges as the other maximum prisons in Wisconsin, which shows this institution is not run like other max's. Therefore, prisoners are being held there illegally because there are stipulations that a prisoner being confined in administrative confinement should only be held up to 7 years. No, by this not really being a max, but being run like a supermax, prisoners are not really in general population, but are in administrative confinement with a few more privileges.

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[Release] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
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The Real Politics of Prisoners in California

Did you know that there are still thousands of non-violent men and women serving 25-years-to-life sentences in California's prison system? It's the only State that warehouses criminals for crimes like joyriding, petty theft, attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, making criminal threats, and petty drug possession.

These prisoners receive no type of work time or good time credits. But someone who commits murder does receive these credits and is eligible for parole in 17 years. A non-violent three-strike prisoner does not receive good time, work time behavior credits, and must serve the full 25 years before he or she is considered eligible for parole.

California continues to have enormous budget deficits, and a prison system that is extremely overcrowded, and draining State funds that would normally be used for education. However, the legislators continue to portray non-violent three strike prisoners as dangerous criminals who deserve to serve a life sentence for crimes that would have ordinarily carried 6 months to one year county jail sentences.

Most of these prisoners have already served over half their 25-to-life sentences, and are up in age. They will surely need the medical services that the Federal Receiver is asking for in order to bring the California Prison System into compliance with Constitutional requirements.

The majority of these offenders have never killed, molested, raped or committed violent acts against anyone. Most are drug abusers who have committed petty drug-related offenses, that with proper drug and alcohol treatment, could become productive tax paying citizens, instead of tax burdens.

California is being fleeced by politicians who want to build more prisons and continue warehousing non-violent three strike prisoners, all the while knowing that the expense of such a policy grows exponentially each and every year.

The California Prison System should not be allowed to continue draining the state's assets for political gain, while breaking the back of the state's education and other human resource organization and institutions.

Education and treatment, not prisons are the best investments for California's tax dollars.

MIM(Prisons) adds: At a time when California is facing a serious budget crisis and mandates to cut back the prison population it continues to deny prisoners access to even the basic educational material that MIM(Prisons) provides. It is not only the three-strikers who face significant injustice, it is the entire injustice system that needs to be overthrown.

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[Control Units] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 7]
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Retaliatory Segregation in Missouri

Noble salutations comrades! I have been a recipient of your prison newsletter for several months now. In January I was transferred from the South Central Correctional Center in Licking Missouri to Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron Missouri. I have been in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg) since November of 2007. In Feb of 2008 a classification hearing was held (unscheduled) and it was then recommended by the housing unit staff of one house at SCCC that I be placed on "mandated single cell confinement," a status with no end. This hearing was held but twenty four hours after I filed paper work through inmate grievance procedure of the functional unit manager of my unit for staff familiarity and personal conflicts. The day following this unscheduled hearing, I filed again on this DOC employee for retaliation which is plain to see. All of my grievances and appeals were denied and have now been exhausted, my situation remains the same although I am in a different correctional center.

SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation, page 2 states the following: Assignment of an offender to a single cell within an administrative segregation unit [is] for documented safety and security reasons, i.e. offenders who are considered an immediate or long term danger to other offenders that would be celled with that offender based on extremely violent, aggressive, threatening actions towards others, which may include murder/manslaughter, sexual assault/rape, assault with serious physical injury, sexually active HIV positive offender. This offender is not to be celled with other offenders.

Page 8 of the same SOP 21-1.2 states:
Mandated single cell assignment:
1. The administrative segregation committee will evaluate offenders for single cell confinement at the time of the hearing. All offenders who are considered an immediate/long-term danger to harm a cellmate as explained in definition II.E of this procedure should be assigned to a single cell in administrative segregation.

2. Offenders who have recently assaulted/harmed a cellmate or other offenders who staff believe are a continuous threat to other offenders if housed in a cell with them, should be submitted to the deputy division director, who, in consultation with the division director will approve/disapprove these actions. Offenders who have been approved for mandated single cell assignment will require approval from the deputy division director prior to removal from this status.

Upon my arrival to this institution I asked the classification staff if I would now be removed from the mandated status. I was informed by the head of the committee that no one gets removed from this status once placed on it. All staff present for this made noises that I "have life without in the hole," as I'm serving two consecutive life sentences, one of which is without parole.

I have been denied my right to due process. I have quoted their policies and procedures in all my filings. Every action I have taken has been within and following all guidelines. No justice has been given.

I have written several prisoner rights advocates and contacted numerous attorneys offices, all futile.

This is not just a solitary issue concerning just one prisoner. Missouri has prisoners that have been on this status up to ten years (that I know of). Some have had no violations in several years yet remain caged 24/7 like some rabid, volatile beast.

Many of us have no one to reach out to for aid and assistance. More than one is being held for past acts or political reasons while others committing the same or worse acts are given a year with a cellmate in ad-seg then released back to general population.

The South Central Correctional Center hands out this status as though it were candy to any prisoner who staff seem to have personal issues with. And it continues because we have no one to assist us.

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[Spanish] [Texas]
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Organizando una huelga en Ohio

Yo soy un compañero encarcelado en una prisión de máxima seguridad del estado de Ohio. Actualmente estoy en la unidad de celdas especiales de 23 horas de enceramiento llamada 4B. En este momento nuestro patio esta en una huelga de hambre y de actividades; por lo cual hemos juntado nuestras ideas e iniciativas para expresar nuestra insatisfacción con el trato administrado por el oficial del segundo turno (2pm a 10pm).

Ahora, esta huelga no fue organizada por mi, y ni fui participe en el planeamiento u organización de esta. Pero unidos por el encarcelamiento, yo como todos mis otros compañeros de patio nos sentimos en la obligación de organizarnos y oponernos en contra de las acciones opresivas administradas por este reacción, y el sistema policial en todas sus formas.

La razón por la cual estamos en huelga es por que el oficial del segundo turno en repetidas ocasiones no ha cumplido con su obligación de recoger el correo que nosotros vamos a enviar; así mismo en mucha ocasiones el le ha entregado el correo al preso equivocado, y a menudo el se ha negado a pasar papeles o notas informales y otras institucionales formas de comunicación (estando nosotros en las celdas de aislamiento, estos son nuestras únicas formas de comunicación). Este mismo oficial no ha hecho la lista de comida en muchos días; como musulmán no como carne y tengo otras preferencias en mi dieta, por esta razón hemos perdido comidas sin ninguna opción lo que esta generando mas indignación.

Este mismo oficial a tratado de encender un conflicto racial entre las personas de color y las personas de piel blanca, haciendo comentarios y chistes raciales tratando de dividir (esta prisión esta alejada de la zona rural en donde muchos de los guardias de la prisión no están acostumbrados a la diversidad de culturas y a los diferentes colores de piel. Aquí los oficiales de la prisión respaldan los grupos de la supremacía blanca y la hermandad árida). En los días pasados los prisioneros de este patio lo han puesto trabajo; pero estas actividades no son nuevas en esta prisión o en las demás en general.

Hemos tratando de hablar con los oficiales superiores para destapar nuestro descontento con las acciones administradas por este oficial (quien en realidad es una representación de la naturaleza del sistema penitenciario, o es mas del sistema americano). Nuestra lucha no cesara, los presos de piel oscura y clara seguiremos defendiendo la lucha en la cara del cerdo baboso. Así nadie se ha hecho para atrás, aun en el medio de la oposición la cual ha venido en mucha formas. Por ejemplo el oficial rocío mace por la rejas del techo las cuales están todas interconectadas en este patio; y su escusa fue el maze venia de otra celda.

Por todo esto, mi intención al escribir esto es la de señalar el hecho de que el sistema de opresión no entiende mas que la lucha unida revolucionaria. Ellos lo único que entienden son a la agresión y las acciones (el poder del pobre organizado). Siempre y cuando no nos demos cuenta de nuestro poder a través de un esfuerzo concentrado los opresores seguirán ganado. Nosotros debemos jugar su mismo juego. Piensa!

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[Education] [Hobby Unit] [Texas]
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Education Program but No Classes Available in Texas

I'm writing this letter because I'm upset with the Texas Prison education system. Here in the Hobby unit they lack the space in classrooms and the counselors seem to not care because the seats that could be put to good use by someone who really wants to better themselves are being given to and occupied by people who don't want to be in school.

I completed one of the three vocations that I am allowed to take through TDCJ in July of 2008. I have been waiting since then to take another vocation, one of which is offered here, but they are steadily putting people in the class who don't want it.

I'm due to see parole anytime from now until April so I qualify to take the vocation but still have not been put in the class.

I'm outraged because we are supposedly sent to prison to rehabilitate ourselves, however we are denied the fundamental materials necessary to do so.

I received my GED October 2005 and that was the last time I took what Texas prisons call an EA test to see what educational level you are at. I'm a 9.5 on a D level and I've been trying for almost a year to be scheduled to re-take my EA so that I can bring my score up to an A level so that I can attend a college vocational. I've been told that I'm on the list for almost a year now.

Although the Texas prison system has an educational program, they do not want us to better ourselves. This is unacceptable for society.

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[Police Brutality] [Oscar Grant] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Oakland Stands Up

At night I see your light through my bedroom window
But I ain't got shit but the pad and pencil
I can't wait till I hear you say, " I'm going down, mayday, mayday"
I'm gonna clown 'cause every time that the pigs have got me
—from Ghetto Bird by Ice Cube

Oakland, California is not quite like Los Angeles. Having to fall asleep to the sound of helicopters overhead night after night is not routine. But in the last week that changed with three nights of uprisings and demonstrations in response to the murder of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old Black man who was shot in the back by a cop while face down on the ground.

Chemical warfare, tasers, armored vehicles with mounted guns and numerous helicopters were used by the city of Oakland against its residents the first night of the uprising. Over 100 people were arrested for various trumped up charges. Those who were not bailed out have already been given hearings where 21 of 24 people had their charges dismissed. One of the 3 remaining charges is a felony arson charge against JR, the Minister of Information for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, indicating clear political motivations behind these arrests. Last night another couple dozen people were arrested. It took 2 weeks to arrest someone who shot a man in the back, but the OPD saw it as appropriate to jail over 130 people, most, if not all, of whom have no substantiated charges.

Just as they tried to do the night of the murder, Oakland pigs confiscated all cameras and cell phones from those arrested. Some who were arrested have not got their cameras back and others have gotten theirs back with the material erased from them. Numerous people videotaped the shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve, leading pigs to go around seizing peoples' cell phones in an attempt to destroy evidence.

JR is one of many who reported being rushed and tackled by police while merely standing on a downtown street during the demonstrations. In another instance, a group of pigs marched across the street towards a group of protestors when one of the thugs approached a Black youth and shoved him in the chest. The pigs waited for a response and then seized the kid, leading to a scuffle between the two groups followed by the youth running away.

After the roundups the first night, JR reported, "Behind enemy lines, the inmates at Santa Rita put their fists in the air, smiled, cheered and gave us dap when we told them that we were being held captive because we were in the streets during the rebellion. Mexicans were congratulating Blacks, Blacks were congratulating whites, Norteños (a Latino street organization) were congratulating Bloods (a Southern Cali street organization), who are their rivals, for their participation in fighting the police and the city for justice against police terrorism."(1) In our next issue of Under Lock & Key we will focus on the question of peace between lumpen organizations. Practice demonstrates that great injustice is often the only thing that can undo the work the pigs do to keep oppressed youth at each others' throats.

As many have pointed out, this case has gotten so much attention because it was so blatant and it was videotaped by numerous people. The sick part is that many people are still saying things like, "you don't know what you'd do in a high pressure situation like that" and that the cop "has already suffered enough." The guy shot an unarmed persyn in the back while he was on the ground!

The only way to do justice to Oscar Grant is to prevent incidents like this again in the future, which requires eliminating the biggest and deadliest gang plaguing the streets of cities across the united $tates - the pigs. While this was going on in Oakland, comrades in New York were organizing a demonstration for Justice for Imam Morales, who was killed by the NYPD on September 24th, 2008. Two other Black men were killed by the pigs on New Year's Eve, the night Oscar was shot in cold blood. We can keep adding to the list of names, or we can stop the perpetrators.

The movement for justice for Oscar Grant has demonstrated the pitfalls of coalition based organizing and the need for a vanguard organization to provide leadership.(2) There has been a lot of talk about the Panthers in the last couple weeks, and their presence is missed. Without the vanguard party, a coalition of interested parties have decided to work together. To do so requires reducing the coalition to the lowest common denominator, and in this country in this time, that's not very good. One of the leaders of the the coalition linked the recent murder charges brought against the cop who shot Oscar to the new hope that comes with a Black man in the white house. Such hopefulness ignores the real reason why the police exist, and why their presence is so strong in certain communities.

MIM(Prisons) joins in the demand for criminal prosecution of the pig who killed Oscar Grant. But we don't have to sit down with the state to make this demand. The city is clearly responding to the demonstrations in the street, first when it made a statement to quell the first uprising after a week of silence and then when it arrested the shooter the night before the last demonstration. Lesson 1: The people can exert power independent of the state.

Ain't shit changed cuz Obama in the house.
O P D had 15 murders, man
that's all we know about
cuz that's all that we heard of
all the peckerwoods better hide tonight,
cuz my city frustrated, they 'gon riot tonight.
I don't condone the riots
cuz we burnin' down our own shit.
But I ain't mad at them cop cars that they hit.
—from My Life, a tribute to Oscar Grant by Mistah F.A.B.

As all this goes down, there has been much debate in the streets about what is OK to smash and burn, if anything. The smashed windows and burning cars are only the expression of anger towards the pigs. It is out of fear and a sense of powerlessness that people cannot attack the object of their anger and lash out on inanimate objects instead. We don't condone random property destruction as a tactic for change, but if a real solution is to come of all this, it is not going to come from those who are working within the capitalist state. Anarchists want to expand the actions of the more radical sections of the demonstrations, while focusing on more "corporate" targets. But nights of Black youth roving the streets among groups of riot cops, being videotaped and snatched to prison cannot continue much longer. Lesson 2: The spontaneous youth must come together and exert their power in more meaningful ways, within the context of national liberation struggles and anti-imperialism.

They discover that the success of the struggle presupposes clear objectives, a definite methodology and above all the need for the mass of the people to realize that their unorganized efforts can only be a temporary dynamic... you'll never overthrow the terrible enemy machine, and you won't change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough.
—from Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

notes: (1) Oakland rebellion: Eyewitness report by POCC Minister of Information JR. http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/oakland-rebellion-eyewitness-report-by-pocc-minister-of-information-jr/, see sfbayview.com to donate to JR's legal defense
(2) see MIM Theory 14: United Front and What is MIM?

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