We received some criticism for our response to a discussion of George Jackson printed in ULK 65. In this article we described how some of Jackson's writings are anti-wimmin and anti-gay. While we stand by that line, we take a lesson from our critics. Printing this in isolation, without commenting on all the positive contributions Jackson made to the revolutionary movement, was a mistake. George Jackson overall played an important positive role as a revolutionary. While we need to analyze our historical revolutionary movements and leaders and learn from their mistakes, we should not dismiss great leaders who made mistakes or had some political line wrong. George Jackson's mistakes did not outweigh eir positive contributions.
On 7 January 2019 the Supreme Court refused to take up a First Amendment case challenging the statewide ban of Prison Legal News (PLN) in the Florida Department of Corrections. The ban has been in place since 2009. This appeal was the final attempt to challenge the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which sided with the Florida DOC.(1) Each year thousands of cert petitions are filed with the Supreme Court and most are not heard. As is typical, no reasons were given for the PLN case denial.
The Florida DOC maintains that they are censoring PLN for safety and security reasons. The appellate court found this censorship justified related to certain advertisements in PLN including ads for pen pal services, businesses that purchase postage stamps, and third-party phone services.
We know there is no real safety and security justification for censoring PLN. It's an educational publication that helps many prisoners gain legal knowledge and fight back against injustices. PLN is, however, a threat to the institution of prisons in the United $tates. Prison Legal News fights for prisoners' rights and exposes injustices around the country. This is counter to the interests of a system that is focused on social control.
A number of groups stepped up to file or sign briefs in support of PLN. Of particular interest is one from a group of former Correctional Officers, including some from Florida. They argue, very rationally, that the complete censorship of PLN is an exaggerated response to security concerns and a constitutional violation.(2) Of course these former C.O.s, and many others who support allowing PLN into the Florida DOC, made very narrow arguments that still protected the DOC's "right" to censor anything they deem dangerous. These supporters are just opposing censorship for something so obviously not dangerous as it exposes the falsehood that prisons are censoring mail in the interests of safety and security.
This PLN lawsuit sets a very bad precedent for others fighting censorship as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision stands. Fortunately it should not directly impact ULK as we don't run these third-party ads. Though Florida did censor ULK 62 for "stamp program advertisement." While we do accept stamps as donations, we run no stamp programs. This goes to show that when there is no justification for censorship, the prisons will just make up things not even in the publication.
Any ruling upholding censorship in prisons is a bad one. This ruling further exposes the reality that there are no rights, only power struggles. The First Amendment only protects speech for those privileged enough to buy that protection.
I am a prisoner at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. I'm currently being held in solitary confinement for our May 12 uprising against the oppression and abuse inflicted on us by the administration and guards.
For months, the administration had been keeping us locked in our cells for 23 hours a day, in population! Using excuses of "short on staff," we are only allowed to either shower or call our loved ones for one 30-minute session per day. Our one-hour recs are cut to 45 and 30 minutes consistently. The inmate barber shop is closed. Visits are canceled. Guards are verbally and physically abusive.
Until, on May 12th at dinner chow (2 hours late) at 7:30 pm, 288 prisoners participated in a mass sit-in, in peaceful protest to all of the injustices. Instead of answering requests for talks with white-shirts, all officers fled both chow halls and kitchen, leaving us locked in, and grouped outside the windows and taunted us. The sit-in quickly escalated into the largest "riot" in Missouri history, consisting of a reported $4 million in damages, with the complex being taken over and held for over 7 hours. Inside, only 2 people were attacked before leadership and unity were established.
Countless abuses and injustices followed our return to custody, including: remaining zip-tied for 7-9.5 hours, forced to urinate ourselves, beatings, double-celling prisoners in single-man cells for a week with no mattress or bedding, less than 1000-calorie daily diet instituted for the entire camp for over 70 days, etc.
Through all this, the administration kept up its tricks of sowing hate and dissension amongst prisoners in population by blaming the 3-month lockdown on us by actually naming us to other prisoners in hopes of retaliation). Visits were canceled, no canteen, etc.
However, those of us in confinement know the truth: in 2017, we had a mass race-riot of Browns & Whites vs Blacks, and less than 12 months later those same races, true those same prisoners, come together to fight in unity against oppression! Me and about 20 other comrades came together again in September 2018.
It is coming up on 6 months since our placement in seg and we are likely to receive another 90 days just for good measure, but we are still standing. There are 78 of us from the uprising in seg, and many of us belong to one organization or another. When we are released we will continue to spread and build on this unity that was formed under great oppression. We will carry this momentum to bring all prisoners together to face the true enemy!
We have seen and heard praise for our battle and victory in the struggle throughout other max securities in Missouri. There have been other uprisings that have followed ours at a couple mediums, (one was a race-riot, but with guidance and support those aggressions can be properly re-directed), and the administration is taking notice. The five principles of the United Front are taking hold in Missouri. We will do our part to learn, share, teach and uphold them as we struggle together in our war against oppression. I will do my part in not only spreading the message to mi raza, but others as well. Unity is the key! Viva la gente!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed some good discussion about these Missouri protests in ULK 65. This writer highlights what is most important about these sorts of actions: the learning by participants and observers about what prisoners can accomplish with unity. By building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, comrades in Missouri are building strength and unity, setting up the conditions for stronger actions in the future.
On 13 January 2019, MIM(Prisons) sent 230 signatures on the petition to shut down Africom to the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) who will be presenting them to the Black Congressional Congress after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This petition calls for the disbanding of Africom (a U.$. imperialist tool to control African militaries), the removal of all U.$. military bases on African soil and the end to U.$. invasions, bombings and other military operations on the continent.
So far we have received petitions from United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades in California, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. BAP is accepting signatures until April 4 — the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. We encourage people to write to us for petitions ASAP and get your signatures in to us by April 1. And we encourage comrades to continue to spread information on this topic to build public opinion against U.$. imperialism in Africa.
USW comrades faced resistance in carrying out this campaign from staff and some prisoners. One USW cell lost 2 sheets of signatures in an altercation with a racist prisoner who opposed its work. Elsewhere in California, prison staff were ordered to target anti-Africom fliers for removal, and USW comrades were targeted for their leadership which forced signature gathering to end early. We have seen increased mail tampering and censorship with California comrades since this campaign began. If it weren't for repression, we would have had twice the number of signatures to submit before the deadline.
While our numbers weren't as high as the goal set by USW, comrades did a good job of turning this around on relatively short notice. Our slow lines of communication limit our ability to organize swiftly. So this was good experience for us in improving in that realm. One thing we need to do better next time is to have a larger list of USW members to forward campaign materials to. If you are a member of USW and did not get the Africom campaign packet, let us know and keep us updated on your organizing work so that you stay on our list of active USW members.
Below are some reports we received back with the completed petitions.
A USW cell in California: Here are 54 signatures we gathered. I hoped there'd be more but all our volunteers backed out on us at the last minute. At least one volunteer was reluctant to participate due to fear of repression. Besides that however it was a good campaign overall. The fliers with the timeline really came in handy. They helped us explain to people what the petition was about. In many instances me and another volunteer spoke at length to people about the nature of the campaign making it clear that our focus here was the oppressed & exploited people of Africa. In some situations, however, we found ourselves agitating for this campaign by talking about the fact that even Amerikan troops' lives were being needlessly sacrificed so that the U.$. government could secure the free flow of natural resources out of Africa. We did this keeping in mind how the Vietnamese National Liberation Front established relations with just about every and any Amerikan organization that was critical of U.$. involvement in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were smart in the respect that they were able to masterfully exploit every crack and division in the domestic U.$. anti-war movement.
A great many signatories were Mexican nationals and nationals from different Central American countries who didn't have to listen to more than the basics of our line before they signed. When agitating amongst this Spanish-speaking population we also found ourselves linking the plight of the Central American caravan to that of African refugees stranded at sea being denied entry into Europe.
Only three people refused to give us their signatures. Two of these people were skeptical from the gate and requested more information on Africom, which we happily handed over, whereas one refused to believe us and called us liars. All three were "brown proud patriots."
In closing, we'd like to thank the Black Alliance for Peace for letting us be a part of this campaign. While gathering signatures we found that prisoners were empathetic to the plight of Africans at the hands of U.$. imperialism in this new scramble for Africa. Surely the great African masses will successfully resist U.$. oppression, exploitation and domination, eject the colonizers and have a principal role in defeating U.$. imperialism once and for all. We hope we've made a difference. In Struggle!
Earlier these comrades had reported: We made copies of existing fliers and put them up in different buildings beforehand in an effort to build public opinion for the campaign. Unfortunately, we just received word a couple days ago that all the fliers we put up were taken down by officers on the orders of their superiors. When officers were asked why the fliers were removed they said they didn’t know, they just received a call explaining to them what to look for and to remove them. This is highly suspect since our fliers were up along with a variety of other fliers on an informational board with over 30 fliers including religious propaganda. Yet the Africom campaign fliers were singled out and removed. All this follows an odd run-in with security squad about a month ago. We've since put the fliers back up.
A report from another USW cell in California: I have enclosed 1 sheet [30 signatures] for the petition to dissolve the Africom military command. There are two pages of missing signatures that we worked very hard to acquire here. The problems last week started over a rude racist comment about "nigger politics," which was dealt with promptly on the spot. [Two comrades from this USW cell ended up in the hole as a result of this conflict.]
MIM(Prisons) adds: One comrade who did not participate in the petition drive challenged the campaign to shut down Africom, and in particular questioned Ajamu Baraka as a former Vice Presidential candidate with the Green Party. While MIM(Prisons) did not endorse Baraka's electoral campaign, we whole-heartedly support this campaign to get U.$. imperialism out of Africa, and stand with Baraka on revolutionary nationalist positions such as the one ey took in a recent article responding to the Prosper Africa plan:
"Africans in the U.S. must make a choice. Malcolm said you cannot sit at the table and not have any food in front of you and call yourself a diner. Africans in the U.S. have been sitting at the table of U.S. citizenship and calling themselves 'Americans' while our people are murdered, confined to cages in prisons, die giving birth to our children, die disproportionately before the age of five, live in poverty, are disrespected and dehumanized. A choice must be made, do you throw in with this dying system or do you align with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world."(1)
In prison, it is considered to be a privilege to be a part of the general population (G.P.). And it is considered a punishment to be placed in a segregated housing unit (SHU). In order to compel prisoners to abide by the rules of the prison, this system of reward and punishment is put into place.
Here are a few key differences between G.P. and a SHU:
In G.P., you may get to come out of your cell for two to three hours a day. You live with a cellmate. You may have access to the gym and library. You may spend any funds you have on canteen items. You may walk to the chow hall, and you may walk to medical and any other program you attend.
In a segregated housing unit, you are in your cell for twenty-three to twenty-four hours a day. You may or may not have a cellmate. You have no access to the gym and the only books you have access to are the ones the librarian sends to segregation. You may only spend funds on legal material, stationary, and hygiene products. You have your food brought to your door as well as your medication, and your opportunity to participate in programs is limited.
Now, I shall elaborate upon this contradiction and give you the views of a politically conscious prisoner. Most prisoners are so uneducated and illiterate that if a topic doesn't show up on television, they know nothing about it. To be placed in segregation away from their "idiot box" would bring them unbearable anguish. They also cannot do without being able to get on the telephone, shake their loved ones down for money, and then spending it all on extremely over-priced canteen items. The young hip-hop generation cannot imagine having to exist without the support of their fellow gang members to boost their courage to oppress another, or trade hedonistic rap songs with one another.
Therefore, being placed in a segregated housing unit is terrifying to most prisoners. So much so, that they will tap-dance, bend over backwards and shine the warden's boots. Quietly suffering verbal abuse and humiliation from corrupt psychotic pigs. And when their frustration builds up, they will direct their anger at another prisoner, never abasing the iron hand oppressor.
Then there are those of us who do not care for rewards and punishments. We simply choose not to participate in the perpetuation of our own dehumanization. We choose not to assimilate into the machinations of the koncentration kamp. We don't care about snack cakes, sodas, and chips; we'd rather not be brainwashed by the Nazi programs; and we can do without the zombifying tel-a-vision. We find peace in the seclusion of solitary confinement where there are fewer distractions. Without having to be herded like cattle to and from to the chow hall and medical, we have more time to reflect, study and work toward our goal of state-less society.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Yes, we should try to take advantage of any opportunity do the best possible political work we can. For those locked in solitary, this means plenty of time to study and write and think. But we know this isolation has some very negative consequences for humyn physical and mental health.
Organizing is necessarily about interacting with other people. So while it's true that we run into lots of folks who are content to just sit in front of the T.V. and do their time, our challenge is finding ways to reach them. Isolating ourselves from the masses inherently makes us disconnected from them, and also isolates us from potential recruits who are mixed in G.P. and ready to jump on board. For those in seg, this comrade's advice about making it a good use of your time is well placed. But for those with contact with others, let's strive to make the best of it in G.P. too by building and growing the movement.
Statement of Unity: I, "Big Real," founder and president of F.A.T., willfully submit this statement of unity because the united front principles relate to our drive for education and our motto (Knowledge Is Power). Also, we use education to destroy negative outputs and increase positive aspects relating to peace and enlightenment.
When it comes to recruiting, the tactics involved to build an organization are not as difficult as one thinks. As we all know, relations based on the same agenda and goals are fundamental in showing a common interest in the struggle. Yet, the key to building an organization takes something more complex but simple.
Light travels at the speed of 186,000 mps. This speed is way faster than the speed of sound. Instead of expressing your feelings on how people should follow, simply lead. Instead of being "heard," be "seen."
Moreover, a key factor is observation and analysis. Knowing when to act, how to act, and who to act around creates the best action. When the destination is desired, the express lane is always open and willing. I use the heat of the moment to build my team. Then observation and analysis will cultivate the positioning.
by a Massachusetts prisoner January 2019 permalink
It must be said with all sincerity that in a true revolution, to which one gives oneself completely, from which one expects no material compensation, the task of the vanguard revolutionary is both magnificent and anguishing. Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality. This is perhaps one of the greatest dreams of a leader: he must combine an impassioned spirit with a cold mind and make painful decisions without flinching one muscle. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealize their love for the peoples, for the most sacred kauses, and make it one and indivisible. They can't descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the places where ordinary men put their love into practice.
The leaders of a revolution have children who do not learn to call their father with their first faltering words. They have wives who must be part of the general sacrifice of their lives to carry the revolution to its destiny. Their friends are strictly limited to their komrades in revolution. There is no life outside it. In these conditions, one must have a large dose of humility, a large dose of sense of justice and truth. To avoid falling into extremes, into cold scholasticism, into isolation from the masses.
Every day we must struggle so that this love of living humanity is transformed into concrete facts. Into acts that will serve as an example, as a mobilizing factor. We know that we have sacrifices ahead of us and that we must pay a price for having the right to say that we are the head of the peoples. Each and every one of us punctually pays his quotient of sacrifice, aware of receiving our reward in the satisfaction of fulfilling our duty. Conscious of advancing with everyone toward the new man who is glimpsed on the horizon.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade writes about an important aspect of organizing work which is the dedication and approach of the revolutionary organizer. If we view the people with condescension it will come through in our work. And if this is our perspective we need to examine why we are revolutionaries and why we have this view of the masses.
One thing we want to point out is this comrade writes as though all revolutionaries are men, which is obviously not true. Where we agree about having love for the people in order to be a better revolutionary, we'd add that we also need to challenge our internalized sexism — the idea that wimmin are wives and supporters, but not fighters or leaders themselves. It will come through in our work.
On the author's point about only associating with other revolutionaries and doing only work that contributes to the struggle against oppression, there is certainly something to be said for not engaging with distractions, and staying focused on a primary goal. At this point in the struggle, for many this is unrealistic, especially for those living in imperialist countries surrounded by enemies. We have been raised in a culture that makes this transformation very difficult.
In our present reality, where we are not in a revolutionary scenario, fellow revolutionaries are few and far between. We should cultivate those political relationships, but some people will be the only Maoist in their town or facility. It's unrealistic to expect these folks to not socialize with anyone else. That just leads to burnout from political work, if you're not having your basic humyn needs met.
Even in a revolutionary situation, we see a role for people who do not sacrifice all family and friends, and give up everything in their lives except the revolution. We embrace revolutionaries at whatever level of commitment they can offer, while always pushing ourselves and others to greater commitment and sacrifice.
I want to provide y'all with an attorney's address that is seeking to help Texas prisoners who have been denied dentures, further causing irreversible damages, as well as pain and suffering.
Contact them directly:
511 Broadway St.
Houston, TX 77027
I know he's putting together a class action suit. I don't know if there's a deadline in contacting him or if he's only able to accept so many people, but if y'all can help bring awareness to Texas comrades I'd be very appreciative.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In September 2018 the Houston Chronicle broke a story about TDCJ denying prisoners dentures, and telling them to eat pureed food instead. In December 2018, it was reported that TDCJ will begin using 3D printers to make dentures for prisoners. We're not sure about the status of this class action suit, but we encourage readers who fall in this class to contact Attorney Kallinen directly.
While not directly related to our mission of ending oppression through the complete overthrow of the capitalist economic system, standing up for our humyn dignity in our present moment helps give us more strength to take on such a poweful enemy.
MIM(Prisons) distributes a number of resources for activists in Texas prisons. We ask for donations to cover the cost to print and mail the materials. We can accept donations in stamps or money orders.
Texas Campaign Pack - $3.50
Sworn Complaint Form - SASE or 2 stamps
PD-22 Codes - $5
TDCJ Grievance Manual - $10
(These materials are also available for free online.)
We heard that TDCJ is changing its practice on the grievance manual and will start stocking it in the prison law library. Please send confirmation on this if you know!
by a California prisoner January 2019 permalinkMotivated by the Gods of California
At this moment in time, one of the greatest things that could ever be happening for the outkaste population of the U.$. of amerika, known as the convict prisoner, is happening right under the watchful eye of the exploiter state. Those who are least expected have begun demonstrating the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prison, at the first degree principle that peace is knowledge to the L1 cipher of the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths civilization class, hosted by the Ra'Star Far I Prison Ministries (RSF).
Peace amongst the 5% NGE is commonly referred to as an acronym that introduces the concept that: Proper Education Always Corrects Errors. A concept that the parents of RSF, 8PM embrace with the definition of Peace as it is made born-manifest to the universal cipher, of the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles:
"Peace is that WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
As of late, leaders within, [at CDCR, CSATF, Delta] have begun concentrating on the key objective that they are to be organized into a united body of individuals. And so it be. From this determination it can now be seen more clear just what is needed of WE, the populations within populations of the close eyed massive dying giant. We need the Poor Righteous Teachers to unite in an organized fashion to offer scientific solutions to the problems of the exploited prison population.
"Unity is that WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure that any situation we face is done with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches, and fake communication to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."
Why do we need these Poor Righteous Teachers to unite? Because they are the only hope and last salvation in the upliftment of the original asiatic most oppressed [email protected] and New Afrikan nations. They are those most capable of giving those of WE, the rejected stone, what WE want. And what WE want is that to be FREE by the universal justice of equality, that is Internationalism, which exposes Us to attentions of those at, and like, the United Nations. Attentions that will make known the injustice faced by prisoners in the United $tates where it just doesn't matter how well we serve the time, the wronged is just-us, and we can never be right. WE want Internationalism so that WE can GROW.
"Growth is that WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, WE recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons."
In California prisons, and free communities, it has been custom to remain loyal to learning systems and institutions of thought, all up to the point of destruction of self. Whether these systems be serving the groups that lay claim to, and reap economical tax-write off benefits, refusing WE who are claimed for, the opportunity of developing social equality, or not. This culture must be refined with the power of Independence. This Independence gives us the International attention we need to grow. And to grow is to be raised into social equality, so is the attention that comes with social equality, that of Internationalism!
"Internationalism is that WE struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people. While we are often referred to as minorities in this country and WE often find those who are in the same boat as us opposing us, our confidence in achieving our mission comes from our unity with all oppressed nations who represent the vast majority globally. WE cannot liberate ourselves when participating in the oppression of other nations."
Ain't no future in fronting systems that don't unite us. Systems that don't empower us with the tools to FREE ourselves without us having to step on all those who share a similar condition of poverty. Therefore the Gods of this L1 cipher will use our power to develop the independent social media networks that make freedom understood and born. We will invent economical opportunities that build and destroy the culture of defeatistism and abuse that is so prevalent amongst the imprisoned themselves.
I hear the sirens, see the lights; I still ain’t putting’ down this mic. No matter what we do we’re fucked, they’re shootin’ while our hands are up. Our government’s a web of lies that offers no protection; From these pigs, that’s killin’ kids and claimin’ “Drop Your Weapon”.
Every day its on the news – marches, rallies, different views. Everybody’s talkin’, but nobody wants to face the truth: “Protect and Serve”’s become the words that let a man destroy our youth. No justice from the jury booth, all they do’s just cut em loose. But kill the pig that shot your kid, they ain’t gon’ do the same for you. The field we playin’ on ain’t level – you get life, he’ll get a medal. Your protests ain’t been changin’ nothin’ – time to make them bury somethin’
I hear the sirens, see the light; an unarmed man done died tonight. No matter what we do we’re fucked, they’re shootin’ while our hands are up. Our government, a web of lies that offers no protection; From these cops that’s bustin’ shots and claimin’ “Drop Your Weapon.”
Recognize the lies they spit; now realize the realest shit – The problem’s not in the city hall, it’s in the things we teach our kids We kill over bandanas. We’ll die about our banners. But when the cops come through our block, we disappear like phantoms Kill brothers over lit, the color of their Fit. We stand our ground til sirens sound, then we get shook and dip.
I hear the sirens, see the lights; it’s time this dawg got in the fight. When we come together they’re fucked; soon they’re the ones whose hands is up. I’ll unravel all these lies, I don’t need protection. I got my mic aimed at the pigs, I ain’t gon’ “Drop My Weapon.”