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[Elections] [Civil Liberties] [Prison Labor]
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Tulsi Gabbard Appeals to Amerikan Thinking on Injustice System

At the latest Democratic Party debate among candidates for U.$. President, Tulsi Gabbard made headlines by appealing to emerging views on the criminal injustice system among younger Amerikans. Ey did so in attacks on former California District Attorney Kamala Harris. Gabbard focused on two issues of particular interest to the petty bourgeoisie: drug decriminalization and prison labor.

Senator Gabbard opened eir comments by expressing concerns for the "broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting Black and Brown people all over this country." Ey went on to say that Harris "kept people beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California" and condemned Harris for imprisoning people for marijuana possession and then laughing when ey was asked if ey had ever smoked it.

The prison labor point was specifically about concerns Harris's office raised about losing firefighters if they complied with court orders to reduce the prison population.(1) The court had ruled that overcrowding in the state had led to cruel and unusual punishment. As we've established in our own surveys and research, most prison labor is for the state, and most of it is to maintain the prisons themselves. Fire fighters are the exception in terms of the important role their work plays in protecting humyn life, and no doubt Harris's legal team was playing that up at a time when wildfires were a major headline in California. But the fire fighters are typical in that they are not producing value or part of the profit-making of private corporations.

Prison labor (and the privatization of prisons) has been an ongoing issue of concern for Amerikans in the age of mass incarceration. MIM(Prisons) has long demonstrated that there is a myth that exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration in this country.(2) It is important to point out that the petty-bourgeois obsession with this myth is largely based in class interests. On the one hand there is a fear among the labor aristocracy about competition with prison labor resulting in lower wages and higher unemployment. This has been the major political barrier that explains why prison labor for profit is so rare in the United $tates. More generally, there is a contradiction between the petty bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie that causes the former to be skeptical and fearful of the latter, because the petty bourgeoisie favors small-scale capitalism. This results in a general sentiment against corporations profiting off prison labor, even without the direct concern of wages. In a recent campaign ad, Gabbard condemns private prisons for profiting off prisoners.

Drug decriminalization is also very popular among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie, in particular the movement to decriminalize marijuana. In 2016, Pew Research found 57% of Amerikans supported legalization of marijuana compared to just 12% in 1969.(3) And the younger generations were more favorable of course. In this case, public opinion is based in class interests around economics and leisure time. While there is a financial interest in the booming legal economy of marijuana products for young Amerikans, the broader public opinion is based in leisure-time interests.

The movement to legalize weed will often give lip service to condemning the blatant racism in many U.$. drug sentencing laws, similar to Gabbard's opening statement against Harris's criminal injustice record (above). Yet the scale of your average weed festival/rally versus that of the size of your average protest against torture (of primarily New Afrikan and [email protected] men) tells a clearer story. These reformists for persynal freedoms of the petty bourgeois individual are not going to do anything about national oppression in the form of targetted arrests, sentencing, concentration camps and torture chambers that make up the U.$. criminal injustice system.

MIM has long used the "Willie Horton"-style of campaigning as an example of Amerikans support for national oppression, especially of New Afrikans.(5) While "tough-on-crime" politics is finally waning, we have yet to see whether Amerika can really start to decrease its prison population now that the infrastructure and economic self-interest has been built up around it.(6) Beyond that, the national question is only more at the forefront today, with Amerikans chanting "send them back" at a recent rally held by current President Trump, where they were calling for female Senators who are not white to be sent back to the countries their ancestors came from.

It is important to be aware of these shifts, as they may provide opportunities for the anti-imperialist prison movement. But there has been no change in the overall orientation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement that sees nation as the principal contradiction both internationally and within the United $tates. We continue to organize with the medium-term goals of building dual power and independent institutions of the oppressed and the long-term goal of national liberation and delinking from imperialism.

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[First World Lumpen]
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Damus Agree: A Gangsta Uses Intelligence not Oppression

I want to touch base on the fellow Damu comrade April 2019 "Konfused Gangster Mentality" in ULK 68.(1) I am in total agreement with that author. We as Damus who are incarcerated as a whole are oppressing ourselves, people, and nation. For two decades I've been a Damu under the UBN and for the last 10 years the Damu nation has been watered down. Askaris not fully overstanding the concept of our way of life. There's no way we override oppression and in the same sentence we oppressing the oppressed.

Leaders of the Damu tribes are recruiting but not fully teaching. We bang 5 watts and I see so many askaris falling prey to the trick tyrants are creating. We as Damus must get organized and truly contribute to our Uhuru by any means necessary. I agree with the askari "Damu on Damu is a Double O Banga" not just beef within our nation but with others as well.

The United Front for Peace in Prisons is a structure for unity to stand against imperialism. Damus aren't oppressors, we are Black leaders, therefore we must lead ourselves, people, and nation. To the many Damus askaris in imperial-Amerikkka we must unite within our nation and come together to assist with those who are making changes. Oppression works by turning us against the oppressed, never against the oppressor. A gangsta is one who uses his intelligence. Peace.

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[National Oppression] [Missouri]
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Missouri Divides Prisoners with Racism

I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.

The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.

There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.

So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.

Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.

This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.

Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.


Related Articles:
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[Organizing] [Jefferson City Correctional Center] [Missouri]
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Youth Ready to Stand Up for Change

Today a lieutenant pig walked to the cell next door and the prisoner explained to the pig that ey was in Ad-Seg for assaulting another prisoner. The high ranking pig said "as long as you don't assault staff we're cool." And then ey walked away. I had to use much mental discipline to overcome emotion; understanding that this same misguided emotion has kept me and my comrades in these Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Ad-Seg torture chambers for years.

Our kites are ignored, we have practically no access to grievances and it is only those strong in self-discipline who abstain from physical retaliation. Tactics I have often used to no avail.

There is a strong revolutionary presence in this Jefferson City Correctional Center Koncentration Kamp. Young comrades who, like myself, are gang affiliated yet well-studied and ready to stand up for a change. All we lack is an effective strategy that can truly unite us all. All I lack is the knowledge to properly form a United Struggle Within.

I am open to corrections, ideas and strategies from comrades and political prisoners more experienced and advanced than myself.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is providing an example for all, by contributing regular work writing and producing revolutionary art. We have sent em lots of letters and other material, but it appears to be largely censored. So, much respect for staying active in spite of this censorship. We print this letter to encourage others to speak on this topic. By sending in regular reports on your organizing you can contribute to United Struggle from Within's knowledge of conditions on the ground and strategizing efforts. There is much to learn through practice in action.

On our side of the bars, MIM(Prisons) offers revolutionary education classes (study groups), political literature, and resources to help form study groups behind bars, and other organizing guides. But this support isn't that helpful if we can't get it past the censors. This underscores the importance of our battles against censorship.

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[Censorship] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee]
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Choose Your Words Wisely - ULK Censored in Tennessee for L.O. Language

I would like to inform the supporters, comrades and my fellow brothers throughout the world, plus also in the "Amerikan Prison System," that we must be watchful of our message that we are attempting to give and spread to those who very well needs it. The ULK article that was titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" was deemed to be a threat to the Morgan County Correctional Facility. So it was rejected by the mailroom staff. This decision was upheld by the "Security Threat Group" coordinator, and by the final decision of the head warden.

The article was said to be written by a supposed gang member who has ties to the Bloods street gang. It was said by the prison officials that the way the word “confused” is spelled as "Konfused." But also that the word "Damu" that's a part of our Afrikan native people spoken language, that many of our slave ancestors spoke called Swahili. This was brought to the land of Amerika by the Afrikan slaves, who spoke Swahili and also many other Afrikan language dialects.

Even today across the great land of Amerika, you can hear Swahili spoken throughout many major cities as common language by "Afrikan Amerikans." Many may greet one another in such of a way for all to hear. "I love you Damu of my Damu!" Let me translate "I love you Blood of my Blood!" Because for we as Afrikan Amerikans we share something in common. That our people was stolen, kidnapped and then shipped across the Atlantic, during which millions of people died while being transported.

Now when we are attempting to speak to brothers, sisters, supporters, plus comrades through the ULK, we must choose and use our words wisely in our articles, so the law enforcers won't be offended. Because here at Morgan County CF they have a long history of being taught to be racist, prejudiced, biased and abusive by assaulting prisoners while being in restraints. Yeah they're country boyz here at this facility. They don't want prisoners awoken and told what they should be doing against their oppressors. Because that would mean that these coward "Correctional Officers" would be getting their ass kicked left and right when they do things to us in a wrongful act.

And last, but not least, it was said by the STG coordinator here that he didn't like that the article titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" used the word pig to describe law enforcers. I myself thought it was funny, because this same STG coordinator at MCCF, he has witnessed his co-workers partake and possibly himself also in one or two of the foul acts I mention above.

Now we know that this is an ongoing problem that's not confined to the prison system; it also is happening in our streets of Amerika. The law enforcers are killing unarmed black males at an alarming rate as they did in 1950s thru the 1960s when our true brothers and sisters known as the Black Panthers became aware of the problems and began to form a movement to deal with them.

If you are affiliated with a gang my brother, keep your gang slang, your dissing ways toward another gang out of the ULK. Because these swine are always looking for ways to stop such articles and paper from entering into the prison systems. And that goes for being straight forward when it comes to speaking on dealing with the law enforcers. And being behind enemy lines without the system knowing that it has been infiltrated by us in all forms. Then more damage can be done against who we are fighting. This simple, but effective technique has been used by the oppressed through the world.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a difficult question for those of us working to expose the criminal injustice system. We want our publication to get in to our readers behind bars. We also want to print the truth. And we want to use language that inspires and empowers our readers. This truth and this language sometimes leads to censorship. We try to walk the line, always printing the truth, but choosing our language carefully when there is an alternate word that means the same thing and can prevent censorship. We can be thoughtful about what words we put out front.

We also need to take on these censorship battles and use them to expose the prison system, and the lack of free speech under imperialism. Like this writer, we need to appeal censorship when it happens. And when you appeal, if you inform MIM(Prisons) of the censorship we will also write an appeal as distributor of the publication. Even if we don't win these appeals, we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention to their rule breaking. Often the words and articles they cite as reason for censorship wouldn't pass a review by the courts. We need to remind them of these laws. If you don't have a copy of our guide to fighting censorship, write in to request one.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Migrants]
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Activist Faces 20 Years in Prison for Preventing Migrant Deaths

Scott Daniel Warren
No More Deaths volunteer Scott Daniel Warren

Scott Daniel Warren faces 20 years in prison for his volunteer work distributing food and water to migrants in Arizona. Warren works with the group No More Deaths to aid migrants crossing the border in the Arizona desert. For this work, and for providing a place for two men to sleep, Warren was charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of felony conspiracy. Eir trial ended on June 11 with a hung jury.

Warren was arrested in January 2018 along with other No More Deaths volunteers. The arrests came just hours after the group released video of border patrol agents destroying jugs of water left in the desert for migrants. This case isn't closed yet; federal prosecutors may choose to retry Warren.

The Arizona desert is one of the deadliest places for migrants to cross the border due to the extreme heat. But people are forced to this area by the 1994 Clinton era "Prevention Through Deterrence" policy aimed at making border crossings more deadly. The idea was to force crossings over more hostile terrain, putting more lives in danger, to discourage migrants from attempting the journey. Metrics of the plan's success included "deaths of aliens." By that measure, the plan has been a success. The total number of people attempting the crossing has dropped but the odds of dying have gone way up.(1)

Hundreds of migrants are found dead every year. Trump's border policies are just a continuation of the anti-immigrant policies of all Amerikan imperialist administrations, including Obama. Closed borders maintain a cheap source of labor and natural resources for the imperialists. This preserves wealth for those within at the expense of poverty for those on the outside. Migrant deaths are just one result of these borders. Fighting the Trump border wall is a distraction from the real problem. Fight borders not walls. Open the borders; return the stolen wealth to occupied nations at home and around the world.

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[Censorship] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 68]
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How to Fight PA Mail Policies

In the article "Pennsylvania Digitizing Prisoner Mail" in ULK 65(1) Soso points out that PA's new policy will restrict prisoners to purchasing books directly (after the publication is first approved by the DOC). By enforcing this policy the PA DOC is implementing a state-run monopoly on reading material within its prisons. The obvious reason for this imperialist act is to further censor prisoners' reading material.

Illinois comrades have heard our brothers' cries for help. This policy can be fought, but it will take time and dedication to prevail. Crofton v. Roe, 170 F. 3d 957, 961 (9th Cir. 1999) is a case finding that a regulation that only allowed a prisoner to receive publications he ordered and paid for directly bore no relationship to the interest of screening for contraband. You'll need to Shepardize this case to find cases from your Circuit that support this judgment.

What does this mean? It means that you can combat the current policy denying third parties to order you books. That might seem like a small victory compared to the digitization of your mail and pictures, but any victory against the state is a victory for the people. Unfortunately, due to the security concerns regarding drugs being smuggled into the prisons through the mail, it is unlikely that this policy will be overturned by any court. The only method left for this issue is direct action in protest of the policy which garnishes public attention and support (i.e. the mass hunger strikes in California in protest of the SHU which resulted in the abolishment of indefinite placement in the SHU). In Solidarity!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We hope that this PA mail policy will be challenged in the courts. Although MIM(Prisons) does not have the resources (or lawyers) to do this from the streets, we print this letter to support our jailhouse lawyers who are working on this battle. At the same time, this writer makes a good point that we are unlikely to win these legal battles entirely. We can sometimes gain some small victories, that allow us things like greater access to educational materials in prison. But we need to keep in mind that political power only comes to those who take it. The imperialists and their courts will not give up this power without a fight.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 68]
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Don't Defeat the Gangster Mentality, Embrace it!

Gangster mentality can mean different things to many. A gang is a group of people with a common goal. I must emphasize that all words/concepts are subject to connotations that don't necessarily have good intentions. Gang/gangster therefore carry negative and positive connotations, like other words like socialism, anarchism, communism, etc. It has been MIM(Prisons)'s aim to educate us about these ideas through the proper usage of science.

With this in mind, I consider myself a gangster. Since I believe in the idea of working with others towards a common goal, to me it is not about "defeating this gangster mentality," it's about embracing it and re-directing it towards the "Shining Path." We have a common enemy, and resolving our minor contradictions doesn't necessarily mean that we have to defeat our gangster mentality. This kind of language is what causes rejection from the lumpen organizations(L.O.s) in many cases. This is the language that is used by state-financed organizations and Christian groups/org.

I understand that MIM's direction is different, but those who pick up ULK and glance at it may see this language and will put ULK down. My approach has, and will continue to be, one that politicizes the gangster mentality. This is where you will find the most dedicated comrades, and, because they are respected they find themselves in a position to make real changes that erase that divide among different gangs and further our struggle in the right direction. It is about learning and teaching about our minor contradictions and working to overcome these minor obstacles.

In ULK 67, USW 11 wrote about how the state of Washington is doing whatever it can to depoliticize prisoners, and how among those places where you find the gangster mentality is where you find the most resistance against the state.(1) When L.O.s understand the power they have working collectively, things begin to change and form. After all, gangs are in contrast with the individualistic mentality in the United $tates, and are a response to the socio-economic conditions we face in and out of prison. It's a way to survive, in a place where the capitalist and oppressive system emphasizes individualism.

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[Release] [ULK Issue 68]
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Fixing Credit is One More Challenge for Releasees

I'm writing about a problem that I've been dealing with for the last two years of my incarceration. If you all have any information that will help me, please send it or put me in touch with someone who can help.

Basically I had a normal life before I was incarcerated. Meaning I had bills. Due to my incarceration I fell behind on all my bills, ruining my credit.

I've found information in the library to run my credit report and contact my debtors. But the mail room here will not allow me to send out anything that has to do with finances. They advise me to appoint a power of attorney.

My problem is this, how does DOC expect us to be "rehabilitated" while incarcerated, but won't allow us to do for ourselves? I'm going to be released to society with terrible credit, no money and no means (legally) to provide for myself. And I'm certainly not the only one. This system is creating a cycle that turns DOC into a revolving door. And does nothing but add to the paychecks for the state.

Everybody doesn't have family out there to provide for them. So I thought I could try to handle my own business but I'm being held back. I read the policy and it basically states that as a prisoner we are not allowed to sign financial contracts or start/conduct business via mail or phone.

So I'm reaching out to see if any other prisoners are having this problem. If so has there been a solution? Because I have several ideas on how we can help ourselves to have the funds to start over once released. But how do I implement them with the restrictions applied by DOC? Hell I don't even know if they'll let me send this out asking for help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade describes just one of many problems releasees will face as soon as they hit the streets. Usually thinking about your credit is not the first order of business for a released prisoner. But this can have a big impact on your ability to find housing and set up basic services (which require credit cards). There are ways to rebuild your credit rating, but it's slow and one more problem to add to the difficulties of life on the streets with a prison record. And as this writer points out, all this adds up to a revolving door of recidivism.

We don't have any easy ways to help fix this credit problem, or the bigger question of how to set up businesses from behind bars. However, we hope that our comrades with release dates or finite sentences will start thinking about this well in advance. If you have someone on the outside who can help square up your delinquent bills, it's never too early to ask for help. And if your prison allows you to send mail out to those billers directly, you might be able to work something out with them to defer the debt.

If anyone else has ideas to help folks hitting the streets to deal with these sorts of financial challenges, write in to share them. We want to help our comrades hitting the streets to ease their transition as much as possible. This is critical to making it possible for releasees to continue their political work on the streets. We need an army of former prisoners building independent institutions of the oppressed, to support new releasees.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Education] [ULK Issue 68]
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Love Your Varrio by Liberating Your People

Growing up in the internal semi-colonies (ie. Aztlán, New Afrika or the reservations), one is confronted with a certain form of oppression. This national oppression naturally compels our youth to come together and unite for survival purposes. This phenomenon is mirrored anywhere in the world where the contradictions exist between oppressor vs. oppressed nations. This results in oppressed youth forming youth survival groups, which the capitalist state calls "gangs."

Lumpen organizations, or lesser-organized youth survival groups, are a reaction to living under an oppressor nation and although it is a good alternative to assimilation or attempted assimilation to Amerikkka, there is a need to develop more fully to political consciousness. Political consciousness will be what leads to liberation of our nations.

In my own development, I realized how my varrio will always be my varrio, my homies always my homies, my brothers always my brothers. But in order to liberate Aztlán it will take more than being a rebel. I now know if i truly love my people and community i should uplift their consciousness, not turn my back on them. The goal is to bring my people to the side of revolution. The goal is to have my people develop as did the excellent example of the Young Lords Party. From a so-called "gang" to a revolutionary organization. This can be accomplished via political education. Each one teach one. Start with your cellmate, then neighbors, then homies on the tier and branch out. Leaders should institute political education and raise the consciousness of the org. This is when real accomplishments will be gained. Rise!

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