Black History Month - When the Panthers Died [Video]
In Under Lock & Key 71 we promoted a campaign in Texas’ Allred Unit for phone access and video visits during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The campaign won this immediate goal, although the campaign included a list of 15 demands that included an end to long-term solitary confinement, good time credits, releases related to COVID-19, the right to vote and more that were not addressed. Below one of the leaders draws some lessons from the campaign. Both of the excerpts below are from discussions among USW leaders on current conditions for organizing in prisons.
A USW comrade in Texas: Seven days after the phone zap all prisoners in Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU), even those on level 3, began receiving free phone calls weekly. The admin bought cordless phones, there is one on each pod. Each day one section gets calls. There are only 6 sections per pod, so 1 day of the week is ‘stuck out phone call day’ for those who may’ve gotten moved, downgraded etc. So the zap and the strike were a success, but I also observed some keen lessons. Oh, before I say that let me say that the above arrangement is supposed to last until the OTS bluephones are installed. This is what we’ve been told, although I don’t believe it.
Now the lessons: #1. A more profound respect for the necessity to remain underground. This coincides with #2 which is that the masses, both those within the organized body (the rank & file) and outside that body, are EASILY pacified with the simplest reform because for most lumpen the “invincibility” of the state and admin remains intact. Therefore if in the event the admin actually budges in any way it is considered a monumental victory and complacency sets in. That’s what I’m dealing with now surrounded by masses on the “outside of the body.”
Backtracking to #1, I find myself surrounded by masses on the outside now because the admin was made privy to my position and influence among the active protagonists (Team One). As you know, I was isolated, rehoused. Since then some captives have used their outside contacts to apply pressure to admin – this resulted in the discontinued practice of isolation of dissidents on level 3 pods. Consequently I was moved again, and although things are favorable here in most ways, the point is that the admin’s success in separating the cadres has circumvented my attempt to mobilize peers to push the movement forward.
However, I truly think that once the ‘free’ calls are taken away, and it goes back to $15 for a 5 minute call, and no OTS phones have been made available, people will see exactly what I’ve been preaching to them the last 3 months or so, then the material conditions will be ripe again. In the meantime, I’m working on developing new cadres.
MIM(Prisons): The comrade above reported on repression and bad-jacketing efforts by the state, but has worked against them through mass contact and political education. While the focus of the campaign became the immediate goal of phone access during COVID-19, the demands highlighted much bigger concerns, including the end to long-term solitary confinement, which MIM(Prisons) has spent a lot of time campaigning for over the years. Another USW Leader addressed the issue of organizing around immediate, minor reforms in the USW leaders meeting while discussing local conditions in eir prison:
USW comrade N: The most pressing issues at this facility are of course important to all who feel strongly about them (i.e.: phone access to loved ones during the lockdown). However from an organizers’ perspective, these are not battles in which we can effectively push anti-imperialism forward, much less Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM), without veering into reformist practices of little tactical or strategic value. I am aware that arguments on principle can be mounted to the contrary, but absent a practicable, totalizing strategy for revolution domestically being put forward by an MLM organization that is actionable in the here-and-now (notwithstanding the exemplary work MIM(Prisons) has exhibited in their particular field of operations), we cannot effectively utilize many of these prison struggles as a proper springboard to corresponding actions in other areas, actions which do not translate into long-term pacification which benefits their prison administration in an objective, cost-to-us, benefit-to-them analysis.
If we cannot muster the resources and external manpower to mount a facility or state-specific campaign for a tactical reform to push our agenda and continually imprint firmly in the minds of all incarcerated that we have their best interests in mind, it may be advisable to abstain from participation lest credit for the reforms go elsewhere and becomes politically-neutered, or, worse yet, the system co-opts the struggle as its own and touts its successes (ie. The First-Step Act). Otherwise, we are gaining no more than sporadic traction amongst those we are attempting to revolutionize, and then only of a transient nature. We should not be trying to ‘improve’ American prisons, much like we should not be attempting to cut a bigger portion of imperialist profits from Third World super-exploitation for the lower class, yet still relatively privileged, citizens of empire.
If we are to engage in any prison organizing, then censorship battles concerning our political ideology, the UFPP and the Re-Lease on Life programs should take center stage. I find it harder to advocate quality-of-life reforms which are not linked to a totalizing revolutionary strategy outside the walls. Our goal is to radicalize those on the inside, for subsequent outside work. As for our comrades who do not have the luxury of a release date, or have sentences which essentially translate into the same, their best hope for release lies not in reforms but with an all-sided MLM revolutionary organization planning their release through eventual Peoples’ War. It goes without saying that for them, and for everyone suffering under American imperialism, the sooner, the better.
*In case it may not appear as such, all of the above is written in the spirit of “Unity-Struggle-Unity.”
MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrade N echoes MIM(Prisons) in calling for campaigns around censorship battles, building a United Front for Peace in Prisons and developing Re-Lease on Life programs. Ey reflects our general practice in shying away from inherently reformist campaigns; ones that do not contribute to our long-term goals and projects. We include the struggle against long-term isolation on that list, which Team One included in their demands, but was perhaps dismissed as a throwaway demand.
Our comrade in Texas suggests that organizing may start up again when the state doesn’t keep its promises. And we should note that it can be hard to separate out UFPP development work from reformist campaigns. Formations like Team One serve to unite different lumpen formations for common cause. With the correct leadership, and keeping our eyes on bigger goals like the UFPP, and uniting others around a list of more impactful demands, reformist campaigns like phone access could be productive. At this point we rely on the leaders of Team One to make that determination.
We think both the comrades here are contributing greatly to work on the ground and to developing the knowledge and line of our movement overall. We can also say that only focusing on the reformist campaigns, without the longer goals, is not going to change anything in regards to ending oppression and injustice. Scientific leadership liquidating its demands in the masses is an error that will not get us anywhere good either. We’ve seen many who say they unite with our goals but argue that the masses aren’t ready for them so they hide their true politics. This is called tailism, and it has not proven effective in building the communist movement.
Finally, Comrade N makes the point that we need a broader communist movement to be guiding our work in a strategic way. The fact that we are just a prison ministry focused on prisoner support, without a larger organization/formation to be guiding our work leads us much more susceptible to the trap of reformism. This is why it is important for us to be involved in the development of a broader communist movement in this country and to link up with other forces that have the correct orientation around key questions for communists.
We mourn the hundreds of thousands of people who have died due to the incompentancy of the U.$. government from the federal to the local levels during this pandemic. Deaths in prisons from COVID-19 are at 2,173 as of 19 January 2021.(1) We know of one comrade in California who died who was working with a local USW cell.
In California, Governor Newsom put prisoners at the forefront of their vaccination roll out plan. However, things have not gone so smooth. All over the state vaccines are sitting unused, while they have opened up access to more than 10 times the number of people than they have vaccines for. According to the COVID Prison Project, which is tracking the vaccination of prisoners across the country, almost all of the 19,000 vaccinations administered through the California Department of Corrections and “rehabilitation” so far have gone to prison staff. Though California is one of a handful of states that have confirmed data of vaccinations having begun (currently at 65 prisoners).(1)
As infections and deaths reach record-breaking numbers every day, prisoners continue to be much more likely to be infected with SARS-COV-2 virus and they are more likely to die from COVID-19, despite the fact that the population in prisons is younger than those outside prisons. Old age is a very strong risk factor with COVID-19. This demonstrates that being in prison in the U.$. has a significant negative effect on your health status and the health care that you receive. It is very ironic. One would think that prisons are the most effective way to “stay inside” and get a population safe from a viral plague. The fact that prisons are rampant with this disease shows that “natural” disasters such as plagues, earthquakes, and floods are in fact bound with social relations just like all other things.
As you see in this issue of ULK, we continue to receive reports of lack of masks, staff not wearing masks, and infected prisoners being moved around and spreading the virus. With such lack of care demonstrated by those in charge, the higher death rates in prisons are no longer surprising.
On top of that, prisoners are suffering disproportionately from the conditions of shelter-in-place, nominally to stop the spread of the virus. The rest of the country gets to decide for themselves whether they want to follow best practices and stay at home and where a mask. As one might have predicted, this model failed horribly and is leading to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. But for prison staff, lockdowns are a routine affair. In many rural, white communities, sheriffs have refused to enforce state ordinances to promote public safety by sheltering in place. In prisons, correctional officers are happy to lock oppressed people in their cells for months with little access to the outside. This hypocrisy exposes the pigs true intentions.
Being in prison is about controlling all your time; the labor time you could have spent building up wealth and the leisure time you could have spent building your relationships and community. As mentioned above, being locked in a prison in the United $tates has a strong negative affect on your health status. It seems that many who don’t die from COVID-19, will have long-term effects. This will affect people’s ability to be productive and enjoy leisure time after being released from prison. U.$. prisons have long-term affects on peoples’ class and gender outcomes throughout their lives, especially for the oppressed nations which have less resources and support to overcome these setbacks.
Meanwhile, there is some pleasure involved on behalf of staff instituting lockdowns to make their jobs easier and refusing to wear masks because they “don’t feel like it.” Pleasure that would not exist for people who actually cared about others.
While there are economic reasons at the heart of why the oppressed always bear the brunt of “natural” disasters, there are cultural reasons as well. So much death and suffering could have been prevented in U.$. prisons without any affect on capitalist profits. And arguably, the U.$. economy would be doing better right now if the government had implemented better, clearer practices in society in general.
The struggle for basic health, including mental health and social connection, are struggles for basic humynity. Struggles we see falling more in the realm of gender than class, because it is not about economics and production. It is about transforming the relationships between people in a cultural way. A way that works to eliminate the possibility of one group finding pleasure in the oppression and suffering of another. We see the examples of the oppressed coming together in these conditions to struggle for basic humynity, and to build it between each other, as the early steps of a revolutionary transformation of national and gender relations in our society.
This year has been filled with misinformation, in the media that has been strategically broadcasted to mislead, antagonize and keep people divided. It is beyond my comprehension to understand how people reason with themselves to vote for people to office as their representatives without analysis of what is really going on. All year long the media broadcasts visible contradictions in everything these representatives say and do, yet no one questions or holds these representatives accountable for their actions and inactions.
Movement after movement has arose in opposition to inactions or actions of government officials, but to what end? or means? These movements proclaim this and that end or means but without any analysis of what is really taking place. I see no method for resolving these contradictions to any prosperous end through any known movement. Our movement (MIM(Prisons) and associates) are included in my analysis because of recent dissonance. The Spring 2020 ULK No. 70 publication attempts to demystify MIM’s failures, but has either forgotten or not published Mao Zedong’s cataloged weaknesses exhibited by themselves or the lumpen-proletarians as revolutionary soldiers. The following should be published as strong talking points for future issues:
The military viewpoint – A tendency to regard fighting as the only task of the army, avoidance of such political tasks as educating and organizing the mass of the people, arming ’em and helping ’em to establish their own political power. Without this fight/politikal work the whole fight is lost and its meaning and the revolutionary a reason for existence.
Extreme democracy – Aversion to discipline, each commander and soldier going their own way in a carefree manner.
Absolute equalitarianism – A demand that everyone be treated alike regardless of circumstances; meanwhile no one is created equal.
Subjectivism – Holding opinions and criticisms without a realistic examination of the facts and without regard for politikal principle, basing opinions on random talk and wishful thinking; focusing criticism on minor issues, petty defects and personal quirks. All of these only lead to mutual suspicion and unprincipled quarreling between people.
Individualism – Vindictiveness, cliquism, the mercenary viewpoint; holding oneself responsible to individual leaders rather than to the revolution as a whole; Hedonism – an urgent desire for personal comfort and pleasure, longing to leave the hard life of struggle and find some softer spot.
The idea of roving insurgents
Adventurism – Acting blindly regardless of conditions and the state of mind of one’s forces; Slack discipline on the one hand but corporal punishment and the execution of deserters on the other, attempting to enforce rather than to inspire loyalty to cause.
These are the tenents we need to analyze and play on to prevent any challenges to our rule before the revolution begins and count on ’em to disrupt the revolution once it begins!
Amerika declared war on New Afrika, first and foremost by the murdering of New Afrikan men, women and children and then imprisonment. Amerika made movies and television shows (the news) to publicly show other fellow white supremacists in and outside this country her kills and trophies. This was also to instill fear into the so-called blacks to not defend oneself from these eminent attacks on us.
Whether we are in these concentration camps or in the free society, Amerika is murdering us and are using us to Blackface this evil nation to try and gain freedom, justice, and equality with the Black Lives Matter movement. But they don’t give no credit to the originators of the phrase “Freedom, Justice and Equality”, who are those who come from the Moorish Science and the Nation of Islam.
Black Facing of Amerika is also the browning of Amerika… By the sexualization of our brothers’ phallus or Mandingo and our sisters’ big breast and booties, both sexes of the white nation exploit our reproductive organs for their own survival and our own destruction. Despite improvements in recent years, New Afrikan males are still more than 5 times likely to serve long prison terms than white males, and New Afrikan infants are still 3 times as likely to die than white ones. The prison is a major location of the control of New Afrikan sexuality and reproduction, which once took place on the slave plantation.
In The Man-Not, Tommy J. Curry explains,
“Enslaved Blacks were denied manhood and womanhood, they were defined as beasts of burden whose bodies were used at the discretion of whites. Violence against the enslaved took no gendered form. It was unbridled violence against Black bodies where rape was enacted against both sexes.” (p. 158)
“The prison subsumes the Black male self only as penis and flesh. In Soul on Ice, Cleaver notes that”the penis, virility, is of the Body. It is not of the Brain… [I]n the deal which the white man forced upon the [B]lack man, the [B]lack man was given the Body as his domain." Toward the end of the 1960s, Cleaver had already worked out the role white administrators (in both society and prison) determined for the Black penis: It was the symbol of pure animalistic brute sexual force, the criminal rapist beast." (p. 86)
This imperialist/capitalist nation white-washes us so they can be able to Black face in a whole new level. We must fight to defend our minds, our souls, and our bodies; fight to defend our elders, our children, our men and our women. It’s time to police our own neighborhoods as the rapper G Herbo said. It’s time to separate from the United $tates and become New Afrika. It’s time to depend on ourselves and ourselves only! Stand for what you know is truth or die for the lie$!
The Black petty bourgeoisie are in all areas of the socially oppressed and economically oppressed communities; from churches, schools, boards of directors, your city councilmen/women and especially the entertainment business. They’ve taken in these capitalist and imperialists’ potion (lies) and love the brief ecstasy it brings them. As a drug addict, you’re induced into a temporary high, and once the high is gone, you notice that you either need more or you could stop, but why should these talented Tenth, or house negroes want to become rehabilitated? They see and hear the truth but being conscious makes them believe they are in control. So unconscious becomes their mind state chemically-induced coma, while walking. It becomes almost as dangerous as their masters’ frame of work!
What is Blackface? It was originally a form of racist comedy put on by the Europeans in this country. They paint their faces and act as an ignorant black person. Then they transmutated that ideal and inserted its ideological substance there in our ancestors’ minds. In which, they begin to put on the Black face paint and act as ignorant as our captors did, believing it to be the only way to take back the “joke” from our oppressors. Sad to say it only amplified their criterion for a stronger potion (lies) for Us to take! Alchemy at its best.
Now that the chemical has arrived, it is slowly being administered to our children, or the “colorized people.” The black petty bourgeoisie begin to release statements such as: ‘You must work hard and not think about the environment you’re in! That is in order to succeed in life!’ Yet, I see the working class and many are still being feasted on by the ruling class parasitic capitalism!
We need to weed out these conscious but unconscious in our communities! For they are the potion of lies waiting to be administered to our present Brothers of Struggle and Sisters of Struggle (BOS and SOS) within the United Struggle from Within (USW). We must begin to insert our truth, the original truth(s) of our ancestors. It is the first vaccine, so to say, that will cause a chemical reaction to their lies. Next is where we sit at in these institutions of slavery. We must re-educate not only oneself, but our Brothers and Sisters of struggle, where you are currently held captive. Then call out those in our communities that wear this Black face.
Capitalism and imperialism was born by racism and colonialism, that’s why socialists and internationalists must be self-determined and head strong. Words are the deaf, dumb, and blind poison! Its transmutation becomes one’s actions, habits and then your way to death, self genocide! Remain consciously conscience.
It has come to the attention of We, the politically intelligent mason prisoners of amerika in California, the sudden changes of opinion by U.S. society and its exploiter nation’s status quo to no longer look favorably on the social construct of cross dressing, make-up drag or Halloween costumes done in the fashion of Black face. This narrative goes to draw a connection to the false information campaigns led by the bourgeois pop culture executives in order to keep the population of exploiter nations like the U.S. in a state of false security and economical privilege as underdeveloped nations around it suffers.
No white man, woman, or child should be caught painting their face Black - especially those who hope to have a career in social politics. Question is, when Blackness is not only a state of mind, but also the substance of which all things are manifested from, including the outer orbits of space called the Universe, is Blackface really that wrong?
When being Blackface isn’t at all that easily escapable for the darker shades of humanity, and is actually necessary in the national suicide process of neo-Nazi defectors and Euro-amerikan/white supporters of New Afrikan liberation by reparations, repatriation and total autonomy for all things indigenous to Afrika. And really, who of us doesn’t want to claim a little Afrika, aka Blackness for ourself?
Facts are that people have been tanning since the beginning of Egyptian/Summarian civilizations. So why is it currently being blasted all over capitalist news media broadcasting stations that this Black facing is a national catastrophe in need of most attention and immediate gratification?
It’s just that; immediate gratification, something that has very little to do with solving long-term conflicts in any given phenomenon, but instead is a diversion in interest of the long-term imperialist agenda to bourgeoisify the entire world with the capitalist systems of greed, ignorance and destruction.
Anyway, Halloween and its costume parties aren’t the subject in need of discussion. What is most needed for the politically inclined to wake their game up in is the why questions posed by brothers and sisters of the African National Prisoners Organization (ANPO) and New Afrikan Shamaan (NAS). Why does the devil call our people black? Or even African for that matter?
This is a subject that has begun to resurface in prisons, in such a way that it has been the reason for violent group altercations and segregated populations, resembling the Jim Crow south. (Jim Crow was a famous Black face character performed by a white entertainer.)
In California prisons, the segregation issue is at an all time high because it is a culture that is integrated so deeply amongst the population that Blacks segregate themselves into groups amongst themselves. There are those who consider themselves to be African-American, those who consider themselves Negroes, those who say they are Black and those who struggle for national independence under a variety of terms, for example the Asiatic Free Moors and the New Afrikan.
There is a very real divide between these populations that needs to be consolidated if it is to be that prisoners as a whole will ever come together in peace to face the exploiters. Where prisoners as a whole are made up of several nationalities, that will play a powerful role in a united effort to overthrow the current prison structures. Every national population must seriously organize itself in a Community Social Accountability Regiment to draw the lines between the political divides within We the oppressed internal semi-colonies of the oppressor nation, Amerika, if We are to ever get beyond failed hunger strikes and commissary boycotts. Though the immediate gratifications offer a temporary relief from the pressures of confinement. We escape to Walt Disney’s World of mystic illusions, the state department is still subjecting We all to toxic prison conditions. And as long as We are a divide between who isn’t Black and the argument that this whole entire damn planet is Black, We shall remain a population of social rejects, ignorant to the science of self.
I just wanted to let you know some more of the tricks the system is implementing against me via the J-Pay E-Mail/kiosk system they have set up.
It seems that anytime I send an e-mail to my loved ones asking them to contact a Court and/or government official these e-mails show up blank, yet J-Pay says these messages are being held and/or censored by the prison for reasons of “third party contact” (SMH). Imagine that, I can’t even send an e-mail to my Power of Attorney to contact the courts on my behalf as my LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE!
What would they be trying to “censor” from reaching the courts? (rhetorical question).
In other (related?) news they are also using some device to “un-download” movies I purchase from this same system shortly after I lock back into my cell. This is causing me to lose the movie sometimes due to time restrictions on them, which is a form of consumer fraud.
Note that only here on my company in Auburn Correctional Facility, have the oppressors instituted kiosk privileges 1 day per week, when Directive #4425 clearly states 15 minutes daily. Also, due to Covid restrictions we don’t have visitation privileges, so these once a week e-mails are cruel & unusual due to the already strained circumstances.
I have been debilitatingly sick here twice already taking all precautions against such especially at the times I got sick. I didn’t leave my cell outside of showers, packages & visits for approximately 6 months.
By intentionally taking away in-cell entertainment you force one outside where the chances are higher of me getting sick. Because of prior retaliation akin to this, this seems the most plausible ploy. Let me know what you think.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with our comrade in Virginia that there is a strategic effort to profiteer off prisoners and their families while increasing surveillance and censorship of prisoners’ communications with the outside world. The fact that you are losing movies you paid for, or others are being charged by the minute to read a book is just JPay profiteering off of control of data. It’s the same in the outside world where companies like Apple and Google lock you into a system where they can keep tempting you to spend more money and they decide what media you consume. Only in prison you have less choice.
Many prisoners write us asking to communicate on platforms like JPay, which we cannot do. These platforms increase censorship, surveillance and state control over what you can read or listen to. If we do not fight this, other states will join North Carolina in banning U.S. postal mail and materials like MIM(Prisons) study packs and resource guides.
The year 2020 was hectic and alarming to say the least. From Pre$ident Donald Chump’s outrageous attempts to wrestle power away from the traditional bourgeoisie, to COVID-19, which threw the entire world for a loop and tragically ended the lives of over a million people, mostly in the Third World. The year 2020 has been one in which the already ugly face of imperialism has been peeled back far enough to where even first worlders could catch a glimpse of what’s hidden underneath.
The depravity of Amerikkkans’ twisted desires for a return to a social order in which Amerikkka is clearly and definitively on top has been on full display for the world to see. From the extra-judicial killing of New Afrikans and other oppressed nation people by law enforcement, to the lynching of New Afrikans in liberal Los Angeles County, Califaztlán; the principal contradiction of Amerikkka vs the oppressed nations remains the existential threat to the people of the internal semi-colonies. As such, what has been made clear to revolutionaries from the oppressed nations is the urgent need to organize the Chican@, New Afrikan, and First Nations along communist lines. One of the few organizations in the United $tates attempting to do this is the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (MIM Prisons).
As is already widely known by U.$. prisoners, a U.$. federal court has ruled that prisoners cannot be excluded from applying for and receiving economic relief under the CARES Act. This decision allowed for thousands of captives to receive $1,200 stimulus checks with more already on the way.
As an anti-imperialist who’s worked with MIM(Prisons) for almost two decades I have requested and received a plethora of study materials from them, most free of charge. In 2015, MIM(Prisons) released Chican@ Power and the Struggle For Aztlán, which focuses on the hystory, present, and future struggles of the Chican@ nation from a Maoist perspective. This project was very expensive and pushed back the release of MIM(Prisons) own contemporary text, The Lumpen Handbook.
MIM(Prisons) is not a huge organization, nor do they have the big name recognition which other more amorphous groups with opportunist politics do. What they do have, however, is a correct political line for the liberation of the internal semi-colonies and a communist cadre committed to serving the imprisoned masses. So if you believe in struggling for an Aztlán libre then one thing you can do at this time is send a donation to MIM(Prisons). Sending money to them will help fund not only the next issue of Under Lock and Key, but the free Books to Prisoners program. If you believe that Black Lives Matter, then donate to MIM(Prisons) and continue funding the education of revolutionaries behind prison walls.
Let us then take this opportunity to contribute to the anti-imperialist movement to end the oppression and exploitation of the oppressed nations by U.$. imperialism by giving something back to MIM(Prisons) after they’ve spent years giving us so much.
[NOTE: For ways to donate, please see our get involved page. We are working on a second printing of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, if you want to pre-order a copy just let us know when you send your donation of $20 or more.]
Up until 12 December 2020, the day we as Mexicans celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, we had been very fortunate here at California Medical Facility - Vacaville (CMF). That morning I came out at 0500 hrs, for my insulin and it didn’t take long to notice the change, the C.O.’s and nursing staff wearing not just masks, which had become the norm by this time, but wearing face shields and PPE also. Then later that evening when I came out my cell at 1705 hrs. for my insulin C.O. White informed us that someone in T-wing had tested positive for the virus. By 2015 hrs. two more men went down with COVID.
Then came the push to once again take our CPAP breathing machines, and the night of the 13th they came in the middle of the night with their Gestapo tactics to take our breathing machines and most of us resisted and did not have to surrender our DME’s. Then came the threats of 115’s but they had a problem and that was how to justify level II prisoners in Unit IV insulation single cells which is where they put us after we fought to get our CPAP’s back – a fight that MIM was instrumental in our being able to get our DME’s back the first time.
Then they sent a Sgt. to explain: either we surrender our power cords to our CPAP’s or they would cell extract us and thereby confiscate our power cords. So we complied under duress to the confiscation of our DME power cords. This as almost daily they tested us for COVID and constant temperature checks at our cell doors as time after time we were slammed down in our cells. On 15 December, they pulled out 18 more prisoners with COVID, by the 18th we had at least 35 men down with the virus in T-wing and we are hearing this is the same throughout the institution. And the same across the street at Solano State prison, surging. By Christmas T-wing had become like a ghost tier, not many men left. And for those of us left breakfast and dinner meals were coming in brown paper bags, though I must say Christmas dinner was the BEST I have had in years to keep it real. On 27 December, C.O. Smith was telling us that we had 200 prisoners hospitalized and a hundred plus C.O.’s with the virus. My son who is in the hole at Corcoran State Prison tells me that it was surging where he is at as well. He himself got the virus, thank God he is young and healthy and was able to pull through though still feeling some effects of the virus.
On 6 January, while Trump supporters were engaging in acts of insurrection, I am happy to report that I did receive the Coronavirus vaccine. The institution is telling our families that they are returning our DME power cords, however I can tell you I have not seen it, but I can only speak of what is happening here in T-wing as we are still on “modified program” here at CMF at the time of this writing.
All Power to those who deserve it, all those who fight for it and all those who know. The hunger strike at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF) over conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic is still alive. Though the leaders have suspended the starvation act of the strike, our workers strike remains alive. We determine that our Covid Intervention Statement remains relevant as an organizing tool to those involved in the struggle to force the transparency of California Prisons. It’s sad that it takes individuals to put their life at stake before the public can have knowledge made known of the conditions we suffer. But it is how it goes within the belly of the beast. Leaders plan to resume the hunger strike at a later date of 2021, and will notice at the point of strike.
We suspend our strike solely because the conditions began to take a very unhealthy turn, with little adequate record keeping power of the families and supporters to know just what is happening with the healthcare of the leaders. By no means do we want our suspension to be construed as a resolution of our DEMANDS being met. For there can be no talks of SATF Administration meeting strikers’ DEMANDS when SATF and CDCR Director Connie Gipson fall silent to ANSWER to the statement of prisoners at SATF hunger striking. They do not deserve this sort of CREDIT.
The conditions of building 2, where prisoners receive showers every 72 Hrs. Laundry exchange, including sheets and pillow cases are unknown to any other living units. And Phone calls have been consistent to once per week. Meals remain served cold. Showers remain dirty, standard of PPE remain poor, and the package officer L.A. Alvin is said to have been rerouted to G Facility Gym 2 weeks ago. For 3 days packages were issued, and then they were stopped.
The more pressing issue is testing and quarantining prisoners, that first DEMAND. It would seem that SATF has engaged in testing, hence the report of the outbreak. The high numbers serve as a focal point and evidence of the need for families and supporters of prisoners to mend broken relations between one another and unite against this human rights disaster. The hunger strikers recognize the support the public gave, and we say that though SATF and CDCR fall silent to answer the DEMANDS of the strikers, members of the public did not fall silent. Members of the public stood in solidarity with the strikers, accepting the terms of which we testified to be true, spreading this as high as the State Capitol. We rest in recovery from the loss of body weight, consequent to starvation. But we know that there are members of the public who are now directly connected to the struggle here at SATF in the Valley of Death’s shadow.
In the question of what it is that leaders achieved in starving themselves in this ACTION, we won the fight to silence prisoners by the noise of CDCR Covid scheme operations. We raised awareness in the Valley in solidarity with other prisoner leaderships in prisons across California, that CDCR’s failure to protect the imprisoned population where Covid is concerned is unacceptable.
A public stage has been made available to prisoner leaderships in the shadow of Death Valley, where once it had gone silent. The CDCR culture known as the ‘Code of Silence’ cannot rule where there are members of the public willing to speak out and ACT out in criticism of the state, its departments’ bureaucracy and the ACTIONS of its agents.
The REPUBLIC and SOVEREIGN will of individuals, independent of the state, acting in collaboration with WE who struggle for human decency against all odds.
WE together born about a culture that ushers a future where redemption is real. Reconciliation is possible, and reparations are as simple as a public admission of guilt, an apology and plan of action to make right said wrongs.
This is what we struggle for. NO MORE SILENCE, give us answers. The supporters of the strike have done great in raising awareness that here at SATF there are those who have starved to improve the conditions within CDCR as it relates to Covid. We have established court in the streets, now we will begin releasing our AFFIDAVITS and MOTIONS for orders against these FACILITIES, like SATF. COMMON LAW RULES everywhere in AMERICA where the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM fails. All that is needed are a few FARMERS who can teach how to GROW and provide WORK to the UNEMPLOYED, for there remain WE who will WORK for food, and stock inner-city community food banks. A few BAILS BONDSMAN willing to perform CITIZENS ARREST of ASSETS LIQUIDATABLE in PERSONAL DAMAGE CLAIMS of PRISONERS, against correctional staff and healthcare personnel for COVID ATTACKS.
What the PIGS are doing to us is equal to a carrier of COVID intentionally coughing in the face of someone who hasn’t been exposed.
It’s assault and battery.
We will begin putting out BENCH WARRANTS for offenders, and from here on out the PUBLIC OPINION will decide their FATE. COURT is in the STREETS.
THE FAILURE OF CDCR HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AS AN ACT OF WAR AGAINST WE PRISONERS.
Right now we need our supporters to help us get our health back up so that we can make our next strike. We can use whatever folks can by making a deposit into our inmate trust account.
Using JPAY Deposits, supporters can send leaders money for canteen where food purchases, cough drops, lotions, spices, herbs, oil and vitamins may be purchased to do for themselves what the institution will not do for them. [Contact MIM(Prisons) to get a name to send donations to.]
On 2 January 2022, mass protests raged across the cities of Kazakhstan in response to the sharp spike in oil prices. 3,000 Russian paratroopers were called into the country to quell the uprising,(1) and 5,800 people were detained during the unrest with 164 people reported to have been killed.(2)
One day before the uprising, the Kazakh government started off the new year with a lifting of the government enforced fuel price cap. This action doubled the fuel price of 60 tenge to an average of 120 tenge per litre (approx. U$D $1.06 per gallon). With the average monthly income of a minimum wage proletarian being less than the equivalent of $100 a month, the rebellious consequences of an overnight doubling of fuel prices – in a country with oil production as its major industry – isn’t surprising.(3)
The beginnings of the uprising started in the city of Zhanaozen located in the western part of the country bordering the Caspian Sea. Protestors blocked the roads, demanding stabilization of gas prices and prevention of fuel shortages. Two Akims (the title of local leaders in provincial, district, or municipal government of Kazakhstan) were called by the demonstrators: Akim Nogaev and Akim Ibagarov – neither were brought forth. Instead, acting leader of the city of Zhanaozen Akim Baijanov advised the crowd of protestors to write a complaint letter to the city administration.
Encampments of tents and protestors numbering in the 100s popped up in other cities of the country. Most of these encampments were staged on the respective city’s center squares. The crowds of encampment expanded to 1000s, and the demands chanted shifted from stabilization of gas prices towards fair elections of local leaders. By 4 January 2022, the biggest city and former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, had 1,000 protestors in the centre of the city. Police tactics of stun grenades and tear gas were used against the demonstrators, and the president declared a state of emergency. The country faced a mass internet outage; the mayor’s office of Almaty was stormed and set ablaze; and locations of firearms were seized by protestors.
On the 6th of January, dozens of protestors alongside 12 Almaty police officers were reported to be killed with one officer who was found beheaded.(4) Mass “looting” and burning of government buildings occurred with 2,298 people having been arrested for partaking in the protest. On the same morning, 3,000 Russian troops were sent from Moscow after president Tokayev of Kazakhstan made a “formal” request of assistance.(5) At this point in the uprising the police and the army of Kazakhstan were given “shoot to kill” orders. (6) After days of gunfire and burning, the Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan has claimed 175 million Euros in property damage; 160 people dead; and 5,000 arrested.(7)
Approximately 100 years before the masses were on the streets rebelling against a corrupt and despotic bourgeois dictatorship, Kazakhstan was facing immense amounts of transformation as the nation – like many of the colonial or semi-colonial nations at the time – were entering the world of modern capitalism-imperialism. In the early 1900s, Kazakhstan faced settler-colonialism and imperialist rule by the czarist government. During the 19th century to the first third of the 20th century, Kazakhstan was settling around 400,000 Russians. Resentment against colonial rule, and competition of land with foreign settlers in a semi-feudal country resulted in various revolts.
Three years after the czarist government fell and Russia became the first proletarian dictatorship on a country-wide scale; Kazakhstan came under socialist rule in 1920. Through the war against fascism, Kazakhstan saw industrialization but mostly still stayed an agricultural economy. After the war, with Stalin’s death in 1953 and the restoration of capitalism in the USSR by Khrushchev, Kazakhstan also enters a new period in history.
The “virgin lands campaign” by Khrushchev would transform Kazakhstan into a major grain producer for the Soviet Union. Transformation of smaller and weaker nations under the control of the Soviet social-imperialism into monolithic agricultural hubs for Russia was often the fate of recently liberated countries. Cuba, for example, became the major sugar producer for the USSR. With further bureaucratization of the republic’s government into the hands of the social-imperialists of Moscow, Kazakhs became a minority in Kazakhstan by 1959 making up only 30% of the country.
With further weakening of the revisionist Soviet state, the bureaucratic state-capitalist government of Kazakhstan would declare independence on 16 December 1991. It was the last Soviet republic to declare independence. Ten days later, the USSR itself would no longer exist and turned into the Russian Federation. The revisionist bureaucrats governing Kazakhstan would become the leaders of the new and liberalized economy. The Kazakh masses would enter a new period of industrial exploitation.
In 2011, proletarian workers of the oil fields in Zhanaozen (the same city which sparked the uprising this January of 2022) would form a strike for better wages and working conditions. The state oil company fired 1,000 of these workers and the strike was declared illegal by the local courts. The protest went on with furthering of demands such as independent political parties formed by workers free from the government – similar to our own work of building independent institutions within U.$. prisons. On the 16th of January, the police opened fire at protestors, killing 11.
With the quelling of January 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin described the new year’s event as a “foreign backed terrorist uprising.”(8) The president of China, Xi Jinping, expressed that “China opposes external forces triggering unrest in Kazakhstan.”(9) With the social-imperialist Chinese “Communist” Party and the imperialist Russian Federation being the great hope of revisionists and social-chauvinists around the world; many revisionists express this sentiment that all mass uprisings in the Third World against Russian or Chinese friendly governments are a ploy from external forces.
When it was socialist, China called for a relentless criticism of revisionism and for rebellion against reactionaries. Since 1976, the Chinese Communist Party has promoted unprincipled peace and “stability” indicating how much the colors have turned in the former socialist republic. As Maoists, we recognize that internal contradictions are always the impetus of change as external contradictions are the basis of how that change and movement is played out. Even if the first stone cast in Kazakhstan was from the hands of a covert CIA spy – or an “Islamic radical” as Kazakhstan’s government would state – the fact that there was a prairie fire for a single spark to start in the first place reveals much in regards to the objective conditions of Kazakhstan’s political economy and the subjective forces of the masses of Kazakhstan. Unless the revisionists claim that every single protestor was a non-Kazakh foreign spy, this claim is idealist and metaphysical. A real internationalist political line would be the recognition of the people of Kazakhstan as friends against world imperialism and part of the world’s people. Our line in the imperialist countries must also be able to combat the militarism and meddling of our respective imperialist governments.
Notes 1. Walker, Bisenov, “Russian paratroopers arrive in Kazakhstan as unrest continues,” The Guardian, January 6, 2022.
2. Heintz, “Kazakhstan says 164 killed in last week’s protests,” AP News, January 9, 2022.
3. Kantchev, “Kazakhstan’s Elite Got Richer on Natural Resources. Then Came the Unrest.” Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2022.
4. Walker, “Dozens of protesters and police dead amid Kazakhstan unrest.” The Guardian, January 6, 2022.
5. “Moscow-led bloc to send ‘peacekeeping forces’ to protest-hit Kazakhstan.” France 24, January 5, 2022.
6. “Kazakhstani president issues ‘shoot to kill’ order to quell protests” The Hill, January 7th, 2022.
7. “Kazakhstan: More than 160 killed, 5,000 arrested during riots,” Al Jazeera, January 9th, 2022.
8. Vaal, “Putin claims victory in defending Kazakhstan from revolt,” Reuters, January 10th, 2022.
9.“China opposes external forces triggering unrest in Kazakhstan, says Xi Jinping.” Asian News International, January 7th, 2022.