Your Texas Pack will support my contentions and add fuel to the fire I have started. You participate in the same practice I do and have been doing since 2010. I apply the law in my grievances. I apply PD-22 in correlation to ED-02.01 and apply the facts of official misconduct that lands officials on administrative probation or suspended 30, 60, or 90 days. I applaud your practice. I appreciate your action, and your newsletter gives me hope that I am not alone in fighting this Goliath that has no moral value. Thank you for your presence and participation.
I am on Powledge Unit after fighting my way to here via Bother units where I still have civil actions pending. But this unit enjoys retaliating against you for your protected right to file grievances or complain. Standards for prison operations in this country are made by the American Correctional Association (ACA), and ACA Standard 4-4274 states I have a protected right to complain about my conditions and official misconduct without fear of retaliation, but the guards don't know that it exists in ATC Rules. See ATC-040. It has been my safety beacon in many grieves.
The state works off the ignorance of inmates — our comrades so to speak. I am requesting that you keep doing what you do and teach the prisoners. Inform them of their rights, privileges, immunities under the Constitution. Where the prisoners of Texas really need help is in statutory law. I am understanding that Administrative Code is where statutory law lies, that governs jails and prisons. Texas prisoners in state facilities are not privy to these laws, so a prisoner cannot successfully litigate a case without an injury. An injury is not a prerequisite to 42 USC 1983.
Well keep up the good work and stand united and strong.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Legal work and campaigns, such as the information contained in the Texas Pack, are one aspect of our struggle toward a society without the abuses that the Texas Pack is focused on: grievance problems, indigent mail restrictions, exorbitant medical copay, and others. We don't think we can get to that society by focusing on just this angle alone, however. So we push our comrades who are getting good information from the Texas Pack to also recognize the bigger picture and the long-term struggle. MIM(Prisons)'s work is focused on prisons in the United $tates, but we strive for this work to coincide with the struggles of the most oppressed peoples in the world. If you're ready to take that step from prison reformer to revolutionary, we offer lots of study materials on the topic, and a correspondence study course for $10 or work-trade.
In response to the article in ULK 55 titled "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article," I am equally compelled to struggle my point across to my Texas comrade and all other comrades within the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit. Our Texas comrade has committed the error of "seeing only a tree instead of the forest," please allow me to explain.
While it is correct that the 5th Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court with an order to apply the injunction to only the three plaintiffs in Angola's death row – Ball, Magee and Code – if one would read and digest the discussion of the 5th Circuit's ruling then one would see that it is obvious that in order for "all" prisoners to receive this relief then "all" prisoners would have to file! And I am fairly sure that most comrades can "come up" with a medical condition! In section 3 of the opinion under "disability claims" the court stated in the last paragraph that because the plaintiffs failed to properly introduce their ADA claims that it was fatal as to that claim, therefore "reading between the lines" one can grasp the nugget of wisdom!
So in conclusion there has been and is a victory against the deadly heat in Louisiana, so I urge all comrades to flood the courts with their own "personal" suits and bypass the stacked deck of the PLRA, entiendes? Please read the "entire" case with footnotes etc.: it was declared that the heat can be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. (The ADA provides "endless" major life activities and functions so everyone can find a niche). So if the heat is a violation of a federal right then – (quote from opinion) "such relief shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs!"
Be that plaintiff!
Please read the case: Elzie Ball, et al. v. James M. Leblanc, et al. U.$. District Court for the Middle district of Louisiana, 988 F. Supp. 2d 639; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178557 Civil Action No.: 13-00368-BAJ-SCR. This is on order from Ball v. Leblanc, 792 F.3d 584, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11769 (5th Cir. La. 2015).
MIM(Prisons) responds: In "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article", another writer responded to this writer's original article on this lawsuit from ULK 53. The responder pointed out that the 5th Circuit Court's decision only afforded people with pre-existing medical conditions relief from the dangerous heat in Louisiana prisons. And so ey clarified that the ruling does not automatically apply to all of Louisiana's death row. We are glad that both writers chimed in on the topic, to clarify the ruling and the suggested tactics.
We need to think creatively about how to use this court decision to expand protections to anyone with any medical condition. In conditions like this that are truly dangerous (as we approach summer once again) we encourage people to follow this comrade's lead and look for ways to use the legal system to improve safety of your conditions.
Perhaps others will disagree with this tactic and propose other better uses for people's time and legal research. It's slow to engage in debate through the pages of a bi-monthly newsletter like Under Lock & Key but this is beneficial to all readers and a part of the unity-criticism-unity process. It's a healthy debate over tactics that will keep pushing our work forward, so write to us and let us hear your thoughts.
I'ma start this letter out by sending all my respects to all involved in educating and enlightening those who is fighting such as myself. These past couple of weeks have been very hectic. Here at Kentucky State Reformatory, we have difficulties with the administration denying legal help from legal aids on cases and with research and filing.
In Kentucky, prisoners in administration and punitive segregation are being denied legal representation by legal aides on filing motions, briefs, etc. and on research. Most of us have active cases and are filing new cases, but the administration have told us "prisoners" that the legal aides can't assist us on any cases and they have notified the legal aides not to assist us on our cases. The legal aides have been told that they can only assist us and represent us at adjustment committee hearings.
Everyone knows that you have to and need to do research before an active case can even begin and finish, so this bureaucratic red tape is just another arbitrary denial of access to courts, and a violation of the Kentucky Constitution and the U.$. Constitution. Right now I am seeking out accurate factual materials to write out a petition to send to the warden, and accurate factual civil and human rights and constitutional Kentucky and federal laws to fight this injustice.
An injustice to one is an injustice to all.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is not an issue unique to Kentucky. Prisoners in Texas are also being denied access to courts because of a "cite only" rule. And in Georgia our comrades are denied access to the courts because they are on Tier II restrictive housing. In North Carolina there are no law libraries, and the agency that is designated to satisfy the requirement of access to courts is almost entirely useless.
For all our comrades who advocate working through the courts for remedies, we have as many comrades who write in saying it is impossible for them to access legal material or assistance. This is one of many reasons why we don't believe the oppressors will ever set up a system that grants real power or dignity to oppressed people, including U.$. prisoners. We work within the system when we can, but we also need to build our own independent institutions, outside the current criminal injustice system, in order to meet and maintain our goals.
I write with news of what I believe to be progress by a few comrades and I here at Clinton Correctional Facility on 27 February 2017. Me and 7 other comrades staged a peaceful protest in response to gaolers playing around with me and my neighbors' food.
Each comrade refused to return their empty food trays until my neighbor and I received new food trays that wasn't tampered with (my neighbor was a diabetic and needed to eat). Lieutenant Durkin came around to see what was going on and he seen the seriousness of our solidarity and brought us new trays. (Protest over right? But you know these pigs.)
After me and my neighbors' trays were collected these gaolers decided that they were not going to pick up the trays from the comrades who initiated the protest, in order to use this as their own excuse to deny them showers for the night, and to use these trays to extract them from their cells to inflict abuse.
These pigs tried to offer my neighbor and I showers but we refused unless everyone had their right to a shower, and we continued to press to speak to higher authority.
That only led to higher authority getting tired of our solidarity and want to teach us a lesson by summoning the "Extraction Team." These pigs pumped gas into my cell and the cells of three others, and invaded our cells in units while we were incapacitated by the gas, and beat us one by one. We are in the SHU and on complete lockdown and posed no threat to those cowards.
I was taken to an outside hospital in Malone, New York after the assault only because these pigs thought they broke my ribs. But I won't break, not even bones comrades, not even bones.
These cowards put us on deprivation orders and took all of our in-cell property and left us with just a bare mattress and pillow for the next 5 days (February 27 - March 4). They also took our sweaters and socks and cut the heat off at night in below-freezing weather.
I organized a mass letter to the Superintendent and that's when we started to get our property and water back. The cells were never cleaned after the gas was pumped in and I burned my eyes a few times some nights laying on the plastic bed and pillow.
We all received false tickets to cover up the racially-motivated mass assault, so we all (7) decided to file grievances on what happened. We're just waiting now. They haven't separated us yet because I know they are just listening to our conversations. Most of us don't have the discipline to speak in silence. Anyway comrades I need advice, stratagems, literature or whatever you think we may need to continue our struggle on the inside in a winning fashion.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We encourage anyone with advice for these comrades to get in touch with us and we'll pass along your suggestions. These sorts of retaliations for peaceful protests are all too common in prison. One suggestion we can make to these comrades is to continue to build unity and knowledge among the group, and work to expand the solidarity to others if possible. Our power comes from unity and this is built in part through studying and struggling together. And because we know admin may transfer anyone at any time, especially if someone is seen as a threat because of eir ability to unite people, we encourage everyone to get set up in our MIM(Prisons) correspondence study course. This will allow people to study together and continue studies even if some folks get moved around.
by a California prisoner May 2017 permalink Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Basillo Ramos created the "Plan de San Diego" in 1915 in the State of Texas. This was a call to arms and involved a coalition of Mexicans, Blacks, First Nations and Asians to take up arms against white supremacy. These are some of our freedom fighters who came before us. They fought, sadly, the same struggle we are faced with today.
The Aztlán that so many fought and died for, and many of us have been imprisoned for, continues to glimmer on the horizon. It is the People's will to regain a foothold in our Sacred Land and break the chains that colonize our minds. It is time to rebuild the Revolutionary institutions. Raza Stand Up! Ya Basta! For we are on the quest of Aztlán!!!
Yes, let us not forget freedom fighters like Joaquin Murrieta, who sought supreme justice in California during the Gold Rush and fought the abuse of La Raza. Or David Sanchez and Carlos Montez who founded the Brown Berets in 1967. Or Corky Gonzalez and The Crusade for Justice.
It is right to study and learn from the lessons of the past, and use these lessons to continue to work united towards a common goal. In fact, we always made sure that a portion of time was set aside during all AV Brown Beret meetings for just this: to educate our membership. This was such an important factor that we had as #4 in our 10 Point Program, EDUCATION.
We must rebuild the Movimiento! And it's just as important to build unity across revolutionary organizations.
Viva La Causa
MIM(Prisons) adds: In August and September of 1915, the military operations carried out in southern Texas by units of 25 to 100 men reached their high point. Comrades in United Struggle from Within have been holding discussion over recent months to build its first commemoration of the spirit of the Plan for August 2017.
Comrades on the outside are encouraged to organize book events around [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán for August, and/or study groups to read the book leading up to August. Prisoners can write in to get copies of the Plan de San Diego flier to distribute locally, which includes a list of proposed actions from United Struggle from Within organizers.
On 18 April 2017 the prisoners here rioted against the staff. Mainly it was just the South Hall. Those youngsters are tired of being treated like animals. So they rebel the only way they knew how. By busting out all the windows on the South Hall of East Arkansas Regional Unit, which was one through eight barracks. This transpired that day from 5:30pm until 5:30am. By then Emergency Response Team (ERT) and officers from all the other units responded. They shot 30mm rubber bullets and flash bangs into those barracks. They hog tied prisoners, and dragged them down the hall to the visitation yard which was turned into a makeshift infirmary. There prisoners were beat, kicked or stomped while still cuffed and awaiting medical treatment. The pigs stayed for 3 days in extremely large numbers. 100 officers for day and night shifts the first day, then 50 extra officers on the 2nd and 3rd day. They even returned on the nights of Arkansas' executions.
The prisoners could have rebelled better, but it is what it is. I'm glad, it just goes to show only so much repression will be tolerated by the masses until change is demanded. It's just that their energy could have been utilized in a more revolutionary way than in just a release of emotional outcry. Educating prisoners, all day. Each and every day we must teach the Marxist-Leninst-Maoist way.
"Our task now is to continue to extend and make still better use of this method throughout the ranks of the people..." - Mao Tse-Tung, "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People"
What was comrade Mao speaking about when he made these comments? His topic was the democratic method. In 1942, it was explained this way: 1) beginning from a desire for/to achieve unity, 2) resolving contradictions (real differences in opinions, perspectives, positions on questions or issues) through criticism/struggle (not necessarily physical); 3) arriving at a new unity on new basis. In simpler terms: unity, criticism, unity! This was the philosophy and practice which led China to overthrow the exploitative forces draining their entire country. Before this method, the imperialists, capitalists and their allies exploited contradictions between and among the masses and political cadres; in order to maintain their strangle hold on controlling not only the means of production and the productive forces, but also the very existence of the people in all aspects of their lives. This was the oppressive reality in China and is currently the reality (although in varying degrees) in Amerikkka's prisons.
In U.$. prisons, habitually, the method of solving problems is through hyper-masculinity, or hyper-violence. In a prison, the smallest trifle, disagreement, or unintentional act is met in overly-aggressive manners. Soon a test of wills develops, "my way or no way." But this hyper-violence does nothing to encourage unity, class awareness, or political consciousness, and it cripples the movement. Here is the true reason why prison officials or those connected to prisons and the injustice system do nothing to avoid it, and in many cases, they actually promote hyper-violent methods. This method is detrimental to you but beneficial for accomplishing penological interests. To break this oppression, the democratic method must be foremost in our minds and practice.
Gangs, "clikas," alliances and groups are analogous with political parties, factions and groups of like-minded individuals, in prison and society. In prison there are numerous racial tensions. There are contradictions and various other factors, not least among them, the constant oppressive atmosphere. The only ingredient not present: political consciousness. Here, Mao's lessons can be put to good use.
The procedures of yesterday may not be the exact remedy needed for today's problems. In prison, as in capitalist society, contradictions are normally expressed in acute antagonisms and conflicts. Many times this equates to prisoner against prisoner (rival gang members or conflicting races), or to a lesser extent, prisoner against guards. What do such conflicts achieve? Only further detriment for us. "Failure to understand..." in prison as in society, perpetuates the very causes of hyper-violence, which that same violence seeks to eliminate. Should we search for a different method, other than what the capitalist system has provided us for contradiction resolution? Can contradictions be resolved at all? Comrade Mao, in speaking of progress and difficulties says, "... not only should contradictions be resolved, but definitely can be."
"The only method to be used in this struggle is that of painstaking reasoning and not crude coercion..." Crude coercion being the hyper-violence/violent methodology. By opening dialogue for mutual education of every class of people, with a focus on promoting a united front. By critically analyzing, debating and correcting mistaken or inappropriate political views, as well as sowing the seeds that will produce political consciousness. After a time, this process yields fruits and progress. Two prisoners from rival gangs may begin to discuss their mutually oppressive predicament. This leads to criticism, fueled by a desire to struggle against their oppression, a criticism of the available options, submission or hyper-violence, and a rejection of both. Soon these rivals (actually allies against the oppressors) come to realize the only true way: the democratic method. Following such an epiphany, they form an alliance based on refusing to continue being pawns in the game and find a new unity. Unity, criticism, unity!
While the method is practicable in U.$. prisons, Amerikkka's prisoners, on a large scale, lack political consciousness and that is a problem. Here we must focus on educating, which goes back to our "task," as outlined above "...we should work painstakingly and not be impetuous." Creating more "self-determinants" as I've termed it in, "The Adaption of Capitalistic Controls," (see ULK 54). For the future health of the movement, the correct political points of view must be nourished, because not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul. A movement without a soul is dead.
I am an incarcerated person in a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections prison named SCI Somerset, located in Somerset, Pennsylvania. An incident happened on 9 January 2017 at 1600 hour count (4pm). The regular 2-10pm Sergeant (Sergeant Baserman) and Officer Reesman were walking past my cell to conduct inmate count. After they passed I needed to use the bathroom, so I turned my back towards my cellmate (so I wouldn't get a write up) and faced the door. The Officer and Sergeant came back around to go up the stairs, which is by my cell. Sergeant Baserman, who was second to go up the steps, stopped on the 3rd step and looked directly over at me. As soon as I noticed I yelled "do you mind I'm using the restroom" the Sergeant continue to watch me until I was finished using the restroom.
Later the same evening I sat down and wrote out what happened and asked to file a PREA report (Prison Rape Elimination Act) against Sergeant Baserman. I placed this in a plain white envelope and addressed it to the PREA Lieutenant, DL Abbott. Three days later I went to be interviewed by Lieutenant Abbott. He stated he was going to pull the camera footage. In the meantime I would be interviewed by the Psych Department to see if mentally I was okay, then interviewed by the Pennsylvania State Police. Within a week I saw both the Psych department and the Pennsylvania State Police. The Pennsylvania State Police said during my interview they couldn't find any video footage but would go back and look again. I heard nothing after that interview.
About a week later I went on writ for court to SCI Benner Township. I was gone for almost a month. The day after I came back I was called up and served with a misconduct. I was written up because they say they couldn't find camera footage and said I made up a story. A week later, I went in front of the hearing examiner S. Wiggins. Despite never having another misconduct on me or even a block card (a negative housing report) and being a model prisoner, this hearing examiner still found me "guilty" and sanctioned me to 30 days cell restriction, which is total confinement away from general population.
My family then emailed the facility PREA Coordinator Mr. Allen Joseph (also a deputy here) asking for his help in regards to this misconduct. A few days later he called me over to an office, along with my unit counselor, and states he had gotten an email from my family and didn't care if we chose to expose the conditions of the prison as my family had stated. He stated also that I deserve the punishment I received. After this meeting I returned to my cell. Let the record reflect, that I was still on the same housing unit with this Sergeant and there had been nothing but retaliation since that with the Sergeant. My family also contacted Central Office for PREA, who also stated this prison is in the wrong.
For the record, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Inmate Handbook, which is given to every prisoner when arriving to their home prison, page 7, section 8, Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) DC-ADM008 number 2, the last sentence reads "you will not be retaliated against for reporting an incident of sexual harassment or for providing witness testimony." This prison has clearly violated this and continues to violate this and many other PA DOC policies. They interpret policies the way they want and enforce them how they want. Even Superintendent Wingard does nothing to help the situations in here and instead helps make it worse by sticking up for his staff whether they are right or wrong. Please take a stand with me and expose these prisons on their intolerable wrongdoings and let them know they can't get away with this. Join with me and take a stand!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade exposes what we've heard from other prisoners: the "Prison Rape Elimination Act" or PREA is at best ineffective and at worse turning into a tool for abuse and retaliation against those who attempt to make PREA reports. We need to continue to expose these situations. And we ask our readers to chime in on whether there is a better tactic we should consider to fight these abuses. While we often try to use the law to our advantage, filing reports and lawsuits even when we don't expect to win, we are hearing more stories of retaliation than victories using PREA.
Yesterday was Palestinian Prisoners' Day. Yesterday was also two days after the fifteenth anniversary of intifada hero Marwan Barghouti's illegal abduction from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
It is on this day that American-backed Israelis, in action opposing the two-state solution, chose to put Palestinian reconciliation and national unity symbol Marwan Barghouti in solitary confinement.(1)
Solitary confinement is a practice widely implemented as a form of discipline and political repression in the #1 prison state in the world, the United States. Used to repress protests of inhumane conditions, solitary confinement is itself widely considered inhumane particularly when done for long periods of time. Some Palestinians have been in solitary for years. Other kinds of worse treatment often accompany solitary confinement. It seems likely that Marwan Barghouti will be in solitary for several days at least.
A long-time prisoner himself with an immediate interest in the outcome of the protest like any of the other "security prisoners" in Israeli prisons, Barghouti was reportedly leading a large prisoner hunger strike against inhumane and illegal treatment of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. One of the things the prisoners are demanding is an end to solitary confinement, which it seems Barghouti could be in until the hunger strike ends. A mass hunger strike in 2014 lasted two months.(2)
Reactionaries are trying to get the public to associate the open hunger strike with the murder allegations against Barghouti. They are suggesting Barghouti is the only reason for the strike. The hunger-striking prisoners' demands include an end to health negligence and an end to detention without trial. I$rael is holding hundreds of Palestinians without Israeli citizenship in administrative detention. Because of multiple anniversaries in 2017 related to the colonization and occupation of Palestine, massive protests would have happened whether Barghouti was alive or not.
Many in various countries do consider Marwan Barghouti — one of several imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, belonging to different parties — to be Palestine's "Mandela," a potential future Palestinian president. Barghouti was taken by the imperialist settler formation and Amerikan outpost named "Israel" fifteen years ago and subjected to a show trial in a kangaroo court. An intifada figure and strong supporter of Palestinian nationalism and independence before and after being abducted, Barghouti is reportedly able to unite various groups of Palestinians in a way that few are. Many people in various countries already support Barghouti's release.
Barghouti supported the Oslo Accords in the past. Azanian Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize in June last year. At his show trial, Barghouti noted in Hebrew that he was a figure for peace for two peoples.
Barghouti has supported trying different approaches, permitted under international law, to ending an occupation that is illegal. Months and years after major waves of protest and resistance, there are still thousands of Palestinians in I$raeli prisons for resisting the illegal occupation and settlement. One of them happens to be Barghouti.
Since the I$raeli goon squad kidnapped Barghouti in 2002, the highly influential and extremely wealthy United $tates has had many years of chances under various presidents to secure Barghouti's release. It hasn't happened. Two-term Democratic president Barack Obama didn't do it. Instead, Obama deceived Palestinians and gave Israel a record-breaking aid package. Obama sought to protect the image of Democrat warmongers and do-nothings, and the United States' image, after now-President Trump won the U.S. election and it became obvious that the United States was going to lose its undeserved standing as a peacemaker.
The West Bank and East al-Quds ("Jerusalem") already had tens of thousands of illegal settlers at the time of Ariel Sharon's al-Aqsa provocation against the two-state solution in 2000. For years the United States has verbally supported the two-state solution and verbally opposed settlement construction, in land universally understood to be occupied territory, while hampering the two-state solution and supporting settlement construction in actuality. Whether Barghouti would ever be president or not, Barghouti's continued detention is hampering processes Palestinians need to go through to arrive at important decisions with a higher level of unity.
The two-state solution isn't total liberation of Palestine. Many Palestinian leaders and figures mediating Palestine's international struggle support it. Some Palestinians consider the two-state solution a temporary step. According to survey reports, many support some approaches to it more than they support others. Though not always agreeing with or emphasizing some approaches to the two-state solution, Marwan Barghouti has supported it.
Despite internal disagreement about specific issues and non-Palestinians' demoralizing statements about the ability to end and reverse settlement activity, the Palestinian nation as a whole is still struggling for the two-state solution in the midst of U.S. hindrance and the intransigence of some Zionist and non-Zionist elements in Israel. Palestinians and various Arabs and Muslims do not support the two-state solution any less than the Amerikans, who take advantage of conflict and violence in the Middle East, do. As discussed on this website [see notes], even Hamas and Iran support the two-state solution more than the United States does in reality.
Israelis have a chance to oppose West Bank annexation, oppose West Bank settlement activity, and support Palestinian independence. They have a chance to live in relative peace by ending their idolatrous attitude toward the United States and ending their dependence on that hegemonic, rogue aggressor for support in the midst of worsening conditions. However, the I$raeli entity stupidly chose to put Barghouti in solitary yesterday. In a month and a half is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Syrian Golan. It is possible the Hunger Strike for Freedom and Dignity will still be going on then.
Regardless of intent or how anyone feels about the two-state solution, the broad Palestinian unity around the prisoners' hunger strike may be helping to promote Palestinian reconciliation and unity in other areas, and advance the two-state solution. That is true even though some of what the hunger strikers and prisoners are asking for could be won without freeing prisoners or winning a sovereign independent Palestinian state.
In the United States, there are also hunger strikes including strikes over solitary confinement.(3) So-called intersectionality in the Palestine-United States context is sometimes discussed in terms of pursuing equality with oppressors within a single state. Unity of Palestinians with various perspectives inside and outside prison, though, has the potential to contribute to Palestinian nationalism. Within U.S. prisons, unity of various whites and people in different non-white nations (including the [email protected] nation, the New Afrikan nation, and First Nations) often targets repression affecting many different prisoner demographics. This benefits the oppressed and activists inside prison, and can benefit fights for the self-determination of oppressed nations. Often this has nothing do with uniting Amerikans in general, or with advancing integrationism, which is a dead-end. Incarceration in the United States, and incarceration of so-called security prisoners and other Palestinians in I$raeli prisons, show oppressed nations' need for self-determination.
In response to the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike, some are downplaying Palestinian unity or trying to take advantage of differences and discourage supporters by saying the strike is just about Barghouti. Yet, many different movements in Palestine have members in Israeli prison and are supporting the strike.
In a statement on the hunger strike, Barghouti refers to "mass" arbitrary detention and mistreatment and opposes occupation.(4) Barghouti refers to "the nation" to which prisoners belong, and "every national liberation movement in history." Barghouti identifies Israel as an occupying power. The prisoners' suffering is related to the suffering of the Palestinian nation.
"The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost."
Among other things, Barghouti addresses collective punishments. "Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel's policy of imposing collective punishments."
"Among the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whom Israel has taken captive are children, women, parliamentarians, activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, political figures, militants, bystanders, family members of prisoners. And all with one aim: to bury the legitimate aspirations of an entire nation."
Some are using the failures of Amerika's phony leadership as an excuse to oppose the two-state solution, Palestinian nationalism in general, and peace efforts in general. This is unfortunate. The United States must be opposed. In the international sphere, there needs to be new leadership in coordination with Palestine. Other countries need to influence Israel. Palestinian officials must give up any remaining illusions they might have about the Amerikans. The United States has proved uninterested in taking serious steps to resolve the conflict. In fact, it promotes and benefits from it. The United States, itself an illegitimate settler entity, is hegemonic, just gets in the way of real peace efforts, and is losing whatever credibility it had in the context of Mideast peace. The AmeriKKKan population has repeatedly proved willing to support or go along with U.S. aggression in the Middle East and, as a whole, is interested in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict only enough to make things worse. The Amerikan population doesn't really care about Jews and Muslims overseas. When it seems to care about their conditions, it exploits them for chauvinistic, jingoistic and warmongering purposes and to justify Amerikan corruption in the Middle East.
This writer understands why Israeli activists would want to focus on opposing their own country or its policies. However, globally there needs to be more opposition to the United States in order to advance Palestinian liberation. Various elements inside and outside Israel are accepting U.S. hegemony and failing to support Marwan Barghouti's and other political prisoners' release while opposing Palestinian nationalism and supporting amalgamation with settlers. That is unwise.
Israelis and the world must act to immediately end the folly of refusing to negotiate with Palestinian prisoners, and end the abuse of hunger strike leaders and participants. Marwan Barghouti and other leaders or political prisoners must be freed from solitary confinement and must be freed from prison. The practice of taking Palestinians to be imprisoned in Israel must stop. The world's countries must support Palestinian independence and sovereignty regardless of the United States' priorities and exert pressure and influence so that demands of the hunger-striking prisoners are met as long as Palestinians are in I$raeli prisons.
I am a Mexican National Citizen raised in the old ways of making business. Our word was always good to our dying last breath. In prison politics and Mexican politics, the word is meaningless. (Tell that to good Tio Colosio, who paid with his life for believing someone else's word.)
Well, after 20 years in a main line or so-called active yards, I made the transition to the SNY yard. Here, I found lots of brothers (i.e. comrades), that made the transition years and even decades ago. Fortunately, I escaped the usual brainwashing that my Chicano counterparts are exposed to in the schools and ghettos. So, I called quits, and came over to the bizarre world. I found that most of my new comrades lacked any type of political consciousness. Time after time they declined my attempt to read some of my literature. It did not escape my mind that I once was like that too. It took me years to awaken to the cruel reality of my imprisonment.
Anyway, my first celly was a white male. And I discovered what I have always known in theory: We are all ignorant, poor, and damned (regardless of skin color, creed, or gang affiliation). For reasons that are not pertinent to this essay my new celly only last me less than 24 hours. Nevertheless, he left a deep impression in my consciousness. He told me that on the line his shot caller actually put a hit on him, over a $50.00 pruno debt. So he had to assume the position and allowed his beloved celly, who was a few months short to go home. And he was stabbed about three times. That is how out of control the prison gangs are.
So that the readers know: The average Mexican National prisoner doesn't belong to cartels, or street and prison gangs. Most Mexicanos are unaware of the avalanche of prison politics coming their way. Without no shame I can say that had my counselor told me about my expected role to serve at the active yard I should have checked out right there and then. It wasn't meant to be, so I was set up, by a failed rehabilitation system. I was immediately classified as a "PAISA" or "BORDER BROTHER." This STG (Security Threat Group) is under the direct order of the Sureños Prison Gang (like to be ordered to do hits and follow gang's rules).
Unbeknownst to the Mexican, all of these violent incidents will be used by the Board of Parole Hearings ("BPH"). God forbid one has a stabbing ten years ago. They literally act the part to be surprised that these kind of thing happen in prison. Even a disciplinary citation over a stolen apple will be used to say that one is a danger to the free community. These pundits actually believe that these gulags are CENTERS of top notch rehabilitation. And that one insists in misbehaving!
My new celly is an elderly Mexican. He is respectful and knows how to do time. He too called it quits when he discovered the winds of change in the air. And before things took a turn for the worst, he made the best decision in his life. He became another "SNY." The environment here is more loose. The gang trip is over. I have not seen any acts of predatory behavior towards those that are too weak to defend themselves. Then, there are those that act out as straight protective custody; they believe that the c/o is their daddy or big carnal. They are loud and wear their pants half way down their butt. Still the talking with staff can also be seen at facility "C", an active yard. They came in to the program office and spend time with them (getting cozy with the enemy i.e. the oppressor).
I found out that if I kept to myself and mind my own business I can fly undetected. This wasn't possible in an active yard, because one is expected to put in work for the prison gang. The new prison gangs at this side, they pretty much keep to themselves. And do their fighting without asking for help. Those who do not want to engage in the new gangs warfare are left alone out of the drama. I have spoken to former Sureños and Norteños (youth and elderly), and many described themselves as "Mexicanos" born on this side. Many have realized that the Mexican National is not their puppet to be used and discarded. They all agreed that becoming "SNY" is the best decision that they ever took. Their new leaders are their families, patria, and raza.
Here, former shotcallers and gang leaders are nothing. They are one more slave among the thousands. Long are gone the days of blood money, glory, cell phones, and God ego trips over life and death. As for my own transition from an enslaved active prisoner to an "SNY" it was easy. I packed my belongings without raising too much suspicion. And at school I told the officer "that I wanted out of the yard." They pressured me to tell what I knew about the big fat sapos and those that are kissing their ass. I had nothing to tell them.
Even if I knew anything I would never tell them nothing. I am too old to become a state snitch. So, not all SNY prisoners become snitches. I have been told that sometimes the officers threaten prisoners by telling them they will be sent back to the main line. But, this wasn't my case. (For your information, the officers will never do that.)
For those that I left behind, stop and think about it, for a long time. Is it really worth it to give up one's life by running a fool's errand? What they are sending you to do to someone else's son they will do to you. The masters of manipulation's lost cause is not worth it to die or kill for. Screw their orders, they are not our parents, tios, or big brothers. They are playing God with your lives and freedom.
They are bloodthirsty sociopaths with our brothers' and sisters' blood on their hands. They are the oppressor's little brother; they help the oppressor to keep us in check. Go ahead and tell them to do the killings themselves. They can't really hold you up accountable for your word; that you gave up as a little kid. You did not know anything about life when they enticed you to join the gang. They never told you that by 15 you would be dead or doing life in the gulags.
They never took you to a funeral and told you: that is you in a few years. They never took you to the gulags to visit those who are buried alive. Have they told you that an early death or lifetime in prison was your future? Odds are that you would have run away ASAP. Thus, at the age of 20, 30, or even 60 years old, one must truly awaken to the reality of our predicament and analyze the contradictions of one's slavery. So that we can shake off the old chains that bind us to a lost cause. One must evolve and think outside the box. It is the 21st Century, our families need us out there.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Lumpen organizations (LOs) in the united $tates are usually organizations of the most economically marginalized of the oppressed in this country. Elsewhere comrades have spoke about the difference between the Neo-Colonial Lumpen Organization (NLO) and the LO. The experience of the above comrade reflects the practice of the NLO. But the LOs in general have both capitalistic and collective/nationalist aspects to them. And those that embrace the collective aspect (usually in a revolutionary nationalist way), can evolve to become Political Mass Organizations (PMOs).(1) So while we struggle with comrades in LOs to move in the direction of becoming a PMO, the above story is a common one in California as SNY has come to represent one third of prisoners in recent years.(2)
This comrade also touches on the national question and national identity in Aztlán. The fact that those of Mexican descent born within U.$. borders are so likely to identify as Mexicanos speaks to the national contradiction between the Amerikan settler and the colonized territory of Aztlán. As this comrade also recognizes we refer to those born north of the U.$.-Mexico border as [email protected] The recognition of a [email protected] nation deeply connected to, but separate from Mexico, was the outcome of the struggles of revolutionary nationalists and communists in the 1960s organizing Raza in the southwest. For those interested in this topic you should check out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group. This book is available to prisoners for $10, or work trade.