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Under Lock & Key

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 53]
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Maoist Movie Review: Resurgence

Independence Day Resurgence

One of the more hotly anticipated sequels to a classic (or, approaching classic) science fiction film has been the new Independence Day film: “Resurgence”. The film is set in 2016, exactly 20 years after the last film, and is quite vague in discussing the geo-political developments since the events of the first film. What we are given is obscure exposition by the new president of the united $tates on the “great advancements of humynity” since the defeat of the alien invaders. Of course, the united $tates in this arrangement is depicted as the noble defender of humynity and of earth in light of a humyn victory over the aliens 2 decades ago. What is also made clear is that an entirely new and more comprehensive military alliance has been drafted between all of the major imperialist powers and with China playing an increasingly prominent role in this new military coalition labeled the Earth Space Defense (ESD), this will be important later.

What is more immediately puzzling is the talk of the great period ushered in by the humyn victory which has allegedly seen no military conflict and has achieved great leaps in prosperity with the use of alien technology to benefit “all humynity.” These are some pretty big achievements, if they were to hold water. However it seems that like most boasts of amerika, even in this film, are just as hollow as they are in real life. Little is ever shown of the rest of the world outside of amerika (other than bits of Europe later in the film) although we do get to see several glimpses of an obscure destination in Afrika that is visited by the protagonists to meet with a local “warlord” whose people live underneath a large alien ship which had landed there during the first invasion.

What is interesting about their depiction of Afrikan people during this time is not only the direct contradiction with the president’s speech previously celebrating the great peace and prosperity, as well as the fact that this film does little to avoid the western stereotypes of Afrikan people in the media generally. The Afrikan people depicted in the film seem to have gained virtually nothing from the alien technology other than weaponry (consistent with a western worldview of what Afrikan people would find important) as well as the fact that they explicitly state the people in this region have been at near-constant warfare with the remnants of the alien army, and have been ruled by a “cruel warlord” whose aesthetic is meant to closely mirror that of a strong Communist leader, with the red flags and red stars. So much for “peace and prosperity” for all humynity.

This is very revealing about not only the mentalities of those who created the movie, but also of the characters within the film itself. The Afrikan people are summed up by this one vague and unspecified people they encounter who are meant to be the archetypical hyper-violent, probably Communist, and backward peoples. Furthermore, it becomes clear that when the president of amerika says “all humynity” what they mean is “all First World humynity” with an expressed focus on amerikans. These are the humyns they find to be particularly important, and worth talking about when making the generalized statements of peace and prosperity. So while for Communists it would seem contradictory to hear these statement and see the reality of Afrikan peoples at the same time, it is entirely consistent with the worldview of most amerikans and would be therefore uncontroversial to most of them.

Later in the film we are presented with the new alien threat, which is supposed to appear much more challenging than the previous one. Again, amerika champions itself as being the principal world leader as all of the seemingly most important battles are fought in North Amerika and a majority of all scenes address amerikan characters in the aftermath of the second invasion. There is a focus on two euro-amerikan characters who constantly paint themselves as born-of-hardship soldiers who are entirely misunderstood by their non-white superiors, including the Chinese commanding officer. This falls entirely in line with the amerikan perception of being the “unwanted hero” that always must intervene to save the world. They are underappreciated, overdeveloped, and the model for humynity in this film’s depiction.

Though aside from the centrality of amerikan characters in this film, another interesting aspect alluded to previously has is the prominence of China in this. China is not only a major power depicted in the film, but several of the most prominent characters, such as the commander of the lunar military installation, featured in the film and one of the more central protagonists, are Chinese. The film makes several overt attempts to appeal to the potential Chinese audiences. This has less to do with the film’s overall message so much as it has to do with an increasingly popular trend in films overall in the West with regards to China. Despite being anticipated in the united $tates and Europe, Resurgence has not done well so far in the amerikan box office, however its revenue was nearly matched by the Chinese opening.[1] One could easily connect this to the overt attempts to make the film viable in the Chinese box office.

This is not unique to this film, however, with many other recent films now pinning their hopes on a success in both the amerikan and Chinese box offices. Two good examples of this in recent years have been the new Warcraft film which did extremely poorly in the united $tates and yet was a huge success in China, as well as the Red Dawn remake, which had actually undergone enormous changes during production to change the antagonists from Chinese to northern Koreans in order to ensure it could be shown in China.[2] This is a rather strange example of how China is being transformed in its current place in the global markets as a major contender for marketing in the West as the Chinese government primes exclusive parts of the population for integration into the imperialist world economy as a large power.

Overall this film’s release exposes quite a lot about not only the amerikan consciousness, but as well the state of the global markets as they must now recognize China as being a large and viable marketplace for their goods. Films such as this one appeal directly to the ultra-racist and eurocentric worldviews of the audiences in an attempt to portray them as the saviors of the world, who take upon themselves the full burden and prestige for rescuing the planet in its hour of need. It goes to great lengths to demonstrate amerika and the imperialist countries as the rightful leaders of the planet, and to obscure all real social relations behind their prosperity and the misery of Third World peoples.

Notes:
1. https://variety.com/2016/film/news/box-office-independence-day-resurgence-international-finding-dory-1201803848/
2. http://screenrant.com/red-dawn-villains-china-north-korea-schrad-106177/
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[Education] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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MIM Correspondence Study Helps Reduce Conflict

A couple weeks ago I had an incident at work with an "Uncle Tom", and some of it was due to his "kiss ass" attitude at work. Although I had this issue, I had to check myself from further incident with him by remembering MIM's position that we do not promote violence, and in fact are a peaceful movement. To do what I had in mind would have contradicted that. Reading many responses on our study group discussion, including mine, helped me stop and check myself.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We like to highlight examples like this because, while anecdotal, they indicate that our work does reduce violence between prisoners of the United $tates. We note this as our recent issue of Under Lock & Key was rejected for everyone in Fresno County Jail for "tending to incite or promote racism, violence or any other prohibited conduct." And a comrade in California State Prison - Sacramento just had eir study group material censored for the second time ey tried to enroll; even though ey receives all other mail from us without incident. It's just some essays on the economics of the U.$. prison system, yet many prisoncrats fear it, while they promote ignorance and infighting.

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[Censorship] [Western IL Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 53]
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Another Subscriber Harassed

I'm writing in regards to the letter you received from a Florida prisoner in January 2016, published in ULK 49 as "Prison Scares off Subscribers." The prisoner was placed in segregation under investigation, which ey believes was due to receiving your publication Under Lock & Key. Well I'm from Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. I had received ULK 49 with no problem and yet on 15 June 2016 I received a notification from the mailroom that my recent publication of Under Lock & Key, I believe it's probably the May/June 2016 No. 50 issue, was sent to the Publication Review Committee (PRC) for "proper handling," with notification to follow. And yet here it is 22 June 2016, a week later, and I haven't received the notification from the PRC and/or the May/June 2016 issue of ULK. Amazingly 2 days after receiving the notification they came and did a shake down on my cell and messed with all my material in my correspondence box and yet nothing was found. So I ask please remove me from your subscription list.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are always disappointed to learn that prison harassment has scared a subscriber away from receiving Under Lock & Key. But these stories help to show the potential power of independent media of the oppressed. Prison administrators are afraid of this educational tool. So it is very important that everyone who is able fight back when faced with censorship of ULK, and all subscribers should be sharing their copy of the publication. You can write to us for extras if you want to share them with others. In this way we can spread the power of one copy of the publication to reach many people and help compensate for the widespread censorship we face.

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[United Front] [Special Needs Yard] [California]
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Put Aside Your Quarrels, Support the Spirit of the AEH

I just received your 50th issue of Under Lock & Key, and I can tell you that I haven't seen an issue like yours. An issue that isn't afraid to speak its mind about the real issues in our Chicano and Black communities.

There was a section from a prisoner in California talking about a book called [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán where he brought up a good point about prisoners on the SNY yards. I have been on this side for about a year and I came over here on my own, not for security reasons, but simply because the "leaders" of the struggle I believed in weren't leaders. They were selfish and one mistake and they would turn on you. We are not only oppressed by the system, sadly we are also oppressed by our own Raza.

Now to the Agreement to End Hostilities. In my point of view it contradicts every aspect that they preach. Now everybody who died, who caught a life sentence for the struggle they believed in was all for nothing. Take a second and think about that. There are people who are in prison serving a life sentence for killing an individual who opposed his views and beliefs. Now they expect him to be the best of friends with these same people? How does that make sense?

Now you guys reading this might say "He is only saying that because he's SNY." Well, for 4 years I was active and I have seen both sides of the fence. Not everybody over here is a snitch. There is more unity here than there is on the mainline. You see raza from North and South united where it doesn't matter what part of the state you're from.

If you want to end oppression it needs to start in the streets and not in prison. It needs to start by teaching our youngsters about our culture. Educating them so they can move beyond the ghettos. If you can prevent one from getting into a gang that's one less individual in prison. I think that is the only way to unite and fight against the oppression that exists in this country.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Saying that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) is hypocritcal based on the past goes against the United Front for Peace Principle (UFPP) of Growth. We must allow for growth and evolution of individuals and organizations if we want to see unity among the oppressed, because the old way didn't work. There are major contradictions between LOs still, and between different housing units in California. But we see these as contradictions among the people. Which is why we stand behind the AEH, and think those old wounds can heal. It's been four years, and there's still a long way to go. But people are putting in the work, and in some locations we've seen real progress.

We understand the lack of trust that some have for those calling for the AEH in California. But we say to those people, the ones who truly want to end oppression as this comrade does, isn't the AEH a step towards what you want? Even if you don't trust certain individuals, the more we do to promote the spirit of the AEH, as well as the principles of the UFPP, the closer we get to replacing the old order with a new order based on unity of the oppressed.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 51]
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Got to be Strong

That's the way they wanna be,
That's the way they wanna be,
That's the way they wanna be,

They do things that society can't see.
Lock mass numbers away from being free.
Destroy lives, "but they're not the enemy".

Imperialism trying to keep us down.
Governments oppression and greed makes us frown.
TV says we're fine, messages from a clown.

They strike out in fear when they see us becoming strong.
Holding us down cruelly and say WE are in the wrong.
We're modern day gladiators thrown into the throng.

We're judged evil for becoming the monsters they created.
No matter how unjust, we're the ones who are always hated.
Wanting a reaction, don't fall into the trap they've baited.

That's the way they wanna be,
That's the way they wanna be,
Thats the way they wanna be,

Revolutionary minds will be our saviors.
Far too many wrongs done to us by our oppressors.
It has been building up like a bomb, too much pressure.

Government's looting money hand over fist.
Looking at their offenses, its one hell of a list.
Not to worry, it isn't their loved ones who's missed.
But WE'RE the bad guys who's mass incarcerated.
Acting like they don't understand why we're frustrated.
They just warehouse us, we're not rehabilitated.

Unless we're united they'll lock us all from sight.
They're in the wrong, time to stand up for what's right.
We got to be strong, stay together and fight.

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [East Arkansas Regional Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 51]
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People Dying, Urgency to Shut Down Control Units

While watching a movie last weekend, suddenly a stretcher and a lot of officers walked by into the entrance of the max control unit. Bizarrely an hour later a lot of officers came out of the max control unit. They held all doors open leading to the infirmary down the hallway. Then suddenly in a hurry came four officers and a nurse pushing the stretcher with a white prisoner on it. I recognized the prisoner, who was deceased. His pale skin was now very swarthy from head to toe, darker than most fair skin New Afrikans. Later I found out that he was paroling out the next day.

Ever since last year I've observed this type of pattern within East Arkansas Regional Unit's max control units. And it continues this year. This means we need to push the campaign to shut down control units harder, by asking all friends and family members to help spread the 2 hour documentary on long term isolation cells and our struggle to abolish them. Ask them to put links to the website on their blogs, facebook, instagram, twitter or whatever social media networks they use and ask others to check out the movie

Let's push the hell out of this campaign the remainder of this year!

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Download and Print] [United Struggle from Within]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Mississippi

MS grievance petition
Click here to download a PDF
of the Mississippi grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Commissioner of Corrections
MDOC Central Office
633 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202-3097

Corrections Investigation Division
633 N. State st
Jackson, MS 39202

USDOJ Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*PDF updated June 2016

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[Abuse] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 51]
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Nevada Should Stand Against Negligence and Violence

Pris Protest

You never hear about Nevada and there's a reason why. Cover-ups, medical negligence, racial/social bias along with violence against inmates by COs, and let's not forget one of the worst parole and release systems in the nation. With lopsided, unfair sentence structures even according to statute, and unnecessary parole denials and completely unilateral discretion left to the parole board, which is screaming for reform. This is a culture and a consciousness up here but it will be their undoing.

Oscar Velasquez, a prisoner in Lovelock Correctional Center, committed suicide a few months ago and it's under investigation, a very slow, quiet investigation. Negligence played a huge part in this situation by COs and medical staff. Oscar gave the COs a suicide note on a medical kite. But protocol was broken because Oscar never made it to suicide watch in the medical unit. The next day Oscar was found dead and cold. Which meant COs weren't doing their rounds in a timely manner. Word is the suicide kite never made it to administration. This is being looked at by some other independent group, but it's been very hush-hush. A lot of the population believes the COs were fired but they weren't. They're on leave and being supported by their reps and lawyers.

A personal friend of mine and a lot of other brothas, Johnny Jordan or J.J., died in the uncaring arms of the Nevada medical system. While in High Desert Prison on an appeal trip, he also had a serious medical condition and was not given proper medical treatment. Which I'm sure was not very complicated, but just simply ignored. And it stems from the whole "oh well, fuck 'em" attitude most staff here have for prisoners.

Two of the most recent serious attack/gross incompetence incidents happened at High Desert, which is really under the microscope for piling up bodies for years and sweeping it under the rug.

About two years ago a CTO, aka a "Cadet Trainee Officer" gunned a prisoner down and killed him while handcuffed. He has since been sentenced on two counts of manslaughter; not murder of course, that's for us. What happened was during showers in the hole two prisoners started to scuffle while handcuffed. Instead of pulling them away from each other, the CTO was ordered to shoot and he just unloaded on them, killing one with fatal wounds to his head and chest area.

At the same prison, a prisoner was stabbed while being escorted by COs, if you can believe that! This was more recent, but also little publicity was spread about this. There was more press involved in the shooting death.

Along with these incidents, blatant and unpunished racism and bias in this state is so open it's ridiculous. I'm talking about assemblymen and women, COs, Sgts and representatives alike, it's everywhere.

Keep an eye on Nevada, these mothafuckas fly so far under the radar you rarely hear about things like this. They rarely make the local news and almost never make national headlines no matter how gross or serious it is. The censorship in this state is designed to keep Nevada's public in constant fear and prejudice of convicts. Bulletins are always going up on TV about this or that wanted person, this murderer or that sex offender. "Call secret watch and turn this person in," they'll say. But you rarely ever hear or see in Nevada: this human being was murdered by a cop, by a CO, by this sadistic cowardly butcher who's been anticipating the chance to take a human life!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade reports on something we hear more and more these days: prisoners dying from negligence and abuse at the hands of prison employees. And of course these murders are covered up rather than punished. This is one of the reasons why an independent press like Under Lock & Key is so important. We need a way to spread this news and organize people to fight back. The mainstream media and politicians are all in service of the capitalist system that set up this criminal injustice system so, as this comrade points out, our appeals to them are going to be purposefully ignored. Send us your reports about abuse and neglect. Even if they don't make it into the print version of ULK we will publish them on our website.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 52]
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Nourish the Seedz, Restore the Flowers

At this time, in this place, I genuinely know why
(the caged bird sings)/
other than being falsely imprisoned,
ey's being called - N.I.G.G.E.R. of all things.
As I give perfect praise to the "most high",
I can only wonder how many more bullets have to fly?
How many more of my precious B.L.A.C.K. & [email protected] political prisoners must die
Before those of us who still dare to be free
can remove the blood-filled tearz from our eyes?
We've all been shackled by the same chainz,
victimized by the same pain/
So, in whose name doez death really blossom?
I can vividly recall being radically profiled as a juvenile,
because as a child,
"I refused to pledge my allegiance to a flag"
that forced many of my B.L.A.C.K. Panthers into exile.
This beautiful Black revolutionary love of mine is God'z design,
bottom line.
I speak from the perspective
of a soulja with an objective,
cause being black in this white manz world
justice is often selective.
On behalf of the collective,
I stand on the frontlines.
My message to the black man is to fight the power,
nourish the seedz, and restore the flowers.
This form of revolutionary love
will never be televized,
nor will it be glamorized/
because the very essence of this love affair
depicts us finally being unified!!
Let'z reflect back to the bird and the cage
back to the dehuminization that we endured
while naked on the auction blocks & stage
or picture the 25-50 million Africans that died
during the passage
that never made it to the grave!
Because it is only through those degrees of pain,
horror and torture,
can one truly understand the life of a slave.
On the strength of those whose lives were gave
that divine sacrifice in turn,
allowed countless other B.L.A.C.K.S. & others' lives to be saved!!
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[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 52]
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Call for Unity with LGBTQ Prisoners

Queen D.I.V.A here, I want to speak on why LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transexual, Queer) comrades are treated like shit. This is my second bid and I've seen a lot of love towards my community but to be totally honest I've seen more dislike and hate towards my community.

Comrades will rather be respectful to a kkkorektions officer than a homosexual, why? Comrades will rather say good morning with a smile on their faces to a kkkorektions officer, why? Don't you guys know these pigs are the ones throwing your mail away and then telling you that you didn't get any, that they will beat your ass and say you assaulted them and give you a new bid, and that they will deny your visit after your family just drove 7 hours to see you?

What have LGBTQ comrades done to you? Nothing. We were born different, that's it! What if your own flesh and blood son came to you one day and confessed that he's gay? Would you disown him? Would you treat him like you treat imprisoned gays, or would you put your ego, pride and fear to the side and embrace him?

We are all in this struggle together, let us say "screw what people think." A "unit" is something that works together. We're behind these walls and fences together so why can't we stand together? Stop disrespecting us and you'll see we're not your enemies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade eloquently pushes the United Front for Peace in Prisons principle of Unity around the question of sexual orientation and gender identity, elements of the strand of oppression of gender. We need to look beyond petty differences, and beyond socialized prejudices around gender. Our movement cannot afford to be divided along these lines. Instead we need to judge people by their actions and their political line. Those who side with the pigs, who feed them information, and who help them by provoking fights and doing their bidding: those people are our enemies. People who stand up against the criminal injustice system are our friends. And those who don't stand up but refuse to work with the pigs are our friends in need of a little educating and leadership so that they too will join the struggle.

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