Hark now all you merry souls
and listen as the drumbeat rolls
oh what sounds, and sights abound
come one and all, let's gather round
no worries friends, no danger here
no cause for panic, fright or fear
we're all friends, make no mistake
don't mind these guards, guns, dogs and gates
just follow me yes, right this way
cause in this tent you're here to stay
Now step to the right folks, here you'll see
stacks and rows of new TVs!
such a thrill to sit and watch
these flashing pictures as you rot
now pay attention, here comes the end
as you smile and nod at the message they send,
as they tell you what to want and wear,
on what to spend and when to care,
on whom to hate, and emulate
and who should run this police state
it's all for your own good you see
cause freedom of thought saps your energy
yes, that's it, makes perfect sense
now sit and stare and lets commence
Now once you're done with program phazing
we've something else that's just as amazing
a feast for the mind now, if you will
euphoria! in just one little pill
yes prozac, yes oxies, yes sweet ridalin!
and xannies, and valium and yes vicodin!
we've got benzos and dexos and zicobilafral
we've got shit you can't pronounce at all!
we've got your poison, whatever your vice
opiate derivitives and pharmaceutical ice
we'll fix your brain, your chondriatic disease
your moods, your stress, even your shakey knees
with only the sagest in new medications
designed by private health care corporations
profiteers in big business competition
for capital gain and political position
so pay no mind to that small print warning
pay for your pills and take two every morning
And now that you're passive on new medication
let's move right along to the next demonstration
onward we go into the main tent
just purchase your seating arrangement for rent
oh yeah, almost forgot to tell you
we also reserve the full right to sell you
and to buy you, and steal you
and to enslave you, even to kill you
but never you mind all of that just yet
I'll explain it all later (once you forget)
Now come one and all, to the main demonstration!
it's about to begin, oh what a sensation!
oh what brilliance, oh what drama!
the procession is even being led by Obama!
it's the greatest of shows, the biggest one ever!
the world's never seen such a grand endeavor
you see, the producers and directors who hid in the shade
have learned from mistakes that through history've been made
from Rome to Germany, and even from Stalin
we've studied the pitfalls in which they have fallen
plus with post-industrialist balloons, toys and clowns,
and gadgets and gewgaws, distractions abound
in this consumerist culture, it's a glorious ride!
but if you resist - force will be applied.
now sit in your row, your correct social class station
with your face to the front for the big presentation
pay no attention to the stage hands behind
who are locking the exits and changing the signs
Now the music fades, the lights have gone low
and the ringmaster enters to start off the show
oh what will he do? what will he say?
for what grand gala did we come all this way?
such anticipation and so much suspense
but his smile drops, and now he comments,
"we're sorry folks, but there's been a mistake
truth is, you get jack for the tolls we do take
you've read the signs wrong, yet now they are gone
but since you're all here, the show must go on
so you there" he points to the bottom rung seating,
cracking his whip at those few retreating
"Black folks, [email protected] and freaks with mohawks!
into the freakshow cages with locks!
now don't waste your time and try to resist
cause our bullies are on roid and you DON'T want them pist!
as for the third world ladies and gents
you'll be the labor to prop up our tents
you best not complain, get your asses in gear
as we control you with tactics of fear
don't worry kind Amerikans, no cause for alarm,
just cooperate, I promise, we'll bring you no harm
have a laptop, a smartphone, a "binky" of sorts
a gesture of thanks for being such good sports
we'll keep you medicated and very well fed
we'll play your favorite cop shows and then send you to bed
but don't get empathetic with those in our cages
or we'll send in the drones to drop pies in your faces
can't you see the benevolence of our militarization?
it's all just for you, such insane exploitation
such death to our slaves in third world countries
such death to our ecosystem and our cute little monkeys
and death to you dissenters who don't like our shows
and death to nature, care of money-hungry CEOs
and death to our search for meaningful progression
and human progress itself, by way of oppression
and death to all those that we can't squeeze for money
and death to all those who even look at us funny
as we pump millions in tons of poisonous fumes
into the atmosphere in visible plumes
all so your luxurious leisure can grow
thank you for voting, now on with the show
for the biggest one ever, too big to be stopped
come one, and come all to Uncle Sam's Big Top!
Wisconsin prisoners at Waupun Correctional Institution are planning a hunger strike to begin on 10 June 2016 to demand an end to the torture of long-term confinement in control units in Wisconsin.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) made some policy changes to their use of long-term solitary confinement. According to the DOC, the number of prisoners in "restrictive status housing" was reduced by about 200 by reducing the maximum time prisoners can be put in control units (which varies depending on the justification given for this isolation). The WI DOC refused to release any information about these changes until compelled by records requests, and the total number of prisoners in control units reported by the DOC is highly suspicious as it is far lower than information gathered from surveys.(1) In addition, Waupun prisoners were not notified of the change to this policy, and months later were still being held for longer than the new regulations allowed.(2) It's unclear if the new policy is being applied uniformly across Wisconsin prisons at this point, but small reductions in the length of solitary confinement sentences will not solve the fundamental problem of this system of torture.
The actual policies are available on the Wisconsin DOC website and include a table listing maximum time in "disciplinary separation" for various offenses. This includes 180 days for "lying" and 360 days for "lying about an employee," 180 days for "disrespect" and 180 days for "misuse of state or federal property." These are all easily abused accusations that prisoners are powerless to dispute. Furthermore, a Wisconsin prisoner can be put in a control unit for up to 180 days for "punctuality and attendance" issues and "loitering," and up to 90 days for "poor personal hygiene," "dirty assigned living area," and "improper storage."(3) The policy also states "More than one minor or major disposition may be imposed for a single offense and both a major and minor disposition may be imposed for a major offense" which sounds like they can just pile on lots of offenses and sum up the total max days in isolation so that prisoners are held there for years.
The demands of this protest include the release of prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a year, a length of isolation far exceeding what is commonly considered torture by international human rights organizations.
As one prisoner reported to Under Lock & Key a few years ago:
"I have reasons to believe that these people have no plans of removing me off A.C. ... They have me in the worst conditions in the Wisconsin DOC. ... It is fly infested. I have black worms coming out of the sink. We can't have publications.
"I have been in seg for over 13 years. and I haven't given these people any trouble in a long time, and what I'm in seg for is solely political. I am being punished for organizing for Black Unity and against institutional racism. I simply created organizations that advocated the advancement of Black people and that fought against Black on Black crime, poverty, ignorance, etc. It wasn't created to terrorize white people, as the totalitarian state would have you believe.
"As a result of being in seg I have developed a long range of psychological issues, issues that have left me scarred permanently. These issues have caused some professionals to label me psychotic and delusional among other things. I was diagnosed with Delusional Disorder and am being treated for it."(4)
It is well documented that long-term isolation causes mental health problems including hallucinations and delusions. This technique is used in prisons like Guantanamo Bay to torture military prisoners into making confessions (or making up confessions for the many innocents who suffer this torture). But in the Amerikan prison system this torture primarily serves to slowly erode the health of prisoners who are either confined to waste away for the rest of their life, or released back to the streets unable to care for themselves.
The petition put together by prisoners at Waupun is printed in full below:
Dying to Live
Human rights fight at Waupun Correctional Institution starting June 10, 2016. Prisoners in Waupun's solitary confinement will start No Food & Water humanitarian demand from Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials.
The why: In the state of Wisconsin hundreds of prisoners are in the long term solitary confinement units a.k.a. Administrative Confinement (AC). Some been in this status from 18 to 20 years.
The Problem: The United Nations, several states, and even President Obama have come out against this kind of confinement citing the torturous effect it has on prisoners.
The Objective: Stop the torturous use long-term solitary confinement (AC) by:
Placing a legislative cap on the use of long term solitary confinement (AC)
DOC and Wisconsin legislators adoption/compliance of the UN Mandela rules on the use of solitary confinement(5)
Oversight board/committee independent of DOC to stop abuse and overclassification of prisoners to "short" and "long" term solitary confinement.
Immediate transition and release to a less restrictive housing of prisoners who been on the long term solitary confinement units for more than a year in the Wisconsin DOC
Proper mental health facilities and treatment of "short" and "long" term solitary confinement prisoners
An immediate FBI investigation to the secret Asklepieion* program the DOC is currently operating at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) to break any prisoner who the DOC considers a threat to their regimen
How you can help
Call Governor Scott Walker's office and tell him to reform the long-term solitary confinement units in the Wisconsin DOC and to stop the secret Asklepieion program at once. The number to call is 608-266-1212.
Call the DOC central office and demand that all 6 humanitarian demands for this hunger strike be met and demand an explanation as to why they are operating a torture program. The number to call is 608-240-5000.
Call the media and demand that they do an independent investigation on the secret Asklepieion program operating at Columbia Correctional Institution, and cover this hunger strike.
Call the FBI building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and demand that they investigate the secret Asklepieion torture program being run at CCI. The phone number to call is 414-276-4684.
Call Columbia Correctional Institution and tell them you are aware of their secret torture program. Harass them! 608-742-9100.
Join in on the hunger strike and post it on the net. Convince others to join as well.
* Asklepieion is a secret DOC torture program based upon Dr. Edgar H. Schein's brainwashing methodology that in the 1960s was disguised and turned into a Behavior Therapy Treatment program that deals with the literal brainwashing and enslavement of an individual's mind. It retrogresses the individual to the character role of a child and reinforces the need for paternal authority. To achieve such effect the prison authorities, with the help of collaborating inmates, must first break the individual's mind through sleep deprivation and character invalidation techniques, and then, recondition it with Stockholm Syndrom. To see more go to https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/02/16/personal-experience-with-behavior-control-in-a-wisconsin-prison/
Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held in secret detention centers by order of the Amerikan government since 2001, first in Mauritania (the country where ey was born), then in Jordan, and finally in 2002 in Guantánamo Bay where ey is still imprisoned. Slahi voluntarily turned emself in to the Mauritanian police on 29 September 2001; sure that ey would quickly be cleared since ey was innocent of any crimes. Instead ey faced years of torture, through which ey initially maintained eir innocence, until it became clear that ey would never be released and ey could no longer stand the suffering. After that point Slahi began to confess to anything eir captors wanted em to say. Slahi still occasionally told them the truth when they asked directly, but for the most part their stories were not possibly consistent or confirmable since the "confessions" were entirely fabricated. But after ey began to make false confessions and falsely implicate others Slahi was allowed to sleep and eat, and the extreme physical abuse stopped. The details of eir torture will make readers wonder how Slahi held out for so long.
Slahi started writing down eir experiences in 2005 (after ey was finally given paper and pen) and after many years of legal battles eir heavily censored manuscript was finally released by the Amerikan government. This book is an edited version of Slahi's story, complete with the original redactions. The editor, Larry Seims, includes some speculation about what is behind the redactions and documents other declassified information that corroborates what Slahi wrote. In spite of heavy censorship, the released manuscript includes surprising detail about Slahi's experience including years of torture, the clear evidence that ey is innocent, and the Amerikan government's desire for a false confession.
The book is written in English, Slahi's fourth language, one that ey learned in prison in order to better communicate with eir captors and understand what was going on around em. For six and a half years Slahi's was allowed no contact with the outside world and was even hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has a mandate under the Geneva Convention to visit prisoners of war and others detained in situations like Slahi's to ensure humane treatment. For the first year of incarceration Slahi's family didn't even know where ey was, they found out when one of eir brothers saw an article in a German newspaper. In 2008 Slahi was finally granted the "privilege" of twice-yearly calls with family. In 2010 Slahi's petition of habeas corpus was granted by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, ordering eir release. But the Obama administration filed an appeal and Slahi remains in custody.
Amerikan Imperialist Global Domination
The many people who were arrested and kidnapped from their home countries to be sent to Guantánamo Bay underscore the neo-colonial status of those countries. As Slahi explains "November 28th is Mauritanian Independence Day; it marks the event when the Islamic Republic of Mauritania supposedly received its independence from the French colonists in 1960. The irony is that on this very same day in 2001, the independent and sovereign Republic of Mauritania turned over one of its own citizens on a premise. To its everlasting shame, the Mauritanian government not only broke the constitution, which forbids the extradition of Mauritanian criminals to other countries, but also extradited an innocent citizen and exposed him to the random American Justice."(p. 132)
When the ICRC finally got in to see Slahi, the last detainee they were allowed to visit, they tried to get em to talk about abuse ey experienced. "But I always hid the ill-treatment when the ICRC asked me about it because I was afraid of retaliation. That and the fact that the ICRC has no real pressure on the U.S. government: the ICRC tried, but the U.S. government didn't change its path, even an inch. If they let the Red Cross see a detainee, it meant that the operation against that detainee was over."(p. 348)
This book underscores the power of Amerikan imperialism to do whatever it likes in the world. There is no government or organization able to stand up to this power. This is something that many Amerikans take pride in, but this is the power of a people who seek to dominate the world for economic gain. When the oppressed fight back, that power is deployed to squash the resistance by any means necessary. Of course there is a contradiction inherent in this power: Amerikan imperialist domination breeds resistance from the oppressed around the world. So-called terrorist attacks on Amerikan targets are responses to Amerikan terrorism across the globe.
As Slahi noted when ey was watching the movie Black Hawk Down with a few of eir guards: "The guards went crazy emotionally because they saw many Americans getting shot to death. But they missed that the number of U.S. casualties is negligible compared to the Somalis who were attacked in their own homes. I was just wondering at how narrow-minded human beings can be. When people look at one thing from one perspective, they certainly fail to get the whole picture, and that is the main reason for the majority of misunderstandings that sometimes lead to bloody confrontations."(p. 320)
We would not agree that it is just misunderstandings that lead to these bloody confrontations. Rather it is the blood thirst of imperialist aggression constantly seeking new sources of exploited and stolen wealth that inevitably leads to bloody confrontations.
While Slahi is far from politically radical, eir experience educated em in the reality of injustice and the definition of crime by those in power. Writing about eir arrest and initial imprisonment in Mauritania: "So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; it's something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases."(p. 92)
War on Islam
The target of Amerikan aggression changes depending on where there is the most resistance to imperialism. Back in the mid 1900s it was focused on the communist countries, this shifted to the "War on Drugs" and attacks on Latin America in the late 1900s, and then to the Arab world in the early 2000s. Slahi is acutely aware of this latest wave of aggression by the Amerikan imperialists targeting Islam and the hypocrisy of this attack:
"...Americans tend to widen the circle of involvement to catch the largest possible number of Muslims. They always speak about the Big Conspiracy against the U.S. I personally had been interrogated about people who just practiced the basics of the religion and sympathized with Islamic movements; I was asked to provide every detail about Islamic movements, no matter how moderate. That's amazing in a country like the U.S., where Christian terrorist organizations such as Nazis and White Supremacists have the freedom to express themselves and recruit people openly and nobody can bother them. But as a Muslim, if you sympathize with the political views of an Islamic organization you're in big trouble. Even attending the same mosque as a suspect is big trouble. I mean this fact is clear for everybody who understands the ABCs of American policy toward so-called Islamic Terrorism."(p. 260-61)
Slahi also documents the denial of religious practice in detention camps:
"But in the secret camps, the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. Not only was there no sign to Mecca, but the ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Koran was forbidden. Possessing the Koran was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic-related ritual was strictly forbidden. I am not talking here about hearsay; I am talking about something I experienced myself. I don't believe that the average American is paying taxes to wage war against Islam, but I do believe that there are people in government who have a big problem with the Islamic religion."(p. 265)
Slahi misses that this chauvinism is not at root a problem Amerikans have with the Islamic religion. Rather it is a problem they have with oppressed people who rise up to oppose Amerikan imperialism. Islam is just one of many targets because it is a religion of the oppressed. The Amerikan government (and its people) had no problem with Islam when al-Qaeda was an ally in the fight against communism. In fact Slahi himself trained with al-Qaeda for six months in Afghanistan, but this was during the time when that group was supported by the Amerikan government and fighting against the Soviet-backed government in that country. This action was legal for Mauritanian citizens, and in fact encouraged by the Amerikan government. Nonetheless this fact became one of the cornerstones of the Amerikan insistence that Slahi was behind the World Trade Center attacks, among other things.
Will Amerikans Oppose Torture?
After years of torture and unjust imprisonment at the hands of the Amerikan government Slahi remains relatively moderate in eir views about the country and its people. Ey sees fundamental good in all people, a view that communists share, but one that has blinded Slahi to the economic interests of the vast majority of Amerikans which leads them to support the torture in Guantanamo even after reports like this one are released.
"What would the dead average American think if he or she could see what his or her government is doing to someone who has done no crimes against anybody? As much as I was ashamed for the Arabic fellows, I knew they definitely didn't represent the average Arab. Arabic people are among the greatest on the planet, sensitive, emotional, loving, generous, sacrificial, religious, charitable, and light-hearted.... If people in the Arab world knew what was happening in this place, the hatred against the U.S. would be heavily watered, and the accusation that the U.S. is helping and working together with dictators in our countries would be cemented."(p. 257)
The reality is that most people in the Arab world do know about Amerikan injustice. In fact, in Mauritania the police told Slahi "America is a country that is based on and living with injustice"(p. 134) when Slahi asked why they were extraditing em when they believed ey had already proven eir innocence. And it is this knowledge that leads to many taking up the fight against Amerikan imperialism. At the same time most Amerikans now know about the torture of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and still public sentiment is far from outraged at these actions. Large portions of the population rally around political figures like Donald Trump when ey calls for more torture.
From all of this we see further evidence for the potential of Islam as a liberation theology for those fighting against Amerikan imperialism. Just as the masses in Latin America were drawn to Catholic liberation theology as a reaction to oppression and injustice in that region, segments of any religion are likely to adapt to popular sentiments. Liberation theology was a valuable ally for the revolutionaries in Latin America.
Regardless of the format this liberation struggle takes, we know that the oppressed people of the world can not wait around for Amerikans to wake up and stop the torture themselves. Now more than a year after Slahi's book was released (which even spent some time on the best seller's list), still nothing has been done about eir situation. The masses must liberate themselves; their captors will never willingly give up power. And the Amerikan people are enjoying the spoils of the captors, so most Amerikans are happily going along with imperialist torture worldwide.
September 9, 2016 will be the fifth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity demonstration in prisons across the United $tates. This is an opportunity for prisoners to commemorate the anniversary of the Attica uprising and draw attention to abuse of prisoners across the country through a 24-hour day of education and building peace, where some units will exercise a work stoppage and fast. The annual demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization in the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people participating all across the country.
This demonstration aligns with the UFPP principle to build unity among prisoners who have a common interest in fighting the oppression of the criminal injustice system. Prisoners are taking the 24 hours to engage in solidarity building and education, ceasing all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities. This is a small, but meaningful step in building a United Front among prisoner organizations and individuals committed to the anti-imperialist movement. It is an opportunity to come together, publicize the UFPP and assess our progress. To stand in a united front, we do not need to agree on every political issue, but we must come together united around core principles to build and stand as one. The unity building starts well before September 9 for those who are engaging others to participate in the action. It is a long slow process of education and organizing to build the anti-imperialist movement.
We recently learned about another call to action for 9 September 2016, a "Call to Action Against Slavery in America".(1) The people who issued this call wrote: "On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves." This call for a country-wide work stoppage in prisons coincides with the UFPP solidarity demonstration and so we take this opportunity to comment on the similarities and differences.
First we want to say that we are always happy to see people taking up organizing and trying to build unity behind bars. There are some very good points taken in this call to action, particularly in the recognition of the growing protests in prisons across the country and the importance of this resistance. With our focus on building a United Front among prisoners we would hope to work with these folks to broaden our movement. We are not sure if the organizers were unaware of the work the UFPP has been doing on a September 9 protest for five years, or if they purposely decided to initiate a separate action due to disagreements with the UFPP. Our attempts to reach out to organizers have so far been unanswered.
Tactically, we are both promoting a commemoration of the Attica uprising, and a work strike might be included in some prisoners' plans for the Day of Peace and Solidarity. While a one-day strike is more symbolic than anything, we do see power in the ability of prisoners to "shut down" facilities by not doing the work to keep them running for a potentially longer period. However, the organizers behind this more recent call are taking the work strike to the level of a line question, which we have strong disagreements with. They focus on a work strike because they are focused on abolishing what they see as "slavery" in U.$. prisons. However, for Marxists, slavery is a specific economic system that involves the ownership of people in order to exploit their labor. Slaves have exchange value, just like other objects that are bought and sold. This exchange value for people is the basis of a horrible system that involves the capture and purchase of humyns. People confuse prison labor with slavery because there are some significant similarities: prison labor does involve workers receiving very little or no pay, and like slaves prisoners are given housing, food and other basic necessities while held in captivity. But we can see clearly that there is no exchange value to prisoners because states must pay other states to take their prisoners. This is the opposite of slavery where people pay to buy slaves.
Further, in order to call prisoner labor slavery there must be exploitation. We can see that this exploitation (prisons actually profiting from prisoner labor) only exists for a tiny portion of U.$. prisoners.(2)
States like Texas and Louisiana do have significant productive industries reminiscent of the slave days. But for most, this is not the reality. Prisons require huge infusions of federal and state funds in order to operate. If they were making a profit off of prisoners' labor this drain on public funds would not be required. Instead prisoner labor is only offsetting a small portion of the operating cost.
Some people tell us this is just semantics, arguing about the definition of a term rather than talking about the very real problem of prisons torturing humyn beings while allowing the real criminals to run the government and capitalist corporations. But this recent call for protest against prison slavery underscores why these definitions are so important. The organizers of the September 9 protest against slavery wrote: "When we abolish slavery, they'll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves." This statement is not true, and it ignores the economic reality of prisons which receive over $60 billion a year in state and federal funds to cover operating costs. Why would the government run a money losing business? Certainly not for economic gain!
The economic motive of slavery is not the driving force behind prisons. And even if we don't call it slavery, economics are not the reason we have prisons. While it is true that lots of people get very high salaries, and many companies make buckets of money by serving the prison system, this is just a redistribution of profits taken from exploitation of Third World workers. That's why it has to come from the government allocated to the prisons. And that $60 billion could be funneled into any other project that provides jobs for the Amerikan labor aristocracy just as easily and all those guards and other prison workers would be just as happy. Prisons are a convenient way to redistribute imperialist superprofits to the labor aristocracy within U.$. borders, but they are definitely not the best option if economics were the sole consideration.
It is critical that activists and revolutionaries understand that Amerika has built an enormous criminal injustice system as a tool of social control. Prisons are used to lock up oppressed nations and activists. The history of prisons in this country clearly demonstrates this. We saw a huge rise in incarceration starting in 1974 after the revolutionary movements of that time were targeted by the government. Until that time there was a relatively low and stable rate of imprisonment in this country. Then the lockup rate of First Nations, New Afrikans and [email protected] rose to vastly disproportionate numbers relative to whites starting in the 1970s. These historical events and economic facts make it clear that Amerikkkan prisons are used for social control, not for profits.
The organizers of the anti-slavery protest are misleading people into believing that shutting down prison work will shut down prisons. It will cause difficulties, and is a very valid tactic for exerting power as a group. But prisoner labor itself is not the principal contradiction in prison. We guarantee that if we were to reach the unity to wage an extended work strike across U.$. prisons, that Amerika would figure out how to keep the oppressed locked up.
We call this a failure to recognize the principal contradiction. In this case we are talking about the thing that will best push forward the prisoners' fight against oppression. Fighting against something that doesn't exist (slavery) is certainly not the best way forward. But even if we don't call it slavery, fighting against prisoner labor as if the end to prisoner work will put an end to prisons is also incorrect, and will lead to a dead end. We see the need for unity among prisoner groups and individuals as critical to building a solid anti-imperialist prison movement. We think this addresses the real principal contradiction that the prison movement faces between the collective interests of the imprisoned lumpen and the individualist tendencies currently dominant among that class. This is why we organize on September 9 to build a Day of Peace and Solidarity. Get involved! Write to us for the September 9 Organizing Pack and get started building in your prison.
I write to deliver an update as promised concerning the recent hunger strike which took place the 23 March 2016.
Currently as of today the final two hunger strikers are relieved of their duties with a victory in hand!! As I was told, "it was a rough fight," and "a long long 16 days!" Not all, but the majority claimed victory along the fight. A lot fell off before the battle began. But a victory for one is a victory for all! We will continue to stay unified and fight each unjust act with every and all remedies we can muster up.
As far as my knowledge, Dr. Fiscal, who was working for the administration and refusing to send anyone out to receive outside medical treatment, was walked off and fired. A hunger striker demand! Religious accommodations are now being reviewed. But the food is still short. The discrimination has slowed down but I'm sure it will be back once the heat dies down.
In the beginning I would conduct a phone call to each brother's families (the ones provided) and provide them with all the phone #s they would need to call and apply pressure, including the Deputy Warden, Warden, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director, Ohio State Patrol, and any news station willing to listen and investigate. The prison would lie to the family and Ohio State Patrol until we started recording all conversations. Then things changed! For the most part everybody was persistent and in the end it all paid off.
Thank you for your support. I depart as I came.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are not as optimistic as this comrade that this struggle has ended in a victory. It's unclear from this report, but we hope that the strikers who were seeking medical attention received more than just a firing of the facility's doctor. Adequate medical care would certainly be a victory. But the other loose demands of religious accommodations, adequate food, and national oppression (discrimination of "minority groups") are far from resolved. The oppressors have been showing us for centuries that expecting them to act in good faith is a losing strategy. There are no rights, only power struggles, and unless the oppressed are making clear demands and enforcing their rights, we expect no improvements.
On the up side, this is a good exercise in how to conduct a campaign. It was advantageous to designate a point-persyn to keep the public informed of the progress of the strike. It sounds like the unity of the participants in the strike remains intact, and they can draw on this unity for future campaigns. So there were certainly victories in this battle, but more related to prisoners organizing, and getting their outside supporters involved, rather than getting the administration to concede to the demands of the captives.
[In December 2014 MIM(Prisons) received this petition against the Tier II program from two different comrades, with almost thirty signatures. Considering these prisoners are organizing in extreme conditions of isolation and sensory deprivation, that number of signatures is impressive. We publicize this petition as part of our overall struggle to shut down Control Units in prisons across the country.
The conditions outlined below are common to Control Units in the United $tates. An end to the Tier II program in Georgia would certainly be a step in the right direction. But we know it is only a tiny piece of a much larger problem: capitalism, imperialism, and national oppression. While prisons in general are a tool of social control for the imperialists, control units are used by the imperialists to further control prisoners targeting activists in prison who are fighting for their rights and the rights of others. We organize to tackle these broader problems with our society, and shutting down Control Units is a battle in that process.]
We the People petition
We the people (jointly and severally) come together to petition the government for a redress of grievance, pursuant to the Bill of Rights, "Amendment I" of the Constitution for the United States of America. Furthermore, we the people assert the rights set forth in "the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. More specifically, we assert the rights set forth at Article 1-8, 18-22, 26 and 28 of the UDHR.
We the people now move to set forth the factual basis for this petition. Fact, on December 7, 2014, at approximately 10:45pm, a man [inmate] "died" inside of the J-1 dormitory (cell #124) at Smith State Prison. It is stated that the man/individual committed suicide. The examiner and/or coroner pronounced the man officially dead between 11:30pm and 1am.
We the people believe (with strong conviction) that the Tier II Program (behavior modification program) is the root and cause of the death. During our examination it has been determined that there are numerous "factors" that must be evaluated, and has been evaluated in reaching our conclusion that the tier II program is the "root and cause" of the "death."
Factor #1: The Tier II program is a mind and behavior control program for prisoners, via long term deprivational isolation and segregation, which is a form of psychological, mental and emotional torture/suffering.
Factor #2: The Tier II program is intellectually, mentally and creatively stagnating. People/human-beings [prisoners] are prohibited from receiving any and all books, magazines, newspapers, novels, articles, etc. We are forbidden to read any and all books, magazines, newspapers, novels, articles, and all other forms of reading material [the only exception being a bible or Qur'an; either or, but not both; we may choose one or the other]. This prohibition on reading causes "stagnation" of the mind, which in turn, turns man back into what men were before civilization [barbarians, cavemen, and savages]. To not want people/human beings to read and or have access to divers reading materials is self evident that the goal of this program is not progressive and rehabilitating, but instead, by design it is regressive and debilitating. Reading is fundamental [fundamental to growth, improvement, learning, success and life itself, etc.] No one can put forth a logical explanation for prohibiting reading and forbidding reading. No one can provide evidence that prohibiting reading serves some good cause or rehabilitation. All evidence is contrary to that thesis/theory.
Factor #3: The Tier II program isolates and separates us from our families and loved ones. Most individuals/people placed on the program cannot receive visitation because of the way the program is designed. Most people cannot use the telephone because of how the program operates. For a vast majority of us, the "only way" to contact and or connect with our families or loved ones is the letters. We must write letters; we correspond through the mail back and forth. Mail correspondence is the only form of communication for the majority of us.
Factor #4: The Tier II program is a health hazard. The conditions of confinement are a violation of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment clause) of the Constitution for the United States of America. The food that is served is nutritionally inadequate. Everyone (all of us/all the people) that are on the Tier II program has and/or is losing weight. Some of us have lost a lot of weight, while other have only lost 10-15 pounds (since being on/in the Tier II program). But all of us are losing weight, and have lost weight. Also, the food that is served is often unclean and thus unhealthy. The milks are often spoiled. The "meat" is often raw or old (spoiled). The food in general is old (half of the time). The trays that the food is on are always filthy/nasty, as if they have not been washed. The filthy ways contaminate the food that is placed on them. We have no choice but to eat it or starve. (On phase 1 and 2 of the program we cannot purchase any food items from the commissary/store.) No clean water is passed out or given to us. We are forced to drink out of old, nasty sinks, with rusty spicket/faucet.
Sanitation: The showers are always filthy and disgusting. When I/we enter into the showers, often there is hair (shavings), urine, semen, (sometimes) blood, feces and other bodily filth. Cells have bugs, rats, roaches, ants, spiders, and other unknown species of insects or bugs. In the summer time the flies and gnats are overwhelming. We are only allowed to clean out the cells 1 time a week and sometimes 1 time a month. (But according to GDOC standard operating procedure cells are supposed to be clean at all times.)
Exercise (yard call/outdoor recreation): We are denied and or deprived the opportunity to go to outdoor recreation and exercise (which is a judicial-constitutional guarantee - for prisoners; see Spain v. Procunier, 600 F. 2d 1490 (9th Cir. 1984) and a plethora of other federal cases). Yet and still they deprive us of outside recreation/exercise for months and months at a time (case to case basis). Some of us are deprived for days, and some for months and/or years. The bottom line is, they deprive us of exercise. On phase 1 (of the Tier II program) we are not allowed to buy any hygiene from the commissary. We are prohibited form buying hygiene for months at a time. Yet, they take all our hygiene items. The list on conditions of confinement goes on and on, so for time sake we must proceed.
Factor #5: Many of us are put on the Tier II program without due process of law (procedural due process of law, as set forth by the Supreme Court on Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-655 (1974)). We were put on the Tier program without receiving written notice; we were not given a constitutional hearing; we were not allowed to call witnesses; we were not provided an opportunity to present documentary evidence or any other form of evidence; we were not provided an opportunity to be heard/to speak; we were not provided an "advocate" to assist us, or to put up a defense (of any kind) or to investigate (into the alleged matter); thus, no due process of law.
Factor #6: When we were put on the Tier II program, all of our property was confiscated illegally (confiscated without due process). Property that was taken include: all our CDs, CD players, headphones, earphones, all pictures and/or photos, all books, magazines, novels, articles, newspapers, and all other reading materials (except a bible or Qur’an), lotion, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, grease, toothbrush, hairbrush, nail clippers, comb, dental floss, soap dish, photo album, free world clothes (tshirts, socks), pajamas, wave cups, thermals, etc. All food items purchased from commissary, be it soups, honeybuns, buddy bars, chips, drinks, etc. The property/items they took/confiscated include the above mentioned things, but are not limited to those things/items. Other personal property was taken that is not on this list.
Factor #7: Some people are on the Tier II program for an indefinite period of time which could last many years. Others will remain on the Tier II program within the time line specified in the SOP (ITB09-0003), which is 9 months - 2 years.
Factor #8: Whenever we are taken out of the cells, we are mechanically restrained (handcuffed and/or shackled and/or waist chained) and escorted by two or more guards.
Factor #9: If there is an emergency, such as death in the family (or something of that nature), we are not allowed to attend the funeral or memorial services, because of the Tier II program.
Factor #10: Because of the Tier II program, we can not look at TV or listen to the radio. For some of us it has been over 22 months since we last seen TV, seen a movie, or even seen a commercial, or heard the radio.
Factor #11: Some of us, they will not let out the hole (segregation/isolation) even when we may have earned and received a certificate (and or receipt) stating "successfully completed the Tier II program.
Factor #12: We are deprived of almost any environmental or sensory stimuli and of almost all human contact.
Factor #13: The conditions of confinement are an "atypical and significant hardship" upon us.
Factor #14: The above mentioned deaths, is not the 1st death this year, that was caused by the Tier II program. Earlier this year (on or around February 12, 2014) in J-2 dormitory, cell #240. On 2/12/14, another man dead on the Tier II program. This man was killed by his roommate. Currently his real name is unknown but he was known as Sa-Brown. Sa-Brown was murdered, stabbed to death by his cell mate. We believe and/or it is believed that the Tier II program drove the man crazy/insane, then he murdered Sa-Brown.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) II B09-0003, Section I, Policy (page 1) states: "This program is an offender management process and [supposedly] is not a punishment measure... The Tier II program is a behavior modification program." The truth is - this offender management process/behavior modification program induces death (whether directly or indirectly). And we believe those that are responsible for the deaths are the creators, maintainer(s), operator(s), and manager(s) of the Tier II program; that would be: Brian Owens (GDOC commissioner) and Randy Tillman - the authors/creators; and Stanley Williams (Warden of Smith State Prison) and Eric Smokes (the unit manager of the Tier II program). These individuals (Owens, Tillman, Williams and Smokes) are responsible for the Tier II program and are responsible for the deaths (whether directly or indirectly).
The above mentioned factors are not the only relevant factors to be examined and evaluated in determining our conclusion. The above mentioned factors are included (in the examination and evaluation process), but are not limited to those factors (mentioned above). But for time sake, we will cease to elaborate on the numerous factors.
The Declaration of Independence (in relevant part)
We the people inhabiting the North American continent, freemen, "...hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." having been granted by our creator dominion over all the earth, reserve our right to restore the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, under necessity, that I/we declare, "that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." and as declared in many states constitutions; "we declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people" ... and "that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Therein, the greatest rights of the people is the right to abolish 'destructive' government, those administrating as trustee, or those institutions that have become destructive and/or corrupted.
We the people call for an end to the Tier II program!
La recurrencia de la brutalidad policial y los prejuicios raciales contra grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU ha capturado atención general y elevado la cuestión nacional. Cada vez más, grupos y comunidades nacionales oprimidas están expresando su descontento con un sistema de opresión que los deshumaniza y marginaliza. Se han realizado protestas masivas, la incertidumbre se ha apoderado de las ciudades, y se han formado movimientos organizados como respuesta directa a estas injusticias. O sea, los reclamos por parte de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU comienzan a definir la cuestión nacional.
Estos eventos señalan una conciencia entre los grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU de que el sistema actual no representa sus intereses, y que de hecho, funciona en su contra. Aunque los indicadores socioeconómicos revelan iniquidades en las comunidades donde residen los grupos nacionales oprimidos, estos indicadores no pueden comunicar las dimensiones de miseria y sufrimiento que resultan del racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación. Así como la conciencia de clases comienza a echar raíces y a crecer entre los trabajadores explotados al cuestionar y compartir sus experiencias unos con otros – dando lugar a organizaciones y movimientos diseñados para combatir esta realidad — de igual manera la conciencia nacional sigue este proceso a medida que las naciones oprimidas lidian con la realidad de la opresión nacional.
El movimiento Black Lives Matter (Las Vidas Negras Importan) o BLM, es una indicación de este proceso. Este activismo reanudado se ha dado, no solo por los asesinatos sancionados de jóvenes de naciones oprimidas, sino por la acumulación de opresión nacional que ha ocurrido por años. El desarrollo cuantitativo de la cuestión nacional en relación al imperialismo social en los EE UU ha alcanzado un punto crítico. Las semi-colonias y naciones oprimidas en los EE UU tendrán que disputar su liberación o buscar un camino de reforma y mayor integración. Entonces, la pregunta importante es, ¿Cómo es que nosotros, los Maoístas, vamos a alimentar esta semilla emergente a través del nacionalismo revolucionario?
En última instancia, el punto de este artículo es el explorar brevemente como la opresión nacional informa la conciencia de las naciones oprimidas dentro de las condiciones únicas de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU e identifica las implicaciones claves que resultan del movimiento BLM y que son relevantes al movimiento de liberación nacional a mayor escala. Es importante notar que el movimiento BLM no es una organización revolucionaria. Aun así, BLM es una enseñanza para nuestra causa, ya que demuestra el potencial de las semi-colonias internas y las naciones oprimidas internas en los EE UU de poder organizarse en base a los problemas relacionados con opresión nacional.
La opresión nacional y el derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación
En cuanto a las semi-colonias internas y a las naciones oprimidas de los EE UU, la cuestión nacional debe de basarse en reconocer sus derechos a la auto-determinación. Las naciones oprimidas están sujetas al semi-colonialismo, y por lo tanto, no pueden controlar su propio destino. Debido a que la supremacía de los blancos domina cada aspecto de la nación oprimida, la existencia material de dicha nación toma un plano secundario dentro de la estructura de poder regida por la raza blanca.
Más aun, la nación-estado blanca-dominante ha creado mecanismos de control social para mantener el dominio de las naciones oprimidas. Encarcelamiento masivo, la disfunción comunitaria y de familia, la cultura de estereotipos y estigmas, entre otros, son algunos de los medios que utiliza para no perder de vista a dichas naciones oprimidas. Un ejemplo relacionado con el punto anterior son las restricciones sistemáticas que impiden el acceso a una educación reconocida y que limitan el acceso a oportunidades de empleo significativas. La falta de trabajo significa pobreza y los males sociales que la acompañan. Además, el racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación promueven actitudes y comportamientos que continúan formando una cultura de inequidad dentro de las comunidades de las naciones oprimidas. Como resultado, algunos miembros de las naciones oprimidas se ven obligados a perseguir un estilo de vida criminal, exponiendose al represivo sistema de injusticia criminal.
Aunque la situación descrita no es una representación de la nación oprimida en su totalidad, si nos presenta la necesidad de una liberación nacional y la ejecución del derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación. Es cierto que las semi-colonias internas en los EE UU y las naciones oprimidas gozan de estándares de vida y privilegios que sus compatriotas del tercer mundo morirían por tener. Aun así, la realidad de la opresión nacional no es menos perjudicial para la nación oprimida estadounidense. El dolor y sufrimiento asociados con las injusticias a causa del semi-colonialismo no dejan de ser menos reales.
Estas experiencias sociales de opresión nacional afectan emocionalmente a las naciones oprimidas. Cada día y cada instante de opresión nacional que los miembros de dichas naciones tienen que soportar deja una impresión en su conciencia. Eventualmente, los mismos empiezan a conectar los puntos y a reconocer lo injusto de su situación en la sociedad estadounidense.
¿Qué significa la conciencia nacional?
El punto central de este artículo es el ayudar a que las naciones oprimidas desarrollen una conciencia de su situación debido a la opresión nacional. Esta conciencidad no es revolucionaria ni es substantiva. Para aclarar, cualquier situación material que los humanos viven provoca la conciencia correspondiente y refleja su situación de vida. Rashid Johnson nos dice en su libro, “Historical and Dialectical Materialism: The Science of Revolution points,” que la conciencia es un producto de la materia; del mundo físico. La casa-prisión que resulta de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU es el mundo físico, y las relaciones e interacciones económicas, políticas, y sociales que lo forman envuelven actividad física.
En este sentido, las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU están sujetas a este proceso dialéctico a medida que estas relaciones e interacciones acondicionan su conciencia. La actividad en la vida diaria dentro de la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU deja una impresión en el estado mental. Y como demostramos anteriormente, la opresión nacional es una parte fundamental de la vida diaria de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU. Además, la conciencia nacional es similar a la clase nacional en que durante el ajetreo de la vida diaria las personas intercambian y comparten ideas en cuanto a su situación material, sus condiciones de vida. Comienzan a buscar maneras de resolver los problemas a los que se enfrentan. Los intelectuales se reúnen a discutir, teorizar, y buscar la solución a problemas comunes. Pero más importante aún, se fundan instituciones y organizaciones para ayudar en el empuje de sus agendas. Todas estas acciones toman lugar a medida que las personas se reúnen después de reconocer el problema.
Entonces, cuando los marxistas de antes hablaban en cuanto a construir y profundizar la conciencia de clase entre los trabajadores explotados, se estaban refiriendo al proceso por el cual la gente comienzaba a darse cuenta del predicamento en que se encontraban, pero de una manera revolucionaria. Para nosotros, los Maoístas, nuestro trabajo en este punto histórico es el de mover hacia adelante las luchas de liberación nacional dentro de las naciones oprimidas con nacionalismo revolucionario. Debemos construir conciencia nacional entre las naciones oprimidas para que estos grupos entiendan que los conceptos tales como raza son falsos y que Amérika no vela por sus intereses. Estos grupos tienen que llegar a entender que las naciones existen y que su respectiva nación se merece el poder ejercer su derecho a la auto-determinación.
¿Por qué las vidas negras importan?
El movimiento BLM no es nada diferente al compararlo con el movimiento [email protected] que exigió la revocación de la legislación chauvinista, racista, dura-contra-inmigrantes en Arizona unos años atrás.
En las comunidades [email protected], la inmigración es un problema extremadamente decisivo. Las pólizas chauvinistas de Obama han deshecho familias, el maltrato de los trabajadores migrantes en el campo laboral se ha hecho demasiado frecuente, y en general, las comunidades chicanas sin servicio ni recursos continúan creando iniquidades y pobreza. El hecho de que Arizona estaba tratando de pasar—y eventualmente pasó—leyes anti-inmigratorias, fue la última gota que llenó la copa, lo cual movilizó a la comunidad chicana. De igual manera, la opresión nacional ha causado estragos en la comunidad Nuevos Africanos (New Afrikan o NA), siendo dicha comunidad la cara de la inequidad y la injusticia en los Estados Unidos. Los NA, particularmente los jóvenes, están cansados del maltrato. El movimiento BLM, aunque surgió como resultado de la brutalidad policiaca, personaliza el rencor y la angustia de la nación oprimida de NA ante la marginalización y represión que han sufrido por años.
Debemos tomar ventaja de movimientos como estos ya que demuestran la frustración de las personas oprimidas con el sistema, como también su disposición a comprometerse y cambiarlo.
Una implicación clave que surge de esto es la recurrencia de las naciones oprimidas a querer superar la opresión nacional. ¿Competirán las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU por su liberación o se conformarán con una reforma, y por extensión, una asimilación e integración parcial? Los medios convencionales proveen cobertura de estos eventos para controlar un grupo que de otra manera seria una amenaza a su situación vigente (status quo). Por lo tanto, actúan como supervisores en vez de reporteros objetivos con el propósito de formar una opinión pública y debilitar la idea de una revolución organizada. Esto tiene consecuencias serias para el movimiento de liberación nacional en los Estados Unidos en conjunto. Por eso es que el movimiento BLM es tan crítico, porque no podemos permitir el mismo resultado que ocurrió al final de la era radial en el año 1960.
En pocas palabras, el impacto de la opresión nacional en las semi-colonias internas y naciones oprimidas de los Estados Unidos ha comenzado a empujar hacia adelante la cuestión nacional. Hemos comenzado a ver una realización emergente entre las naciones oprimidas de que la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU esta cundida de inequidades e injusticias. Solo el nacionalismo revolucionario puede nutrir y ayudar a crecer la semilla de la conciencia. Y si nuestra meta es la liberación de las naciones oprimidas dentro de los Estados Unidos, entonces debemos de formar nuestra conciencia nacional como preparación. Los movimientos como el de BLM ilustran el potencial y el activismo que está vivo dentro de las naciones oprimidas. La responsabilidad cae sobre nosotros quienes debemos de capitalizarlo.
Our struggle against imperialism and toward communism is a long, protracted struggle. It is carried out over decades and even centuries, with long-term (strategic) planning and lifetime commitment. Many who fight for communism give up their lives, not just through martyrdom but also through a lifetime of dedication. In such a long-term project, it is dangerous to lose sight of the larger context of our struggle.
Our enemies, the imperialists and anyone who's with them, will do everything they can to wear us down. They will drag us through the mud as much as possible, in the hopes that we'll get frustrated and give up, or frustrated and sacrifice ourselves on the focoist cross.
A typical reader of Under Lock & Key has committed some "crime" (as defined by the imperialists), and is imprisoned. The social conditions that lead to imprisonment are an essential part of the imperialists' protracted struggle to maintain power. As a means of keeping the internal semi-colonies under their boot, our enemies set up any number of false pretenses for putting as many of our potential comrades behind bars as possible.
Once turned on to ULK, a subscriber might start participating in United Struggle from Within campaigns. Or ey might start learning more about Maoism: the most effective threat to imperialism shown in humyn history to date.
While participating in the anti-imperialist struggle definitely makes one's efforts at social change worthwhile, it does nothing to help a comrade make parole. It doesn't help you fly under the pigs' radar. It doesn't keep you out of the hole. Naturally, identifying with the struggle against the United $nakes government makes one a target for that government's boldest repression. Our comrades are constantly denied parole, are constantly having their cells tossed, and are targeted for forced psychotropic druggings and other methods of mental deterioration. Their food is tampered with, they are beaten, and any tactic that may wear down and frustrate our comrades is employed.
In these social circumstances, we need to consider how are we going sustain our movement. How are we to make the most of the repressed and limited time and energy we do have? How can we protect ourselves from attacks on our physical and mental health, while locked in a tiny room with complete sensory control? How can we build ourselves up, not just for the day-to-day struggle, but for the long haul?
This issue of Under Lock & Key is on the topic of survival and stamina, focusing on some things subscribers can do to better their chances of survival, both mentally and physically, and make it possible to do their most for the anti-imperialist struggle. There is much important political work to be done, and a healthy body and mind is important for long-term sustainability of our contributions to the revolutionary struggle.
On survival, there are fights we must engage in for basic rights behind bars: the fight for medical care and other needs often denied through a corrupt grievance system, the struggle for access to education, and the battle against classification in mentally and physically dangerous long-term control units. Many campaign updates in this issue provide practical tactics for these battles as a part of our overall strategy.
Survival behind bars also requires the struggles for peace and unity among prisoners to build a situation of mutual respect, aid and cooperation. Several articles remind readers that this fight against repression requires united action. Building unity will help us win victories to improve our organizing conditions while we build the longer-term struggle. California prisoners write about the struggle to maintain the Agreement to End Hostilities, while the essay on lumpen class consciousness points to broader strategies we need to employ to unite lumpen organizations (LOs) for both survival and advancement.
There is also work that individuals can do to improve their outlook, education and use of time while behind bars. This is addressed in articles on how to be disciplined in your day-to-day life, focusing on study and organizing rather than watching TV, educating yourself, and fighting alienation and individualism. Education in particular is critical to survival in prison as it opens eyes and minds to the reality of prison conditions and the broader struggle that can unite and give purpose and direction to prisoners' lives. As a Pennsylvania comrade wrote: "The pigs try to stop real education in the gulags, because they know that when we have a true education and know the truth about the way things really are, they are defeated."
A life of survival without political struggle is just survival of the status quo. The most basic survival and stamina tactic is always understanding the connection between our lives, as anti-imperialists, with the lives of oppressed people all over the world. Our struggle is made of many actions over a long period of time, and every contribution has value. If we can maximize these contributions by taking care of ourselves and each other as best we can, our internationalist struggle will be all the better for it.
This month the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter (BB-PC) honors Mary Crow Dog, born Mary Blue Bird. She was a resident of a town called Saint Francis on the reservation of Rosebud during 1973 at the siege of Wounded Knee.
In 1971 Mary joined the American Indian Movement (AIM). During the siege at Wounded Knee Mary was tasked with organizing the women to do the cooking, cleaning and communications. She organized food running and getting in and out of Wounded Knee to get much-needed supplies. The siege lasted 73 days, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) using armored personnel carriers and Huey helicopters. Mary helped keep morale up among everyone at the camp. Her bravery and courage is why my family in Pine Ridge and Rosebud have the freedoms we do today.(1)
MIM(Prisons) responds: The BB-PC sent us these words on Mary Crow Dog, along with some notes on the documentary on the Black Panthers that we reviewed in ULK 49. We thought it appropriate to print something on the AIM in this issue, as they are very relevant to understanding the conditions in the United $tates during the time of the Black Panther Party. While the BPP can brag of having most of the FBI actions of the time targeting them, this is probably due mostly to the size of the New Afrikan nation and their mass base, compared to the First Nations who have been decimated by genocide. And while Panthers engaged in long shoot outs with police, nothing compared to the U.S. Army invasion of Wounded Knee:
"In the first instance since the Civil War that the U.S. Army had been dispatched in a domestic operation, the Pentagon invaded Wounded Knee with 17 armored personnel carriers, 130,000 rounds of M-16 ammunition, 41,000 rounds of M-1 ammunition, 24,000 flares, 12 M-79 grenade launchers, 600 cases of C-S gas, 100 rounds of M-40 explosives, helicopters, Phantom jets, and personnel..."(2)
Churchill and Vander Wall document the details of the intensive war the FBI led against AIM. They write about the pursuit of AIM founder Dennis Banks as having "garnered the dubious distinction of becoming the most sustained attempt at a federal prosecution in the history of American jurisprudence."(3) While on the run from the state in 1976, Banks is reported to have been hidden by [email protected] leader Corky Gonzalez, and members of the Crusade for Justice working with local AIM members. Later that year, Corky Gonzalez was falsely accused by the FBI of possessing "a rocket launcher, rockets, M-16 automatic rifles, and hand grenades," intended to use in combination with AIM and others to kill police.(4) Such rumors were part of the FBI's public relations war against liberation movements, attempting to distract from the fact that the U.$. government is the real perpetrator of violence.
The American Indian Movement was formed in 1968, in a rising movement for national liberation among First Nations that paralleled that in New Afrika. Forming two years after the Black Panther Party, like many, they were inspired by and modeled themselves after the BPP, though not taking up the explicit Maoism of the BPP or the Young Lords Party. Like the Panthers, AIM saw chapters pop up across the country soon after its founding. And like the Panthers, AIM promoted armed self-defense of its people and territory.
It is worth noting the different conditions faced by First Nations compared to other internal semi-colonies. The threat of annihilation, and the clear recognition of territory rights, lead to a more advanced national consciousness and more advanced conditions for national struggle. While we take lessons from the BPP's ultra-left tendency to pick up the gun too soon, the conditions of the time — from the First Nation reservations in the United $tates to Vietnam to China — makes their decision much more understandable than it would be today. Even today, we recognize the objective conditions among First Nations overall to be more advanced and armed struggle to be a correct path for them before it would be in other parts of the United $tates.
Agent provacateurs' glued to my cell door
i can smell they stench on my vents
They strategically placed snakes
Opportunist of the information age
Institutional Gang Investigators screening my mail
For intelligance files on Maoist Study Group cells
Screening my phone calls, collecting my convo
FBI spy satellites in the heights
i hate this "Matrix" we enslaved in
Communalist ambitions got them worried
5.62 mm rounds thrown in flurries
So they plans to get us buried
Liberation in a hurry; about to Enlighten my mind
In amerikkka it's a crime and a fine
Doing little petty shit to make me push up my time
Not even aware of our destiny to tear this shit down!