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.
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!
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.
It has been over 90 days since I filed an appeal over ULK 47 and I have received no reply. I filed the appeal for ULK 48 on 29 February, also receiving no reply. As for the theory journals, they have not been delivered nor have I been notified of their rejection. It seems that at this facility communism of any form is heavily censored.
I did get your guide to fighting censorship and I reference the case law and the gang definition in each appeal I file over a rejection of ULK. It has been most useful, however, it has done little to curb the level of political and religious censorship happening here at River North Correctional Center.
I was told that ULK 48 was rejected due to gang material being found on pages 8 and 18 but no further description has been provided. Being that gangs are typically imperialistic in their actions where related to violence and criminal actions I suspect that any anti-imperialist group wouldn't promote gang activity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This censorship of Under Lock & Key in prisons with the justification that it promotes gang material is becoming more common. And of course it is very difficult for prisoners to appeal this censorship when they have no access to the material to disprove the "gang material" claim. This comrade is correct to point out that the biggest gangs are the imperialists, who carry out organized violence and criminal actions around the world. What the prisons claim is promoting gang activity is in fact MIM(Prisons) promoting a United Front for Peace in Prisons, urging lumpen organizations and their members to come together and end the struggle between prisoners in favor of unity to fight the injustice system. Those in power will always come up with labels to put down those who resist, whether it is "terrorist" or "gang member" or "criminal." But we know that the real terrorists and criminals are the imperialists. Write to us for a copy of our guide to fighting censorship.
Other publications routinely and completely banned are: Black and Pink (newspaper), Community Church of Boston (we grieved the rejection, now get 1 or 2 then start over again), and Prison Legal News newsletter is banned outright.
Although ULK48 is still officially rejected, it was delivered to me today. Note: the petition about Florida grievances you provided to me was sent to all provided addresses and have been ignored. Any hints as to what's next?
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this update from one of the many comrades in Florida who have tried to use the petition to demand their grievances be addressed. We are unfortunately not surprised to hear that there has been no response to these petitions. There is no real justice in an imperialist system that locks up oppressed nations and resisters while giving big payouts to the criminals who run the government and corporations. The system is not set up to provide rights to prisoners. However we can sometimes gain small victories by using the imperialists' laws and regulations against them. And in this case, with campaigns like the demand for grievances to be addressed, we can also use this opportunity to educate people about the system that we are fighting.
Because of this we do not expect instant results, and in fact can not expect that campaigns such as this one provide relief to people after just sending in a few protest letters. However, the collective force of many people sending these to the same addresses might have an impact on conditions prisoners actually face. We ask our comrades to send us an update in every state where we have a grievance campaign so that we can assess if there is further action that can be taken. If anyone else in Florida has had success, write in and tell us what you have done so that this comrade and others can learn from your experience. If you have received no response, let us know that as well. And if you have other ideas about next steps for this campaign, please share them with us so that we can continue this fight.
On 13 February 2015, the books Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Dubois, The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, and Blood In My Eye by George Jackson arrived at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola. They were sent to me by a family member directly from the Amazon.com as per the requirements of this institution. However, I wasn't notified of their arrival until six months and two weeks later. Added to that outrage was the rejection of the absolutely essential, must-read piece of literature for the New Afrikan Guerilla, Blood In My Eye.
The institution, perhaps on some "legitimate self-interest" grounds, could have possibly raised a plausible objection to the book. For it is known throughout the corrections racket that the book "Blood In My Eye" has been known to elevate the consciousness of the oppressed captives subsisting behind its walls. And of course conscious elevation equals prison population deflation, I get that. What I didn't get was this institution rejection the book on the grounds that it contained nudity or sexually explicit material. Yes you read that right. The book by Comrade George was rejected, according to this institution, because it contained nudity or sexually explicit material.
I of course immediately appealed the decision through the administrative remedy procedure. Three and a half months later - mind you that policy only allows 40 days for a response - I received an answer. Amazingly the book was now being rejected because it "contains material that could lead to inmate unrest for racial reasons." Not the nudity issue I addressed in the appeal! If it wasn't for the fact that I understand how the administration does battle, they would have totally thrown me off course with that move. But they didn't so I continue to fight on. Just another episode in the never ending series of "Administrative Justice". A Luta Continua.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for continuing the fight in face of the prison changing rules and reasons, failing to follow their own policies, and unjustly denying em educational material. We should all strive to have this same attitude of perseverance when we are repeatedly put down by those in power. We will lose most of our battles right now because we do not have power. This is why our tactical battles, like the one against censorship, must always be in the context of the larger struggle to overthrow imperialism. Only when we have a government that is serving the interests of the majority of the world's people, rather than one serving the minority of wealthy people, will we be able to implement real justice. This power will not come with a few petitions and legal battles, but these campaigns are part of the long hard work we do at this stage of the struggle.
Click the PDF to download a copy of the Missouri petition to allow prisoners in Administrative Segregation to receive cases from the law library. This petition can be used on any security level where the law librarian is arbitrarily denying prisoners access to legal materials. It is meant to be rewritten by prisoners in Missouri and sent to State Representatives and the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) Inspector General.
While we struggle to build public opinion for socialst revolution in the United $tates, we use the courts to fight winnable battles — battles that will help make space for our overall anti-imperialist movement. The denial of legal assistance to prisoners without active cases prevents our comrades from even beginning an active case, or studying law in order to prepare for a case. We know that most cases will not be won in our favor, but maintaining the right to challenge injustices in court try is an important part of our struggle at this stage in the game.