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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [California]
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LA County Jail Guards Bribe Prisoner to Shank Another Prisoner

Back in December 2013, the "Eye Witness Newscast" aired a situation concerning Los Angeles County Jail (mens) Sheriffs who were corrupt and therefore federal charges were filed on these 18 officers. This triggered something in my mind that occurred while housed in the LA County Jail Twin Towers.

While I was there an officer offered me "special favors" if I would stab a prisoner for him. I declined his offer and in turn I contacted the Internal Affairs Division and reported this incident. The very same day other prisoners who had also been approached with this offer beat this prisoner until he was unconscious. Because I had knowledge of the incident I was re-housed in "high power" with no way of speaking to anyone regarding the assault I witnessed and the role of the officers. It should be noted that the prisoners who assaulted the other prisoner (who was deaf), are former officers and children/brothers of active law enforcement.

While in "high power" I was contacted by two LA County Sheriff Sergeants, one male and one female. I was interviewed (taped interview) by the female Sergeant and during the interview I was threatened with bodily injury if I furthered the investigation.

I wrote the U.S. Attorney General's office, Central District of California, 312 N. Spring St, LA, CA and reported this incident, but I've yet to hear anything from them. It should also be noted that while I was going back and forth to court, I also made my attorney aware of the incident when it occurred.

I have the sheriff's name, dates and there was a former California Highway Patrol officer who made contacts in case of my sudden disappearance. I have his name and he too will attest to what I've written. If anyone reading this can help prosecute this wrongdoing, I can provide this information.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The December news report that this prisoner references includes a bit more detail on the case:


Eighteen current and former members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department were indicted for crimes including unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation.

The charges are the result of a two-year investigation and involve conduct by deputies assigned to both Men's Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility.


While we are always pleased to see the criminal injustice system go after their own and actually target real crime, we are not surprised that there was little interest in following up on this prisoner's reports of abuse. It is only when abuse becomes public and embarassing that we can expect any real justice in the prison system, and even then it is generally just to target a few scapegoats to make it look like the problem has been fixed. We know this sort of abuse is ongoing in jails and prisons throughout the country. In reality, the prosecution of individual workers in these institutions will do little to change the fundamental system which requires ongoing abuse and brutality as a part of its role of social control. We continue to expose these abuses as we educate and organize for a movement that will put an end to the entire criminal injustice system that serves imperialism. In it's place we will implement a system of justice for the oppressed.

Los Angeles News KABC, 9 December 2013, LA Sheriff's deputies arrested in jail abuse probe; 18 indicted.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio]
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Ohio State Penitentiary Conditions Decline

Here at the Ohio State Penitentiary our food service department was privatized about five months ago and taken over by a company called Amark. Since then we've had a steady decline in both the portions and quality of our food. It's to the point now that we're getting severely undercooked turkey bacon (2 slices) at breakfast and meat at other meals is mostly fat and sometimes contains tiny bit of bone. It's the kind of meat you wouldn't serve a dog.

Also, the pigs recently changed policies concerning the long term storage of our property that we may not be allowed at our current security or privilege levels but can have once our levels are lowered. The pigs are trying to force guys into authorizing them to either destroy or send home their property. For the most part guys are refusing to authorize or sign anything and threatening to sue if the pigs destroy their property anyway. Although as always some guys allowed themselves to be intimidated by the pigs. It remains to be seen what the pigs will eventually end up doing but this comrade will keep you posted.


MIM(Prisons) responds: When we see conditions change in a way that inspires others to protest individually, this is a good opportunity to insert some political education into the discussion, and use the situation to build unity against the criminal injustice system. These actions, taken against the whole group, underscore prisoners' basis for unity in fighting for their basic rights. There has been a lot of recent organizing and protests in Ohio, including a hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary last year. Political awareness is growing, and it's up to those who understand the big picture of imperialism and our fight against it to take up leadership roles in educating and organizing others.

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia]
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More Reasons for Georgia Hunger Strike

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the prisoners of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison - Special Management Unit (SMU). I was beaten brutally by SMU's cert team. My ribs were fractured and I was denied any medical treatment. This happened in June 2012. In January of this year I was assaulted (while in cuffs and shackles) by Lt. Micheal J Kyle, he punched me in my face 5 times with a closed fist. This was retaliation because I reported him for sexual harassment after he showed me his fully exposed penis and told me to "suck it."

Right now there are about 9 prisoners on a hunger strike because of the hardships being placed upon us. We are being deprived of our property without proper due process. We face daily ongoing hardships and abuse such as those described above. Our right to religion is also being violated due to our windows being completely covered, so Muslims cannot determine when to pray and prisoners like me who study all religions cannot receive any religious material for certain religions for reasons they will not share with us.

We are in desperate need of a change!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We are getting a lot of mail from Georgia describing the conditions and the need for struggle and change in prison there, especially from the Diagnostic and Classification prison. This unity among the prisoners, and their outreach work to inform media and work with prison activists are all good signs for this struggle. We look forward to working with these new comrades to build the level of political education and organizing in Georgia so that our fight against the criminal injustice system will win both short term and long term battles.

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[Abuse] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Jenkins Correctional Center] [Georgia]
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False Disciplinary Reports used to Classify Prisoners into SMU

I have been to three prison camps this year alone. This month makes it 18 months that I've been incarcerated. Riverbend was the first prison I went to. After an incident happened between and officer and I, I wrote a grievance on him and there was an ongoing investigation. But before it could get anywhere they transferred me to Jenkins. I was at Jenkins for three weeks before I got transferred. While I was there I had a verbal altercation with an officer and he wrote me up but he exaggerated the incident, so to defend my character I asked his supervisors to review the cameras, but they refused. Then while I was on administrative separation I kept getting written up (about three times) for things that they didn't know who did them. I had a roommate with me at the time and when something went down they wrote us both up instead of finding out who did what.

Now my issue is that all those disciplinary reports (DR) that I got were not investigated, furthermore I didn't get a chance to go to DR court to defend myself. I don't know if you're familiar with the DR process but when you get one, a DR investigator is supposed to meet with you and discuss the incident. Afterwards you can take a plea or go to DR court where you're either found guilty or innocent, and that's the official DR process. These steps were not taken on any of the DRs I got.

After I was transferred from Jenkins I was sent to Jackson State Prison, to a program called Special Management Unit (SMU). When I got here they told me it was a program for prisoners who have a record of assaulting officers and behavior problems. I only have two DRs on my record that were concluded. The disposition for the first was dismissed and I was found not guilty on the second. So with that being said, I feel it was injustice to place me in this program.

Anyways, the most current issue is that I have been here since 23 January 2014 and I have not received any of my property. Recently I've been asking for my mail and writing materials, (i.e. paper, pen, etc) so I can contact my family and my attorney. I've spoke to the unit manager, the Lieutenant, the counselor, and the property manager about this at least twice and not one of them will tell me where my property is or why I haven't gotten them yet. There are several others with the same problem. If anything can be done to get this problem resolved please help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This trick with the false disciplinary reports, especially on prisoners who write grievances for guard abuses, is common across the criminal injustice system. The campaign demanding that our grievances be addressed needs to be expanded into Georgia so that prisoner's there can take up this organized struggle. We are looking for a prisoner in Georgia who can modify a general grievance petition to the state-specific rules and situation in Georgia. Let us know if you can volunteer and we will send the information.

This is just one example of the system of oppression in this country that puts bad marks on the permanent records of oppressed nation youth starting in grade school. From there they are put into gang databases, given sentences, parole, plea bargains and in prison they receive disciplinary reports, STG status, etc. This is the state-sponsored burueacracy that keep the First World lumpen in its place. They are excluded from the economic system and many other benefits of imperialist society, and these discriminatory and often baseless labels help make it acceptable to the Amerikan public.

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[United Front] [Abuse] [Valdosta Correctional Institution] [Georgia]
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Guards Set Georgia Prisoners Against Each Other

Prisoners here in Georgia are being harassed by the wardens and their administration. Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has a new program it calls the Tier Program, and many prisoners are being thrown into the Tier 2 program for 9 months for petty disciplinary, reports, which is against the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment.

Prison officials are also using food as a tool of cruel and unusual punishment towards prisoners. Only half of the population here in prison can afford to go to the store commissary. The prisoners who can't afford store goods are robbing those who go to the store. This creates violent conditions because 90% of the prisoners here are gang-related. And when the gangs go to war it goes down at every prison in Georgia. And some prisoners die in the gang wars. GDC created this problem so they can have a reason to lock all the prisoners down.

I put a 1983 civil suit on Valdosta State Prison here in GA and as a result Deputy Warden Orr tried to have me killed numerous times. On 7 December 2013 I was beaten badly with weapons by 15 prisoners, and I was sent to the free world hospital for 2 days. When I returned to the prison I was placed in lockup where all my property was stolen and the prison officials refused to replace my property. The Warden place me on Tier 2 program with 9 months in lockup as punishment for being attacked and seriously injured while my attackers went unpunished.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are seeing a lot of reports of repression and resistance coming from Georgia recently. This comrade underscores the need for unity among both individuals and lumpen organizations. It is easy for the prison administration to pit prisoners against each other when they are focused on the fights between their organizations. But the real enemy, the one that is keeping everyone in prisons, denying adequate food, and throwing people in lockup, is the criminal injustice system. This is why we urge prisoners in Georgia to focus on building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. The UFPP's first principle is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." This is critical to every prison, but in Georgia the recent reports suggest even more urgency to this point.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 37]
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Prisoners' Lawsuit Makes Progress in NC Struggle Against Abuse

north carolina lawsuit victory
I would like to update my article in ULK 33. Our lawsuit against guard assaults on prisoners has gained attention and helped us win some protections. The pigs in Raleigh were ordered to install eleven new cameras and extra equipment to double storage capacity, set up a new policy to investigate assaults, and the court hired an expert to go into the prison to inspect it to see if blind spots are covered and other areas have been corrected. They have also replaced the entire unit staff.

We are now in discovery since the judge refused to throw out the prisoner beatings lawsuit. This case is getting some press, and the Herald Sun reported: "The judge made a not so veiled reference to the practice of punishing inmates by locking them up in dim solitary units." The judge said "your case is about sunlight where you claim there were systematic violations" to the lawyers for the prisoners. "What we need to do with this lawsuit is not bury it in a deep, dark hole and proceed with discovery."(1)

So one damn thing for sure we got a judge on our side. The same way they have taken from us (a little at a time) we all can do the same to them. It's just a matter of team work.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of a winnable court battle that will result in some improvements in safety for prisoners. But it will not stop the inhumane abuse that continues throughout prisons in North Carolina. This is an ongoing contradiction of our fight against the criminal injustice system at this stage: we take on reformist battles to try to improve the conditions under which our comrades suffer, but we know that these reforms offer no more than minor adjustments to a system that is based on the oppression and suffering of those locked within.

It is ironic that the prisoners in North Carolina have to go to court to fight for their own safety within prison, while the state's justification for every repressive act is "safety" (including North Carolina's excuse for censoring Under Lock & Key for over three years straight). This exposes the reality of the criminal injustice system: a brutal tool of social control that endangers the safety of all who are captured in its broad nets. We need to take advantage of reform battles like this one, both to gain some breathing room for our comrades and to educate others and build unity. We can't end the abuse until we eliminate the criminal injustice system, but these reformist battles are important steps along the way in our ultimate fight against imperialism as a whole.


Notes: The Herald Sun November 15, 2013.

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[United Front] [Abuse] [Florida]
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Ride or Die in Florida

I could not help but to be moved by the article Ride or Die in the Nov/Dec 2013 ULK. That's where it is at. Organized groups recognizing their potential to solve the problems within our communities. This is something them folks (pigs) can't or won't do. Gangs are not the problem by itself. It is the ignorance of some of their members, mainly because a lack of education of their origin as an organization before the feds infiltrated and caused problems from within. As long as they oppose each other the establishment does not have to worry. Inside the Florida Department of Corrections (FL DOC) there are many examples of the oppression and violation of basic rights that lack of unity causes.

The state of Florida issues a pair of Croks (plastic sandals) for state issued shoes, despite 30 and 40 degree weather. FL DOC does not care if your feet are froze numb while they force you on the rec yard in the morning. Likewise with your hands, no gloves are issued or sold and some institutions do not allow prisoners to have their hands in their pockets to keep them warm. You are told to take your hands out your pockets by someone who is wearing a wool coated jacket, with woolen gloves, and a 100 dollar pair of boots.

Cheap artificial meat is being served to prisoners. This meat causes constipation and other health problems. Prisoners who choose not to eat it will have to eat beans on the regular as the alternative. The monthly menu FL DOC posted on the internet is a front for deceit. The chicken, turkey baloney, sausage, and hot dogs are the only meals that are partly real meat. I mean the chicken is real but everything else is processed and artificial. The meals served consist of the same thing they just have different names. The food is poorly cooked on a lot of occasions. The artificial meat TVP (texture vegetable protein) that was served some years back was stopped after prisoners in Florida worked with prisoners in other states to fight back. They knew TVP was was not sufficient to meet the dietary requirement, but the prisons will do anything they are allowed until someone stops them.

Prisoners receive a roll of toilet paper every 10 days, which is not enough for an adult. And upon expiration of the toilet paper you are told you will be supplied as needed. But how can you be supplied when there is none to supply.

These are just a few examples other than the regular harassment and abuse of authority. Anything that prisoners do other than kiss and lick boots is a disturbance to them. When writing up these issues the authorities answer the grievance with a statement about what the rule states, but it will not get enforced. I am speaking for those who can't afford toilet paper. So they are forced to hustle.

This violation of our basic rights, and of many rules of the prison itself, is exactly what happens when there is no unity. In Florida it is time somebody stands up inside prison and outside against their courts. I am trying to inform people of the United Front. Ride or Die. We need another "Attica" to happen here in Florida.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As with the original Ride or Die article, this prisoner provides compelling examples for why the United Front for Peace work is important. Lumpen Organizations in prisons can come together and provide the leadership for broad unity against the criminal injustice system. This unity will lay the basis for a strong anti-imperialist movement.

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[Abuse] [Police Brutality] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 36]
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North Carolina Brutality on the Streets and in the Prisons

Two recent stories in Durham, North Carolina show a clear pattern of law enforcement and the judicial system overstepping its boundaries. On 15 December 2013, officer Markeith Council, a Wake County Jailer, was found guilty of "involuntary manslaughter," after he slammed a prisoner on his head, not once, but twice.(1) The evidence showed that the prisoner, who was unarmed, and weighed less than half that of the 290 lb Council, was unconscious after initially hitting the concrete floor. The autopsy showed a severe laceration to the prisoner's skull, and several crushed vertebrae in his neck. This prisoner was incarcerated for an open container, drug paraphernalia, and a failure to appear, crimes that apparently now carry a death sentence.

The officer was only sentenced to a term of 90 days, and will spend all of his time in protective custody, no doubt receiving special privileges from former co-workers.

In the second story, a Durham teen, Jesus "Chuy" Huerta, was shot to death while his hands were cuffed behind his back in the back of a police car, in police custody. The teen was shot in the head, after being searched by the officers, and not found to be carrying a weapon.

Here's the kicker: the police investigation determined that the teen shot himself in the side of the head while handcuffed in the back of the car. The reports were only released after protests.

During a candlelight vigil for Huerta, police in riot gear fired canisters of tear gas at mourners, and forced them to disperse.

In "Common Sense," Thomas Pain wrote: "Common sense should tell us that the powers which have endeavored to subdue us, are of all others, the most improper to defend us." The bourgeoisie cannot be reformed. Voting in new oppressors won't change things. The system is broken, it cannot be fixed. The oppressors, through reform, will only withdraw, make empty promises, and come back harder to crush the oppressed. Those afraid to endanger themselves don't realize that they are already in danger. We are in danger from a group that will stop at nothing to maintain a stranglehold on us.

Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has been locked down since a single prisoner, acting alone, cut an officer on 15 November 2013. The prisoner, to my understanding, isn't even at this camp anymore. For weeks prisoners were forced to shower in full restraints (handcuffs, shackles, black box, waist chains, locks), and the lock-down is still 24 hours a day. Prisoners are only allowed to leave their cells to shower, or to go to work. There is no recreation, and food trays are served in the cells. All other activities have been halted until further notice. There is no foreseeable end to this "institutional lockdown," and staff are still claiming "security reasons," even though there hasn't been another incident since 19 November 2013. Until prisoners learn to stand together, this is the way things will remain.

[UPDATE: A prisoner corrected the above report, changing November 19 to November 15. S/he reports they went to shower in handcuffs and the water was unusually cold, but they were not under full restraints, lock box, chains etc. As of 19 February 2014 they are still on modified lockdown, where they are allowed out of their cell 2 hours a day, 24 people at a time.]


MIM(Prisons) adds: This author is right that the incidents of violence on the streets and in the prisons are all related, and all part of a larger system of oppression that perpetuates the system of imperialism. This is a system that relies on the subjugation of some nations by others, both globally and within U.$. borders. The white nation has the power, and the oppressed nations in the United $tates are disproportionately locked behind bars, and victims of police brutality and murder. Even with a Black figurehead (Obama), the white nation still has the power and control. Statistics tell the story of the very few New Afrikans and [email protected] in positions of power (lackeys and figureheads) while these nations suffer the highest percentage of incidents of police brutality and imprisonment, far higher than their representation in this country overall.

And so we agree with this comrade that reforms will not fundamentally change the system of imperialist oppression. But still we must fight for those rights that will better enable us to educate and organize, while building towards the long term goal of revolution to overthrow the imperialist system.


Notes:
1. Raleigh News & Observer, December 15, 2013

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[Work Strike] [Abuse] [Moore Haven Correctional Institution] [Okeechobee Correctional Institution] [Dade Correctional Institution] [Desoto Correctional Institution] [South Florida Reception Center] [Florida] [ULK Issue 36]
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FL Prisoners Struggle Against Having to Pay for Visits

[CORRECTION: The comrade making the original inquiry updated us to say that the problems of having to pay for visits and the DOC taking 10% of our accounts did not happen at Moore Haven Correctional Institution, but rather at South Florida Reception Center (SFRC), Desoto Correctional Institution and Dade Correctional Institution. They were charging prisoners $1.00 for every disciplinary report and $5.00 for every prisoner that was put in confinement or segregation.]

[In November a USW comrade in Moore Haven Correctional Institution in Florida reported that the prison was taking 10% out of prisoners commissary or trust fund accounts each week and that they were being charged for family visits. The article below is a response to that report.]

This is the second time that the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has tried to impose these despotic demands that I know of. The last time they tried to steal prisoners' money three ways: 1) charging prisoners $1 for every disciplinary report (D.R.) we get, 2) charging prisoners' families to come visit us, and 3) taking 10% out of prisoners' commissary or trust fund account. This was attempted at Okeechobee Correctional Institution.

In response to prisoners' complaints the captain went around to all the dorms and lieutenants at count time and claimed they did not know where the proposed memorandum came from but FDOC headquarters in Tallahassee told them they know nothing about that memorandum, they did not circulate it, and it's bogus and will not stand.

Rest assured that Tallahasse does know about the memorandum at Moore Haven CI. They tried it at one prison and it did not work so they are trying it at Moore Haven because (a) it a private institution run by Corrections Corporation of America, and (b) are short-timers. They are trying Moore Haven because they feel they have more to lose and don't know this trick has been tried at Okeechobee CI before.

Here is how we defeated Tallahassee and the institution. At least 98% of the prisoners filed grievances saying that their family was being subjected to robbery and racketeering. This is organized crime against prisoners and their families under the RICO Act, committed by the government against its own citizens. Then prisoners had their families on the phone to the secretary of FDOC, Governor and state representatives raising pure hell about the way they were being unjustly treated via extortion and harassment by FDOC. The last powerful thing we did was had a sit down strike like good old Martin Luther King Jr. Thus everybody would not leave the dorm. That worked so good because 1) it's non-violent, 2) it stopped all work production, 3) there are not enough confinement cells to lock everybody up in, and 4) it's hard to justify locking a bunch of people up because they and their families refuse to be abused by the government. The sit-down strike got FDOC minds right real fast.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade asked about the progress on the grievance campaign in Florida as well. Yet h story above seems like the greatest example of a grievance victory we've heard from that state. Turning grievances into campaigns is about mobilizing the imprisoned lumpen as a group. That is the only way justice can be enforced. It is part of building unity of all oppressed people to end the injustice that is inherent to the imperialist system, and creating a better world for everyone.

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[Abuse] [US Penitentiary Hazelton] [Federal]
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Physical Abuse Common at Federal Prison

Prisoners here are forced to expose their genitals and buttocks for staff pleasure, for periods of time of not less than 72 hours. If the prisoner refuses he may be shot with some unspecified projectile, sprayed with a respiratory irritant (chemical weapon) after the ventilation system is turned off, beaten by 6, 8, 10 or 12 staff in full riot gear, or have a destructive device (that's right, a grenade) detonated on the prisoner in a 12x10 concrete cell that is locked. All of this for petty offenses like refusing an order or having a clothesline in the cell. One prisoner had his foot shot off on the compound this summer.

I ask all who may read this to stand in solidarity with us at USP Hazelton, and use whatever resources are at your disposal to help us tell this story to the world in an effort to stamp out this repression.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Federal prisoners are often even more isolated than those in State prisons, further from family and less connected to community and resources. These abuses, which happen in prisons across the United $tates, are important to expose. Under Lock & Key demonstrates a pattern of this inhumane treatment. But we don't expect this alone to change things. We know that the criminal injustice system is a critical tool of Amerikan imperialism, and we can't hope to reform these problems away. We might help improve conditions for a few people by replacing the bad staff, or changing a few rules, and we do fight these battles, but only within the context of the larger anti-imperialist fight, because it is only with the overthrow of imperialism that we will be able to eliminate the injustice system and replace it with a system of justice for the oppressed.

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