I have written and spoken extensively over the last couple years about the impact that recent heat waves have had on incarcerated people housed in non-air-conditioned prisons in Virginia and in the Criminal Injustice System in general. I even drafted and disseminated a proposal for the creation of a state-wide, coalition-based movement to shut these prisons down. As of the date of this writing, none of the so-called prison justice and prison abolitionist organizations I sent it to in Virginia responded or expressed interest in it.
A comrade of mine then created an online petition in 2022 to raise public awareness about this issue and build momentum for shutting these prisons (i.e., death traps) down. Last checked, the petition had 560 signatures. Buckingham Correctional Center alone houses 1,091 people, so there should be more signatures on this petition.
Since I began writing/speaking about this issue, the dissemination of my proposal and the creation of the online petition, historic heat waves have increased exponentially, both in frequency and in record high temperatures. And with these increases must be increased pressure and organizing to shut these non-air-conditioned prisons down.
Since the beginning of summer, the U.$. and most of the rest of the world have been gripped by deadly and historic heat waves. Science and medical experts the world over have warned that deaths caused by extreme heat will only increase each summer without some sort of action to mitigate climate change. They say that elderly people, obese people, and those with diabetes, heart disease and other serious health related issues are the ones most at risk. Time and time again, people confined to prisons, jails and detention centers with poor ventilation, substandard medical care and partial or no air conditioning are left out of the category of those most at risk during these record heat waves.
I just read that in Texas, which incarcerates more people than any other state in the country, the temperature inside its prisons regularly exceeds 120 degrees during the summer and as result, hundreds of incarcerated people have died there from extreme heat exposure in the last few years. Predictably, Texas prison officials have denied the number of deaths and the deaths they have acknowledged they falsely claimed were not caused by extreme heat but by other causes. So, on July 8, loved ones of incarcerated people and other community members attended a rally inside the Texas state capital demanding an emergency session be held to address the issue and for funding to be allocated to install AC units inside all Texas’ prisons. We need similar rallies to take place here in Virginia every summer when it is the hottest and not later in the year or the beginning of the year when the temperature and the issue of extreme heat inside non-air-conditioned prisons both starts to cool down.
SOME ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE NOW:
Sign and share the following petition to close three main non-air-conditioned prisons in Virginia at: https://chng.it/T5hzhPsJXM
Call/email Virginia’s Governor, Secretary of Public Safety, and Director of the Department of Correction at the contact information below demanding these prisons be shut down due to the extreme heat suffered by the people incarcerated there and that housing people at the named facilities under those conditions constitutes torture and cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Glenn Youngkin, Governor of Virginia Tel: 804-786-2211 Email: governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office
Robert “Bob” Mosie, Secretary of Public Safety of Virginia Tel: 804-786-5351 Email: [email protected]
Harold Clarke, Director of Virginia Department of Corrections Tel: 804-674-3000 Email: [email protected]
Help build a statewide, coalition-based movement specifically to shut these non-air-conditioned prisons down. The proposal for the creation of such a movement can be found on my blog at https://consciousprisoner.wordpress.com/2022/10/01/preliminary-proposal-for-a-statewide-campaign-to-close-shut-down-non-air-conditioned-prisons-in-virginia/.
Please reach out, get involved and help build this movement before incarcerated people in Virginia start dying on a level like they are in prisons in Texas.
Since Our last update regarding the J.F.I., and its three phase plan to magnify the genocidal practices, policies and procedures ever present within the Amerikan criminal justice system, there has been slight progress in our phase two, or the national phase of this campaign.
Namely, the U.$. DOJ has begun to respond to the hundreds of grievance petitions and testimonials sent to them last year. U.$. DOJ has shown interest in further investigating incidents of excessive use of force, and lack of staff. This is only what has been reported from Texas comrades, and We hope to hear more from others around the country as responses pour in.
Along these same lines, We have recently begun corresponding with a legal aid organization who has reached out to us, interested in representing prisoner’s litigation efforts which are socio-politically motivated in nature. They’ve expressed interest in assisting us in the J.F.I. campaign going forward, as this partnership develops We’ll keep you all informed.
An Update on Legislation Efforts in Texas
Through the last 180 days a lot of time and energy has been refocused in support efforts regarding legislation beneficial to the Texas prisoner class.
We have been focused on the following bills and resolutions:
HB 2834, relating to minimum wage for inmates in certain work programs.
HB 782, gives authority to trial court to modify a defendants sentence.
HB 812, regarding limitation on use of Administrative segregation.
HB 1362, relating to the use of the death penalty and life without parole in capital crimes for people younger than 21 years old.
HB 1736, relating to conspiracy and law of parties and criminal responsibility in capital cases.
House Joint Resolution 63, regarding the explicit outlawing of slavery and servitude.
In Our efforts to abolish Ad-Seg, there was a book released and passed around to current legislators at the beginning of the session in January. The book, Texas Letters Volume 1, is an anthology consisting of prisoners first hand accounts of their experiences in long term solitary confinement in Texas. Despite these and other efforts it seems as though HB 812 will not pass this session.
In Our efforts to magnify HB 1362 and HB 1736, there is a current publication in the works specifically dedicated to telling the stories of those affected by the Law of Parties and the death penalty and life w/o parole at the ages below 21. Surprisingly, this is a bi-partisan effort. Despite this it has not yet been passed. People on the ground are developing different ways to get the information about this issue disseminated more widely to the public.
On Other Efforts in Texas
Seeing that Our efforts in the legislation campaign have not been fruitful, We’ve channeled Our energy toward more cadre building through establishing Authentic In Manhood, Masculinity and Maturity (A.I.M) and its sub section Political Education 101, a series of seminars giving insight into the basic essentials of revolutionary political and social theory. We hope these efforts bear more fruit in the near future.
An Update on the Forever Protecting Our Community Organization
Since the introductory article presenting FPC to the ULK audience, i would like to inform you that the FPC organization has established a local community garden, promoting food sovereignty, and has begun to launch a program designed to combat open air sex and human trafficking in the local area. FPC has also taken part with other organizations in a memorial for people who’ve lost their lives to police terrorism and gang violence, members of the FPC have been active in mentoring youth in anti-drug and anti-gang counseling providing school supplies, and feeding the people. The organization’s political line continues to mature, and we continue to observe this movement closely.
I appreciate all the comrades who assisted us with our struggle for change here at Eastern Correctional Institution (E.C.I.) We have begun to gain traction. Delegate Charles Otto has responded with a response from Maryland Department of Public Safety. Once I make copies I will send them to you all so that you can see the crap they’re saying. None the less the prison is beginning to change. Our visiting time has increased and so has our outside rec. They are even talking about allowing us to take pictures. We are not stupid though we understand that this is all to pacify us. But there has been something major that we have recognized. The system has now exposed their hand and now they are open for the guerrillas to attack – in one of the buildings here they are renovating due to the pressure from the people and as such they have to move people out of the building. So they must find space for these men. They are scrambling for spaces to put them. Now understanding this I have come up with an idea which is now under way. The plan goes as follows:
Mission #1 Fire Starter
Primary Objective: Exposure. We must expose the prison’s conditions to the outside world. We must present these conditions to our local politicians. We must network through our channels and use our families and friends to agitate those in position.
Weapon of Choice: Media
Mission #2 Fire Spreader
Primary Objective: Spread what you have done in your prison to the other prisons in your state. This must be done simultaneously.
Weapon of Choice: Letters, Phones, Social Media
After these missions are complete it will unleash a fire storm that will burn these prison systems from the inside out. Once comrades are released they are then to assist the cells from the outside.
It must be understood that every prison in Amerikkka has its issues and for them to be exposed in the manner we are seeking will force the people in position to react. They will then have to renovate these prisons and to do so they will have to decarcerate, releasing our brothers and sisters on to the streets because they will have no where to put them once they are forced to clean up the prisons. This is the beginning of a prison abolition movement I believe that will deliver a major blow to the system. The comrades here at E.C.I. have completed Mission #1 Fire Starter and we are now underway with Mission #2. It must be understood that it may not work every where but I do encourage all to try it.
It is time for the dragon to be released. Long live George Jackson.
“As you may know, Juneteenth has now been made a federal holiday in amerika. On this day many will sing the praises of Our oppressors or otherwise negate the reality of the lumpen (economically alienated class), that according to amerika’s 13th amendment We are STILL SLAVES. While We do not wish to nullify the intensity of the exploitation and oppression that New Afrikan people held in chattel slavery faced, We must pinpoint to the general public, those upcoming generations of youngsters looking to follow Our footsteps, that to be held in captivity by the state or feds is not only to be frowned upon but is part and parcel with the intentions of this amerikan government, and its capitalist-imperialist rulers. We say NO CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH until the relation of people holding others in captivity is fully abolished!!”
The Juneteenth Freedom Initiative put forth demands and calls for action including:
End Solitary Confinement! End Restrictive Housing Units(RHU)!
End Mass Incarceration!
Transform the prisons to cadre schools! Transform ourselves into NEW PEOPLE!
The history of utilizing Juneteenth to fight the torturous long-term isolation cells in U.$. prisons didn’t start last year with the campaign to shut down the RHU. At the 2011 Juneteenth celebration in Berkeley, CA, MIM(Prisons) did an extensive outreach campaign in support of the first round of historic hunger strikes to protest the SHU in California. These we see as proper ways of honoring the spirit of Juneteenth, which is a holiday that was kept alive for over a century by the New Afrikan nation before the United $tates took it as its own.
In his 2022 book on the history of Texas, historian Gerald Horne points out some holes in the story of Juneteenth being paraded by the bourgeois Liberals of the Biden regime. He points out how the Emancipation Proclamation did not really extend to the territory of Texas that remained beyond the jurisdiction of the Lincoln government. Texas was an independent state of Euro-settlers claiming territory from Mexico in 1836. Texas remained its own country until 1845 when it joined the United $tates. By 1865, Texans were strongly considering rejoining Mexico, which was temporarily under the rule of the French puppet Maximillian in order to maintain the system of slavery. While this did not happen, slavery continued in many parts of Texas for many years after the historic date known as Juneteenth. According to one source, “two-thirds of the freedmen in the section of country which I travelled over have never received one cent of wages since they were declared free…” Horne cites another source saying “the freedmen are in a worse condition than they ever were as slaves.”(Horne, p.457) Texans were determined to hold on to their slaves until the U.$. government came in to compensate them for their “property.”
Some fifty years after so-called emancipation, the war continued to wage between the newly coalesced white oppressor nation and the oppressed nations in the region of Texas.
“However, given the dialectic of repression generating resistance – and vice versa – it was also during this same period that Jack Johnson, the heavyweight champion from Galveston, was forced into exile in order to elude spurious charges and wound up in Mexico City during the revolutionary decade. There he sought to establish a beachhead against Jim Crow. It was also then that the monumental “Plan of San Diego” was crafted, which was said to involve retaking the land seized improperly by the U.S. during the war of aggression of the 1840s and establishing in its stead independent Black and Indigenous polities."(Horne, p.565)
In 2017, USW comrades launched a campaign to commemorate the Plan de San Diego each August, as the military operations carried out in southern Texas by units of 25 to 100 men against the Euro-settlers reached their high point in August and September of 1915. If you want to commemorate this revolutionary history this August, write in and ask for copies of the Plan de San Diego flier to use for outreach and get more ideas for how to honor that history.
NOTES: Gerald Horne, 2022, The Counter-Revolution of 1836: Texas Slavery & Jim Crow and the Roots of U.S. Fascism, International Publishers, New York.
Since 2021, the city of Atlanta in conjunction with its police force and local developers and contractors, has been trying to bulldoze a significant part of the remaining forest in the city and construct an urban warfare training center for police officers. The forest, which formerly contained a slave labor camp and then a state farm ran on prisoner labor, has been the site of occupations, sabotage of construction equipment, protests and raids by the police. Recently, the cops murdered an activist staying in the encampment defending the forest, while revolts in downtown Atlanta and confrontations with police at the site of the forest have resulted in arrests and terrorism charges for dozens of activists. The movement has racked up several victories already, including delaying the construction of the training center by several months and driving several contractors off the project entirely. But the struggle continues. At press time, the forest faces clear-cutting for the initial stages of construction.
Atlanta is a rapidly and brutally gentrifying city, with a nominally Black elected leadership but a housing and economic policy that has displaced thousands of lower income New Afrikan residents. Cops have been used to harass New Afrikan tenants out of public housing to facilitate redevelopment, rent has spiked well above the already bloated national average, and the arrival of movie production companies (facilitated by tax breaks and other favors) has been a major motor of gentrification across the city.(1) The elected leadership of the city is in a bind – they have to deliver economic growth and good jobs, and get re-elected by appearing to stand against police brutality and white supremacy, but are constrained by their own commitment to capitalism and inability to confront the real power structure of the city, which, as we will see soon, is mostly unelected.
Like most Amerikan cities, Atlanta saw a weeks-long uprising against the police following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. In Atlanta, also like other Amerikan cities, local cases of police brutality added extra impetus to the protesters and their demands. The murder of Rayshard Brooks in June of 2020 led to a revolt that burned down the Wendys he’d been killed at(2), the resignation of hundreds of police officers and even the trashing of the offices of the state police. Local lumpen organizations saw a temporary truce and occupied the Wendys site with arms against rumors of white militas seeking to march near the site of Rayshard Brooks’ death. In the wake of these and similar events police and correctional forces nationwide are facing difficulties filling their ranks and reeling from their abject failure to contain the disturbances of 2020, when over sixty thousand (3) National Guard troops had to be called out to back them up. The need for Cop City is itself a sign of weakness, paranoia and poor morale of the police force.
The Campaign in the City Council
In 2021, after the rebellion, the Atlanta City Council met in secret to arrange two land deals in the South Forest, the largest expanse of forest remaining in the Metro Atlanta area. One was to give a movie studio CEO, Ryan Milsap, a swathe of public land to bulldoze and build a large movie production studio on. A second was to give another large chunk of land to the Atlanta Police Foundation, a private nonprofit that gathers money from some of the largest businesses in the region and funds policing initiatives. The APF was to construct a mock city out of concrete, similar to U.S. Military urban warfare training sites, to prepare police to prevent another 2020 from happening. (4)
The Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) is interesting all on its own. It’s entirely private, with unclear finances and no accountability to the public. It’s staffed by former national security officers, real estate investors and retired police; and it has enacted several large-scale programs around the city by itself such as building a center for a massive surveillance network across the entire city which allows footage from thousands of cameras the foundation has installed to be reviewed at one location. The APF has also built up a house renovation program that buys cheap real estate in New Afrikan neighborhoods, remodels it and gives it to police recruits to live in. All of this is done with money donated by corporations ranging from Coca Cola (who did drop out of the Foundation after pressure from activists) to Norfolk Southern. To repeat: large capitalist firms are directly funding, with no public oversight, the extension of massive surveillance networks, police colonization of New Afrikan ghettos, and the construction of a training center intended to make cops more proficient at urban warfare.
The APF is best understood not as a slush fund or a shady organization behind the scenes, but as a de facto shadow government that actually runs the city on behalf of a mostly white bourgeoisie.(5)
Activists uncovered the land deals and organized protests and a campaign to persuade the city council to not approve the projects. After months of rallies, lobbying and canvassing, the Atlanta City Council voted in late 2021 to allow the project to proceed. This outcome, which many of the activists involved in the campaign predicted, marked the first defeat for Stop Cop City. The coalition that managed this campaign, DARC (Defund Atlanta Police Department, Refund Communities) dissolved among accusations that the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) had tried to take over the campaign and use it (and its failure which they banked on) as a recruiting tool. The DSA’s plan was to allow the campaign to fail instead of criticizing it openly, with the hope that its failure would radicalize people into their organization. Commenting on this, a local communist wrote “the notion that working class Atlantans, people who live their entire lives in the trenches of the city’s class war, require a civics lesson to be radicalized is self-evidently chauvinistic.” (6)
The Campaign in the Weelaunee Forest
Parallel to the campaign against the city council and continuing after it had been defeated, a growing and mostly anonymous group of people calling themselves “forest defenders” were ramping up their activity. Some engaged in tree-sits in the forest, others established gardens or engaged in mutual aid projects and free concerts, and others routinely sabotaged construction and surveying equipment preparing the forest for the project.(7)
At one point members of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe from Oklahoma, who lived in the South Forest before being expelled during the 1820’s, returned to the forest, conducted a stomp dance ceremony and shared the forest’s pre-colonial name: Weelaunee.
Several times, crews hired by Ryan Milsap to start demolishing the forest ahead of official permitting were driven out after direct confrontation by forest defenders. Outside the forest, protests against contractors, politicians and business-people involved in the project routinely escalated to vandalism and provoked repression from the police. In one case, a protest in East Atlanta Village was attacked by cops as it was ending, but the heavy-handed tactics of the police resulted in all 17 arrests being dismissed and thousands in restitution paid to those targeted. One of the general contractors of the project, Reeves + Young, dropped out after another direct protest at their officers and after several of their vehicles were sabotaged in the forest. It should be noted that not all interactions between construction workers and the forest defenders were hostile – when crews from the local power company showed up to do maintenance on a line in the forest, they worked around a garden that forest defenders had planted instead of destroying it.
Throughout late 2021 and 2022 this back and forth continued, with coordinated Weeks of Action bringing hundreds of people into the forest and a fluctuating smaller body of activists building and defending the forest in the interim.
Raids and the Murder of Tortuguita
Different police agencies routinely entered the forest and raided it repeatedly. Last May, following a Week of Action, cops came into the forest and smashed up a lot of protest infrastructure that was on the ground. Activists retreated to the trees, continued confronting work crews and burning equipment that was left unguarded at night. A statement issued after one of these incidents read “if you build it we will burn it.” In December of last year another raid resulted in the destruction of more shelters and 6 people were arrested and charged with ‘domestic terrorism.’
On 18 January 2023, a final raid into the forest by officers from the Georgia State Highway Patrol and numerous other police agencies attacked the forest with guns drawn. During the raid a forest defender sitting under a tarp refused orders to get up and leave, and the cops shot em several times at close range, claiming self defense. Eir name was Manuel Paez Teran (nicknamed Tortuguita or Tort), an indigenous anarchist from Venezuela, and ey’d been living in the forest for almost a year helping to coordinate its supply and defense. The cop story, that Tort had fired first from under the tarp and wounded an officer, began to unravel quickly. On body camera footage released weeks later an officer can be heard saying ‘you fucked your own officer up?’ after the shots, implying that the officer who was wounded was shot by his own people. Tort’s autopsy showed bullet wounds through the palms of eir hands, a story more consistent with an encounter killing than a firefight.(8)
The movement is mostly evicted from the forest for now, and initial tree clearing has begun. The murder of Tortuguita, however, has dramatically raised the temperature of the struggle. The City council has already started walking back some of their plans for Cop City, and support for the movement and criticism of Mayor Dickens for being involved in it, has swelled. It’s also important to remember that without the resistance the whole forest would be gone and Cop City would be half-built already.
For Rayshard Brooks, for Tortuguita, and for victims of poverty and police violence in Atlanta whose names we know and those we don’t, we say Stop Cop City.
16 March 2023 – Here at Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI), we have implemented the below program. We turned in over 200 copies to the Governor of Maryland, state delegates and senators. We also sent copies to the Commissioner of Corrections and the Warden. We are still sending copies out on the compound to have brothers do their part.
We have been met with a few obstacles but we still are struggling against intel (they’re like Prison FBI, Gang Task Force, etc.), they started going in to cells searching for these papers. They even complemented the organization for our resistance (even though they’re trying to lock us up). After the people heard about intel and their continued and increased oppression some brothers got discouraged and actually returned some of the copies. It broke my heart to see such cowardice in men. But the sacrifices of those that came before us motivates me to keep pushing.
I want to thank MIM and all the comrades involved with MIM that helped me learn from the materialist method. This form of resistance I took was a page out of MIM’s book and I appreciate it. But what we need here at ECI for there to be change is outside support. So if you comrades are reading this or are listening. Please contact these numbers and write these addresses in order to bring about change more quickly.
Delegate Charles Otto 309 Lowe House Office Building 6 Bladen Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Governor Wesmoore 100 State Central Annapolis, MD 21401-1925
Senator Mary Beth Carozza 316 Jame Senate Office Building 11 Bladen Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Commissioner of Corrections 6776 Reistertown Road Baltimore, MD 21215
We the incarcerated citizens of ECI feel we are not being treated as we should and we want change. Incarcerated yes, but we are still human beings. The conditions we are forced to live in are inadequate to say the least. The opportunity for rehabilitation is insufficient and because this is the case recidivism seems inevitable. As such, a place built on the pretense of rehabilitation becomes a concentration camp. It becomes a place where people are waiting to die. Our recreation has been reduced, our visits have been reduced and our meals have gotten worse. Along with these there are many more things we want changed, but here below we highlight the ones we deem most important.
Request #1. Educational Opportunities
We request access to college education along with training in trades that will serve us when we return to society. We also ask that proper tutoring be provided to those that struggle in certain subjects. It must be understood that lack of education played a major role in our bad decision making that lead us to prison, so it only make sense that education play a role in our rehabilitation.
Request #2. Employment
We want jobs for all able-bodied incarcerated citizens. We also ask that we be paid minimum wage for these jobs. Please understand that many of us were the sole provider for our family, so to not grant us this request may result in our family turning to criminal activity to pay bills out of desperation.
Request #3. Programs
We want programs that address our individual needs. For we understand that every incarcerated citizen isn’t locked up for the same crime. Therefore we believe each individual should be programmed off his individual crime and sentence. This is the only way to properly rehabilitate us.
Request #4. Medical
We ask for faster response to our sick calls. Every time we are told to put a sick call in by the time we get called for it, the issue is worse off or it has spread. We are asking for a switch in medical protocol. By this we mean to proper test to be ran based off the patient’s feeling. The issue may need an X-ray or MRI. These things should not wait until the problem worsens in order to carry out these minor procedures. We demand that our health issues to be paid close attention to because the lack of attention may result in an unnecessary death of an incarcerated citizen.
Request #5. Psych/Therapy
We want proper psycho analysis to be done on each incarcerated citizen in order to understand his actual mental problems. For we understand that our actions are a result of our mental workings so if we act in a manner that is unfitting it is the result of our brain work. We do not wish to be doped up on psych meds that will only have us ‘Zombified’. We want actual treatment that will identify our problems so we can work on them. We understand that therapy is important to health and to deny us this tool is to deny us our right to be healthy.
Request #6. Sanitation
Our sanitation time is not enough to thoroughly clean the tiers the way that is needed. Our showers contain black mold and no matter the day our tier is not fully clean. This is not the workers fault it is because the shortage of time. What we want is an extended time period for sanitation workers, an increase in sanitation workers. And to do so by hiring workers from that tier. This we understand is a matter of health and not to address this matter is to disregard the health of the incarcerated citizens of ECI.
Request #7. Hygiene
We demand more than one wash day out of the week. We shower everyday but do not possess the amount of clothes we need to sustain good hygiene throughout the week without washing our clothes more than one time. We want C-shift laundry men to be hired to do the workers clothes so that they won’t be in the way of general population’s clothes. Also we want weekend wash days to be added. We are asking for soap and soap powder to be distributed weekly to those who need it. We understand that there is a such thing as welfare commissary that will provide these things but to meet the qualifications one must show proof of no income for months in order to receive these benefits when the effects of not showering or washing are immediate.
Request #8. Recreation
We request mixed recreation; top and bottom together. The separation limits our yard and gym access to only 3 times a week. Along with this limitation is an extended period of time where we have to sit in the cell dirty. By this I mean if we choose to participate in all 3 days of gym/yard there will be a day where we are either last or first and the top will have second rec. So that will mean that we will have to wait a minimum of 6 hours and 30 minutes before we shower depending on what yard we have. This in turn will limit our gym/yard to 2 days if we don’t want to sit in the cell dirty. Not to mention the negative health effects from sitting in the cell for that long without a shower. (Example: people breaking out into rashes).
Request #9. Visits
We demand that in person visits be once a week. This will increase our opportunities to see our families. The majority of us cannot get our families to make the trip without scheduling a day around it because of the 4 hour journey it takes to get to ECI. Increasing the visit to once a week will increase our family’s availability. We also ask that for those families that are 4 hours away be given an extended visit of 2 hours. Lastly we ask that the process to acquire visitation be less difficult for us and our families. Being able to see our loved ones is vital to our mental health and it plays a major role in the way we act.
Request #10. Food
We request that our menu be changed to food we deem desirable. We want food that free people would eat. Fresh food that’s nutritious. We are also asking for portions fit for grown men, because the time in which we eat and the quantity of food we eat leaves us hungry waiting for the next meal. So we request a change.
Request #11. Dietary Sanitation
The kitchen is infested with roaches and mice that leave urine and feces all over the place. And because of this we demand that pest control come once a week until we have a pest free kitchen. There should be no reason this kitchen pass inspection with this infestation. As such we demand change.
Request #12. Grievance
We request that our grievances be dealt with separate from the state prison administration. We believe that our grievances are being swept under the rug and disregarded at times. As a result of this we don’t trust the administration. So we ask that our grievances be handled by an outside non-profit civil rights organization.
Request #13. Maintenance
We request that the maintenance of our housing units be maintained. There are times our sink or toilet may leak, or it may not work at all in the cell. And with these incidents there are too many times we have requested for things like that to be fixed and it would take weeks. Understanding these small things can tum into large things through the accumulation of bacteria and mold etc. we request that four men in each housing unit get trained in the field of plumbing and maintenance in order to maintain livable conditions for the incarcerated citizens.
We the incarcerated citizens conclude this request list asking one more question, “would you want to be housed under these conditions?” We want change because we want to change. Help us change. Thank you for your consideration.
Comrades in Indiana have recently celebrated a victory in our campaign against censorship. One comrade in particular diligently appealed repeated arbitrary and illegal incidents of censorship of mail sent to em by MIM Distributors. Ey regularly reached out to us and other organizations, and a comrade on the outside provided support in appealing these incidents on behalf of MIM Distributors. After about a year of censorship of anything with anti-imperialist political content, this comrade received eir first issue of Under Lock & Key this month. We have also been able to send em other political books and get ULK to others.
MIM(Prisons) wants to recognize the comrades in Pendleton Correctional Facility for their efforts and consistency. Victories will not be easy, and often they are few and far between. But with consistency the struggle continues, and as the oppressed are the vast majority of the world, that struggle is destined to win.
In most cases, our mail is censored for completely illegal reasons. Here are some reasons given by Pendleton in the last year for censoring our publications:
“5PT STAR ALL SEEING EYE 5” - not only does this make no sense, there was not even a star on the page cited
Many Amerikkkans are offended by that spelling, or when we say that they are not exploited by capitalism, or that they are a nation built on white supremacy, or that they they are committing atrocities against oppressed nations. But to censor something because you find it offensive is illegal in this bourgeois democracy that we live under. As our readers know, nothing MIM(Prisons) has ever written promotes hatred of other peoples or mistreatment of peoples because of who they are.
Often, when our mail is censored it is because someone finds it offensive. Therefore, consistent appeals to higher levels of government can work to have the existing laws enforced. But other times the state is behind it. This was the case in our biggest censorship battle of 2022 against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They had system-wide bans on certain materials that we were sending in across the state because they want to prevent peaceful organizing. This is an example where bourgeois democracy is not so liberal, when even talking about a peaceful protest in prisons becomes illegal. And while we face censorship on the outside, those inside face being thrown in torture cells, and violence by staff or other prisoners.
The connection between free speech and association and this ability to protest and organize power is why we prioritize censorship as a campaign. It’s not just because those of us on the outside are being censored, it’s a strategic decision as far as what battles help create the space necessary for the organizing that we need to change the world.
So we encourage comrades to be diligent in fighting censorship, especially of political materials. And we will do our best to support you in those battles.
The state has once again kidnapped the comrade Jose Villarreal (JV) on trumped up charges. After over a decade in the deepest dungeons of Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit, JV was released to the streets in January 2017 following the historic California hunger strikes and the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) between the largest lumpen organizations in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at the time. This is the second time JV has been arrested since eir release. In addition, ey has faced armed raids by the pigs at eir place of residence.
The first arrest following eir release from Pelican Bay was on 2 August 2020 from an incident where JV may have saved someone’s life, but was charged as an accomplice instead. Eir arrest this winter was almost completely fabricated, with no basis in reality. And due to having been a certified member of a “Security Threat Group” (STG) in Pelican Bay ey faces gang enhancements on both sets of charges. Gang enhancements are a way to punish the oppressed for free association with others in their nation.
While the circumstances of the 2020 arrest are suspect, as are any when a revolutionary leader is targeted, the 2022 arrest is based on fabricated testimony rather than an actual incident. This testimony is coming from someone who presented emself as a revolutionary Chican@ nationalist. If the 2020 incident was a setup, then JV diffused it by eir righteous actions in a dangerous situation. Perhaps the state learned its lesson and decided it must fabricate charges in a he-said/she-said case.
In the six years since eir release from CDCR, JV has become most well known for eir radio program Free Aztlán on Poor News Network’s KEXU 96.1 FM in Oakland, California. Over the years JV featured Chican@ authors, researchers, artists and activists of many stripes. They advocated for the “kids in kages”, the migrant field workers, prisoners, and even did a series on the abuse of young people in spiritual movements targetting Chican@ nationalists. Ey was a regular promoter of the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán and the struggles for national liberation around the globe. JV also was apart of Aztlán Press, which published the second edition of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Listen to the CPA(MLM) announcement (starting at 8:00)
On the last episode of Free Aztlán before eir recent arrest, JV hosted the public announcement of the founding of the Communist Party of Aztlán (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). Eir track record of advocating for national liberation, and eir support of the foundation of the Party in particular, is clearly behind the state’s machinations to imprison JV once again on trumped-up charges.
While MIM(Prisons) recognizes CPA(MLM) as a fraternal organization, it is no secret that we promote a cell structure strategy of organization. We’ve received push back on this in the form of calls for a centralized organization, a movement that spans the country, and a center for training and developing scientific leadership. These are some of the things the CPA(MLM) felt that Aztlán needed. They felt a party was needed to combat/compete with the parties that now mislead the masses under bourgeois political lines.
JV’s connections to various projects, and the connections between different chapters of the Republic of Aztlán are public record on the internet. We do not promote this form of organization. We see the hybrid of online and irl (real life) organizing to favor the strengths of the state over the weaknesses of the masses.
Lest we need reminding, the repeated targeting of JV exposes the lengths to which the state will go to suppress even a young emerging movement like CPA(MLM). JV has been tireless in eir work in the Chican@ community to promote positive change. No proletarian court would convict em of a crime. A socialist justice system would uphold JV as the best-case example of what someone can make of emselves after decades in an oppressive, abusive, torturous prison system.
On 10 January 2023, a new legislative session convenes.
Several state representatives have committed to utilizing proposals from Texas prisoners to implement reforms. Rep. T. Meza has stood out with her zeal to end solitary confinement throughout Texas’ prisons and jails. She previously introduced a bill along those lines that didn’t make the floor. However, this session with more support from her colleagues, and with a litany of Texas citizens concerned about this, things look to possibly end differently.
In conjunction with the efforts of state politicians on the 10th of January, supporters of this campaign will be protesting on both sides of the walls. Around the state prisoners are showing their support by hunger striking. People on the outside will protest in Austin at the state Capitol.
Lastly, there continues to be civil lawsuits filed against TDCJ and its practice of indefinite solitary confinement. One of Our comrades has filed suit and that’s been reported on in previous ULK’s.(1) There is also Hanson v. Barnett, CA No. 1:21-cv-629-RP-DH, an extensively detailed complaint filed in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.
We encourage all similarly situated people to file 1983 lawsuits, and if you need advice or assistance the address to Tx Team One’s legal representative is: 113 Stockholm #1A, Brooklyn, NY 1121
UPDATE As we go to press prisoners are wrapping up week 2 of the hunger strike. The TDCJ has verified 72 participants, while supporters say at least twice that number are on strike across the state prison system. In their defense the state also says that the number of prisoners in isolation has decreased from 9,186 in 2007 to 3,172 in 2022.(2) We say that is still too much torture!
Texas Prison Reform, the prisoner organization, gave the state 90 days notice before initiating this latest action in their campaign. In that statement they mirror their demands off the infamous Ashker v. Governor of California case, which settled for some minor reforms in how people are put in the Security Housing Units rather than abolishing the practice altogether. Abolishing torture is a winnable battle, that continues to gain attention and support. Anything less than a complete ban on solitary confinement across Texas prisons and jails is a failure of basic humyn rights.
Revolutionary greetings and Happy New Years to everyone listening to this recording at the Virginia Prison Justice Rally on the 14th day of January, 2023. I am a 46-year-old New Afrikan that has been in prison here in the belly of the beast in Virginia for 27 consecutive years. I am a core organizer along with my comrade to organize Virginia’s Nottoway, Buckingham and Augusta Correctional Facilities due to extreme heat conditions being worsened by climate change. Last checked the petition was at 516 signatures. We need more.
If you are listening to this speech it is now January so the temperatures in non air conditioned facilities is now bearable because we can always add layers of clothes to cope with the chilly weather. During the hot summer months however it is a very different story. A different reality. Because each of these non-air conditioned prisons become so unbearable, it is torturous and is expected to get worse due to global warming. I am currently incarcerated at Dillwyn Correctional Center which has A/C. Or better known as temperature control, but when I was held at Buckingham Correctional Center during the past summer, I experienced firsthand how the record heat waves that have swept the country, have caused the heat and humidity inside the facilities to become so intense that it felt like we were literally being baked in there. Because the heat exacerbates medical conditions and can cause a heat stroke in medically vulnerable prisoners I witness how this crisis had more of a detrimental impact on elderly and medically vulnerable prisoners.
Many are diabetic, have high blood pressure, have heart disease, and are still suffering from the side effects of long Covid, like so many of you out in the free world. The so called free world. Many of us experience labored breathing, we are sweating profusely. Some of us are experiencing blurred vision, increased heart rate, and are having difficulties falling asleep at night we means many are sleep deprived. Many of the administrative mitigation of these effects of extreme heat didn’t work. The bags of extra ice when we did receive it did not work. The small fans sold in the commissary did not work because many people can’t afford them. The extra fans placed in the pod did not work, but did succeed in blowing the hot air around from one place to the other. These ineffective mitigation practices didn’t work because these places by design are virtual death traps. They are overcrowded, have poor sanitation, poor ventilation and poor medical care. Poor meals we are fed and the tap water we are forced to drink are making us sick.
The dominant culture in these prisons is marked by complacency, passivity and fear. Fear of retaliating and fear of being labeled a snitch by prison guards and fellow prisoners for filing grievances and speaking out. So it is not unusual for the bulk prison populations to not sign these petitions no matter how extreme or how deeply inhumane the conditions are. The U.$. supreme court ruled all the way back in 1987 in the case of Turner v Safley that “prison walls do not separate prisoners from the protections of the Constitution.” So despite this dominant culture, the VDOC is prohibited by the Supreme Court from subjecting incarcerated people to conditions that amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Virginia DOC has a history of minimizing the issue of extreme heat inside these prisons, and has led me to believe it is necessary to organize an online petition to raise awareness about this statewide issue among the people, and to build a statewide abolitionist movement to shut these prisons down.
A comrade of mine will be handing out fliers with the QR code that will take you directly to the online petition which you can share and leave a comment. You will also have a QR code that will take you to a second draft of a proposal for a statewide campaign to shutdown non air conditioned prisons. Because the history of the criminal, torturous and exploitative nature of the prisons and the jails, it is going to take a statewide movement of the people and the communities most affected by mass incarceration to force the DOC to shut these modern day slave camps down. We can pressure them to start releasing elderly and medically vulnerable and other incarcerated people for 30 or 40 years for crimes committed in our youth. There will be mass casualties behind these walls and that is because in these last summers deadly heat waves caused by climate change have been becoming more frequent, intense, and as the climate is changing, these non-air conditioned prisons will keep getting hotter and hotter until the inevitable happens.
Thank you for taking the time to listen and if you want to keep up with my reading, prison conditions or political commentary in general, please visit my website at consciousprisoner.wordpress.com. My Twitter page is @justiceforuhuru. My instagram is @justiceforuhururowe