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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 10]
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Hip Hop in the Scopes of the State

Show them as scurrilous and depraved... Have members arrested on marijuana charges. Investigate personal conflicts or animosities between them. Send articles to the newspapers showing their depravity. Use narcotics and free sex to entrap... Obtain specimens of their handwriting. Provoke target groups into rivalries that may result in death. - FBI COINTELPRO tactics documented to be used against political musicians(1)

I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. - Mao Zedong. To Be Attacked by the Enemy Is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing (May 26, 1939)

Public Enemy in the scope

One indication of the revolutionary potential of hip hop is the bourgeois state's reaction to it. Just this summer, police arrested Paradise Gray of X-clan, and the Zulu Nation, which played a big role in shaping hip hop in its earlier years. Gray was arrested while he was filming a demonstration against gentrification. (2) Paralleling some of Tupac's efforts discussed below, Gray is currently working with 1Hood to promote peace among the oppressed nation youth in Pittsburgh, PA. There's nothing the government fears more than for the oppressed to stop killing themselves and each other.

While the popular culture likes to see Reality Rap, now known as Gangsta Rap, as the beginning of the ultimate corruption of hip hop, the truth is that pioneers Ice-T, NWA and Tupac were unabashedly opposed to the state and received a lot of heat for it. Their shows were canceled, their records delayed, their songs were censored and they faced constant surveillance and regular harassment.

While the forms of art that originated in hip hop culture have been greatly co-opted through the corporate media to serve the state itself, the potential threat of a culture that keeps strong roots in the oppressed nations remains. John Potash put out a detailed documentation of the history of the state's use of COINTELPRO against musicians, connecting it to operations against revolutionaries who preceded and often inspired them. He describes how the NYPD formed the first rap unit with COINTELPRO training, and then went on to train other metropolitan cops around the country. His book centers around the life and murder of Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur's step-father was former Black Liberation Army and revolutionary physician, turned prisoner of war, Mutulu Shakur. He was one of a number of influential elders in Tupac's life as he grew up that were part of the Black Power movement. In his meetings with Tupac he says that he pushed Tupac to question and define this Thug Life thing, which they eventually did together in a 26 point code that was accepted by Bloods and Crips (and later others) at the 1992 peace summit in Los Angeles. (3) This led to a major counterintelligence operation targeting those involved, including Mutulu who has been caged in a federal control unit ever since.

Sanyika Shakur, a former Crip leader, was one who was inspired to support these efforts. He was also targeted for isolation in the California prison system where he currently sits (such peacemakers are the so-called "worst of the worst" that fill these torture cells). As he pointed out, the government had reason to be concerned about these efforts to unite Black and Latino youth as the street organizations in South Central were recruiting more young people each year than the four armed forces of the united $tates combined. (4)

John Potash's detailed research into 2pac and other musicians and Black leaders, show clear connections between government black operations and the repression of those who mobilized oppressed people. The primary role that Tupac played in the "East vs. West" feud in the hip hop scene was ironic after his work to unite warring sets in Los Angeles. But Potash paints a picture of state-led manipulation that led Tupac to play into their plans.

Potash traces the use of sex and drugs to manipulate both activists and musicians as described in the FBI document quoted above. The sexual assault charges brought against Tupac were one example of this. (5) Death Row Records, who he paints as an FBI front, kept 2pac swimming in alcohol and weed, like the FBI did to his mother when he was a kid using a drug dealer who got close to her. Death Row even turned Dr. Dre, who once rapped "yo I don't smoke weed or sess cause it's known to give a brother brain damage", into a giant weed ad with his debut solo album, "The Chronic." In the decade that followed, regular marijuana use increased significantly among Black and Latino youth, with greater disabling addiction problems, perhaps do to increased potency of the drug. (6) Today, weed and alcohol are constantly praised by rappers.

In his last days, Pac was sober, reading Mao and talking about uniting Blacks across the country. He was soon killed and no one was charged with the murder even though he was being closely watched by multiple state agencies at the time, just as Biggie was at the time of his death.

A big lesson to take from "The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders" is that the government has a strategy for neutralizing potential leaders that they use over and over. To counter this, activists need to be aware of the strategies and develop strategies to counter them. As an individual Tupac was easily manipulated, but even a disciplined party like the Black Panthers was manipulated into a similar East vs. West coast division that could have been avoided. In both cases, the FBI took advantage of internal contradictions among the people involved. So, while studying FBI tactics is a useful way to defend ourselves, more importantly we must put politics in command to make a movement that is difficult to knock off course.

notes: (1) Potash, John. The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders. Progressive Left Press, Baltimore. 1997. p.56. (available from AK Press)
(2) http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/first-wise-intelligent-now-hip-hop-pioneer-paradise-of-x-clan-get-arrested-on-trumped-up-charges/
(3) Potash. p. 63.
(4) Shakur, Sanyika. Monster. Grove Press, New York. 1993.
(5) see Communist Opinion on the Kobe Bryant Case for more on the ridiculousness of such lynching campaigns
(6) Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 291 No. 17, May 5, 2004.

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[Civil Liberties] [Michigan]
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Keep your mouth shut and avoid the ever-expanding exceptions to Miranda

Inside prison I'm constantly reading cases where the defendants lose because they couldn't keep their big fuckin' mouths shut, either before or after the much-vaunted Miranda warning. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966).

Based on the 5th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, Miranda extends our well-known, seemingly little-used, right to remain silent, as in "I'll take the fifth," outside the courtroom. In other words, ya'l can't be compeled to incriminate yourselves during police investigations in which "your freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way..." Id. at 467. This used to be interpreted by the courts to mean that upon arrest you must be given the Miranda warning, or else anything you said, or resulted from what you said, must be suppressed, that is none of your unwarned statements, or evidence resulting from them, can be used against you at trial.

However, not so much anymore. Back in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court radically limited Miranda when it held that the failure by police to give Miranda warnings does not require suppression of the physical fruits of an arrested suspect's unwarned but voluntary statements. It seems, the dummy, errr suspect, voluntarily told the police the gun they found was his before the warning and his conviction stands. United States v Patane, 542 US 630 (2004); also, Hibel v Sixth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 542 US 960 (2004) (defendant's conviction for refusal to identify self did not violate his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination).

That ain't all folks, as the Supremes have been chipping away at Miranda for years, mostly by narrowing the definition of what constitutes an arrest or being in custody. Maybe it's just me, but when I'm surrounded by armed thugs I just know I'm under arrest and in custody! Unfortunately, that ain't necessarily how the U.S. Supreme Court sees it, as it has repeatedly found that not every violation of Miranda requires suppression of the evidence. See Harris v New York, 401 US 222 (1971); New York Quarles, 467 US 649 (1984); and Oregon v Elstad, 470 US 298 (1985). This trend was emphasized when the court held that a California state appellate court did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law (i.e. Miranda) by finding non-custodial status, given the debatability of status. Yarborough v Alvardo, 541 US 652 (2004); Cf., Fellers v United States, 540 US 519 (2003) (police violated 6th Amendment by deliberately eliciting information from defendant, during post-indictment visit to his home to arrest him, absent counsel or waiver of counsel, regardless of whether officers' conduct constituted an "interrogation"); Missouri v Seibert, 542 US 600 (2004) (Miranda warnings given mid-interrogation, after defendant gave unwarned confession, were ineffective, and thus confession repeated after warnings were given was inadmissible at trial.)

No doubt, it is a "settled principle" that "the police have the right to request citizens to answer voluntarily questions concerning unsolved crimes," but "they have no right to compel them to answer." Davis v Mississippi, 394 US 721, 727, n. 6 (1969). Therefore, ya'll have to quit volunteering to incriminate yourselves and others. Also, you tattletales (i.e., snitches, informants, etc.) should know that when you do incriminate others to get out of your shit, then you more often than not incriminate yourself. It al boils down to this: When encountering the police, or any other armed terrorist enforcers of the state, just shut the fuck up.

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Virginia]
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Censorship in Virginia=Political Repression

At this point the game here has been to label any group or media critical of government policies/practices as a 'security threat' or Security Threat Group(ie. gang) affiliated. Also this is the trend of 'interpreting' all media and groups of oppressed nationalities. Essentially it boils down to political, cultural and racial censorship, dressed up as 'security' concerns. This is a remote prison staffed by 98% rural socially (race) segregated Appalachian white people, who project and harbor deep-set racist stereotypes and repressive instincts. They've even taken prisoners' Black history reference books labeling them STG material. Hell, I just had Harry Haywood's book "Black Bolshevik" rejected and referred to the Publication Review Committee as STG related. They label any material on the Black Panther Party (BPP) as STG material and the BPP as an STG, although the BPP has not existed since 1982.

You should be aware that during February 2006, FBI director Robert Mueller went before a Senate subcommittee called a "threat assessment program." The professed object of which was to identify, disrupt and develop profiles on prisoners and prisoner groups who aspire to "radicalize" other prisoners and thus result in violence upon the return of such radicalized prisoners to society. The same 'violent' pretext and stereotype always used by the government to repress political activism and consciousness raising. This program was said to be coordinated between the FBI and various prisons and DOCs, both federal and state.


MIM adds: Not only is the Black Panther Party labeled a Security Threat Group, but recent study questions on idealism vs. materialism, discussing Mao's On Contradiction were also considered to promote STGs, terrorism and a list of other charges.

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[Civil Liberties] [International Connections]
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An informal renouncement of citizenship

As more reports of abuse surface, and more leaks occur, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Bush regime is and has been engaging in a wide range of war crimes and human rights abuses throughout the world. From the mass killing of Afghani and Iraqi civilians and the intentional destruction of entire cities like Faluja to the use of secret CIA-run prisons and widespread use of illegal tactics such as mass arrests, indefinite detention without access to the courts, kidnapping, torture and assassination, the heartless thugs in Washington have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to achieve their unrealistic goals and will not be restrained by the U.S. Constitution or International Law - much less human compassion or morality. Bush has said it himself: "My job is to protect the American people and I will do everything in my power to do just that." My question is: Who will protect the world from us?

I say "us" when referring to the people of this nation because I was born here. I'm a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent and, like many Mexicans residing north of the fictious border, I straddle two cultures. On one hand, I feel fortunate for the fact that I enjoy more freedoms and a better standard of living than my compatriots to the south; on the other hand, I understand quite well how my liberties and the great wealth of America are directly tied to the oppression and poverty of the Third World.

I say "us" because even though it wasn't so long ago that America waged a war of aggression against Mexico and stole more than half of its national territory, and even though I refuse to fully assimilate into white society and struggle daily against racism and the preposterous idea that I'm a foreigner in my own land, I am part of this nation. I mean, I pay taxes and take back what I can in the form of public services, health care, social development, etc. Many of my family members and loved ones also live here and greatly benefit from being American citizens. Some have even joined the military and, as I write, are fighting for this country overseas.

I say "us" because even though I don't take part in the electoral system, and even though I don't know anyone who voted for Bush, like it or not he is the President and his government is running the show. As far as the world is concerned, Bush was "elected" (and "re-elected") by a majority of Americans; he's the leader we "chose." I'm personally ashamed to call this theocratic fascist my "leader" — just as I imagine a person of conscience living in Germany during Hitler's reign would have been ashamed to claim the Fuhrer as his or her leader - but, hey, the truth is the truth, right?

I say "us" because even though I'm firmly against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even though I'm sickened by everything this country is doing in the Mid-East and throughout the world, it's apparent that those affected most by American atrocities rarely distinguish between someone like me and, say, someone like my relatives (who joined the military prior to 9/11 in the hopes of getting money for college but are now taking part in a shameful war). What Arabs and other Muslims see on their television screens or in the streets of Baghdad or Ramadi is American soldiers of all races and ethnicities. They, like many others inside and outside the U.S., suck up the whole melting pot theory and view us as one people.

I say "us" because even though I strongly object to capitalism and neo-liberalism and globalization, and even though it strikes a chord deep in my heart when I see what American corporations and trade policies and structural loans do to poor people in Latin America and Africa and Asia, I don't exactly refuse the benefits that come my way.

I say "us" because I know that statistically-speaking it's not a question of IF but WHEN the enemies of this nation will strike again. Intelligence officials - who have proven not to be so intelligent - have to be able to "connect the dots" 100% of the time in order to prevent another attack, and that's impossible. Numerical odds dictate that one day soon we're going to wake up like we did on September 11, 2001, and we're going to discover that somebody who hates us with a passion has managed to get their hands on a nuclear or biological weapon. Tens-of-thousands of ordinary people - folks like me and you and the old lady next door - will take the brunt of the attack while our so-called leaders - folks like Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld, the true architects of everything that's going on right now - will be safe and secure in some underground bunker.

I say "us" because I'm beginning to realize something: I'm part of this nation, part of this law of supply and demand, part of this constant "need" for more land, more resources, more power and influence. And this isn't just some abstract or theoretical concept. Bush had it right when he arrogantly declared that "people are either with us or against us." In a struggle like this, an unending war with dire consequences for all of humanity, one must choose sides. You can't be a friend of the exploited and oppressed and, at the same time, a friend of the exploiter and oppressor. You can't support or be a part of the war machines and, at the same time, support or be a part of those crushed by that machine.

I say "us" but the more I think about it, and the more death and destruction I see carried out in my name, the more I realize that I don't want to be American if being American means contributing to or being complicit in any form of exploitation or murder.

I say "us" but I should be saying "them" because, from this day forward, I renounce this nation and forever waive any rights or benefits as a U.S. citizen. In fact, I am Mexican and I didn't cross the border; it crossed me. Time can't change that fact - just as it can't change the fact that my people have the memory of an elephant. One day, perhaps when America is most terrorized and vulnerable, we will rise up and take back what is rightfully ours. We will reject this people-eating, soul-crushing system and demand our freedom and dignity - and if they don't give it to us we'll take it! On that day we will say to the American people: "You're either with us or them." And to everyone else we'll say: Join our cause. Help us destroy this evil empire and, afterwards, build a free and just society - not just for Mexicans but everyone.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right on in renouncing his/her stake in the imperialist country. We call it committing class/nation/gender suicide. Rather than giving up class/nation/gender privilege that comes automatically to citizens of Amerika, we call on people to use those privileges to the advantage of the struggle against imperialism.

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution] [Washington] [Oregon]
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MIM United Front lit banned on 2nd Amendment

MIM recently sent free issues of our magazine MIM Theory 14: United Front to many of our comrades behind bars. The response by prisoncrats was widespread censorship, that should be of concern to everyone from the National Rifle Assocation (NRA) to New Afrikan Liberationists.

The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution sent us a stack of violation notices and a comrade in Oregon State Penitentiary forwarded us a copy of a violation notice that they never sent to us themselves, despite regulations requiring them to notify both the sender and the intended recipient. All of these censored MT14 complaining about page 92 and 96 of the Black Panther Party Reprints section of the magazine. On page 92, Field Marshall Don Cox says, "more and more gun control legislation, the guise under which the people are being unarmed, is being passed every day to take away the democratic right to bear arms, which in turn dehumanizes you by preventing you from exercising your human right to self-defense." While most NRA supporters will balk at the Panthers efforts to unite the oppressed for self-determination, if they want to protect the right to express one's opinions on the right to bear arms and self-defense they should support MIM in this case.

The main article on page 96 is "Message to Revolutionary Women" from Candi Robinson, which stresses the inherent unity of Black people in revolutionary struggle, while acknowledging the need for Black wimmin in the movement to educate Black men about gender inequality, among other things. The prisoncrats did not specify which part of either of these articles was deemed "inflammatory material," the reason given for its censorship.

Washington State has simultaneously issued an across the state ban of MT14, as well as MIM Notes 328, 330 and 331. Despite a US District Court ruling in 1999 that disallowed the WA Department of Corrections (DOC) from an across the board ban of MIM publications based on our declared purpose of "struggl[ing to] end oppression by build[ing] public opinion to seize power through armed struggle," they have blocked all four of these publications from entering WA prisons without providing any specific justifications. The only justification given by authorities at Stafford Creek Correctional Facility is WA DOC 450-100, which includes over 30 different reasons for which Incoming Mail can be rejected.

One comrade in Washington did write us to tell us his MIM literature had been censored, with the reason give that it "advocates armed violent struggle against authority." This misrepresents MIM to imply that we advocate that prisoners use violence against Correctional Officers (COs). On the contrary we expressly discourage prisoners from getting into physical confrontations with anyone. We have a long history of comrades behind bars who have stopped getting in trouble for violence after finding more effective means of self-defense through legal battles and public opinion building.

The idea that MIM can be censored because we recognize the need for armed struggle by the oppressed to liberate themselves from imperialism is illegal despite regular attempts by prisoncrats to do so. According to Procunier v. Martinez, the Supreme Court upholds the right of prisoners to receive mail, regardless of the prison official's opinion of the mail content, as long as there are no legitimate restrictions from the prison related to correctional purposes. Our belief in the need to seize power through armed struggle is a belief that we share with Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers of the United States government.

Just prior to going to print, a comrade in Washington State Penitentiary sent us a Mail Restriction Notice for MT14 and the three MIM Notes issues that did state the reason for censorship as being "Advocates armed/violent struggle against authority" and goes on to cite pages 80 and 94. Curiously, neither of these pages contains even a discussion of armed struggle. The first is our statement "MIM on Prisons & Prisoners", which our readers will be familiar with. It merely explains why we oppose the current prison system, how we would change it and the role of prisoners in the larger anti-imperialist struggle. Page 94 is an interview with David Hilliard explaining the ideology of the Black Panther Party. As far as we can tell, these pages were chosen arbitrarily, but we are currently investigating a more thorough explanation in order to combat these instances of censorship.

These instances of censorship are not isolated incidents, but part of a long history of struggle with various departments of the criminal injustice system. Regardless of their reasoning for singling out certain pages to justify censorship, just as u$ court rulings do not allow the censorship of Abraham Lincoln for his statements on the importance of overthrowing the state, they do not allow the censorship of our materials because someone disagrees with our beliefs. We welcome anyone who agrees with us on this point to join us in our struggle against censorship in Oregon and Washington prisons.

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