The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike]
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Yasiin Bey force-fed like a Guantanamo prisoner

yasiin bey force fed crying
Click the image above to watch/download the video of Yasiin Bey being forcefed.

Today prisoners across California are beginning round 3 of their strike against Security Housing Unit torture. It is fitting that a video has been circulating today featuring Yasiin Bey (rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def) undergoing the same force-feeding procedure that U.$. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been facing for months, and that California prisoners will likely be facing in the near future.

Hats off to Bey for being willing to do this to expose the torture that the United $tates is putting people through every day.

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Abuse] [New Jersey State Prison] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 33]
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Protest at New Jersey State Prison

Prisoners at New Jersey State Prison, the only maximum security facility in the state, staged a non-violent protest June 6 through 8, 2013. Initially, prisoners on the West Compound, the older part of the prison, and one of the oldest in the nation, functioning since 1830, refused to go to the mess hall for the entire day. Despite some lack of cooperation at the breakfast movement, the mess hall finally remained empty at dinner time. The next two days the modern North and South compounds of the prison joined in the protest, bringing the institution to a complete standstill.

The protest came as a consequence of several factors. First was the issue of collective punishment. The prison administrator issued an official memorandum in which he threatened to suspend recreation and privileges to entire wings of any individual prisoner who had committed a serious offense (a common occurrence on a prison that houses close to 2000 people).

Ancillary issues involved the harassment of people at the central rotunda, a place of obligatory pass for any activities, including meals, recreation, education and religious programs. The officers, with little supervision, or perhaps encouraged by supervisors, overtly harass inmates, many times without probable cause, as demanded by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of New Jersey, and affirmed by the 10A Code that regulates prisons in the state. Prisoners are stripped searched at the mere whim of any guard. Made up charges that lead to lock-up time are usually the result of such harassment.

The last issue that weighed on the decision to stage a non-violent protest relates to the abusive language and arbitrary searches conducted by a second shift sergeant. Sometimes, the results are outright sad and curious, i.e., the same shank found in several cells by the same sergeant.

In conclusion petty management practices, abuse of power by supervisors, lack of concern by the administrator and superintendent (supervision from an Ivory Tower), collective punishment, and indiscriminate use of lock-up as an instrument of control, led the prison community to unite as one to express their concerns.

It is important to highlight that the prison, at any given time, keeps an estimated 750 inmates on closed custody units such as 1-Left lock-up, Ad-Seg, MCU (Management Control Unit), and P.C. (Protective Custody) — a full 38% of the prison population. More than one in three prisoners are kept in solitary confinement.

Although nothing has changed as of the writing of this report, it is important to highlight that the level of unity achieved across nations and groups, the effective organization of the protest, and the fearful response by the state demonstrate the power of non-violent resistance in a corrections environment. During the demonstration the prison was militarized by SAG, the special operations response team of the DOC, hundreds of officers were summoned to work, and all administration had to report to work. It is presumable that the cost of overtime hours, and the emotional cost of an oppressive power challenged by the masses will affect the way in which future decisions are made by the administration. A group of prisoners were transferred to other facilities across the state, some others placed in solitary confinement. As it usually happens, most were not organizers of the protest.

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[Hunger Strike] [North Kern State Prison] [California]
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Spreading News About Hunger Strike

I've been siting here in North Kern State Prison for the last 3 months waiting to see my counselor so I could get cleared for transfer to my next place of confinement. We don't get much action or anything here, reading material is always hard to come by. But the other day I got the chance to read your Under Lock & Key newspaper and I must admit I liked it, a lot!

Through the grapevine I heard about what was planned for July 8th, 2013, but to be real no one knew if it was true or not. Until reading your newspaper it was just a rumor, and today we know it's not, thanks a lot for the information.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It may seem like information about the hunger strike in California was widely available to prisoners based on the high number of participants, but this letter demonstrates the slow and difficult work involved in building such an action. Each pod, or sometimes each cell, is isolated from all others, and getting information about what's going on depends on the whims of the censors at each prison, who might get transferred, and what outside contacts people have. This is one reason we stress the importance of everyone getting their own subscription to Under Lock & Key. You never know when you will be isolated from your comrades, but as long as you can receive mail you will at least get some news from ULK. In addition, the more people subscribed, the more likely that one or two copies of the newsletter will make it past the censors in any prison.

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[Organizing] [United Struggle from Within] [Hunger Strike] [Two Rivers Correctional Institution] [Oregon]
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Food Strike Spreads to Oregon

In mid June of this year my cell block (unit 7) at TRCI conducted a food strike and a canteen strike. We agreed that we would not come out of our cells during meal times for 4 days. Also we agreed not to purchase canteen for one month since they use the profits for themselves in a lot of ways and as you know, the best way to slay Goliath is to hit their pockets. We were contesting a few different things. For one, this is the only prison in Oregon that will not allow group photos and we have to wear jeans, long sleeve blue shirt (no sunglasses or hats!) All of the other joints you can have 4 people in the photo, shirts off, in shorts, with sunglasses and a hat on if you so desire! For two, they were trying to change our TV program package to very basic cable. There was a couple other reasons we decided to demonstrate also, but I'll pass on that for now.

Anyway, the food strike went on for 4 days and the whole unit minus some old 72 year old guy participated.

The authorities were pissed! Almost one month later they came and snatched me and 5 other guys off the unit and threw us in the dungeon under the guise of being "key" shot callers in the food strike.

Here I sit with the max sanctions, 180 days in the hole, 24 days loss of privileges upon release from seg and a $200 disciplinary fine. All of their "evidence" results from confidential informants. Of course I am appealing, but their appeal process is a joke. However, I aim to take it to court as soon as my appeal is denied.

I have spread and continue to the word about your publication/organization and my comrades and I are always spreading information to help hinder the very ones who oppress us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are pleased to hear reports like this one about prisoners coming together to fight for common goals. And we do not know the full story of the demands these protesters put forward, but we will point out that the photo and TV situation described above is not high on the list of demands from the anti-imperialist movement. These problems are neither torture nor repressive towards political organizing and education, and those are the primary areas of our focus for protests. While it is important to develop demands that will unite a broad group of prisoners, we do not want to water down the goals of our movement to the extent that these demands lose their value. We work towards this unity of goals and prisoners through the United Front for Peace in Prisons and we look forward to working with these comrades in Oregon on future protests.

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