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[Black Lives Matter] [Civil Liberties] [Legal] [New Afrika] [National Oppression]
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Do Black Lives Really Matter?

Never Forget Tulsa - 21 June 1921

This question is not a matter of ancillary importance. Why? Because it seems as if after George Floyd was sadistically and undoubtedly murdered on camera for all to see by a person who was employed as a police officer supposedly standing under the motto of serve and protect (let them tell it), all of a sudden white America was finally awakened after 400 years of conveniently sleeping under the blanket of “better them than me.” (For the record of course “we know all white people are not racist”. Yeah, we know that to be a statement of gospel.)

I myself predicted seriously, when Rodney King (R.I.P) was beaten by obvious racist cops like a pair of weathered drums in Tommy Lee’s garage, that change would somehow slip through the cracks of injustice in the early nineties. However, that was daycare in comparison with what occurred on the unfortunate day of 21 June 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma after a Black shoe shiner was arrested for assaulting a white girl in an elevator. The Publisher of the local paper, eager to win a circulation war published a front page headline screaming, “To Lynch Negro Tonight.”

It was indeed a familiar occurrence for a Black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in the Deep South era. Rewind and fast forward to 21 June 1921 after the paper hit the streets an angry white mob began to gather outside of the courthouse where the Black shoe shiner (Dick Rowland) was being held (Rowland would be later released after the women refused to press charges). That alone reeks of rel-a-tion-ship. Some Blacks from the Tulsa neighborhoods of Greenwood – some were recently discharged war vets – began to descend upon the courthouse with the objective of saving Rowland from being lynched. Long story short, shots were fired and total chaos broke out. As a result over 12,000 whites were fully backed by the white police force. In all, 300 black lives were taken in vain, 1,200 homes burned to the ground and not a single (white) person arrested or ever held accountable for these untimely deaths of Black men, women and kids. To sugar coat the incident it was labeled a riot but in realty is was no more no less than ethnic cleansing genocide carried out on American soil. So do Black Live Really Matter in the eyes of white America?

A couple of more Black lives in question, two of the greatest leaders to ever walk the earth, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mr. Malcolm X. At the time of their tragic assassination FBI agents were indeed on the scene under the orders of racist FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as if they where known terrorists. J. Edgar Hoover was said to express paranoid thinking that Martin Luther King would one day turn radical and his followers would no longer turn the other cheek to the nasty side of injustice and racism. Even though up until his fatal demise he showed not the slightest hint of radicalism. Malcolm X had continuously complained to law enforcement that his life was in danger and he often requested a gun permit, which was apparently never granted.

Now the very thing that initiated this question/article in my head as I sit behind enemy lines in a cell for allegedly selling crack cocaine that conveniently was found behind a pay phone on the South Side of Dallas, Texas: Here I’ve remained for the last 20 years as if I murdered the President. Make no mistake I am not miserable nor bitter as I continue to seek justice in my case. Yeah, I was found not guilty of the exact same indictment and found guilty of the exact same offense. This is overtly obvious Double Jeopardy under the 5th Amendment. It does take 20 years for the courts to grasp this simple and clear vital error which was made purposely to get a conviction due to the fact that I refused to cop-out to a charge I was totally innocent of.

So I have educated myself since I have been incarcerated and there is no way of avoidance on behalf of the courts. Every so called law enforcement affiliate that I have relayed this information to has turned a blind eye to my situation so as of now I am in a lawless environment and failure is not an option as the system attempts to sweep me under the rug so to speak to cover their criminal activity. Now tell me, do Black Lives Really Matter?


MIM(Prisons) adds: Studying Black history like Tulsa, and current events in Palestine, the connections are clear. While the imperialists haven’t dropped any bombs on New Afrika in a few decades now, the low intensity warfare and genocide continues here in the United $tates. It is fueled by white Amerikans paranoid delusions make them fear that the oppressed might treat them as bad as they have treated the oppressed. The fact is that the Amerikan project is further along than the I$raeli project, and pacification is in full effect. But the contradictions remain, and cannot be resolved without ending imperialism. The oppressed will not see justice until then.

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[Black Lives Matter] [Principal Contradiction] [National Liberation] [Revolutionary History] [National Oppression] [Political Repression]
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Stripping Black History From Prisons

“What makes you think you DESERVE to celebrate Black History Month”- SIS Officer at USP Tucson

These were the words that were spoken to me a few years ago, here at United States Penitentiary - Tucson, shortly before I was illegally put in the SHU (Special Housing Unit) for 40 days.

Before this incident, i was the Secretary of the Black History Month Committee here for three consecutive years, and had more experience in the committee than anyone else over the last five years. But on this particular year, as I reflect back on this, the Education Department did absolutely nothing for us in preparing for Black History Month. We were promised the resources, but as we worked from November of the previous year to February of that next year, we found that when it was time to promote Black History Month, there was nothing set aside for us to carry out any of the activities promised.

We had nothing.

I am writing this now, in February 2024, and I am again at the realization that USP Tucson, from the Warden on down, refuses to allow us to celebrate our history. Not one memo, not one event, nothing is scheduled to celebrate our history, and I can’t help but reflect back to that day where a Caucasian SIS officer (Special Investigative Services) had the audacity to tell me, to my face, “What makes you think you DESERVE to celebrate Black History Month”?

What we are seeing is a stripping not only of Black History, but of identity as well. Prisons are mandated to help rehabilitate people, and one way to do that is to reinforce their identity. There is a certain level of pride that each individual gets when he or she knows that they are part of a greater group of people. I speak as an African American, but this also applies to every other nationality, from Native Americans to Mexican Americans to even Caucasians. When prisons strip us of an identity, it makes them similar to how slaves were treated in our American history.

The slaves brought to America came with nothing, and were systematically stripped of everything they once were, and degraded to a level of inhumanity that surely is an abomination to God. Has much changed in 2024, when prisons continue to practice slave tactics?

In that year we didn’t have Black History Month, I was upset at this, and began to do what I always do… write. I wrote essays about how staff deliberately sabotaged Black History Month, and intended to mail them to the outside world.

But a Caucasian staff member in Education read my works, and refused to allow me to have them back, after I had printed them. She called them “inappropriate.” I questioned her as to why I cannot have my works, which actually I have a right to have.

Her first answer was, “Well, I was with (the staff member), and you don’t know what you’re talking about”-

Wait! I am the SECRETARY of the Black History Month Committee!! I keep ALL the notes! How is this Caucasian woman going to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about?? At this point, I was already getting angry at how I am being challenged of my First Amendment right about MY history.

Her second excuse was that I can’t have it back because I made multiple copies. This too, was bogus, because even though the general body of the letter was the same, it was very clear at the top of each copy who I was sending it to. Her argument was based on that you could not make exact, identical copies at the same time – I had every right to make three copies if they are going to three different entities.

Her third argument was, “If you want to write a grievance, you can get a BP”. This also was a lie, and what she now was doing was curbing my right to the First Amendment, shifting me to use a VERY flawed grievance procedure. What she was doing was quite illegal.

So, upset, I went back and wrote a new essay, “Is (staff member) Breaking The Law?”. I used Federal Bureau of Prisons policies, legal cases and other resources to prove, without a doubt, that this Caucasian officer was intentionally blocking me from sending these letters out.

When she read my essay, she called for backup, and the SIS officer came, took me out to the hallway and threatened to put me in the SHU (Special Housing Unit). He said, “I know how to play this game”, and then, as I tried to make my case, he said the quote I started this essay with.

My answer to this Caucasian man… “I don’t think a white man can tell a Black man, who has been the Secretary of the Black History Month Committee the last three years anything about his history”.

To this man, and to many Caucasian officers here at USP Tucson, we don’t “deserve” to celebrate our history; we don’t “deserve” to have an identity. Yet, they are quick to take vacation on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday.

The last several years here at USP Tucson, the Warden has blocked attempts for us to celebrate our history. Even now, as we came off a malicious and retaliatory 36-day lockdown, after refusing to give us stamps to mail our loved ones, after filthy showers, after feeding us spoiled peanut butter, after limiting our phone calls to a single five minute call a day, after at least three deaths due to medical neglect, and as many homicides – staff here at USP Tucson will not relent in their treatment of human beings in this prison.

It’s not just Black History they are stripping from us . . . it’s humanity they are stripping from everyone. When prisons refuse to acknowledge the captives as human beings, when they ignore the simple basics of human kindness, when they condone illegal acts done by staff, and do nothing about it, they have transported the entire environment backwards two hundred years.

It’s funny, that incident with the Caucasian officer in Education and the SIS officer happened, as I write this, about 5 years ago… those officers still work here. They were never punished in any shape or form for their prejudiced views. I however, was put in the SHU for 40 days, then found guilty of a bogus charge. It took me at least six months to appeal to eventually have that charge expunged, based off simple information that, if the Caucasian Disciplinary Officer had read, she would have thrown the charge out. But after my appeal to her during my hearing, she said to me:

“I just don’t believe she would lie to me”.

So, because I’m Black, and a prisoner, I lose the argument simply because my opponent is a Caucasian female that is a staff member. My level of equality as a human being is stripped, because my status as an prisoner is inferior.

We won’t celebrate Black History Month here at USP Tucson, because staff apparently don’t believe we “deserve” it. So, I’ll celebrate it for everyone here, and refuse to let this prison strip me of my humanity. That makes them less of a human than me.


MIM(Prisons) responds:Understanding history is about understanding where we came from and where we are going. This is the real power of history that the oppressor has tried to keep from the oppressed for hundreds of years. The system is happy to promote an identity for prisoners – one of people who are not deserving, of people with less rights, of people who are less intelligent. There are many identities we can take on, positive and negative. We do not promote a “white identity” because that is the identity of an oppressor. As communists we identify with the Third World proletariat – that is the revolutionary class of people under imperialism that offers solutions and a path from oppression.

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[Revolutionary History] [Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [National Oppression] [Security] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 84]
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Book Review: Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear book cover
Tip of the Spear Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt
Orisanmi Burton (Author)
University of California Press
October 2023

“without understanding carceral spaces as zones of undeclared domestic war, zones that are inextricably linked to imperial and officially acknowledged wars abroad, we cannot fully understand how and why the U.S. became the global leader of incarceration that it is today.” (1)

Tip of the Spear is the story of the organization and flourishing of resistance to American imperialism as it developed in the New York state prison system in the 1960s and 1970s, including the time well before the four days of Attica in 1971. Professor of anthropology Orisanmi Burton does many things in this book, a lot of which we’ll only be able to mention briefly or not at all, but MIM(Prisons) has already sent out many copies of this book and is prepared to send out many more to enable further study and discussion of Burton’s very worthy research and ideas.

We are asking our readers to send their own feedback on this book, to write up their own local histories or stories applying the framework below, and to popularize this understanding of U.$. prisons as part of the imperialist war on the oppressed peoples of the world that we must unite against.

Prisons are War

Burton begins his investigation with George Jackson’s observation that Black people “were defeated in a war and are now captives, slaves or actually that we inherited a neoslave existence.” (2) Prison conditions don’t originate in the law or in ideas but in the historical fact of defeat in a war that still continues.

But what kind of war is it? One side surrounds the other and forces it to submit daily, the way that an army laying siege to a city tries to wear down the resistance of the population. These sieges include not just starving prisoners of food but of social life, education, and culture. In maintaining its rule the state uses the tools of counterinsurgency to split the revolutionary ranks, co-opt the cause and re-establish its rule on a more secure level. On the other side, the prisoners have themselves, their ability to unite and organize in secret, and their willingness to sacrifice for the cause – the attributes of a guerrilla army. (3)

prisons are war

Burton spends an entire chapter, “Hidden War,” laying out the strategies the state pursued when its naked brutality failed to prevent prisoner organization and rebellion. After the smoke cleared at Attica and wardens, politicians and prison academics had a chance to catch their breath, they settled on four strategies to prevent another Attica from happening: (4)

One, prisons were expanded across the state, so that density was reduced and prisoner organizing could be more effectively disrupted. If a prisoner emerged as a leader, they could be sent to any number of hellholes upstate surrounded by new people and have to start the process all over again. The longer and more intense the game of Solitaire the state played with them, the better. We see this strategy being applied to USW comrades across the country to this day.

Prisons were also superficially humanized, the introduction of small, contingent privileges to encourage division and hierarchy among prisoners, dull the painful edge of incarceration somewhat, and dangle hope. Many prisoners saw through it, and Burton makes the point that the brief periods of rebellion had provided the only real human moments most prisoners had experienced during their time inside. For example, Attica survivor, John “Dacajeweiah” Hill described meeting a weeping prisoner in D yard during the rebellion who was looking up at the stars for the first time in 23 years. (5) Burton sums this up: “the autonomous zones created by militant action… had thus far proven the only means by which Attica’s oppressive atmosphere was substantially ameliorated.”

Diversification went hand in hand with expansion, where a wide range of prison experiences were created across the system. Prisons like Green Haven allowed prisoners to smoke weed and bring food back to their cells, and permitted activities like radical lectures from outsiders. At the same time, other prisons were going on permanent lockdowns and control units were in development.

And finally, programmification presented a way for prisoners to be kept busy, for outsiders (maybe even former critics of the prison system) to be co-opted and brought into agreement with prison officials, and provide free labor to keep the system stable by giving prisoners another small privilege to look forward to. To this day, New York, as well as California and other states, require prisoners who are not in a control unit to program.

All of this was occurring in the shadow of the fact that the state had demonstrated it would deploy indiscriminate violence, even sacrificing its own employees as it had at Attica, to restore order. The classic carrot-and-stick dynamic of counterinsurgency was operating at full force.

Before Attica: Tombs, Branch Queens, Auburn

Burton discusses Attica, but doesn’t make it the exclusive focus of his book, as it has already been written about and discussed elsewhere. He brings into the discussion prison rebellions prior to Attica that laid the groundwork, involved many of the same people, and demonstrated the character of the rebellions overall.

The first was at Tombs, or the Manhattan House of Detention, where prisoners took hostages and issued demands in the New York Times, denouncing pretrial detention that kept men in limbo for months or years, overcrowding, and racist brutality from guards. Once the demands were published, the hostages were released. Eighty corrections officers stormed the facility with blunt weapons and body armor and restored order, and after the rebellion two thirds of the prisoners were transferred elsewhere to break up organizations, like the Inmate Liberation Front, that had grown out of Tombs and supported its resistance. (6) Afterwards, the warden made improvements and took credit for them. This combination of furious outburst, violent response and conciliatory reform would repeat itself.

Next Branch Queens erupted, where the Panther 21 had recently been incarcerated. Prisoners freed them, hung a Pan-Afrikan flag out of a window, took hostages and demanded fair bail hearings be held in the prison yard or the hostages would be executed. The bail hearing actually happened and some of the prisoners who had been in prison for a year for possibly stealing something were able to walk out. The state won the battle here by promising clemency if the hostages were released, which split the prisoners and led to the end of the rebellion. Kuwasi Balagoon, who would later join the Black Liberation Army, was active in the organization of the rebellion and learned a lot from his experiences seeing the rebellion and the repression that followed after the state promised clemency. (7)

At Auburn Correctional Facility on November 4th, Black prisoners rebelled and seized hostages for eight hours. Earlier, fifteen Black prisoners had been punished and moved to solitary for calling for a day off work to celebrate Black Solidarity Day. After the restoration of order, more prisoners were shipped away and the remainder were subject to reprisals from the guards.

In each case, prisoners formed their own organizations, took control, made demands and also started building new structures to run the prison for their own benefit – even in rebellions that lasted only a few hours. After order was restored, the state took every opportunity to crush the spirits and bodies of those who had participated. All of this would repeat on a much larger scale at Attica.

Attica and Paris: Two Communes

Burton acknowledges throughout the book a tension that is familiar to many of ULK’s readers: reform versus revolution. He sees both in the prison movement of the 1960s and 1970s in New York, with some prisoners demanding bail reform and better food and others demanding an end to the system that creates prisons in the first place. But in telling the story of Attica and the revolts that preceded it he emphasizes two things: the ways reforms were demanded (not by petitions but by organized force) and the existence of demands that would have led to the end of prisons as we know them. On Attica itself, he writes that the rebellion demanded not just better food and less crowded cells but the “emergence of new modes of social life not predicated on enclosure, extraction, domination or dehumanization.” (8) In these new modes of social life, Burton identifies sexual freedom and care among prisoners emerging as a nascent challenge to traditional prison masculinity.

Attica began as a spontaneous attack on a particularly racist and brutal guard, and led to a riot all over the facility that led to the state completely losing control for four days starting on September 9th, 1971. Hostages were again taken, and demands ranging from better food to the right to learn a trade and join a union issued to the press. Prisoners began self-organizing rapidly, based on the past experiences of many Attica prisoners in previous rebellions. Roger Champen, who reluctantly became one of the rebellion’s organizers, got up on a picnic table with a seized megaphone and said “the wall surrounds us all.” Following this, the prisoners turned D Yard into an impromptu city and organized their own care and self-defense. A N.Y. State trooper watching the yard through binoculars said in disbelief “they seem to be building as much as they’re destroying.” I think we’d agree with the state trooper, at least on this. (9)

Burton’s point in this chapter is that the rebellion wasn’t an attempt (or wasn’t only an attempt) to get the state to reform itself, to grant rights to its pleading subjects, but an attempt, however short-lived, to turn the prisons into something that would be useful for human liberation: a self-governing commune built on principles of democracy and solidarity. Some of the rebels demanded transport to Africa to fight the Portuguese in the then-raging colonial wars in Mozambique and Angola, decisions were made by votes and consensus, and the social life of the commune was self-regulated without beatings, gassings and starvation.

Abolition and the Concentric Prison

Burton is a prison abolitionist, and he sees the aspirations of the Attica rebels at their best as abolitionist well before the term became popular. But he doesn’t ignore the contradictions that Attica and other prison rebellions had to work through, and acknowledges the diverse opinions of prisoners at the time, some of whom wanted to abolish prisons and some of whom wanted to see the Nixons and Rockefellers thrown into them instead. (10)

The Attica Commune of D Yard had to defend itself, and when the rebelling prisoners suspected that some prisoners were secretly working for the state, they were confined in a prison within a commune within a prison, and later killed as the state came in shooting on the 13th. There was fighting and instances of rape among the prisoners that freed themselves, and there were prisoners who didn’t want to be a part of the rebellion who were forced to. And the initial taking of the guards constitutes a use of violence and imprisonment in itself, even if the guards were treated better than they’d ever treated the prisoners.

Burton acknowledges this but doesn’t offer a tidy answer. He sees the use of violence in gaining freedom, like Fanon, to be a necessary evil which is essential to begin the process but unable to come close to finishing it. Attica, even though it barely began, provides an example of this. While violence is a necessary tool in war, it is the people organized behind the correct political line in the form of a vanguard party that ultimately is necessary to complete the transformation of class society to one without oppression.

Counter-intelligence, Reform, and Control

The final part of the book, “The War on Black Revolutionary Minds,” chronicles the attempts by the state to destroy prison revolutionaries by a variety of methods, some more successful than others, all deeply disturbing and immoral.

Some of the early methods involved direct psychological experimentation, the use of drugs, and calibrated isolation. These fell flat, because the attempts were based on “the flawed theory that people could be disassembled, tinkered with, and reprogrammed like computers.” (11) Eventually the state gave up trying to engineer radical ideas out of individual minds and settled for the solution many of our readers are familiar with: long-term isolation in control units, and a dramatically expanding prison population.

There is a lot else in this book, including many moving stories from Attica and other prison rebellion veterans that Burton interviewed, and who he openly acknowledges as the pioneering theorists and equal collaborators in his writing. Burton engages in lengthy investigations of prisoner correspondence, outside solidarity groups, twisted psychological experiments, and many other things I haven’t had the space to mention. We have received a couple responses to the book from some of you already, which the author appreciates greatly, and we’d like to facilitate more.

^Notes: 1. Burton, Orisanmi Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt p. 19 All citations will be of this book unless otherwise specified.
2. Jackson, Soledad Brother, 111–12 cited in Burton p. 10
3. p. 3
4. pp. 152-180
5. Hill and Ekanawetak, Splitting the Sky, p. 20. cited in Burton, p. 107
6. p. 29
7. p. 48
8. p. 5
9. pp. 88-91
10. p. 95
11. p. 205
^

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[Political Repression] [New Afrika] [National Oppression] [National Liberation]
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On New Afrikan Victimization

There is a duality in regards to the existence of the victimization in the New Afrikan nation and generally among oppressed people. The duality expresses itself when oppressed people avoid struggle, avoid acknowledgment of their colonization and oppression, because of a psychosocial tendency to align one’s self with strength, victory, privilege, excess, and power. This tendency is deeply rooted in one of the characteristics of the “colonial mentality,” which is a lack of dignity, pride, and self-worth. In this case of identity crisis and pathology the oppressed chooses to derive its pride, dignity, self-worth and perceived social, political, and economic interests from the upper echelons of empire, from the imperialist power structure.

There is another side of this duality which thrives, not on its own victimhood per se, but more aptly on its ability to resist, thwart, and overcome the complexities of the colonial-imperial oppression. These are “the people,” so often refereed to in radical discourse, “the people’s” collective will in movement fighting, struggling ceaselessly.

The basic truth is that in every contradiction there is winners and losers. Losers, by default, die victims. Winners are victimizers. The issue, from my humble point of view, only arises when We have a social group, or a broad mass within a social group after long periods of oppression, become content with their own status as victims. So content in fact that they themselves have rendered all resistance and tactical victories among themselves as illegitimate expressions of the oppressed experience. This is indeed an issue because war has a sole purpose to destroy the will and/or ability for the opposition to resist our advancement.

“War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance… Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science [cognitive, neuro sciences, behavioral sciences] in order to contend against violence.”(1)

The inherent danger and crippling effect of the pathology of New Afrikan Victimization can be seen in many instances, but i will highlight one in particular.

i am speaking here of the case of Brother Othal “Ozone” Wallace, a New Afrikan man in Florida currently fighting against the State’s death penalty. Ozone is a father and was an active participant in the efforts of liberation for New Afrikan and other oppressed people. Prior to his current captivity Ozone was active in search and rescue missions of suspected human trafficking victims. As a craftsman by trade he helped rebuild communities damaged by hurricane disasters. Ozone was also on the front lines of armed demonstrations advocating armed self defense and armed struggle against the oppression of New Afrikans.

In June 2021, Ozone was exiting his vehicle while in a residential area, when he was approached by a Daytona Beach Police officer who asked a question common to colonial and oppressed subjects globally, “Where are you going? Do you live here?” Body cam footage shows the officer repeat, “Do you live here? Yes or no?” While he grabbed Ozone by the shoulders. At that point the footage becomes shaky and blurry, but it should be understood that this entire incident, from the Police’s observation as someone “unwelcome”, “suspect”, “threatening”, is a textbook chain of events in the efforts of occupation and counter-insurgent forces. This “regular” treatment of New Afrikans is contrary to the U.$. constitution’s Fourth Amendment right to protection from illegal search and seizure, but its regularity showcases that New Afrikans are still a colonized population whose existence is situated outside the general legalities of the empire.

Somehow during the physical struggle, initiated by the officers arrogant choice to grab Ozone, the officer ended up shot in his face, while Ozone escaped the scene. He was captured days later, in a wooded area in Georgia, where state agents also allege to have found multiple flash bangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns, and several boxes of ammunition.

In the ensuing “legal” drama, once the officer died in a hospital as a result of his wounds in August of 2021, Prosecutors began seeking the death penalty, the family of the officer filed a civil suit, suing Ozone for $5 million, specifically the money accumulated by Ozone’s criminal defense fundraiser page. Prosecutors have sought to have his GoFundMe account shutdown. In short, Ozone was and remains under attack, and his experience is synonymous with New Afrikan liberation in general.

My reason for highlighting Ozone’s experience is that i see it as an example and a dividing line question among “the left” and New Afrikans particularly and Black liberationists (of many stripes) generally. My question to the movement(s), to Our People, why is Ozone not as known as Michael Brown or George Floyd? Why is he not garnering support and attention from the Black and radical press? Why is he virtually unknown to the common persyn of the street? The simple answer is that New Afrikans, generally speaking, even within so-called radical circles, have become infected with that colonial pathology that i call New Afrikan Victimization. Some of us are too content with Our imagery and association with victimhood. Others delude themselves into behaving as if this victimization doesn’t exist on an institutional and systemic level. Instead opting for the “boot straps” mentality which is also a socio-pathology.

Too many of us have failed to acknowledge that We are at war, that we’re subjects, not free and liberated citizens of a free democratic society. We’ve failed to realize the there are no “rights” only power struggles, and those who dictate power subsequently dictate what “rights” are respected or discarded. Most important, We’ve failed to realize the implications of these failures. Thus We have Ozone, and other Political Prisoners of War lost in captivity without support or even acknowledgment from even elements of Movement(s) that are supposed to be supporting Political Prisoners of War. Such groups, generally, have forgotten the current epoch of struggle, that there are Political Prisoners being captured almost daily. That yesteryears “Black Nationalist hate group” designation that fueled COINTELPRO and PRISACTS has been replaced by today’s “Black Identity Extremist” designation that is fueling present day surveillance, sabotage, and imprisonment of movement activists. While we should never forget or relinquish support of BPP/BLA Political Prisoners or others from earlier eras of struggle, We also should not exclude or ignore those currently active in the streets (even if We do not agree with their political line).

Free Ozone and All Political Prisoners

Notes: 1. Carl von Clausewitz, 1832, On War.

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[Racism] [Abuse] [National Oppression] [Heat] [Federal Correctional Institution Ashland] [Federal]
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FCI Ashland: Ground Zero for Political Repression, Racism, and White Supremacy

"Ash: The solid residue left when material is thoroughly burned or oxidized by chemical means; The last traces of something: ruins."

"Land: The solid part of the surface of the Earth; realm, domain."

The above definitions from the Merriam-Webster school dictionary describe the reality that prisoners here at Federal Correctional Institution - Ashland are forced to contend with on a daily basis.

With all of the illusions of criminal justice reform being propagated by law makers, as well as the President of the United $tate$, to secure votes and appease their constituents, the reality here at ground zero tells a very different story.

Created in the 1940's as part boy's reformatory and part pig and horse farm, FCI Ashland is now a place where a basket of society's deplorables (to borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton) can come to work, and with impunity, exercise their politically repressive tactics, racism, and white supremacist ideology over New Afrikans (black people) and other people of color.

Even poor whites who maintain a spiritual or political comaraderie with New Afrikans find themselves subjected to harsher treatment than their European counterparts who hold the line of white supremacy.

Since my incarceration, I have not received one conduct infraction! So in June of this year, after completing more than 15 programs, my security level was reduced from a medium to a low security.

At that time, I was told by the administration that I had to transfer to a low security institution. I requested to go to USP Atlanta since it is now a low security, plus I live in GA. However, completely against the language written in the First Step Act of 2018, I was transferred here to FCI Ashland, KY over 500 miles from my home.

Since I have been here, I have not personally been attacked in any way. But I'm sure by the time this article hits press, all that will change. Because that's how the administration operates here. The "good ol' boy" network is alive and well here, and anyone who dares to speak out against the injustices taking place in this land of ruin is retaliated against in a number of ways. But I am a war correspondent behind enemy lines, and must brief comrades and the masses on what's happening so we can create this opportunity for systemic change through national unity and action.

Different Uniform, Same Mentality

There are about 60-80 correctional officers and other administrative staff working at this prison. However, only 3 are black, 2 are Hispanic, and 1 is Asian. This presents a very antagonistic atmosphere as this super majority white prison staff oppressively police their majority black and brown kkkolonized nationals by openly expressing their "Trumpian" views; ransacking their living quarters and destroying their private property by pouring out "hot sauce" and "Asian sauce" all over their books, legal work and pictures, and opening up sealed items like potato chips and dumping them all over their floor.

They falsify statements and manufacture conduct infractions against prisoners who are not afraid to file grievances on them and expose these injustices. Like one brother who would help brothers beat these false conduct reports, as well as those filed against him. In retaliation for this, and for him refusing to withdraw his civil suit he filed against them, they manufactured false allegations that he "attempted to escape", had him placed in the SHU (Secure Housing Unit - Lock Up) and he has since been shipped to another prison! This brother is at least 400 lbs and can barely get around, let alone try to escape!

I have personally witnessed white officers call an elder New Afrikan "stupid ass" because he was walking with one of his shoes untied! I've also observed as a white officer harassed a white prisoner about his locs telling him "you need to stop trying to be one of THEM and be who you were born to be." And about a month ago, while attending the Moorish Science Studies Class in the Chapel, a brother began having breathing problems as we were leaving the building. The Chaplain called for support while a couple brothers stood beside him to make sure he was ok. About 5 C.O.'s showed up, and one officer B. Ross took it upon himself to begin yelling "get the fuck out! Go on, get!" None of the other officers that were present even attempted to correct his unnecessary and belligerent conduct. Instead, they just stood with him, with angry demeanors as if we had done something wrong and they were prepared for war.

I, and the world renown militia commander of NFAC comrade Grand Master Jay, who had just finished teaching the class, just looked at each other and shook our heads and left. As this is what we were already in the process of doing anyway. We refused to allow them to provoke us into any response, as it was obvious that this is what they were trying to do.

Here at FCI Ashland, members of the KKK have obviously traded in their white hoods and robes for correctional officer uniforms but the mindset is still prevalent. There isn't any black counselor or case manager, and there is only one Hispanic case manager, so people of color constantly are being denied institutional transfers to prisons closer to their release address or that offer FSA rehabilitative programs that meet their needs assessment(s) when they absolutely qualify for it. And white prisoners are constantly being transferred when they absolutely do not meet the criteria. White prisoners get all the benefit of the First Step Act.

I have personally been told by the counselor that he would not even consider me for an institutional transfer until I have been 18 months misconduct free in General Population. Well, I have been in General Population for almost 8 years, misconduct free! Along with many accomplishments as I stated earlier. Meanwhile, a white nationalist prisoner, who has wigged out on K2 at least 4 times since I've been here, and sent to the SHU each time, was just approved to go to a "camp", which is a lesser security level than a "low"!

These racist practices go on on a weekly basis as far as these transfers go. There is no one here that represents our best interests! When New Afrikans and other people of color complain about these issues, they are retaliated against by having a "management variable" placed on them for alleged "population control", which forces them to have to stay on this yard a mandatory 18 months, no matter how long they've been at this prison, or a counselor or a caseworker will suddenly show up at your living quarters and add points to your classification sheet for "inadequate living conditions." Then when you go to your 6 month unit term review, you get denied a transfer for 18 months. For you who have studied my brief autobiography, "Our Struggle Goes On", which can be purchased on Amazon, already know how this is bound to turn out if there is no systemic change in our conditions. History is our best teacher.

Health Concerns

There are absolutely NO certified medical doctors on this yard. There are several RN's, but that's it. The prison is completely understaffed and prisoners are routinely turned away from medical because there is no one available to address their health concerns. I know of several New Afrikans who are having kidney and/or liver issues and have been placed on the waiting list for a year until they can be seen! They have all filed grievances but their medical issues persist, and they have since filed complaints in Washington DC to the central office.

There are only 2 dorms out of 12 units, HA and HB, that have an air conditioner! These same number of dorms also have inadequate ventilation. Several prisoners on the SHU and throughout the prison have fainted and received severe injuries over the extremely hot summer months. At least 1 out of every 5 men here are coughing and/or sneezing throughout the day, myself included. Probably due to all the mold throughout each unit. R-unit, which I was in for 2 months when I got here, is the biggest dorm on the yard, is actually an old movie theater which now holds over 130 prisoners stacked on top of each other in bunk beds. It looks more like the hulls of slave ships trying to cross the middle passage. Therefore absolutely no space for prisoners to even walk around without constantly bumping into one another.

Asbestos fills the ceiling of the unit, while underneath it is the prison's kitchen, which presents an extremely dangerous fire hazard. On top of the heat coming up from the kitchen adding to an already extremely hot environment, prisoners are essentially sleeping in a crematory, because if the kitchen were to ever catch fire they would all burn alive in a matter of seconds!

Conclusion

I could go on and on about conditions and corrupt practices going on at Ashland, like how members of the "Proud Boys" who just came to this yard after trying to overturn the 2020 election results have already been awarded and rewarded with the best strategic and tactical jobs at the yard. While New Afrikans who have literally been here for months are told no jobs or programs will be available until mid 2024!!! Except for a kitchen job of course. They don't mind New Afrikans being cooks or cleaning. But if I continued on this it would easily become a book. So let me conclude with this:

We are asking you to write to the office(s) at the bottom of this message and DEMAND and inquire into the racist practices taking place here at FCI Ashland. DEMAND to know why so many people of color are having management variables placed on them compared to their European counterparts. DEMAND to know why so many black and Hispanic families are turned away from their visits because of their clothing when white families have on the same clothing or something completely unauthorized. Ashland is located in the mountains, surrounded by an all white community on the border of West Virginia. It is totally unsafe for black families to travel here, and although we can purchase tablets on commissary, we are not allowed video visits. So if black people can't get visits, they will go years without any contact with the outside world, which leads to a host of mental and emotional issues.

As I stated from the outset of this communique, this institution used to house animals. The dorm I'm in, "JA", as well as "K" across from me is still called by the administration, "The Barns". I'm literally living in a barn, like my enslaved ancestors, with bunk beds in it. Sometimes when it gets really hot in here, you can still smell the residue of the livestock that occupied the space. We are treated like animals, and without your DEMANDS for change, we will continue to be subjected to these inhumane conditions. And by all means, check up on me and make sure that after almost 8 years of incarceration there is not a "sudden change" in the quality of my living conditions. Remember, all that is necessary for evil to prevail is for men and women to do nothing.

| Federal BOP | Office of Inspector General, Internal Affairs | Central Office RM 600 | 320 First St NW | Washington DC 20534 | | Federal BOP | South Central Regional Office | U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Complex | 344 Marine Forces Drive | Grand Prairie, TX 75051

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[Revolutionary History] [National Oppression] [International Connections] [Security] [Theory] [ULK Issue 83]
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ULK 83: Prison Is War

Prison is War

The theme of this issue of Under Lock & Key was inspired by recent essays and interviews by Orisanmi Burton, previewing material from eir upcoming book: Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt. Comrades in MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW) have been studying Burton’s work. Though we have not had the opportunity to read the book yet, which comes out end of October 2023, we like a lot of the ideas ey has presented so far and the overall thesis that prisons are war.

As we go to press the genocidal war on Palestine is heating up. We have reports inside on Congo, El Salvador, Ukraine and Niger; and we don’t even touch on Guatemala or Haiti. History has shown that as war heightens internationally, war often heightens against the oppressed nations within the empire as well.

In this issue we have reports of political repression as war in U.$. prisons. We also feature articles from comrades who organized around, and reflected on the Attica rebellion and Black August. This is the history that Burton analyzes in eir work, exposing the state’s efforts to suppress the prison movement and how both sides were operating on a war footing. For over a decade readers of ULK have commemorated the beginning of Attica on September 9th with a Day of Peace and Solidarity, as part of the campaign to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons. But how do we get to peace when we find ourselves the targets of the oppressor’s war?

Burton pushes back against some Liberal/reformist lines that have been advanced onto the prison movement to oppose the line of liberation. Burton’s ideas harken back to V.I. Lenin, recognizing prisons as a repressive arm of the state, and the state being a tool of oppression and warfare by one class over another. War is one form of political struggle, and a very important one at that.

It is this framework that we have used to push back against “abolitionism.” Our organization emerged from the struggle to abolish control units, a form of prisons that is torture and inhumane. We see the abolition of control units as a winnable, if difficult, battle under bourgeois rule. In a socialist state, where the proletariat rules over the former bourgeoisie, we certainly won’t have such torture cells anymore; but the abolition of prisons altogether is a vision for the distant future. We find it questionable that Burton frames revolutionary communist martyrs like George Jackson as an “abolitionist”.

Where we have more unity is when Burton takes issue with building the prison movement around the legalist struggle to amend the 13th Amendment of the U.$. Constitution that abolishes slavery except for the convicted felon. Burton points out the history of Liberal thought in justifying enslavement of those captured in just wars. As most in this country see the United $tates as a valid project, it could follow logically that it is just to enslave the conquered indigenous and New Afrikan nations, as well as nations outside the United $tates borders. We see how settlers in Amerika and I$rael are now justifying all sorts of genocidal atrocities against Palestine.

The challenge we have repeatedly made to the campaign to amend the 13th Ammendment is how this contributes to liberating oppressed people? How does it build power for oppressed people?

In one essay Burton draws connections to how the state was handling the war against the Vietnamese people at the same time as the war against New Afrika at home.(1) We have a draft paper out on the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement that discusses the counter-insurgency in Peru, and how the fascist U.$.-Fujimori regime locked communist leader Comrade Gonzalo in an underground isolation cell and then used confusion around political line to crush the People’s War in that country. In Under Lock & Key 47, we reprinted an in-depth analysis of the use of long-term solitary confinement against the revolutionary movement in Turkey and the use of hunger strikes to struggle against it from 2000-2007. All of these historical examples, including to some extent New Afrika in the 1970s, involved an armed conflict on both sides. Today, in the United $tates, we do not have those conditions. However, we can look to the national liberation struggle in Palestine, and the connection to the prison movement there as a modern-day example.

Burton spends time exposing the politics of the federal counter-insurgency program PRISACTS. And one of the things we learn is that PRISACTS is officially short-lived as the counter-insurgency intelligence role is taught to and passed on to the state institutions. We see this today, especially in the handling of censorship of letters and reading materials we send to and receive from prisoners. We see the intentional targeting of these materials for their political content, and not for any promotion of violence or illegal activity. Our comrades inside face more serious consequences of brutality, isolation and torture in retaliation for attempts to organize others for basic issues of living conditions and law violations.

The arrest of Duane “Keffe D” Davis for involvement in the murder of Tupac Shakur has also been in the news this month. Keffe D is a known informant who confessed to driving his nephew to murder Tupac years ago in exchange for the dropping of a life sentence for an unrelated charge. Author John Potash notes that there were many attempted assassinations of Tupac prior to his death, at least one that involved the NYPD Street Crimes Unit. This unit was launched following the supposed “end” of COINTELPRO.(2) This directly parallels what we see with the “end” of PRISACTS and the passing of intelligence operations on to state pigs.

As we’ve discussed in drawing lessons from the repression of Stop Cop City, we need to take serious strategic precautions in how we organize. We must recognize the war being waged on us. If we treat this as something that can be fixed once people see what’s going on, or once we get the right courts or authorities to get involved, we will never accomplish anything. And as always we must put politics in command. There is an active intelligence counter-insurgency being waged against USW and the prison movement in general, and the best weapon we have is grasping, implementing and judging political line.

Prison is War is not just a topic for ULK, it is a political line and analysis. We welcome your future reports, articles and artwork exposing the ways this war is happening in prisons today.

Notes: 1. Burton, Orisanmi (2023).“Targeting Revolutionaries: The Birth of the Carceral Warfare Project, 1970-1978.” Radical History Review. Vol. 146.
2. John Potash on I Mix What I Like, 16 October 2023. (author of “The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders”)

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[National Oppression] [Revolutionary History] [ULK Issue 83]
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Freedom Comes From Having a Free-Dome

Chains On Mind

The minimum security prisons out there afford some freedom of movement. To the 85%er this freedom of movement, no matter how limited, is interpreted to the 85% as freedom in its totality. This is partly due to the knowledge that he doesn’t have a free-dome. So let’s now focus on freeing the dumb by giving them the correct knowledge. So far the one who isn’t “free” mentally, we’ll now explain the difference between freedom and the illusion of freedom.

True freedom means liberation. The illusion means reforms. Liberation is an exodus or a migration from the system that it springs from – slavery. Reform is an adaptation to the slave system that makes it seem that since you received a trinket, you have received freedom. The difference is based on the truth vs the illusion. The world over, there are still struggles that stem from a lack of freedom. This lack of freedom is different for those who aren’t free, I’ll explain.

You see physical freedom does not preclude mental freedom. But mental freedom can only come from a free-dome. Ask yourself this, will the person who enslaved you free you? If you look at the history, the role between captor and the captured only changes when those who were captured unchain themselves. So the question answers itself. In Amerika a so-called war for the emancipation of Blacks was fought. However, we know that Ol Abe Lincoln only freed the slaves because ey had to not because ey wanted to. In fact Texas celebrates Juneteenth because they were the last state, 2 years after everyone else, to free their slaves. The North, who wanted to industrialize Amerika, saw that the South if it had the manufacturing industries like cotton gin etc. that they could take over Amerika because of its free slave labor. So they fed on the moral factor of the slave as an incentive to fight for the cracker. But what happened after the war?

Well let’s see, vagrancy in Amerika was illegal because you couldn’t pay taxes, so whitey invented black codes and then came up with convict leasing camps for anyone who couldn’t pay taxes. Brothers were right back where they left and convict leasing led to the legislation of the 13th Amendment that put us back into slavery in the penitentiary. So are we free or were we ever free? The answer must be no.

Yesterday marked the 52nd year anniversary of the assassination of comrade George L. Jackson. George bravely gave his life to the revolution. Let’s not let his legacy die. In the spirit of George and all our other beautiful comrades, let us usher in the true freedom, not the illusion but the true freedom. First acquire knowledge of self so that you can mentally be free and then once we acquire mental freedom we can physically take back what is ours. If we don’t know what to fight for we’ll keep ending up in prison well the maximum security prison. To change that we must transform our communities from minimum security prisons to people’s collectives. Get the devil out & destroy him.

Power to the People


MIM(Prisons) responds: Peace, Comrade. We thank this comrade for covering the importance of the subjective forces with regards to the liberation of the oppressed.

We would like to comment shortly with regards to the Civil War. This comrade states that the Civil War was fought between the North and the South due to the former’s rivalry to the South and its fear that the South’s industrialization would beat the North quickly due to the latter’s chattel slavery. However, we would say that the chattel-slavery mode of production of the U.$. bourgeois dictatorship in the South was an impeding factor for the development of the productive forces (what is often called industrialization) and that the U.$. empire found out that this backward relations of productions far out-lived its usefulness and need. Not only did it keep the South in a backwards agricultural economy, it also bred the new Black nation inside the U.$. borders which would to this day remain an intense problem population for Settler-Amerika.

There are many discussions today in U.$. society of what the Civil War was over. The neo-confederate fascists obscure the line and muddy the waters by saying that the Civil War was a war over “state’s rights.” The bourgeois Liberals say that the Civil War was a war where Amerika’s democratic values were restored to the fullest and united the empire. As Marxists, we see the class forces behind these conflicts rather than the psychological state/goals of individuals participating in it. The truth is, that the chattel-slavery relations of production was more bad than good for the U.$. empire by the time the war erupted. The class forces that wanted to keep it in the South such as the landed aristocracy (i.e. family bloodline plantation owners) and the agricultural bourgeoisie (i.e. modern capitalists who operated in cotton and other various industries of agriculture) were in antagonistic contradiction against the industrial bourgeoisie of the north who was leading the development of the productive forces in the country. We tell the fascists that if there was no slavery, then there would have been no Civil War. We tell the liberals that enslaving oppressed nations for parasitic superprofits is as Amerikan as apple pie. The Civil War helped release the New Afrikan masses to become a true proletariat, selling its labor power on the market.

And as the author above alludes to, the empire continues its war against the internal semi-colonies within the United $tates as well as the oppressed nations around the world, and the only solution to this contradiction is liberation.

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[New Afrika] [Abuse] [National Oppression] [Police Brutality] [Federal Correctional Institution Tucson] [Federal] [ULK Issue 83]
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The Murder of Tyre Nichols - Do You Approve?

Tyre Nichols Black Liberation

27 January 2023: At about 5:30-6:00 PM the nation watched the horrific video of 5 policemen who beat a man literally to death weeks prior. The man, Tyre Nichols, was handcuffed and had no way to defend himself as 5 large officers beat the man far beyond what anyone could call humane. Dogs don’t get beat this bad.

I saw this in my dorm from USP Tucson, in the day room. Of the seven televisions in the dorm, four was on the CNN broadcast of the vicious beating. At least half the dorm of over 100 prisoners in here watched in horror and shock, witnessing the same thing the rest of the United $tates (and the world) was viewing. I have never seen such interest in a television event outside a sports event.

I sent an email to the Warden of the prison, challenging him if he approved such methods. This could be seen as an insult, but what we see on the streets of America is simply a reflection of what commonly happens in the prisons of the United $tates. For decades staff brutality has been common, and often overlooked in prisons, because many may believe that the victim probably deserved it, or the prison staff will lie and cover up the act.

I have to believe that what happened to Tyre Nichols that horrible night, which resulted in his death a couple of days later, could have happened in part here at USP Tucson… multiple times, and happens in many jails and prisons in our country.

I believe this likely happened to a prisoner here back in November of 2022, shortly after an incident in a nearby camp, where a prisoner managed to acquire a gun. He would have likely shot and killed an officer were it not for the fact that the bullets did not match the gun. We at USP Tucson went on a lockdown for 3 days, although we had absolutely nothing to do with that incident. That was a different facility, yet we were punished anyway, which led to a second incident.

A few days later, on November 18th, we went on a month long lockdown because we heard there was a “staff assault.” If this was the case then the usual protocol for prison staff is to beat that prisoner physically, then throw him in the SHU until the wounds heal… it is what they do.

How bad did they beat the prisoner here? Did they cuff him, and like cowards, beat that man with sticks, tase him, kick him and slam him on the walls? It’s pretty easy to beat a man if you outnumber him 5 to 1, and cuff his hands behind his back.

We have to compare what happens in prisons to what happens in the streets. We seem amazed that what happens to George Floyd, Rodney King or now Tyre Nichols, is so unusual. This is very common in the prisons, and you have to ask the staff here at USP Tucson if this is the method they approve of.

It must be, if it continues to happen.

Why would law enforcement treat humyn beings so horribly? And to be stupid enough to do it with a BODY CAM on? Did they not know that this would be viewable to anyone in time? Why would you beat a man to death, with the cameras on?

This is an idea that prisons fear greatly; they fear that if society knew what happens in prisons, coupled with how law enforcement is clearly losing the ethical training they have, there would be such a cry for justice that the country may not be able to contain it.

But consider: some don’t sympathize with prisoners being brutally beaten because in some way, they think that the sentence of prison comes with the brutality of abuse. Yet the Constitution clearly disagrees. No human being deserves to be treated like that, to be beaten by another officer. No officer working in the United $tates is given a green light by the government to beat prisoners. Yet, it happens, and many excuse it because maybe we believe that deep down, the prisoner must have deserved it.

So reflect back to Tyre Nichols, why would those cowardly officers beat a man to death? Could it be that maybe they felt that Tyre “deserved” to be beaten… but if so, why?

cops who killed Tyre Nichols
Five cops who were filmed murdering Tyre Nichols.

Here’s one idea, one I have seen from the prison point of view: In prisons, where there is a disturbance, they call it “hitting the deuces.” When this happens, for example from a fight, officers come running from everywhere. In seconds, you can see up to 50 officers on the scene.

But note, when this happens, these officers get into a different frame of mind. The adrenaline rush puts many of these officers in an almost rage. Once that rage sets in, that officer is looking for a reason to release it. They are almost HOPING for a physical altercation, so that they can release that rage that is created because the situation could be a violent riot where a life may be lost.

The problem here is that once an officer gets into that adrenaline they don’t know how to come down, and so they are looking for a release. This happens very often in prisons, and no doubt, it happens in society. The problem is that these officers are not taught to TALK down to de-escalation, rather they are looking to make demands and argue.

Prisons prove this happens all the time, and many prison officers are not trained to de-escalate a situation; they are left to act on their anger and rage, which results often in physical violence, most times on defenseless prisoners.

So, I asked the Warden, does he approve of the methods we saw in Memphis… based on how staff treats prisoners, I think we know the answer. Their advantage: they don’t wear body cams, so they can get away with murder, literally. All they have to do is blame it on the prisoner, lose the footage and lock everyone down for a few weeks, so they can clean up the mess.

The Warden, as of August 10th, never responded.

UPDATE: On 12 September 2023 the five pigs were indicted on federal civil rights charges in addition to the state charges of second-degree murder they are already being tried for. The four-count indictment charges each of them with deprivation of rights under the color of law through excessive force and failure to intervene, and through deliberate indifference; conspiracy to witness tampering, and obstruction of justice through witness tampering.

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