The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[National Oppression] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 22]
expand

Studying BPP History Earns STG Label

I write this to inform you that the COINTELPRO is still alive and active today under another name, and is used to continue their tactics of divide and conquer. If you are a Black Panther or have a tattoo of a panther, or if you are interested in the history of our beloved fallen comrades, you are now considered a security threat group (STG) [in Texas]. So now they are targeting the majority of Black prisoners as "gang members." After 14 years on the same unit under many different officers, now all of a sudden I'm labeled as an STG. This is based on books one reads and notation that one might write for a broader understanding. In other words our freedom of expression of political beliefs is now viewed as inflammatory and a security threat.

This article referenced in:
chain
[National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Phoney Gang Debate to Discredit Strike Support

The CDCR is trying to blame the organizing of the statewide food strike in California prisons on gangs. Meanwhile, the liberal line being put forth in the bourgeois media is that activists dismiss such accusations. Somehow prisoners across California, and even those transferred out of state, participated in solidarity with the food strike on July 1. We know that MIM(Prisons) was one of many organizations with newsletters that contributed to spreading the word, but none of us initiated or did the groundwork to ensure the effectiveness of this campaign. CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton tried to explain this as an indication of "the reach and the influence that prison gangs have on other inmates." She went on to say, "It's one of the reasons we have a Security Housing Unit, to remove gang members influence on other general population inmates."(1)

The media is juxtaposing the pigs' assertions about gang leadership to the denials of activists to paint strike supporters as idealistic know-nothings. The prison bureaucrats make careers out of being experts on gangs and criminology, and they rely on the public to trust in their expertise to keep them "safe."

In reality, this pseudo-debate being played out in the media is painting an idealistic view of prison society that ignores history. The pigs know that groups allied to the Black Panthers and other national liberation movements used to lead the prison masses. They know because they broke that up, partly by using long-term isolation, and they encouraged oppressed nation groups with more criminal tendencies to develop with bribery and by turning a blind eye. Now they condemn the monsters they created to justify more repression.

The line MIM(Prisons) has been pushing since before the hunger strike began is in defense of the First Amendment right to association. While countless people have been placed into gangs they've never even heard of by state officials in California, there are many in the SHU who are not trying to fool anyone into thinking that they aren't members of a lumpen organization considered an enemy of the CDCR. This is evident in the statements of the strike leaders which talk about uniting all "races," including "northern" and "southern" Mexicans. Aztlán is one oppressed nation that the pigs have helped draw a line through by promoting criminal organizations that must compete. It is only the fascist conditions within California prisons that prevents prisoners from even being able to speak of their organizational ties.

When we say there are comrades in Pelican Bay SHU who are respected leaders of lumpen organizations, there is no criticism implied there. Some of those comrades have worked tirelessly to orchestrate a Peace Accord between the major divisions within the California prison population, among many other positive projects for their people, including the current campaign. The lie that is promoted by the "tough on crime" bourgeois media is that to be a member of a lumpen organization you must be an evil persyn. Just like they did for Tookie, there is no redemption for the lumpen under imperialism, even when they do more than anyone around them to change the world for the better.

Central to the demands of the striking prisoners is that the state cannot claim to abide by its own rules while it punishes people using secret evidence and petty charges like who they talk to or get mail from, what books they read or tattoos they have. The bureaucrats hide behind the presumed neutrality of the bourgeois courts to defend the torture they put these prisoners through.

The striking comrades are some of the individual oppressed nationals that the imperialists find the most threatening within their own borders. That is why they are being tortured in long-term isolation. Yet, by all indications, the state is going to let these brothers die rather than grant them Constitutional rights to association.

The oppressed nations are free to organize in this country, as long as it's on the Amerikans' terms. If not, then even talking about such organizations will get prisoners thrown in long-term isolation and will get supporters on the streets censored.

chain
[Control Units] [International Connections] [National Oppression] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

SHU is War on Aztlán


[Editor's note: We want to remind our readers that USW is open to anti-imperialist prisoners of all nationalities, just as the strike is being led by prisoners of all nationalities. MIM(Prisons) agrees with the line put forth here, because it is by building movements for national liberation
from imperialism that we can best conquer the oppressive system we currently live in. And any genuine national liberation movement supports the liberation of all people. We want to be clear about this because there have been reports of the CDCR attempting to fuel divisions among the prisoners on strike along long-standing organizational and national divisions as they always do.]

A people's salute goes out to all who find themselves under lock and key in Amerika! I wanted to write and send a brief update on the conditions here in Pelican Bay coming from one of the participants of the hunger strike (HS) that began two weeks ago, on July 1 of 2011. I figured the historic precedent that the HS has accomplished thus far is worth noting as the cause of the non-violent protest is one in which many people find themselves in across Amerika. The material conditions that have forced prisoners to deny themselves nutrients and sustenance are not exclusively bound to Pelican Bay, California. Whenever imperialist lackeys run a country they will also be expected to round up the most rebellious and potentially revolutionary populations and bury these people alive as these are the ones who pose the highest threat to the ruling class.

The fact that the protest is in regard to torture chambers known as the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in California, a state that has more prisons than any other state in a country that has more prisoners than any other country, should be examined more closely for what it means to oppressed nation prisoners in general but to people of Aztlán in particular. The fact that the state of California, which is geographically in Aztlán, has initiated what amounts to a war on the people of Aztlán by setting up more koncentration kamps (prisons) in Aztlán than anywhere else in Amerika, along with incarcerating more Latinos in California than any other oppressed nations, and the fact that Latinos are now the largest population of captives held in Federal prisons, and the fact that most of the prisoners held in California SHUs are Latinos, all show that oppressed nation are under attack via the injustice system, and that prisoners from the Aztlán Nation are particularly targeted in Aztlán. California is also the state with the largest Latino population in Amerika.(1) Thus the scope of what is taking place should be seen for what it is - the assault on Aztlán is real and should be met as such.

What is occurring here at Pelican Bay is an attempt to break the will and desire to resist state repression plain and simple. The SHU was opened in 1989 and this facility was designed to isolate and deprive people of the most basic "human rights." Things like human contact, a cell mate, the ability to eat salt in one's food, the ability to correspond with friends and family via the mail, the ability to have natural sunlight or even to be able to read political literature have all been stripped from prisoners in the SHU. Brutality here has been documented for decades. Beatings and physical torture have even been brought to the courts to no avail. Recently the U.$. Supreme Court has ruled that California prisons constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." They are telling the state of California to clean up its act.

Medical services are even used as barter. One prisoner was told if he wanted medical treatment then he should "debrief" (snitch on another prisoner). This is the depraved culture that has thrived here in SHU. This is a world where prisoners who are most often poor Brown and Black people are subject to a whole plethora of experimental depravity which in some cases would probably have Mengele raise an eyebrow.

It is well known that solitary confinement causes very real psychological damage even if used for a few weeks, yet here in SHU prisoners have endured solitary for years and even decades in some cases. Human rights groups have condemned solitary confinement, yet the SHU continues this brutal practice. Once here in SHU the only way back to general population is to snitch on others (even if it is false accusations), die, or parole. Keep in mind the vast majority sent to SHU have not committed any crime or physical acts but are labeled a "gang member or associate" and thus locked in this control unit for one's supposed gang affiliation, i.e. one's beliefs. They are locking one in a solitary confinement cell, sometimes for life, for what amounts to thought crimes!

Placement in the "hole" or SHU is frequently due to political affiliation of prisoners who are members or may associate with revolutionary groups or lumpen organizations that the state labels as "gangs." In their play on words, any attempt at oppressed nations to organize in a way that is not state sanctioned, is a gang. Similarly, they call uprisings "riots" in a derogatory way, to hide the real causes behind them. But many times people aren't even members of any organization and are falsely accused by others who are trying to get themselves out of SHU. In either case, prisoners held in SHU conditions overwhelmingly qualify as political prisoners.

The world would gasp should they find out the thought police are goosestepping in lock step here in Pelican Bay, jack boots and all. The Gestapo in Nazi Germany rounded up communists and others and placed them in kamps and jails under "preventative custody." And now the imperialists' first line of defense keeps oppressed nations in neo-kamps (SHUs) under "validation custody." This is what the lumpen face in the United $tates; this is our apple pie in the home of the incarcerated, land of the oppressed.

Yet, prisoners have always defied the lash, because as Mao said, where you find much repression you'll find much resistance. This is the dialectical materialism that manifests itself and blossoms, even within cinderblock gardens, in the form of our united resistance.

The first of the five demands issued for the hunger strike here at Pelican Bay is to end group punishment. This happens frequently where one prisoner breaks a rule and that whole group or ethnicity will be locked down or penalized in some way. We are talking about one person doing something against prison rules and two or three hundred people are then locked down for months over it. This is common practice and is meant to pit prisoners against prisoners.

The second demand is to abolish debriefing and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Debriefing is used to force people held in SHU to give up names and activities of others in order to leave SHU - even if the information provided is false. The accused cannot even present a good defense as the informants are not identified and often times the accusations themselves are considered "confidential." Active/inactive status is when after six years if one has no new activity one may be given "inactive" gang status and released to the general population. But this is rare since anything qualifies as "activity." For example, participating in this hunger strike will be considered new gang activity.

The third demand is that the CDCR complies with recommendations from a 2006 U.S. Commission which called for an end to isolation. The fourth demand is to provide adequate food. The food here would make a racoon's stomach turn. Often we don't know what it is we are eating and we get no salt, so all food is bland. For punishment often times we get boiled beans with no salt, and this has gone on for years. The fifth demand is to expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners. This means those of us who must stay in SHU will be able to have educational courses, art supplies, and the ability to make a phone call, which some have not done for 30 or more years.

These points are basic things that should be given, especially to people who have not broken any rules to be placed in SHU in the first place! What is happening here in Pelican Bay SHU amounts to crimes against humanity. To have people in solitary confinement in some cases for decades is incredible, and it's incredible that this has gone on so long and that for the most part the public has been silent over this. Well, today the light is shining on these torture chambers and Pelican Bay prisoners will no longer be silent while taking the lash.


Notes:
1. The New York Times Almanac 2011. p. 285.

chain
[National Oppression] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 22]
expand

Gang Validation for Doing Aztec Art

I am doing an indeterminate SHU program for being validated in the last place I was at. And the reason they validated me is because I was doing a lot of Aztec art as well as Aztec tats, which they didn't agree with because they considered it to be associated with the “big boys.” So they locked me down. But what they fail to realize is it's all part of our culture. Yet to them it's based on association, so they see a direct link to prison politics. So here I sit on the shelf locked down in this crazy and very sad place where it's all about no movement whatsoever.

chain
[Control Units] [National Oppression] [California]
expand

Illegal Validation of Latinos in California

I am interested in filing suit against California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation(CDCR) as well as those in contract with them. I am aiming at their pockets because money seems to be all they understand. I am currently one victim of close to a hundred classified "hispanics" who were targeted by an OCS (Office of Correctional Safety) operation that was launched here in North Folk Oklahoma.

In all, around 80 classified "hispanics" were validated and approximately 150 to 200 Latino prisoners were affected. Our legal property was seized (as well as bibles, etc.) while we were being interviewed handcuffed, in our underwear, totally oblivious to them seizing our legal and religious property.

Those who exercised their constitutional protections against self-incrimination, considering all the elements surrounding this suspect "interview," were retaliated against by receiving a prison gang validation point for refusing to "interview."

All prisoners validated had their 1st amendment rights violated, for not one of us were given a meaningful opportunity to be heard at a "required" interview that we must be afforded before IGI can even send our validation pack to OCS for determination. Further, IGI committed fraud by writing/documenting that we did. In addition, the vast majority of our source item(s) used in our prison gang validation do not even meet departmental standards.

Nevertheless, these facts are not enough to overturn our validations through our appeals. Not to mention 95% of us were denied legal library access and legal materials to adequately defend ourselves, nor can this institution facilitate our legal library rights for it is constructed in a way that is physically impossible with regards to the security measures required with the number of ad-segs that resulted from the rogue operation.

I can seriously go on, and on but I think you get a relatively good idea of what we're up against. So any assistance you may be able to provide in light of my/our situation would be highly appreciated as well.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is yet another example of the illegal validation practices used to lock prisoners in higher security units based on supposed gang affiliation. Our ongoing fight against Control Units brings out many similar stories. Many of our Latino comrades behind bars are being targeted with mass validations, using evidence as flimsy as receipt of a birthday card, or being seen talking to someone in the yard. This validation leads to lockup in segregation (also known as control units). Filing lawsuits to fight these practices is one part of the struggle, although MIM(Prisons) does not have the legal resources to pursue these lawsuits ourselves.

chain
chain
[National Oppression] [Theory]
expand

Review of RCP Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

Aztlan

I was recently able to read a new publication which was published by the RCP-USA titled "Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America" (draft proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

I have been at many prisons in California where I came across RCP literature, including its newspaper 'Revolution.' While at first glance this RCP literature may seem "progressive," and a novice revolutionary may even think the RCP is fighting in the best interest of the masses, a closer look into its political line may surprise many prisoners who are developing their political stance.

The society that U.$. prisoners dream of is one that turns the pyramid of power upside down where those on the bottom of today's totem pole are the ones who have a say in running a society based on new democracy as was seen in Mao's China where landless peasants were freed from the chains of oppressive feudalism and colonialism. The prisoner in today's capitalist Amerika understands that such a society will not come easy and we learn this valuable lesson by attempting to change the oppressive environment behind prison walls. We learn 'grass roots' organizing and how hard it is to kick start even simple resistance to injustice on a micro-level.

As we learn these lessons we also begin to see what it will take to change a society, combat the capitalist and build the revolution. One of the key components of transforming society is a vanguard party; this is common sense as we know from the prison experience that issues that are not coordinated often prove disastrous. So on a large scale effort like transforming society we can see how a political party would be needed to lead the masses on the right path to liberation on all fronts. Understanding this we often meet others in prison who seek out political parties and begin the arduous work of studies in all the revolutionary groups' theories, their political line, so that we can determine who is the vanguard party, who has the correct political theory on what it will take to reach liberation here in the belly of the beast.

I began to really study the RCP literature as it is a party that claims to be struggling on behalf of the people. Along my path of really analyzing the literature of the RCP is where I stumbled upon its stance on the oppressed nations' right to self-determination.

The portion of this constitution that is of concern is "Article 11. Regions, localities, and basic institution, Section 3. minority and formerly oppressed nationalities." This section starts off pointing out the crimes and injustices that were perpetrated against oppressed nationalities by the former government of the USA. It explains how in the future socialist state they believe elections and legislature would work, among other new rights, in the interest of the oppressed. Subsection "A. African-Americans" correctly states that under a new socialist state Black people would have the right to self-determination all the way up to the right to secede and form a separate country outside a new socialist republic if Black people so choose. This is correct. The ability for an oppressed nation to govern themselves is a right that all should have under a socialist society.

Under Subsection "B. Mexican-Americans" the guarantee to the right of self-determination up to the right to secede does not exist. Rather in subsection B2 it states:

"Relations with Mexico, and policy with regard to the former southwest region of the imperialist USA, shall, from the time of the founding and in the first few years of the new socialist republic in North America, take into account the nature of the society and government - and the level and character of revolutionary struggle - in Mexico, as well as the actual extent of territory which has been liberated through the revolution which led to the defeat and dismantling of the imperialist state of the USA and the founding of the new socialist republic in North America. At the same time, the necessary consideration shall be given to the situation in the world as a whole, in determining how to proceed with regard to this region. In this over all context and also taking into account the sentiments and aspirations of the people in the region, in particular those of Mexican origin and descent, the question of whether to return at least parts of this region to Mexico, and/or whether there should be established, within parts of this region, a country that is separate from both Mexico and the New Socialist Republic in North America, shall be taken up by the government of the New Socialist Republic in North America."

The above portion of the RCP document is an incorrect line. The fact that RCP feels that once a "socialist republic" is established that the Mexican people would not be entitled to their right to full self-determination but rather their right to secession would be "taken up by the government of the New Socialist Republic in North America" as they put it is simply wrong. All communists should uphold the right to self-determination! The Leninist principle of self-determination is an essential aspect for a socialist party in general and would surely be a requirement for a vanguard party in particular.

The RCP has also stated the same line for the "Native Americans" - that if it took power the RCP itself would decide on the future for "Native Americans" but would allow "autonomous zones" for the "Native Americans" within an RCP socialist republic.

This line will prove to be a grave error for any party that sets its sights on attaining state power. National liberation struggles will not cease to exist until oppressed nations acquire full liberation - regardless of who is in power, denying their freedom. Lenin understood this and thus promoted self-determination as he understood that the basis for revolution is liberty at its core.

What seems to be lost on the RCP is that the oppressed nations, whether Latino, First Nations or any other, are not going to put their lives on the line to transform this society only to allow themselves to be ruled by what the RCP feels is best. Once oppressed nations see a New Socialist government is truly in the interest of the people it is for them to decide to join this republic. The vast majority of the land today is First Nation/Mexican land and for RCP to state they'll decide on who lives where is ludicrous. This position is as ridiculous as if the oppressed East Indians and other Asians living in South Africa were to create a party, gain power and then tell the native "Black" South Africans "we'll decide if you can secede or where you'll live"! This colonization is incorrect and does not represent a righteous revolutionary line.

The liberation of Aztlán (what is currently the southwestern U.$.) under an all Latino socialist government must be the primary objective of all Brown revolutionaries in North America. By showing its true colors, RCP demonstrates once more that many parties claim to fight for all, but in the end don't truly seek liberation for the oppressed nations, as MIM has correctly taught. It is the oppressed nations ourselves who must seek self-determination, this can only be done by using Maoism as the primary vehicle.

We need political parties that guarantee the Leninist principal of self-determination! we need to build Maoist parties led by and for the oppressed nations! Long live the national liberation struggles worldwide.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have not reviewed this rcp=u$a document but this criticism is consistent with our readings of other material by this organization which fakes left but actually opposes the liberation of oppressed nations, instead favoring the struggles of the Amerikan white oppressor nation for a bigger piece of unearned imperialist pie.

Based on this comrade's review, we can condemn the chauvinism of the rcp=u$a that is writing the plans for some utopian white socialist state, while asserting that the future of Aztlán is uncertain. If anyone's future is uncertain it is the hundreds of millions of Amerikans whose nation must be destroyed as part of the anti-imperialist struggle. It is hard for us to imagine how this will happen without the indigenous people of the southwestern U.$. already being well onto the socialist road. If we're going to predict the future, we should be thinking about how the socialist republics of Aztlán, New Afrika and countless First Nation states will determine the form of transition for a large Amerikan population who is generally opposed to the socialist project.

The land question is no more settled for New Afrika than it is for Aztlán, and certainly not more so than for First Nations. We support all nationalism, including struggles for independent territory, that is opposed to imperialism.

chain
[National Oppression]
expand

Death Penalty = Modern Day Genocide

The U.$. Government is trying to find a new way to kill people of color. This is suppose to be a country of justice, equality and freedom, yet thirty five states still carry out the death penalty. Each state now seeks a new way to carry out an execution because the drug used in the lethal injection (Sodium Thiopental) is not being produced or exported to the U$ any longer.

The people who sit on death row are mainly Black and Latino. Death Row serves as a modern day lynching house for Blacks and Latinos. The state of Georgia just carried out an execution of Emanuel Hammond with Sodium Thiopental from an unlicensed company operating out of the back of a driving school in London, England [Similar controversy occurred recently in California - ULK editor].

We need to understand what's going on around us and know our struggle is never over. And we need to start letting our voice be heard. Look at what's going on in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. These people are standing up to their government, letting their voices be heard.

Let's stand up for our people in Death Row and stop this modern day genocide.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As MIM explained well many times already, the death penalty is good for nothing more than national oppression. It does not affect the crime rate, but it does get applied disproportionately against Blacks and Latinos. We call for an end to the imperialist death penalty, but not because we are pacifists. We know that the death penalty might be needed under socialism to deal with enemies of the people but we would not use this tool widely and we work towards a society where neither police nor prisons are needed.

chain
[National Oppression] [International Connections]
expand

Fighting Imperialist Repression in Egypt and at Home

Thank you for everything you are doing out there to re-educate the oppressed masses of incarcerated brethren through the U.S. of Amerika.

I've been following the events that are taking place in Egypt and their repercussions throughout the Middle East and how that can affect the control and monopoly currently exerted by the U.S. in that strategic part of the world.

I can only laugh at the blatant hypocrisy displayed by the U.S. government under Barack Obama whose cries of "support" for the Egyptian people under its banner of 'Democracy' and freedom of elections. One must not forget that Hosni Mubarak stayed in power for the last 30 years as a "puppeteer-government" subservient to the U.S. And that as a direct result the Egyptian people were repressed, suppressed and suffered greatly under Mubarak's totalitarian regime.

But closer to home it pains me to see how my people: Mexicanos and Latinoamericanos (the Brown-skinned) are being persecuted and deported by the anglo-saxon-racist xenophobic bastards such as Arizona's governor Brewer, and now New Mexico's governor Martinez.

We need to show the masses out there in the streets what is really going on. Teach them their rights. Teach them to speak-up and unite against these invaders and imperialist government. And to fight literally if necessary. It's our land and our universal right as human beings to stand-up and defend our beliefs.

Preach it! Teach it! Paste it on the walls! Put it on the net, web, Facebook, everything. Especially in our barrios, ghettos, hoods. We must stop fighting one another, it is not about red and blue or black and white. It is about brown, yellow, black and other light-skinned raza to reunite, together against our common enemy the US.

chain
[National Oppression] [Campaigns] [Gang Validation] [California] [ULK Issue 20]
expand

False Validation Campaign in California

I am writing to you concerning a lawsuit which my defense team members are currently preparing on my behalf. It protests my false prison gang validation as an associate of the Black Guerrilla Family on December 31, 2009.

It is my position that this validation is solely motivated by retaliation and racial profiling due to my ongoing campaign to stamp out corruption involving some "Green Wall" correctional staff within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) who are currently engaged in organized crime, which is a clear threat to the safety and security of all CDCR institutions.

I was recently responsible for disciplinary and employee discharges against three corrupted CDCR prison staff at California State prison - Sacramento, Salinas Valley State Prison, and High Desert State Prison.

Since my false prison gang process, me and my defense have come across strong evidence. Some corrupted "Green Wall" staff are very prejudiced and racist, sanctioning use of the false validation process for some Black, Brown and white prisoners, to pursue false prison gang investigations. Many prisoners have strong evidence of being wrongfully validated for reading materials on their culture. Institutional Gang Investigators have taken a race-based shortcut and assume anything to do with African or Mexican culture can be banned under the guise of controlling gang activities.

Any California prisoners who have relevant information on the false prison gang process should write to MIM(Prisons), to get involved in this case.

My purpose of this lawsuit is to shed light on this abuse of power and human rights violations, including torture tactics through criminal activities and organized crime.

chain