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[New Afrika] [Black Lives Matter] [Civil Liberties] [Police Brutality]
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News From the National Territory: 215 Secret Graves in Jackson Mississippi

numbered grave markers
Numbered posts marking unnamed graves in Mississippi

Within the NAIM, when We think of the Hinds County Mississippi We often think of El-Malik, or many of Our movement elders building independence for Our people in the heart of dixie. On December 18th when NBC News published the identities of 215 buried bodies that had been secretly hidden behind the Hinds County Penal Colony in a ‘Paupers’ graveyard. These 215 people were all buried there between 2016 and December 2023. In total 672 people were buried at this location. Although each of the 215 graves were marked by a metal pole with a number attached indicating unclaimed or unidentified remains, in truth each one of these 215 people were identified by the Hinds County officials and were only unclaimed because officials did not attempt to notify kin of the deceased.

The Wade Family

Of the hundreds of the affected families one of the most striking stories is that of the Wade family, whose matriarch Bettersten Wade was instrumental in bringing the existence of the secret graveyard, next to the jail, to public attention.

In 2019, Jackson pigs pulled over Bettersten’s brother, pulled em out of eir car and slammed em to the ground in such a way that it caused eir death. Eir sister, Bettersten Wade, became a recognizable figure in the local Jackson community as ey waged a relentless public battle to advocate for prosecution of the pigs who were responsible. One of the pigs was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a mere five years. Subsequently, Bettersten Wade filed a wrongful death suit against the Jackson Police Department, this lawsuit is ongoing and has been highly publicized in the local news.

On 5 March 2023, Bettersten Wade’s 37 year-old son, Dexter Wade, left home with a friend but never returned. Bettersten Wade filed a missing person’s report and continuously contacted Jackson and Hinds County officials for months but never got a reply. Then, five months after the fact, an investigator came to eir home to inform em of Dexter’s death.

The story coming from the pigs is that an hour after leaving home, Dexter was hit by a police vehicle driven by a off-duty pig. The illegitimate authorities claim they’ve been unable to reach Ms. Bettersten Wade for months, despite finding Dexter’s wallet with eir I.D. and Ms. Wade’s address, and with Ms. Wade being a known local figure due to eir struggle against police murder of eir brother. Nevertheless, Dexter’s body was buried behind the jail with the number 672 stuck to the pole. To make matters worse, once Ms. Wade found the burial plot ey was told ey would have to pay $250 to the county to have eir son’s remains retrieved, as eir body was considered property of the state of Mississippi!

Ms. Wade and eir lawyer requested to be present when the body was examined, and ey was denied even that dignity and eir humyn courtesy. Dexter’s remains were not embalmed, nor put in a casket, but were stuck in a bag causing rapid decomposing in a shallow grave. When Ms. Wade and eir lawyer arrived the remains of Dexter had already been dug up, “breaking the chains of custody” necessary to determine Dexter’s actual cause of death.

From the results of a later independent autopsy, Dexter Wade’s body was in advance state of decomposition, showed multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs, and pelvis; in addition eir left leg was completely amputated from eir body. Eir body had been completely ran over by a police vehicle. By secretly burying the body without notifying the family, it makes it unlikely that the official findings of “accidental death” could later be questioned. Number 672 was never meant to be uncovered. But ey was. And the hidden horrors connected to Dexter’s death and burial would subsequently lead to many more families coming forward, finding missing loved ones secretly buried in Pauper’s graveyard behind the prison.

The striking similarities between the Emmett Till murder and attempted cover-up among county and state officials, and this contemporary tragedy highlights the ever present need for programs for decolonization in Jackson and the National Territory more generally. Each tragedy and struggle the people experience in which the inadequacy and/or corruption of the U.$. colonial government can be implicated, is an issue We can organize around to intensify the class struggle for national unity.

Intensify the class struggle for national unity

Our lives depend on it!

Re-Build to win!

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[Idealism/Religion] [New Afrika] [Macomb Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 83]
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Black Religion in Michigan Prisons

capitalism plus dope is genocide

Religion was part of the impetus that went into the creation of modern prisons in the United $tates of Amerika. With the opening of the Eastern State Penitentiary in 1829 in Philadelphia, the experiment of molding human behavior with confinement and a bible, the idea was isolation and self-reflection would lead to penitence and a corollary eradication of sin, or criminality. However, the seeding of religion within such a volatile atmosphere never took root as designed, but has nevertheless served a persisting role behind the walls, bars and fences of condemnation and incapacitation, with positive and negative consequences. This short article visits the phenomenon of Black religion as it occurs from a materialist perspective within the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), and its implications relative to Black life inside and outside the walls.

Social organization within the MDOC is controlled by Black men from the enclaves of cities hosting large segments of Black denizens. Power dynamics on the prison yards were determined by crews and cliques from these enclaves, with the inhabitants of Detroit overwhelmingly determining the direction and atmosphere of the prison yard; but the power of crews and cliques would start to diminish as a result of the Black power movements of the 1960s and 70s which had serious implications on how social (power) dynamics would be reformed. This reshaped the inner prison structure within the MDOC.

The prison system witnessed an exodus of Blacks from Christianity into the bosom of Black Muslimhood (Islam) for many Black cons – often infused with a radicalism endemic of the times. As prisoners from the cross-section of Michigan cities with the largest Black neighborhoods adopted membership into religious organizations like the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), Orthodox Islam, the Nation of Islam (NOI), and lastly the Melanic Palace (and Islamic Palace) of the Rising Sun (MPRS/MIPRS), the diversity of the crews/cliques coagulated into unions of these religious folds. The yard was now structured, for the most part, by these four religious blocs who set the rules of compliance and how prisoners related to the powers that be: prison guards and administrators.

These Black religions served multiple functions from individual protection and a greater collective security in the face of growing quantitative and qualitative changes characterized by violence; a sense of belonging; quasi-familyhood and a material support system, however loose; an avenue to educate oneself and engage in character edification for self-betterment; an alternative power base to offset, counter and resist the state agency of the MDOC and its forms of repression, oppression, and aggression typical of a white political body utilized to isolate, control and dominate potential Black rebels, societal dropouts, and the politicized elements capable of organizing and fomenting direct opposition to white racism and anti-Black hate and containment.

During the onset of the 1980s, the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun caught fire with its inductee membership [soaring] to rival other Black religious groups. But what set the Melanic Islamic Palace apart was their willingness to inflict violence on prison guards and staff. This, too, would prove to have both positive and negative consequences. Positive in that energy was invested in degrees of political education and the building of a requisite consciousness steeped in Black nationalist rhetoric, which spilled over and was consumed primarily by the NOI, and to lesser degrees the MSTA and Orthodox Muslims. Negative in that the State, like any serious sociopolitical entity, started focusing attention on these groups which would later bloom into a tsunami of backlash and repression that would blast the political and radical elements out of MDOC religious groups, pushing them to take up a near exclusive God-centric and moralistic brand of religious practice.

The Melanics would eventually be repressed, banned from group service, and branded a security threat group which is tantamount to free society’s terrorist designation. The ripple effects of this move would fuel the aftershocks for decades to come to this very day. Political content and its verbiage are now nearly obsolete among the Black religious groups for fear of repression and possible banishment of group worship. Radical activism has not only largely died out, but can also be frowned upon by Black religious adherents. The yard structure and its rules based compliance has all but evaporated with exception of a few prisons. And with those older prisoners from the 1970s and 80s having returned to society, become frail seniors in prison or having died off, a leadership vacuum was opened to be filled by the incoming street gangs of the younger generation who would steer asunder the remaining residue of rule by structure. A by-product of this alteration in yard power has been that the Black religious groups have become old in age relative to its membership, have become socially and politically ineffective, and have reverted to existing as mere prison social groups who sometimes operate as prison yard gangs.

In the midst of the expiring decades in prison from the 1970s to the 2020s, the move towards Black Muslim-ism in prison has had some serious uninttended consequences, mainly, a lost and/or move away from Afrikanism (consciously and unconsciously). Plagued by anti-Afrikan bias as a result of post-slavery cultural, spiritual and mental colonialism (mentacide), with the exception of few, the Black Muslim groups argued instead for an Asiatic and/or Arab identity that didn’t require them to identify with the savage, barbarian, backward, uncivilized Africans who had no history and remained primitive, as their white masters had intentionally misinformed them during the breaking process of Afrikans to Niggas. And when/where a colonial based Blackness was expressed, unbeknownst to its propounders, it was delivered from a religious package that actually vitiated Blackness as it grew out of a Eurocentric conceptuality birthed during the Hellenistic epoch.

This contradictory pro-Black western (Eurocentric) religious conceptuality carries itself from behind the walls into open society as one of the nails in the coffin to serious liberation struggle advanced by Black people inside the imperialist center of North Amerika. Unfortunately, Black has proven to be ineffective as a sole basis for unity in this country as its nuanced nature cultures fragmentation, and Black western conceptualized religion only fuels the fractures of Blackness into an extreme polylithic substance that rejects a collective Black consciousness that’s bound for, or even focused on liberation.

But does there exist any light to dispel this dark period of irrelevant prison-religion utility? With the 2022 revision to the MDOC religious policy permitting the group service of the indigenous Afrikan Ifa spirituality, and the often radical Hebrew Israelite religion, one might argue the cusp of change is potentially present, and a new day may be dawning. However, I am not convinced. The perpetual distortion of indigenous Afrikan spirituality with western conceptuality spells doom to prospects of Black religion being utilized for liberation purposes. And like education, if a subject is not used for liberation, despite whatever radical nature it may acquire, and pro-Black or anti-white rhetoric it protest, its final product will prove to be a pro-Amerikan assimilationist one.

So the problem with Black religion in prison, speaking in the context of Blackness, no different than Black religious experience in the free world, is it’s devoid of power politics, is Eurocentric (laden with western [Hellenistic] concepts), and is reformist-integrationist-assimilationist (pro-Amerika). These three elements fight against the ability of the Black body to develop a monolithic character (collective consciousness), at least as it concerns Black unity as necessary for our capacity to adequately struggle for liberation or an activist model and mentality that is capable of loosening the screws and weakening the bricks of the prison complex structure.

Prison religion, or Black religion in general has made Karl Marx into a prophet where they serve to actualize his quote: “religion is the opium of the people.” And while I am certain over time many brothers within the MDOC will be exposed to Ifa and even grow to appreciate and practice it, no different than those brothers who have acquired knowledge about Kemeta, it will yet remain tethered to western monotheistic conceptuality through which brothers will be taught to practice it. In this way, it’ll be of little consequence as the receiving receptacles will fail to decolonize their minds of western conceptuality. Instead, the example of the Haitian revolutionaries must be followed by marrying our spirituality to struggle for power. Otherwise, Ifa will function as a mere symbol of Afrikanism, and brothers will be lying to themselves about being Afrikan-centered while actually promoting an inconsequential cultural nationalism that does absolutely nothing to foment a consciousness that could serve as models to alter prison conditions to their benefit. Ifa will be a mere badge of knowledge; a gold chain or Rolex shown off as a fetish, and will soon be denigrated to the margins of irrelevancy on par with the rest of black prison religions within the MDOC.

In my final analysis, drawing from more than two decades inside the cage, I conclude Black religion in the MDOC has been regressive. And contrary to some external beliefs outside the walls, Black prison-religion is not progressing towards Afrikan-based religious affiliation. Black Islamism is still the preferred go-to as it has successfully positioned itself as the popular vehicle for black intellectualism, freedom and expression of Black pride. In the end, however, Black religion in the MDOC is failing Black convicts and has betrayed and continues to betray authentic Black activism and struggle.

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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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[Revolutionary History] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 82]
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Rest In Power Mutulu Shakur

Rest in Power Mutulu Shakur

Mutulu Shakur passed away on 6 July 2023, about 8 months after being released from prison. From a young age Shakur got involved in the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and soon after became a citizen of newly founded Republic of New Afrika in 1968. Ey was a leader in the movement in eir late teens.

Shakur was a Prisoner of War for 36 years before eir release this winter. Shakur was imprisoned for the Brinks robbery case where a guard and two cops were killed. This incident is analyzed in detail in the book, False Nationalism, False Internationalism by Tani and Sera.

While in prison, Shakur spent most of eir years in torture cells. Ey was sent to the original control unit in Marion, IL for eir organizing of young New Afrikans, and was later sent to the infamous ADX prison. During this time ey also worked with step-son Tupac Shakur to develop the THUG LIFE code.(1)

Mutulu Shakur is also well-known for eir participation in the Lincoln Detox Center in New York, where ey spearheaded the practice of using acupuncture, as opposed to methodone, which the revolutionaries of Lincoln Detox saw as just hooking the people on another form of dope.(2) This history has been an inspiration to our own work, and the development of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program, which we aspire to develop into a Serve the People Program at the level that Lincoln Detox did in the early 1970s.

While Shakur continued to have an impact, as an educator, and especially through eir collaboration with Tupac, the decades spent in solitary confinement were a great loss to New Afrika and all oppressed people. There is no question that Shakur had decided to wage war against U.$. imperialism, renouncing eir citizenship at 17 years old. And the imperialists waged war against em through the prison system and the extreme isolation of the control units. This is why shutting down control units and supporting prisoners organizing against imperialism remains an integral part of the anti-imperialist struggle to this day.

This Black August, we will remember Mutulu Shakur, along with many others who gave their lives to the New Afrikan Liberation Struggle.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), March 2009, Peace in the Streets, Under Lock & Key No. 7.
2. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [New Afrika]
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Forced

Forced to face a foreign decision,
Forced to embrace a foreign religion
Black and white begets a foreign collision
That’s unprecedented destroying our vision

Forced to pledge allegiance
While praising the dead,
Ignoring the living and only free
In the head,
Independent thinking is the
thing that they dread,
Death or freedom is the
Reason they fled.

North Atlantic ocean created
The distance,
Accompanied by an ideology
That made us defenseless,
Proving them wrong
And making the difference
Ancestral pain created resistance.

For removal of chains
Charge them a fee,
Shackle their minds
Convince them they’re free,
Felony conviction
Is slavery for lease,
As the murder of kins
Was the removal of peace.

New rap songs
Spiritual potion
Internal revolution is the only resolution,
Read the constitution and it’s void of a solution,
No black inclusion, so freedom’s a delusion
No black inclusion, so freedom’s a delusion
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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Campaigns] [United Front] [Revolutionary History] [National Liberation] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 81]
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Texas History: Plan de San Diego or Juneteenth?

Biden Juneteenth disatisfaction

Last year prisoners in Texas took the opportunity of the declaration of a federal holiday on Juneteenth to launch the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative (JFI), triggering a repressive response from the state prisoncrats at the TDCJ. The JFI campaign said:

“As you may know, Juneteenth has now been made a federal holiday in amerika. On this day many will sing the praises of Our oppressors or otherwise negate the reality of the lumpen (economically alienated class), that according to amerika’s 13th amendment We are STILL SLAVES. While We do not wish to nullify the intensity of the exploitation and oppression that New Afrikan people held in chattel slavery faced, We must pinpoint to the general public, those upcoming generations of youngsters looking to follow Our footsteps, that to be held in captivity by the state or feds is not only to be frowned upon but is part and parcel with the intentions of this amerikan government, and its capitalist-imperialist rulers. We say NO CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH until the relation of people holding others in captivity is fully abolished!!”

The Juneteenth Freedom Initiative put forth demands and calls for action including:

End Solitary Confinement! End Restrictive Housing Units(RHU)!

End Mass Incarceration!

Transform the prisons to cadre schools! Transform ourselves into NEW PEOPLE!

The history of utilizing Juneteenth to fight the torturous long-term isolation cells in U.$. prisons didn’t start last year with the campaign to shut down the RHU. At the 2011 Juneteenth celebration in Berkeley, CA, MIM(Prisons) did an extensive outreach campaign in support of the first round of historic hunger strikes to protest the SHU in California. These we see as proper ways of honoring the spirit of Juneteenth, which is a holiday that was kept alive for over a century by the New Afrikan nation before the United $tates took it as its own.

In his 2022 book on the history of Texas, historian Gerald Horne points out some holes in the story of Juneteenth being paraded by the bourgeois Liberals of the Biden regime. He points out how the Emancipation Proclamation did not really extend to the territory of Texas that remained beyond the jurisdiction of the Lincoln government. Texas was an independent state of Euro-settlers claiming territory from Mexico in 1836. Texas remained its own country until 1845 when it joined the United $tates. By 1865, Texans were strongly considering rejoining Mexico, which was temporarily under the rule of the French puppet Maximillian in order to maintain the system of slavery. While this did not happen, slavery continued in many parts of Texas for many years after the historic date known as Juneteenth. According to one source, “two-thirds of the freedmen in the section of country which I travelled over have never received one cent of wages since they were declared free…” Horne cites another source saying “the freedmen are in a worse condition than they ever were as slaves.”(Horne, p.457) Texans were determined to hold on to their slaves until the U.$. government came in to compensate them for their “property.”

Some fifty years after so-called emancipation, the war continued to wage between the newly coalesced white oppressor nation and the oppressed nations in the region of Texas.

“However, given the dialectic of repression generating resistance – and vice versa – it was also during this same period that Jack Johnson, the heavyweight champion from Galveston, was forced into exile in order to elude spurious charges and wound up in Mexico City during the revolutionary decade. There he sought to establish a beachhead against Jim Crow. It was also then that the monumental “Plan of San Diego” was crafted, which was said to involve retaking the land seized improperly by the U.S. during the war of aggression of the 1840s and establishing in its stead independent Black and Indigenous polities."(Horne, p.565)

Minister King X honors the legacy and story of Jack Johnson
in this song that addresses the struggle for peace in California
prisons being scorned by some other rappers on the streets.

In 2017, USW comrades launched a campaign to commemorate the Plan de San Diego each August, as the military operations carried out in southern Texas by units of 25 to 100 men against the Euro-settlers reached their high point in August and September of 1915. If you want to commemorate this revolutionary history this August, write in and ask for copies of the Plan de San Diego flier to use for outreach and get more ideas for how to honor that history.

NOTES: Gerald Horne, 2022, The Counter-Revolution of 1836: Texas Slavery & Jim Crow and the Roots of U.S. Fascism, International Publishers, New York.

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[Police Brutality] [Black Lives Matter] [New Afrika] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 81]
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The Struggle Against Cop City in Atlanta

stop cop city banner in trees

Since 2021, the city of Atlanta in conjunction with its police force and local developers and contractors, has been trying to bulldoze a significant part of the remaining forest in the city and construct an urban warfare training center for police officers. The forest, which formerly contained a slave labor camp and then a state farm ran on prisoner labor, has been the site of occupations, sabotage of construction equipment, protests and raids by the police. Recently, the cops murdered an activist staying in the encampment defending the forest, while revolts in downtown Atlanta and confrontations with police at the site of the forest have resulted in arrests and terrorism charges for dozens of activists. The movement has racked up several victories already, including delaying the construction of the training center by several months and driving several contractors off the project entirely. But the struggle continues. At press time, the forest faces clear-cutting for the initial stages of construction.

Background

Atlanta is a rapidly and brutally gentrifying city, with a nominally Black elected leadership but a housing and economic policy that has displaced thousands of lower income New Afrikan residents. Cops have been used to harass New Afrikan tenants out of public housing to facilitate redevelopment, rent has spiked well above the already bloated national average, and the arrival of movie production companies (facilitated by tax breaks and other favors) has been a major motor of gentrification across the city.(1) The elected leadership of the city is in a bind – they have to deliver economic growth and good jobs, and get re-elected by appearing to stand against police brutality and white supremacy, but are constrained by their own commitment to capitalism and inability to confront the real power structure of the city, which, as we will see soon, is mostly unelected.

Like most Amerikan cities, Atlanta saw a weeks-long uprising against the police following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. In Atlanta, also like other Amerikan cities, local cases of police brutality added extra impetus to the protesters and their demands. The murder of Rayshard Brooks in June of 2020 led to a revolt that burned down the Wendys he’d been killed at(2), the resignation of hundreds of police officers and even the trashing of the offices of the state police. Local lumpen organizations saw a temporary truce and occupied the Wendys site with arms against rumors of white militas seeking to march near the site of Rayshard Brooks’ death. In the wake of these and similar events police and correctional forces nationwide are facing difficulties filling their ranks and reeling from their abject failure to contain the disturbances of 2020, when over sixty thousand (3) National Guard troops had to be called out to back them up. The need for Cop City is itself a sign of weakness, paranoia and poor morale of the police force.

The Campaign in the City Council

In 2021, after the rebellion, the Atlanta City Council met in secret to arrange two land deals in the South Forest, the largest expanse of forest remaining in the Metro Atlanta area. One was to give a movie studio CEO, Ryan Milsap, a swathe of public land to bulldoze and build a large movie production studio on. A second was to give another large chunk of land to the Atlanta Police Foundation, a private nonprofit that gathers money from some of the largest businesses in the region and funds policing initiatives. The APF was to construct a mock city out of concrete, similar to U.S. Military urban warfare training sites, to prepare police to prevent another 2020 from happening. (4)

The Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) is interesting all on its own. It’s entirely private, with unclear finances and no accountability to the public. It’s staffed by former national security officers, real estate investors and retired police; and it has enacted several large-scale programs around the city by itself such as building a center for a massive surveillance network across the entire city which allows footage from thousands of cameras the foundation has installed to be reviewed at one location. The APF has also built up a house renovation program that buys cheap real estate in New Afrikan neighborhoods, remodels it and gives it to police recruits to live in. All of this is done with money donated by corporations ranging from Coca Cola (who did drop out of the Foundation after pressure from activists) to Norfolk Southern. To repeat: large capitalist firms are directly funding, with no public oversight, the extension of massive surveillance networks, police colonization of New Afrikan ghettos, and the construction of a training center intended to make cops more proficient at urban warfare.

The APF is best understood not as a slush fund or a shady organization behind the scenes, but as a de facto shadow government that actually runs the city on behalf of a mostly white bourgeoisie.(5)

Activists uncovered the land deals and organized protests and a campaign to persuade the city council to not approve the projects. After months of rallies, lobbying and canvassing, the Atlanta City Council voted in late 2021 to allow the project to proceed. This outcome, which many of the activists involved in the campaign predicted, marked the first defeat for Stop Cop City. The coalition that managed this campaign, DARC (Defund Atlanta Police Department, Refund Communities) dissolved among accusations that the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) had tried to take over the campaign and use it (and its failure which they banked on) as a recruiting tool. The DSA’s plan was to allow the campaign to fail instead of criticizing it openly, with the hope that its failure would radicalize people into their organization. Commenting on this, a local communist wrote “the notion that working class Atlantans, people who live their entire lives in the trenches of the city’s class war, require a civics lesson to be radicalized is self-evidently chauvinistic.” (6)

The Campaign in the Weelaunee Forest

Parallel to the campaign against the city council and continuing after it had been defeated, a growing and mostly anonymous group of people calling themselves “forest defenders” were ramping up their activity. Some engaged in tree-sits in the forest, others established gardens or engaged in mutual aid projects and free concerts, and others routinely sabotaged construction and surveying equipment preparing the forest for the project.(7)

At one point members of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe from Oklahoma, who lived in the South Forest before being expelled during the 1820’s, returned to the forest, conducted a stomp dance ceremony and shared the forest’s pre-colonial name: Weelaunee.

Several times, crews hired by Ryan Milsap to start demolishing the forest ahead of official permitting were driven out after direct confrontation by forest defenders. Outside the forest, protests against contractors, politicians and business-people involved in the project routinely escalated to vandalism and provoked repression from the police. In one case, a protest in East Atlanta Village was attacked by cops as it was ending, but the heavy-handed tactics of the police resulted in all 17 arrests being dismissed and thousands in restitution paid to those targeted. One of the general contractors of the project, Reeves + Young, dropped out after another direct protest at their officers and after several of their vehicles were sabotaged in the forest. It should be noted that not all interactions between construction workers and the forest defenders were hostile – when crews from the local power company showed up to do maintenance on a line in the forest, they worked around a garden that forest defenders had planted instead of destroying it.

Throughout late 2021 and 2022 this back and forth continued, with coordinated Weeks of Action bringing hundreds of people into the forest and a fluctuating smaller body of activists building and defending the forest in the interim.

Raids and the Murder of Tortuguita

Different police agencies routinely entered the forest and raided it repeatedly. Last May, following a Week of Action, cops came into the forest and smashed up a lot of protest infrastructure that was on the ground. Activists retreated to the trees, continued confronting work crews and burning equipment that was left unguarded at night. A statement issued after one of these incidents read “if you build it we will burn it.” In December of last year another raid resulted in the destruction of more shelters and 6 people were arrested and charged with ‘domestic terrorism.’

On 18 January 2023, a final raid into the forest by officers from the Georgia State Highway Patrol and numerous other police agencies attacked the forest with guns drawn. During the raid a forest defender sitting under a tarp refused orders to get up and leave, and the cops shot em several times at close range, claiming self defense. Eir name was Manuel Paez Teran (nicknamed Tortuguita or Tort), an indigenous anarchist from Venezuela, and ey’d been living in the forest for almost a year helping to coordinate its supply and defense. The cop story, that Tort had fired first from under the tarp and wounded an officer, began to unravel quickly. On body camera footage released weeks later an officer can be heard saying ‘you fucked your own officer up?’ after the shots, implying that the officer who was wounded was shot by his own people. Tort’s autopsy showed bullet wounds through the palms of eir hands, a story more consistent with an encounter killing than a firefight.(8)

Today

The movement is mostly evicted from the forest for now, and initial tree clearing has begun. The murder of Tortuguita, however, has dramatically raised the temperature of the struggle. The City council has already started walking back some of their plans for Cop City, and support for the movement and criticism of Mayor Dickens for being involved in it, has swelled. It’s also important to remember that without the resistance the whole forest would be gone and Cop City would be half-built already.

For Rayshard Brooks, for Tortuguita, and for victims of poverty and police violence in Atlanta whose names we know and those we don’t, we say Stop Cop City.

NOTES:
(1) Cde. KM Cascia “The White Left is Building Cop City” March 2, 2023.
(2) Greyhound, “On the Tragic Death of Secoriea Turner” July 2020.
(3) Alexandra Sternlicht, “Over 4,400 Arrests, 62,000 National Guard Troops Deployed: George Floyd Protests By The Numbers”.
(4) Crimethinc, “The City in the Forest: Reinventing Resistance for an Age of Climate Crisis and Police Militarization” Crimethinc, April 11, 2022. Background for the struggle aginst Cop City comes from this zine unless otherwise noted.
(5) Cascia, “The White Left Is Building Cop City”
(6) Ibid.
(7) Crimethinc, “The Forest in the City: Two Years of Forest Defense in Atlanta, Georgia” February 22, 2023. All info in this section comes from this zine unless otherwise noted.
(8) Alex Binder, “Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Terán’s Independent Autopsy Report Released at Press Conference” March 13, 2023.

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[New Afrika] [Aztlan/Chicano] [National Liberation] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 81]
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Book Review: “Power to New Afrika - Essays by Comrade Triumphant”

Power to New Afrika book cover

This zine offered a breath of fresh air in terms of political line coming out of the concentration kamps. Imprisoned New Afrika (like Aztlán and other oppressed nations) has plenty of rebels, those rising up or conscious that we stand on the side of the people against the pig. The anger and defiance is strong, but ideology that is strong and stuffed with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is what is often lacking from the prison writings of today. Power to New Afrika is another gem that contributes to filling this void.

Looking at this zine through a Chican@ lenses, I agreed with the assessment that it was after the assassination of Martin Luther King that the Black vanguard attempted to steer the Black movement onto the next stage of resistance. We of the Republic of Aztlán have also made a similar assessment recently from the data/chatter that tells us the state is planning to assassinate a key figure of the Chicano movement, and our assessment was the same where we feel that the Chican@ vanguard should use this to take Aztlán to the next level of resistance.

On page 10 in the zine, the writer discusses the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PG-RNA) and how since 1968 at their birth they have been attempting to obtain land “legally,” but a report is cited from a memorandum sent to the FBI director at the time in 1970 J. Edgar Hoover from Special Agent in Charge in Jackson, Mississippi which is titled “Counter Intelligence Operations Being Effected, tangible results (Republic of New Afrika)”:

“Since March 1968… the RNA has been trying to buy and lease land in Mississippi… Counter intelligence measures have been able to abort all RNA efforts to obtain land in Mississippi.”

COINTELPRO is real. When I read this I thought of every doofus who has ever asked me the absurd question: “do you REALLY think COINTELPRO is fucking with us?” I’ve found that the more liberal on the spectrum the less they believe in a COINTELPRO, the more radical you are the more you know how real it is. The fact that the Feds in their own words admit to sabotaging RNA efforts like legally purchasing land tells us that even “legal” efforts are not safe if the state feels that you are a threat.

On page 11 the author correctly identifies the principal contradiction within the New Afrikan nation being between the political-economic force of independence versus political-economic forces of integration. This is also true for the Chican@ nation. Internally, we struggle with getting free and the Ti@ Tomas’ struggles to keep serving massa on the plantation. We see these TI@ Tacos trying to run for a colonizer position in Washington DC or as state governor, while claiming to be revolutionary. The Tom compradors have suckers believing in their foolishness, but the truth is simple – one cannot be considered a revolutionary while aspiring to be, or supporting a U.$. President or governor. U.$. imperialism is the enemy of the world’s majority and in this case, the Trojan Horse tactic will not work.

This zine addresses the battle of ideas that I feel apply to the Chican@ Nation as well. In this writing, the author writes of the “war for the New Afrikan mind” which goes on to describe “independence vs integration” really being a historically dialectical materialist process versus the post-modernist philosophical analysis. This truth needs to also be embraced and thought by all Chican@ cadre today as well. This political line really amounts to life or death to Aztlán. One nourishes and builds the nation, the other poisons and destroys it. One political line wants to burn the plantation down and the other wants to defend it.

It is a misnomer to entertain the notion of Brown, Black, Red, or Yellow “Amerikans,” for the word Amerika is but the name of the white-nation. This zine really unpacks this for the reader particularly, for the Black Nation; but it is mostly applicable to the Chican@ Nation as well.

The slave system is addressed in this zine as well and rightfully so. One cannot give an analysis of colonialism in the U.$. without understanding how the slave system and subsequent “paper” abolishment of slavery play into the role of semi-colonialism today.

What we should understand is that by using the so-called abolition of slavery as a bargaining chip, Amerika was able to at once overthrow the Confederacy while continuing white supremacy by other means. Today we see the same internal struggle within the white nation being carried out by other means via Republican vs Democrat squabbles using the oppressed nations’ wants and aspirations and rights as bargaining chips while at the same time keeping white supremacy intact.

It was refreshing to read how the author describes how a revolutionary nationalist must be a socialist. For the Chican@ Nation this is also true. A revolutionary nationalist is a socialist or a communist in many cases. We overstand that capitalism and imperialism specifically is the source of our despair.

Another great point raised in this zine was on page 37-38 where the author discusses the contradictions among the people, and specifically discusses the most influential orgs for New Afrika of the time (1907-1925) being the NAACP, Garvey’s UNIA, and the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB). According to the author, the ABB was founded by “proletarians,” and thus had the leading line being led by Black Marxists. Ey goes onto say:

“ABB and the UNIA were both highly successful in organizing the broadest masses of our nation as well as linking our struggle concretely with the international anti-imperialist struggle. For this reason we say that they advanced our people further than the NAACP, but they didn’t enjoy the same fame or support on the popular front. This of course is due to their class make up and the fact that the integrationist aspect as always, is aligned with the empire’s agenda. Thus, the colonizer controlled popular front has and will always lend credence to those people and groups, and ideas that in the final analysis, run counter to the interest of our nation.”

This is deep. Big lessons to be gleamed here. For one, the NAACP was and continues to be a group of Black compradors who have worked on reforms, although good deeds do help people on a small scale, the work of liberal orgs like the NAACP also corral people into having faith in Amerikkka and promoting the idea of working within a capitalist system will free people from oppression. This accounts to creating more supporters of empire. For this reason orgs like NAACP for Black folks, or National Council for la Raza (NCLR) and their kind for Brown folks, are simply the labor bureaucracy for bourgeois politics and thus are promoted widely by the U.$. government and its propaganda media arm. Meanwhile, real revolutionary orgs like the Republic of New Afrika, the Republic of Aztlán, the Communist Party of Aztlán (Maoist) or MIM(Prisons) will not be given Hollywood style commercials nor be invited to the White people House in Washington, D.C. anytime soon to sing x-mas carols around the tree (not that anyone wants to). The point is that Tomism is rewarded and the Uncle Tom orgs of all stripes are given resources to become popular and the real ones are smothered like a baby in the crib to use Lenin’s quote.

The mostly unconscious masses (and oftentimes self-proclaimed “communists”) often erroneously connect popular with correctness, or numbers in an org as correct political line. This is very wrong. The colonizers work hard to make this so. When we hear on the news about Amerikkka pouring billions into its war machine, understand that a part of this is promoting these Chican@ or New Afrikan Uncle Tom orgs that tell its members to vote for an enemy political candidate.

This zine is now required reading for members of our organization. Free New Afrika! Free Aztlán! Free the land!

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[Revolutionary History] [New Afrika] [California] [ULK Issue 79]
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Rest in Power Shaka At-Thinnin

I was just made aware of the passing of Shaka At-Thinnin via the Black August Organizing Committee, of which the comrade was a lead member of. We are losing a generation of New Afrikans right now. The ones who survived the most brutal oppression of the U.$. injustice system to live long lives.

Of course brutal oppression remains in the U.$. concentration camps to this day. The torture units that were developed in response to the resistance of brothers like Shaka are still in full operation across most of this country.

The comrades who started Black August responded to this repression with collective self-defense, an immense openness and love for the oppressed, and a sharp discipline. Discipline is one of the tenets of Black August. And it is one that i think we can all benefit from. It can be hard to impose strict discipline when it is not out of necessity or dire circumstances as it was for the founders. But studies have shown that the more you practice discipline the easier it becomes, in all aspects of your life. Little routines, little extra efforts, regaining little chunks of time to put it towards what you care about.

Struggling to spend a couple hours writing to prisoners, or handing out fliers, or studying political economy after working all day for exploiter wages is not as glorious as the struggles of some. Yet it is no less important. Shaka emself spent many evenings writing comrades inside after eir release from prison. I’ve had people come to me years later and tell me how a small action, a few words, or a magazine shared really impacted them. You will never know all the impacts you have if you put in work to reach others every day, every week, or even every month.

Shaka did not live to see the liberation of New Afrika, yet eir contribution was still great and continues to inspire us. When i was younger i had read George Jackson’s books, and knew the story of Jonathan Jackson, and studied the Attica rebellion. But it was only after meeting Shaka and Kumasi of the Black August Organizing Committee that I got a real understanding of what Black August was about, and what the New Afrikan resistance in California prisons at the time was like. Their work to preserve that history and share it with the world helps sustain the struggle into the future.

In my years in this movement i’ve had the privilege of meeting many elders of the generation of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Each one of them inspired me, even if our interactions were brief. What they’d been through and how they responded was a testament to the potential of struggle, and the strategic confidence that we hold in the oppressed majority of the world who have nothing to lose but their chains.

The world is in constant flux. People come, people go. Empires die. The climate changes. And through it all we know that the oppressed nations are the rising force in the imperialist world today. And that force will eventually seize power from the current oppressors and change the course of history.

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[New Afrika] [Black Panther Party] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 78]
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Understanding George Jackson

[CORRECTION: This article was published stating that Yogi was Puerto Rican, when ey was actually of Nicaraguan descent.]

Peace Comrades. Recieved the latest issue of the newspaper & passed it off to one of my comrades who just recently got into some trouble. So if possible, I would like to receive that issue & the one before it. Thanks with much love in revolution.

I’m writing this as an article that I’m hoping will get published for the Black August Memorial in hopes that my earnest effort could perhaps clarify things a bit further in terms of matter of perspective & also to educate brothers/sisters on the legendary history of fallen comrade George Jackson.

I read an article that began somewhat vacariously about the fallen comrade & his connection to Hugo Pinnell who was also BGF & how because of George’s wide encompassing views on race & its place in standing to building political/military cadre’s, that this somehow means that we need to abandon the rhetoric that is connected with groups who are primarily concerned with fixing the “Black issue”.

I strongly disagree with the content of that article & not because my views are just so diametrically different, but because I too have wide encompassing views concerning race. However, I’m not under the impression that we need to abandon our quest in building the support that is needed to eliminate the black problem altogether. My first reason for this is largely because I see that Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing. But its also because of the fact that before we can ever hope to build in the concept of global Asiatic unity & eventually begin to merge our support with Europeans, we must first unify among ourselves & use that unity to destroy the Black problem & then we can go on to build with others & help others in their quest for the same sort of thing.

You see, revolution is tied to long range politics. This is so because revolution is so complex due to the fact that everything – places, people, religion, economics, and sociology – will be impacted in a major way. It’s not as simple as a government takeover & let’s be real, if you cannot make revolution into a transmitter that spreads through all cultural variations, then a government takeover here & abroad will never be possible.

George was a people’s revolutionary & by people’s revolutionary I mean people in terms of all humanity. However, even he had to develop into that sort of personhood. Let’s not forget either that George Jackson was a huge history major & for those who really know about George, they attest to the fact that he loved being Black & even wanted to be Blacker. That is not proof that he ever abandoned his concern for his people’s plight nor did he have a lack of pride what comes from a lack of knowledge. Through his studies on Afrikan history as evidence through both of his books, I know he saw the connection between the Original man globally. That means that he saw the black, brown, yellow, red (a variation of brown) as Asiatics & all being the same people, & the fact that we suffered at the hands of the same forces & people was largely his reason to connect with these people.

The Black Guerrilla Family was initially started to combat racism within the confines of an openly oppressive prison system designed against Blacks. Yeah, sure, George did overcome the counterproductive effects of racism that would have surely stunted his growth as a communist revolutionary. But when did the Black Guerrilla Family ever become a family that forgot about the Black issue?

I think for a lot of people who became politically aware, they became like Utopian anarchists in a way. I say this because a lot don’t see the fact that whatever issue they faced like slavery here and abroad is what fueled their passion to become revolutionaries in the first place. I get that we cannot stay blinded by that issue alone, but how do you walk on a broken leg? You have to heal that leg first. It’s like Malcolm said “You can’t stab a man with a 12-inch knife and pull it out 3 inches and ask him why he’s still complaining.” One issue doesn’t trump the next one, however until we get free completely its righteous for brothers to complain and use that concern to solve their problems.

Also as revolutionaries, it’s supposed to be our aim to help others to eliminate their problems, not to beat them over the head for doing so.

I also disagree with the fact that August 21 and the Attica uprising were not events solely about George. Even if you believe the bullshit “story” that the state concocted to assassinate George, this still means that the events that took place and led up to the assassination were about George and this means that the San Quentin 6 coming together was for George. Perhaps it was solidarity across “national” lines but, if Hugo Pinell was Puerto Rican, then how wasn’t he Black? Now I agree that the revolt of Attica was already brewing, however George’s assassination was the match that struck an already heavily gasolined situation.

If anything, no one needs to forget the Black issue, but I mean this in a global sense, not an Amerikan sense, because the original man is everywhere and everywhere he has come into some form of struggle. Read the history books, don’t just get immersed into revolutionary theory. How can you say that you agree with George or any other revolutionary leader if you don’t understand their philosophies which are the result of history and the masterworks of theorists who came before them? I don’t think those who are excited about Juneteenth are wrong at all. But it’s an Amerikan tragedy & that’s what Juneteenth should be about.

For Black August, we shouldn’t be bickering over Black this, Puerto Rican that, we should be trying to show how we all the same people and use that to connect with each other. Globally the Black man is 11 to 1 there’s no reason to argue over why brothers should deviate from Black revolution. If you don’t understand that either you didn’t go through the process of going from A to Z or you understand revolution only as its all inclusive, which is good, but there’s a process to inclusion.

So if you really champion George, then try to understand the core of his philosophy, not by separating Blacks from other Asiatics, but seeing them collectively as one globally.

Peace.


Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade writes, “Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing.” We hear this a lot from people of different nationalities, that they are told to, or that their own people fight for the liberation of others but not themselves. So I would say this is a misperception that probably stems from the overall lack of revolutionary nationalism among all nations entrapped by the United $tates at this time and a result of oppressor nation chauvinism telling the oppressed to essentially “stop complaining.”

We wholeheartedly agree with this comrade on the need to unify within oppressed nations in order to build strong alliances between the oppressed and especially with forces in the oppressor nation (who are most likely to lead us astray). USW has a slogan, “Unity from the Inside Out”, and this is one of the many meanings of that slogan. Like this comrade states, we find the work of prisoners (and oppressed nations in general) finding unity and inclusion amongst each other to be of great important work. We also find it important for two oppressed groups to 100% understand/accept each other’s qualitative differences while building unity as blind unity is bound to fall apart. Malcolm X used the term “Black Revolution” as happening in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; so from that angle we see the positive and internationalist application of this model of thinking.

As we explain in another response on single nation organizing, the main reason we think this is true is because imperialism is the dialectical contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations. To resolve that contradiction, and to end oppression of all forms in the world today, means prioritizing the struggles of the oppressed nations to overcome the oppressor nations and end imperialism.

As to the term “Asiatic”, we don’t subscribe to the ideas of a differentiation between original or aboriginal people and white people being a demonic derivation of that. And i’ve never seen any indication that George Jackson did either. We would use the term Third World oppressed nations, as the Black Panthers did. It is the contradiction between nations, which is an historical phenomenon, not a biological difference.

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