The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[National Oppression] [Organizing] [Police Brutality] [ULK Issue 52]
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How Should We Respond to Police Violence?

Panther Vision

The recent attention to murder and brutality of New Afrikan men by Amerikan police, and the shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas by Micah X, apparently in retaliation for this brutality, inspired a lot of thoughtful letters from across the country. Many commented on the need to take up the gun to fight those with guns.

A contributor in Florida asked:

"So, my question is this: how effective and appropriate was the brother's actions (or sacrifice) at this point in time, or what do we, you and the readers make of all this? Are there any lessons, a message, or information to be learned from all of this? Or, ultimately, is there perhaps any more room, space, or a vacuum for more of this kind of self-defense at this point in time? And if so, how does one go about or start preparing, alleviating, educating, demonstrating or organizing for such right now from this example (or lesson) at this point in time? Like Micah X, are we ready to effectively exercise or address any more of this yet - or continue to keep the conversation going?"

If Micah were trying to spark a revolution, this would be a good example of what we call focoism:

The belief that small cells of armed revolutionaries can create the conditions for revolution through their actions. Demonstrated revolutionary victories, the successes of the foci, are supposed to lead the masses to revolution. Focoism often places great emphasis on armed struggle and the immediacy this brings to class warfare. Focoism is different from people's war in that it doesn't promote the mass line as part of guerrilla operations.
It is difficult for us to know Micah's goals and intents without having been there and spoken with em. Regardless of eir intents, the outcome of the actions ey took serve as ammunition for the oppressors to continue oppressing. For them, it is much easier to gain (even more) public opinion and sympathy when they are able to point at specific incidents of a member of a movement "mercilessly" gunning down pigs. Remember that the majority of people in power are already on their side.

While revolutionaries and many in the oppressed nations know that Micah's actions were an act of self-defense, white politicians and leaders will never see it that way. As a Federal prisoner wrote to us: "President Obama called what happened in Dallas Texas 'A Vicious, Calculated, Despicable ATTACK!'" In their eyes, violent actions taken against a pig (or pigs) can never be considered self-defense, especially when the "offender" in question is non-white.

At this point, standalone violent actions such as this one serve to incite the government to act with more urgency against those who they perceive threaten them, and allow them to place themselves ever more in the role of "victim," and to place the oppressed in the role of "aggressor."

Violence is a very necessary part of effecting any kind of true change that puts an end to imperialism, but there is a time for it, and that time is not now. Our focus now is on educating and organizing ourselves, so that we are better able to organize those who already see things as we do. It is important to consider what someone with a drive like this could achieve over a lifetime of work.

A contributor in Maryland wrote:

"One of the DJs said one of the solutions was for us to just comply with the pigs no matter what when confronted in the streets by them. Basically, don't dare challenge master. But there can be no change without challenge. Why do we continue to lay down?... The white supremacists of this land have taken up refuge behind the badge. They can never be rooted out. Not by Obama, or anyone else. Remember they got a 200 year head start on us."

While it is true that there can be no change without challenge, it is also important to remember that not all challenge enacts change. The pigs in no way deserve respect, compliance or gratitude. And it's true that they won't be rooted out without taking down all of the imperialists first. However, to challenge them now militarily serves to get the wrong people killed and give more instances for the oppressors to point at and say "Look! Look at how irrational and violent they are! We need to give the police more power, for our protection!" The oppressors will always try to paint the oppressed as the villian; we can never avoid this accusation altogether. But we need to look at the balance of forces and ask, in spite of this rhetoric, if we have enough public opinion in our favor that our armed struggle will have enough support to be successful. Suicide missions like Micah's make armed struggle look futile, so we should avoid them until we know we wan win. Even those who have reverence for what Micah did probably wouldn't do it themselves.

Look at the Black Panther Party, and what happened with them. The BPP openly carried guns as a demonstration of potential power, without engaging in focoist actions. But still the Amerikkkan imperialists struck back agressively with guns, drugs and imprisonment, leading to the eventual downfall of the group. We can only expect even more agressive attacks in response to use of the gun. The time for armed struggle is when the fight can be won. Right now, we're not close to that point.

This battle is a good example of why we need a vanguard party to lead the revolutionary struggle, including the armed struggle to take down the imperialists. It also provides some insight into just how hard the bourgeoisie will fight to maintain their position of power. Even after they are defeated militarily by the majority of the world's people we can anticipate that former bourgeois individuals and their lackeys in the police and military, as well as new people who aspire to wealth and power, will not immediately become cooperative and productive members of society serving the people. For this reason we need to think beyond the military battle and into the structure of society after capitalism is overthrown. This is why communists believe we must have a dictatorship of the proletariat under socialism while we undertake the long transition to a society where no groups of people have power over other groups of people. It is tempting to take up the gun now and fight back a death for a death, but we want to build a world where all people contribute productively to the betterment of humynity, and that will take a lot more than the death of a few cops.

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[Organizing] [Education] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 53]
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Virginia Study Group Organizing for Education and Action

Greetings Comrades! We, the study group here at Sussex I State Prison – Virginia, submits our Ten Point Agenda, after organizing around the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles.

After weeks of meeting, discussing our needs to organize (orderly and peacefully), agreeing on statement of principles, and the ideas/ideals presented by MIM(Prisons), we've gained verbal organizational agreements, to work to rid ourselves of violence, destructive behaviors, engage in revolutionary ideas/ideals and work for greater good: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We've deputized coordinators, in duties not names, of: Finance/Business, Education, Arts & Culture, collecting donations, and using ULK and like materials to be teaching/educational tools (we will need more).

We've identified areas we can work on, and need improvements. Collectively, we will move to address these concerns. Our first step: educate the captives of our disadvantages, empower them with measures we can use to confront these disadvantages (including holding each of us accountable), complete, collect and mail in request forms, complaint forms, if need be file legal litigations. If no resolve, use our greater willpower – fasts, spend no money campaign, etc.

We have an educational coordinator, who will guide the movement as it relates to the Ten Point Agenda – reporting every two weeks of progress, need action, etc. (We will give the oppressor fifteen days to answer our concerns, if no response, we move to Step II.)

This Ten Point Agenda is not an end-all plan, but it does allow us to establish a line of politics, keep and maintain the line, and enables us to confront social controls and oppression.

As we work the plan, we plan to contact outside organizations (including MIM) to aid in our plight to get forms of social and systematic justice. (We have experienced individuals, including myself, willing and ready to teach on filing 42 USC 1983 civil suits.)

You have inspired us to mobilize, organize, mobilize and organize! After 8 weeks and numerous pod meetings we have arrived. We will continue to keep you abreast on our progress, needed materials. We will continue to donate, send artwork, and articles to aid your work.

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[Organizing] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 52]
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Observing Sept 9 in Michigan

On the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, I had a fast and did a lot of political study about the roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement by Comrade Chokwe Lumumba, Chair of the New Afrikan People's Organization who passed from this earthly life in May 2014. I also have been studying Under Lock & Key, Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons), and going over the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity study pack to keep me conscious of the ongoing war against imperialism and capitalism and the struggle that I'm going through with the prison system.

Ever since 9am we have been on a lockdown. The comrades in Level II in Kinross have done a protest because of the living conditions, the food, and no fans and heat, and this actually started on September 9. Prisoners walked out of their job assignments, so the unsecured Level I prisoners who work in the kitchen served the Level II prisoners brown bag meals. They have Level I and II prisoners on lockdown, but they let us go to the dayrooms, but we can't use the telephones or J-Pay machines. It's truly a surprise to me that they are starting to stand up and fight for their rights instead of fighting against each other.

We need collective solidarity and unity against the injustice of Michigan DOC corruption, because this prison system is corrupted to its very core. This is why we must educate ourselves and get with prisoners' organization in this struggle. We all know and understand that this prison system must be dismantled and abolished!

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[Organizing] [Buckingham Correctional Center] [Sussex II State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 52]
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Transferred for Suspicion of Organizing a Work Stoppage and BPP-Prison Chapter

After an unfortunate series of group fights between prisoners from rival lumpen organizations during the month of Black August, and a subsequent lockdown at the Buckingham Correctional Center on August 25, two Institutional Gang Investigators (IGIs) descended upon my cell and subjected me to an intense 30-minute interrogation concerning confidential information they received that I was allegedly the mastermind behind a planned September 9 workstrike and was attempting to organize a Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter. They even accused me of being a member of a street gang based on a letter I wrote nearly seven years ago.

When the investigators realized that the interrogation was bearing no fruit and that I was immune to their intimidation tactics, I was subjected to further interrogation the following day by L. Leatherwood, the Chief Investigator for the VA DOC, and a urine test because of a strong "suspicion" that I was using drugs. I was not at all surprised when the urine test came back negative because I have been clean for a decade and am a staunch advocate against illicit drug use, especially among youth.

The interrogation of a select few other so-called "problem" inmates continued throughout the weekend, and whatever "evidence" or information the investigators gained or manufactured, led to my being transfered to Sussex 2 State Prison, which is an oppressive, super-max type prison where we are locked down in our cells for most of the day. Controlled movement and the degradation of those of us confined here is the order of the day. Unlike Buckingham, which is a hotbed of political activity, there is virtually no organizing here. No study groups, no agitation, no resistance. Most have never heard of the September 9 protests. The old axiom "oppression breeds resistance" has not taken hold of the prisoners' minds here.

Though I was shipped off to this camp for political reasons, repression and retaliation is often a sign that our agitation is truly effective. I am not in a position to report on the degree to which prisoners at Buckingham participated in the September 9 protests, but here at Sussex 2 State Prison there was zero participation. But we must continue to fight and struggle knowing that one day, when the conditions are right, the flicker will turn into a flame. All power to the people and Panther power to the Black Riders Liberation Party!

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[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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September 9: Prisoner-on-Prisoner Hostilities Cease 4 the Day in California

Spirit of Attica

September 9, 2016 was the fifth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity, a United Struggle from Within solidarity demonstration in prisons across the United $tates. On this anniversary of the Attica uprising people came together to draw attention to abuse of prisoners across the country while building peace and unity. This demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization participating in United Struggle for Peace in Prisons and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people committing to participate in prisons across the country. Actions include education, exercise, fasting, work stoppages, and more. Here we have some initial reports from this day from comrades at High Desert State Prison in California, and we look forward to printing more in the next issue of ULK. Send us your reports!

Education: Building the Movement


from E6X.20
August 2016

First I would like to thank the comrades willing to study and struggle with Abolitionists From Within (AFW) here on C-yard, for having the heart to step out and shake hands with the different ethnic groups and put an end to the hostilities with peace on their tongue during Black August. Our study group has been growing throughout the cells here at High Desert C-yard, despite many setbacks of harassment from the pigs here and there. As I continue to share literature with the comrades and this year's study group, I introduce them to MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). I remind every comrade that everyone's struggles are different (state of mind). If you know what the problem is our job as comrades is to help come up with solutions to combat the problem for our comrades. But in order to do anything to advance the struggle we must be organized in order to help one another, we must set tribalism to the side! And set aside all of our differences as well as our past beef and come together collectively in an effort to accomplish our goals: Peace, Unity and Growth among the oppressed masses.

AFW is back on the move for the second year here at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. This year we put the issues of today on the table:

  1. Who is your neighbor? Always remember racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. And AFW, USW and MIM(Prisons) are all in agreement with anti-imperialism!
  2. What will help us improve our material condition? First we must start off with our neighbor, each one teach one no matter the color.
  3. Understand the prison system. The system operates through criminal justice institutions, but functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.

Comrades, wake up! Understand the racial caste system; they don't require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive, they need only racial indifference. Wake up young Afrikan! Mass incarceration in the U.S. is a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social system. Comrades, help me help us organize and advance our struggle forward for peace throughout C-yard.

Solidarity


from E6X.20
September 2016

Abolitionists From Within is back on the move on this September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity with all Freedom Fighters and to commemorate and never forget about the Attica uprising. To my comrades around the country who took a stand today, I stand in solidarity with you. And remember the fallen comrades and the spirits that live on.

This is the AFW's second year demonstration at High Desert (HDSP). Last year I was on D-yard as I know my comrades are on the move. Stop the madness, don't forget who the real enemy is. Here on C-yard the cells are growing. I would like to thank all the comrades for participating, and the study group comrades who are fasting with us today in my unit, and my Chicano comrades who had the courage to share with me the Under Lock & Key I pass out. We reread articles, talk about it in great detail, clarify with my comrades and spread enlightenment about the history of the Attica uprising and the history of the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, and remembrance of the fallen comrades. As each comrade in our unit continues to struggle and agree on the best solutions in attacking our issues that are inflicting us today, I encourage each cell to do the same in their unit.

Here on C-yard was nothing but peace today in solidarity with the movement and with the Attica freedom fighters. Thanks to MIM(Prisons), USW, United Front for Peace in Prisons, Agreement to End Hostilities and all my comrades who took a stand today.

We can only change our conditions for the better by struggling together.

Unity


from J-DOG II LX
September 2016

September 9 will never be an ordinary day for me again. When I was approached with this novel idea of showing solidarity for this 24-hour period I jumped at the idea. Why? Because day in and day out I deal with prison politics, but it's not the politics that bring us better prison treatment, it's politics that keep us at odds with each other over petty [email protected]#%s#@! Brothers like George Jackson gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have a lot of the privileges we have now. I'm sure the brotha would be very disappointed at how s#!% is now. We've seriously forgotten who the real enemy is, and until we start showing more unity among ourselves this machine that holds us as modern-day slaves will continue to win.

Whether we want to believe it or not we are all brothers in the struggle. From Soledad to Attica, High Desert to Sing-Sing, and all in between. We are all dealing with the same systematic incarceration. So this September 9 I wanted to be an example of what Unity could bring. I refrained from any yard politic and refused to entertain any backbitting on another brother. I did not sell or use any drug, nor did I give any to my brothers. Healthy mind, healthy body. Although I don't like doing burpees I joined my brothas in a 45-minute test of endurance. For that 45 minutes we were as one. One unit pushing each other to keep going, can't stop, won't stop, our cadence rang loud: Unity! I took the time to stop and ask my brother "how are we today," "can I help you with anything?" These things probably went unnoticed to the yard masses, but I didn't do it for recognition. I did it because strength, kindness, and comradery is infectious. If I infected one brother I've accomplished what I believed could be done.

Now that I've been enlightened to what brothas have been doing for years on September 9, I must continue to push, pull, stride, for unity. I too have lost sight of the power of unity and it feels good to care about something or someone other than yourself. So thank you to my little brother in this struggle for infecting me with this knowledge, and to all my brothers in this struggle from Cali to NY and all in between. From the words of the late great Tupac "Keep ya head up." If we make it through the night, tomorrow's a brighter day.

Sacrifice


from DM dot LOC
September 2016

In from the cold, it feels great to be embraced by enlightened kinsmen from the AFW. Solidarity Day (September 9) is fast upon us. Some type of sacrifice is needed. Myself I pledge to fast and refrain from cursing and illogical rhetoric. I hope all comrades who participate can stay steadfast and maintain their discipline.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Legal] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 54]
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Prisoners Unite Against Suppression of VA DOC Grievance Procedure

"This operating procedure provides an administrative process for resolving offender issues and complaints through fair, prompt decisions and actions in response to complaints and grievances from offenders incarcerated in Department of Corrections institutions."

These are the clever introductory words of Virginia Department of Corrections (VA DOC) Operating Procedure 866.1 governing "Offender Grievance Procedure." While offenders — captives — suppose to enjoy non-repressive rights to utilize the grievance procedure, captives have experienced for many years repressed rights by the Department's Human Rights Advocates (commonly called Institutional and Regional Ombudsman) and administrative personnel. The VA DOC is at odds over effective administrative application of the captive/offender grievance procedure.

Since my incarceration in 1993, the captive/offender grievance procedure has always been a medium, used by captives, to receive redress for their issues and problems. The Institutional Ombudsman, once upon a time, investigated captives' issues/problems with proper handling, meaning they would speak to both the captive and staff before rendering a decision. Ombudsman would render decisions reasonably, appropriately — even if it was to the neglect of the system. After all, that's the job of the Human Rights Advocate.

Over the years, the captives have grown to understand completion of Offender Grievance Procedure is the first step to satisfying the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA Federal statute). Before the legal court system will entertain captive lawsuits, the first level one must meet is exhausting all available administrative remedies. With this understanding, VA DOC Institutional and Regional Ombudsman began seeing a rise in filed complaints and grievances, and civil lawsuits (42 U.S.C. 1983). A conspiratorial plan was hatched by the department to suppress captives' grievance procedure and opportunities. Something had to be done. VA DOC was being held liable, costing thousands of dollars.

The first step in repressing and suppressing the captive grievance procedure was that many prisons and institutions removed captives' complaint forms and level 1 grievance forms from availability. This means, in order for captives to receive said forms, they must make requests to officer/building sergeants. Captives must divest their issues/problems to authorities. If the officer or sergeant disagrees with your issues or problems, they refuse to give you needed forms. When they do give you forms, it's usually because the issue/problem is not really a threat. Captives are left with suppressed and repressed grievance rights, by the same system that swore to uphold these rights.

Once a captive completes the informal complaint process, an administrative grievance can be filed. With next-level repression, the Ombudsman uses fraudulent claims to deny grievances; such reasons as: time barred, inquiring on behalf of other "captives," not enough information, and in some cases stating "If you're not satisfied with response file to next level — regional ombudsman." (Some complaints/grievances are not returned.) These alleged claims are used by the institutional ombudsman to deny grievances, not logging grievances, or otherwise repress the process. Regional Ombudsman, being the last level of grievance process, usually side with Institutional Ombudsman.

Captives who file complaints/grievances, at times, are faced with reprisals. These reprisals, although forbidden by Operating Procedure 866.1, are usually felt in not receiving jobs, non-favorable housing, denied transfers, and more. Captives face extreme difficulties seeking to prove they are experiencing reprisal, due to filing complaints/grievances. Often times, captives who file these documents are labeled "paper-pushers," and the new term, "paper terrorist.=" (yeah, such a machination by the oppressors).

VA DOC has created a crafty method to suppress, and repress captives' grievance procedure and right. This is reflected in the number of Level 1 and Level 2 grievances "found" versus those "unfounded." Even when the evidence submitted favors the captive's claims, the grievance is still returned "unfounded." The Ombudsman no longer advocates on behalf of the captives, nor upholds the integrity of the grievance policy.

In entertaining plans to file civil litigation (§42 U.S.C. 1883 claims of civil rights violation) one must have satisfied §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(a) which states "no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions... by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." With continuous suppression of captives' grievance procedural rights, this satisfaction will prove to be difficult. These measures are used by the oppressive system to derail, suppress, or otherwise hinder captives' ability to satisfy §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a), and PLRA, and have any legal litigation dismissed for not exhausting all available administrative remedies.

In a recent lawsuit (§42 U.S.C 1983) I filed against a VA DOC prison, and its Director Harold Clarke, alleging Civil Rights violations. I was advised by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Plaintiff has no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure - citing Adam v. Rice §40 F. 3d. 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) - because plaintiff enjoys no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure his allegation that his grievances were improperly processed are legally frivolous - citing Banks v. Nagle. Nos. 3:09 CV419-HEH; 3:09 CV14 (2009) WL1209031, at *3 (E.D.VA. May 1, 2009)." Moreover, simply, "ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the [constitutional] violation, see George v. Smith 507 F. 3d. 605, 609-10 (7th Cir 2007)" I alleged in my First Amendment violation claim: Ombudsman at this prison suppressed, obstructed or otherwise denied me fundamental (and meaningful) access to "offender grievance procedure" due to refusal to properly process and answer said grievances. It was, and remains a continuous practice, within VA DOC, to deny "redress to government," in this case, the prison authorities who are agents of the state.

It appears the U.S. District Court has shifted their views and opinions as to whether captives have a constitutional right to grievance procedure. On one hand, the Federal statute §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a) states we have to satisfy the prongs of the PLRA, which requires the exhaustion of all available administrative remedies, before filing a §42 U.S.C. 1983. But then, restrict such requirement in decisions rendered in Adam v. Rice and Banks v. Nagle, which contradicts mandates of §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(a).

Without protected due process rights, whether in society or behind these walls of horror, the people are in trouble. Captives have seen a consistent erosion of rights, or a limiting of such rights, over the years; from the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act, of former President Bill Clinton, to the Patriot Act of George W. Bush. High courts have repeatedly sided with state prison administrators, citing "security takes precedence over certain rights, including infringement upon certain civil rights." This could very well open the door for the pigs to get away with vicious assaults, property damages, and other egregious acts that goes on behind these walls. The highway for "organized crime" is without patrols.

Captives are subjected to a wide range of issues and administrative confrontation, leading to needed remedies. Though, each "department of correction" professes administrative remedy outlets, captives' rights to utilize these administrative outlets continues to be repressed, ineffective, leaving issues unsolved. These create an environment of mistrust, instability and an ethos of disorganization between captives and "the system."

Captives here at this VA DOC prison have organized around the "United Front" and "United Front for Peace in Prison - Statement of Principles." We have organized, mobilized, and deputized. We've organized to the point where we have a ten point agenda, designed to address our oppression and oppressor in an organized and systematic way. We wish to accept full responsibility for our actions, educate ourselves in seeking justice, and assure that we remain at peace, on what we've agreed upon, and united around our collective agenda.

We wish to join on to and with MIM(Prisons)'s campaign "We Demand our Grievances are Addressed." Please send us the petition! ASAP we will work to assure this petition is signed by as many we can from behind these walls. We will continue to educate ourselves towards the process, and our rights under Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

Let's stop the repression of the grievance procedure within the VA DOC. We stand with MIM(Prisons)!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade and others in Virginia have been doing some great organizing work, building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, local study groups, and fighting the corrupt grievance process in that state's prisons. We look forward to the progress of this campaign as a part of building a broad base of united prisoners in Virginia fighting the criminal injustice system under anti-imperialist leadership.

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[Organizing] [Congress Resolutions] [ULK Issue 52]
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Our Readers Have Spoken: Prisoncensorship.info Must Live

TogetherBreakChains

This article is to announce the short-term success of our recent campaign to keep our website alive. After proposing that our limited comrade time might be better spent on pushing forward our prisoner support work, we launched a campaign to engage our online readers. With minimal effort, we have received a substantive response indicating that we were incorrect to hypothesize that we could not mobilize our online readers to contribute to this project as our prison-based readers have from the beginning.

In just five months we've seen our volunteer base and collaborative work grow enough to convince us that web development is a good use of our limited comrade time. But as we pointed out in that article, regular contributions are much more useful than sporadic ones, so we must keep up this trend. We have gained at least one regular financial contributor, which more than covers the cost of keeping our website online. We encourage our other volunteers to stick to it.

A note to potential financial contributors, we had been soliciting postage stamps, however we are approaching our limits on how many we can use, especially since this is the main way that prisoners send donations. So new contributors should consider sending cash, blank money orders or bitcoin.

Those watching our website may have noticed us taking down some requests for help as volunteers have stepped up. While not all have proven themselves yet, we have received responses to diverse needs. By offering up more specific tasks, we've inspired our readers into action, proving they are more than just web traffic statistics. This also proved that lack of focused leadership on our part was part of the problem.

It was not just online readers who responded to our call. One United Struggle from Within leader put forth a proposal to our annual congress to up the enrollment fees for our correspondence study groups and to only provide hard-to-find books to those who pay for them. Another USW comrade proposed that we remove people from the ULK mailing list faster to cut costs. We adopted new policies incorporating both proposals, which should help on the postage side of things. One comrade even spoke of the impact the website had on em from prison, demonstrating that the website directly contributes to our prison-based work.

In addition to the new contributors we've gained in recent months, we've seen an increase in comradely projects putting out good material. This can help us directly by providing material for our newsletter and study groups. But it also helps the movement in general. Supporting MIM(Prisons) is a great way to contribute as we have a proven track record. But we need more projects than the Prison Ministry. So don't let the scope of our work limit you if you can contribute in bigger and better ways.

While things will roll out slowly as usual, we will be continuing to improve and add content to our website in coming months. We also want to put a call out there for supporters who want to contribute as part of a cyber promotion campaign. This is something that you can easily do on your own, and there is no limit to how many can help promote our work and MIM line in whatever forums you are active. Or get in touch for ideas of outlets for promotion.

There is no doubt that setting up secure, reliable institutions on the internet is a needed task. While platforms owned by transnational corporations may have tactical use for promotion, with proper precautions in place, they cannot be our base of operations. Prisoncensorship.info has contributed in this regard and with your support we will continue to work to strengthen it as an independent institution of the oppressed.

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[Gender] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 52]
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Why Won't Wimmin Fight for their Rights?

Half the Sky

I see MIM is going to do a wimmin's issue. I really don't know what can get women interested and have some courage to do anything other than complain. Women seem to think if they smile, be happy, flip their hair and talk with a baby voice it will get them things. Even though we keep getting things taken from us, women will not speak up and stand up.

I read in Prison Action News (by ABC) about a work stoppage they are trying to encourage in September 2016. But all the responses I get from women is they will not participate, they are scared of being locked down, retaliation, blah, blah, blah.

Here is what I am currently going through with the grievance process concerning outdoor yard time: Lieutenant Gayle Ross posted a Posted Operational Rule (POR) changing small yard time. First of all, it was not signed until 1 June 2016, but supposedly went into effect a month before posting on 1 May 2016. PORs must give prisoners a two week notice before a change goes into effect.

Female prisoners are no longer allowed to go out to the small yard at the same time as dog program participants, with/without their dogs, for fear that we may get hurt. Even though dog program participants and their dogs are not separated in the units with non-dog program prisoners. Apparently it's only a safety/security issue for use of the small yard.

Next, Lt. Gayle Ross has spread her safety/security issue to other areas. Apparently wimmin prisoners are too fragile to go outside when it is wet out, puddles on the ground or snow on the ground. Supposedly we are childish and will jump in puddles, and too fragile so we might fall. This reasoning has allowed us to be denied small yard for entire seasons: fall heading into winter, winter, and most of spring, which by definition is rainy. Even though recreation can clear off puddles by sweeping off the water, the recreation staff lets the water sit until it dries naturally, of course closing the small yard for days. Apparently wimmin are dangerous enough to imprison but too fragile to go outside.

There are three steps to our grievance process. I have grieved all the way to a step three, therefore exhausting the grievance process. I am the only one grieving. Women complain, complain, complain but do nothing else. So I am preparing a 1983 [lawsuit].

I have used the grievance petition from MIM(Prisons). None of my three grievances were provided timely responses according to Colorado's AR 850-04 time limit for Step 1, 2 and 3 grievances. I sent this petition to Rick Raemisch, executive director of Colorado Department of Corrections, the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General. The United States Department of Justice basically said they only considered class action cases. Due to the letter to Rick Raemisch, Captain Bowers met with me and Lt. Gayle Ross about the issue. The situation has not changed for the better.

Now more gym time and small yard time has been taken away. If we don't attend a specific aerobic program called Insanity/cize (which is a videotape), we cannot use the rest of the gym or small yard. We cannot use the other exercise equipment or do our own workout program. We must only workout to the DVD (unless we are ADA). Women are complaining but they are doing nothing else.

I am still working on my case with the help of reading material like Battling the Administration by David Meister and Prisoners' Self-Help Litigation Manual by Daniel Manville, that I bought from Prison Legal News.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises some important questions about how females are taught to act in order to get ahead in patriarchal society. The idea that flipping hair, smiling and talking with a baby voice will get stuff for wimmin has been reinforced with very real financial and social incentives based on looks and gendered behavior. While society teaches males that being aggressive and self-sufficient is sexy and also the right way to get ahead at work, that same system teaches females that aggressiveness is unattractive and it's best to be weak and dependent on a man.

We can even see this double standard in the way people talk about Hillary Clinton's Presidential candidacy. She's just another imperialist mouthpiece, but she has won the wrath of so many for things that are seen as normal or even praised in male candidates. When Clinton is loud she is called out for "shouting" or "shrieking", while male candidates are praised for their strength for a similar style. Critics are calling Clinton a bitch and a lesbian. When she shows emotion she is too feminine and when she doesn't show emotion she is too masculine. There are endless examples of this sort of attention paid to Clinton's gender rather than her qualifications.

There are many strong wimmin standing up for their rights and the rights of others, like this comrade. And we need to train other wimmin that being strong and self-sufficient is the only way to really get ahead and really win battles. Many men in prison also sit around complaining without doing anything, but it is leaders like this writer who, over time, can develop other activists by setting an example of strength and resolve in practice, combined with a correct political line.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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Approaching Conflict More Scientifically

For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.

Strategies to Address Conflict

Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility

We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.

Strategies to address conflict

Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.

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[Organizing] [Principal Contradiction] [Culture] [ULK Issue 51]
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Book Review: Lumpen by Ed Mead

lumpen ed mead
Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
Kersplebedeb, 2015

Available for $20 + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8

As anti-imperialists and prison activists, we can recommend Ed Mead's recent autobiography as a useful read. There are a couple inconsistencies with the form and the line promoted in the book, however. While Mead critiques anarchism and reformism in the book, at the end is a list of a number of organizations that struggle for prisoners' rights, and they are all reformist/mass organizations with a couple anarchist groups thrown in. Mead stresses that he does not believe communists should hide their beliefs. Yet it is odd that he finds no communist prison support groups to be worthy of mention. Moreso, it seems that for much of Mead's life ey couldn't find a communist organization to be a part of and support.

We also must question the form of an autobiography. Our culture promotes the idea of writing one's own story. While this author has been told to write an autobiography multiple times, having lived much less of my life than Ed Mead, i don't plan to ever do so. I hope that if i do live as long as Mead i'm too busy fulfilling my tasks in a communist cadre org (or hopefully state by then) to spend a bunch of time writing about myself. Certainly there is some value in terms of the building of humyn knowledge of documenting the conditions of the time and places that Mead experienced. But it does not seem a high priority for communists. It was probably for this reason that i found the first chapters of the book tiring to read. I didn't really need to know all about Mead's family growing up to learn some lessons about how to organize with prisoners effectively. But perhaps that was my own problem as that was never a stated purpose of this book.

The foremost stated purpose of the book by Mead is to "extend an invitation to sections of the lumpenproletariat to join the international working class." While not a bad goal, it does hint at differences we have with Mead and other communists within California Prison Focus (CPF) regarding whether nation or class is the principal contradiction. This has led to divisions in our work to shut down Security Housing Units in California. In the 2000s, MIM was part of the United Front to Abolish the SHU, which was dominated by parties and organizations struggling for national liberation. While CPF was nominally a member, their difference on this issue led to a lack of working together. This was despite the fact that the United Front explicitly allowed for organizational independence in terms of political line outside of our agreement on shutting down the SHU. In the 2010s, CPF was part of the leadership that created the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Mead was perhaps the only one who tried to include MIM(Prisons) in that effort. But the coalition structure forced us to the outside this time as MIM(Prisons) refused to subsume our politics to the coalition.

While recognizing whites as obviously having advantages over others, Mead does believe there is a significant white nation working class in this country. While citing Mao favorably multiple times, Mead points out Mao's failure to put class first as a point of disagreement.(p. 164) Mead's line is also reflected in an off-hand comment saying Stalin was wrong to condemn the German social-democrats as social-fascists. We think Stalin and the Comintern correctly saw the class nature and interest of the social democrats as being labor aristocracy and petty bourgeois, who wavered towards fascism, paving its way to power.(1)

Mead talks about "white skin privilege" and uses it as an agitational point to push people to join the class war while discussing eir participation in the militant George Jackson Brigade. Mead admits that eir decision to use revolutionary violence was a direct result of the lack of mass support for abused prisoners.(p. 181) At the same time ey mentions other groups at the time doing similar things and believing that small bands carrying out armed struggle would spread across the country. Mead does not conclude anywhere in the book that it was a mistake to take up this line even though comrades died, while the rest spent the prime of their lives in prison. As we discussed in a recent article on the Black Panthers, it was both common and understandable to conclude that armed struggle would become a reality in the United $tates at that time.(2) Yet, not only are conditions less advanced today, history also proved that armed struggle in the United $tates was premature in the conditions of 1966-72.

From what we know about Mead in real life and from reading the book, it is clear that ey was good at and focused on uniting all who could be united. And while we say it is better for communists to work within cadre organizations than mass organizations, as Mead did much of eir life, ey certainly did so in a principled way according to the book. And most of those principles are ones that we too support.

As mentioned, i came to this book in search of some lessons on anti-imperialist organizing in prisons. And while some of the stories are very abbreviated, the book is not short on examples of Mead's efforts, pitfalls and successes. Mead talks about the importance of determining the principal contradiction at each prison ey organized in. While in most cases ey sait it was related to nation, ey said it was related to sexism in Walla Walla, which led to the formation of Men Against Sexism.(3) Interestingly, Mead takes the position that while nation is principal inside prisons, it does not make sense to build a Black-only prison movement (at least on a large scale).(p. 280) We are sympathetic to this view and spend a lot of time calling for unity between nationalities in prison, while promoting national liberation as a strategy for the oppressed nations overall. A couple of good lessons are well-put in Mead's own words:

"...if the immediate demands address prisoners' rights and living conditions, then the backwards elements will either be won over or neutralized by the growing consciousness of the rest of the population."(p. 305) This was one of the most inspiring parts of Mead's story. In a situation where the prison system was dominated by one lumpen organization (LO) that was guided by self-interest, Mead had the revolutionary fearlessness to organize those victimized by the LO to build a mass movement that the whole population came to identify with.

"An organization that depends upon one person for direction is doomed to fail; each level of cadre should be able to take the place of a fallen or transferred comrade, even if that person occupies a leadership position."(p. 306) Mead learned this from experience, both in situations where ey was that sole leader and others where ey was surrounded by a dedicated cadre. Inspiring stories include the first strike ever at McNeil Island, which had 100% participation.(p. 139) While many of the challenges of prison organizing are still the same decades later, you'll find many other inspiring stories in this book as well. It demonstrates both the importance of the prison movement as part of the overall movement for liberation and against imperialism, while showing the limitations of a prison movement that is not complemented by strong movements on the outside. As the current struggle focused on police murders continues to ferment, we work to build a prison movement, and they will feed each other as we move towards the next revolutionary period in history.

Notes:
1. see MIM Theory 10: Labor Aristocracy, or the MIM(Prisons) study pack, The Labor Aristocracy and the International Communist Movement.
2. Under Lock & Key 50: Black Panther Party 50 Year Commemoration
3. PTT of MIM(Prisons), Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, Under Lock & Key, Issue 29, November/December 2012.
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