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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] [Education] [ULK Issue 52]
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USW Study Group Poppin Off

USW Study Group

I am delighted to enlighten you regrading our new study group/think tank, based upon the ideas/ideals of information contained in recent and past Under Lock & Key. In July 2016, we held our first study group member meeting, with some supporters. We met for over an hour, with 29 people in attendance and 18 committed members.

We deputized four positions of responsibility: 2 moderators, and 2 curators. We plan to conduct smaller study groups in individual pods, with direct dialogue from and with the larger weekly group meetings.

Our first meeting dealt with (1) Revolutionary Consciousness, (2) Revolutionary Activism, and (3) Accepting Accountability and Responsibility — in conjunction with the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles on page 3 of ULK 50: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We will need study materials to continue to move the study group. We are young, new and eager to be a part. We are entertained by what appeals to our conditions — as it relates to Maoist and Under Lock & Key principles. Our prison suffers from gangs, disunity amongst offenders/captives, and a gross lack of understanding of revolutionary ideas/ideals.

The questions we discussed at our first meeting were:
1) What is revolutionary consciousness?
2) What is revolutionary activism?
3) What does "accountability" and "responsibility" mean to you?
4) What can you, and will you, contribute to the ideas of: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, & Independence?

The hard work will be keeping the young guys inspired, motivated, and focused on getting and achieving our goals (as we set them). We will need as much and as often materials (and possibly books). We will continue to send stamps as often as we can to cover materials. We have good writers of articles, poems, etc. which we will send.

I have enclosed a list of named members - verbal committals - who wish to receive a subscription of Under Lock & Key. I have also enclosed their state number and prison's address. Please sign these Brothers up!

If you have any back issues of Under Lock & Key, articles on uniting gangs, revolutionary understanding, or any fundamental ideas to help our young study group, please send them. We will send an updated report bimonthly detailing our weekly meetings, topics, etc. Please support us, as we are new to this, and young. Be sure to know, we are with you in whatever way we can help with larger goals of MIM, and our local goals - we are with it!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this report to encourage other readers with the example of our comrades in Virginia. You can focus on topics that interest your group and we will try to supply reading material and study questions. Most study groups start by talking about questions like this comrade describes (such as, "What is revolutionary activism?") or even more basic topics. And this leads to more questions and greater consciousness. People who wonder why so many are locked behind bars are just a few steps away from wondering why Amerika attacks so many other countries, and why people within U.$. borders are so much wealthier than the majority of the world's citizens.

By building through education we can set up solid core of cadres who can apply what they've learned to analyze conditions and lead political organizing with correct political line and strategy.

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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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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Control Units] [David Wade Correctional Center] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 52]
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Louisiana Prisoners Hunger Strike Against Inhuman Conditions

I've been in solitary confinement here at Louisiana's Prison for 2 years now. David Wade Correctional Institution is a DOC facility. A disciplinary, concentration camp. Louisiana's most repressive prison. Everywhere you move you have to be shackled and handcuffed. Even to the shower if it's a few feet from your cell. You use the phone once a month, for 10 minutes. Our yard time is only 5 days out the week for 1 hour, inside of a chicken wired cage almost the same size as your cell. The prison is designed to break the mind, body and soul.

Incarcerated individuals here are living in inhumanity in its purest form. I met some guys who have been here on extended lockdown (solitary confinement) for six, seven, eight years straight. Our superiors are antagonists that despise the strong. Their job is to introduce us to the elements of repression. Their goal is to break you... by any means necessary.

It's the heart of the summer and it gets really hot on these cell blocks. We're the only prison in the state of Louisiana that only has one fan on each tier. Its nearly 100 degrees! On top of that, there's no water and we're not allowed ice on the tier. The only water that we're allowed to drink is out of our sink. And sometimes our pipes are backed up, or there's a boil-water warning on the news. If we want water, our only option is to drink contaminated water out our sinks, which is cruel and unusual punishment. Inhumanity. Not to mention that we're only allowed books and newspapers. We have no access to any television or radio. The papers is how we find out about the boil water warnings, and sometimes the newspapers come too late because of slow mail.

They want you to put your jump suit all the way on, while you're in your cell all during the day while it's nearly 100 degrees. This is only a tactic to make you as uncomfortable as possible. You see, every day in these cells is war. They take you to war every single day. Psychological warfare.

A lot of the guys here can't endure the delinquency of the officers, nor could they endure these extreme circumstances of dehumanization. I watch guys break right before my eyes all the time. The mind is very elusive... Hold it tight. One minute you'll be talking to a guy and the next minute they just snap, right before your very eyes, as if their mind was an egg that slipped out of their hand, and splattered across the hard rough pavement.

These situations are so frequent that a lot of the individuals here have gotten used to it. They have so adjusted to where they believe that these abnormal situations are normal. Just a couple of weeks ago a guy hung himself in his cell. His body dangled for a couple of hours before anyone even noticed. He was then rolled off the tier, and it was as if nothing had happen.

Guys use to be killed here by guards all the time. That was until word started to leak outside of these walls and into the free world. But that still wasn't enough to mentally liberate us. We need outside help... recognition... the voice of society... we need revolution!

I'm fortunate enough to be one of the few to be spiritually emancipated. Subsequently I have become a revolutionist. The change has already begun. And unity is a very fundamental principle.

We're dying to live....but we're living to die.

There's about 11 of us total who have been on hunger strike. Today makes my 4 1/2 day without food [11 July 2016]. About 8 or 9 other guys have reached their 7 day mark. But this is only the beginning. We would probably have to go a couple of weeks on hunger strike for them to even take us seriously, which is hard work without the outside help, or support. Also the oppressor refuses to stand down without opposition. Their tactics are vital. You could be on hunger strike for 4 or 5 days and they wouldn't even document it. That way they won't have to report so many to D.O.C headquarters. But also subsequently you wouldn't receive mandatory medical treatment, which is protocol after a prisoner misses 9 meals.

You're declared to be suicidal. By refusing to follow their protocol they violate our constitutional rights. But we're willing to go however long it takes. We also have multiple comrades who have made it to the courts system to push even further after they have successfully exhausted the grievance process. Our fundamental goal is for change... Better circumstances. We want the same thing that the "Pledge of Allegiance" taught us. We want Liberty and Justice for all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We stand with this writer and the comrades in Louisiana fighting back against the dangerous and inhumane conditions at David Wade Correctional Center. This comrade is right that actions behind bars need outside support. It is also important to have some clear demands when we undertake big protests like a hunger strike. This will help focus the response, and ensure that we know when we have won. Fighting for general liberty and justice is definitely our goal as communists, but we know we will never achieve that under capitalism, and so our actions should be focused on winnable battles today while we build for liberation for all through revolution.

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[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 52]
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Call for Unity with LGBTQ Prisoners

Queen D.I.V.A here, I want to speak on why LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transexual, Queer) comrades are treated like shit. This is my second bid and I've seen a lot of love towards my community but to be totally honest I've seen more dislike and hate towards my community.

Comrades will rather be respectful to a kkkorektions officer than a homosexual, why? Comrades will rather say good morning with a smile on their faces to a kkkorektions officer, why? Don't you guys know these pigs are the ones throwing your mail away and then telling you that you didn't get any, that they will beat your ass and say you assaulted them and give you a new bid, and that they will deny your visit after your family just drove 7 hours to see you?

What have LGBTQ comrades done to you? Nothing. We were born different, that's it! What if your own flesh and blood son came to you one day and confessed that he's gay? Would you disown him? Would you treat him like you treat imprisoned gays, or would you put your ego, pride and fear to the side and embrace him?

We are all in this struggle together, let us say "screw what people think." A "unit" is something that works together. We're behind these walls and fences together so why can't we stand together? Stop disrespecting us and you'll see we're not your enemies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade eloquently pushes the United Front for Peace in Prisons principle of Unity around the question of sexual orientation and gender identity, elements of the strand of oppression of gender. We need to look beyond petty differences, and beyond socialized prejudices around gender. Our movement cannot afford to be divided along these lines. Instead we need to judge people by their actions and their political line. Those who side with the pigs, who feed them information, and who help them by provoking fights and doing their bidding: those people are our enemies. People who stand up against the criminal injustice system are our friends. And those who don't stand up but refuse to work with the pigs are our friends in need of a little educating and leadership so that they too will join the struggle.

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[Organizing]
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Build a Revolutionary Mind and Body

Brothas and Sistas, as freedom fighters we must stay ready every day to act, for we might be called to duty to support and protect our brothas and sistas in our struggle. In the revolutionary units it's mandatory we get our military on. Getting our military on is exercising because we are units with a People's Army.

We must train our body for endurance, stamina and strength. Run long distance and sprints around a track. Do pushups, pull ups, sit ups, squats, lunges and cardio like burpies, windmills, jumping jacks, etc. When getting our military on work out at least 30 min to 1 hour every day. Then during the day do little 5 to 15 minute workouts to keep heart rate up. Sometimes I do a routine every time a commercial comes on TV if I'm watching a program or when I'm ready I will do a routine after I read a page. This is how I stay war ready.

We must not only watch what we feed our mind we must watch what we feed our body and the food portion size we put in our body. We encourage people not to eat pork. People can eat beef, lamb, fish and chicken. We recommend eating fruit and vegetables. Cut back or limit pasta, white bread, white rice, candy and cake intake. Eat plenty of nuts like peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews.

The revolutionary must build revolutionary minds by studying history and resistance movements, study our environment as in how people act, their different characters, study or pay attention to world events and we study our ancestors' and leaders' legacies, which are instructions we use to benefit us in this day and time. We build off of them. We study our experiences on what works and don't work for certain situations, times and places. This way we know how to continue to move forward and not get stagnated. We focus on actions, building programs and kampaigning to spread the revolutionary kulture. Actions speak louder than words so let our actions speak for us whenever we see oppression being done to us by our common enemy.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good follow up to Under Lock & Key 49, which focused on survival and stamina. This writer has some good suggestions for building a strong body and mind. Using activities like television and reading to provide timed exercise breaks, and maintaining a healthy diet are very good suggestions. Of course we know that many comrades in prison have little control over their diet, but when possible it is always good to eat the healthiest foods available.

We are not in agreement with the position that people should not eat pork but should eat other meats. There is no scientific evidence that pork is less healthy than beef and lamb, for instance. Perhaps this suggestion is related to a religious belief, but as materialists we focus on material benefit of foods rather than spiritual doctrines.

All revolutionary comrades should build their own routine of exercise and diet to help maintain the strongest possible mind and body behind bars. This is part of our responsibility to survive and stay active during this protracted battle against imperialism.

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 56]
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Struggling for Unity Through Study

The real task before us is to convince prisoners that struggling for pecuniary aims solely is to struggle for nothing more than a piece of the imperialist pig pie. I myself don't give a fuck as to whether prisoners get paid or not, just as I was not concerned with the whining "Occupy Wall Street" labor aristocracy complaining when their opulent pig lifestyles were compromised by the "Great Recession" of '08. Good! But I am encouraged there are some stirrings of dissent from Texas prisoners regarding conditions of confinement. It is before us now to harness and direct this dissent into revolutionary channels.

Since beginning this letter I have been approached by a prisoner housed in my wing. This prisoner, "Ivo," avowed themselves to be communist. Ivo receives ULK. Ivo was born in Honduras, but raised in the United $tates. Ivo is a Guevarista. I have initiated and opened a channel of dialog with Ivo and a Black prisoner, "Mississippi." Mississippi has preferred access to the MLM - MIM materials I have available. I have broached the subject of forming a study group with these two. The idea was received rather coolly by both. The three of us are to meet this weekend to discuss it. Ivo says they have serious reservations concerning the MIM line. When we meet I will inquire of their position regarding MIM's 3 main principles. As for me, as it is for MIM, these principles are fundamentally decisive.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter as an example of the hard work required to build unity. This comrade demonstrates how to build common ground with others, and then studying together to discover areas of disagreement and build greater unity. Of course there will be times when we find that we have disagreements too significant to continue working together. For us (and for this writer) those questions are summarized in our dividing line questions. Any other differences we consider to be non-divisive and things we can struggle through or put to the side in the interests of united action and the greater anti-imperialist movement. We also need to keep in mind that those who disagree with these dividing line questions are not enemies just because of that disagreement. At this stage in the anti-imperialist struggle these folks are still potentially valuable allies in the united front against imperialism, even if they are not communists.

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