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[Organizing] [Education] [United Struggle from Within] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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Consolidating USW Leadership thru Organization

United Struggle from Within structure

[At our 2012 Congress MIM(Prisons) decided to begin the process of building statewide councils to develop USW and its leadership. That winter the work began to set up the first council in California. This coincided with a renewed round of strikes in the state involving more than 30,000 prisoners. As activism spread, so did invitations to join the council. In short time, lack of participation cut the membership back down. For about a year and a half now, leading USW cells in California have been participating in the council on a regular basis, struggling over theoretical and practical questions of organizing the prison movement. This article is by one participant in the USW California Council discussing some of the issues the council has tackled.]

The United Struggle from Within (USW) political line is anti-imperialist, as those behind the walls recognize the penal system and its institutions as an extension of imperialism. Therefore our struggles include both domestic and international issues. As a generated organism from the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons), some within USW have taken up MIM line while others have not yet. USW is an eclectic group of anti-imperialist prisoners working in cells, individually or in a coordinated groups through MIM(Prisons) guidance. Our revolutionary activities can vary according to each cell and location. This makes USW a multi-issue mass organization.

It is important to have USW comrades focus on campaigns that are relevant to their conditions. For instance, field reporting is universally applicable. But those doing indeterminate SHU sentences should focus on getting policies changed or bring up campaigns to shut down control units, while other comrades on mainlines could organize a cell of like-minded comrades, set up study groups, and raise other campaigns. We can all contribute to fighting censorship and other legal actions that can benefit all prisoners if won in court.

Each USW cell works in the framework of bringing the humyn rights of prisoners to the forefront. It is no surprise prisons are swamped with internal semi-colonies, with the long sentences, new detrimental laws that disproportionately affect oppressed nations, and other practices of the criminal injustice system that contribute to the mass incarceration of oppressed nations. This injustice must be brought to the public. Comrades from USW use propaganda as a tool to reach the masses who are sympathetic or will become sympathetic. We utilize Lenin's method of having Iskra as his party's way to get the written word out to the masses by making use of Under Lock & Key to advertise our campaigns, our polemics, our developing theories, or just to expose the negative conditions in prisons. ULK is our voice behind the walls.

USW are we the cadre?

Recently there has been an open polemic in regards to USW. Is it just a mass org without a leadership role or does it have leadership influence, and because of this should it no longer be considered a mass org? Well to apply dialectic materialism to this topic I would say USW is a mass organization formed in part by MIM line. "All correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas) then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge."(1)

USW is guided by MIM(Prisons), leading revolutionary work at their location. Accumulating experience and knowledge while engaged in this work, many USW comrades aren't spontaneous in heading into revolutionary activity, as this would probably prove disastrous if a comrade knows very little of what exactly to do. For this reason MIM(Prisons) has study cells welcoming those ready for revolutionary theory education that is Maoist in content. There are even advanced levels for those who wish to continue into the ULK Writers Group, the most advanced Maoist study cell from which stem numerous USW comrades or cadres.

I use the term "cadre" for reasons of revolutionary language because it permits no dual meaning in our propaganda, and I utilize Che Guevara's definition herein:

"What is a cadre? We should state that a cadre is an individual who has achieved sufficient political development to be able to interpret the larger directives emanating from the central authority, make them his own, and convey them as an orientation to the masses: a person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations."(2)

It can be said that any well politicized USW comrade is a cadre behind the walls as we need not receive directives from MIM(Prisons) to know how to organize and commit ourselves to a campaign. Yet revolutionary learning is limitless and anyone wishing to engage in polemics or just learn from other comrades can do so by either writing in to the MIM(Prisons) USW coordinator, joining a study cell run by MIM(Prisons) or reading up on ULK and writing in.

The Statewide Council

The momentum created by USW cells throughout California prisons has brought us our own revolutionary council where pressing topics are discussed, and polemics, strategizing and other matters will be addressed. Through discussion and the democratic process we have passed resolutions to set the standards for USW cells joining the council. Resolutions passed so far include: time frames for when members must respond to council discussions, requirements that each cell vote on each proposal and provide justification for their votes, minimum study requirements before a representative can join the council, and requirements that each USW cell with representation in the council should put in at least 10 to 40 hours a week of revolutionary work. i.e. study, writing articles, making political art, etc. Cells are required to keep track of their work and report it monthly to build discipline.

The California Council has also built a treasury that we have been using to fund bonus pages in ULK. Our council has brought forth double the amount of donations than all other California comrades during a recent 6-month period. We recently finished a California-specific introductory letter for USW that went out to all existing members in June. We have had a slow start but overall we have established a steady pattern of discussion and work.

Amongst our struggles behind the walls, we will often have obstacles such as comrades abandoning a campaign or legal battle, or who just stop checking in with the council, USW or the ULK Writers group to pursue personal agendas and leave behind their revolutionary work. Our California Council and USW are a product of work and effort by politically conscious prisoners having a strategic goal in mind, be it anti-imperialist, shutting down control units, or prisoner humyn rights reform. The point is that our goals, strategic and tactical, are to struggle through the momentum whether it's low or high! Our focus is to work together for change and we hope our efforts, our resolve, inspires others to join our struggle behind the walls. Our struggle for humyn rights is a pressing issue for the comrades suppressed in solitary confinement, so contributing to litigation campaigns are essential but not our only venue! We need to be organized, we need to agitate and utilize propaganda as a tool in order to apply revolutionary practice!

We seek comrades who have a fair grasp on revolutionary theory. No comrade needs to be an expert, we are all still learning from each other, our USW work, and how to concentrate our USW branches through practice within our revolutionary California Council.

So I can say USW Council representatives are our cadres behind the walls, forging revolutionary discipline, education, legal assistance, study groups, etc. If comrades get transferred to another yard or prison we can expect them to do the same at their new location. And we do our work discreetly to not draw unwanted attention, thus maintaining all within USW cell security.


Notes:
1. Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Vol III, pg 119.
2. Che Guevara Speaks, "Cadres for a new party."

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 46]
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Fight Snitching through Revolutionary Unity

It seems that the pigs who run this gulag are getting more and more clever every day. We need to stay on point to their tactics and be awake to the corruption that surrounds us. We all know that the administration will do whatever it takes to shut down any organizational movement of prisoners that threatens them. It has come to my attention that all around us are eyes and ears, even when we think we are speaking in confidence to a supposed comrade. The pigs have resorted to using the most oppressed of all of us as puppets for them. The administration has begun using an "informant for hire" network to bring down any type of unity between prisoners. A large percent of us already completely rely on support from the administration to feed us, and provide other necessities. The pigs withhold vital services from prisoners, forcing them to obey their "masters." In exchange for constitutional rights, and necessities that they can get nowhere else, prisoners infiltrate cell groups and other organizational efforts between comrades, then report their findings back to the Corrections Officers. This has become a common scene in Pennsylvania prisons.

This is another reason why we all need to unite and take care of our brothers and sisters in need, so they are not forced to rely on the pigs for their livelihood and daily bread. We are all in this together, despite our individual crimes, backgrounds, or status. We all should have one common goal, to break these chains that bind us. I believe this is what self-sufficiency truly means — not having to rely on our oppressors to meet our basic needs. And since we all share this common goal shouldn't we view all other prisoners as the same as self? After all, we are meant to be one united force, but all that abounds is discord, disunity, and views towards other prisoners.

This is a call to all fellow prisoners to unite as one force, lend a helping hand to prisoners who are down and out. When we don't do this, we are violating the very basis of communism by placing ourselves above other groups of humyns — the poor and needy! We must do whatever it takes to crush the fascists and pigs that oppress us! So we must reach out and help those who are unable to help themselves, and stop feeding them to the mongrels.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Many people write to us complaining about snitches and the hopelessness of organizing. This comrade does a great job explaining how we can have an impact on these individuals and what people can do to change their circumstances, rather than just complaining. This sort of rational and creative thinking is what communists need to bring to every situation. Look at a problem from all sides and come up with ways to attack it. We call this materialist thinking, and it's not easy, especially when we're bombarded with anti-science ideas, and feeling crushed by day-to-day oppression. We hope this comrade serves as an inspiration to others who are facing serious snitching problems to think about how you can help these snitches to join the cause of the revolution.

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[National Oppression] [United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Black August Organizing Focused on Popularizing Agreement to End Hostilities

We've been working hard to express the need to end all hostilities amongst all ethnicities. Us New Afrikans here in the belly of the beast known as the Corcoran SHU have just completed a beautiful BAM (Black August Resistance/Memorial) and we came together to struggle today [September 9th] for the purpose of unity. We exercised in a group that consisted of ourselves, a couple southern Hispanics, and a northern Hispanic. Our study habits still consist of revolutionary literature, economics, politics and some history where our cultural and social interactions are similar without division.

We don't have a short corridor anymore here in this concrete tomb, so with people arriving from the mainline just to do a SHU term we can educate them on the importance of the agreement to end all racial hostilities, and stay on guard because the fascist oppressors will always try to sabotage our collective struggle. A lot of these youngsters who come in here don't have a clue about the Attica uprising or Black August Memorial, and how could they when all the teachers of New Afrikans struggles are still anguishing behind enemy lines. The importance of us getting out of the SHU is to educate our youth about their history.

Today we had a group study session on the importance of revolutionary internationalism, which is the ideological expression of global revolutionary scientific socialism in service to the oppressed underclass of the world. We feel that revolutionary internationalism is the ideological vanguard of global liberation and source of theoretical development in coordinating disparate national revolutions. Also, keeping the permanent struggle of ideological mental warfare going in order to eradicate backwards and unprincipled thinking, or incompatible ideas or activities, and proving the correctness of the revolutionary party's views.

This weapon in which we speak is part of the dialectical processes that are ongoing and endless, until the principle contradictions of the oppressed and the oppressor are eliminated. Once this takes place you will see the transformation of the cultural values, practices and relationships of the people prepare and condition themselves for a revolution against the oppressor state. The outcome is uprooting and destroying the old oppressive rationale and mindset of colonial society and bringing into being new values which move the people outside of the colonial mindset and into that of the emerging revolutionary society. We can accomplish this through the agreement to end all hostilities. So we strive to do so. It's a long out-dated situation that produced no winners, and only losers, and that has also further pushed us into oppression. We realize that now, and since it's not too late to correct it, we struggle collectively to do so.

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[Organizing] [United Front]
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United We Stand

USW
Why can't we all get along? What is the problem? In my experience, all I see around me is prisoner against prisoner. There is no real unity. Fellow comrades, this is a major problem! I don't know about other state systems, but here in Pennsylvania it is a constant issue. Prisoners are tearing each other down instead of building each other up. Bickering, fighting, back stabbing, degradation and even genocide is a common theme among prisoners at all the prisons I have been held captive in.

The pigs stick together, so why can't we? These fascists get off over our disunity. It makes their day when they have the excuse to further degrade us by placing us in segregation and control units, where we are stripped of more of the precious little freedom we have left. These pigs oppress all of us; we are all in the same sinking ship. Don't you think it is time to put aside our petty differences and unite as one force? How can we focus on defeating this oppression we suffer and endure on a daily basis, when we are so focused on adding to our own and each others' oppression by oppressing each other?

Come on, family, the time is now. We must unite to really make a difference. Unofficially, jailhouse statistics show that out of all prisoners imprisoned in the United $tates, 89% of us seek only to see each other fail, and be defeated in every way possible, and are for themselves, and only themselves. 10% of us don't give a shit either way. Only 1% of us truly care about and are committed to win the battle over oppression. This is sad! We can change those statistics! MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within are the key to this change and our victory. My motto is and always will be: resist! resist! resist! I will not rest until that mantra rings out in one united voice. Then our oppressors will realize the meaning of their own motto: We can be the real and true United We Stand!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We commend this comrade for the call of unity in the face of struggle. But calls alone will not solve the problems we face, it will also take real action and examples set by leaders. This was the purpose of the September 9 day of peace and unity. As is seen in reports back from comrades who participated this year, it is through both education and practice that we can build greater unity among a population that has been trained to fight one another. We must look at what battles we can fight in our own prisons and neighborhoods, and bring people together for these common goals. Through these struggles we can demonstrate the nature of the imperialist system behind all of the oppression, and focused on keeping the oppressed powerless. Through practice we will build unity and educate the oppressed, training new leaders and developing a movement that can take on the imperialists as a part of the liberation struggles of oppressed nation peoples worldwide.

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[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Civil Liberties] [United Front]
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To a FL Comrade: Promote Peace, Fight Censorship

I would like to get to the Florida comrade who wrote Is ULK too Hardcore for the DOC? in ULK45.

Comrade, either you're misinformed or an ex-member of these renegade groups you speak of. First, you said ULK should make the newsletter more informative to political theory of education and building community. Comrade ULK created their newsletter as a platform for its readers to supply and share information. The newsletter is very informative and it lets all kkkaptured brothers know what's popping prison to prison, and that you're not alone in the struggle. If you feel something's missing from the newsletter that's your opportunity to supply it. Share the knowledge and lessons from your political education classes with ULK so they can share it with everyone in the trenches.

The reason ULK should continue to teach organization, is because there's brothers in the dark who think that what they're doing is right because it's all they know. In California African gangs have no organization. You mention the BGF putting a worldwide ban on gang banging. In California BGF is considered a prison gang by the pigs. Gangbanging doesn't mean you're a bad person. I've been in prison 11 years and things are very racial here in California. So what might solve a separate problem in New York might not work in California or Florida. There'll never be one fix for all. There has been too much blood shed between different organizations. There can be no peace without war. The fear of war motivates people to keep the peace.

You're aware things may never be resolved, but are you aware that the tone of your words says "why try to resolve?" and "don't even try to resolve because it's a losing battle." Which is your feelings about fighting censorship of ULK.

Your beef really seems to be with gangs and not how ULK does their thing. If you're not the leader of 3 Blood Kingdom you don't know if he opposes peace. Your actions are of choice. They don't define your belief. When supporting something you're still living in the now and have to deal with your current situation.

This brother is part of an organization that makes him a target. He'll need to protect himself the best way he knows how. Even if he denounces his membership he'll be a target for having been affiliated. Those who are never affiliated are targeted by those who are. You're a target either way and will have to protect yourself or get run over.

In the movie "Selma" they did peaceful protest and were still attacked. The lesson here? Do what you must to survive. Nobody's born a gang member. You choose to be one due to your circumstances. Comrade, talking down on gang members is a form of oppression. Let's build these brothas. Each one teach one.

Comrade you speak about rule 33_501.401 fac(3)(g) being used to censor your ULK. ULK doesn't support rioting, insurrection, and disruption of an institution. They support things like the September 9 Peace Day. What ULK does is print the going ons in prisons state to state. The news shows violence daily. Does that mean they support it?

You choose to not grieve the censorship under assumption you won't prevail. The pigs are betting on your pessimism and they're winning. Freedom of speech is a right. ULK exercises that. If you aren't going to fight for what you believe in why expect ULK to?

You say the pigs are the puppeteer, well off the head and the body will follow. It's time to stop venting and start inventing.


Vent: to relieve oneself by vigorous expression
Invent: To create or produce for the first time

Where there's a will there's a way. If you're willing to look you'll find a way. If there's no road to success create your own.

I didn't say all of this to attack you, but with hopes of inspiring you to go get what you want. Peace and Solidarity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's assessment of the importance of understanding the roots of violence and the inability of pacifism to stop violence. We also call on all lumpen groups and their leaders to join the United Front for Peace and work to advance not only their own organizations but others as well. At the same time, this writer is correct that we must work from where we are and not from idealism. As every issue of ULK demonstrates, we are about promoting organizing for expanding the peace, including the September 9 Day of Peace and Unity.

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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How We Develop Campaigns

Together Against Imperialism
In war a campaign is a series of actions which lead to an ultimate aim. Campaigns can be thought of as an organized strategy in which certain steps or operations lead to the end goal of victory. Often when people are taking on an adversary, victory will not be accomplished in one shot. When the odds are stacked against you it is necessary to create a plan which, through a series of small steps, one arrives close to the intended goal. This piecemeal advancement is a campaign.

Currently ISIS has a campaign where it is taking ground in the area of what is known as Iraq and Syria. In their campaign they are taking over key areas like airports, oil refineries, major roads or sea ports. By doing so they have obviously decided that each of these areas will lead to lightening their opposition's hold on power and of eventually seizing power in that region of the world. Rather than focusing on overthrowing the Iraqi government outright or flooding Baghdad with troops and attacking the "Green Zone" (the U.S. base) outright, they have developed a campaign to take smaller steps which may lead up to seizing that area.

U.S. imperialism has been waging a campaign for total global influence in which they can act with impunity. They do this by setting up 1000+ bases around the world. And they coerce countries with economic embargoes, assassinations, coups and the installation of puppet governments. Blackmail is used from information that was illegally stolen off the internet or through U.$. spy agencies. Every bit of information they obtain buys them more influence, a step forward in their campaign of destruction.

USW Campaigns

Prisoners and former prisoners within the United Struggle from Within mass organization have also initiated a variety of campaigns which address our daily struggles. Every struggling people anywhere in the world needs campaigns to address their particular needs, and prisoners are no different. For us struggling prisoners there are certain forms of oppression which prevent us from developing politically or are outright neutralizing us so we must find ways to resist and overcome them, and campaigns ensure this.

Prisoners in California have the Agreement to End Hostilities which is one of our main campaigns at this time. The End to Hostilities is an essential step that needs to continue so that our goal of mobilizing the entire prison system becomes easier. We cannot mobilize people against a common enemy if they are wrapped up in fighting each other. Stopping the violence between prisoners allows us to begin to move forward for our real interests and combat our real threats. This campaign should also spread to other states, and it will. The Agreement to End Hostilities will spread state to state just like lumpen organizations themselves have spread.

A California campaign that is also country-wide is the struggle to abolish control units. Solitary confinement is another small step in a larger process. Control units are designed to destroy our most advanced cadre; it cannot be explained in any other way. So in my opinion the control units are ground zero for the struggles of the prison movement within U.$. borders today. If we cannot save our cadre in U.S. prisons it is a huge defeat. In order to mobilize the prison system for humyn rights struggles it would be a lot easier if most of the politically advanced prisoners were not sealed off in control units.

The grievance campaign is another way that we enable imprisoned people to work toward humyn rights so that they can continue to struggle on that revolutionary path. Things like the struggle for indigent envelopes which the comrades in Texas are raising is a part of our USW campaigns because if we are able to write letters we can struggle and join correspondence study groups and contribute to ULK so we cannot be limited by the state. Just because we may not be in Texas we still support those comrades because it is a USW campaign.

Our campaign in solidarity with Palestine was an exercise in USW flexing its internationalism. When a people are suffering from crimes against humynity, even the most brutal dungeon will not prevent acts of humynity. I think our solidarity with Palestine was also a sign of our anti-imperialism. We have our own struggles in each prison against brutality, solitary, medical care, etc. We have our distinct struggles for national liberation of our respective nations. At the same time we are anti-imperialists and we know that all of our oppression can be tied to U.S. imperialism. Imperialism extends oppression around the world and creates the circumstances where Third World people cannot survive in their home countries. These people often migrate to the metropole in search of sustenance, when not contained within militariazed walls.

Do Campaigns Teach the People?

Campaigns are absolutely educational. We learn from practice. When we partake in a campaign we not only realize what we can accomplish, but we also realize how to better coordinate our efforts.

The campaign does a couple of things, it allows us to battle our oppression while it teaches us different forms of struggle. We often learn new methods to struggle because of this. For example in a previous ULK I read about some comrades who, after struggling on different grievances, decided to create their own legal self-help organization.

From our campaign to raise awareness on the inside and outside the dungeons sprang the Strugglen Artists Association (SAA). The SAA is for artists to create revolutionary cultural works and for Propaganda Workers to bring these cultural contributions to the masses.

From our campaign to close the SHU sprang the statewide California hunger strikes. These actions helped to catch the eye of many within the white left who previously did not support the prison movement like some are starting to do now. From this publicity came various prisoner support groups and media struggles to assist our actions.

From these examples that I have listed came independent institutions. Our campaigns created these institutions of the people. They were created without the assistance of our oppressor enemy. It is hard to see these things develop without our campaigns, so as you can see the campaign creates even more opportunity to struggle and gives us momentum to continue on our road forward.

Take away the campaigns and we are left with nothing but isolated impulsive acts which get us nowhere but unorganized disarray. Campaigns direct our actions toward our greatest potential.

Our Goals in Campaigning

Our goal as anti-imperialists is a socialist revolution. But the more immediate goal of USW within U.$. prisons is to revolutionize the dungeons. This will take a series of actions, or to be specific it will take campaigns.

Prisons are merely one component of the state. But they are one of the most important components because it is within prisons where the most vital social forces are found. Prisons will produce the fiercest fighters in the future revolution.

The campaign is a military concept. In many ways it is a revolutionary war which awaits us because the oppressor will never hand over its power. According to Mao: "The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them."(1)

Oppressed people will be victorious, and prisoners, once revolutionized, will ignite and charge the people. We have seen in hystory the power and raw force that ex-prisoners have infused into social justice movements within U.$. borders. The most advanced parties' political organizations and movements of the internal semi-colonies were filled with ex-prisoners and lumpen, so it is this element which must be mobilized. The people must "go deeper," as Lenin taught, to obtain the most revolutionary element which is less influenced by imperialism. Campaigns up! Conflicts down!


Notes: Mao Zedong, "Be Concerned with the Well Being of the Masses, Pay Attention to Methods of Work." (January 27, 1934, Selected Works, Vol. 1, page 147.

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners

CA UFPP

It's been over a week since we got the news on the settlement of Ashker v. Brown.(1) For a case that is so central to what we do as an organization we've taken our time to respond. We've read and re-read the legal documents and listened to the celebratory news coverage of the settlement. Yet our reaction remains the same, deep disappointment.

The settlement is a victory for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and it knocks out one of the three main legs of the campaign to shut down the SHU — the courts (the other two being public opinion and prisoners organized around their own interests). This case had a lot of the known anti-isolation lawyers and some influential long-time SHU prisoners behind it. It was an alliance that will be tough to beat any time soon.

The Maoist Internationalist Movement, along with many other organizations, has spent decades campaigning for the end to long-term isolation in U.$. prisons. We have long countered the public who question us with, "what is your proposed alternative?" with the simple answer, "not torturing people." Ending long-term isolation in U.$. prisons would be a simple reform that unites the lowest common denominator of prison reformers. Almost everyone agrees we should end torture, and that is reflected in the ongoing movement to do so. It is only the fascist-leaning cop-lovers and state bureaucrats that oppose the call. Actually, in many states the state bureaucrats support ending long-term isolation.

Yet through all the years of struggle here in California, somehow the CDCR has succeeded in painting the ending of torture as the extreme option, with the recent settlement as the sensible compromise. But they are wrong: the extreme option is overthrowing the state and replacing it with one run by the oppressed, where the real killers and exploiters are imprisoned and taught how to live collectively with other humyn beings, not thrown in isolation. Ending torture in prisons is the most basic, sweeping reform that would actually improve the conditions in U.$. prisons.

According to the New York Times, prison directors have become more supportive of reducing the use of solitary confinement after a man who spent 8 years in isolation was released in 2013 and went to the house of Colorado's prison chief, Tom Clements, and shot him dead.(2) Yet reducing the number of people in long-term isolation only serves to extend the life of its practice as it affects less people and there is less outrage. This reduction also suggests that some people still deserve to be tortured. That is why MIM(Prisons) has never supported measures to get only certain groups out of long-term isolation.

The Ashker settlement has been heralded as "effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement" and "setting strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates." Yet in the actual settlement we read,

"CDCR shall not house any inmate within the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison for more than 5 continuous years. Inmates housed in the Pelican Bay SHU requiring continued SHU placement beyond this limitation will be transferred from the Pelican Bay SHU to another SHU facility within CDCR, or to a 180-design facility at Pelican Bay. Inmates who have previously been housed in the Pelican Bay SHU for 5 continuous years can only be returned to the Pelican Bay SHU if that return has been specifically approved by the Departmental Review Board and at least 5 years have passed since the inmate was last transferred out of the Pelican Bay SHU."

That's it! That's the extent of the "strict" limitations on long-term isolation in California. So if you're in another SHU, or Ad-Seg or some other unnamed long-term isolation situation, which about 14,000 of the over 15,000 in isolation in California are, there are no limits.(3) If you're in Pelican Bay you must move to another SHU after 5 years. Five years later you can come back. Alternatively, you could spend 4.5 years in Pelican Bay, 2 months out, then go in for another 4.8 years, and on like that for the rest of your life. Does this really address the Eighth Amendment claim by the plaintiffs of cruel and unusual punishment? The length often cited for having serious mental affects on humyns is in the range of 15 to 30 days!

Now with the new Step Down Program prisoners are supposed to have a way to return to "a general population setting within three or four years." So the class of prisoners being represented in this case, those who have been in the SHU for ten or more continuous years, are being addressed adequately according to those who agreed to this settlement. But even moving forward there are exceptions for Administrative SHU Status, allowing people to be held as long as CDCR deems necessary.

There is one progressive concession given in the settlement: "CDCR shall not place inmates into a SHU, Administrative Segregation, or Step Down Program solely on the basis of their validation status." Additionally, "CDCR shall modify its Step Down Program so that it is based on the individual accountability of each inmate for proven STG [security threat group] behavior, and not solely on the inmate's validation status or level of STG affiliation." Finally, as a result of an ending to the indeterminate SHU sentences for prisoners "validated" as members of prison gangs, in the next year "CDCR shall review the cases of all validated inmates who are currently in the SHU as a result of... an indeterminate term that was previously assessed under prior regulations..."

This addresses the Fourteenth Amendment claim that the CDCR was violating due process with the validation system and the use of group punishment, at least somewhat. As we saw a couple years ago, the new STG policy actually opened up STG charges to a wider range of organizations than was covered by the previous validation system. The supposed upside is that the rules require actual STG behavior by the individual to justify placing someone in SHU, not just association. Yet, in the new SHU Term Assessment Chart we see that "Recruiting inmates to become an STG affiliate" is a SHU punishable offense.

As mentioned above, this settlement seems to eliminate the judicial strategy of ending solitary confinement in California for the near future. But it also strikes a huge blow against the strongest leg we have to stand on, the collective organizing of prisoners. Turns out, under the settlement you can expect to spend 12 months in SHU for "Leading a disturbance, riot or strike", and 6 months for "participation in a disturbance, riot or strike" or "Inciting conditions likely to threaten institution security" (for those not aware, the latter was a common charge made against those who peacefully refused food in recent years to protest long-term isolation in California prisons).

They are outlawing peaceful protest, and non-violent, passive resistance for the prison movement. Amerikans criticize other countries that torture people for peacefully protesting the government that is abusing and, well, torturing them. How is it that leaders in the prison movement have signed on to this?

As we have previously reported, the new STG policies still give prisoners points for things like tattoos, greeting cards and talking to certain individuals. So it is not really true that you can no longer be punished for affiliation. Abolishing this practice was part of the 2nd demand of the hunger strikes.

As a result of reviews (which were mostly underway before this settlement anyway) we have a number of comrades who are getting out of the SHU right now, without having to debrief (snitch). This will no doubt be a positive thing, as we expect many of them will stay politically active in their new locations where they will have more opportunities to reach out to others. Yet at the same time we've already seen the next generation of prison leaders going to the SHU. It seems that the youngsters are getting thrown under the bus here.

So this is a wake up call to those not yet in the SHU. In July 2013, 30,000 prisoners stood up against long-term isolation, recognizing their common interests in this demand, even though most of them were not housed in isolation themselves. This was an amazing demonstration that epitomizes the progress made over the last 5 years or so to consolidate the prison movement in California. This continues to be celebrated in the form of the Agreement to End Hostilities and the countless commemorations taking place today, September 9th, in the spirit of peace and solidarity in commemoration of the Attica uprising.

As this settlement was released, public statements from CDCR celebrated it as a continuation of their plan to reform the system after the SHU successfully broke the prison gangs that had taken over. Yeah right. These prison gangs were encouraged by the state who teamed up with white nationalist prisoners to oppress New Afrikans, and later enforced the north/south divide on the [email protected] nation. The continuation of and expansion of united action around the Agreement to End Hostilities is crucial to preventing the CDCR from returning to that status quo.

Leading up to the recent settlement we had one comrade building for a new wave of hunger strikes. As this settlement does not address the most important of the 5 Core Demands, ending conditions of isolation for all prisoners, this call remains valid. And while we've always warned comrades to build outside support for such actions, one lesson we can take from California is that such actions must be organized on the inside. Even California Prison Focus, who has been visiting prisoners in the SHU for decades, and who has lawyers with privileged access to their clients, was in the dark during the hunger strikes until the CDCR decided to pull in outside mediators. As always, MIM(Prisons) is committed to supporting the organization of prisoners and fighting to defend the First Amendment rights of prisoners (and ourselves) of speech and association. The ending of a policy that allows the state to torture people for belonging to certain organizations was a blow against the excessively repressive policies of the CDCR in relation to the First Amendment. With this settlement we find California in a similar situation to most of the rest of the country, where torture continues to be the method of choice for population control of the oppressed who do not walk in step with the oppressor.

And so, the struggle continues. Until solitary confinement is abolished, shutting down control units will be a central campaign for MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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AFW Joins UFPP, Plans Demo for Sept. 9

As a loyal comrade who is committed to the struggle I have utmost respect for Under Lock & Key and I appreciate all that they/you contribute to the revolutionary struggle that is taking place today for those inside these concentration camps in the United Snakes. As the leading member of the Abolitionist From Within (AFW) I do support MIM and embrace as a group the five core principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

While AFW may not agree with every political issue MIM advocates, it is the issues that we both support that bring us together in this revolutionary struggle. AFW recently had our first demonstration 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. We brought up the issues of the day affecting us and we all offered solutions from each individual's perspective. It was a beautiful and righteous energy as we synergized listening to each other and offering suggestions and the best of ourselves during this time. We will meet again on September 9th and try to agree on the best solutions in attacking and combating the issues that are inflicting us today from the first meeting.

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[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs]
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Call to End the Violence Against Prisoners

Salute fellow comrades, the fascist pigs have been in control for far too long, the fascist pigs have used prisoner against prisoner for far too long. It's time for us to hear the words of a great fallen comrade by the name of George Jackson who stated: settle your quarrels, come together. Understand the reality of our situation. Understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved. That generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives as we do now if you fail to act.

My fellow comrades, I humbly ask each and every one of you to please understand that if we want to successfully run a study group inside modern slavery, then we need to stand together in solidarity, because we out-number the fascist pigs. They just out-think us, because we are too busy fighting, raping, and killing one another, just to name a few things that we prisoners lend our hands to the pigs which stagnates us and keeps the pigs in control.

I am issuing a call to revolutionary change. Fellow comrades I know what I am asking of you won't be easy, but lets take baby step together and slowly put an end to all gang-related activities, so the fascist pigs cannot use it against us to justify putting us in control housing units or to censor our mail, etc.

Fellow comrades change first start with us, cause if we don't respect one another how can we demand respect from the fascist pigs.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's call for lumpen organizations to end the violence and come together in unity. In fact, when this writer calls for an end to "all gang-related activities" we would instead say let's turn these lumpen organizations into vehicles for activities that educate and liberate the oppressed.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 47]
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Celebrate Freedom Fighters by Becoming a Freedom Fighter

PeoplesFighters
There are many freedom fighters who have struggled throughout hystory in so many ways. Some used organizing, others the gun and many have used the power of words. Freedom fighters come from a variety of political ideologies and different nations, but what ties them all together is their decision to serve the people. They do this not just in their lives, but in their legacy and what they have accomplished in their lifetime.

This issue of Under Lock & Key is dedicated to freedom fighters of all types. The inspiration for this issue comes from a comrade who wrote in to suggest that everyone write an essay celebrating one freedom fighter who has influenced them. We are printing some of the responses we got in this ULK.

Who are some Freedom Fighters?

Looking at the [email protected] nation we have freedom fighters like Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, Corky Gonzalez and other [email protected] who fought for the liberation of Aztlán. They dedicated their lives to the nation and still serve as examples to those of us who struggle today.

The New Afrikan nation has freedom fighters like Malcolm X and Angela Davis and others who have set great examples and continue to do so for the oppressed. New Afrikan struggles continue to build on past struggles.

The First Nations have freedom fighters like Leonard Peltier who struggled against Amerikkka in many ways. Peltier today sits in a prison cell because of being a freedom fighter.

Boriqua has freedom fighters like Lolita Lebron and Oscar Lopez Rivera. Lolita went to prison for struggling against Amerikkka and Oscar still sits in a U.$. prison for his work to free Puerto Rico.

All of these people come from the oppressed internal semi-colonies here within U.$. borders. They have inspired people living under U.$. imperialism for decades. But there are many other freedom fighters around the world who have made an impact on all of our consciousness regardless of their political line. People like Leila Khalid, Che, Fanon, Giap, Zapata, Pancho Villa and so many others have showed us what people's fighters look like.

Are there Imprisoned Freedom Fighters?

For many amongst the oppressed nations these colonizer's kkkamps are where freedom fighters end up. Some imprisoned freedom fighters are prisoners of war (POWs), targeted because of their anti-imperialist work on the streets. These freedom fighters will always be found in U.$. prisons because the oppressed will always struggle in so many ways against the oppressor nation. This will continue as long as U.$. imperialism exists.

Other freedom fighters gained consciousness behind the bars and have risen up to lead the movement from within. Many of the freedom fighters in U.$. prisons today can be found in control units because the state targets imprisoned activists. Freedom fighters within prisons are often those who were amidst or leading such prison rebellions as the hunger/work strikes which swept the dungeons of Califas, Georgia, Ohio, etc. in the last few years like a hurricane of collective rage. These prisoners were craving freedom!

Freedom fighters within prisons are those who do not fear the enemy oppressor nation. They do not fear speaking up for prisoners even when they are being attacked by the state. A freedom fighter is anyone who makes a decision to struggle for a better environment within prisons.

How Do Freedom Fighters Awaken the People?

When we think of freedom fighters and our connection to them many conjure up people in hystory who inspire us to rise up. I know when I began to read up on people like Zapata or Pancho Villa it compelled me to read more about the Mexican Revolution. As a [email protected] it helped instill a national consciousness in me. It helped me to understand that it is good to resist Amerikkka and that colonization is bad, not good, despite the bribes.

But there are freedom fighters in the here and now. I would say that every reader of ULK is a budding freedom fighter, and those who contribute in any way to ULK are freedom fighters. We are freedom fighters because we work to free the people.

Reading the hystory of the Mexican Revolution and the freedom fighters who made it happen put me on the road to where I am today as a [email protected] revolutionary. The first time I was handed MIM literature was in a control unit. A New Afrikan handed me a MIM Notes newspaper and after reading it I was turned up! That persyn who introduced me to MIM was a freedom fighter. This is what freedom fighters do: they work tirelessly to build more freedom fighters.

Being a freedom fighter is not doing it for a come up. The people who become freedom fighters are not getting paid to do so. This is a voluntary act, a way of serving the people, often with everything we have.

The legacy of freedom fighters lives on long after we are no longer alive. We help build consciousness while we are alive through our actions. For future generations our actions, thought and struggles will serve as study material and inspiration. Everything we do should educate the people. This means our fellow prisoners on the tier, those on the yard, and our nations at large. Our lives should help develop as many people as we can, in prison or outside of prisons. Freedom fighters should make a difference in all who come to know them, even our outside supporters.

Why the State Fears Freedom Fighters

We should understand that freedom fighters are enemies of the state. It is the freedom fighter who is trying to get FREE from the state. The oppressor nation is what is preventing us from being free, so they would naturally see us as a threat. It's why they label us "security threat groups" and other such names, because our actions and goals threaten their power.

It is important to understand that our existence with the oppressor is not compatible. As long as we are alive we will continue to experience oppression in so many horrible ways. Many will become demoralized, especially when being a freedom fighter does not put you in the majority. Freedom fighters are a small minority within U.$. prisons and U.$. borders. But this should not discourage any one of you. Truth is grasped by a nucleus, a cadre, and not by the majority at first.

When the Bolsheviks first rose up they had a little over a hundred cadre. The Chinese cadre also started out as a handful. But as Tani and Sera put it: "Only those who refuse to see revolution as it actually is, can fail to see the connection between the breakthrough of world socialism and the rebellion of a very small, oppressed nation."(1) Here it is highlighted that a small oppressed nation has the ability to affect world revolution. A minority can affect the majority. The state understands this and it is for this reason that they fear our freedom fighters.

As I was writing this article on freedom fighters I heard on the radio that Hugo "Yogi" Pinell has been killed! Yogi was a real freedom fighter. Rest in power Yogi.


Notes: Kae Sera and E. Tani, False Nationalism False Internationalism, Seeds Beneath the Snow, 1985, p. 19.

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