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[Police Brutality] [Organizing] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 42]
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Killing Cops and Revolutionary Activism of the Lumpen

body cameras are not enough
source: Reuters 2014
"The lumpen has no choice but to manifest its rebellion in the university of the streets. It's very important to recognize that the streets belong to the lumpen, and that it is in the streets that lumpen will make their rebellion."
- On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver 1970

The recent killing of two New York City (NYC) cops must be viewed as a conscious act of war taking place within the context of national oppression, just as the killing of Eric Garner and countless others from the oppressed internal nations of New Afrika, Aztlán and the various First Nations at the hands of filthy pigs were and will continue to be acts of war that the police wage against the oppressed for the dominant white nation known as Amerika. Yet if we listen to the politicians we hear them desperately trying to switch the narrative of these killings as having nothing to do with the wave of recent protests currently being directed against police brutality and police repression since the murder of Michael Brown in Missouri on 9 August 2014. Instead they tell us that these killings are the result of a depraved criminal element who the police have all along been trying to protect us from.

In a recent public address NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the deaths of these pigs to be "an attack on all of us" and asked that protesters put their demonstrations on hold as it was now time to "move forward and heal divisions." Others, including the pigs themselves, have called on protestors to "tone down their language." One reactionary on a CNN roundtable even went so far as to categorize the killing of those cops as "an attack on the very heart of democracy and the people that uphold that democracy"! And that is a very funny statement to make as i could've sworn that the heart of democracy lies with the people and not with the special bodies of armed men. Instead of democracy we have power arising from society which places itself above the people and becomes more and more alienated from them. These arms of the state have been tasked with managing the irreconcilability of both national and class antagonisms.

But why are the politicians so anxious to stop the masses from making the connection between the state-sanctioned murders of Eric Garner (and others) and NYC pigs? Because they know that context is everything regardless of what the pigs, the politicians or any other member of the liberal and conservative white media have to say. The killing of those pigs was carried out by a subjective revolutionary force outside of an objective revolutionary scenario. Therefore, the lesson for us to take away from this is that the killing of those two cops was undoubtedly political, just as sure as all prisoners are political.

Does this however mean that we support such a strategy of attacking the existing power structure absent a revolutionary situation? No, because that is not an effective way of advancing the needs of the oppressed, nor does it advance our own revolutionary agenda. What is for sure, however, is that the death of two of NYC's "finest" is sure to be used as another pretext to round up and spy on political activists as well as to further clamp down on "crime" in the big rotten apple, which directly translates into more repression for the lumpen.

In The Correct Handling of a Revolution by Dr. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense for the Black Panther Party, Newton hit on the correct methods of both leadership and struggle within the New Afrikan community of his time. This analysis still holds good today and revolutionaries from the oppressed nations should take note:


The vanguard party must provide leadership for the people. It must teach the correct strategic methods of prolonged resistance through literature and activities. If the activities of the party are respected by the people, the people will follow the example. This is the primary job of the party. ...

There are basically three ways one can learn: through study, through observation, and through actual experience. The Black community is basically composed of activists. The community learned through activity, either through observation of or participation in the activity. To study and learn is good but the actual experience is the best means of learning. The party must engage in activities that will teach the people. The Black community is basically not a reading community. Therefore it is very significant that the vanguard group first be activists. Without this knowledge of the Black community one could not gain the fundamental knowledge of the Black revolution in racist America.

While leaving out some focoist rhetoric characteristic of the BPP which we fundamentally disagree with, this excerpt is part of the most correct aspect of the mass line and how we relate to the masses on a day-to-day and strategic level. V.I. Lenin, leader of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union, from 1917-1924, dealt with one aspect of the lumpen-proletariat in his time quite relevant at the present moment — their tendency to engage in spontaneous and disorganized armed struggle against the state and in "expropriation" of private property. Lenin vehemently condemned those Bolsheviks who disassociated themselves from this by proudly and smugly declaring that they themselves were not anarchists, thieves or robbers. He attacked "the usual appraisal" (2) which saw this struggle as merely "anarchism, Blanquism, the old terrorism, the act of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralize the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganize the movement and injure the revolution."(3) Lenin drew the following keen lessons from the disorganized period of this struggle:


"It is not these actions which disorganize the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control. The Bolsheviks (communists) must organize these spontaneous acts and must train and prepare their organizations to be really able to act as a belligerent side which does not miss a single opportunity of inflicting damage on the enemy's forces."(4)

In short, it's not necessarily that we disagree with the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, rather his timing was off. It is exactly these types of actions by the oppressed nation lumpen which make them both the hope of the liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies, as well as the potential spearhead of the oppressed nations against a rising fascist threat here in the United $tates. In the end it doesn't matter whether these pigs wear cameras or not. What matters is how we respond, as that is the difference between liberation and more repression.


All Power to the People!
Lumpens Unite!


Notes:
1. The State And Revolution, V.I. Lenin
2. "Guerilla Warfare," V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, XI, p. 220
3. Ibid, p. 216-17
4. Ibid, p. 219

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[Organizing] [Colorado]
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Looking Squarely at Our Failures

When we jump to actions without planning, it damages future struggles. While all political protest is good and absolutely necessary, it's always important to keep in mind when we issue a statement it means we must follow through.

My failed hunger strike lasted for two days, and it can be seen as a need to re-develop a line that can be implemented successfully. We can't put a strike or any other political statement ahead of knowing what we're capable of.

By my failure I allowed the pigs to win. But you win some, you lose some, and ultimately you learn. One important factor is to define ourselves and what we stand for, and not sound off before the bullets are loaded.

My embarrassment hasn't led me to quit, only to re-strategize. Not in all circumstances are hunger strikes needed to achieve a successful point. All actions have consequences; even and most especially those that fail. A lesson I learned was, the louder you shout, the more our enemies will watch. I guess some can say that revolutionary culture develops when we learn from our failures. By using those things that don't work as lessons to learn from, these instances become pillars of resistance.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises an important point about learning from our failures as well as our successes. Many times our mistakes are the best source of learning we can get. But only if we sum up honestly, and not pretend things worked well when they did not. When we plan actions we need to lay the groundwork to gain supporters, if we need supporters. And if we don't think we need supporters we should ask ourselves what we hope to accomplish by acting alone, and what consequences we can expect. Each time we organize for an action we should have these discussions in advance, and then we should sum up and honestly criticize to determine what can be done better in the future.

It won't always be true that we need to hide our voices from our oppressors. Under different historical circumstances, when we have gained enough supporters and hold a significant amount of power ourselves, we need to be outspoken about our criticisms of our enemies. We encourage our comrades who are struggling with questions of when and how to take action to study the magazine MIM Theory 5: Diet for a Small Red Planet. We distribute it for $5 or equal work trade, and can also send you an accompanying study guide.

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 42]
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Texas Hides Grievance Manual from Prisoners

I have late breaking news to report regarding the Texas offender grievance manual. There was a memo sent out to all Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prisons from the Access-to-Courts Supervisor, Frank Hoke. Here is the note as written:


Effective immediately the offender grievance manual will no longer be available in the law library. As such, please remove all copies of the offender grievance manual from your shelves. Make a note on your holdings list it has been removed and in its place write 'summary of significant changes to the offender grievance program.' The next revised holdings list will not include the offender grievance manual. In addition, cut out the below notice and post it in your law library for offender review. Should you have any questions, please contact the office at 936-437-4816.

Added: Emergency grievances that are repetitive in nature or have been previously identified and or addressed in another grievance will not be considered an emergency grievance and will be processed as a regular grievance. If at any time grievance staff cannot determine the grievance is repetitive in nature, the grievance will be processed as an emergency grievance according to the guidelines established in the offender grievance operations manual.

Added: 3rd party allegations of sexual abuse. Note: allegations of 3rd party sexual harassment will not be addressed and removed. The term 'specialty grievances' has been removed. Non-emergency grievances shall be processed as regular grievances subject to all screening criteria

Revised: time limits: disciplinary appeals and step 2 grievances shall be processed within 40 days of receipt from offender

Added: grievances that do not describe a reported use of force that was excessive or unnecessary do not warrant any further action and shall be considered non-grievable *enforcing*: 1 issue per grievance

9/30/14 9:24am authority: Frank Hoke.

I am letting all comrades know about this because it affects us all, and now we have no access to what the grievance codes are, the rules of the grievance manual, etc. This is a step in the wrong direction.

I did receive some letters back in response to my grievance petition. One came from Congressman Lloyd Doggett who wrote "Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I am honored that you have the confidence in me to assist you with this matter. However since Congress has no jurisdiction over state issues I have forwarded your communication to the honorable Susan King Texas State House of Representatives, PO Box 2376, Abilene, TX 79604. Again thank you for taking the time to write me." Administrative Review & Risk Management sent a note when they received the grievance petition. They marked "please utilize the offender grievance procedure to address your concerns." The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) mailed an interoffice communication to me that an OIG investigation will not be conducted in response to the grievance petition.


MIM(Prisons) responds: After four years of campaigning to demand grievances be addressed in Texas, we now have the prison administrators taking action. This action is not to address prisoners' grievances, as their laws and procedures require, but rather to stop prisoners from finding out what the rules say. Fortunately, we already have an extensive guide to fighting grievances in Texas, which we distribute to prisoners, and it contains all the information needed from the TDCJ's grievance manual. We won't let this administrative move slow down the Texas campaign. In response we call on all Texas prisoners to make use of our grievance pack to fight the system on every violation of rules and regulations. File grievances and demand they be addressed. Flood the prison and the appeals system with legitimate grievances and show them that removal of their rules will not stop this fight. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the Texas grievance materials.

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[Organizing] [Security] [California]
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SNY Warrior Down for Revolution

I would like to comment on an article titled United in California that was printed in ULK40. I am also housed on a Special Needs Yard (SNY), and it wasn't until I dropped out of the street gang that I was able to develop the spirit of resistance on revolutionary principles. The general population deems everybody a snitch on these yards, however, that is not always the case. I simply made the choice to walk away and no longer participate. I am housed around prisoners with some shady history but not everybody here falls in that category.

As a Chicano I work to help men on the yard get sober and educate themselves, and to go back to their communities and discourage their family and friends from joining gangs or selling/using drugs. It wasn't until I started down this path that I realized the true meaning of the term Chicano. It does not mean Mexican-American as the Webster's dictionary defines. It's a political term used to redefine one's perspective historically, economically, politically, and most importantly responsibility. A responsibility to the people!

I come from a place that produces warriors, so I don't play into the finger pointing that the system uses to divide us as a people - general population vs. sensitive needs.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We stand with this comrade in the debate over whether SNY prisoners can be trusted as revolutionary activists. We judge individuals by the work they do and the political line they put forward. We know there are a lot of people in SNY who have snitched. But we also know there are plenty of people in GP who can't be trusted. We don't let the pigs define who we trust by their housing categories, instead we hold all people to the same standards and require everyone to demonstrate their trustworthiness in practice.

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[Security] [Organizing] [California]
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Unity with SNY Threatens Credibility

This is a comment on the United in California article from ULK40. It is crucial MIM(Prisons) recognizes SNYs work or have worked with the prison administration against other prisoners. While as Maoists we know no oppression is overcome until all oppression is overcome, we can't possibly ask anyone affected by their actions to turn around and work with them. Would Mao have worked with Deng Xiaoping? I don't know Saif [the author] but the idea that there are "some good strong comrades" on SNY is not a convincing argument to administer against the overwhelming evidence of SNYs helping pigs at every opportunity. Even if it's by his exposing himself as a "leader." You're a man not a "leaf" if you can't hold on to the branch and fall, I can accept that, but we'll keep climbing without you.

While I don't promote violence against SNYs and in fact wish them well in any anti-imperialist work. I would strongly advise anyone against incorporating any SNY inmate into any work that may lead to repression from any government entity.

SNYs should keep using MIM(Prisons) as a guide in their work. But in promoting unification of SNY and "mainline" convicts in general terms MIM(prisons) blurs a crucial line. SNYs can challenge their SNY status administratively. I am a General Population inmate. Do you have "sensitive needs?" I don't. I can be housed around anyone, accept people who don't want to be around me, i.e. people with "sensitive needs."

Being scientific in our assessments of individuals involves being honest. SNYs work to reinforce the stigma that all GP convicts are inherently violent by allowing the administration to use them to say "if this inmate is housed on a GP line it may jeopardize institutional security." This stigma in turn imposes harsher restrictions on GP inmates and SNY inmates reap the benefits of the distinction....jobs, rehab programs, vocation, education, conjugal visits, etc. are given priority on SNYs, especially on the level IV yards.

MIM(Prisons) should analyze the SNY/mainline distinction in the same manner as oppressed nations within the U.$. It is my personal assessment that SNYs chose to work with the administration against other prisoners. They get to the SN Yards and realize that "no, the administration is not your friend" and then want to whine about it. Their issues are distinct from ours and while there are issues with the administration that are shared on both sides, I would not risk my standing with other GP prisoners by helping someone who is likely to have hurt them.

SNY/GP unity is not possible. The promotion of this idea undermines MIM(Prisons) credibility on GP yards. UFPP doesn't rely on this theory because SNYs chose to not be housed with us. So theoretically they can continue to uphold the principals on those yards, while we do ours.


MIM(Prisons) responds: For those new to ULK, we have explained our line on SNY in the movement in more depth elsewhere. We completely understand the reactions that many have to our position on working with those in SNY after the torture that so many people in California have gone through at the hands of the state prison system, with the complicity of many who went to SNY. Yet, practice seems to be proving our line correct both in terms of the contributions that SNY comrades make to building USW, and the direction that the CA prisons system is going overall. We do not take this question lightly, nor does working with SNY comrades mean we take security lightly. If this issue is important to you, please write to us to get a more extensive discussion of this topic.

The above comrade's contribution to this long-stading debate over the role of SNY status in the pages of Under Lock & Key is a unique perspective because unlike most anti-SNY writers, s/he advocates that SNY prisoners can do good anti-imperialist work, as long as they do it separately. The argument that SNY prisoners cannot be trusted or united with is based in the idea that all SNY prisoners have debriefed and sold out comrades on GP. But we know that debriefing is not required to get SNY status. This writer is correct that the administration plays SNY against GP, but we can't let them dictate who we work with. We must make that decision ourselves based on each individual's work and political line.

The author asks if Mao would have worked with Deng Xiaoping, as an example of working with enemies. And Mao already answered this question: yes. Deng was kicked out of the Communist Party of China and readmitted under Mao's watch. Communist China's prison system was focused on re-education, not punishment and ostracization. People who betrayed the revolution or took actions that harmed others were locked up to study and learn from their mistakes. This is a revolutionary model that we should emulate, even while we don't hold power.

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[Gender] [Organizing]
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Book Review: Captive Genders

captive genders
Captive Genders
Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex
Eric A. Stanley & Nat Smith, Editors
2011, AK Press
Available for $21.95 from AK Press: 674-A 23rd St, Oakland, CA 94612

This book is a compilation of essays from various transgender individuals, activists, prisoners and researchers. The unifying theme is progressive in that the book is not only devoted to exposing gender oppression faced by transgender people, specifically the criminalization of gender variance in the United $tates, but also to the abolishment of the current United $tates prison system itself. It tackles the often incorrect focus of queer activists who call for expanded laws and punishment, correctly exposing this strategy as reactionary and counterproductive. Unfortunately, although this is a pretty long book, it includes only vague anarchist solutions to the problem, with no coherent strategy to abolish the criminal injustice system.

Before going into detail I will briefly mention that MIM(Prisons) disagrees with the use of the term "prison industrial complex" (PIC) which is found throughout this book. This phrase implies that prisons in the United $tates (and other First World countries when applied there) are part of a money-making industry. In reality prisons are a money-losing enterprise, built and sustained by the state as a means of social control. Anyone making money off of prison contracts are just participating in the shuffling of imperialist wealth stolen from the Third World, not making profits off of prisoner labor. The use of this term in this book is perhaps not a surprise as a failure to grasp the underlying purpose of a system is going to lead to mistaken analysis of how we can fight that system.

We Can't Work Within the Criminal Injustice System

In the introduction, the editors wrote: "Mainstream LGBT organizations, in collaboration with the state, have been working hard to make us believe that hate crimes enhancements are a necessary and useful way to make trans and queer people safer. Hate crimes enhancements are used to add time to a person's sentence if the offense is deemed to target a group of people. However, hate crimes enhancements ignore the roots of harm, do not act as deterrents, and reproduce the farce of the PIC, which produces more, not less harm."(p3) This is an important point for activists of all stripes who fight for expanded laws to protect whichever oppressed group they are working to defend. We cannot look to the state to defend us against the state. And the prison system in particular is a repressive arm of the state; anything we do to expand that arm is inherently reactionary.

In "Transforming Carceral Logics: 101 Reasons to Dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex Through Queer/Trans Analysis and Action," S. Lamble writes:

"Although some people believe that we can train transphobia out of law enforcement agents or eliminate homophobic discrimination by hiring more LGBT prison guards, police, and immigration officials, such perspectives wrongly assume that discrimination is a 'flaw' in the system, rather than intrinsic to the system itself. Efforts to make prison and the police institutions more 'gay-friendly' perpetuate the myth that such systems are in place to protect us."(p. 239)

This author goes on to write: "The pervasiveness of state violence against queer and transgender people is reason enough to fight the prison industrial complex. But it is important to include anti-prison work as part of antiviolence struggles more broadly. Too often mainstream antiviolence work around hate crimes, sexual violence, child, and partner abuse excludes or remains disconnected from struggles against state violence."(p245) We agree with the connections made by Lamble here. It is important that people recognize that state-perpetrated violence is far broader and more deadly than any individual violence. It is laughable that some turn to our violent state to protect them. The state will only protect those whose interest it serves. In the case of the Amerikan government, that includes the vast majority of the white oppressor nation, but often excludes oppressed groups of like trans people.

Lamble concludes:

"Unfortunately, many LGBT organizations in Canada, Britain, and the United States — particularly white-dominated and class-privileged ones — are increasingly complicit in the forces of prison expansion: calling for increased penalties under hate crimes laws; participating in police, military, and prison officer recruitment campaigns....LGBT groups nonetheless helped to legitimize imprisonment and channel further resources into locking people up — despite a lack of evidence that such measures reduce hate-motivated violence."(p. 249-250)

In "Identities Under Siege: Violence Against Transpersons of Color[", Lori A. Saffin bolsters this point: "Arguing for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in state hate crimes laws will ultimately end in limited social reform because 'equality' within the existing social system only accounts for and remedies the most blatant forms of injustice."(p155) And she concludes:

"By not taking into consideration the ways in which the criminal justice system regulates, pursues, controls, and punishes the poor and communities of color, LGBT hate crimes initiatives reproduce harm and do not end it. Calling for an increased role of the criminal justice system in enforcing hate crimes legislation is insular in that it assumes a white, gay, wealthy subject while also soliciting victims of hate-motivated violence to report into a penal system without regard for the fact that people of color and the poor are disproportionately punished. By ignoring racism and economic inequality in their arguments for hate crimes statutes, national gay rights organizations assume an assimilationist stance that reinforces the status quo at the expense of communities of color and the poor."(p156)

Queer and Trans People in the Criminal Injustice System

Captive Genders has some good data on the incarceration of queer and trans people in Amerika who are disproportionately targeted by the criminal injustice system and face additional dangers and abuse within prison. In "Rounding Up the Homosexuals: The Impact of Juvenile Court on Queer and Trans/Gender-Non-Conforming Youth" Wesley Ware writes:

"Further, the data tell us that queer and trans youth in detention are equally distributed across race and ethnicity, and comprise 15 percent of youth in detention centers.... Since queer and trans youth are overrepresented in nearly all popular feeders into the juvenile justice system — homelessness, difficulty in school, substance abuse, and difficulty with mental health — the same societal ills, which disproportionately affect youth of color — it should not be surprising that they may be overrepresented in youth prisons and jails as well."

In "Maroon Abolitionists: Black Gender-Oppressed Activists in the Anti-Prison Movement in the US and Canada," Julia Sudbury writes about the gender binary in the prison system and the risks for transsexual prisoners who have not had gender reassignment surgery. They are assigned to a prison based on one part of their body, denied medical care, and put in extreme physical danger.

Many trans wimmin are forced to take a prison "husband" by the guards who think this will diffuse tension and make the prisons calmer. In "No One Enters Like Them: Health, Gender Variance, and the PIC," blake nemec interviews Kim Love about her experience in the men's prisons in California. Kim describes entering the prison, when the Correctional Officer (CO) assigned her to a cell and she objected to the placement, and "They told me that's gonna be your husband, and that's where you're going to be and you're going to love him."(p. 222) She goes on to explain why no one tries to take the COs to court: "We've had so many transgenders that have been raped in CDC [California Department of Corrections] and had proof. One of them even had the towel the CO wiped his semen on. Today I haven't heard of one case that a transgender won against a law officer, against CDC."(p. 222)

In "Out of Compliance: Masculine-Identified People in Women's Prisons" Lori Girshick writes about women "aggressives" in prison. These people, most of whom identify as lesbians or trans men, are often treated more harshly than feminine prisoners because they are breaking the social and cultural norms the prisons seek to enforce. "Legislation is being considered in California to segregate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) prisoners who self-identify at receiving."(p. 203) The author explains that this gives staff even greater access to harass and abuse them.

How to Organize for Change

In the essay "Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement with Everything We've Got", the authors, Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee and Dean Spade, tackle the critical question of how to organize. But they completely miss several important points. First, they consider the Amerikan workers to be on the side of the oppressed: "The US government and its ally nations and institutions in the Global North helped pass laws and policies that made it harder for workers to organize into unions..."(p20)

Second, they push reformist organizing without a clear goal of eliminating imperialism, as if we could abolish the criminal injustice system within imperialism. They do however, correctly identify that violence and discrimination aren't just individual bad behaviors:

"Discrimination laws and hate crimes laws encourage us to understand oppression as something that happens when individuals use bias to deny someone a job because of race or sex or some other characteristic, or beat up or kill someone because of such a characteristic. This way of thinking, sometimes called the 'perpetrator perspective,' makes people thing about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism in terms of individual behaviors and bad intentions rather than wide-scale structural oppression that often operates without some obvious individual actor aimed at denying an individual person an opportunity. The violence of imprisoning millions of poor people and people of color, for example, can't be adequately explained by finding one nasty racist individual, but instead requires looking at a whole web of institutions, policies, and practices that make it 'normal' and 'necessary' to warehouse, displace, discard, and annihilate poor people and people of color. Thinking about violence and oppression as the work of 'a few bad apples' undermines our ability to analyze our conditions systematically and intergenerationally, and to therefore organize for systemic change."(p. 23)

We have a correct analysis here of the need for systemic change. But their ultimate goal is summed up:

"Abolition is not just about closing the doors to violent institutions, but also about building up and recovering institutions and practices and relationships that nurture wholeness, self-determination, and transformation. Abolition is not some distant future but something we create in every moment when we say no to the traps of empire and yes to the nourishing possibilities dreamed of and practiced by our ancestors and friends."(p. 36)
This is an unfortunate dive into individualism and the persynal-is-political anarchist practice. We cannot create a culture that enables better relationships between people and allows the oppressed to have their own institutions until we eliminate the system of imperialism that necessitates the exact opposite. Pretending that our individual practice can get us there is the same mistake these and other authors in Captive Genders correctly criticize when they talk about the fact that one racist individual isn't the problem but rather it's the whole system. We must dismantle that system first, then we can build a just and equal society.

The essay "Maroon Abolitionists: Black Gender-Oppressed Activists in the Anti-Prison Movement in the US and Canada" also gets the solution wrong:

"Movement-building that creates innovative models of justice that do not pimp prisoners for the success of capitalism are possible. It is time to view the current US economic hardships as an exit opportunity away from dependency on conservative foundations and government funding vehicles that bar groups from work that threatens pharmaceutical industries or gender/sexuality norms. Transformative justice models that empower lovers, friends, and groups of people to be accountable to one another rather than rely on unjust and unsustainable US systems, can work to abolish the prison industrial complex. We can, and are, creating these in forms that facilitate a domino effect of cultural and economic churnings."(p. 230)

Again here we have this idea of "transformative justice" that is anarchist individualism with people just holding each other accountable outside of the United $tates's criminal injustive system. Yet no matter how hard we try, we do not have the liberty to exist outside of the imperialist system. Take a look at the revolutionaries in the Philippines or India who liberated base areas and set up their own independent institutions only to have them attacked by the brutal military (funded and armed by the United $tates). Or look at an example closer to home: the MOVE organization, which attempted to set up its own peaceful self-policing community only to be violently destroyed by the Amerikan injustice system. There is a reason why the Black Panther Party trained its members in self-defense. We are misleading people by pretending that this transformation of the criminal injustice system is possible by just creating some independent structures. The Amerikan government will not just fade away without a fight.

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[Gang Validation] [Organizing] [Leavenworth Detention Center] [Federal] [ULK Issue 41]
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Victory in Unity at Leavenworth

At this point Leavenworth Detention Center has no gang validation or step down program. Actually it seems that the administration does very little to address gang violence. This is a detention facility housing mainly pre-trial prisoners but it seems more like a war zone. No effort is made to separate rival gang members or to place people in a safe environment. For example it is common for the pigs to house a white supremacist with a Muslim.

They pit us against each other and sit back and enjoy the show. We must look beyond the tip of our noses and begin to see the bigger picture. United we stand, divided we fall.

Recently we had a major victory! The food here is substandard at best but the meatloaf in particular is undercooked and rancid. White, Black and Latino all stood together and refused to accept trays and refused to lockdown until we were fed. The pigs brought in tear gas canisters to try to intimidate us but we simply refused to go to sleep without food. Finally we were brought sack lunches and they took meatloaf off the menu. If we stick together and stand up for what's right peacefully anything is possible.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer reminds us that prisons can play lumpen organizations both ways. On the one side we oppose the validation of people as gang members because this is used to punish and isolate and it is used to target activists and leaders. On the other side we oppose prisons throwing rival organizations together to try to create conflict and violence, which is further used as justification to isolate and lockdown whoever is perceived as a leader, activist or troublemaker. None of these actions are for the purpose of promoting safety or security of the prison population.

It is good to hear about people coming together in spite of the pigs attempts to foment conflict. Winning one change in food is a small battle, but it gives people the chance to see what is possible through unity, and hopefully will lead to greater unity in the future. Those conscious comrades in Leavenworth should take this opportunity to spread political education, and try to unite all against the criminal injustice system. If everyone is on the yard together, this is a good opportunity to start study classes. Write to MIM(Prisons) for help getting a study group started in your prison.

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[New Afrika] [Organizing] [Theory]
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Personality Cults, the Black Panther Party, and Principled Unity

Literature Review:
Maoism and the Black Panther Party
1992

There is one thing in particular I'd like to write about in regards to what interests are and what I've learned from the above subject matter. MIM refers to as "the cult of individual personality", when it comes to the leadership of the 3 highest ranking Panthers of the late 1960s - early 1970s. Particularly Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. I understand what MIM is getting at when suggesting that the dominant personalities of these two men is basically what led to the BPPs downfall. Mostly due to the fact that the majority of its membership chose to follow in the leadership of either Newton or Cleaver, which ultimately led to the split and the FBI's ability to infiltrate and corrupt the BPP from the inside out.

However, without Newton's leadership and personality to begin with, the BPP would never have made the revolutionary impact on the movement that it did. In my opinion, it takes great leadership to support change. Many of the BPP's successes and accomplishments would not have been achieved without the strength of character provided by Newton.

Of course, there were mistakes, flaws that allowed the party to be exploited and manipulated by its enrollees. Which we can see in hindsight. But the reality is, at that time, it took great individual courage and audacity in the face of a very powerful and dangerous adversary to be able to inspire and to get so many to come together and to present a strong coordinated force willing to fight and to challenge, not only the police themselves, but an entire system.

Nothing inspires people more than the willingness to stand up and to die for what you believe in and Huey Newton was the epitome of courage. It's easy to claim "I would die for you." However, it's a whole different story when you're actually put under the gun. Although many people want to be brave and courageous, the majority of people are overcome by their fears.

It was Huey's courage that inspired Eldridge Cleaver to join the party. Individual practices and personal agendas created a division amongst them. Nevertheless, it does not take away from the unique quality of what drove people to come together and to follow the BPP in the first place.

So yes, I agree leadership needs to be established on all levels from top to bottom. Teaching and training our brothers to understand the importance of both individual and collective leadership. So that everyone has the ability to lead and to take charge when it is called upon. While at the same time recognizing and acknowledging that it requires a certain amount of knowledge and experience to be ready and prepared to accept a position or role of leadership. Especially one that places the lives of our people under your care.

When looking back at the BPP a lot of people, including MIM, seem to place the bulk of the responsibility on Newton and Cleaver. Therefore, laying blame on these two individuals above everyone else. Which is reasonable to a point. They chose to insist on placing themselves in the position of authority. Hence, accountability falls directly on their shoulders. However, the BPP produced many great leaders including but not limited to: George Jackson, Geronimo Pratt, Fred Hampton, Sekou Odinga, Mutolu Shakur, etc. Each of whom established a following of their own. They all also suffered at the hands of their enemies. But the point I want to make is, when the opportunity presented itself, even though they were part of the BPP, they each created their own agendas, based not solely on what Newton and Cleaver directed, but on the practices and objectives they felt best served the movement.

I don't believe it is right to throw Huey under the bus for what happened. He did his best and unfortunately in the end succumbed to the circumstances that stopped him.

I think to succeed, we have to all come together and to unite under a common force. Our leaders need to put aside their egos and humble themselves to the fact that we all have a place. It is up to us as individuals to understand that place. Those who are best fit to lead us should lead us. Those who have proven over time, through correct practice and sacrifice, who have the leadership skills, abilities and qualities, as well as the knowledge, training and experience.

Just as the representatives of the Pelican Bay short Corridor Collective came together in solidarity to build a movement that was at one time unimaginable. So should those who claim to be the vanguards of the revolutionary movement on the outside. There are always going to be differences in ideologies, philosophies, and perspectives. Our goal should be to put our differences to the side and to find our common ground. Our common goals and interests. Focusing and directing our efforts and energies towards striving for what we all have in common.

I have noticed the lines that have been drawn between groups such as MIM, RCP, SWP, etc. Imagine how much can be done if only each of these groups came together to build around and upon a common goal? Creating a courageous leadership with representatives from each group. Agreeing to prioritize those things that are important to everyone. While at the same time each group respectively accepting their own individual purposes.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This commentary is on the pamphlet produced by the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) called Maoism and the Black Panther Party. There are two main points here we want to address: the personality cult and the call for unity between various organizations.

There is a contradiction around the question of the cult of personality. As this comrade points out, figures like Huey Newton and Fred Hampton were responsible for some of the quick gains in membership of the Panthers. There is a contradiction between the leaders and the masses based on the law of uneven development, which leaves the masses needing leaders in the first place. Communist practice has answered this problem with democratic centralism, including the use of the mass line. We've criticized the Panther organizing strategy for its failure to distinguish between the Party and mass organizations. By not recognizing the different roles of the two, the Party suffered and charismatic individuals had too much power, which broke down democratic centralism.

This comrade is correct that Huey's actions, based in his correct understanding, played a significant role in the Panthers early rise to success. Yet, we must temper this with a disciplined organizational structure that recognizes the important roles of the everyone in the Party. Once the Party reached a certain size, democratic centralism would have decreased the ability of the pigs to influence individuals to split the Party. And this was a major failure of the Panthers.

Notwithstanding this criticism, the pamphlet does not throw Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver under the bus. Rather, the principal message is to hold up the BPP, and its leaders, as the best example we have of Maoist organizing within U.$. borders. In fact, MIM later published an article in 1999 "Huey Newton: North Amerikan of the Century?" advocating this position. But in analyzing historical movements that failed to achieve their goals, we have a responsibility to figure out what errors were made so that we can improve on that practice.

The second question raised by this writer is that of whether all organizations such as MIM, RCP and SWP should "put our differences to the side and find our common ground." We ask the author whether s/he would also call on the Black Panther Party to unite with the US organization, a group that killed one of the great leaders, Bunchy Carter, and proved to be a tool of the imperialist government. We do not take this question lightly. It is very important for us to identify who are our friends and who are our enemies. And we have a duty to unite all who can be united in the fight against imperialism. However, we should not attempt to build unity with those who mislead the masses and actually serve the imperialists, whether consciously or unconsciously. Organizations like the RCP and SWP, who work to rally the white nation within U.$. borders for greater benefits to themselves, are objectively working against the interests of the international proletariat. If we were to "put our differences to the side" with these groups, we would be putting our anti-imperialism to the side. That is not a compromise we are willing to make. We do seek to unite all in the anti-imperialist battle, through a principled United Front against imperialism. But this United Front will never include pro-imperialist forces.


Correction May 2015

The author responded to our response to argue that the assassination of Bunchy was instigated by those who were trying to split the Black liberation movement, and even those close to Bunchy do not blame those who pulled the trigger as they were just following orders.

Perhaps that was a poor example we used with the BPP and US as it could easily be interpreted to mean that you should not try to unite with any group that has used violence against your group. We strongly support the end to hostilities in California and the United Front for Peace in Prisons and are aware that one of the major barriers to that is the history of bloodshed. But the difference is the reasons for the bloodshed. With L.O.s it is generally "petty differences" as the author describes in h letter. But with political organizations it is often about core political differences. The implication above was that the US murder of Bunchy was due to such deep political differences. Perhaps a good argument could be made that that was not the case. But either way, the reason we would not ally with SWP or RCP is because of where their politics lead. At the group level it is against the interests of the oppressed. For example, the RCP line on Iran leads to the suffering and death of Iranians as a group at the hands of U.$. imperialism. So this is a bigger picture question. And the reason we are so adamant about not working with RCP is that most people cannot see the difference between us. So to do so would be to confuse the masses, potentially leading to more people following the RCP and working against the interests of the oppressed.

A lot of these differences are deep, historical debates that were settled in the communist movement a long time ago, but confused people, or people who chauvinistically support the interests of Amerikans, keep bringing these issues up and taking the wrong side. You can check out our RCP study pack for discussion of many of these issues. And we thank the author for pointing out this correction.

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[Education] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Utilize Cyber Space and Social Media to Expose the Corrupt Texas Pigs

Comrades, consider all the murders of people of oppressed nations in Amerika: the Trayvon Martins, Andy Lopezes, Renisha McBrides, and Michael Browns. Now consider the media attention and the fact that even though some attention was given to the racist security guards and police officers who were involved in these heinous acts, was justice rendered?

In Texas, finally we have woken up to the fact that attempting to ask the closed loop fraternity of oppressors to fix this corrupt grievance program is not the proper strategy to fix the problem.

In the mean time, numerous prisoners have been beat and murdered by Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) pigs hiding under the blanket of qualified immunity. The Office of Inspector General has been a willing conspirator in the cover-up of abuses of prisoners and Senator John Whitmire, the Chairman of the Texas State Legislatures Criminal Justice Committee, is the Chief of culpability when it comes to murders being un-investigated and obstruction of justice tactics made the status quo! Senator John Whitmire is a closet racist and cast in the same mold as the Dixiecrats of the South circa 1960 and 1970.

It is true, Texas State Representative Dr. Alma Allen from Houston fought hard to have House Bill 877 (HB877) passed during the 83rd legislative session in 2013. This is the TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee bill which Whitmire wouldn't support stating that “We already have policies and committees in place that do that.” Bull shit Whitmire!

Comrades, we must make a concerted effort to expose TDCJ prison employees and hucksters like Whitmire in the media. Let the public see exactly what is going on up in here and let the public decide whether the system is just or corrupt. What we do is start drafting brief, informative, and concise e-mails and blog postings and ask a family member, friend, or fellow comrade to post or send emails to particular sites and addresses.

For instance, Huntsville, Texas is the home of numerous TDCJ prisons and modern day slave camps and gulags. Huntsville has a newspaper called The Huntsville Item which occasionally reports on issues that take place within TDCJ. I've started to send short news clips and blog blasts to the Huntsville Item detailing abuse that I've witnessed or been victim to: [email protected], attn: news room. Put their ass on blast right in their own back yard!

But there's more!

The Houston Chronicle is the largest most circulated newspaper in the state of Texas. Chronicle staff writers Mike Ward, Anita Hasson, and Dan Schiller all focus on criminal justice issues and have exposed many instances of abuse inside TDCJ but they are or seem to be protectors of the pigs! Nevertheless, they are opportunistic journalists and love a juicy tale of murder, intrigue, and corruption, all salient subjects present inside the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice. I encourage you strongly to have brief but informative packed emails sent to them also! Houston Chronicle staff writer email addresses: [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

The Texas Observer is a left leaning “Journal of Free Voices” which publishes a monthly magazine. I've also been developing a rapport with them.

The prison show on KPFT 90.1 FM actually has a Facebook page which I highly recommend you have your friends, family and comrades visit and post short messages that detail abuse and the inadequacy of this important and useless grievance program!


Murders but no accountability

Comrades, too many prisoners are being killed by TDCJ employees and the murders are being justified as necessary use of excessive force by sadistic, brutal, and criminal TDCJ employees. As I said earlier, the Office of Inspector General is condoning and sanctioning these murders of the lumpen, so on top of our media strategy we must start contacting the Texas Rangers and the Public Integrity Unit in Austin, Texas.

The Texas Rangers are one of the oldest most advanced law enforcement agencies in Texas. Outside of the FBI the Rangers are the top pig organization in Texas. When we coordinate our efforts in such a manner as contacting the media and these Rangers, playing it out in the public domain, I promise you we will get some action right out of the chief imperialist pig oppressor Brad Livingston, TDCJ Executive director.

The public integrity unit in Austin investigates corruption of those who hold public office. So all those board of pardon and parole officials who've been taking bribery money from so-called parole lawyers in Texas watch out! All those Texas correction industries employees who have been engaged in deceptive business practices stealing tax payer dollars and promoting the slave plantation system in Texas – watch out!

Comrades, please understand that this info I am giving you has the potential to create a major disturbance in the corrupt practices of TDCJ. The oppressors don't want you to utilize this information but if we can get a significant number of comrades to embrace this strategy it will strengthen our position.

MIM(Prisons) is correct when it says the TDCJ independent oversight committee would bring progress for our fight against abuse and injustice. But remember this is a long protracted struggle that will go on for years. The key is to unify behind this strategy. We need actors not rappers.

Address: The Texas Rangers, PO Box 4087, Austin, Texas 78773-0600
The Public Integrity Unit, PO Box 1748, Austin, Texas 78767


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter because it gives us a chance to address the question of how to build public opinion. We agree with this comrade that it can be useful to send information to various media outlets to expose injustice. Sometimes they will cover our struggles, if not for the reason of actually supporting these struggles. But we do need to be very aware that media is not unbiased. Mainstream media is beholden to advertisers and so very much biased in favor of capitalism and the criminal injustice system. This means that when this media does cover our struggles, it will usually be with a slant or perspective that is counter to ours. Is it useful to have the media cover a prisoner hunger strike over bad conditions by interviewing the warden and letting him have a forum to tell the public how the prisoners are wrong and conditions are good? Of course, getting our side of the story in the hands of this media may get the struggle covered with at least a bit of our perspective. That is a good thing, but we cannot rely on mainstream media. This is why MIM(Prisons) publishes Under Lock & Key. The oppressed need our own media reporting from our perspective. USW88 left out ULK as a place where people should send their stories, but we must always keep this in the front of our minds: any story or news worth sending to the mainstream media should be sent to ULK first. ULK is the most likely place it will get printed!

Ultimately we need to distinguish between our short-term goal of achieving reforms to improve the living conditions of our comrades behind bars, and our long-term goal of eliminating the criminal injustice system. The first goal may sometimes be aided by broad publicity brought to the atrocities going on behind bars. The second goal will only be accomplished with an organized communist movement with solid anti-imperialist principles. We will never get anti-imperialist education printed in mainstream media. And so we can use these avenues tactically for short term battles, but we should not rely on them for anything more. And all of our work needs to be in the context of our long-term goals: even reforms should serve as educational tools for our comrades and potential comrades to explain why we will never be able to reform away imperialism.

As for the strategy of contacting the Texas Rangers, this is a historically very reactionary arm of the law enforcement with roots in the repression and murder of [email protected] We definitely don't expect them to take action on behalf of the oppressed . Exposing the criminal injustice system actions to this criminal “law enforcement” agency is a bit like reporting a corrupt pig to the pigs. Action is almost never taken. And further, those reporting the information to the Texas Rangers have now given over their name and contact info for future repression. Rather than encourage people to put their energy into this tactic, we suggest more work writing articles about what's going on behind bars and in the streets, from the perspective of the anti-imperialist movement.

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[Police Brutality] [Organizing] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 41]
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Don't Loot, Organize!

images from ferguson
For decades looting has been one form of rebellion in response to police killings. It is a
product of capitalist values and the destruction of any leaders among the oppressed
that provide better solutions. In turn, Amerikans use images of New Afrikans looting as a
reason to further justify their oppression and their disregard for them.
"We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of New Afrikan people. We believe that the police of the colonial government acts as an occupation force to maintain control and order for the benefit of the colonial government. We believe that the motives are in the best interest of the capitalist class who have businesses and own property in the New Afrikan community. We call for the immediate withdrawal of the occupation police-army from Our communities, and for New Afrikans to establish Our Own security system. We also maintain the right of self-defense against racist police repression and brutality, to bear arms and to organize self-defense groups to preserve the security of the New Afrikan community and Nation." - #7 What We Want – What We Believe, Ten-Point Platform & Program, Black Order Revolutionary Organization

Once again, we see the scene playin' out before our very eyes: killer kkkop slays un-armed New Afrikan teen. The violence of the state is not a coincidence or accident. It is a direct result of Our colonization in this country.

The people are outraged and are asking, "Why did this happen? Why does this continue to happen?" The Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO) asks, "How soon before it happens again? And when will we take the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again?"

The violence of the oppressor never ceases until it is stopped with violent force. Am I advocating or promoting random, unorganized violence and looting? No, I am not. I am simply stating an hystorical fact. Never in the hystory of humynkind has an oppressor ever stopped oppressing until those who were being oppressed stopped them, using structured and protracted violence aimed at replacing the powers that be and totally changing the system before them.

If New Afrikan people and all poor and nationally oppressed people want to see an end to police brutality and murder, then we must be disciplined, conscious and organized. We must demand and fight for complete freedom and total liberation. This starts with first controlling the communities that we live in.

The type of organization that we need is not simply to organize a rally to have a killer kkkop fired and arrested. It is the entire system that must be changed. Violence against and murder of our people is as amerikan as apple pie. It is part of the culture of this society.

Organization means commitment to a long, protracted struggle against this system of oppression. As you have learned from your current experience, change won't happen overnight. It will take time and many mistakes will be made. Some of our own will betray us like they did Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner. But we must handle our own.

If you are ready to commit to this struggle, then take up the Ten-Point Platform & Program of the Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), and become a material force capable of changing society and the world.

To the youth in the streets: you are the future of our nation. You are the lifeblood of the movement we are building. You must overstand that at the heart of every great social revolutionary movement is the urgent need to transform people into a new and more advanced humyn being by means of struggle.

The u.s. doesn't want New Afrikan and other oppressed people to recognize that we can count on Ourselves – and Ourselves alone – for solutions to the problems of violence, inadequate housing, inadequate health care, unemployment, etc.

"The police and those that they truly serve and protect, do not want us to glimpse through our youth, the power that lies within each of us. If the Crips and Bloods can bring peace to our communities, and the police can't or won't, then why do we need the police? If the Disciples, Vice Lords, Cobras, Latin Kings and other street organizations can serve and protect Our children and Our elders, and the state demonstrates that it can't or won't, then why should we continue to depend upon it and profess loyalty to it? If the power to end violence exists within our communities, then We should be looking for ways to increase Our power, and We should be looking for ways to exercise it."

Ours is a fight to become masters of Our Own destiny. We struggle so that We can seize the power to freely determine and fully benefit from Our productive capacities, and to shape all productive and social relations in Our Own society.

The onus is on Us if We want to solve any problem in Our communities. It ain't on Our enemy to solve Our problems – even though they created them! So by appealing to the Mayor, Governor, and President with the belief they will satisfy Our needs, We end up hampering the development of the self-confidence of Our people. When We call upon the oppressive state to solve Our problems, We promote the idea that it is not necessary to struggle against it to replace it. However, none of this is to say that demands should not be made upon the state. It is only to say that we should have no illusions, and We should allow none to be cast.

In order to gain the power that We need – we must first respect each other, love each other, educate each other, protect one another and allow no harm to come to any member of our community – whether that harm be from inside or outside of our community.

Be smart. Be strong. But most of all during these intense days of struggle, be safe. Intensify the struggle for self-respect, self-determination and self-defense. This is your brotha and comrade from inside the belly of the Amerikkkan beast.

Unite or Perish!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade lays out correctly the importance of self-reliance and organizing for independence to liberate the oppressed nations. We cannot rely on the state for salvation; the state is our enemy. We agree with this comrade on the ultimate need for force to take power back from the imperialists who control the state: they will not give up their power peacefully. This is why communists call for armed revolution, and also why we go further and say that after taking power we will need a dictatorship of the proletariat for a period of time. This is a government acting in the interests of the proletariat (the formerly exploited class), and using force to keep the bourgeoisie from returning to power. In the case of the United $tates we recognize the need for a joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations over the oppressor Amerikan nation.

The capitalists won't just go away after a revolution, and the culture of capitalism that is deeply ingrained in Amerikans won't disappear overnight either. We have seen in countries where revolutions happened that this government of force, the dictatorship of the proletariat, is an essential tool. Further, we require a revolution in the culture to change the education and indoctrination we have all endured under capitalism, which teaches individualism, greed, racism, sexism and white supremacy. This Cultural Revolution, as they called it in China, will not only re-educate people in a way of thinking that serves the people, but also empower the masses to criticize their leaders and guard against restoration of capitalism.

All this starts with organizing ourselves now, under capitalism, under the banner of a communist movement. BORO, along with MIM(Prisons), is one of many small organizations doing this in the belly of the beast. BORO is also a part of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, working closely with MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, the MIM(Prisons)-led mass organization. Existing prisoner organizations should join and work within the UFPP, individuals should join USW, and experienced comrades should work to build vanguard organizations in their areas. Get organized!

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