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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 43]
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Carry on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity

I'm responding to the article "Summing Up September 9 Protests" from ULK 41. I became aware of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Day of Peace and Solidarity from my August issue of ULK. I fasted on September 9, but it was done in a custom as Ramadan. This year I will fast according to UFPP custom. Solidarity means working or struggling in a union, and I want to start with those who choose to participate. In solitary confinement here at this prison it is difficult to get the prisoners to partake in the fast because of their political immaturity. Many of them are gang members and they are in the hole for fighting amongst themselves. I try to talk with them about taking life more serious, but peer pressure is what forces many to stay in a state of illusion.

You asked what needs to be done about the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity to broaden its impact. We must continue to promote that day and try to let prisoners see it as a day of unity that represents all prisoners in this racist country. They need to view it as a so-called holiday for prisoners throughout this country. Try to promote to them that this is their day in solidarity with the brothers or comrades at Attica, who lost their lives for better conditions in prisons. Being in captivity since the mid-seventies, I learned that this new generation of prisoners doesn't appreciate the sacrifices those made decades ago. I was labeled as a ring leader and spent over 3.5 years in the hole for being one of the peace makers during the Camp Hill spontaneous uprising.

I understand that not everyone can fast for health reasons, and most individuals can't afford to risk losing their prison jobs because that's the only income they receive. Therefore, you must come up with an alternative so that everyone can still support the cause of September 9 in their own way, because you don’t want anyone to feel as though they can't be part of the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity because of not fasting or needing to work. Hopefully we can have a larger participation this year. I'm looking forward to it and I will definitely spread the word.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is responding to the article we published summing up the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity 2014, which saw a decrease in reported participation. We asked for input on how we should proceed with that action. We agree with promoting this as a day of solidarity with the comrades in the Attica struggle, and we encourage everyone to participate in building peace, by networking, putting a moratorium on fighting, and educating others on the necessity of peace. This is something that can be done regardless of whether you take up the fasting and work strike, by reaching out to educate others about the Attica struggle and our work today and why we need to build peace between individuals and groups throughout the prisons. If we can have this one day with no conflict between prisoners, that would be a great victory in demonstrating what is possible, and we can use that to build lasting peace. A critical part of this is education: our activists need to be well-educated themselves on the history of this struggle, so that leading up to, and on, September 9 they can in turn educate others. To this end we've put together a study pack for everyone building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which includes historical information about Attica as well as organizing materials for September 9. Write to us for a copy. Let's make 2015 the most productive Day of Peace and Solidarity yet!

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[Middle East] [Organizing] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 42]
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Organizing South Carolina Prisoners in Solidarity with Palestine

While reading what a California prisoner said in ULK 41, I was disappointed to see that the Muslim prisoners failed to meet their obligation in supporting the solidarity movement in support of the oppressed people of Palestine. Therefore, I decided to put together a petition here in hopes that we could at least show our support by signing a piece of paper.

Although I initially drafted the petition for the Muslim community here, there were a couple of non-Muslim brothers who signed it as well. And just as the California brother was met with some opposition, I too encountered quite a few "brothers" who were either afraid to sign or just didn't care about the plight and fight of the Palestinian people.

However, I collected thirty signatures and I do believe that I could have gotten more, but I really don't have access to the yard as some other prisoners do. There are a few of us here that are true and tested soldiers and we are trying to bring forth some political and social awareness, though most of us are learning as we go.

The petition reads:


A Statement of Unity and Solidarity with the Palestinian People, from Muslim Prisoners in South Carolina (Note: Non-Muslims signed as well)

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of I$rael to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of I$rael and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."


MIM(Prisons) adds: We had previously reported on the relative success of a campaign to support Palestine led by United Struggle from Within following the latest flurry of attacks by I$rael. Due to timing and mail issues only a small number of USW leaders were notified of the campaign at first. It is good to see that the campaign continues to gain support across the U.$. prison population. This is internationalism in action, recognizing the interconnectedness between all oppressed nations under imperialism.

This comrade wrote that they are "as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen." Yet it is actions just like the Palestine petition which help open the door to develop the potential of our imprisoned comrades. Even having access to a small number of people, as in this author's case, we can start the very first steps toward building a bigger movement against oppression and imperialism. Discussing an international act of imperialist aggression with others, and asking them to take a small step toward making a statement against it, is valuable for laying the foundation for bigger things to come.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 42]
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Step Up and Start Learning for Attica Commemoration

In response to the article in Under Lock & Key 41, "Summing Up September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity", I'd like to propose that this solidarity should be recognized 9-13 September annually, not just 9 September. The Attica uprising was initiated on 9 September 1971 and was quelled on 13 September 1971.

Those who aren't knowledgable of what caused the Attica uprising from 9-13 September 1971 should start learning. Our self-discipline to learn is the first step to standing outside these imperialistic boxes. Their box is abnormal and inhuman to the poor of all nationalities. Those in control units/SHU can contribute by conducting study classes on their gates (i.e. bars). Learn why the Attica uprising occurred and what made the courageous comrades make the sacrifices they've made without hesitation.

Comrades, to embrace solidarity, we are obligated to hold hands. Solidarity initiates within the individual. Solidarity cannot be reached globally when it's not achieved at least partially within self. This is a lifelong commitment. Although we may not be around to see the change — so what! We have a new generation that's looking up to us. They're the next generation of revolutionaries. We are to set the tone for them and this is done by revolutionizing our own thought pattern of selfishness. Selfishness and unity will never get along; they're lifelong adversaries.

So to win we want to join hands genuinely and let our adversary know we're unified in solidarity because we have learned what we're fighting for. We know what we're seeking, what sacrifices will be made, and the cause of our fight. We know why sacrifices have to be made.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is writing about the article we published in ULK summing up the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) annual September 9 commemoration of the Attica uprising. The organizers call on activists to take this day to promote the UFPP by building unity with fellow captives, and to demonstrate resistance to the criminal injustice system by fasting, refraining from work, ceasing all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities, and engaging only in solidarity actions. This past year the demonstration involved fewer actions than in the past and we are asking all United Front activists to consider what we should do differently in 2015. This comrade's call for education is well timed as this is something we need to be spreading now, well before September, if we want to build a movement of supporters and activists. Write in for the UFPP organizaing pack.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 42]
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Building Peace with the United Front

Together we can break the chains
Building a united front within prisons is not easy to do. It is a struggle that ebbs and flows. Sometimes one can be in a facility or yard where this work is easy and other times it may seem impossible. Like everything else in life that benefits the people, it is challenging to say the least. But the United Front for Peace in Prisons is a goal that is within our ability to obtain so we must make it happen.

As prisoners of the state we are all imprisoned by the same ruling class, so in that sense we are all on the same oppressed side in the U.S. dungeons. The class oppressors who construct these torture facilities are the real enemies. Amerikkka is what has had us, our parents, grandparents and ancestors colonized for so many years. It is the source of all our oppression. No prisoner should be in the dark when it comes to the true identity of oppressed people around the globe. In the world there are two sides, the enemies and us; everything else is trivial and must be ironed out.

Prisoners are not the only ones who struggle with understanding this elementary factor. Mao advised us of these two sides by saying:


"Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution. The basic reason why all previous revolutionary struggles in China achieved so little was their failure to unite with real friends in order to attack real enemies. A revolutionary party is the guide of the masses, and no revolution ever succeeds when the revolutionary party leads them astray. To ensure that we will definitely achieve success in our revolution and will not lead the masses astray, we must pay attention to uniting with our real friends in order to attack our real enemies. To distinguish real friends from real enemies, we must make a general analysis of the economic status of the various classes in Chinese society and of their respective attitudes towards the revolution."(1)

Mao described the conditions surrounding the Chinese revolution, yet like most lessons in Maoism, we can learn and apply them to our situation here in U.S. prisons. Our "revolution" at this time is transforming our environment and oppressive conditions, and bettering our way of life in these dungeons. But in order to do this we need to know our enemies from our friends. In our case, prisoners are our friends and the state is our enemy. The United Front for Peace in Prisons manifests our understanding of our friends and enemies in the material world.

How do we spread peace in prisons?

MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within created the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a basis for spreading peace. Although they provided the framework which later led to the peace accords that have spread within California prisons, they simply presented it to us prisoners with the understanding that it would depend on us to find a way to put this theory into practice. But peace cannot come from words alone. Growing peace in these hot houses will not arrive miraculously, it must be fertilized and fed, cultivated and harvested. That means revolutionary prisoners need to put in work for peace and get our hands dirty, stick them in the dirt and put our back into it.

Many times peace in prison is spread through people-to-people interactions. Creating relations with prisoners outside our nation and outside our circles or collectives helps spread peace. This builds bridges of communication with others. Of course peace should first be created amongst one's own circles, because it's hard to spread peace with other groups if you don't have peace amongst those closest to you.

Ensuring that peace takes root is largely dependent on educating the people. So many do not even know who their real enemy is and this is because political educators are in short supply within prisons. Passing someone a book is not the same as discussing what is in that book after the persyn has read it.

Peace means that people get used to the idea of us having the same captor and facing the same monster. People need to look at the big picture. When we look at the big picture and our young homies are taught to look at the big picture it alleviates many of the petty squabbles that are bound to arise in an intense prison environment.

Building peace really comes down to working together in ways which tackle our horrible conditions. As leaders, we can organize appeal events, spread information and publications on prison struggles, and help others who may need a helping hand whether it's a bar of soap, a stamped envelope or something to eat. Do what you can to help your fellow prisoner. Peace means thinking of other prisoners and extending humynity to one another.

What are the challenges of spreading peace?

We are deprived of peace by internal and external factors, and there are many things that get in our way. Sometimes those who are uneducated act or react in ways which are not conducive to propelling their own struggles forward. These behaviors often result from a colonial mentality which has been embedded in so many minds for so many generations.

So there is a combination of challenges which prevent peace. One main obstacle is of course that the state opposes peace, as a Georgia prisoner said in ULK 36:


"As of now, most of the leaders and the more influential participants are locked down in Ad-Seg and I don't find this a coincidence. The pigs hate the idea of us uniting in peace and not killing each other."(2)

This writer was describing a very real process of repression where those prisoners who are most influential and conscious and who have the ability and sway to enact peace are the very ones locked down in solitary confinement. This is a common tactic of the state. COINTELPRO used the same method, which we can study in books like FBI Files of Malcolm X, War Against the Panthers, and Agents of Repression, to name a few. Those who can electrify the movement or their people are targeted to be neutralized. Neutralizing something or someone means putting it out of commission, which can include death, prison or solitary.

The state creates these obstructions by watching the imprisoned captives, and when leaders arrive to a yard they kidnap them so that peace cannot be realized. They leave knuckleheads to create chaos because chaos between the captives means our captors can keep repressing us. Peace between the captives means the oppressor is in trouble.

Another challenge that we face is concealed in the crypto-Toms. These are the Uncle Toms of all nationalities who secretly work for the state, either in alerting the state when the masses are attempting to struggle against repression or in sabotaging peace efforts by stirring shit up and sparking crimes between prisoners. These inter-oppressed wars help strengthen the state, while setting back prisoner struggles by forcing us to spend years attempting to repair this chaos.

We should learn to identify these crypto-Toms who work for the pigs rather than for their nation. It's not just those who kick off anti-peace bullshit, but also those who partake in Tom language by spreading the ideas of anti-peace who are obstructionists.

Peace in California has been pushed by those who have been doing time for decades. It was not just a spontaneous event; this had been talked about for years. Building a united front for peace against a common enemy is the most logical action between any oppressed peoples anywhere in the world.

How should we proceed?

Peace between prisoners should not just be something that we read about or something prison intellectuals write about. Peace should be something that we live in our everyday lives. Individualism threatens peace the most because individualism keeps us blind to those who threaten peace ("it doesn't affect me, so i don't care"). We can only change our conditions for the better by struggling together.

The first step is in having the ability to think outside of ourselves and to realize what is best for us, our people, and our future homies that will be filling up these cells. Peace does not mean we have the same beliefs, it just means that we have the understanding that people with different beliefs do have shared interests and that the oppression that I face is faced by all U.$. prisoners in various forms by the same captor whose face changes from prison to prison, but whose actions for the most part do not.

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[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 42]
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Debating Violence in Prison Battles


I am a prisoner activist within the Colorado Department of Corrections, which sees me as a difficult, dangerous individual, and isolates and represses me in a police-style unit. Within the United States there is a response to prisoner activism of repression by prison administrators. This repression may involve some type of physical clash between prison staff and/or their prisoner stooges, and a prisoner activist. I put this forth as a counter to your point explicitly discouraging prisoners from engaging in any violence, as this position is not based on the reality of prisoner activism in U.$. prisons.

Prisoner activism here typically takes the form of formal institutional advocacy. Yet white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism have never reformed themselves. And the struggle against these forms of oppression is a struggle for survival and self-defense. The prisoner activist struggle in the United States is a struggle against genocide.

MIM(Prisons) and its publications explicitly oppose the use of armed struggle at this time in the imperialist countries (including the united states). But this is not based on the reality of prisoner activism in this country, where there is an ongoing protracted intractable race and class conflict. I look to Under Lock & Key for guidance in my individual/personal prisoner activism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer sets a good example of working with us in unity around prison struggles while debating our disagreements on questions of strategy. In this case the disagreement comes down to a question of the stage of struggle. We believe that violence will be necessary to overthrow imperialism, because, as this comrade says, "white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism have never reformed themselves." We will need to dismantle imperialism forcefully; those in power won't just step down peacefully.

But we can also see through many historic examples that revolutionaries who took up armed struggle too soon were quickly repressed, killed and/or imprisoned, and many times the movements lost more ground than they gained. We call this premature armed struggle "focoism," because it generally fails to first gain the support of the masses and build a strong revolutionary party and base. However, it is also possible for communist parties to make strategic errors in taking up armed struggle too soon before conditions are ready.

In prison we aren't really talking about taking up a military battle, but the analogy to violent engagement before conditions are ready is applicable in a general way. We see that prisoners who are quick to engage with their fists/weapons, end up in isolation, beaten, or even killed. These engagements don't generally win anything except possibly the respect of peers with whom the person no longer has contact.

This doesn't mean we tell prisoners to lie down and take abuse. Every situation is different and we can't possibly judge what each individual is facing and how they need to respond to survive. We can say that many people write to MIM(Prisons) talking about how they used to resort to their fists first and now they use their pen and voice and are much more effective with this new approach to fighting repression. It takes patience and discipline to make this change, and it's not easy when faced with both pigs and their lackeys provoking and even attacking.

Rather than debate the appropriate response to each dangerous situation, the broader point is agreement on our strategic stage of struggle, and the reality that we can't win a military/violent battle right now. We just don't have the strength yet. And so we need all of our comrades to stay alive and out of solitary to engage in education and organizing.

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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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