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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 38]
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The Struggle is Young, Many More Can Be United with Education

First and foremost let me say this is not a shot to put down any of my fellow comrades, rather this is a plea to you to step up. I am a young comrade who fortunately had the privilege of being around some good brothers who basically educated and raised me into the revolutionary I am today.

But like many, even though they taught me, they too are part of the problem we face as a whole. I say that because they took a chance with me because I stayed with a book in my hand. But I watched them for years doing the same thing I found myself doing until a year ago: Denying fellow brothers in the struggle knowledge due to stereotypical reasons.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some out there who will hurt our movement more than help, but so many times I see brothers come through with so much fight, so much fire, but they lack the knowledge to do anything with it, so it's useless. And we write them off as a fool, a hothead, and think they're unteachable. And to that I say this: It's time for us to start taking a chance and stop making excuses to not help.

We complain that there's no unity or organization in our movement but we are our own problem. It's not the brothers' fault that don't know any better, it's our fault for not teaching them. It's time for us to start taking responsibility and stop making excuses for why we didn't, and start making a plan for how we can.

This is a call to all my fellow comrades to step up and stop standing down. Stop setting limitations. Oldheads help the young, Blood help the Crip, Black man help the white. Our fight is not each other, it's those who oppose this movement. So stop focusing on the frivolous things that weaken our strength and let's truly stand on what we claim to stand for. Then and only then will we ever have a chance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this call as an antidote to all those who write to us complaining about the lack of unity in their prison without stepping up to do anything about it. We know the battle is uphill; the capitalists have all the power and they create a culture that discourages unity and supports violence and strife. But it is our duty as revolutionaries to create opportunities to build unity. The reporting in Under Lock & Key demonstrates that the imprisoned lumpen are united by their common material conditions, even though individuals are at different stages in terms of how they respond to those conditions. It is logical to begin by uniting those who will listen, but we mustn't stop there if we hope to reach the true potential of unity among the oppressed. Work with the United Front for Peace in Prisons to develop strategies to reach the majority of prisoners and build this on a scale broad enough that we can eventually take down the criminal injustice system as a whole.

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[Economics] [Boycott] [Organizing] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 38]
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Solitary for Encouraging Prisoners to Refuse to Buy Commissary

I was recently convicted of a major category offense: participating/encouraging others in a work stoppage/group demonstration. My confinement in segregation for 30 days and a loss of 30 days good time was based on a finding that I encouraged a "stoppage of buying commissary."

It is not against the rules to refuse to buy commissary, but I was convicted of encouraging people to not buy commissary. In other words I was convicted of encouraging prisoners to do something that is permitted by the rules.

In the past three years I've been convicted of only one other charge, also a major category offense. I was convicted for refusing to pay $21.50 to obtain a copy of my birth certificate.

The pigs wanted a copy of my birth certificate to put in a file. I was told I could neither see the birth certificate nor have a copy of it. I told the pigs I would give them permission to get a copy at their expense since it was for their files. The pigs refused and demanded I sign a paper granting them permission to take $21.50 from my account. I refused and I was convicted of refusing to comply with programming.

The connection to these two offenses and convictions is the only subject dear to the soul of a kkkapitalist: profit. $21.50 for a photocopy of a sheet of paper is a hefty profit when multiplied by 30,000 prisoners. And multi-million-dollar commissary sales at hugely inflated prices are orgasmic to these pigs. Destroying the swine is the only option.

Soldiers, the only course is to replace the thug and the U.$. go-vermin-ent with an authentic proletarian state. The united snakes kongress and injustice system is kkkorrupted beyond salvation because of imperialist ideals. Like cancer, imperialism has caused every limb and fiber to rot. The truth of kkkapitalist greed is found even in the tiny crevices.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We are seeing growing activism in Virginia prisons this year, which is no doubt leading them to invent these new "offenses" and charge perceived leaders with them. While we agree with this comrade that the prisons are eager to extort money from prisoners whenever possible, there isn't any profit coming directly from prisons themselves. The U.$. prison economy is a money-losing operation, subsidized by profits exploited from the international proletariat. Any money taken from prisoners just helps to offset this loss. This point is important because it underscores the true purpose of the Amerikan prison system: social control.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 38]
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Planning for September 9 Solidarity Day

Like in past years, I will begin to plan a few months ahead of time for the revolutionary festival of September 9. This day is a special one which marks the day when the United Front for Peace in Prisons was given its first concrete example in these dungeons. I attempt to have educational study materials available on this day, which usually includes poetry, short stories or articles, and of course some art if possible.

In the past I helped read articles and poetry on the tier which reflected on prisons and what it means to be prisoners. So many times people forget that what we experience is unbridled oppression and instead think that we somehow brought it upon ourselves. This backwards thinking only helps to solidify our own mental captivity! This day helps to refocus our attention of who we are as people and what is the path forward for the next year in our struggle for humyn rights in these dungeons.

I have heard different ways of observing this day, from having an open line on the tier where folks get a certain "air time" to share their ideas on what they feel will move the humyn rights struggle forward. Others talk about creating conscious rap to be performed on the tier. The main thing I hear is folks being ready to promote peace in prison. It is a time to help to heal the people outside of state influence.


MIM(Prisons) adds: September 9 will be the third annual United Front for Peace in Prisons solidarity demonstration. This demonstration coincides with the anniversary of the Attica uprising. On this day prisoners should create ways to work towards greater peace among the prison population. We will cease all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities regardless of set, race, custody, gender, religion or other division. Some will fast, engage in solidarity organizing, and carry out educational work. Start planning now for your September 9 solidarity day.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 37]
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Financing the Revolution

It has often been the position of readers of ULK and members of the United Struggle from Within that economic means and methods should be tried and applied in the struggle of prisoners against the capitalist-imperialists. Some say to boycott the commissary and deprive each state of the prisoner dollar it so much cherishes. Others say stop ordering packages from the state approved vendors. More sophisticated circles would say create more damages via civil action suits: state tort, personal injuries, small claims, you name it. Others have said to boycott prisoner accounts altogether to avoid any fees or cuts the state takes from it for restitution, release, medical co-pay, etc.

All of these tactics can potentially prove devastating if the right group of people apply them and progress the idea into material reality.

With $0.50 a prisoner can do so much, as that is the cost of a postage stamp. A letter can contain a list of new subscribers to Under Lock & Key. It can include an article, poem submission, or art. It can contain study group responses or a criticism to push our struggle forward.

Even if you don't draw, i know there's an artist next door to you. He/she lives off of their artwork alone. They don't go to the store, they just draw their tail off. For just a dollar that artist next door will draw four drawings of your imagination, the size of about a quarter of an average sheet of paper. With those four pieces you could express the walls of prison crumbling, or a lumpen prisoner handing their dinner tray to the family of an underdeveloped country through the window of a prison cell. You can commission this artist to draw anti-imperialist art to submit to ULK to be printed in the next issue. That one picture is surely going to touch more people than the artist expected it to.

Yet, in the economic struggle, lumpen prisoners often fail in the materialization of their own wealth. We must change this. In prison we often see ourselves as the haves and have-nots, when in the material reality of things we all have something to offer. Take the commissary industry. Not everybody actually submits an order form. There are those with monies to spend and those who have the heart to work with those who spend, earning a share of the spender's purchase. I persynally don't deposit monies in my trust. I use craft and trade to survive. I braid, cut and style hair. Many prisoners who have money to spend inside get monies from a source outside of prison. These sources deposit money into a prisoner's trust to take care of the prisoner. In return the prisoner takes care of hself. My specialty is helping the prisoner do this by keeping up their appearance and in return they offer a product from the commissary, where i then have purchasing power. Me, an anti-imperialist. I bring in anything from $1.50 to $3.00 easy per client on a yard that allows time and opportunity. Fast forward about ten clients per week and in a month's time i'll have $120. Off of this buck twenty i can order a pair of hair clippers with the works and the hottest legal commodity in prisons: coffee. Adding haircuts to my service, i'll double clientèle. Sixty dollars worth of coffee on the shelf will grow legs and trade itself. One dollar for a coffee lid of coffee, or an exchange of one full jar on credit for two jars at the convenience of the creditor (the value varies).

I don't drink coffee so there'll never be a loss due to persynal consumption. The product will pay for itself and expand at a controlled rate. I'm doing hair and trading coffee. The service can be offered to a wide range of characters and political affiliations: Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Pink, Blue or Purple, the objective is Green.

Doing such, i'm offered the opportunity to socialize with a wide range of characters and gossip about the latest and greatest revolutionary culture, from international news to news on the hip hop revolution underground affiliates. I alone as a USW leader, taking the scraps that are there amongst the so-called prison ballers, have become a resort for prisoners caught in the trappings to retreat to when they must spend their money and look good doing it.

The coffee will expand from my cell to the cell of another USW comrade proving themselves capable of opening up shop on the same facility, and when ripe we will venture out into another legal commodity (soap, body washes, shampoo and body oils).

We can turn all this paper money into fuel for the fire to finance the anti-imperialist machine, funding independent institutions like the University of Maoist Thought, extended printing of ULK, MIM(Prisons)/USW-hosted events, Prisoners Legal Clinic, MIM(Prisons)'s Free Political Books to Prisoners. These are just to name a few. In this microcosm of Amerika, great revenue will come to be. What separates us from most collecting such revenue is we'll be providing a service at a very low cost to those who have and ALL of the proceeds will go to those who don't. We are funding revolutionary cadres of our USW and MIM(Prisons) across the snakes.

This should be our matter of concern, if we truly hope to shift the economy into a landslide towards the people. Don't boycott the commissary, use it as a uniting factor!!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a strong statement to say a well-executed boycott can have "devastating" impact. More likely, the prisoncrats will notice what is happening and make a simple policy change to ensure they are able to milk prisoners for all they have. The main benefit of organizing boycotts isn't the financial impact, but coming together to organize around a collective interest. The connections, networking, and unity are more valuable than any amount of money we're saving from the oppressors' collection.

When assessing the "value" of an action or investment, we need to always keep in mind the political value. There are a lot of ways we can use what little money and resources we have to make a big political impact. As long as we aren't harming the people, the importance isn't in how we hustle, but in why we hustle. Use your creativity and resourcefulness to find a way to hustle for the people!

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[Organizing] [Franklin Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 38]
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Organizing Against Apathy and Collusion in New York

Franklin Correctional Facility is a medium classification prison that does its best to oppress. Rules are broken on a constant basis by this administration. Their need to control every tiny moment and movement really displays their fears of us ever getting on the same page to take action. I'm not speaking riot, just trading info and court actions when it comes to confronting their gestapo tactics. The physical beatings in front of others by guards has placed fear into many hearts so that writing a grievance is taboo.

As an Orientation Facilitator, I used to inform those coming to this prison what to expect and how to protect themselves. Someone snitched on me and I was fired.

I wrote a total of 42 grievances but it was never enough for me. The next step was to meet the oppressors face to face, and I became the Inmate Liaison Committee (ILC) Chairman, and that's when the fireworks started. Contempt and hatred for me was freely displayed. I stayed on my horse until I was set up with a misbehavior report that sent me to the box.

When I got out I tried to get back to the ILC but was always stonewalled. My so-called peers refused to assist me, claiming it would hamper their agenda and they don't want any trouble. In other words they are comfortable and satisfied. Sellouts is what I call them. In order for any progress to take place snitches and sell-outs must be contained. Corrections depends on them for their services. The "I don't want to get involved" types complain and bitch but don't take any action. 1,700 prisoners reside here and about 20 will lay a pen game down. Law library sucks because the workers want to get paid to do nothing for you.

The prisoner organizations are so controlled that we are not allowed to advertise how to become a member. We are told what to spend and where to spend. I say let's organize and write Corrections in Albany, but my prisoner peers say we don't want to cause any trouble. How can people who weren't afraid to break the law be afraid to write in defending yourself or make a point. Even if you don't know how, ask someone. Make the pen your gun.

The capitalist company Corcraft runs sweatshops in this prison to make officer and prisoner clothing. Guys can't wait to work for them because it pays the best in comparison to 10 to 20 cents an hour for other assignments. Commissary prices continue to increase.

Any time I attempt to band us together in writing grievances and Article 78s someone snitches on me. Microphones are placed in the library, chapel and other places we congregate. How can any movement get generated when dudes snitch or are going home soon? I have done all I can, but fear and the lack of education gives corrections an all-systems-go for future oppression in a big way. We are losing in this injustice system and a lot of us don't care to know how to win. Organize!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Our work in the criminal injustice system in Amerika involves a constant battle between those who see the value in uniting to fight the system, and those who are taken in by the bribery offered by the prisons in exchange for complacency or snitching. This contradiction exists throughout the prison system in this country, but in some states we are winning more unity and strength while in others the anti-imperialist forces are still a small minority. New York state still does not have a grievance campaign while prisoners in twelve other states have already stepped up to push this important work forward. There was an important action last year in Auburn Correctional Facility in New York, where prisoners joined the food strike in California.

Activists must evaluate the conditions in their state and their prison, and then determine what they can do to most effectively educate and organize other prisoners. In some states this may involve mass protest, in others we are still at the point of building study cells and educating whoever is willing to talk with us. Wherever your struggle is at, MIM(Prisons) can provide material to help with the educating and organizing.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio]
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Ohio State Penitentiary Conditions Decline

Here at the Ohio State Penitentiary our food service department was privatized about five months ago and taken over by a company called Amark. Since then we've had a steady decline in both the portions and quality of our food. It's to the point now that we're getting severely undercooked turkey bacon (2 slices) at breakfast and meat at other meals is mostly fat and sometimes contains tiny bit of bone. It's the kind of meat you wouldn't serve a dog.

Also, the pigs recently changed policies concerning the long term storage of our property that we may not be allowed at our current security or privilege levels but can have once our levels are lowered. The pigs are trying to force guys into authorizing them to either destroy or send home their property. For the most part guys are refusing to authorize or sign anything and threatening to sue if the pigs destroy their property anyway. Although as always some guys allowed themselves to be intimidated by the pigs. It remains to be seen what the pigs will eventually end up doing but this comrade will keep you posted.


MIM(Prisons) responds: When we see conditions change in a way that inspires others to protest individually, this is a good opportunity to insert some political education into the discussion, and use the situation to build unity against the criminal injustice system. These actions, taken against the whole group, underscore prisoners' basis for unity in fighting for their basic rights. There has been a lot of recent organizing and protests in Ohio, including a hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary last year. Political awareness is growing, and it's up to those who understand the big picture of imperialism and our fight against it to take up leadership roles in educating and organizing others.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fasting to Protest Keefe Commissary in Virginia

A friend and I decided to observe a fast during the month of March because of the religious holidays such as Lent. Some people abstain from meat when they fast. Others won't eat anything during daylight hours. My friend and I decided to abstain from Keefe Commissary food during March. Our fast is prompted by the lack of economic justice and by the extortion of us by Keefe Commissary.

Our captors neither provide basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, stamps, stationary, etc., nor pay us wages to allow us to purchase these items. So we are forced to ask our wimmin for financial support. And we are taking money from our wimmin when that money is also needed by our children.

But the united snakes is not satisfied by sinking its fangs into our necks just once. No, it strikes again by limiting our vendor to just Keefe Commissary. And Keefe Commissary sinks its own fangs into us by charging us exorbitant prices.

The united snakes bites us again by deducting 10-15% of all the money sent to us. Now 10% is supposedly for our "savings accounts" and is to be returned to us "upon release from prison." But in this settlement of Virginia, parole was abolished in July 1995. The prisoners whose release dates exceed their life expectancy (I know several men who cannot be released before the year 2300) still have 10% of all incoming money put into their "savings account."

It's very revealing that the Virginia Department of Corrections keeps the earned interest on these so-called savings accounts. If those accounts existed for the purpose of providing the prisoners with spending money upon release from prison (supposedly this will reduce recidivism), then wouldn't it be logical to also give the prisoner the earned interest?

It's also quite telling that the pittance paid for prison labor was cut from $10.50 per week to $4.05 per week. Paying us less money means our families send us more money which increases that 10% collected.

My friend and I came up with a list of these injustices. I wrote the list and sent it to a prisoner advocacy group for forwarding to the Virginia legislature. I included a letter stating we would be abstaining from Keefe Commissary for the month of March, and that the listed injustices are the reasons for it.

A captive working for the captors gave information about a copy of this letter that could be found in my friend's work desk. We are currently charged with "participating/encouraging others... in group demonstration" because other politically conscious prisoners have decided to join us in our fast. Not sure how many as of yet.

But according to Thornburg v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401 (1989) the captors must have a penological interest in depriving prisoners of First Amendment rights. A religious fast is an expression protected by the First Amendment and by 42 U.S.C. 2000 et seq. The captors must show that our fasting is a threat to the security of the slave pens. Won't it be very revealing if the captors claim capitalist profits from Keefe are essential to the security of these gulags?

Of course our captors know they can, and most likely will, convict me of the offense even though the law is clear. The imperialist injustice system rarely grants punitive damages to a prisoner after the captors knowingly give a prisoner a conviction for actions that are both constitutionally protected and permitted. Pigs snub their snouts at the law without fear of repercussion.

I invite all prisoners in every gulag who read MIM(Prisons) publications to participate in fasting from commissary purchases during March. We can still eat from the prison slop trough. Decide which injustices you want addressed. Tell your friends why you are fasting. Send a list of injustices to the Chief Pig in Charge, your Governor, and report on your actions for Under Lock & Key.

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[Organizing] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Virginia Youth Take Up Struggle After Older Leaders are Transferred

As a young komrad here at Red Onion, I've had the privilege and blessing to run across some sharp komrades who were right and exact and were causing an uprising here. This wicked imperialist system felt threatened by this vanguard uprising. They used divide and conquer tactics to break the spirit of the lumpen who were politically awakening, by shipping certain komrades out of state to stop this vanguard movement.

United Political Prisoners Syndicate (UPPS) is a lumpen study group. I'm striving to pick up where the other komrades left off. The basis of our agenda is to wake up the oppressed stalag* prisoners in Dead Onion and throughout gulags in Virginia. I believe we as prisoners have all the power in our hands, but only if we move on the same accord can we be successful. We can employ tactics of hunger strikes, refusing to buy commissary from Keefe, and stalags who do some type of work all going on work strikes. These three actions alone will have these pigs in a serious bind until demands are met. UPPS is striving to get all oppressed lumpen on this accord. The masses always say stalags aren't going to go all the way. You can't worry about that and let that deter you from the bigger picture which is liberation for the people. We have the opportunity to expose this corrupt imperialist Dead Onion and Wally Ridge for what they are!

Like Bobby Seale said "Seize the Time," the time is at hand. When you know and overstand how the enemy thinks it puts you on guard and helps you in the long haul. To know and learn from history, helps dictate your future. All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a long-standing tactic of the prisons to move political leaders around when they start organizing effectively in one place. This is why it is so important that no one individual takes on all the leadership or becomes a point of failure for the local movement. We must constantly be educating new comrades, building new leadership, and delegating tasks so that when our leaders are locked up in control units or transferred out of state our local struggle can continue. This is also why it's important for everyone to have direct contact with MIM(Prisons). Relying on others in your prison to share their ULK and other literature may seem efficient, but when either you or they are moved you will be unable to contact us and will lose connection to the broader anti-imperialist movement.

* stalag was a term for prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during the first and second imperialist wars

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [New Afrika]
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New Virginia Organization Embraces United Front for Peace

Thank you for sending me the essay titled Let's 'Gang-Up' on Oppression by Owusu Yaki Yakubu.(1) Having become a "reformed" gang member, this essay was extremely enlightening and solidified what I already knew: that the government fears the unification of gangs and their unified opposition against oppression. They also fear any gang member or other lumpen street elements developing a socially conscious, politicized, and revolutionary mentality.

I became politicized in the early 90s during my second year of captivity. I took a long and hard look at myself as a so-called "gang" member and I came to realize that I was being manipulated by the powers-that-be, through the process of psychology and socialization, to commit genocide against my own people. So I cut my gang ties and came to embrace Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism.

In his essay Owusu speaks about the New Afrikan Independence Movement. The article titled Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan, in No. 35 issue of Under Lock & Key, also speaks about New Afrikan Nationalism. I am in the process of starting an organization called My Brother's and Sister's Keeper (MBSK), which embraces Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism as its political mass line, or guiding principle. This ideology calls for the establishment of an independent socialist New Afrikan republic in the Southeast (USA), specifically in the Black-belt, the destruction of the North Amerikkkan imperialist state, the liberation and unification of Afrikan nations worldwide, the construction of a New Afrikan society, and the building of a new world order.

A New Afrikan is an Afrikan born in north Amerikkka. The name and concept "New Afrika" reflects our identity, purpose and direction. "New Afrikan" reflects our identity as a nation and a people - a nation and a people desiring self-determination. "New Afrikan" reflects our purpose as we desire freedom, self-determination and independence. By stating we are New Afrikans, we clarify we want to be independent from the Amerikkkan Empire. We want land and national liberation. We no longer want the ruling class of the amerikkkan Empire to determine our political, economic, socio-cultural affairs. MBSK sees that a people who do not control their own affairs is subject to genocide. When we control our own destiny we can determine our political, economic and socio-cultural affairs in the interest of our survival and development. "New Afrikan" also speaks to our identity because that's what we are. Our nation is primarily a racial, cultural, social fusion of various Afrikan ethnic and national groups - Iwe, Yoruba, Akan, Ashanti, Fante, Hausa, Ibo, Fulani, Congolese and several others - into a unique people. Even though our homeland was in Afrika, our people developed historical, economic, and spiritual ties to the New Afrikan National Territory, which consists of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These states together are part of the historical Black belt birthplace, and the North Amerikkkan homeland of the New Afrikan nation. The struggle to free this land is called the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM). To state we are New Afrikan recognizes our continuing aspirations to "free the land." "Free the Land" is the battle cry of the NAIM. When we say "free the land," the New Afrikan national territory is the land we are talking about freeing.

"New Afrikan" also recognizes our direction to build a new society based on new values. We want to create a revolutionary, progressive, humane society where exploitation of humans by humans is eliminated and all can live in dignity, peace and respect. As conscious New Afrikans, we work now to transform ourselves and our nation from decadent death-style of oppression to lifestyles of liberation.

MSBK embraces and upholds the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles. we oppose any Willie Lynch-style divide and conquer tactics the fascist prison authorities (pigs) use to cause division amongst the revolutionary ranks and amongst the races or oppressed nations.

The essay Let's Gang-Up on Oppression re-affirms what we already knew: that we need to develop unity within and amongst lumpen street organization and re-direct their aggression and radicalism to wage the real war: revolution.

Again, I thank you for sending me your material. I made copies of the essay and the UFPP statement of principles and passed them out among the younger brothers here affiliated with lumpen street organizations.


Notes: 1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Georgia Prisoners on Hunger Strike Since February 9

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On 9 February 2014, prisoners at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison Special Management Unit (SMU) lockdown began another hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is to address abusive conditions, bugs being served in food repeatedly, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, beatings by officers while in handcuffs, being thrown on strip cells without food, feeding prisoners only 1500 calories daily when we are supposed to be given 2800 daily, refusing E-Wing yard call, refusing access to law library, and staff trying to poison prisoners. We are facing threats by staff that if prisoners remain on hunger strike they will die under their watch and it will be covered up.

Prisoners in the Georgia State Prison SMU have had enough of the oppression and decided to take a true stand to fight for our rights. Prisoners in the strike include many of the same prisoners from the 9 December 2010 and 11 June 2012 hunger strikes, and these prisoners are refusing to eat until conditions change.

On 25 January 2014, prisoners received trays at the SMU lockdown with bugs in the food. And after the bugs were pointed out by the prisoners to staff, they were told that either they eat the food or don't eat at all. Then when the prisoners tried to keep the trays to show the proof to the warden they were threatened by the daytime Officer in Charge, that if they didn't give up the trays he was going to suit up with his Correctional Officers and gang rape the prisoners. The prisoners still refused to give up their trays and were threatened again the next day: if they didn't give up the trays they were going to be refused their tray meals for that day. The prisoners had to go two days without eating just to show the warden the bugs in their food. And when the prisoners finally got a chance to show the bugs in the food, the warden only replied that it's nothing but a little bit more meat to add in their chili. This is not the first time that bugs had been served in food, but nothing has been done about this issue. Even though we file grievances, nothing but denials.

These prisoners have even been beaten by staff while in handcuffs. Nothing has been done about these employees' abusive actions. There is a coverup by Warden Bruce Chatman, Deputy Warden June Bishop, Warden of care and treatment William Poinel, Cpt. Micheal Nopen, Lt. Michael J. Kyles, aand even down to medical staff Mary Tsore and mental health staff Mr. Whitmoore.

Georgia prisoners are being denied access to the law library as guaranteed by the Georgia and U.S. law. Prisoners are only allowed two court cases per week to be delivered at their door on a piece of paper, and no books.

Medical staff are refusing to take notice of the hunger strike even though SOP VH47-0002 guarantees strikers health service.

The legal system refuses to respond, grievances are ignored or destroyed, and there is very little that Georgia prisoners can do to fight for their rights. Our only choice is to put our lives in danger by refusing to eat, and plead for some outside support.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The past few years have seen a sharp increase in prisoners using food refusal as a tactic to demand some improvements in conditions. Considering the powerlessness of prisoners, and the complete failure that is the grievance system in many states, it is not a surprise that people feel their only option to demand basic rights is to starve themselves.

We print many reports on these strikes in the pages of Under Lock & Key, and we know this inspires others to learn of similar struggles across the country. But we also encourage everyone to study these actions and learn from their mistakes. In Illinois, prisoners were manipulated by the pigs to end their strike prematurely. In South Carolina lockdown coordination problems ended their strike. In Nebraska prisoners failed to make clear demands and gained nothing after a two day protest. Even in California where prisoner unity is remarkably high, the response to the massive hunger strikes has been little more than lip service and program name changes. We must be prepared for such lack of response from the state with a long view of how to make change.

The underlying lesson in all of these struggles is the need for stronger education and organization before taking action. Greater unity will be achieved through education, and organization will build a solid system of communication and a strong and winnable list of demands. One quick lesson for all: when sending information to the media about your strike include something clear that people on the outside can do to support you. It can be a number to call or place to write to register their support.

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