I was about to begin litigating matters regarding the ventilation system here when I came up with one last ditch effort to try and handle this issue on a diplomatic level. I managed to acquire about 60 CDCR Form 22s [informal grievances], and I was able to find 30 fellow comrades who were willing to sign their name to them after I typed up all the formal complaints. Well, all of those Form 22s were sent to the Plant Operations Engineer's Department, and we sent another 30 to the Plant Operations Supervisor. At the same time I had a good friend of mine and some relatives mail in a series of Citizen's Complaints on the same subject. Plus, the Ombudsman for R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF), Gabriel Vela came here in response to a letter I had sent to him over the ventilation problem. In other words, Plant Operations got bombed on from all sides, and they responded accordingly. They were up on the housing units today replacing the twenty plus exhaust vents that were not working on our building. Due to that equipment failure we were experiencing extremely high temperatures, humidity, and poor air quality.
My whole point for telling you this story is to show you and your readers that things can be accomplished if you hit 'em with overwhelming force. They knew that those 60 Form 22s would more than likely translate into the same amount of 602 appeals [formal grievances], which in case you don't know translates into about $1,500 a piece in man hours to process each one of them. I'll let you do the math. So, things can be done in numbers, "Yes We Can."
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been actively pushing the campaign to have grievances heard in California, which may also have contributed to these particular grievances getting such a direct response. H work to mobilize comrades there is commendable. Of course, this is just one small battle and just one piece of the work that USW leaders need to be doing. It doesn't cost them $1,500 to throw your grievance in the trash can. These types of campaigns need to be pushed with a healthy dose of political education to develop comrades politically, so that this type of unity can reach higher levels and address the real systematic problems. MIM(Prisons) runs correspondence study groups and offers materials to help USW comrades run their own study groups inside.
by a South Carolina prisoner November 2013 permalink
We recently had a blow to morale here in my dorm. A refusal to accept cold food went wrong as only a quarter of us refused. Since we were locked down, and only eat twice a day on weekends, most just took it. That left a few saying they would never participate again. However, you would be a good morale boost (Under Lock & Key) because it shows that the struggle is being fought everywhere. Maybe it will help them focus on the real issues. All I can do is keep trying.
Here at San Quentin's death row we recently won a small victory. The recent mass dis-allowing of all writing supplies sent via first-class mail to San Quentin's death row AC/SHU prisoners has been halted. But be advised, there is nothing in evidence to support the idea these terrorists in pig clothing have dropped their last propaganda bomb, or that their about face was motivated by guilty conscience dredged up by visits from three holiday spirits.
Consider some underlying facts: November 2013 San Francisco Bay View national Black newspaper reports significant influx of "stamp donations" from a drive discreetly organized by San Quentin death row prisoners. Mass disallowing of stamps coincided with the drive. As the drive progressed, the pigs' terrorist activities increased. Disallowing began in spurts around May 2013, capricious post-interpretations of the property matrix ensued, and by mid-September the pen's hierarchy went hog wild.
Appeal #CSQ-J-13-03205 was submitted October 27, explaining exactly how operational procedure 608 article 7 was being illegally circumvented. This appeal was rejected by appeals coordinator puppet M.L. Davis on November 1. Davis offered to process the appeal if appellant directed a CDCR 22 to the mailroom. Davis also demanded appellant remove copies of Article 7 and OP0212 which are in fact the official rules/directives regarding "items enclosed in incoming first-class mail."
At the same time the appeal was being drafted, various articles describing the terrorist attacks on everybody's right to freedom of expression were en route to local small presses, national news outlets, and global social networks by way of prisoner mail. Some articles included instructions on how everyone here, and outside ground zero, could inundate the pen's hierarchy with a barrage of "appeals relating to mail and correspondences" (15 CCR 3137).
This evidence suggests a combination of individual administrative appeals, and the imminent threat of having their pig-tailed asses exposed to the public, is what forced the pen's hierarchy to rethink their positions. This is also an example of standard pig-headed tactics designed to make resistance to their control unit torture tactics seem futile. Their undermining goal is to crush, kill, and destroy our will to organize against them in peaceful protest. Their motive was fear that the struggle is gaining momentum. In fact, their pig-headed terrorist tactics are evidence that it is! Yes, we are gaining momentum, making a world of difference into a world of solidarity which is not indifferent to the rights of anyone in it.
Enclosed with this "announcement of small victory" from the secret torture unit at San Quentin is five 46 cent stamps which were withheld since May 2013. That by itself is not much but if everyone of the global readership would match that contribution in stamps or cash to extend the reach of this publication which amplifies our voices, it would add significant momentum to the struggle.
There are two wars waging in oppressed communities throughout the United $nakes: a war by the imperialist-oppressor nation to keep poor and oppressed communities in semi-colonial bondage, and a war between lumpen street organizations. The battlefields are the reservations, barrios, ghetto cities and prison plantations. Many of you have defined the war between us and the dominant nation incorrectly as "racism," but what is really going on is national oppression. And, in order to defeat and destroy national oppression a "nation" must engage in a national liberation struggle with the end result being national independence. But this is getting ahead of myself.
Many of you who belong to a street organization, misnomered a gang, know the history of your group and can trace yourselves back to when your organization fought against injustices being perpetrated against some segment of your community. And you know that many have deviated from your origins and laws. At the same time, a lot of you are struggling to re-define and re-direct your organization back to their original purposes — serving the needs of the people.
Conversely, we all recognize or should recognize that the conditions of our communities and nations are a direct result of our colonization by those who settled this country. The poverty, misery and suffering, the drug addiction and violence are all because you are not in control of your own development and destiny. Those who don't rule, get ruled.
My question to you is 1) who ultimately bears the responsibility to see that peace exists in our communities? 2) who bears responsibility to see that we have adequate housing, medical care, education, etc? 3) who benefits most from our communities being saturated with drugs? 4) who benefits most from all of the violence in our communities? 5) who benefits the most from all of us being incarcerated?
Know that the state and federal government have been discussing changing federal laws that would declare gangs and gang nmembers to be domestic terrorists. Why would they do that? Because those in power know that you have the actual and potential power to change this society, that you have the actual and potential power to liberate your nation. You can put an end to police brutality, homelessness, hunger, war, etc. Yea, you have that power!
"The police, and those that they truly serve and protect, do not want us to respect the actual and potential power of our young people, they 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, Latin Kings and other street organizations can serve and protect our children and 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 own communities, then we should be looking for ways to increase our power, and we should be looking for ways to exercise it."(1)
Ain't nothing wrong with being in a street organization, because after all, a "gang" is a group of people with close social relations that work together. The problem is that most street organizations are moving in the wrong direction. They're engaging in the wrong social practices which are retarding the growth and development of our people.
Through the media and other outlets, the negative images of gangs are filtered (like that bullshit Gangland), so that our people will see street organizations as the main problem existing in our hoods, and they'll ask for more police presence and harsher prison sentences for those identified as gang members. But gangs didn't create the current problems. The state fears that you'll become conscious and active and solve the problems.
Dig this: "One of the main reasons for the rampant crime that occurs in the colonies is national oppression. The colonized live in areas where there is unemployment or underemployment, crummy housing with high rent and poor education. The colonized kill and fight over the money that secures necessities... this reality afflicts the nationally oppressed in the most harmful ways. The nationally oppressed do not hold state power nor the economic power to compete with the oppressors... so the rampant crime in the colonies is not due to self-hatred but national oppression and capitalist culture and policy."(2)
So you see, "Our problem is not that there are gangs in our communities — our problem is that our communities are colonized territories that suffer from arrested development caused by the U.S. settler-imperialist state. Thus, we have no need to attack gangs — that is, ideally, we have no need to attack any organized group of our people that work to free the process of our collective development. [my emphasis] What we must do is make sure that all organized groups in our communities have this as their goal — and so long as we deal with members of our communities (i.e. members of our families), the means that we use should be education and persuasion, rather than physical force. However, even if stronger means are called for, they should be means created and employed by forces within our own communities and not those of U.S., local, state and federal governments. The transformation of gangs into progressive groups within our communities is part of the process of acquiring group power that will enable us to control every aspect of our lives. Our problem is that too many people in our communities — old and young — lack the identity, purpose and direction required of us if we are to acquire the kind of power that we need to truly free ourselves and begin to pursue the development of our ideal social order."(1)
The betterment of our conditions must begin with self, with you making a conscious and disciplined commitment to transforming yourselves and your organizations. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of legitimacy? This is an aspect of the "criminal" and the "colonial" (slave) mentality: continued recognition and acceptance of the legitimacy of the colonial rule, to continue to feel that the colonial state has a right to rule over the colonized.
If we take control of our communities and the power to control every aspect of our lives, then we can ensure that the lynchings end. You can put an end to there ever being another Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Trayvon Martin lynching.
Soldiers, Riders, Gangstaz — protect your community, clean it up, build it up, feed it, educate it, and let no one do it any harm. That's gangsta, but revolutionary!
Ride or Die! Unite or Perish! July 2013
MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from BORO is a good explanation of why the United Front for Peace work is important, and is demanded by the people. While we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons we must also work towards a United Front on the streets, where the lumpen organizations come together to fight our common enemy: imperialism. We have seen examples of strong unity and educational advancement in many street organizations. The UFPP works to set an example in prisons that can be taken to the streets.
I do all I can here to educate prisoners in the science of revolution. I share Under Lock & Key, I pass MIM(Prisons)'s address around, I conduct study groups, I raise consciousness and awareness while showing solidarity. Yet, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials are agents of repression using all kinds of divide and conquer tactics against these efforts.
The other day I was conducting a study group in solitary confinement and the pigs were using disruption by instigating a racial argument between two Black prisoners and a Mexican prisoner. I tried to keep the peace and unity among prisoners, but the pigs are constantly breaking the unity and provoking racial conflict. I tried to intervene by telling these three prisoners to stop arguing about insignificant things and to set aside their differences and come together in unity, solidarity and cooperation. Then two of the Black prisoners started caling me "wet back." I just had to terminate the study group at that moment to prevent further altercations and racial conflict among these three inmates. I had similar experiences in the past when I tried to educate fellow prisoners; sooner or later the pigs manipulated the situation and use these ignorant inmates to turn against me and start calling me racial slurs.
Look comrades, I have to be very cautious when I give your address to some of these prisoners because some of them are agent provocateurs, snitches, double agents, pretenders, informants and just brainwashed. So be aware of this matter. I just don't let these pigs get to me with their dirty tactics of divide and conquer. Some comrades over here are willing to learn, others are just playing games, and others are just brainwashed and it will take too long to make them conscious of revolutionary knowledge so I rather concentrate more on those comrades willing to learn and to assimilate Maoism into their thinking.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This report from a United Struggle from Within (USW) comrade is an example of United Front work among the imprisoned lumpen. This is the more tedious stuff that dedicated comrades must engage in over years and decades before getting to more glorious examples like 30,000 prisoners refusing food on the same day in California. So we want to recognize all who, like this comrade, keep working and not letting the pigs get to them.
It's true those who follow the pigs' manipulations are ignorant, and someday they will probably recognize that and feel great shame. But this story itself is an example of a teaching moment. By setting a good example, others learned something that day about the roles of the pigs because of the efforts this comrade made to build unity. And it is by consistently providing examples like this to the masses that ignorance is overcome. When an individual overcomes their ignorance and opens up to new ideas, those are the people who should get your persynalized attention to develop their theory and practice.
Finally, we are aware that many people write us with bad intentions. Some have requested that we not send materials to such people. But this allows the very people we are trying to avoid to manipulate us into censoring ourselves. And in the current format of our work, there is no certain way for us to identify all pigs. As we have written in articles about security in the past, we must judge people based on their actions, and only give out information on an as needed basis. So we are very conscious about what information is public and what is not, and we will spread public information as widely as we can. As we recently wrote, comrades should not mistake Under Lock & Key subscribers for USW members. Just because we send someone mail, does not tell you anything about our assessment of that individual's political reliability.
I don't read much in ULK about Florida prisons. This is unfortunate because readers may believe the Florida Department of Corruption (FDOC) is like the California, Texas or Arizona systems. This is not true. There are conditional differences as well as attitudinal differences between the north and south Florida prisons.
Some notable conditional differences are in what has been referred to in ULK as SHUs and the unity among Florida prisons. The FDOC has Control Management Units (CM). One can find these on CMI, CMII, or CMIII for 3, 2, or 1 year, respectively. In the beginning, the early 1990s, these were sensory deprivation cells. During the CM heyday of the late 1990s you didn't even have to commit a disciplinary infraction, just be considered a 'management problem.' Torture was the name of the game. Suicide was frequent. With help from the outside, lawsuits were filed and settled, and the CM system changed at the close of the 90s. This did not bring a close to the shattered lives of the survivors of these imperialist torture cells. FDOC still has CM, but it is not as easy to put someone on CM status, and they are not sensory deprivation any longer. Brutality and rampant use of tear gas sill happen, but not as bad or often as before. I urge comrades in the other states to keep up the struggle and to not think any sacrifice you may make is too much. A couple of my friends lost their lives trying to get out of those torture cells and two more took their own lives after release from prison due to continuing mental instability after years in CM. It doesn't go away when the door opens!
It appears to me, after reading several issues of ULK, that there is more unity in other states. There is no organization among different prisons nor even among individuals within a single prison here in Florida. They are more like cliques operating for extortion purposes. Unity is virtually nonexistent against the administration.
Unity is not even a concern of the guards. In my present experience, I am a peer facilitator in a certain program. The institution requires everyone in the program to live in the same dormitory and to meet at least once a day, 25 at a time in a separate classroom, to complete character based programs, i.e. imperialist brainwashing, that I then conduct unsupervised - Ha! Comrades, you would think this is the perfect opportunity to organize and unify, but it doesn't work that way. There is much inner struggle. When I speak of how the imperialists define a box and then they say it is our own fault that we don't fit in it; that we are here, I am met with scorn. I have started a slogan: Power to the poor people, but it is slow to catch on - no one is poor? When I filed a grievance on an officer for not doing her job it was labeled as 'snitching on the police' as if that's even possible! When the water cooler broke and we needed it fixed, I asked who all will file a grievance. No one would: no one did. There is a fear about unifying to file grievances.
Furthermore, as I stand up and speak on oppression and revolutionary ideas; about socialism and communism, I alienate myself more and more from my fellow white nation. It is just like a comrade from MIM wrote me recently - I am committing class suicide (a small sacrifice indeed). I am labeled communist as if that were a dirty word! If any comrades know of a technique I can use to get these guys united, let me know.
North Florida prisons vary from south Florida prisons in the general attitudes of the guards and administrators. The north Florida prisons are mostly operated by the white nation. These prisons are more structured, restrictive, and command more discipline. The south Florida prisons are mostly operated by the Black and Latino nations and are not as well organized, loosely run, and more laid back. It is not so easy to get a disciplinary report or go to disciplinary confinement while in a south Florida prison.
I said that to say this; keep the struggle against the man, not yourselves. Remember who the enemy is no matter what type of prison you are in, be it a north or south Florida type. Just because some of you have better conditions than others doesn't mean be pacified, it means you can struggle more; struggle harder.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about analyzing the conditions where we are at. Each state, and even each prison, has different conditions with different contradictions and struggles. While this comrade is frustrated by the current lack of unity in Florida prisons, s/he gives a good example of unified struggle from the 90s and so we can see that conditions we face change over time. We do have the power to affect these conditions. It won't happen overnight, but through education we will build unity. Where there was unity around a shared struggle against Control Management Units, we might look to build unity today around another common struggle. This is a challenge for USW comrades in Florida: to determine what issue will be best to focus on at this time. Regardless of the issue, spreading Under Lock & Key and other revolutionary material, and talking to others about their situation and the system, will help build consciousness. When we are met with scorn when we talk about the imperialists, we may need to take another approach, start from something that is bothering someone. Try to tie this back to the imperialist system so they can see the connections. And remember that even if we don't gain a comrade today, we may have planted the seeds for revolutionary consciousness.
Regarding the dietary petition you sent to my friend, we had those 10 filled out immediately, well 9. I sent one to the law library to get 10 copies made. From these 10, I had 9 more signed within a day. I tried to send it to the law library to have copies made again. I was informed that I would not receive copies because the law library would not copy blank forms. The form was returned ripped, with my cell # written on it in permanent marker. Of course this was a lie. Ely State Prison does copy blank forms, they just don't want me copying the petition and/or distributing it.
However I erased my name etc. from the form, sent it out to a comrade of mine in San Diego, and I asked for 30 copies so I could distribute them. This comrade sent me 100 copies. I did receive these copies, and have been passing them around, and have received many more signed copies. I and another are also attempting to send copies to individuals in other institutions. However, my mail is now being read and I have been informed that if I continue to distribute and push the petition I will be written up and my transfer request denied.
I have been housed at Ely State Prison (ESP) since 2002. ESP is a supermax where we are locked down 24 hours a day. I have spent 8 years trying to get a transfer. I was finally approved last month, and this threat to keep me here is their way of trying to force me to stop passing around the petition. I am not going to stop with my effort to have these petitions signed. If it costs me my transfer so be it, I've been here almost 11 years, I can handle more!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one more example of how Amerika uses long-term isolation as a form of social control against those trying to organize for better conditions, even small reforms around basic needs. This comrade's determination to continue the fight against food deprivation, even with the threat of ongoing long-term solitary confinement, is an example for prisoners everywhere. This campaign has gained support among prisoners in Nevada because it is a clear problem for all prisoners, and one that we can reasonably expect to win. We do need to be clear when spreading campaigns such as this one that this is just a small battle that must be part of a broader effort to educate and organize prisoners against the criminal injustice system. Only an anti-imperialist movement with the long-term goal of a system where no group of people oppresses another group has a chance of putting an end to the criminal injustice of imperialism. The oppressed, united under this goal, must build a new state that applies proletarian justice, making depriving people of basic food and medical care a crime that is punished and eliminated.
I've been through quite a lot in the six months or so since I've become involved in the anti-imperialist movement. Starting out in a state prison here in Massachusetts, I began by trying to devour as much literature as I could on our collective struggle. In order to digest the principles upon which our rebellion is based, I have tried to discuss the ideas with other prisoners. However, I found it incredibly perverse that so many other prisoners would posture and pay lip service to the principles yet when it comes down to forming any kind of movement they were cowed by the mere thought of the oppressor.
For example, I attempted to initiate a grievance campaign. There were actually people willing to get involved but I had to write up each individual grievance myself. Although this took up much of my personal time I gladly did it, and actually saw some results. The prison was serving rotten potatoes for about four years. Changed. Open shower drain in one shower with the possibility of serious injury. Fixed. Broken law library computer in the cell block. Fixed. Broken law library computer in segregation. Fixed. I suppose the grievances weren't all for nothing.
A couple of months ago I was transferred from state prison to a county jail to serve a separate sentence. Now I'm getting ready to file my first civil suits against this jail regarding the disciplinary process. Hopefully the changes that I seek will stop the current disciplinary staff from smoking everyone on their misconduct reports. Indeed, there is a lot of shady stuff going on in the disciplinary board office, especially the use of duplicate offenses to rack up extra segregation time as a tool of oppression and complete non-compliance with the jail's own policy and procedures regarding disciplinary hearings.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We get many letters from activists behind bars who are frustrated with the lack of interest and support from their fellow prisoners. There are several important things to keep in mind when thinking about why we can't quickly and easily unite all (or most) prisoners behind the anti-imperialist cause. First, prisoners come from the same wealthy society that, on the streets, keeps the vast majority of Amerikans supporting imperialism. While the class status of lumpen prisoners makes them more likely to take up anti-imperialism, they are not immune to the wealth and culture of Amerika.
Second, even where class and nation interests might put someone on the side of the anti-imperialist movement, we have some serious educational work to do to counter all the reactionary education they got for most of their life. While some will instinctively join the revolution, drawing correct conclusions from their own life and education, others will need patient education and observation of our practice. This is true in all revolutionary movements, and it is the job of our leaders, people who already see the importance of the anti-imperialist struggle, to approach people where they are at, and patiently provide them information and examples as we work to win them over. If we look at socialism in China in the 1960s, we see that even after seizing state power and all of their great achievements, they still had to wage a vigorous Cultural Revolution to combat bourgeois ideas all the way up to the Party's central committee. So we should not be surprised, nor get frustrated, by the resistance we face in the United $tates today.
It is victories like those grievance battles won, combined with education to give people the broader context for our struggle, that will help us to win supporters and turn them into new activists. Always keep in mind that you were not born an anti-imperialist. Someone had to provide you with education, information and/or examples. Now it is your turn to do the same for others.
I was discussing the issue of declining membership with a well known organizational leader with tens of thousands of followers. He stated that you only want to write if it is behind your philosophy, and that you criticize anyone who does not agree with your strategy. He specifically mentioned the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. So your criticism, well intended or not, is doing more dividing than uniting.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is responding to the article in ULK 33summarizing our annual congress which reported that our number of subscribers has dropped in the past year. First, we want to be clear that subscribers are not the same thing as members. We reported in the same article that the number of active United Struggle from Within members has increased over the past year. But still, we want to see an increase in ULK readers as well and so this is a bad trend.
It is true that MIM(Prisons) is critical of other organizations. This is because we see political struggle and education as fundamental to building an effective revolutionary movement. The MXGM is a good example of an organization that we have reported favorably about in the past. But we need to be honest about where we see faults in the political lines or strategies of other organizations. We hope others will do the same for us. We cannot build real unity if we just ignore significant disagreements over political line and strategy.
Further, we work towards a United Front with all organizations who can unite with us on basic goals. This is an important Maoist strategy that allows different organizations to come together for common goals without sacrificing their independence or brushing real political differences under the rug.
We see these practices as principled. It may lead some individuals to dismiss MIM(Prisons) as too divisive, but we see the real divisiveness in those groups that refuse to publicly acknowledge political differences while privately gossiping or positioning themselves into power. We are willing to lose a few supporters who can't take open political discussion and disagreements to maintain clarity of political line.
by a North Carolina prisoner August 2013 permalink
On August 2nd my old cellmate had only been here 5 days and within those 5 days the pigs were really messing with him. Then on the 2nd they told him they were moving him, just to move an inmate across the hall into his cell. They were going to move him to the end of the hall in a sally port with a prisoner who had feces smeared on his cell wall and old food in his cell. Before the move he asked to see the Sgt/Lt, but was told no, pack up or they would pack his stuff.
After moving he and I were at recreation call and we, along with one other prisoner, refused to lock up until the Lt/Captain came down. When she came I locked up. As she approached his sally port she asked what the smell was. He explained. They got the prisoner out of his cell and janitors bleached and removed all the items from the cell, and after the weekend on 8/5 he was moved to another cell.
Had we not stood our ground that prisoner's cell would still be covered in feces. The pigs knew this and were doing nothing. All of the H-Con staff here at Polk Incorrectional institution just didn't care, and went even further to harass a prisoner who they thought they could take advantage of due to his health (he just had surgery on his foot to reattach bones and replace a steel rod after PERT team pigs shattered it during an assault using excessive use of force a few months back). We need more times of unity like this in North Carolina prisons.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a small example of prisoners uniting for common cause. And this is a good start to building the broader unity that is necessary for the United Front for Peace that will build the power and strength of the anti-imperialist movement behind bars.