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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Formula for Fighting Abuse in Texas

On June 29, 2013 a Black Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional officer with the last name Ford used his handcuffs on a Latino/Mexican prisoner as if the handcuffs were brass knuckles. Officer Ford punched the prisoner repeatedly in the head. Fellow prisoners who witnessed this heinous act requested to be given witness statements. Captain Vincent, Lieutenant Sutton, and Sergeant Landrum refused to produce witness statements. This is just one more incident adding to a long list of human rights abuses and violations that have taken place on the Estelle Unit located in Huntsville, Texas.

We have found through our experience that the Grievance Program is corrupt in Texas prisons. Nevertheless, in order to maintain a record of the incident and preserve the right to file 42 US 1983, total exhaustion of administrative remedies is a must per the corrupt PRLA law. I and many comrades in Texas and beyond have written the U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - Special Litigation Section. I've gotten back the same form letter response over 6 times! They ain't doin' shit! The abuse continues.

Handcuffs being used as brass knuckles!!? Ranking supervisors refusing to pass witness statements!!? These are criminal acts. There is an ongoing conspiracy to cover up said illegal acts in Texas prisons.

I have discovered a "formula" that works very well in reference to combating these oppressors in Texas, especially when they band together in order to cover up blatant acts of abuse and humyn rights violations by TDCJ employees:

  1. Media coverage - form bonds and relationship of trust and respect with journalists.
  2. Prisoner rights activists - we all need free world helpers.
  3. State and federal legislators - you must seek an authority higher than the prison administrators.

This 3 step formula is good for all states but the specifics will change by geographic location. However, at this time our focus is on Texas! Step 1s don't work, Step 2s are a joke. O.I.G.? Impotent. Executive Director Brad Livingston, Texas Board Chairman Oliver Bell, all T.D.C.J. offices and entities operate under the same program and that is cronyism, nepotism, obstruction of justice tactics and cover-ups.

Who is ordering TDCJ to downplay and coverup acts of abuse and barbaric acts of violence aimed at prisoners? Answer: Texas State Attorney General Gregg Abbott! He is at the top of the food chain and remember he is running for Governor in Texas. It is time for the Attorney General's office to be held accountable for all these heinous acts of violence being perpetrated by TDCJ employees with no accountability.

Putting Theory into Practice

I've set forth the formula, now it is time to fill in the blanks so we may test our model.

Media/Journalists

  1. Brandi Grissom - Managing editor/journalist, The Texas Tribune, 823 Congress Ave, Suite 210, Austin, TX 78701
  2. The Texas Observer, Attn: Emily DePrang - Staff writer, 307 W. 7th St, Austin, TX 78701
  3. Austin American Statesman, Attn: Mike Ward - Journalist, 305 S. Congress, Austin, TX 78704
  4. The Prison Show!, Kathy Griffin Grenan, Hank Lamb, KPFT-FM 90.1, 419 Lovett Blvd., Houston, TX 77006

Prison Activist Organizations

  1. Texas CURE, Attn: Joan Covici-Michael Jewell & Friends, PO Box 372, Barleson, TX 76097
  2. Attn: Quanell X & Krystal Muhammad, SHAPE Community Center, 3815 Live Oak, Houston, TX 77004

Legislators - at this time Estelle Unit is starting to register on the radar, let's help it along

  1. Texas State Senate, Senator John Carona, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711
  2. Texas State Senate, Senator Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711

Comrades, all of this information is meaningless and useless if you do not test it - practice it! Let's consider a quote from our esteemed Comrade Fred Hampton: "You might say, 'well the way I feel, people ought to be able to walk around naked because rape is love.' That's idealism. See what I mean? You're dealing in metaphysics. You're dealing in subjectivity, because you're not testing it with objective reality. And what's really wrong is that you don't go test it. Because if you test it, you'll get objective. Because as soon as you walk out there (naked) a whole lot of objective reality will vamp down upon your ass and take whatever you have. So whenever this happens, this is when people get a whole lot of mistaken ideas. That's why a lot of you can't understand and can't agree with a lot of what we said. You've never tried it." He continues later saying "That's what the Black Panther Party deals with. We're not metaphysicians, we're not idealists, we're dialectical materialists. And we deal with what reality is, whether we like it or not."

The Reality

The reality in Texas prisons is we the lumpen underclass are being degraded, dehumanized, mistreated, and abused. The persons who are in positions to protect us from such abuses are turning a blind eye to our plight. We are being murdered, raped, and beaten by the very people who are being paid to provide safety. The only way to combat this is by shedding light on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Attorney General's Office who is 100% culpable in regards to these crimes against humanity.

MIM(Prisons) is the tip of the spear. I am only one of many hands wielding the spear. I close with a quote from Chairman Mao: "Our point of departure is to serve the people whole-heartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves form the masses, to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people." Mao Zedong, On Coalition Government

If we put as much time into this fight as we do on the domino table or the rec yard, change will come in Texas. The comrades in California are a stellar example of solidarity in action. As Eric B. and Rakim used to say "Follow the Leader!"

All Power to the People!

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[Organizing] [MIM(Prisons)] [United Struggle from Within] [ULK Issue 33]
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MIM(Prisons) 2013 Congress Summary

MIM(Prisons) recently concluded our annual Congress, where our membership came together to realign our strategic orientation to continually improve our productivity and effectiveness supporting the anti-imperialist struggle behind bars. This report is to give our readers a better idea of how MIM(Prisons) supports their struggles, and our plans for the upcoming year.

Correspondence

Although we are not able to respond personally to every letter we receive, we have a lot of mail going out to prisoners including bi-monthly ULK, form letters addressing frequently asked questions, study group and campaign mailings, and books, magazines and study packs. On average we are sending out at least one piece of mail for every letter we receive. In addition to our correspondence through the mail with prisoners, the writings from Under Lock & Key are on our website www.prisoncensorship.info. Traffic to the news on our website has doubled this year!

One way that we track our success in expanding influence inside Amerikan prisons is by counting subscribers to Under Lock & Key. We know that most copies are read by many people, but the number of subscribers is a good indicator of our influence and growth from year to year. We want to see our subscriber list grow so that we can ensure each issue reaches as many people as possible. This is a key tactic to spread revolutionary education and build the anti-imperialist movement.

Since the formation of MIM(Prisons) we have seen a steady increase in our numbers of ULK subscribers, but this year that trend reversed. Between our last annual congress in July 2012 and the congress this year, our readership is down by about 17%. After continuously increasing our number of subscribers for years, we may have finally hit a ceiling. In the last year, MIM(Prisons) volunteers have not made any significant changes to the way we work with prisoners. We write more on how to overcome this challenge below.

United Struggle from Within

A large part of our discussion at Congress was centered around our support for the anti-imperialist mass organization for former and current prisoners, United Struggle from Within (USW). Where MIM(Prisons) can't physically do necessary organizing work, USW is our feet on the ground. This section outlines some of the successes and progress of USW, as well as deficits where there needs to be improvement.

Compared to our USW membership statistics from Congress 2012, USW appears to be getting larger and more stable. This is a huge advance. The struggle to liberate people of the world from capitalism and imperialism can't just be taken up when it sounds fun or exciting, or when you have the spare time. The more comrades inside who understand this, and make a long-term commitment to doing as much as they can to liberate the most oppressed people in the world, the better off we will all be in the long run. We encourage those who have dabbled in USW work to keep up your commitment, and continually check page 12 of Under Lock & Key for ways to plug in. If you've already gotten ten people to send out grievance petitions, why not get ten more, or try to push it to the next level? If you've already got a local study group going, why not send us a report on how you did it so others have a better idea how to start one up in their conditions? To be considered an active USW member, you have to have put in some kind of USW-related work in the last year. This is the most lax yet reasonable requirement possible, and shouldn't be difficult for people to adhere to on a long-term basis as long as they have a genuine interest in ending oppression for everyone worldwide.

Developing Leadership

USW Leaders are those who are not only participating in the campaigns organized by others, but come up with ideas for how to push the struggle forward where they're at, and organize others to do so. Even one individual taking on a leadership role increases the anti-imperialist struggle exponentially in that state or facility. A USW Leader makes incredibly significant contributions to our overall work, and we provide as much support for them as we can. The pages of Under Lock & Key are a good place to look for ideas on what campaigns to push where you're at, but a great USW Leader also analyzes their conditions and shapes campaigns as needed to have the most success among their organizing base.

Increasing Subscribers

For a couple years we have been tracking how new subscribers are referred to us. In a change from past years, this year active recruiting by prisoners has led more people to sign up for Under Lock & Key than ads or MIM(Prisons) work. Even referrals that came from MIM(Prisons) work is catalyzed by someone signing up for our newsletter or engaging with us on some level. Without the efforts of prisoners, we can't get literature into a facility.

While the proportion of referrals from prisoners did increase, our overall level of new subscribers went down. We know that most of our new subscribers find us through other prisoners, either from a copy of ULK that you have passed around or from a recommendation you make personally to them to get in touch with us. This means that you, our readers and supporters, have a big hand in determining how many people get to read Under Lock & Key. We call on you to step up your work in this area. This is an easy but critical way that you can contribute to building the anti-imperialist movement against the criminal injustice system. You should pass your copy of ULK around, leave it in the day room, or put it on the library cart or wherever you can so that others might pick it up. You can write to us for extra copies of ULK if you want to distribute them in your prison. If you send us names of people who tell you they are interested in a subscription, we will add them to the mailing list. Spread the word however you can. After all, the six-month subscription is free to prisoners!

On our end, we have contacted every prisoner resource guide we know of and asked them to tell their subscribers about the work we do. If you know a resource guide or newsletter that we are not listed in, please write to them and ask them to add us! In Pennsylvania a USW comrade gave our information to the Graterfriends newsletter, and we received a major spike in new subscribers from that one plug alone. Now Pennsylvania is getting more access to this important political perspective.

ULK Sustainers

This year as part of our work with United Struggle from Within we initiated a ULK Sustainers group. A ULK Sustainer is someone who recognizes the importance of this newsletter and puts their money where their mouth is. One copy of Under Lock & Key costs about $1 to print and mail. To cover your issue of ULK you could pledge to send in $1 per issue. To cover your issue and one other persyn's, you would send in $2 per issue. If you want to sign up to be a Sustainer, just tell us and we'll send you more info. You can always send us donations without committing to a pledge, but if you want to send checks the easiest way is to become a ULK Sustainer.

The past couple months have been spent developing the structure of the Sustainers arm of USW, and at Congress we were able to establish a concrete financial goal: More ULK! According to the Reader Survey we have been collecting for the past couple issues, there is a high demand for more Under Lock & Key content. From now on, whatever financial contributions we receive that aren't for something else specific (purchasing literature, study group payment, etc.) will go into the Sustainers fund. When we have enough money donated, whether in stamps or checks, we will run 4 extra pages in Under Lock & Key. It should cost about $250 to reach this goal, each issue. We will determine the content of these extra pages based on what people requested in the Reader Surveys, or if you send a donation you can even help determine the content by telling us what you want to see more of.

Campaigns

One big campaign USW has been pushing since 2010 is the Petition for the Proper Handling of Grievances, which is currently available for use in eleven states. Comrades in California and Texas have been pushing this campaign forward into the courts and to those outside the prison walls. We've been reporting on the ongoing successes, challenges, and tactical approaches of these campaigns in the pages of ULK as we learn of them. The states currently participating in this campaign are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas.

Another campaign that is taking off with renewed energy this summer is for the end to long-term isolation. This campaign has been one we've focused on since our founding, and look forward to its development in the coming months.

Education Behind Bars

An ongoing goal of USW has been to expand prisoner-coordinated study groups. This year we are aware of more active prisoner-led study groups behind bars than at this time last Congress. Yet we still don't have an idea of how active they are, and our influence on these study groups is minimal.

MIM(Prisons) can't provide all the political education that's needed through our mail-based study groups, and some people can't participate in our study groups due to censorship. Therefore, we are going to be making a more conscious effort to support prisoner-led study groups by sending literature, soliciting reports, and engaging in political dialogue with the groups. If you run or work with a study group inside, let us know and we can plug you in for free study materials and political guidance.

USW comrades will still need to take on the task of finding people to study with and making sure you stay engaged. We recommend you aim to have weekly study group meetings if possible. Our comrades behind bars need to take the leadership here, but we can help.(1)

Advances in Available Literature

For the most part, our glossary of compiled political terms is ready for distribution. Other study packs we have made available in the last year are study questions for Fundamentals of Political Economy by Shanghai Press, Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons), and a study pack made by Rashid of the NABPP-PC, Historical & Dialectical Materialism.

We are also pleased to announce that the salient chapter of our forthcoming book on the lumpen class in the United $tates is out in draft format. It has taken a lot of work and time to get this chapter together, and we look forward to the feedback we receive. Our goal is to print the rest of the book next year.

We have also made progress expanding our library and reducing our costs to reproduce important historical texts for our Free Books to Prisoners Program.

Spanish Development

In 2010 we set a goal of improving our Spanish language material. Our translators and Spanish editors are an invaluable part of that goal and we thank them for every Spanish article in every issue of Under Lock & Key. Within the year we plan to release the book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, which was primarily authored by comrades of the United Struggle from Within. This book is written in English, but has acute relevance for many of our Spanish-speaking comrades in prison and out. Comrades hope to begin work on a Spanish translation once it is complete.

Since 2010, we have compiled Spanish literature packs, which include Que es el MIM? and Teoría del MIM 1: Los Proletarios Blancos? as well as old copies of the newspaper Notas Rojas.

Recently, USW comrades translated the entire magazine MIM Theory 10: Labor Aristocracy into Spanish, and we will soon have it available on our website for distribution. It is a raw translation, and has not been edited, but we hope someone who is fluent in Spanish and revolutionary theory will clean it up.

Prisoners Legal Clinic

The Prisoners Legal Clinic (PLC) is a legal-resource-compiling group that focuses on legal battles that push forward our overall strategy of building independent institutions to overthrow imperialism in favor of the world's oppressed majority. If you have legal experience and want to contribute to this aspect of our struggle, write us to plug in.

MIM(Prisons) does not have the legal resources or education to generate comprehensive legal information, especially compared to the liberal-"left" organizations such as California Prison Focus or Columbia Human Rights Law Review. But we do attempt to fill in the gaps where we think their help guides are potentially lacking. In the last year we have cleaned up and published online three help guides, which we also distribute to our subscribers behind bars: "Access to Courts." "Isolation in Texas," and "Grievances and Exhaustion."

Besides identifying deficits in existing resources, another area the PLC can grow is where our PLC contributors themselves see areas of the law to exploit for our own purposes. One contributor, from the American Prisoners Association (APA), submitted a pamphlet to us titled "You, Prison Officials, and Contract Law." In this pamphlet, APA outlines their theory on how to use contract law to defend the rights of prisoners, including defending against violations of grievance procedures. We are distributing this pamphlet as part of our Free Books for Prisoners Program, and encourage other PLC contributors to look it over, put it into action if they think it is sound, and tell us how it worked out.

Moving Forward

In the coming year we will focus on finishing a number of large projects that have been in the works. As we do so, we ask USW comrades to continue to expand our work in the ways described above. If we can achieve both sets of goals that we have laid out, we anticipate great success in our movement going forward.

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[Organizing] [Clallam Bay Correctional Facility] [Washington]
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Remembering 2011 Washington Protest: Unity is Key

On 29 June 2011, two prisoners sought their liberation by taking hostage one of the bosses who worked at the garment industry located at Clallam Bay Corrections Center. The prisoners managed to get a tractor vehicle and ram partly through the fence alongside the gun tower. The gunner at the tower shot the prisoner in the chest. The other prisoner released the hostage and got on the ground.

In the wake of the incident, Clallam Bay Corrections' administration locked the facility down. Every day between 29 June 2011 until 6 July 2011 the prisoners were fed two peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, chips and a kool-aid packet. On July 5, 2011, I asked a leader of the "white boys" if he would ask his brothers to file grievances on the meals. That leader said yes. We wound up with 28 grievances. The Blacks and Browns had joined in filing grievances.

It was decided that if they (Clallam Bay administration) didn't fix the meals and give us vegetables, fruit and at least one hot meal a day, then we prisoners would cover our cell windows in protest. Clallam Bay administration didn't fix the meals, so we covered our windows. Twenty four in all covered their windows. A negotiator asked us individually what did we want and we all individually stated that we wanted a memorial for the slain prisoner who sought his freedom and was murdered on 29 June 2011, fruit and fresh vegetables included in the meals, access to showers, and at least one hot meal. The negotiator said that he could deliver our request and that we better uncover our windows or be OC gassed. We stood our ground and between 6:30pm on July 6 and 3am July 7 twenty four inmates were individually gassed, removed from cells, and returned naked to the same gas filled cell after everything was removed from the cell.

On 7 July 2011 we were given a hot breakfast and our sack meals including fruit and vegetables. I was a part of these events that took place at Clallam Bay Corrections Center Intensive Management Unit (Segregation Unit). Power to the People.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Dalhart Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Laying the Groundwork for Revolutionary Organizing in Texas

We've had a recent death here due to use of excessive force. We've been dealing with that, getting outside sources to reach out to and filing complaints on the inside. I've had only one response from outside: the Houston Police Department's internal affairs. They've told us that our complaint has been sent to the state Inspector General's office. I was told yesterday that 20 or so men who filed complaints have been given some sort of case for filing. I have to look into that.

Our close comrades have been busy coordinating weightlifting and basketball events. These events allow us to increase our profile and spread our message of unitary conduct. This also encourages others to adopt the principles which make us comrades. So, maintaining that as a sustained front has been a priority. This is how we are able to locate minds who are receptive to USW literature and who are prepared to come into greater degrees of organizing. We're finishing up our basketball season this week. We are signing up rosters for a soccer tournament which will begin next week. And we are beginning to coordinate our 3rd annual unit-wide collective fellowship meal, which has always been a powerful way of advocating for unity across ethnic and racial boundaries.

So, in addition to writing to you and four other outside groups united in our struggle, I need to, today, brief 5 other comrades who want to coordinate functions of their own under our banner. I mentor a young development of 2 others who are new to our collective. And I need to get at least 10 others some recent commentary to keep them in the loop. I absolutely need to delegate more. But even that is a process in itself in this environment.

While all of this is going on, I've had to mediate a situation where a young comrade had a conflict with a white guy. Because the white guy was so much bigger and older, Black families were upset. Because Blacks got involved and the white guy used to be associated, white families are upset. So, you try to keep the peace while pride and ego come into play. The whole time understanding the stakes involved, the potential for escalation, and knowing that the Mexicans are watching Triple C closely right now, judging how I conduct myself in the affair.

I realize always that lives are on the line. I do the work so that these men and their children can gain more power to determine their economic, political, and social condition. So much of that work involves meeting cats where they are at, and working to provide solutions to immediate needs; doing that while communicating one big picture, and while demonstrating methods of achieving evolved conditions of living.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the day-to-day ground work that revolutionaries engage in to build the movement against imperialism. While exercise, in and of itself, may appear unrelated to anti-imperialism, this is something that can be turned into a solidarity activity, especially in prison where even such basic activities are greatly restricted. We have reported on similar organizing in California prisons. This comrade is part of an organization that is in the United Front for Peace in Prisons which is focused on building peace and unity within the prison population. Wherever we can break down divisions between groups and build unity to fight our common oppressor we will contribute to a stronger anti-imperialist movement overall.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Florida]
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Support Florida Prisoners Against Keefe Snack Sneak Attacks

We recently created a petition addressed to Governor Scott:

The families and friends of Florida prisoners petition for a state investigation of the Keefe commissary network contract with the FDOC. In this economy and in fairness, the people of Florida deserve a new contract that makes canteen prices more affordable or reasonable. (see www.tampabay.com/news/kickback/155046)

Keefe is one of the biggest if not the biggest prison and jail commissary vendors in the United States. Revenues from canteen operation for fiscal year 2009-2010 were $30,973,262. The prices prisoners are being charged are higher than prices for the same items sold in the free world. There are several vendors who bid for the FDOC contract who would offer a wider variety of available items at almost a 60% decrease of what Keefe presently charges. One has to "wonder" why were these other vendors not given the contract?

Keefe's sneak attack on snacks continue to prey on the families and friends of Florida prisoners who for the most part provides financial support to the prison population to spend on canteen. With the economy in recession it is doubtful prisoners families and friends are going to be able to spend more money.

Keefe, which is based out of St. Louis, MO, latest price increase has lead to more thefts, robberies and violence in Florida's prisons. Governor Scott, you can stop Keefe's price gouging with just one phone call, we urge you to be that champion of the fairness and justice that you promised all Floridians during your campaign by making that call.

The success or failure of this important project depends on genuine community interest and online petition signature support. To support Florida prisoners against Keefe's Snack Sneak Attacks visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/229/807/212/support-keefe-sneak-attacts-on-snacks-must-go/


CLASS="no-indent">MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed an article about Keefe back in 2009 with similar complaints from a prisoner in Pennsylvania. We don't hold out much hope that Governor Scott is going to turn his back on the capitalists to help out prisoners and their families, but the exposure of Keefe and education about the corruption in the criminal injustice system and its role in making lots of companies (and their employees) rich, is a valuable educational and organizing tool.

Also at issue here is the right to healthy and adequate food. Vending machine food is always going to more expensive and less nutritional. All pisoners should be provided with adequate, fresh food, so that supplementary snacks are a luxury.

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[Organizing] [Federal] [ULK Issue 33]
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Solidarity: Dead in the Feds

There are certain "rights" that are made into "privileges" in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP): our right to adequate clothing, adequate sunlight and fresh air (outdoor rec), calorically adequate meals, and peaceful assembly.

On 17 June 2013 at United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, in the SHU we were fed a lunch that consisted of a one-ounce spoonful of pasta and a half-ounce scoop of green beans. On every meal we are to have at least two ounces of protein (meat, peanut butter, cheese, soy, etc) according to the BOP program statement. When asked about our protein we were told to not eat if we did not like the meal. The following ensued (taken from a prison report):

"On the above date while feeding Range 1 of the Special Housing Unit (SHU), inmate [X] received the noon meal in his assigned cell. He instantly ordered staff to give him a dessert and some 'protein.' The range officer instructed the inmates that there was no dessert or protein. Inmate [X] started chanting 'we want dessert, we want protein.' Inmate [X] told all the other inmates on the range to 'start bucking' and 'we need to be a group on this and not give up our trays and we will get what we want.' He began to call to cells and other inmates by 'nicknames' and saying 'come on y'all, don't bitch up.' Before SHU staff could exit the range, inmate [X]'s disruptive behavior had spread throughout the range and the range above. The result of which caused a security issue due to 53 inmates covering cell windows and refusing all orders given by staff. After several attempts had been made to collect the food trays, 46 inmates complied and were placed in 'alternative clothing' and three cells (including inmate [X]'s cell) required an 'immediate use of force team.' All actions taken by SHU inmates acting as a group were a direct result of inmate [X]'s disruptive actions."

Our clothing was taken away and we were all placed in paper boxers and a paper gown. This "alternative clothing" is reserved for prisoners on suicide watch and not to be used for disciplinary purposes. Me and my cellmate (along with five other prisoners) refused to give up our clothing while the other 47 prisoners gave their clothes up. I was gassed five times, and when the gas proved ineffective I was "sting bombed" twice. A sting bomb is a bomb full of rubber bullets and "ghost pepper" gas. Our peaceful assembly was met with force.

We are all also on "disciplinary meals" which consists of two sandwiches and a half of an apple, hardly meeting our 2,200 daily calorie needs.

If everyone would have refused to give up their trays and clothing the police and administration would have had to negotiate with us. Instead, the majority folded up like lawn chairs, making our collective stand futile in the end. It pains me to say it but solidarity is dead in the feds. The sheep are ready to be sheared.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We get a lot of letters of frustration from prisoners about the lack of unity and organization among prisoners. This letter actually demonstrates a relatively high level of unity as so many prisoners joined in a spontaneous protest action. The fact that most did not stick it out is no doubt disheartening to the organizer, but this points to the potential for greater unity. Organizing is a long slow process, and it requires the background work of education and building of unity that does not happen overnight. We don't know the back story to this incident but we urge our comrades to take lessons from these events and move forward to educate and build greater unity for the future.

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[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada]
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Nevada Prisons Repression, Call for Resistance

Since early April there have been at least three prisoners shot, all in the head/face, and other shots fired resulting in lockdowns, two institutional lockdowns, and a number of pig assaults on prisoners including one in the seg unit I was released from and two on prisoners in the unit where I am currently housed. Most recently (last week) a Black comrade was assaulted in retaliation for exercising his first amendment right to expose pig misconduct. All of these assaults have been on Black prisoners by white pigs.

Amidst the above the food issue has been revived but has met textbook excuses - all of which boil down to:

  1. A prevailing sense of hopelessness among prisoners here
  2. A prevailing attitude of complacency among prisoners here and
  3. Fear of retaliation against prisoners here

The common factor? The state of mind of prisoners.

The Texas brothers demonstrated that victories are possible even with the grievance system, and history teaches us that: "In all ages and under all circumstances there will always exist abundant reasons not to fight but that will be the only way not to obtain victory." (Fidel Castro)

History teaches us that our victories are always the result of the work of a few against the many. It teaches us that we will never be a majority so we must fight that much harder and with greater determination and not allow few numbers and temporary failures to terminate the struggle. At this moment there are a few of us here fighting for proper food, proper medical treatment, and an end to staff abuse, assaults and retaliation and theft/censorship of mail. We are simultaneously trying to bring unity within the prisoner class. This will not happen today, but there is always tomorrow, as our Texas brothers so accurately noted in ULK 32, we are all fighting for tomorrow.

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[Organizing] [California]
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Division or Cohesion

With the upcoming stoppage of food and work what stance will the Special Needs Yard (SNY) take? One of solidarity or one of indifference?

As numbers are straight we can use all the able bodied men to join ranks in our battle for dignity. The strike is more than the demands being met. This is also a call for we, as prisoners to be treated with respect and humanity. However, the consensus is that a good portion of SNYs feel like this battle doesn't pertain to them. News flash, it does! I came to realize the dumbness of judging someone by a "classification" as GP, SNY, active or non-active. These are labels that have been placed on us to further divide prisoners as a whole. Someone's character is a better yardstick to measure them. The guards have no difference or division of opinion when it comes to fucking us up, so why should we when it's time to battle with them?

Simply put, I ask that prisoners on "that" side choose the side that is with them in this fight. Join the stoppage in work and food. Rise above the labels and make a better place for all prisoners, and more so, the world.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's position that the classifications handed out by the prison system should not be the basis of our judgement of prisoners. SNY status, validation status, and other labels are far less important than the actions people take. We should judge individuals by their actions. Those who take up the cause of the majority of the world's people, anti-imperialism, are on the side of the people.

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[Organizing] [Theory]
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Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

Reading the June issue of "The Rock," a recurring theme kept on popping up. That theme was the raising up of prisoners' consciousness. This is a very good thing as the majority of prisoners lack the consciousness and ideology of a revolutionary.

The demands being put out are good, but as a 23-year old prisoner I can't help but shout that the same demands we are asking for we already had, and more so, they shouldn't be privileges but rights! Fighting for positive reforms is good in itself, but one shouldn't miss the forest for the trees. It's said best by Lenin:

"People always were and always would be the foolish victims of deceit and self deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interest of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society that surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle, the forces which can, and owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new."(1)

I quote this in length because it screams at me. "Owing to their social position", and what is our social position? Second, third class citizens? What's to keep prison 'gangs' form forming into political parties? Swapping our old ideas for new ones? To dismantle our old selves and transform into a force of change not only in prison but society at large?

We have the 'fuck you attitude,' we have brass, now the question is do we have the will to organize, agitate, analyze and act? To learn something you don't know is a difficult task, I could attest to that. Putting a burden on us (prisoners) more so is the culture we cultivate and the ideology that we act out. That is the coming up on people; robbing, selling drugs and trying to conquer every female we come across. The majority of the time when we do this we do it to people who are in our same "social position." They're in the pit just like us.

Good thing for us there's the ability in humans to change, whether it be consciously, mentally, spiritually or ideologically. The main thing though is to bring it into practice. Karl Marx observed that "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness."(2) Again what is our "social being?" Bluntly, it's shit! We need only to look at the environment we grew up around. Liquor stores are in overstock, drugs are roaming freely, homes have no foundation or stability. most have grown accustomed to this way of life. With this deadly (literally) way of thinking, it ain't no surprise our consciousness is lacking in many areas of life.

There's a striking notion that says prisoners now-a-days lack the backbone their predecessors have. Sad to say this statement is slightly true. I have numerous books, but urban novels and novels period got a strong hold on my brethren. Many feel that there is no oppression, genocide or killing of our people and other acts of aggression from the government, but just as one sees a movie or TV show and can't see the camera, that doesn't mean it's not there.

Taking a passive or neutral stance is taking a stance on the side of the oppressor, it seems that you're OK with the status quo. Activity and agitation is taking the side of history as Marx viewed, "...freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it's not understood."(3) As history shows times always change. We could look at it as it passes by, we could hop on board or we could go even further and build the vehicle of change, start it up and drive it. Closing my humble thoughts, I'll let Karl Marx do it, as he said it well: "There is no royal road to science [or learning] and only those who don't dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."(4)


Notes:
1. V.I. Lenin, On Marx and Engels (foreign language press Peking. 1975) First addition pg 68
2. Ibid, pg14
3. Ibid pg10
4. Capital. Vol 1 (International publishers, NY 1967) Preface to the French edition. pg 21.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Eastham Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 33]
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Unity in Texas Against Guard Brutality

I have been locked up in a Texas State Prison for the last 4 years and I have to admit they do things very different in this state and in their institutions. The administration treats the prisoners like cattle, but I have strategized against their schemes from the very beginning. I have lost some battles but I am winning the war.

About a month ago two guys got into a fight in the chowhall and after they put handcuffs on both of them they began kicking one of them and hitting him with night sticks when he was on the floor. The whole chowhall came together and approached the ranking Lieutenant and officers and questioned why they were unnecessarily beating him up, and even told them that was enough. The Lieutenant started cursing and screaming, telling people to "get the fxxk back." He was a new Lieutenant and hopefully he learned never to put himself or his staff in danger like that again cause what happened after that amazed me. The convicts set it off!!! That Lieutenant got beat pretty bad and split open seriously. This was the first time I have seen us come together in Texas for what's right.

Yesterday the administration tried to jack us for our dayroom time, and the TV and the fan in the dayroom didn't work the whole time we were out there. The dayroom is already small and over capacity so you can imagine how hot it was. We only get 4 hours a day out of our cells so we couldn't let them get away with this injustice or they would have thought they could handle us on the regular. So everybody refused to rack up in our cells. The Sergeant tried threatening us, saying if he had to call higher rank then he would lock us down for 23 hours, but we didn't budge, we stood our ground. The Lieutenant on shift came down and asked us what the problem was. One person at a time spoke and we represented our argument and cause respectfully, united and firm. He clearly respected the movement and he said "since y'all stood together like this you guys can get another two hours." Everyone began clapping for another victory against the oppressor for a cause.

Now today, the very next day, we were in the dayroom about to watch a very good game everyone was looking forward to when we witnessed a Sergeant who is known for beating up prisoners, beating up a prisoner handcuffed on the floor after tackling him. We went bananas and again together we stood up for one of ours. We couldn't physically help but we let our voices be heard and we were furious. They came in our line and tried to rack us up but we refused and challenged them because they were wrong. We were just doing what we were supposed to do: taking a stand. The Captain ended up giving us his word if we racked up he would let us right back out. He was true to his word like we knew he would be. After things calmed down we were let out. But now they know we aren't gonna sit back while they do us wrong. That's the only way your condition will change: if you take a stand, together.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade describes well the Peace and Unity principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in action. The UFPP provides a principled basis for organizations and individuals to come together to fight for real and lasting peace. Only by implementing these principles can we have any power over how we are treated in prison.

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