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Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Florida]
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Florida Conditions Differ, Struggle Continues

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.

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[Organizing] [Bristol County Sheriff's Office] [Massachusetts] [ULK Issue 34]
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Slow Progress as an Anti-Imperialist in Massachusetts

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.

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[Organizing] [Control Units] [Campaigns] [Ely State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 34]
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Food Deprivation Battle in Nevada Draws Broad Support from Prisoners and Retaliation from Staff

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.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [United Front] [ULK Issue 34]
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Subscribers Declining Because of Too Much Criticism?

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 33 summarizing 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.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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United Action in NC Leads to Victory for Prisoners

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.

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[Organizing] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 34]
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Maryland Prisoners Commemorating September 9th

I will be fasting this September 9. I've been on lockup since 2011 but I will refuse my trays from midnight to midnight Sept 9, 2013 to pay homage to the fallen brothers of the cause in Attica and everywhere else! And I will encourage other brothers to do so as well.

The pigs decided to give us showers today. They are walking each cell to the shower individually. Three pigs for one inmate, one of which is holding an assault rifle looking gun that shoots paintballs of mace. Cowards!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for stepping up to the United Front for Peace in Prisons call for a solidarity demonstration on September 9th after reading only one issue of Under Lock & Key. We would not call the pigs cowards for their vast outnumbering and assault weapon use with prisoners: this is realistic fear of the power of the oppressed. Right now we don't have the level of unity in the prisons to present more than sporadic points of resistance, but the very event this comrade mentions, the Attica uprising, demonstrates the potential power of prisoners when acting in unity. This unity is built through struggle and discussion, something that is much easier when prisoners have contact with one another. And for this reason, this active prisoner, and tens of thousands of others, are on lockup in isolation cells, being kept from contact with others so that they can not spread the dangerous ideology of unity and peace among prisoners.

We have received word from another comrade in Maryland that others are participating in this 24 hour fast on September 9th to commemorate the Attica brothers unity and organization.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 34]
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New York Prisoners Strike, Support California Struggle

16 July 2013 - I would like the brothers in the struggle to be aware that their movement is being felt all the way on the east coast. As you are aware I was last at Auburn Korrectional Facility. I was put in the box and given a 180 day sentence for rallying 22 other komrades on this end to go on a food strike in support of our brothers out west. It got so bad that 8 of us were held in the kamp's hospital and a court order was given to force feed us. I just got out of the hospital yesterday and I have restarted my strike along with the other 7 brothers I spoke of.

The pigs have violated our property and they have destroyed our books, including my Afrikana, Assata, and my Black's laws dictionary that my dad bought for me before he died. To make things even worse they destroyed my pictures, including a lot of my parents who are both in the essence now. I don't have any family outside these walls, so my komrads (and a deep seeded hatred of how these pink pigs treat us) are all I have.

I wanted you to print this in your next issue because I know how them brothers are struggling and they may think that they are in it by themselves. But I want them to know that they have some real militant brothers who have lost a lot now to join them in their struggle. There are only 7 others with me out of the 22 of us who put this thing into effect over here. The rest of my komrades have been scattered in other koncentration kamps. New York State has about 65 prisons from maximum security, which we are in, to minimums. What I do know is that we are on watch and soon will be whisked away where these pigs will fill us up intravenously so they can say they care. But we will continue our movement on y'all behalf until we hear or read that y'all have received the basic necessities in which you are fighting for.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While they are no doubt facing significant repression and conditions that merit struggle in New York, these comrades have stepped up to fight on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners in California. This prisoner and his comrades demonstrate the important principals of unity and self-sacrifice that are so critical to building the communist movement. While we frequently appeal to prisoners' self-interest in calling them to action, when this self-interest in aligned with the interests of the anti-imperialist movement, ultimately communists will act without regard for self-interest, in the service of the oppressed.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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CCI Prisoners Hunger Striking for Long Haul

29 July 2013 - On July 8th the hunger strike went as planned and continued until Friday. On Saturday 7/13 prisoners ate and also on Sunday. However, again on 7/15/13 some resumed the hunger strike [at California Correctional Instiution].

Medical personnel are coming by to check on us here hunger striking. We are not getting our weight taken nor blood pressure. Medical staff are just asking us if we're ok. A memo was given out before the strike saying we are able to get 2 appliances, a typewriter and other various items: shorts, bowl, tumbler, unlimited soups in canteen. But this stuff cannot be realized or verified as I haven't seen anybody get a lot of soups, radio/typewriter or cup and bowl.

No prison official has come by to ask of what's going on or what, although a C/O came by and asked if we are hunger striking and if so what for. I haven't heard of anyone going to medical so far. Mail is going slow and only about a couple pieces a section are getting passed out.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran SHU Sentiment Opposes CDCR Step Down Program as Hunger Strike Continues

29 July 2013 - The hunger strike seems to be struggling along. Corcoran Security Housing Unit stopped running yard for about a week. CDCR seems to be about to implement the "step down program" here at California State Prison - Corcoran SHU. And its so-called "conditional inactive release, monitored status" for guys who are being reviewed for inactive status by CDC DRB (review board). From what I've heard, guys aren't biting on the "banana-in-the-tailpipe" bullshit.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 15 Hunger Strike Report from San Quentin

Day 15 of the Death Row SHU (adjustment center) hunger strike. Almost 50 participating and the administration is scratching its ass in frustration, using every dirty track in the book (operational procedure [OP608]).

After 3 days we're official hunger strikers. Within only 2 days we were getting set up to be declared "leaders" by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations. By day 5 the facility captain started sweating us. At this point our peaceful action shows potential to expose human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) which then threatens us with a Rules Violation Report based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315 (a)(2)(L). This makes each of us a documented/validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, sec419 B.m.n.). If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR's playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C/Sec. 815). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR's premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of "security."

Course of action: everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being "leader" or "an organizer" through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself in behalf of us all, participating or not, while our non-violent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We're simply allowing CDCR's twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

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