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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 28]
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Report from California Sept 9 Protest

The young comrades and I did build and protest by fasting and study on September 9, 2012, in solidarity with the comrades of the Attica prison uprising in 1971, and we organized in unity and peace without any problems.

Many of the young comrades did a MIM(Prisons) study group assignment as well as readings from Under Lock & Key. We had a very positive 2 days of study and building. I was very pleased with the young comrades and to see them in love and unity with respect.

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[Organizing] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 28]
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Attica Report From September 9 Protest

For the morning meal the mess hall was virtually empty. For the noon meal there were approximately 120 prisoners in attendance. Usually, when they serve baked chicken and rice there are some 360 prisoners in attendance. A lot more prisoners turned out for the evening meal. Overall there was a low attendance for meals.

Next year things will be different and better organized. I'm in the process of obtaining two articles dealing with the Attica rebellion. I'll have copies of the articles run off and give one of each to the entire prison population. This can be accomplished within a year's time.

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[Organizing] [Cross City Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Florida Organizations Come Together in Peace for September 9th

Being that today is September 9th and a day of solidarity and peace, all sorts of nations (organizations) got together here in the rec yard and had a jailhouse BBQ and lived in peace just for the day here at Cross City, Florida.

I always enjoy the Under Lock and Key. Hopefully one day some of my articles will be published in them. Allow me to extend in your direction a revolutionary embrace and a warrior's salute. I hope for Florida one day to move forward in our prison system. Little by little with the help of the folks at MIM(Prisons).


MIM(Prisons) adds:There seems to be much support for unity between organizations in Florida. See the previous report of lumpen organizations coming together in Everglades Correctional Institution.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Everglades Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Seven LOs, Religious Groups Rep in 9/9 Day of Solidarity

On 9 September 2012 at Everglades Correctional Institution, FLDOC, individual members of The Blood Nation honored the soldiers of Attica by doing one or more of the following: fasting, boycotting the canteen/commissary, accepting chow hall trays and dumping them, and explaining why. Also participating individually were one or more members of the following (in alphabetical order): Black Gangsta Disciples; Crip Nation; Insane Gangsta Disciples; Almighty Latin King Queen Nation; Nation of Islam; Spanish Cobras; Shi'a Muslim Community; Sufi Community. My apologies to anyone I missed. It was a small step at a spot with no history of unity, but even a single drop of water in a dry glass makes it wet. Respect to those who made the sacrifice, those who joined us midday, those who expressed interest the day after. I'm as human as anyone, but let's TRY to remember who the enemy is!

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[Control Units] [Organizing]
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Reforms Won't End Indefinite Isolation

We can't afford for prisoners to sacrifice their lives because self-appointed vanguards refuse to do a little philosophic/scientific homework and make a few minor adjustments to our current path. We're pursuing what is essentially a tactical issue of reforming the validation process as if it were a strategic resolution to abolishing social-extermination of indefinite isolation. This is not a complex issue to understand, and it requires a minimal amount of study at most to understand that the validation process is secondary and is a policy external to the existence of the isolation facilities. It's not difficult to comprehend that external influences create the conditions for change but real qualitative change comes from within, and to render the validation process, program failure, the new step down program, etc, obsolete, and end indefinite isolation, requires an internal transformation of the isolation facilities (SHU and Ad-Seg) themselves. Otherwise, in practice, social extermination retains continuity under a new external label. Appearance is reformed, hence the suffix "re", while the essential composition (contradictions) is unchanged. Do you fix a bad motor on a car by altering its appearance with a new paint job? It might look nice, but it's still the same motor.

I don't know if these "representatives" are just refusing to consider anything else, if they are making a conscious decision to hear the sound of their own voices only, or if they believe that to acknowledge a need for course adjustments will discredit them. They hold power in here, but it's a power held through threat of force, and most youngsters aspire to this, or those who don't, understandably keep their mouths zipped. Either way, because of this power, they're not used to hearing the truth, but praise form the brown-nosers who tell them what they think they want to hear and tell them what will benefit them. This only hinders the accuracy of their analysis. This refusal to be more receptive and adjust course where necessary based on an application of dialectical materialism is going to cost us lives pursuing an incorrect course. Our victories are superficial and exist more in appearance than anything. They are privileges, rights that we already had coming to us, so what appears as a victory is really implementing our established rights (abstractly anyhow), without actually making essential progress. It's a vehicle to distract us without actually conceding essential transformations. And these are, and will be, reversible.

Although it is dangerous, and all it takes is for the current so-called reps to openly denounce any true vanguard, all others will accept this proclamation, and the true vanguard will be discredited and hit first opportunity. So a true vanguard must tread very carefully to build large scale support with their ideas and education. But what's of greatest importance, it must be done in the interest of all! As we, you and I, know, a vanguard is not someone, a program, philosophic logic, etc, that appoints itself, it is the most advanced line and it must be complemented with a corresponding practice. As Lenin and Joe Steel said, "there can be no theory there can be no movement" Just as a "movement is necessary to develop theory upon." Obviously, I'm paraphrasing but the point is evident.

I'm convinced we need to circulate a few pamphlets that serve an educational purpose, but more importantly, function as an outline. And if necessary, appeal to convict mass to launch our own hunger strike, one or two at a time. Write up our own list of demands - tables in each pod, phones, bars, cellies, dayroom time for social intercourse, demands that can all be achieved by a victorious struggle for "association" based on U.S. constitutional rights and UN Geneva conventions (for publicity). To implement "association" (social intercourse) would necessitate the peripheral demands above and thus qualitatively change the isolation units from within as we currently know them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Control Units are isolation cells within prisons where people are confined to small cells for long periods of time. Control units are a common tool of repression throughout the Amerikan prison system, frequently used to target prisoners who are actively fighting for their rights. They target Black, Latino and indigenous people who are a disproportionate part of control unit populations.

As a part of our ongoing campaign to shut down the control units, we fight for reforms to give our comrades in indefinite isolation some improved conditions, especially when these reforms are focused on better enabling their political study and organizing. We recognize that some reforms may mean the difference between physical or mental health or serious illness. But we agree with this author that we need to fight the attempts by proponents of the criminal injustice system to paint a happy face on long-term isolation and call that "reform." It is only by ending long term isolation completely will we actually win this battle.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 28]
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Solidarity and Peace Demonstration Builds, Guards Retaliate

Approximately 30% of the population of this unit is committed to participation in the Solidarity Demonstration on September 9, which inevitably results in "leakage." On August 25 I was interrogated by two investigators from the inspector general's office about the food petition and then about organizing an uprising or disturbance in the dining room. While this was going on, two COs were destroying my cell. Upon return, my legal work and papers were all over the cell, as was my cellmate's. Nothing was taken except for one document which I cannot be certain is in their possession, but I must assume it is. Then they got a second prisoner out and repeated the process. One prisoner was taken about two hours prior to this episode for "different reasons."

Yesterday (28 August 2012) 17 COs, led by a Lieutenant, came into the unit and searched the entire unit. Two reasons were proffered: 1) Retaliation for grievances, 2) Suspect "gang" is being organized.

Nothing was found relating to September 9, "gangs" or anything else.

It is evident that they are aware that something is going on, and they are uneasy about the level of apparent coordination and secrecy. They are fishing right now, but this has been predicted and prepared for.

Aside from the obvious, there is some opposition to the September 9 action from segments of the prisoner population, which is the only apparent threat to its success. This has appeared in the form of disinformation and criticism of both the action and the integrity of persons involved in it. Predictably this segment is predominantly white power who always object to prisoner unification.

We created a cheat sheet for people at this institution, which we modified after hearing from you about how a prisoner organizing in another state suggested it would be more powerful to go to chow hall and sit without eating.

September 9 Cheat Sheet


1. Go to chow hall, accept food, go to clipper room window, render tray/sack inedible, go directly to seat
2. Go to chow, refuse tray go directly to seat
3. Unless directly confronted by CO ignore all comments, provocation and questions
4. Repeat at dinner
5. If directly confronted by CO about what is going on, politely tell them: "I am fasting." If you are asked why, tell them: "In support of my fellow prisoners..." and/or "because I am tired of..." and state your complaint.
6. Nothing more needs to be said

Important: Do not become belligerent, combative or antagonistic. Do not provoke a confrontation. More than 70% of major prison disturbances start in chow hall. By not provoking the COs we preserve the integrity of the action, and we protect each other. Most important, we do not give them our day.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 28]
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Black August and Bloody September, Rise Up and Remember on September 9

Salute comrade, today we stand on this crest of time as we reach through the recess of our minds and commemorate, honor and salute our collective struggle as a people and our daring revolutionary heroes.

The month of August and September — Black August and Bloody September as it is referred to by many New Afrikan comrades, cadres and revolutionary organizations — are both months rich with our blood, our struggle, and our resistance as a people. During August and September we focus our energies around the discussions of New Afrikan revolutionary political education, progressive actions and revolutionary history.

As progressive revolutionary thinking men and women, we do not view history through the lens of the bourgeoisie, who separates history into sub-parts. Under the Eurocentric bourgeois thought process history is a dead relic, a souvenir or memento of past events to be waved at with fleeting thoughts and no real or concrete links to the present.

The bourgeois power structure uses the disconnection of the past from the present as a tool or weapon of divide and conquer. The divide and conquer strategy has never been more effective than it is today: cut them off from their past, make them feel alienated, alone and separated from a collective history, and you weaken them enormously. This moment of weakness gives our enemies great power to maneuver us into the corner of political, social, economic and cultural inaction.

But through the lens of a dialectical-materialist, we must see history as a never-ending stream of past events that gave and constantly give birth to present realities. This chain of historical events is constantly moving us forward into the ocean of endless possibilities. We must use this view of a "living history" as a source of defining who we are and the direction we're heading as a people.

A tree without roots is dead, and so is a people who is not rooted in their history. So let's use Black August and September as months of mental reflection as we unearth and trace the glorious and bloody footprints of our past as a people. Let this reflection galvanize us forward into a new level of political struggle and resistance.

Historical Overview

The 1960s and 70s liberation struggle and movement gave birth to New Afrikan revolutionary heroes such as Malcolm X, George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Sundiata Acoli, and many, many others. Historically then, as it is now, the United States judicial arm was used as a weapon of repression and class subjugation.

Men such as Malcolm X and George Jackson went to prison as colonial criminals. But within those prison walls the alchemy of human transformation began to take place. Inside the deep dark confines of a United States concentration KKKamp they both began to turn the cells that held them into libraries and schools of liberation. George and Malcolm both unceasingly strove to create new social relations and social realities in the world around them by and thru revolutionary transformation. They both knew to create a new world that they themselves had to be representations of this new being, this new man, in word, thought, actions and deeds. So as their cells became classrooms, they internalized the most advanced ideas about human development.

George Jackson stated: "I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao...they redeemed me. For the first four years, I studied nothing but economics and military ideas. I met the Black Guerrillas, George 'Big Jake' Lewis, James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson, and many others. We attempted to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality."

George Jackson and his comrades became living examples and inspiration for organized resistance for prisoners across the country. On August 21, 1971, George Jackson and two other New Afrikan prisoners were was killed (along with three prison guards) in a gunfight inside one of California's maximum-security prisons called San Quentin.

[CORRECTION from a California Prisoner: This information is not only erroneous but also serves to advance the state/CDC/law enforcement in general, who spun the mysterious manifestation of the 9mm handgun and a wig. There was no gunfight that dreadful day, nor were there three brothers killed either. The only brother lost on August 21st 1971 was mwenzi George.]

To many, George Jackson was the embodiment of the New Afrikan man. George was fearless, upright, daring, self-educated and intelligent with revolutionary style. He took the lead with his brains and muscles.

In response to the murder and assassination of George Jackson, prisoners in one of New York's prisons called Attica immediately responded. On 22 August 1971 some 800 prisoners went into the chow hall not saying a word as they sat with black arm bands as a tribute to George Jackson. As one set of events leads to the next, 19 days later Attica prison went up in a revolt. The September 9, 1971 prison uprising and revolt in Attica led to the colonial captives controlling parts of the prison. In an address to the Amerikkkan people, the rebels stated: "We are men! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such."

On September 13, after five days of a heavily armed siege, the NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller gave the order to the state troopers to retake the prison. The state swine opened mass fire killing 32 colonial captives and 11 prison swine who were held hostage.

So today as we reach our hands through time and space, connecting our past to our present, let's use Black August and Bloody September as a moment of reflection, study, observation and movement in the direction of striking terror in the hearts of our captures by unifying in principle and action. We're calling on all colonial captives/prisoners of war and political prisoners to stand up as a collective in a work stoppage. Our aim is to bring attention and awareness to our collective situation.

George Jackson stated: "You will find no class or category more aware, more embittered, desperate or dedicated to the ultimate remedy — revolution. The most dedicated, the best of our kind — you'll find them in the Folsoms, San Quentins and Soledads."


MIM(Prisons) adds: See the MIM Notes supplement "Lessons from the Attica Prison Uprising" for more historical information on this important event.
One aim, one goal, one destiny.

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[Organizing]
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Building for September 9 Across the Country

United Front for Peace in Prisons
art by Loco1 of United Struggle from Within
In response to the Call for Solidarity Demonstration on September 9 in the recent issue of Under Lock & Key letters are coming in from prisons across the country. The solidarity demonstration is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Attica uprising, and during the 24 hour work and food strike prisoners will focus on building unity and peace among the prison population. This is short notice to organize in the severely restricted conditions found in most prisons, but comrades behind bars are doing what they can, with at least one person pledging to start now to build for next year.

In Nevada we heard: "I have been doing my part on getting as many people as I can to sign up for September 9, 2012. Here at High Desert State Prison they are constantly taking away what little we have and I look forward to sticking it to them. So far I have recruited 20 people just myself in the past couple of weeks from all races. Just imagine how many more by the time our time comes!"

From Missouri we learned of comrades participating and using this opportunity to study this history of the Attica uprising: "I would like to request study material of all sorts for this coming August in solidarity regards. Our mission is to improve self from conditions and we gain understanding through great experiences of this nature, a struggle that's mighty, yet achievable. We'll detail progress in the coming months. September 9th we will partake in our common sights." Another comrade in a Federal prison in Texas has been sharing ULK 27 with others and pledged to fast on September 9.

Organizers like this one from Pennsylvania are eager to hear news from the demonstration in the next issue of Under Lock & Key: "Please make sure I get my next issue [of Under Lock & Key], copy due the week of the solidarity demonstration on Sunday September 9, 2012. From midnight September 8 to midnight September 9 in a show of solidarity I will be strongly participating!" This is a good reminder to all participating that we need reports immediately after the demonstration to make it in to the next issue of ULK.

From the state that had it's own broadly supported food strike last year (starting July 1, 2011), we heard from organizers building for September 9. One California prisoner wrote: "I am in the call for solidarity demonstration September 9, 2012 and I will be fasting on that day, etc. Thank you for all your help and moral support that you have given to me in the last ten years."

Comrades are spreading the word about the September 9 demonstration in any way they can. This person from New York sent us a handwritten kite he passed to another brother at his facility: "Bro. - Please pay close attention to the article 'Call for Solidarity Demonstration September 9' on page 3. Let me know what you think. I've decided to fast on Sept 9th." The response was written on the same paper: "Yes I will fast on that day, it looks better when we all go to chow but we just don't eat. Thanks for that information." This comrade noted that the short lead time on this demonstration will limit his organizing abilities this year, but he's already started to build for 2013.


Update August 26:
More comrades in North Carolina have joined the campaign: "The solidarity movement on September 9th is a go for the few conscious comrades behind me. It is definitely a time to remember this historic event that changed the prison system afterwards."

And more prisoners in California are stepping up. One wrote letting us know that he has liver cirrhosis and is not going to make it out alive, but is very much engaged in the struggle for as long as he's able: "I will participate in your September solidarity. I share your publications with other prisoners. Each individual has his own set of beliefs, goals, values, etc., I can only express what I feel is right. I thank you for your moral support represented in Under Lock & Key. Those confined in the SHU lockdowns need all the support your group provides."


Update August 30:
A group in Florida is working to pull people together for an act of solidarity on September 9th.


Update September 1:
A comrade in Kansas made hand written copies of the call for solidarity demonstration and sent them to 17 prisoners at his facility. At least a few of them agreed to participate in solidarity.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 28]
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Continuing the Debate on the Need for New Organizations

I'm answering the article in ULK 26, "Debating the Need for New Organizations: Cell Structure and United Fronts."

The author wrote: "So often there's 'new' groups popping up, and I only laugh." I ask myself, why put it like that? Okay we do live in an era where there's many beliefs and points of view on different politics or outlooks. I think there was too much written for just too little. Start uniting, stop dividing. Come together as one people in one struggle doing one work to overcome those who oppress us.

Paraphrased, MIM(Prisons)'s response was that it's true on one hand; you agree with this comrade on the importance of not forming new groups just for the sake of recognition or self-aggrandizement. The writer fails to address the need to lead by example, as well as showing others by organization for our struggle within, and leading by positive actions.

If you arrive in an environment that lacks structure or recognition and there's so many bright strong minds, but they fail to see how they should be fighting for a united front, you are not just going to stand around and let it be. You should strive to maintain positive communications not by bringing negative attention but by doing it correctly. At this current stage of struggle within imperialist Amerika, there is a practical need for organizing and structure in a cell where regional independence provides security. Demonstrate your work with even the best in your organizations claiming to uphold Maoism. We hold everyone to a high standard of work and don't just look at the names and labels they choose.

Another thing, a person can't force people to comprehend. We are here to show by example, learn, and study the value of communism. I'm with whoever is building peace in prisons. As I do time in this state, it's really not as unorganized as it's said to be. As time passes, progress builds. I'm not even from this state but since I'm doing my time here that makes it my home. I myself am learning and truly interested in our movement and will always strive to stay positive, uniting for what's right. Comrades, keep on pushing, stay strong mentally, and lead by example.

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[Campaigns] [Censorship] [Organizing] [Marion Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 28]
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Diligent Grievance Petitions Expose Oppression in North Carolina that Led to Hunger Strike

I have been a reader of your publication going on a couple years now, and I find it the most uplifting and informative I've seen yet! Also, the comrades in this movement have been most helpful in demonstrating to us how to file a petition against the grievance process here in North Carolina prisons. I am currently housed at Marion Correctional Institution's segregation unit in Marion, North Carolina where they keep any prisoner who dares to challenge and question their conduct or actions. However, I have witnessed over the years how our grievance process has become so watered down to the point when you ask for the DC-410 form you're laughed at by correctional officers and told to spell their names right (ha ha ha). It has become no more than a venting process for us! There is no consideration that this is a constitutionally protected right.

However, I recently have sent copies of my petition to the Justice Department in Atlanta, Georgia and the Inspector General's office in Virginia, as well as two copies to North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NC DPS) Secretary Jennie Lancaster via certified mail. I haven't even gotten acknowledgements that they received any of them. So you see, we're being stifled, even at the highest levels. Therefore, we won't get anything done on this issue, short of court action. The people who are supposed to protect our rights won't even do so. So we regroup, and continue this fight for justice, so as to stop this "rubber stamping" game with our rights.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It seems other prisoners in North Carolina have already come to similar conclusions, as comrades recently passed the two week mark on a hunger strike demanding improvements in conditions, including an end to long-term isolation.

On Monday July 16th, prisoners began hunger strikes at Bertie CI in Windsor, Scotland CI in Laurinburg, and Central Prison in Raleigh. Targeting a wide range of conditions related but not exclusive to solitary confinement, the prisoners have vowed not to eat until their demands are met.(1)

Check this link below for the full list of demands, because apparently the list released by the NC DPS had sections redacted for "security issues."(2) Which might explain why the mainstream media is not reporting the more serious demands, such as "An immediate end to the physical and mental abuse inflicted by officers", "The end of cell restriction. Sometimes prisoners are locked in their cell for weeks or more than a month, unable to come out for showers and recreation" and "An immediate stop to officers' tampering or throwing away prisoners' mail."(1)

We've seen the increased activity in North Carolina over the last couple years, and so has the DPS, who have stepped up a campaign to keep Under Lock & Key and other mail from MIM(Prisons), out of the hands of their prisoners. Below is one image that triggered censorship in the last issue of ULK.

open season hunting on blacks
The NC Publication Review Committee ironically cited this image when they censored ULK26 for "Violence against any ethnic, racial or religious group"

Just as this comrade has been pushing every administrative avenue to get prisoners' rights respected, MIM(Prisons) has been doing the same to fight this rampant censorship and ignoring of grievances. As this comrade says, we continue to regroup and do everything we can to stop these injustices. We encourage the comrades in North Carolina to keep speaking up, as your rights are not guaranteed; you must stand up and demand them.

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