The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Organizing] [Heman Stark YCF] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

MIM(Prisons) Too Dismissive of Rebellions

In ULK 25 you printed an article of mine about prisoner struggles in the Youth Training School (YTS) in Chino, California. I'd like to comment on your response.

The main points in your response criticize our efforts to better our own conditions. And that's MIM(Prisons)'s common ideology as I've noticed from the material of yours I've read. MIM(Prisons) is quick to condemn and downplay rebellious actions as premature, saying the rebels ain't "ready" and lack unity of the masses to obtain success. But I don't believe that's always the proper analysis of the rebellions you speak against. Ultimate victory is obtained through action, by taking chances. Is it proper revolutionary conduct to sit on the sidelines and cheerlead, even in the midst of war? That makes me think of the Muslim Brotherhood. They failed to participate in the revolt that happened in Egypt, but they were quick to celebrate the victory, they were quick to want to enforce their ideologies in the new government. True revolutionaries must, at some point, get their hands dirty.

To constantly speak against taking action, for lack of proper political education (or for whatever reasons), is to tell Rosa Parks she should've just moved to the back of the bus. It's the same as telling indigenous peoples they're ignorant for fighting back against the oppressors to preserve their way of life, or to tell the rebel fighters in the African and Arab countries to lay down their arms because MIM(Prisons) doesn't feel those citizens are ready. But as we've seen, many oppressive governments have been toppled successfully.

When Fidel and Raul Castro, Che, etc, invaded Cuba they did it with only 82 men. But they only had 22 left after the first ambush. They lacked the loyalty of the masses, took a chance, and succeeded!

In the situation at YTS I admit we were young and lacked the proper political education, and as I've said, I now see all our energy should've been focused on the system itself. But our technique was a success according to our young, uneducated ideologies at the time. Our goal wasn't to try to change the whole California Youth Authority system itself, but to reform YTS, to make our living conditions better, to get things back that had been taken from us. The power was in our hands, the hands of the people. Administration clearly saw that and eventually relented to our demands. The administration's intent was to pacify us, but in my article I never said anything about being pacified. The "few bones" thrown to us did nothing to calm us down. And in the process we learned something of value: we learned an art of war against the system, and how to organize, even if you do choose to call it focoism. Experience in war, even if that battle is lost (ours wasn't), is intrinsically valuable for the preparations of future battles against the oppressors. "Talk," verbal education, can only go so far. Experience is the ultimate teacher. And it's my experience at YTS that has now made me hungry for revolutionary education. I now study politics and try to get my priorities in order to help clean up the hypocrisy of the injustice system. I doubt I'm the only one that's been motivated as a result of my experiences. So wouldn't you call that a victory?!

Any patriot whose ever lost a battle will tell you he's learned something of more value than just how to shed blood.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's commitment to struggle with us over this issue after reading our response to h article in Under Lock & Key. This is a good example of Unity-Struggle-Unity. We must fearlessly tackle our ideological disagreements and questions while working together for change. Theories can only truly be tested in practice, and so in this way we agree that experience is the ultimate teacher.

This is a debate over the lessons of experience, not one of "talk" vs. experience as this prisoner represents. The article we printed talked about the YTS Chino prisoners who engaged in "race riots" where nations fought nations because they were being punished already for violence. The prisoncrats eventually saw the wisdom of resolving the situation by improving conditions rather than increasing repression. Certainly all of the youth involved in these struggles learned some valuable lessons. Most important is the lesson about the arbitrary nature of punishment meted out by the criminal injustice system. But we look to the practice of prisoners across the country and see that violence among prisoners generally leads to more violence and repression by the prison pigs, not the administration giving in to demands.

If we really want to learn from practice we must look at more than just one situation and draw scientific conclusions from history. It is likely that more than one individual prayed for change to the conditions in YTS Chino during this time, but we don't conclude that praying to god results in improvements in prisons just from this one experience. Similarly we can't take this one situation as evidence that violence among the people will lead the oppressors to lessen oppression when this is contradicted in the vast majority of prisons.

MIM(Prisons) does walk a line between supporting just struggles of the oppressed wherever they break out, and drawing lessons from the struggles while trying to push them to ever more advanced and successful levels. While we struggle against focoism, we have a bigger problem of inaction due to fear among the prison masses. So we recognize the positive aspects of immature rebellions that serve as breeding grounds for more advanced comrades and strategies. When these struggles present just demands we will support them, but we should not blindly cheerlead for every outbreak of rebellion.

The case of Cuba is a good historical example where we would defend their just struggle against imperialist aggression while pointing out that their revolution ended up dependent on Soviet imperialism and this hindered their ability to develop socialism and advance further in the interests of the Cuban people. This is a scientific analysis of history that must be undertaken so that we can learn from successes and failures. Many times in many countries people take up armed struggle without Maoist leadership and people's support. We resolutely support these struggles when they oppose imperialism, but we don't want to mislead people by suggesting that this is the best path to follow for other struggles.

This comrade's development of political awareness out of his experience at YTS Chino is a victory for the oppressed. But to sum up that history overall as a victory would imply that random violence among the oppressed wins victories from the oppressor. What makes it useful to retell these histories is to say here's what was righteous, and here's what was backwards or immature in our approach, to apply those lessons to our future struggles and share them with those who find themselves in similar situations today so that they can do better than we did.

chain
[Abuse] [Organizing] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
expand

Lockdown in North Carolina Needs Organized Response

I was transferred to Lansboro CI on May 27. Lansboro is said to be the "most dangerous prison in North Carolina" and next on the list is Scotland. Recently, on June 6, the Prison Emergency Rescue Team (PERT) raided the prison 200-300 deep and ripped it apart. Their main purpose was to find drugs, weapons and most of all cell phones. They really wanted the cell phones to shut off any chances of communication from prison to prison. Their goal was to eliminate any chance of a future mass movement and current communication from top rank "gang" leaders.

In all, there were about 70-100 people who were nabbed. The PERT team brought with them a sensor detector (an enhanced metal detector used at airports) that they forced everyone to walk through. This detects drugs, weapons or cell phones. The people who set the detector off were then taken to "dry cell", in which the prisoner had nothing in their cells but their boxers, shower shoes and mattress. They were made to stay there for 48 hours until they used the bathroom - in which the officers would search the feces for contraband.

In their search for cell phones (which prisoners had hidden in their rectum), they also put the entire prison on lockdown until all contraband was confiscated. In the midst of the confusion, the PERT team confiscated some of our hygiene, threw prisoners religious items on the floor, personal pictures in the toilet and trash and even assaulted a couple of my brothers - all just as harassment.

These 70-100 prisoners have been sitting in an empty cell with feces in their toilets for 2-5 days; most of them have no contraband on them. After they have defecated, they will be forced to go through an x-ray machine, which the prison needs the prisoners' signed permission for, and they do not have it.

Our human rights have been violated by these oppressive prison officials and it must be resolved by the prisoners first. We must take a stand against this bullshit they think they can pull on us. Out of all 70-100 people they nabbed, they have only reported to have found 10-20 cell phones and modicum amounts of drugs and weapons. Their lack of effort to resolve the situation and get on with confiscating instead of leaving prisoners in their cells with feces is not only inhumane, but a prolonging of having the prison on lockdown. We have been on lockdown since June 6.

Segregation pods are already overcrowded to the point where they have prisoners on dry cell in the receiving area. They have to transfer prisoners due to so many receiving long-term isolation sentences (between 6 months and 1.5 years.) Prisoners here must turn our frustration and anger against our oppressors instead of each other. But I can say it is very difficult to do when you always have to watch your back because someone may stab you or your brothers at any moment - which is rampant here. It is possible, but it will take a hellava push by tribe members, who control this prison! Let's get to work!!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for unity among the Lumpen Organizations (LOs) in prison. Many individuals and organizations have signed on to the United Front for Peace in Prisons to move the struggle against the criminal injustice system forward. The first principal of the UFPP is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

chain
[Organizing] [Brown Berets - Prison Chapter] [ULK Issue 28]
expand

Prisoner Uprisings Foretell Growing Movement

Recently, prisoners have begun to rediscover their voice and power power in some of the most vile dungeons in Amerika. On May 22, 2012, the latest development has come from Red Onion State Prion in Virginia where prisoners rose up and defied the oppressor. This refusal to be passive in the face of brutality seems to occur more and more often these days. Red Onion shares the same oppression as Pelican Bay SHU prisoners and others across Amerika who face many of the same forms of abuse, cruelty and neglect.

There are over 90 thousand people in Amerika being held in solitary or segregation of some sort. Most of these 90 thousand are Latino or Black, making this mass imprisonment also a manifestation of national oppression.(1) But national oppression is also tied to the economic relations as today's developments with the world economies and social unrest point to the exhaustion of capitalism. This exhaustion coupled with the changing demographic where more than half of all babies born in the U.$. are non-white(2) is unleashing a mass imprisonment of Latinos and New Afrikans in unprecedented numbers. These are basically internment camps for the internal semi-colonies.

This rise in oppression is not simply in imprisonment; there has also been an economic offensive to go with it. Indeed, states comprising Aztlán and New Afrika have seen a more than 20% rise in poverty between 2007 and 2010.(3) We should see that it's not simply a case of a couple crooked cops, or some faulty prison administrators that cause us to be held in miserable conditions. It is much bigger and much deeper than that. What we experience is a long legacy of oppression unleashed on the people since the first settler stepped foot on this continent. This legacy can now be traced up to the highest levels of the ruling class, and sometimes reveals itself. But for the most part, the oppression we face is drenched in secrecy and washed in legalese to the point that laymen cannot grasp it even when experiencing it directly.

At the same time many prisoners are beginning to break through the shell of settler propaganda to see our oppression for what it is. We can see that when corporate media says prisoners are "gang members" they are simply attempting to cover up our brutal treatment. When it reports on a "riot" it is really an uprising. But prisoners, whether in California, Virginia or even the secret prisons, are all being oppressed with the same intent by the state: to break our resistance! This was revealed most recently on a news program where a self-described CIA operative Jorge Rodriguez described torturing suspected-Al Qaeda prisoners. It was in this interview where he described psychological torture inflicted to "instill a sense of hopelessness."(4)

Such was the intent of the solitary confinement: leaving prisoners naked, physical abuse, and the use of what he called "dietary manipulation," which is starving a prisoner with skimpy trays or rotten uncooked food — sound familiar? This was all done intentionally to instill this sense of hopelessness in order to force the prisoner to cooperate with the state. These methods are not materialized spontaneously but are designed from years of study in military and intelligence schools for psy-warfare. What we are experiencing in Amerika's superman prisons is a long legacy that is drenched in blood. Yet we are not victims, but survivors of capitalism. Our survival baffles the oppressor who cannot grasp that the people don't need profit to propel us, to motivate us on our path to freedom. Our drive is mysterious to the oppressor whose only action is brought on by profit.

Prisons will continue to have uprisings as more and more are now conscious and aware that things don't have to be the way they are, and torture does not have to be tolerated. Marx summed it up when he said "mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely it will always be found that the task itself only arises when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation. At the same time the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism."(5) What this is basically saying is once the productive forces develop to a point, they will naturally enter the next stage in social evolution. I think prisoners are at the stage in social evolution across Amerika and this is reflected in the uprisings we are seeing develop as never before.

The folks in Red Onion are a link in a long chain that reaches from concentration camp to concentration camp and the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter stands in solidarity with them in our common march towards human rights!


Notes:
1. http://www.abolishcontrolunits.org/research
2. NPR, Latino USA, 7-13-2012
3. Stateline/Pew Center 2012.
4. CBS, 60 minutes. "Hard measures" 4-29-2012
5. Preface to "The Critique of Political Economy" by Karl Marx. pg 329.

chain
[Organizing]
expand

Response to: A Peaceful Revolution

I myself fully understand as well as live the principles the brother from Jersey as well as New York are speaking of in the Under Lock & Key article Time for Peaceful Revolution. Both brothers bring up valid points. There are 3 stages to that life within that LO and both of these brothers seem to be third stage brothers.

Now the origin and founder of this lumpen organization differs by who you speak to. But I believe the focus needed is to get the brothers from primitive stages to third stage. All these issues are intertwined but as leaders one can't speak for the whole (LO), no man can do that, that is why there is a chain of command in all LOs. The body moves everything at the end of the day. So it is one thing to tell these brothers to strap up or go on a hunger strike. They very may well follow orders. But once you're separated the fire will dwindle till it no longer exists!

Now if we take those brothers in the true cause of all LOs, which for the most part all have revolutionary roots, from such parties as the Young Lords, Black Panthers, etc. If we educate the body of the LO as a whole, then they will know what they are fighting for. That will be the difference between a few minor victories and the whole war. People need to know what they're fighting for. Then it will be a lot easier to get leaders of LOs to sit down and work towards our common goals while maintaining orders on our terms in these day kennels.

I respect 100% my brothers from Jersey as well as NY. We need to educate ourselves, so a rebirth of the mind is needed. But in a split second we need to be ready to turn it up if we have to.

chain
[Abuse] [Migrants] [Organizing] [Adams County Correctional Center] [Mississippi] [Federal] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Prisoners Take Over Adams Correctional Center in Protest of Conditions

Adams Correctional Facility
Outside Adams County Correctional Facility during the rebellion
On May 20 prisoners at the privately run Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi, rose up in protest of the violence, abuse and neglect at this prison for non-citizens incarcerated for re-entering the United $tates after deportation and for other charges. Prisoners took control of the facility for over eight hours before SWAT teams took back the prison using pepper spray grenades and tear gas bombs among other weapons.

The prison administration is claiming the violence was a result of prisoner-on-prisoner conflicts but one prisoner involved in the struggle called a Jackson TV station and clearly articulated that the riot was due to mistreatment of prisoners: "They always beat us and hit us. We just pay them back... We're trying to get better food, medical, programs, clothes, and we're trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants." The prisoner confirmed his identity by sending photos from inside the prison.(1)

In recent years the U.$. has hit 400,000 deportations a year, the majority Latino nationals. Pre-deportation Detention Centers are the site of widespread abuse as the prison guards are accountable to no one and the prisoners are among the least valued people in Amerika by those in charge.

As we reported in a 2009 article "National Oppression as Migrant Detention", migrants are the fastest growing prison population and they face significant abuse behind bars: "The American Civil Liberties Union says that the conditions in which these civil detainees are held are often as bad as or worse than those faced by people imprisoned with criminal convictions. These detention centers are described as 'woefully unregulated.' The 'requirements' that they do have about how to treat people have no legal obligation, reducing them essentially to suggestions." So it should be no surprise that these prisoners in Mississippi are fighting back.

The economic motivations of the private company that runs Adams County CC, Correctional Corporation of America, is directly counter to the humyn rights of prisoners. Again from the 2009 MIM(Prisons) article: "The Correctional Corporation of America, a private prison management company who controls half of the detention facilities run by private companies, spent $3 million lobbying politicians in 2004. They want stricter immigration laws so they can have access to more prisoners, which will bring them more money. In turn, ICE is able to pay 26% less per day to house prisoners in a private versus state-run facility. This is possible because of the lack of public as well as governmental oversight at private facilities, where they reduce costs by getting rid of everything that would help prisoners, including necessary-to-life medical care. One reason state governments shied away from private prisons for their own citizens was the scandals that they quickly became associated with. In the year 1998-99, Wackenhut's private prisons in New Mexico had a death rate 55 times that of the national average for prisons. The migrant population's lack of voice allows these corporations to get away with their cost-cutting abusive conditions when contracted by ICE. This is another good example of how capitalism values profit over humyn life."

The distinction between legal and illegal residents of the United $tates is a clear example of the enforcement of imperialist wealth and poverty using borders. Those who happen to be born on the north side of the artificial border to Mexico have access to many resources and opportunities, and most of those born on the south side live in poverty with very limited opportunities. The United $tates can't let migrants through the border because that would open up jobs to all who want to compete, rather than keeping them for the well off labor aristocracy. Instead the imperialists set up corporations to suck the wealth out of Latin American countries, devastate their economies with loan programs and puppet governments, and benefit from the cheap labor that results.

Prisons are just one aspect of the imperialist oppression of undocumented migrants. We support the prisoners in Mississippi and across the country who are fighting back against inhumane conditions. We need more reporting directly from the prisoners involved in these protests. Help us spread the word by sending your stories to Under Lock & Key and request MIM lit in Spanish to spread our message.

chain
[Organizing] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Hunger Strike Kicks Off in Illinois

Illinois has followed in the steps of California and Virginia. On June 3, 2012 twenty-three political prisoners went on hunger strike together in protest of various administrative issues at Pontiac Correctional Center. On the same day I.A. interrogated all of the strikers in an attempt to frame the strike as "gang activity."

Pontiac Correctional Center exists in Illinois for the sole purpose of isolating prisoners from each other and the world. The vast majority of prisoners here are in segregation. As part of the administration's oppression against us we are beaten, unfed, given inadequate law libraries, isolated, and much more. All of this is being protested by the strikers. From Palestine to California and Virginia to Illinois the revolution against tyranny and despair, extortion and exploitation, oppression and capitalism is growing stronger.

In the name of revolution, solidarity, and struggle.

chain
[Organizing] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Appeals to Sacramento Politicians Lead to Improvements at KVSP

I'm reporting from Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). I've been engaged in the last 16 months educating our comrades to the increasingly aggressive tactics California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken in the course of systematically depriving us of every human and civil right a prisoner is supposed to retain. I've also been attempting to strengthen communication and, aside from a select few, have been met with complacency and apathy.

We few have organized effective communication with one another and have used creative strategies to combat certain conditions we've been experiencing. At first, utilizing the 602 grievance process was only met with rejections, so we took our well written 602s (grievances) that used Department Operations Manual (DOM), California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, California penal code, and U.S. law, and bypassed the lower level institutional coordinators and submitted copies to:

  1. Governor Brown, State Capitol, Ste. 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814
  2. CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, 1515 S. St., Ste. 330, Sacramento, CA 95811
  3. CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Capitol Bldg, Rm 4005, Sacramento, CA 95814
  4. Inmate Appeals Branch, Chief CDCR, PO Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

And other relevant heads of department and politicians. The outcome has led to a spotlight shining down on KVSP administrative staff with official reprimands and supplemental memorandums and addendum. Warden M.D. Biter has been reprimanded to the effect of: stop superseding the DOM, CCR, and other applicable state and federal law, and to honor the CDCR 22 written request process that was formulated after the 2011 hunger strikes, and 602 grievance process. I've only been told this and cannot provide documentation, but it comes from reliable sources within administrative staff who are against the institution head's policies.

Ever since these reprimands have supposedly taken place, there has been a notable change in everything. Our 602s are being accepted for review, 22 forms are being answered within time limits, program has resumed on modified procedure, and our food is adequately proportioned. We've had no cases of staff misconduct, threats of any kind, or adverse retaliatory actions from administration, from January through today's date of 5 June 2012.

I've created a private law library of essential regulatory content and political value which has been utilized and facilitated by interested prisoners and we are accumulating knowledge.

These are still initial stages and our struggle needs lots of work, but even minor accomplishments are boosting morale. I encourage everyone to take the steps we've taken and stay strong and diligent. Keep records, daily logs, and file immediate complaints of misconduct.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner is setting a good example of how to push forward the legal struggle for basic rights. And this article provides some good advice for California prisoners working on the grievance campaign demanding that grievances be addressed. Improving conditions within which prisoners live and organize is an important step in the struggle against the criminal injustice system. We know these reforms will only bring short-term relief, as the system itself serves the interests of the ruling imperialists and so substantive change will not come until we overthrow imperialism. But these battles are important for both education and the successes they bring.

chain
[Organizing] [Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Retaliatory Transfer Results in Organization at New Prison

Recently I was transferred to High Desert State Prison in obvious retaliation for my legal and political activities. The state fostered the misguided notion that by transferring me they would:

  1. Undermine or silence the struggle at one prison and
  2. Silence me upon arrival at the other

This has proven an incorrect analysis.

Upon arriving in what is openly hostile territory it became apparent that the possibility of unifying the population existed due to the commonality of complaints. The result is that not only has the population become unified ideologically (i.e. the need for action) but they have actually mobilized toward that end.

Some of the common issues include:

  1. Absence of regular medical attention
  2. Denial/refusal of medication and mental health care for mentally ill prisoners
  3. Physical and sexual abusive behavior by the pigs
  4. Starvation-size portions of food
  5. Inadequate law library access
  6. Denial of access to religious accommodations
  7. Forced housing creating hostile, dangerous, and potentially lethal results

Thus far we have made progress on the medical issues and, to a lesser extent, the food. The pigs are suddenly not so aggressive as well. But we're fed children's portions — maybe. Some have, with just a little effort, taken up the struggle with the knowledge that it is a protracted struggle, but by working together and refusing to accept degradation we can cause change and we can make our lot more humane and ultimately more just.

I still have my parole problems, but if they insist on keeping me caged, then I shall make myself a cost-ineffective exhibit and I will make this zoo as oppression-resistant as I can.

[Update from 6/20/2012] We submitted a grievance petition tailored specifically to the Nevada system, which has been circulated and "signed on to" by several prisoners thus far with numbers growing. We will be organizing a similar campaign over lack of food and medical/health issues.

chain
[Organizing] [ULK Issue 26]
expand

Debating the Need for New Organizations: Cell Structure and United Fronts

So often I hear about all these "new" groups popping up, and I can only laugh. It's 2012, there is nothing "new." The foundation for our political beliefs has already been laid. There is nothing "new" about these stances/agendas and their supposed political beliefs. The only thing that is different is the day and age we live in. The root of our problem remains the same, the haves oppress the have-nots. However, the point of this writing is to address my thoughts, feeling and opinions on all these "new groups" popping up.

There are any number of them, with a wide range, variety and jumbled assortment of colorful names. The names range from political to outright comical in wording/phrasing. Some state just who and what they are. Some are rather ambiguous and then others are as laughable and colorful as a male peacock strutting in full plumage. And as we're aware, no matter how a peacock struts, it hides in the trees the first time a storm threatens.

It's cowardly, and more importantly, embarrassing. For all the strutting and plumage behind the colorful names, the truth is they do nothing, accomplish nothing and solve utterly nothing. If anything they present more of a problem, because of the loud, attention-craving racket, and absolutely no productive political action, they cause the people (the ones we struggle for) to laugh and not take anyone serious. All they see is the "bells and whistles" of colorful names.

All this does is take away from the true, sincere and actual revolutionaries striving to bring about the true and necessary changes and reforms to society, which is needed to overcome the corrupt imperialist swine oppressing us.

Remember, that's the goal. To bring communism to the forefront of political power. Not to be dividing into numerous groups with no true moral fortitude to accomplish what's needed. Each time I see or hear about "new" groups claiming to have and hold the same beliefs, views and stances as already well-established, virtuous organizations are already firmly grounded. It presents me with a question: why?

Why are these people so eager to form "new" groups? And why aren't they able to fit in with the already proven, reliable and established organizations? The answer I come up with is disturbing but can only ring true: Because these people lack of true moral fiber, and they possess one or more character flaws that prevent them from being accepted in and part of an already structured, active and producing organization. They are unable to follow the rules and regulations and necessary leadership to steer the group, and society as a whole, towards the ultimate goal: revolutionary change to overcome the oppression from the capitalist/imperialist swine. It's either that or these individuals who start "new" groups have outrageous delusions of grandeur, so they hop from group to group or create their own groups all in hopes to try and get their fix of feeling "important."

We can all attest to the effect that there is no possible way to trust someone who hops from group to group, from cause to cause, showing absolutely no loyalty to anyone or even to their own proclaimed beliefs.

In either of the above mentioned answers, I only see comical groups of misfits who do more harm than they bring about actual political change.

So, since there are already well-established, grounded and virtuous groups out there being productive, find one! And devote your time, support and efforts to an organization already striving for the ultimate goal we're all struggling for. The entire point of this struggle is to work together, as one, for a common goal. The common goal. And only in uniting will that goal be reached. Continuous divisions amongst ourselves only slow the process of growth.

Instead of dividing attentions, assets, resources and comrades, find a firmly established organization already fighting and struggling for the betterment of the people. And assist them in bringing about that betterment.

It makes me sick when I hear about see or read of some "new" group of misfits breaking away, and who have no firm education in political maneuvering or strategy. And quite frankly it's insulting to see or hear a new colorful name or term like "gangsta this" or "gangsta that"

Are ya serious? That's embarrassing, especially when all those character-flawed people are trying to do is get attention to their no-account group by using a virtuous group to put their group name in print because none of their actions are meritorious enough to be deemed worthy of it any other and the proper way.

Truly I hope not another group's name is printed. If you're a Maoist, then that's name enough.

In closing, stop dividing and start uniting. As one people, in one struggle, doing one work, to overcome the imperialist pigs who oppress us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: On the one hand, we agree with this comrade on the importance of not forming new groups just for the sake of recognition or self-aggrandizement (see "Building New Groups Vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons)"). Ultimately we need unity behind common Maoist principles for successful revolutionary struggle. However, at this current stage of struggle within imperialist Amerika, there is a practical need for organizing in a cell structure, where regional independence provides security.

As we have demonstrated in our work with even the best of these new organizations which are claiming to uphold Maoism, we hold everyone to a high standard of work and don't just look at the labels and names they choose. This was seen in our work with the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) with whom we found some significant developing disagreements over line and strategy. We published a self-criticism about our working relationship with that group.

The other important point to make here is that we should not hold everyone to the standard of Maoism to work with them. We need as many strong committed revolutionary comrades as possible. But for those individuals who are not at the level of communist theory, we can unite around anti-imperialist goals in a United Front. We don't want these folks blindly signing up for Maoism; we would rather they study and learn through practice about the value and seriousness of communism. And if there is no anti-imperialist cell or organization in their place, we support the creation of such a group. It is in forging this unity that we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons and this is the basis for the names of groups being printed in Under Lock & Key declaring their participation in this United Front. We do our best to verify that these groups have an actual progressive practice, but we cannot be everywhere checking out everything, so we rely on our comrades to vet these organizations and look at their work over time for confirmation of their anti-imperialist orientation. In line with this comrade's critique, we have shifted our focus for United Front writings in ULK to practical reports, rather than statements of unity that were causing more trouble then they were worth.

chain
[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Control Units] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 26]
expand

Report Back from Corcoran Hunger Strike

[This series of events followed two statewide food strikes in California in 2011 focused on putting an end to Security Housing Units and improving justice and conditions in CA prisons.]

When we, the prisoners housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU1) of CSP-Corcoran, initiated a hunger strike to protest against the inhumane conditions and constitutional violations we faced in the ASU1, the prison officials responded with retaliation and indifference. Their intent was clear: to set an example of what would occur if these protests that had been rocking the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) this past year continued. Their statement was not only meant for the protestors in this ASU1, but for the entire class of oppressed prisoners in the CDCR.

The hunger strike in this ASU1 initially began on 28 December 2011. It was a collective effort with various races and subgroups standing in solidarity for a common interest. A petition was prepared with the issues we wanted to address, and it was submitted to the Corcoran prison officials and also sent out to prisoner rights groups in an attempt to gather support and attention.

A few hours after the protest began, Warden Gipson sent her staff to move the prisoners who were allegedly, and falsely, identified as "strike leaders" to a different ASU. I was included in that category because my signature was on the petition that was submitted to prison officials. When we initially refused to move, the correctional staff came to our cells wearing full riot gear to cell extract and move us by force. Since we were engaging in a peaceful protest, we agreed to move and were placed in the other ASU. This turned out to be 3A03 EOP, an Ad-Seg unit that houses severely mentally ill prisoners.

While isolated in that psychiatric ward, we continued to refuse food until we received word that the hunger strike ended in the ASU1. I later found out that the Warden and Captain had met with the spokesmen of the ASU1 protestors and promised to grant a majority of our demands but requested three weeks to implement the changes and to have the agreements in writing. The protestors agreed to give the prison officials the benefit of the doubt, and for that reason the hunger strike was put on hold.

I continued to file complaints and 602s during this period asserting that my placement in a unit along with severely mentally ill prisoners violated my Eighth Amendment right because I was not mentally ill; and that my placement in this psychiatric ward was the result of illegal retaliation by prison officials against me for exercising my First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and protest. These grievances went ignored. In addition to my isolation in the psychiatric ward, I received a 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance" (12 month SHU term), and was later found guilty although they had no evidence to support that charge besides my signature on a petition. The other protestors who were also falsely identified as "strike leaders" were issued the same 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

On 18 January 2012, Warden Gipson ordered her staff to move me, as well as the other isolated protesters, back to the ASU1 believing that the hunger strike was over. Before we were moved back, she sent an email to Lt. Cruz of 3A03 and asked him to read it to us. It contained a warning that she would not tolerate any more disturbances in the ASU1, and a threat that any such behavior would carry more severe reprisals.

After three weeks passed since the hunger strike was put on hold, it was clear that the prison officials had no intent to honor their word and keep their promises. The hunger strike resumed on 27 January 2012.

The ASU1 Lieutenant, after hearing that we resumed the protest, came to a few protestors and stated the following: "We are tired of you guys, all you guys, doing hunger strikes and asking for all this shit. I am not only speaking for myself, but for my superiors as well. There are correctional officers and staff getting laid off because the state doesn't have money, and you guys in here are asking for more shit? You know what, we don't care if you guys starve yourselves to death. You guys aren't getting shit. The only thing you'll get are incident packets."

Two days later, on 29 January 2012, Warden Gipson sent her staff again to round up the alleged "strike leaders" and place them in isolation. This time, the spokesmen who had previously come out to speak and negotiate with the prison officials regarding our demands were also included in that category. We were all moved once again to 3A03 psychiatric ward although we were not mentally ill. Furthermore, our visits were suspended by classification committee for the duration of our "involvement in the hunger strike," and we were issued another 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

The retaliation did not stop there. All the participants of the hunger strike were issued 115s for "participation in a mass disturbance," and the most important of all, the correctional staff and prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of the starved protestors in the ASU1. When some of the protestors started losing consciousness, experiencing serious pain, and requesting emergency medical attention, the correctional staff were deliberately slow in responding, and in many instances just simply ignored them. This conduct and this mindset, of prison officials to set an example by showing deliberate indifference to the medical needs of the protestors, directly contributed to the death of one of our own. His brave sacrifice and unfailing personal commitment will never be forgotten, nor will it have been for naught.

This is where they stand. The oppressors who take away our freedom and liberty continue to fight tooth and nail to deprive us of even our basic human rights. They employ brutal means of retaliation and suppression in an attempt to keep us from exposing the harsh truths of everyday life inside these prison walls. Although the ASU1 hunger strike may have ended, I will continue to have the spirit of resistance. The outcome will not be decided by a single battle but of many, and I will do my part in hopes that my small contribution may make a difference.

chain