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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [Downstate Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Find Your Strength

I cried pure tears of regret, pain, and sympathy for the numerous soldiers who are being targeted and abused because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

I share the same oppression of barbaric treatment, by the devilish regime that deprives millions of their constitutional rights of freedom of liberty. I'm incarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility in the New York State, where the inmates have gotten relaxed without having a voice to speak against the guards racism, beatings, and rural area practices of not having an inclination of how to communicate with people of color or know exactly how to relate with cultural beliefs and religion. I have witnessed guards beat inmates and spray inmates with chemical agents for fun or to impress fellow subordinates in showing their co-workers the extent of power they have, while prisoners are shackled.

I myself have been a victim of such torturous actions of torment in Downstate Correctional Facility in New York State because I wrote the inspector General's office because of the abuse of another prisoner's righteous actions. In this state and especially this facility, it's repeatedly exercised that guards get cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles, mothers and even their elderly of kin hired to participate in the slavery monopoly of mistreatment of the prisoners. We are being given violations written by the connection of a family member, then being taken in from of another associate or relative to be found guilty. Without ever having our voices heard because the case workers have found us guilty based on their blood-line theory of truth.

So when I read about Missouri, Utah, California, Florida, Georgia prison systems, and all others that carry the same racist prototype in their regimes, I pray for all my comrade brothers and comrade sisters who have been trampled over and continue to get run over by foul acts of criminal activity. I want them all to know to love yourself and search for dependency on truth, because no matter what the pigs take away from us all, they can never take away the greatest love of all, and that's knowing that we are a reflection of each other.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 15]
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Uniting to fight denied food

On June 26 history was made in SCI Huntingdon's Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). The early Saturday morning began with a racist Correctional Officer (CO) named Powell depriving two prisoners of their breakfast trays. Things like this have been constant here at Huntingdon but this day we had enough and decided to take a stand.

We told the superior officer on deck to feed the two inmates who were denied their breakfast trays or else it was "going down," the officers did not comply, so we waited until they passed out cleaning supplies which consist of a bucket, disinfect, a toilet scrubber, and a floor brush. When the officers came to collect the supplies we gave back everything except the floor brush, which we kept as weapons. We then put our towels over our door windows. The officers began yelling threats about suiting up in riot gear and coming in our cells. Quickly prisoners began taking their towels off of their door and complying, and the number of us still standing was only seven.

Officers began to leave off of the quad ready to suit up in riot gear when we suggested that letting them arm themselves was a bad idea. We decided that this time we would be the hunters instead of the hunted. The two prisoners who did not eat were first. The first one faked a suicide attempt that made the officers have to run in his cell unarmed and when they opened his cell door he took action, getting as many of the four officers until more officers had to help restrain him. Next the other prisoner did the same and when they opened his door he took action using any means to get as many of them as he could before more officers had to help restrain him. From these first two incidents six officers were injured, but it was far from over. Next another prisoner forced the officers into his cell after they had sprayed pepper spray in it. He made sure he got some action before they restrained him. The injured officer toll was now eight.

My celly and I were next. We were the only double cell on the tier, and the officers would not come in. They left and suited up in riot gear, and then turned our water off. Next they ran into a prisoner''s cell with full riot gear, electrical shields and a stun gun. As soon as they ran in, a helmet came flying out and the injured officer toll was now nine. Next they came into our with full riot gear, and two officers were on the floor before either of us wes electrocuted, maced and restrained. Eleven points for the home team. While my cellmate and I were being stripped and checked for injury, the officers were complaining about the CO who started this mess (officer Powell) by depriving the two prisoners of their breakfast trays. Coincidentally, he was not amongst the officers involved in this action. There was still one prisoner left, but before they decided to go in his cell, they let it be known that whatever they had to do for us to stop the madness, they would do it. They submitted! The prisoners were fed and we all received our property back with the exception of our bed linen. We all received misconducts and along with a bruise or two it was a small price to pay in order to gain our respect. Unity overcame oppression. For the first time in Huntingdon RHU history we stopped talking and gave them the only thing that they respected (violence) to gain our respect. Message to all of our brothers in the struggle: it can be done!

MIM(Prisons) adds: We do not think armed struggle now is a viable option for obtaining a more just society within the imperialist countries today. Therefore our strategic orientation opposes going up against the state in physical confrontations where we are always outgunned. That said, we agree with the theoretical point that the state does not respect so-called rights, but they do respect violence. Ultimately the imperialists will not give up oppression and exploitation peacefully.

To oppose armed struggle as a strategy today does not mean that physical force can never be used as a tactic in the fight for justice. Much of the changes that are credited to the civil rights movement were ensured by the revolutionary nationalist movements of the time that threatened to use force against the state. Similarly, the trial of Johannes Mehserle, as pathetic as it was, was triggered by the use of physical force by the oppressed. It would be irresponsible for us to deny these truths, just as it would be irresponsible for us to encourage prisoners to get in fights with guards.


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[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
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This ain't TV, there's no justice here

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), High Desert State Prison (HDSP) and Lassen County Superior Court are working together to ensure that prisoners' rights continue to be violated! The prison industry and the injustice system stay true to form. According to the propaganda that the U.$. continuously pushes out, "if you seek justice, you should allow the system to work for you." We see this mentality on all the popular TV shows such as Law and Order, NCIS, Judge Judy, etc., as well as in newspapers and magazines. But how can anyone consider a system "just" that fails to protect the basic rights of the people?

You can't, and most people on the outside (that have never dealt with the prison industry) do not and (most) can not comprehend the abuses and atrocities that go on behind the walls, committed by the prison administration and the courts. Take for example the mass validations and blatant violations of prisoners' rights that continue to occur here at High Desert in the administrative segregation unit (Z-unit). I was personally targeted and validated during last year's goon squad sweep. However, I did not sit still and do nothing, no sir, instead I filed an inmate appeal and followed it all the way to the director's level and was denied. Then I filed a petition for habeas corpus and was denied. Now I have to appeal to the appellate courts and we'll see what happens there. Now CDCR validated me as an associate of the NS prison gang, however none of their so-called points that were used against me meet state guidelines or laws. My three supposed points were two lists of names which are considered laundry lists (CDCR agreed to stop using laundry lists in the 2004 Castillo v. Alameda settlement) and one point was I told investigators I had "no comment" during an investigation.

My story is the normal practice here at HDSP and consistently occurs with just about all those who have been validated. And when you turn to the courts, they close their eyes and turn their heads and let the injustice continue uninhibited. So how can we receive justice? We can't, not as long as this capitalist society continues to think about the almighty dollar instead of the needs of the people. And since prisoners equal money to California, the courts and legislators will continue to allow these violations and others to go on until revolution forces a change.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Oregon]
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DOC: Dealing Oppression Conspicuously

There are an unbelievable number of people incarcerated in prisons throughout Oregon who are either fearfully unwilling or shamefully disinterested in rocking the boat when it comes to initiating unnecessary change within the wall of their respective institutions. But quite often it is a requisite for beneficial change to capsize the boat and force the crew to flounder. As our diminishing rights become even more chewed up by the ravenous jaws of the imperialist piranhas, sitting idly by and watching the grim reality show that is our subjugation, results only in the further detriment and disenfranchisement of the socially ostracized. Unity brings potency to a revolution; solidarity releases an energy capable of crippling the most obstinate oppressor.

The State makes the prisoner an indentured servant to the correctional machine. we are forced to work for paltry earnings under the explicit fiat of Oregon law; punished if we refuse to forfeit our independence. In order to retain special privileges and certain material possessions, it is mandatory that we work our brittle fingers to the bone for the State. One could easily make the argument that it should be criminal to penalize a person for his or her refusal to be a state-sanctioned slave.

As someone doing a life term in prison, the last thing I want is to be a labor horse for the same imperialists who've taken an ax to my liberties. Whatever pittance I procure from my coerced labors must inevitably return to its original source, as I cannot avoid frequenting the commissary to purchase the bare necessities for maintaining personal hygiene and a vital connection to the outside world. The money must revert back to the State; it is a fiendish circle. Moreover, as the demand for their commodities increases, those in charge of operations within the commissary business raise the prices. Meanwhile, the monetary reward handed out to the sweating and bleeding prisoners remains invariably insufficient. But if I want to survive comfortably I must tow the line. However, perhaps it is when we grow too comfortable with our dire situations that we become reticent to speak out against our oppressors.

Those who lord over the lumpen are not to be confided in, nor are they to be greeted as yokefellows. They do not sympathize with our plight. How can they? They receive exorbitant amounts of money to imprison us, to keep us downtrodden and mentally enervated. To them we are the dregs of society, the mischief-makers whose drumbeat is not synchronous with theirs. Which is why it boggles my mind that there are prisoners who shower the corrections officers with warm cordiality as if these licensed oppressors are on equal terms with the incarcerated. I witness them in deep conversations with the officers on a daily basis, sharing information about themselves, as well as information about others. Prisoners joke around with the guards like everyone is best friends and not two socially separated classes - the oppressed and oppressor. What the oppressed prisoners seem woefully unreceptive to is the fact that these potentates of the penal system are in charge of keeping us stripped of our individuality, and hold the power to make our lives downright miserable. They raid our cells - essentially our homes - and confiscate anything that worries them or shows signs of our burgeoning dissatisfaction with our confinement. Anything we manufacture to amuse ourselves is stolen from us and tossed away like refuse. They intercept grievances, deliberately lose or discard our ail, and tell us when to wake up and when to eat. This is not a relationship of reciprocal treatment. It is a relationship where we are forced under threat of punishment to bow to authority, to respect authority, and they in turn deprive us of the same respect. They see us a dollar signs, not as friends.

The amelioration of our confinement will only see fruition when the lumpen unite as one solid and formidable engine and drive our oppressors into the ground like railroad spikes. We must learn to be smarter than them, to dodge their attacks, and to gain support not just from those in likewise wretched situations but from allies outside of the walls. We must face the challenges as bravely and indefatigably as possible. For it is not the steel bars that make the prison, but those who are unwilling to fight to break the chains.

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[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
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Response to my critic in SNY debate

During the past 25 1/2 months I've been physically, verbally and emotionally assaulted, degraded, etc. I've fought several successful legal battles during this time also. Some have been denied all the way up to the State Supreme Court. Either way, I have shown full support to our comrades in arms and ink, unlike some of MIM(Prisons)'s correspondents, specifically one who replied to a previous article I wrote on unity. This particular comrade's response to me was published in ULK 14 (May/June 2010).

In my article, I stated that all comrades must put aside our petty politics of Special Needs Yard (SNY) vs. mainline crap. I am on SNY and have not had a bunch of other prisoners forcing me to do things just because they say it's to be done. I no longer have to fear reprisals for being my own man, or going to groups, religious services or law libraries to help with legal work.

Each person is their own person on SNY, free to do and be what they choose, not through fear, but choice.

The comrade who rips into my article claims it's SNY prisoners that further the Green Wall in prisons. That's pure speculation. It's a fact that mainline and SNY don't really affect that Green Wall either way. Sure, SNY yards aren't perfect. Yes, a lot of creeps run around also. But there is greater freedom and unity on SNY. A forceful riot with violence under threat of punishment on the mainline yards due to active prisoner politics is not even close to a voluntary sit down/riot/strike/protest/etc. by SNY prisoners, nor will it achieve the same results.

I was an active skinhead for well over 7 years in prison. I participated in no fewer than 6 riots/protests under duress. What was accomplished was barely worth my time. It continued the racist segregation, deprived prisoners of even the barest necessities, programs, visits, access to legal libraries, educational and rehabilitative services, and more. This in turn made guard's jobs easier, and allowed them to do less work for the same pay. No great accomplishments.

Not that it's all great on SNY, but I've witnessed greater accomplishments out of an SNY protest. As an SNY prisoner I've been a part of 3 nonviolent protests and 2 riots, each on a voluntary level. The lack of fear helped unite prisoners longer. The camaraderie was more intact, the benefits more noticeable. During one of the nonviolent sit-downs, we accomplished higher wages for the workers in all the Prison Industry Authority factories here, though still not fair wages compared to those of general society.

In another case, a violent riot involving SNY prisoners against guards at Lancaster prison, due to being unfairly denied program and visits for petty crap like "lack of staff to run prisons," a riot involving weapons, was a small success in itself. One guard and 3 prisoners were hospitalized. However, our program was returned to normal, our visits returned, store returned.

To hear this comrade talk shit about how he'd rather be in Administrative Segregation at all times rather than have to go to SNY is not showing unity. If this comrade wishes to do that as his own form of protest, fine. That's on him. If he wants to be confined to a cell 23 1/2 hours a day, lose his privileges, visits, family visits, usual store, and program, fine. I personally think it's nuts, but I will never tell him he's wrong.

He automatically labels a SNY prisoner "his own worst enemy." He says SNYs are full of cowards who afraid of programing. This is false. I tried to stay active when I first attempted to get out of the skinhead gangs, but when the other prisoners attempted to jump me daily, label me a "snitch" when I never told a soul a name other than mine, when I was threatened with being stabbed with a knife due to defending myself from racist politics to further benefit my life, it's a common sense issue to do what I did to survive and get back to my family, the people who I know truly care for me.

I am no coward. In fact, it takes a lot of balls to do what I did, to go against the grain, and to better myself. Since then I have educated myself in several areas: basic education, philosophy, religion, politics, and legal issues to give myself a better chance to succeed in life.

I'm not knocking the comrade that criticized my previous article, but it is my personal opinion that s/he isn't informed well enough to speak on the subject of SNY with any authority. I am. I spent a long chunk of time on active yards as a skinhead, as well as on SNY yards, not out of cowardice as this other comrade implies, but as a drop-out skinhead who wished to succeed in life so as to 1) be able to lower the recidivism rates of CDCR, 2) be able to better assist other comrades who aren't as fortunate as I am and 3) return to my friends and family as they need me there with them far more than they need or want me subjected to slave and torture conditions in prison.

Instead of offering up viable options, this critic ostracizes prisoners and comrades, who a lot of the time just want away from situations that are not useful to any reasonable objective. Actives primarily only want gangs, drugs, racism and politics. They claim to be better than SNY. They preach racism and fighting between prisoners and do nothing that thwarts the Green Wall's efforts at instigating those same tensions. At least on the SNY side, these racist, gang and political differences are virtually non-existent, which requires the Green Wall pigs come up with other ways to instigate things.

I spent nearly a decade on active yards, and I've seen no more than 3 guard stabbings by prisoners. In 4-5 years on the SNY side, I've documented 7+ that I've actually seen. Prisoner assaults on guards are up also, not that it was the best way, it just occurred.

So if this criticizing comrade honestly wishes to help the overall goals of other comrades, maybe he should man up and spread the word instead of wasting his breath on things he doesn't know about well enough. Stop hindering comrades trying to do real helpful things. I may be on SNY but I help both actives & SNY. I'm literally responsible for 4 successful legal suits resulting in the state and CDCR paying out over $12.2 million dollars with over 3 of it going to active prisoners who were abused, including 2 illegal use of force and 1 wrongful death due to negligence.

I ask this other comrade "what have you done for the cause?" I still am in process of 3 other suits, 2 with fair possibilities of victory. Put your money where your mouth is comrade. One day you just may get called upon, one way or another. Both sides of the fence have their issues. But it's not really a problem unless comrades allow it to be, as this other comrade does.

MIM(Prisons) adds: For years, leaders in the lumpen organizations (LOs) in the California Prison system attempted to organize peace summits. These meetings were sabotaged by CDCR intelligence higher-ups, the leaders were further isolated in Security Housing Units, and many hand-picked leaders were given free reign in the mainline. Like we've said before, staying true to your LO does not necessarily mean staying independent of the K9s (the state). It is often the exact opposite. But it is also the case that the LOs are in such a sad state of affairs because of state intervention and manipulation. The LOs do have more potential than most are currently demonstrating, but they have already lost many of their best youngsters who have seen the current errors of their ways as this comrade has.

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[Organizing] [Southeast Correctional Center] [Missouri]
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Continuing the Struggle from Inside Ad-Seg

Today I find myself really motivated to again try to inform my fellow convicts, no, I mean offenders. For we know the days of the "convict" are long gone, especially in lame-ass Missouri, where even guys with "all-day & without" don't even want to make a stand in fear of receiving a damn CDV. Like it's gonna make a difference one way or another to their case.

I'm housed here at Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston Missouri where offenders are subjected to outright violations of any retirement what-so-ever. They use tactics such as grabbing offenders off the yard and placing them on bogus investigation without telling them what for, keeping their mail from them, manipulating the offender's law clerks to keep CDC policies from offenders. Say "this or that policy no longer exists" when in fact there's no way that can be true when policy's supposed to govern Rules and Regulations. When an offender tried to file on an issue it's denied solely based on another staff's statement.

To make matter worse, that staff starts issuing you bogus conduct violations to further keep you in Ad-Seg. As I try to explain this to my fellow offenders they be so broken down from being locked down in the hole that no matter what they just want to get out and once they do it's "so what" until the next time.

At times I become so livid about just how badly we're treated that it almost turns me into a monster, wanting only to hurt them like they're hurting me. But then I receive your newsletter and read the articles and see it's all over this so called "great country" called the USA. This leads me to believe that it truly starts at the very top, meaning our government. I don't think the public has any real idea as to the conduct that's being put upon the mass of people locked up. Really, for one to come to work just to do these type of actions, it makes me think who the real criminals the public should be worried about, the ones locked up or the ones who go home from these places at the end of their hateful 8 hours!

I'm proud to say that this is one convict who will never give up the fight and I will continue to do my part in this struggle. I will support MIM to the best of my ability.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Developing a class consciousness of prisoners, and the lumpen in general, is the purpose of sharing all the stories from around the country in Under Lock & Key. We're always glad when a new comrade comes to grasp the big picture. S/he gets it exactly right. Prisons serve a purpose for the state, which is an institution of class oppression. Currently the exploiter classes are in power, including the labor aristocracy pigs who are well aware of the conditions in the prisons they run and their families pay for through taxes.

This is why we refer to "prisoners" and not "convicts" or "offenders." All people incarcerated in the united $tates are prisoners of the imperialist state to serve its exploitative interests. Many did not even do anything to "offend" another humyn being. And even the many that did aren't the big criminals, as this writer points out, who are responsible for mass murder, torture and ecological destruction.

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[Organizing] [Montana] [ULK Issue 15]
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Boycotting work is unrealistic

In the May/June 2010 issue of ULK a Pennsylvania prisoner stated that he thinks everyone should stop working so the prison systems would look at our complaints. While I think my comrade has a great idea, I must conclude that it is a very unrealistic one. There simply aren't enough people willing to stand up for this cause. S/he was right in saying people care more about television than their rights. I ask MIM(Prisons) and my fellow brethren to give me, as well as everyone, some ideas on how we can make other prisoners come together to make our Pennsylvania brother's dream come true.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We did briefly address this point in the article "Our unity vs. their crisis" in the same issue of ULK. What many people are recognizing here is that we need to proceed in steps, and we must continually assess our conditions to see how fast we can move. Also, keep in mind that development is not equal across the board. So, while our Montana comrade is correct in general, this might not be true everywhere (see "Back to the basics"). But where it is not true the key is to start with things that can be done with smaller groups, such as lawsuits and study groups, or actions that require less commitment like petitions or fund drives. All of these things can help develop unity. We welcome ideas from others, but specifically ideas that you have tried and worked. Or if they didn't work tell us why. Ideas without testing in practice are a dime a dozen.

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[Theory] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 14]
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On strategy: breaking thru defenses

[In ULK 13, we printed some definitions that came from studying MIM Theory 5: Diet for a Small Red Planet, which focuses on line, strategy and tactics. In this article, we summarize some of the ways we applied those concepts to real world examples while discussing the rest of the articles in MIM Theory 5.]

There are basically two ways we can make errors in our political work. We can make rightist errors or ultra-left errors. How we avoid these errors depends on our ability to assess our material conditions, because what is left and what is right changes as conditions change. For example, we spent time discussing focoism and opposing it as ultra-leftist because it calls for armed struggle in the First World. Yet, we recognize that armed struggle is a necessity to overthrow imperialism when we reach that stage.

Looking left

While focoism was the main example, we tried to define ultra-leftism in a more broad sense. Ultra-leftism in general means giving the appearance of being to the left of the political spectrum to the point of moral purity. In practice, however, it's really so far to the left that it's useless to real revolutionaries because it makes us seek unrealistic goals. Ultra-leftism denies our material reality and replaces it with idealism. A second example of ultra-leftism might be spending all one's time attacking other revolutionaries for not being perfect.

Ultra-leftists hurt the Third World because every time a comrade has to pull one of these cats over and pull their coats, they take away time, energy and resources that can be used for the development of the Third World nations. Take the approach that one prisoner wrote in to ULK on commissary for example. S/he writes that instead of everybody buying store and keeping our stomachs from touching our backs when our oppressors are feeding us like we're children, we should send all our money home. Not to our brothas and sistas in the Third World, or the institutions established by comradz in the U.$. that truthfully provide for them. But send all the money home. And then what?

This is an example of ultra-leftism because, to some, this may seem revolutionary and rebellious but in reality it is irrational thinking. The idea is based in purity rather than a strategy with the objective goal of overthrowing imperialism. You can tell that the motivation is purity because the question is how do we not contribute to the system rather than how do we contribute to something that will change or end the system. This ignores material reality because you can't take the food from prisoners; then we'll really underdevelop our situation.

Looking right

When looking at rightism, the main problem we face is "revolutionaries" that want to organize the majority of the people in the United $tates. By catering to the majority in a First World country a party's politics are inevitably watered down - because the majority (in a First World country) are not oppressed. They put out a right opportunist line and get just whoever comes along. Basically, if you're an organization in the First World and have a large following you stand for bourgeois ideals. Once a person understands this you can pretty much place your bets on the small underdog movement for the correct line/vanguard status.

While we must defend against right opportunism within our ranks, we might ally with those who are openly reformist and therefore to the right of us. Revolutionaries work on reforms because some do improve the lives of people on a small scale, but ultimately we do it to show the people that reforms do not work in the end and what they really need is full-scale revolution. Trying to get some resources that will help advance the revolutionary's goals is a winnable battle worth fighting.

An example of a reform that can help a small percentage of the oppressed and could be used as a tactic in a larger strategy is limiting the number of people going into these torturous control units. Doing that work exposes the United $tates' cruelty, disregard for international law, brutality, etc. Hence it may help to work on SMUs, IMU, MCC, Ad-MAX, etc. struggles and inhumanities because as Mao said about public opinion. "The task of communists is to expose the fallacies of the reactionaries. . . and so accelerate the transformation of things and achieve the goal of revolution."

While we may unite with and lead reformist battles, revolutionaries should not join liberal mass organizations because they will eventually be forced to water down their politics for the sake of the single issue organization or risk alienation. Also, by working within a single issue organization, revolutionaries may inadvertently be holding it back by disempowering potential recruits, thereby disempowering the group. One way they do this is by alienating potential new recruits with their more worked out politics, leaving the potential recruits feeling as if they have nothing to offer.

Mass organizations and single issue work are good ways for the middle class to contribute to the anti-imperialist cause. We need to be looking to build alliances with them when it genuinely serves the international proletariat. In addition, we need to pay close attention to mass organizations because a lot of people are brought into politics through them. And we need to be there to challenge them to struggle for the real solution of humyn beings, communism.

Find the opening

In addition to reading MIM Theory 5, we studied two articles from the Black Panther newspaper entitled "In Defense of Self-Defense" and "The Correct Handling of a Revolution." In the latter article, Huey P. Newton wrote that, "the party must engage in activities that will teach the people." In our discussion of how to do this, one comrade discussed what s/he coined "MIM(Prisons) University of Thought," which includes the various study and discussion groups MIM(Prisons) facilitates. Through this institution, individuals have the opportunity to learn through study: the Party, its line and its history. Individuals can study the organization of movements through out our struggle for communist leadership by the proletariat and learn not only its victories and successes, but also its stagnation and failures.

Another related activity would be a campaign for the creation of giving (books, postal stamps, money, art, music, etc) by comrades that have to give. And everyone has something to give. An institution should be established that allows prisoners to send donated books to the cause, as well as funds. MIM(Prisons) has the lit project to distribute literature. This same institution can be used for prisoners who either have to send their books home due to excessiveness, or going to a control unit, or who want to just contribute to the cause. Some might wonder why not recycle them on the yards? But only at small levels can this be effective activity in educating the prison mass. If we want to become internationally unified, we must then think internationally.

Such a project not only progresses our efforts to receive the favor of the masses, but it also gives us an institution to counter the bourgeois-imperialist propaganda that is spread throughout this U.$. capitalist imperialist society.

Part of Huey's point was to teach through action. So not only are people learning from the books, but they are learning from the sharing and coordinating of materials as a collective group outside of a for-profit/business structure. Even an illiterate comrade could learn from the example of the program. Other activities mentioned that can teach the people were breakfast programs, community rehab on parks and other resources and lawsuits to fight censorship.

In addition to this summary, our study and discussions are reflected in a number of articles composed by comrades that appear in this issue and will appear in the future. We also added to and further developed the study guide for this topic (Strategy & Tactics), which we encourage all serious comrades to study when they get the chance.

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[Organizing] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
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SNY prisoner: How to stop snitching

I'm sad to say that the CDCR is winning the struggle so far. They have managed to keep us too paranoid to trust the next man. But every time a guard walks down the tier talking about one of us, spreading propaganda, the majority of the prisoners will believe what that guard said. It can be completely fabricated.

The guards also have other strategies to spread false propaganda. They'll walk to the loudmouth on the tier and for extra food he'll put out on the tier whatever the guard wants him to say. The loudmouth doesn't understand that whatever the guard wants him to broadcast is because the guards want to direct a message at certain individuals.

I'm a SNY prisoner. Over the years the SNY yards and population have grown a lot, especially with the level IV. The bottom line is we're all prisoners suffering the same oppression from guards. There's no such thing as I'm better than so and so, because I'm this and you're that. That's all propaganda from guards telling the mainline.

If someone snitches on you, that's your fault for exposing your hand to individuals you didn't trust or know. Any sensitive issue should never be told to anyone, anyways.

After being in Calipatria for 10 years and going through several problems with staff, I decided to get on the CCCMS program and make a quick exit out of that joint. The CCCMS is a mental program and once you get in the program and you take some type of depression medication the prison has 30 days to transfer you because it's so hot and any type of psych meds can't be taken in that climate. Well I got away from a bad dream only to go into a nightmare!

Since 70 or 80% of the population here in RJD prison are on some type of psych meds, we're considered "J-Kats." The 602 inmate appeals process is non-existent. Any serious grievance you filed gets thrown away: a violation of our constitutional due process!

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[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 14]
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Regarding security in prisons

I want to comment on something I read in the March/April 2010 ULK 13. I note that the SNYs [Special Needs Yards prisoners] are complaining about how the picklesuits are doing an excellent job of keeping prisoners in California at each others' throats. I doubt that there is a prisoner in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) that hates/resists petty over-authoritated power as much as I do. But so many prisoners at the drop of a hat go SNY/PC(Protective Custody) that it created a mad rush for police defense for not just those who may need it for the few real reasons that may exist.

I'm in general population (GP) and I would stay in the hole before I would allow the pig to twist me up into that SNY/PC nonsense. I heard people in Administrative Segregation (Ad-seg) and the Security Housing Units (SHU) when I was there be proud to say in front of the pig that they are active this or that which is in effect volunteering intelligence to the pig. Then you got those seeking to gather intelligence to provide the pig and that is both in and out of SNY. While SNY may outnumber general population 3 to 1 it is clear to me that one's condition in prison will not in reality become much (if any) better. Seeking the easy way out creates a moral quandary in that the reality of prison in California has not changed and the exodus to SNY has provided the pigs with more leverage to abuse and play nationalities against each other to the detriment of the whole.

I do not sympathize with SNY conditions nor do I sympathize with the conditions of GP. The fact that so many have to run to SNY has made the Green Wall stronger, since you in SNY have run away from your responsibilities. There are some very sorry so-called men in these prisons nowadays and I personally can do my time on the line or in the SHU as I will never allow the pig to turn me into a passive submissive subjugated sheep.

Sun Tzu's Art of War emphasized knowing one's enemy and I believe that a SNY's own worst enemy is one's self. There's still a lot of so-called hard core gang members on the line that say "I don't want to go here or there cause I got enemies." What ever happened to dealing with an issue on sight or leaving the matter alone? Particularly when there is no real substance to the basis in which one claims enemies. I do not have any prisoner enemies; this is silly and to claim such to a pig is sheer stupidity as it is to tell the pig you are a gang member. However, this seems to have become the custom. Wherever you are, grow up and be a man and take responsibility for your actions and quit depending on others to fight your battles. Simply educate yourself on how to use real strategies and tactics in order to learn how to be brave, fortuitous enough to gravitate to those who have a selfless desire to make a difference for all of our brothers. Bias and prejudice exuded by those around you only works against you in the long run. Until one learns to unite for the true cause and quit telling on self or others, the nonsense will continue. It's easy to spot agent provocateurs and quislings, and observation will expose the creeps for who they are. Prisoners are an open book and if you use your brain you can find out accurate facts and there is an old navy saying that "loose lips sink ships." It's a fact, people who think, do not follow, they cooperate for mutual benefit.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The snitching discussion has brought a lot of interest from readers and is integral to a discussion of organizing strategy. Another important question for those under state supervision is creating space for organizing. The purpose of control units is to elminate the space within the prison system where study and agitation can occur.

We warn against an ultra-left stance that leads one to accept years in a torture cell with no access to other people and limited access to mail and literature just so you can toughly say, "I never submitted." Comrades in control units have a hard time doing work, which is the whole reason the SHU was invented. Comrades also suffer mentally and physically in ways that can affect their ability to be productive even after release. So telling people to take SHU should not be done lightly and SHU should not be taken as one's "duty" to the cause when you are really just setting the struggle back.

Certainly, this writer makes correct points about working with the state and how that plays into the overall oppression of oppressed nations. And certainly, there are cases where submitting to torture in a control unit is the best thing for the struggle. But as we pointed out in ULK 13, many are finding themselves in a situation where those who promised to serve their people are doing the state's dirty work themselves. As this comrade recognizes, conditions in GP in California aren't more commendable than what's going on in SNY. It was the lumpen organizations following CDCR leadership that made SNY possible by what they did in GP. They pushed people so far that they were willing to snitch on something they were once willing to die for. This is the reality of the situation now that we must deal with. And in that reality, we find comrades on both sides of the SNY/GP wall. If we do it right this time and eliminate all this fighting between the oppressed then we will start to deal with the problem of snitching in a material way. This comrade gets it right when he says it is silly for prisoners to claim they are enemies for no reason.

Finally, we disagree with the claim that agent provocateurs and quislings are easy to spot. It may seem that way when you are surrounded by lazy, self-interested people, but that is not always true, and the most dangerous agents are hardest to spot.

For more on the morality of snitching, see our accompanying article discussing "The situational ethics of snitching."

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