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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Unity fighting for humane living conditions

On behalf of my brothers here at the Michael Unit, Latinos, whites and Blacks have put our differences to the side and come together to speak out at the administration about our living condition here in segregation.

There's no air circulation in the cells. Officers have come to verify this problem, yet administration has yet to respond to our situation. During rainy days our cells flood due to cracks in the walls. This has been written up yet no response. There's no shower crew, and the showers are rat, spider and roach infested. Due to these conditions a lot of us have broken out in rashes and have been bit by spiders. The only thing we are being treated with is hydrocotisone 10% cream and anti-fungal cream.

We are now putting together a file for our verification. We get no response. this task is not easy because we are shaken down every 3 days in the day or night.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 10]
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An open letter to my fellow prisoners of war

Greetings to my brothers in this universal struggle for freedom against the imperialist power structure that warehouses human beings like livestock in grossly overcrowded penitentiaries, where prisoners are forced to live one on top of the other, like new age slave ships. This predominately affects New Africans and Latinos. Being consciously aware of the fact that the injustice system, the United $tates BOP and the various state DOCs are being used as one of the most effective and detrimental reactionary weapons against the political, economic, and social growth of both the New African and Latino communities.

I was deeply disappointed to hear of the recent infighting between Blacks and Latinos within the Chino plantation. For years now I've heard of the "great Black/Brown divide" amongst New Africans and Latinos in general (Mexicans specifically). I've never fully understood why. As two groups of oppressed people we have a shared history of revolutionary collaboration, from the brave Che Guevara fighting to liberate the brothers and sisters of Angola and Mozambique all the way back to the great General Toussaint of Haiti who led a revolution to free the island of Hispaniola from its colonial oppressors.

Also as an oppressed people we all suffer from the same by-products of American racism. Both our communities share the same poverty stricken ghettos, we're all subjected to the same sub-par educational system from neglected and grossly underfunded schools. And we're both suffering from years of economic suppression, political disenfranchisement, and complete apathy by the racist/classist oligarchy power structure of america towards the daily plight of our people.

And so with a clearly defined and established common enemy and a shared struggle for improved economic, education and social equality, they're a hindrance to our unity and dangerous to the struggle. And if we are to ever get beyond our current turbulent and intransigent relationship we must not focus on our petty differences but unite and rally around our shared interests and common goals. Until there is unity there can be no victory. So until there is victory, the struggle continues.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We share this comrades sentiments regarding recent events in Chino. For years, leaders in California have been working to develop a Peace Summit in the prison system, but these efforts have been thwarted by the administration while the lumpen continue to attack each other. Once a strong example of an organized front for humyn rights, the California prison system now shows how bad it can really get when the state is able to manipulate the oppressed to do their bidding.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Florida] [ULK Issue 11]
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Unity Only Possible Among Friends

Your opening statements in the issue I received are true with regards to the need for unity among the masses in the concentration camps nationwide. I've been in the system 13 years now and I've felt helpless and hopeless for a lot of years because it seems impossible to accomplish.

This is a very complex issue to approach because the division that separates us is multi-faceted. Never mind the different gangs that believe in their individual causes to be against another gang, but you have Blacks can't unite, whites can't unite, Latinos can't unite. And then you have the younger generation of prisoners that are divided from the older generation. Then you have the short-times with little time left to serve on their sentence who are unwilling to stand for a cause that a lifer will stand for because of fear of getting more time.

You have the haves and the have-nots in prison who separate and create yet another division because those with no money or regular source of income will not stand with those with money when it comes time to start a protest by refusing to go to food service for the lack of sufficient amounts, to the spoiled and rotten food regularly served.

The divisions between prisoners is equivalent to blind people trying to put together a 2 million piece jigsaw puzzle. Right next to quite impossible. Having said this, I still believe some effort at the attempt, no matter how futile, is much much better than quiet and docile acquiescence.

Under Lock & Key is an intelligent yet small step in the right direction. I say "small" step because it may be that several generations will come and go before universal consensus is reached that we need to stop fighting each other and start helping each other. Nevertheless, I accept my responsibility in this cause and become educated in the ways of the brothers and sisters that came before me like Huey P. Newton, Assata Shakur, Malcolm X and others.

I believe when no one will listen to words the only way to lead is by example of personal actions. If various states ban, censor, or put restrictions on ULK those of us have a vested responsibility to live the ideology as best we can under the circumstances.

While living the cause each day we should try to come up with solutions to the various levels of our division. For example, Amerikan tax-payers work each week and taxes are deducted from their paychecks to fund the prison system in each individual state, yet very few tax payers question the use of those collective funds. Paying taxes is an established institution in the U.S. so hardly any question the use when the challenges of making ends meet are more pressing. But if public safety is the justification for taking more and more taxes each year then why is crime not being eliminated? Simple, because crime creates jobs, jobs generate revenue and revenue funds the elitists who own the corporations that ULK works hard to educate us about.

So one way we all can help is by not only focusing on our divisions, but instead trying to educate the masses with information about the abuses of tax-payers' funds on some of the things inside the system. For example, here in Florida the taxes run the prison system yet still each day thousands of prisoner receive money orders from family and friends to help us keep our hygiene and other necessities, only for the Florida Dept of Corrections central office to tax each money order, twice. They take 50 cents from each prisoner deposit, and they take 10 percent of the total amount each prisoner spends for the week. So for example, if a prisoner spends the entire $75 weekly limit, they take $7.50. This is already on top of the money our loved ones pay in taxes each week, month and year.

It takes money to right money so the dissemination of information on the abuses we endure with the criminal injustice system must be only the foundation to which this movement is built upon. We must create think-tanks out of the cells they use to confine us. We must be educated on the knowledge of social engineering.

The anti-imperialist movement hinges on a backbone of resistance to the direction in which the elitist is taking the world. We are the corrosive element in their motor. We must come together ideologically, socially, personally and even financially to gain strength in this movement.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this prisoner's call for unity and the hard work of educating and organizing people to fight the criminal injustice system. However, we do not think the strategy of organizing taxpayers for their own financial interest is correct at this time in Amerika. The vast majority of Amerikan workers have a financial interest in imperialism. And the Criminal Injustice System is a prop used to keep imperialism running strong. Amerikans recognize this and strongly back the police and locking up more people. Frankly, if you brought these issues to their attention they'd probably cut the funding for food and toiletries more. Families with loved ones in prison would be the exception.

As we think about our organizing strategies, we must first have a clear idea of who are our friends and who are our enemies. This does not mean we cannot influence or even ally with enemy classes at times, but we must not treat them as friends and allies in our struggle. MIM(Prisons) focuses on organizing prisoners, and we know that without organized prisoners there is no real prison movement. Prisoners should be looking to each other (as this comrade suggests with think tanks), as well as their families and communities that are affected negatively by the injustice system for solutions.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Unite for change

I am a prisoner in Texas and a member of the ALKQN. I want to shed some light on those who are members of my beloved nation and to those who are prisoners or in the struggle. It is time we unite to judge the oppressor and his ways. We must no longer stand asleep not knowing that for so long we been letting the oppressor keep us as subjects, where our minds are programmed to do what he says.

We must start by awaking our people to realize that we can make a change in our communities and in the court system. We must also have the will to stop selling drugs to our people, because we are killing them with the oppressors ways. For every minority that catches a drug/murder case the oppressor sells them to a prison, or should I say one of these industrial complext warehouse, to get rich. So when are we going to change for the betterment of ourselves? The question lies within you!

I'm not just talking to my King brothers or Queen sisters. I'm talking to every person who belongs to an organization or is just independent. I ask that we stop dwelling on yesterdays and start thinking about tomorrows, because our time to change things is now. I also ask that whoever reads these newsletters start educating yourselves by getting a GED, business degree or degree in anything. Also to start learning the law, so we can teach our families and children on how to not be subjects to the oppressor and his system, but to beat his system within their own laws and rules. Let's stand united as a whole sun and shine our powers into the mission of human service for if we put our minds together we shall accomplish many goals to live in freedom.

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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 14]
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Education: Still Much Work to be Done

I read ULK 9 and enjoyed the attention given to education in this issue. The political education of the lumpen should be central to the revolutionary movement of north amerika. There are three pillars in any true revolutionary process: organization, politicization, and mobilization of the masses. In other words, theory before practice and unity before everything else. I am in my fourteenth year of incarceration on a life sentence. I came in at the age of 18 and I have observed the forging of lumpen alliances for a number of various reasons over the years. Very rare is it to find a lumpen organization (LO) with a sound political line and/or agenda, and even more rare is it to find an LO of such a professed platform that actually practices what they pretend to preach. I am also a representative of the ALKQN and so I write from the same side of the battle lines as the rest.

It should go without saying that a movement absent foundational theory is bound to fail, but the truth is these things need to be said, explained, understood, and accepted. One of the primary and principle things that we, as individual and collective members of today's LOs have to establish is the question of political theory and exactly what kind of society we aspire to affect. The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons is aiding us in this way, yet there is much more political work to be done amongst ourselves. The ability to define the difference between capitalism and socialism is fundamental to our level of education. But so is the realization that we, in general, as the lumpen proletariat, referred to by Marx as the 'underclass,' have the task of eradicating the remnants of the former (that are so deeply planted in our subconscious that we more often than not fail to even realize or acknowledge) before we can truly even hope to successfully set out to establish the latter. Sufficient political work needs to be undertaken in the goal to raise collective political consciousness. Classes are essential to such a program. We need the demand for unity on every corner, and the serious dedicated attempts to effectively study and debate the materials we are afforded by such groups as MIM(Prisons).

Some of our respective LOs have histories that stretch back into the 1940s. Many of our LOs have revolutionary grassroot origins. There are those of us who realize this and who are struggling to re-align ourselves, and those around us, with the spirit of those beginnings. But it is a mistake and an unseen obstacle in our failing to analyze, consider, and take into account the opportunism so many of our leaders began to shroud themselves with at the beheading of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. This opportunistic spirit is what helped magnify the influx of both the drug and "gang-banging" culture we so readily embraced throughout the late 70s and all the way into the early 90s. It also resulted in the influx of brothers and sisters who were met with open arms, and empty heads. That era, for the most part, was declared a victory by the federal government. Our communities were war-torn, drug and crime infested, and the U.$. prison industrial complex was impregnated with more bodies of color than any other place in the world. And a new era began, the era of programming.

All these things need to be taught. If we are to become serious and elemental in the fights against imperialism we must come to accept ourselves, the lumpen, first as a product and consequence of capitalist society, and then, as the spear-head of the revolution - a true socialist revolution, for ourselves, and for the people of the Third World.

Every one of us has a responsibility and an obligation to the true meaning of our respective LO to manifest it in our every breath, action and thought. The label must become second to the representation. For in the end there can be no division nor dividing factors in the United Front. As revolutionaries, we are perpetual teachers. We must teach ourselves and each other, and in some cases even our very own leadership. A plunge in morale is a result of our own fears and failures to teach. As revolutionaries it is up to ourselves not to become discouraged or weary, and it is up to ourselves to muster the physical, moral, and intellectual effort it takes to dare others to learn and to teach. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Much work remains to be done among us all to raise the level of political consciousness so that every cadre, however high the position they may occupy, is schooled in the policies of our movement, its character, its strategy and tactics."

Education/political consciousness is key; unity in that line is the lock; the safe is the imperialist/capitalist mindframe that must be cracked; and the new man or woman, the turning wheel of change, the revolutionary, is the hidden treasure within.

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[Organizing] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Arkansas Uses Contraband to Control Prisoners

I am writing to let you know that all the articles in the July 2009 issue of ULK I agree with. I am a prisoner housed at Varner Supermax in Arkansas and we have it hard here too. The system here uses some brutality as a means to keep us apart. But mostly they use material things (rings, watches, drugs, cell phones, women, etc) as a means to have us at each others throats.

I mean really if the DOC didn't want any of this to get in their prisons then it wouldn't. But they allow it because they are getting kickbacks and it keeps prisoners at each other and not focusing on the real issues. As long as we are at each other then we can never unite and as long as we don't unite then we can't stand for the greater cause. This allows them to treat us like beasts and do as they please.

Here in VSM we are living in filth. Our cells are so nasty. We aren't being given any brooms or mops. Our cells flood every time we shower in them. We have to take a couple paper towels sprayed and clean our whole cell. But we are too busy down here hatin' and trying to get each other knocked off, all for a dollar, that we ain't trying to bring this to the outside attention.

We just can't give up and lay down. Use your grievance systems, write letters, and do what you have to do to let it be known how we are being done. Pushing paper works.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 10]
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Hunger Strike at Camp Hill

I just received my first issue of Under Lock and Key #9 and I must say that I share the same views as my fellow soldiers. I am currently serving time at Huntingdon in the RHU unit. And I wanted to share some of the struggles that me and my fellow soldiers are being subjected to here at this RHU unit.

Me and some of the soldiers that are here with me just came off a hunger strike. We were being subjected to all kinds of oppression: cold food, small portions, people were finding insects and mouse droppings in the food. So we decided to go on a hunger strike. Out of almost 40 people who are here on a quad only about 15 went through with the movement. It's crazy how we are quick to punch each other in the face or stab each other, but when it comes to standing up to these oppressors we fold and let them do whatever they want. They burn us for our rec, food, showers, etc. We place grievances to no avail.

When we speak up about these oppressions they write us up and give us more DC time. Then, to top everything off the hearing examiner here is one of the officers who was assaulted in the Camp Hill riot. Now how can you place someone like that in power? It's simple because when you go in front of him you are automatically guilty weather you are innocent or not. Even if it's blatantly clear that you are innocent it won't matter.

To all my soldiers, know that if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, and we need to stand together.

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[Economics] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Prisons Used as Political Tools in Rural Communities

In the prison system, people upstate in rural areas send applications for prisoners to be sent up to the towns. If you live in a rural area upstate and your economic structure has been wiped out you need to have another industry. Now you have prisons. The benefit is that you get money for every person shipped to your state, but you also gain greater political power and shift the political power from the cities to the rural areas because every prisoner who goes into these rural areas is counted as a citizen in the county in which they are incarcerated. So big cities may lose two assemblymen because you and your crew are in jail upstate.

This is why all these rural areas want these prisons built in their communities. Prisoners are a population that they don't have to deal with and will never be heard, but they count as a part of representation in the government giving rural areas greater political power.

That's why these small hick towns have 3 or 4 penitentiaries where they have a population of Blacks and Latinos in their towns when in fact no Blacks or Latinos live within the town, but within the prison. Like the town of Tennessee Colony in Texas which has 4 units: Coffield, Beto, Gurney, and Michaels Unit. In most of these towns and cities most of the prison workers in the unit are related going back 4 to 5 generations: husbands and wives working together, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, and so on. With this in mind you can picture the tight knit community in these units where "if you touch my mother or sister, I can do anything to you, and there's nothing you can do about it, because everyone on the unit will cover for me."

What most prisoners don't know is that they hold more power and rights than they know. If every prisoner who is from a big city put in for hardships to be at units close to their home, these hick towns could lose all of their political power. And these hick town units with populations of 5,000 would not have any power in their wardens. But there is a catch, once your application is in for a hardship. They are out to get you, and place loads of bogus cases on you, so you have to remain on the Unit 12 months case free before you can be shipped.

What we as prisoners must do is know our enemy when we go out and battle against them. We must be clean and can't have any contraband in our cells, or on our persons when we file law suits against them. And make sure the cameras get playback when they do search you or your cell to show them planting stuff on you or in your cell.

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[Organizing] [Pennsylvania]
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Fight Keefe Food Group Corruption

boycott Keefe foodsWe are bring to the attention of the masses in the gulags and amongst the populace the corporate monopoly of the Keefe Food Group over Corrections Institutions in North Amerikkka. The Keefe Group is a subsidiary of the Centric Group LLC. It appears that this conglomerate has exclusive lucrative contracts throughout county, state and federal systems.

The corruption and abuses experienced by prisoners nationwide is well known to those of us who are subjugated to the system. However such practices under imperialism are not limited to the Prison Industrial Complex. Therefore, a just fight against Keefe Food Group and its parent company, Centric Group LLC, in these concentration camps can have direct cross appeal to the citizens in society who are battling wall street predators in banking and housing markets.

We are calling on readers of MIM(Prisons) Under Lock & Key to write Keefe Group in their county, state or federal prisons. We are asking people to compile a list of the prison's commissary prices along with any lawsuits or other documented abuses by Keefe Group. If any prisoners have had success with terminating the Keefe Group monopoly in their state system we would like to know the details of it and how the victory was achieved.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this call to collect information and launch coordinated battles against companies benefiting off the oppression of prisoners. However, a Marxist analysis of Amerikan society reveals that it, like other imperialist countries, is comprised primarily of labor aristocrats. These are people who are not exploited but rather are benefiting from the spoils of imperialist exploitation. Because of this benefit, even in economic downturn they have financial interests tied up with capitalism and so will continue to support the system. Certainly this may not be the case forever, and as imperialism weakens it may have to turn back to exploiting people at home, but for now, the imperialist country citizens are not likely to ally with prisoners based for economic reasons alone as is implied in this article.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 9]
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Lumpen Organizing and Peace

In this issue we print some responses to the articles in the Peace issue of Under Lock and Key (ULK7) which discussed the need for unity among prisoners to fight for peace and justice because the oppressors actually support violence, even while claiming the opposite. It's important to see the violence in the criminal injustice system for what it is: a tool to keep the oppressed down and intimidate prisoners from organizing.

The prison guards manipulate prisoner organizations to create snitches and to set one group of prisoners against another. This helps maintain divisions among prisoners and keeps the power and violence under the control of the prison pigs. Because of this it is essential that prisoners come together in the struggle for peace and justice.

In this issue several prisoners talk about uniting Lumpen Organizations in this struggle. This is an important step forward and one that the imperialists have resisted both overtly and covertly. We must take these steps in organizing but do all we can to protect ourselves from the repressive injustice system and their agents of violence.

As we wrote in the introduction the Peace issue of Under Lock and Key:

"The people want peace now. Communities that are being occupied, imprisoned and bombed want an immediate end to violence. Huey P. Newton said it is up to the oppressor whether meeting such demands of the oppressed happens in a peaceful way or a violent way. Fanon said violence is part of the development of a humynism and new consciousness among the people. Even if Fanon is right, it takes a lot to push the masses to the point of violence as Huey pointed out. This is obvious by the many more people who have spent many more days in peaceful submission than those who have not. Violent resistance from the people will only arise as it is necessitated by those who monopolize violence through their own power.

"MIM(Prisons) only engages in and promotes legal means of combating injustice. When the prison staff represses every educational and legal outlet for prisoners to redress their complaints then it is clear what kind of strategies they are promoting. In those prisons, we predict there will be violence, and they cannot blame it on us because they have kept us out. This is similar to what we say about all struggles for justice around the world. We believe violence is necessary to end injustice because history has demonstrated that the oppressor never stops oppressing any other way. We do not want or promote violence, we are merely stating our conclusion from reading history. In every case of revolutionary war, it was up to the oppressor to decide whether violence was used or not. History shows that the same has been true in the prison rights movement; the struggle for prisoner rights has only become violent when the state initiated such violence."

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