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[Organizing] [New York] [ULK Issue 7]
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An Interview with Mfalme Sikivu, Executive Minister of UFD

Ujamaa Field Dyansty Emblem
UFD stands for the Ujamaa Field Dynasty. This article describes more of what it's all about. MIM(Prisons) solicited contributions for this Peace Issue of ULK from many comrades both in prison and out. We are aware of many efforts to make peace and take on the real correctional tasks that none of the capitalist run "DOC"s seem capable of or interested in. UFD stands out among these projects as it is explicitly part of the anti-imperialist United Front. This is so important, because ultimately we know there can be no peace without an end to oppression and injustice. We also know that capitalism only benefits the worlds minority, most of whom live in the imperialist countries. All the job training programs in the world can't change the fact that capitalism requires a concentration of capital that sucks every resource it can from the majority of the world.

Q. How would you describe UFD, what is its purpose?

A. I describe UFD as it states in our code, “…a counter-gang of ex-gangbangers, ex-hustlers, ex-prisoners and prisoners, and youth committed to collectively raising up each other to become conscious and prosperous New Afrikans.” Our purpose is stated in our mission, “[t]o serve as a positive and constructive alternative to gangs street and prison life, especially for our youth, who we focus on bringing into our movement through UFD, and to build a brotherhood and sisterhood through which our ndugu can improve themselves and their circumstances while making a better life for themselves and their families.”

Q. How does UFD relate to lumpen organizations (LOs), commonly known as gangs, and how do these LOs relate to UFD considering that UFD’s purpose seems to seek to undermine them?

A. Look, UFD isn’t in competition with any LO. Unlike some of them who fall victim to the divide and conquer tactics of the Establishment, we don’t view other oppressed people as enemies just because they rock different colors. Plus, we have a law that states, “Avoid conflicts with others and dead beef: before they get physical…” For the most part, the LOs our ndugu are around have been cool toward us. We don’t actively try to recruit their members, but nor do we hide our purpose. Those who choose us, we accept them. Those who don’t, we work to teach and help them.

Q. But part of your code says “UFD is devoted to leading others away from gang …life…” Don’t you think certain elements within an LO may take that as meaning you’re after their members?

A. Maybe, if they don’t understand our meaning. To lead one away from gang life doesn’t have to mean we seek to coax them out of their affiliation. By UFD doing right, we set an example for the LOs to follow as a whole. If our only means to lead one away from gang life is to get them to leave their affiliation, then we’re ignoring our greater purpose – to serve the people. As much as we disagree with some of the bullshit LOs get caught up in, they’re still oppressed like us.

Q. What efforts can UFD make to bring peace between LOs?

A. Once we’ve established ourselves as a positive and constructive force here to stay, and ourselves avoid the trap of warring with LOs, we’ll garner a certain respect in the prisons and on the streets. At that time we can counsel LOs to consider the damage they do to themselves by warring among themselves. Through UFD’s success, we get to show them their potential strength in doing better.

Q. Do you honestly think it’s possible they’ll hear you?

A. UFD takes political direction from the New Afrikan Maoist Party being that the Party politically leads the New Afrikan Liberation Movement. Our parent organization, the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, is a part of this movement. We tend to agree with the Party’s assessment that, until there is a revolutionary change within urban subculture that is dominated by the colonial/criminal mentality of which George Jackson spoke, LOs will themselves not fundamentally change. But UFD can play a significant role in decreasing the conflict between LOs by first being a good example and second, by educating those who’ll listen to us.

Q. When will that revolutionary change take place?

A. Hard to say, UFD is poised to lend its hand when the time is upon us. For now we’ve focused on doing all we can to help our ndugu change and better themselves and do what they can to uplift their families which in turn empowers our communities.

Q. How can interested youth join up with UFD?

A. Either by hollering at one of our ndugu authorized to bring them home or by contacting our executive assistant Taraji Vuma at New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140.

Q. How does UFD deal with the repression of its incarcerated members?

A. NYSDOCS [New York State Department of Correctional Services] has charged a couple of our ndugu with possessing unauthorized organizational materials. This is bullshit because UFD isn’t an unauthorized inmate group and the ndugu charged weren’t accused of using our literature to recruit other inmates to an unauthorized inmate chapter of UFD. We have a federal lawsuit in against NYSDOCS over this issue. They’ve been repressing members and supporters of the different NALM-affiliated organizations like ours since at least 2004.

Q. If UFD isn’t an unauthorized group, then why does NYSDOCS discipline its members for possessing its literature?

A. Because NYSDOCS is reactionary like any other state bureaucracy. It seeks to protect its existence. UFD represents more of a threat to NYSDOCS not because we advocate violence or disobedience (which we don’t), but because we have the potential to do what NYSDOCS can’t do effectively: correct the behavior of our incarcerated ndugu. Could you imagine the public relations nightmare for them? Some obscure, fraternal group comes along, recruits prisoners in large numbers who actually reform themselves. Hell no! There are other implications involving the exposure of corruption and abuse only an organized group can expose. The less common identity and unity prisoners have, the easier it is to abuse them and cover it up. Just having a growing number of prisoners who join an outside organization not subjected to NYSDOCS control, even if its prison members aren’t organizing among themselves without permission, is a threat to prisoncrats' cover-up abilities. So, prisoncrats will do all in their power to discourage prisoners from joining up.

Q. Would you say this affects the ability to bring peace among LOs?

A. Definitely. NYSDOCS officially doesn’t recognize gangs. Stupid, because they exist. Humans are social beings, we clique up for the bad or good. As steel sharpens steel and people sharpen people, so too groups sharpen groups. In other words, if you suppress positive and constructive groups, you destroy the very thing that can encourage groups on the wrong path to choose a better one. The positive and constructive groups NYSDOCS does approve are kept so isolated and ineffectual that they might as well not exist at all.

Q. What message do you stress to your UFD ndugu?

A. Do better, be better, and know better and push and challenge each other to do the same. The establishment, law enforcement and prison officials in particular, along with even some regular folks, will call us a gang just because some of us are ex-lumpens (that is, used-to-be gang bangers, hustlers, etc.) and some of us are in prison. Many have come before us claiming how positive they were only to fall right into the trap of the colonial/criminal mentality. This always seems to happen. In our case, it CANNOT! Though we must accept the bad with the good and recognize that none of us can be perfect, we need to be more good than bad, suppressing the bad at every turn. We need to break old habits that aren’t productive and learn new habits. If not, we will fail and become just another group hanging onto a banner, doing nothing productive, and deceiving ourselves that we rule or are almighty while under the foot of law enforcement and prisoncrats. This is absurd! And I’m not prone to embracing too much absurdity, though I fall short, too. But this is why we’re together. Each one help one! We have a better chance at succeeding together than alone.

Q. Any final words?

A. Yeah. To my UFDeez, many will doubt you, some will hate you, but we must earn the respect of all by living up to our ideology and laws. To do this we must have faith in ourselves, in each other, and in our leadership. Be strong and resolute. Love the people and they’ll love you. UFDeez, Dynasty Forever!!

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[Organizing] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 8]
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Info About Work in WI: We Need to Keep Fighting

At this place there are 1050 prisoners. There are 2 dorms. Dorm B holds 55 prisoners and Dorm A holds 110. There are 2 cell halls, North and South, about 300 prisoners each. The hole holds 150 and stays packed to capacity. Intake holds about 100 and a medical unit about 40.

Approximately 300 have jobs at maintenance, yard crew, bath house, rec, school hallway janitor, rotunda janitor, dorm janitor, canteen, library, tutors, cell hall swampers, paint crew, wardens clerk, treatment center janitor, health service clerk, visiting room janitor, picture project photographers, the kitchen, and Badger $tate Industries, in which they are paid between 12 cents to 42 cents an hour plus 2 cents extra on weekends and holidays, and they work up to higher positions in wages.

Prisoners who go to school get 15 cents an hour - yea they pay them, if you can call it that, to go to school. And those who don't go to school or have a job get 5 cents an hour to sit in a cell, which adds up to about $4 every 2 weeks, not nearly enough to get a stick of deodorant and soap, especially once they take out 50% for child support or other court obligations one might have. Yes, I still have to pay child support while in prison, 50% of any earnings.

The pay ranges are: 12 cents ($9.60 every 2 weeks), 19 cents ($15.20), 24 cents ($19.20), 35 cents ($28) and 42 cents ($33.60). And Badger $tate Industries is separate from institutional jobs. 18 prisoners have those jobs and get from 79 cents to a dollar an hour. They make clothing for outside vendors and to sell to prisoners around the state. They also make the pillows and mattresses. People on the streets want this closed because BSI could provide them with jobs. Prisoners at BSI used to get minimum wage and up.

I see brothers I rotate with work around here to get basic necessities because they have no income or family support on the outs. And if I give a brother a bar of soap or something to eat it is viewed as an infraction and I will be written up for "unauthorized transfer of property" and the soap confiscated. We aren't allowed to do what is right here and help our fellow man. Divide and conquer. Just like they do with the jobs. Brothers will cut each others' throat for a higher paying job around here.

On the other hand, I hate the idea of working in a prison (or on a plantation) because it helps to fuel it. If we all protested by not working, the staff would have to cook, clean, etc. It happened during lockdowns before and staff hated it. But there are not enough brothers willing to sacrifice their only income for change. The wages have continuously gone down in the 10+ years I've been down and canteen prices have continuously gone up.

I know of brothers who made this little money to send it to their kids, etc, or pay for phone bills. So some work for their families. But if the 100 kitchen workers all stopped working that would cause a lockdown and the warden would want to know why they won't work. In 2002 I was sent from here to Supermax for inciting a riot against staff and the old warden here asked prisoners what it is that they wanted and these suckas said more rec, shoes with air bubbles, porn and cigarettes. But when they took the cigarettes in 2000 they didn't riot. They only got more rec and the staff took 1 pair of shoes (we used to be allowed 2 pair) but that 1 pair could have air bubbles if they could afford them. I got back here in 2006, 4.5 years later and realized that brothers sold us out.

So I don't put my head on the chopblock any more because I know that most won't ride for a real cause for improvement such as more law library time (we only get 30-40 minutes a week, if lucky), better wages, better medical care. If the workers did stop working they have another prisoner that will fill that spot before the day has ended. Capitalism taught them individualism so most are for self and quick to say "I came in by myself, I'm go do me."

MIM(Prisons) responds: We get a lot of letters like this one from comrades behind bars who are down for the struggle but frustrated with the lack of support from their fellow prisoners. It is true that capitalism has taught prisoners individualism well. And the reality of Amerika is that citizens in this country have a material interest in preserving the system that is benefiting them. While prisoners are in a unique position because the very system that used to benefit them is now locking them up, it will not be an overnight transformation for people to see the connections with the capitalist system and move beyond individualist thinking. We know that most prisoners are not down for the anti-imperialist struggle. But we also know that their conditions leave many prisoners with open minds hungry for education. And so it is our job, both on the streets and behind bars, to provide educational material and food for thought to as many prisoners as we can reach. This is the purpose of Under Lock and Key. And we rely on conscious brothers and sisters behind bars to circulate it and spread the word.

In addition to many letters like this one, we also get many letters from prisoners who talk about how they pursued an individualist and selfish mentality for many years before having their eyes opened by something they read or by someone on the yard talking to them.

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[Organizing] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 7]
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USW Leads Organizing for Real Peace

United Struggle from Within is potentially the most potent prisoner’s organization. USW is intended to take the vanguard position in the overall prison liberation movement, by tackling the multiple battles which we face as prisoners in this injustice system. Such battles are, but not limited to: instituting the national minimum wage to prisoners, fighting censorship, fighting the isolation cell-blocks which are a form of psychological warfare, doing away with the capitalist “death penalty,” promoting peace between street-organizations and guiding these sisters and brothers to a more purposeful meaning of existence (operation), obtaining proper educational programs and courses to enable the prisoner to make a successful re-entry back into society.

Many more can be stated, as our USW movement has a lot of work to tend to. Which ultimately comes to the doing away with the capitalist-imperialist injustice system – without the causes of crime and recidivism what’s the use of having this major system of confinement?

Yes, the program of USW is intended to impact the individual’s life and community to the point we decrease the drug/alcohol use and abuse, recidivism, violent crime and youth crime. The penal system hasn’t tackled these problems of the people, so the people must tend to these issues. I must admit, I am grateful to be a part of such a movement and organization.

As I take up the struggle in Ohio and in forming a committee of the USW (where we will study socialism, organizational tactics, law, and past socialist movements in history), I have been met with many obstacles ranging from prison officials to even comrades of our struggle. One of the main obstacles that weighs heavy on my mind and heart is the barriers we have amongst us (prisoners, proletariat at large….). I’m trying to penetrate the walls of ignorance that pervade the prison system and the community.

This police state (Amerikkka) has given birth to a criminal culture/prison culture. USW must battle for the minds of potential revolutionaries. Our battle also goes against gangsterism, gang-banging, race-hate, and illiteracy. Bringing together opposite street organizations and race/culture oriented groups to the round table in a common striving for self-determination, liberation, and protection is a feat we USW comrades are instructed to accomplish. Bringing peace and a mutual understanding through organizational cooperation and aid is a prioritized objective of USW.

We all face the same problems coming from disenfranchised and socioeconomic oppressed communities, enduring the turmoil of being snatched away from our families and thrown into cages, stripped of our dignity and denied the adequate opportunity to reconstruct our lives in a proper way with education and assistance. Hence, we must educate ourselves. We must organize ourselves in cells/collectives that go beyond the prison fence and wires by establishing ourselves in the communities we come from and work together for the common good of each member. Our common goal is to get back to society. The system won’t provide us with the essentials to ensure our success so we must provide it ourselves. But, our course of action should be in a peaceful mode. And, as we engage and advance we must recognize and respect those who strive in the same way.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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GRAD program in Texas

In your November issues of ULK5 I read the article written by a Texas prisoner "Segregation in Texas" and am appalled by his ignorance as far as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) aka "Texas Department of Criminals" is concerned.

I myself am an ex-gang member, and I got into the GRAD program (without snitching), and do you know why? After 23 years of being a gang member in the prison system, I saw how the oppressors were using me to oppress others. By using me and other gang members, the oppressors in uniform do not get dirty while we get our time jacked-up or may even receive death for doing what the man in uniform wanted me to do. Not only that, but it gives the imperialists an excuse to build more control units for the idiots that are doing their dirty work.

Now I'll tell you about the Texas Department of Criminals. We prisoners in GRAD chose to call our gang affiliation history. Since then we have been labeled snitches (by TDCJ employees), by the same people who advertise how the prison system wants to help us rehabilitate. TDCJ employees know what goes on between prisoners because gang members have a habit of bragging, so when we denounce our gang affiliation the Gang Investigator (GI) tells you everything he knows about ranks and members all around the prison. At times the GI knows more than gang members. After being placed in the GRAD program, the same TDCJ staff go and instigate trouble between gang members and ex-gang members. That keeps the fuel on the fire and keeps prisoners at each others throats. Then TDCJ goes to the tax payer and asks for millions in tax dollars to build more control units.

December 4, 2008 and December 6, 2008, the thieves in the Governor's administration and TDCJ asked for a total of $506 million for the renovation of the prison hospital, for the medical contractors, and for walk-in metal detectors, wand detectors, surveillance cameras and x-ray machines. For the latter, the Texas department of criminals executive director is seeking an immediate $33 million. It is their own employees who bring in the contraband, but in the newspaper prisoners are the criminals.

Those of us who step back away from our gang membership are punished by the prisons. We face denial of meals (since I've been in GRAD I have been denied food 7 times). If we don't bark or beg for our meals we don't get fed. By law we should be allowed to recreate 1 hour daily, five days a week, but we are lucky if we get 1 hour a week. We get our water turned off by TDCJ employees just to try to get us to go off, and if we go off we have to go through the process all over again. We get verbal threats by staff. We get one or maybe two clean towels a week. We get old sheets that are cut in half. We don't get soap, tooth powder, grievance forms, or medical attention. We get strip searched by female guards, and if you are like me fighting the system, your mail is given to other prisoners or is denied.

The wing where I am housed is the only wing in the whole unit that is constantly freezing so that staff refuse to work this wing. We have to wear a t-shirt, jumpsuit and jacket in our cells during the winter. The air vents are so loud that you think you are standing next to a train (this is psychological torture). In the summer time the heat is turned on which makes you feel as if you are standing in the middle of the desert.

For 23 years I worked to please the oppressors by abusing the weak, oppressing others, and that is why I decided not to allow these people to tell me to do their dirty work while they sit back and earn money while I rot in these human warehouses.

Right now I am in a struggle with the medical department because they refuse to treat my illness. I am hypoglycemic and my blood sugar drops. Without the proper medication or diet I will lose my vision, which is happening slowly but surely. The way the grievance committee (kangaroo committee) puts it, I have to go into a coma so they can treat me. If more prisoners stood together as we used to in the 70s and early 80s, others would not have to go through these kinds of treatments. While we continue to fight each other they are building more control units. While we continue to fight each other we are forgetting the real purpose.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This issue of Under Lock and Key carries strong messages about the need for prisoners to stop fighting one another. We know that programs like the Texas GRAD system are used in many states to turn prisoners against each other by forcing them to snitch or be punished. But we also know that prisoners are turned against each other even before they enter these types of programs, fomenting conflicts between rival groups, and using prisoners to carry out violence against other prisoners in exchange for small favors. It is up to each prisoner to figure out how to best use the system to break away from the senseless violence and coming together with other prisoners to put their energy into the anti-imperialist struggle for peace.

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[Organizing] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
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Trading short term violence for long term struggle

I've spent my whole life being angry and confused with law enforcement, the U.$., and just people in general. In my confusion I've taken my anger out on the pigs these past fourteen years, with many assaults on officers, attempting to disarm an officer, anything to rebel against this system of lies everybody has fully embraced and accepted.

I'll admit for a while there I was beginning to believe I was the problem: not having pride in the Amerikan troops in Iraq like the rest. Hating these pigs for giving my father the raw deal over and over. My whole life witnessing my family deteriorate by losing touch with each other because most all of us are felons. Never being able to fight back because there's not enough money to fight these charges, paying fines eternally.

I want to thank all the comrades who put the word out about your beliefs and platform because my blinders are off because of all your hard work. You see I'm currently in Utah's UNITA One facility. It is Supermax solitary, or intensive management unit (the hole), for just plain anger related incidents. I came to prison this time for attempting to disarm a pig. I figured I'd take one of them fuckers out at least, and my life would seem worthwhile or my family would feel the utter hate I have for these people who have destroyed everything I hold dear through their constant harassments.

I'm 26 years old, just eight months ago I wrote to the Maoist Prison cell, seeking reading materials to pass the time. These past eight months I've become almost drunk on all these misconceptions. I've been exposed to the truth. I feel anger still, but it's not at those small town pigs, it's at the imperialist pigs who run the U.$.

Now there's a whole bigger picture and I want to contribute to the struggle. I see now it's like they wanted me to go off so they could just brush me aside and either kill me or place me in a cell. I feel the rightness when I read Mao's words and see the total wrongness in this system, in these CO's eyes as they torture us, force medicate us. I was very close to just succumbing to these offers of medications. Like I said I thought it was me who was wrong, seeing Amerika as evil. My struggle brought me here though, and I'm happy for that because my mind's just been seeking the rhyme and reason and my back's been strengthened enough to put my weight behind just such a cause.

I smile now at these COs when they toss my cell or write me up. I laugh at these psychiatrists when they tell me I need medication. I feel pity the same way a person feels pity on a weaker boxer in a title bout. For these pigs, they'll lose.

So for now I'll continue my study and contribute all I'm able to the fight with hopes of gaining enough wisdom to spread the message to a lost soul like I was someday. I'm literally the only prisoner in my section (the hole) who is not all zoned out on medications. I was very close to being unable to even struggle with anything but my own medicated thoughts - out of despair I came close to just getting on medication. Yet my drugs is in my exercise knowing there's many years ahead to fight a just cause. My drug's in the look on these guards faces when a grievance causes loss of jobs, positions and face. I live now in a torture chamber, the lowest possible position (except death row three sections down) a man can be in. But I see myself rising to the most high position possible: comrade in a struggle to bring true justice to the world's population.

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[Organizing] [California]
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Snitches, agents of the oppressor

Whether you call it snitchin, rollin over, or throwin rat, there has been a trend take over of brothas and sistas alike cooperating with the oppressor. Now I don't know why, but it seems to be a subject that many whisper about but few are willing to discuss. It's nothing new, but due to the over-popularity of its recent trend, many people are falling victim to the reconstruction of its appearance. And something needs to be done.

Since the beginning of history there have been traitors, informers, and infiltrators, so I'm not looking for a magic potion that'll eliminate the existence of snitching. I'm just looking for my revolutionary comrades to start (or put more effort in) educating each other on the existence of the snitch population, because it seems with so many falling victim to the traps of the oppressing agency, somebody somewhere failed to do so.

Snitchin ain't cool, solid, or proper, no matter how one chooses to dress it up and define it. It shouldn't be tolerated under any conditions or circumstances, whether you're incarcerated, caught up in court on a beef that involved a rad or two with you havin nothing to do with the case, or on the streets under investigation for an involvement, or lies with a certain revolutionary struggle/movement. It is totally unacceptable for one to open up his or her mouth to volunteer his or her cooperation with the oppressor.

As a revolutionary comrade to the USW, I find it my duty to speak on the issue and address it with all my heart.

Here in California there's been a trend of general population inmates turnin in there flags to the administrators for a life in the world of a P.C (peace of $hit) - Protective Custody. Now excuse the french, because I know there are a few celebs lie 'ol O.J. Simpson who reside in the system and have to be PC'ed up so they can keep the vultures off them. But I'm talking about the pieces of shit's, the child molesters, rapists and informers for the government. Dudes who used to be part of the criminal lifestyle, but violated the script, and used the PC route for a scape goat.

These individuals are the ones who are the main reasons prisons all over Amerikkka are fucked up the way they are. If it weren't for this population of individuals, the prison officials wouldn't know half the things they know about the prisoner organizing tactics and strategies, helping them to better limit us of our much needed resources, cornering our struggle and section of the end to imprisonment movement.

California has what they call the sensitive need yard (SNY) program, and it is under the protective custody program. It seems that convicts (ex-convicts) of all ages are flocking to the wardens to be enrolled. The program is separated from the GP prisoners, but already it is more of them than it is of us. A common joke amongst the GP prisoners is that in a few years we'll be the prison minority.

I can't speak on the lifestyle of a PC because I've never been on that side of the fence, but I can speak on how the PC lifestyle messes up the lifestyle of the GP.

After a prisoner decides he wants to go rat, he must inform the faculty Sgt officer of his intentions and why. Once this is done the goon squad (institutional security unit or institutional gang investigator) will get at him to receive any information that can be given. Weapons, drugs, names of the politically active, etc. From what I hear, if the information is valid enough they sign him up as a confidential informant and use him to take down individual convicts or whole convict organizing groups.

This snitch then is provided with special needs: a TV or a cell phone, or whatever the guard has to spear with its budget, which makes him want to stay on his job and encourage others to join his Inmate Task Force.

With these individuals existing along with their selfless structure of thinking, the solid revolutionary must truely practice knowing what they deal with, and the ways they deal with them. Back in the mid-sixties the convict element knew of no PC or Sensitive Needs Yards. Dudes got their paperwork checked at the front door, and if he/she had smut on their jacket, it would either be cleaned up or dealt with accordingly.

Now days you ask a dude for his/her ID, and he's bound to call the pigs. I'm supposed to be surrounded by these group of individuals claiming to be incarcerated for murdering a pig, but really be down for molesting a little girl or something. Something I'm totally against, and believe deserves capital punishment right along with the blooming snitch trend.

Informants are being placed on the main lines nationwide comrades, watch yo self and who you surround yourself with. The oppressor has become more aggressive in his/her campaign to destroy communism in Amerikkka (the U.$. to be exact) by putting eyes on the party's people even more so.

Those who are educated behind these walls are a threat to the prison officials and their puppeteers, because we can educate those who aren't. We are the political cadres for the movement to end oppression and imprisonment, and we must conduct ourselves as such. Safe guard yourself for there will always be eyes on you, whether it's the mailroom or Bush and his telecom eavesdroppers.

The snitcin game isn't to be played by a true revolutionary, for it's everything that we as communists are against. It's the game that destroyed the Gang of Four in China, the Bolsheviks in Russia, and Huey P. Newton and the Panthers here in the U.$. Prison rads must safeguard themselves, watch what you say, where you say it, when you say it, how you say it, and who you say it to.

Power to the People.


MIM(Prisons) responds:
This comrade makes some important points about security for our comrades behind bars. We do take issue with one point in his article: MIM(Prisons) does not make a distinction between prisoners based on the crimes for which they were convicted. We know that it is easy enough to convict a Black man for rape of a white womyn, and that coerced sex goes on in marriages, relationships and families, every day. Because sex under the patriarchy is inherently unequal we don't condemn those convicted of rape as somehow inferior to other prisoners. Instead we struggle with all prisoners to see the error of committing crimes against the people, and encourage them to take up the revolutionary struggle.

We also don't support capital punishment for anyone under imperialism because the capitalists use the death penalty to further their political agenda. We know that it may be necessary under a dictatorship of the proletariat, but we strive to avoid taking lives that could be turned into productive revolutionary citizens.

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[Organizing] [Montana] [ULK Issue 7]
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Call for unity among Montana prisoners

I'm writing in support of the Montana prisoner article detailing corrupt medical services and canteen schemes for profit. I've been a prisoner here in the Montana prison system since 2001. Over the years I've seen many changes, most for the worst. The biggest and the one that truly makes me sick, is the total collapse of prisoner unity in our prison system.

There's a scary trend of new prisoners entering here. It's all about submissive cooperation with prison officials. Making deals with the man (snitching, confidential informants) to secure favors from prison administrators (extra privileges, early release). Also a bad case of "Good ol Day" or "Back in the Day" syndrome. Unfortunately most people just talk, bitch or complain. Old timers are not standing up to teach the youngster how to carry himself within the walls.

I agree the medical services/canteen corruption in this system is out of control, but we have no one to blame but ourselves because we allowed the prison to take ultimate control. So now brother, I call unto those with heart to stand up and take back what's ours.

This is not a call of ignorance or senseless violence, but of sound, wise, educated resistance that benefits everyone here. In other words, prisoner unity, not division.

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[Organizing] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 6]
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Organizing a strike in Ohio

I'm an incarcerated comrade in the Maximum Security Prison of Ohio. Currently I'm in a specialized isolation unit on 23 hour lockdown called "4B". At the present moment our cell block is on a hunger strike/activities strike where we have pulled our collective minds and initiative to express our dissatisfaction at the treatment that has been administered by the prison officer of 2nd shift (2pm to 10pm).

Now, this was not organized by me, nor was I involved in the nucleus of organizing and planning this act. But, being bound by my imprisonment, I, as well as every other prisoner on this cell block, are obligated to come together and stand up against the oppressive actions administered by this reactionary, police-system in all its many forms.

What we are striking about is that the second shift officer has repeatedly neglected his duties by not picking up our outgoing mail; he has repeatedly passed mail to the wrong cell/prisoner; he has repeatedly denied to pass out kites, write-ups/informals and other institutional forms of communication (being we're on isolated blocks, these are our only means of communications). This same CO has not taken the meal list for days at a time: since I'm Muslim, I do not eat prison meat, along with other dietary preferences, we have missed meals without a choice in the matter, and this has spurred even more outrage.

This same C/O (officer) has attempted to spark a "race" conflict between the Blacks and whites by saying racial statements and joking trying to cause division. (This prison is far from an urban area where many prison staff are not accustomed to diverse cultures and skin tones. Here, the white supremacist prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, is backed by the prison staff.) For the last few days, prisoners on this cell block have put in work; but, these activities are not new to this prison nor to prison in general.

In trying to speak to higher prison officials to unveil our discontent of the actions administered by this officer (which, in reality, is only a representation of the nature of the prison-system, and in turn, the Amerikan system), this battle of ours will not cease, Blacks and whites shall continue to uphold the struggle in the face of the slobbing Pig. Thus far no one has backed down, even in the midst of opposition - which is coming in many forms. For example, a C/O sprayed mace in the ceiling vents which are connected to all the cells on this block. His excuse was that it "came from another cell block."

All in all, my intentions for writing this was to point out the fact that this system of oppression does not comprehend anything less than revolutionary united struggle. They only understand aggression and asserted action (viz the organized power of the proletariat) so long as we do not realize our power through concerted effort the oppressors will continue to win! We must play the game they play! Think about that!

- Ohio USW leader

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[Organizing] [Legal] [Censorship] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
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Combat their Violence with the Law

I'm in solitary and they have strict magazine/newspaper rules, meaning no magazines/newspapers and just this last week they said no books. I'm grieving them on the books and all the returns using this case law: Prison Legal News v. Lehman 397 5.30 692 (9th Cir. 2005) - prisons may not prohibit prisoners from receiving non-subscription mail and catalogs, Sonnels v. McKee, 290 F.30 965 (9th Cir 2002) - prisons may not ban gift publications for which prisoner has not paid, and Morrison v. Hall, 261 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2001) - prisons may not ban receipt of subscription publications sent by bulk, third or fourth class mail. I've tried writing to the mailroom and explaining the way they've been in the wrong, nicely. But it seems there's no other way but to grieve and most likely prosecute.

It's not just mail and books I've been grieving and this might be why they have been holding/denying my mail. I've grieved mental health all the way to level three and also medical for deliberate indifference. They have mentally ill prisoners over here in solitary who regularly get peppersprayed, stun gunned, thrown around, thrown on strip cell, and even end up killing themselves. The C/O's kick their doors every count, waking them up. Calling them names, egging them on. Sgt. Feikert commented just last week as they zipped up Mark in his body bag, "No big loss, this scumbag did us a favor, we need the bedspace."

I read a piece by Emile Capouya called, "Laying Down the Gun," that says this about C/Os, "The policeman's... training... [is] directed to a single object... making the system safe for the powerful. The deformation of character he suffers may be greater or less than that of the 'other' born losers he is paid to keep in line, but I imagine it must be substantial." And I can see it in their faces. They're in the belly of this beast called prison even though they go home to sleep. I've been locked up for six years, but against my will. They drive their sorry selves here each day.

But isn't the key in the general strike? If that was awakened again I believe it could work. It's not about violence, is it? I don't know but like I told these other organizations, if you could have talked to me one year ago I wouldn't have been able to tell you there's 2.3 million people caged in the U.$. of A's prison industrial complex. In my mind I knew something wasn't right and I literally saw no better way than to take a couple cops with me, hence my disarming an officer charge. But now I have something larger and more pressing to put my weight behind. I just hope others like myself see the truth before it's too late for them.

MIM(Prisons) says: We also spend a lot of time explaining to prison mailrooms and administrators when they are breaking their own rules and laws. But often they will not address the misdeeds and it is then necessary to prosecute in the courts, as this comrade explains. Unfortunately, this is usually the case, as years of reporting in Under Lock & Key have documented. Like the quote in this letter implies, this is only to be expected from those who are trained to serve the interests of the state. While oppression of certain groups serves the state, so does a semblance of bourgeois democratic rights. That is why we can usually count on the courts to give us a more fair shake than the pigs will. Such battles are necessary survival tactics for the oppressed and for the movement.

The author, like many who write us, is someone who used to think killing cops was the only way to defend himself from the attacks he faced. Prison staff abuse and disregard the lives of prisoners regularly as he describes. Lives are at stake in the amerikan prison environment, both prisoners and cops. Yet official policy institutionalizes violence by encouraging a culture of punishment while often denying any administrative recourse for those who are being abused. In many of these same facilities, even outside parties such as MIM(Prisons) have no recourse with these state employees, nominally servants of the people, when they violate our guaranteed rights by preventing us from communicating and associating with others.

MIM(Prisons) works with comrades like this to find a real solution to these problems because fist fights and stabbings are not the answer to abuse in prisons. We hope that the prison administration will recognize this and begin treating prisoners like humyn beings. Studies have shown that the u$ prison system inherently breeds abuse, while history demonstrates that only a socialist prison system that puts the interests of the world's people first can provide a viable alternative where those who have committed real crimes are restored and not victimized. So it is important that we use long legal battles to build outside pressure and oversight on what is going on inside u$ concentration camps today, in order to bring this contradiction of capitalist society to the forefront while building a broader anti-imperialist united front.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 5]
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Assassins with Badges

Another unarmed person was murdered in cold blood this month of September 2008 in Tucson Arizona by a police officer who believes he has a license to kill anyone in this county that he pleases just because he wears a badge. Police that murder unarmed people in this country are assassins with badges. These public servants who are hired to protect and serve the people of this great country, and are paid by the tax payers, have imposed themselves as judge, jury and executioners. And when they are taken to court and charged with murder they are acquitted by ignorant jurors who have been brainwashed by the ever constant cop shows on TV run by Hollywood on a daily basis. Society in general in this country has been misled to believe these cop shows that the police always tell the truth and that if they murder someone that they had "just cause" to kill.

I can go on and on about the countless murders that the police in this country have gotten away with in the past decade alone. But that would just be like beating a dead horse and expounding on the problem instead of the solution.

What is the solution? Marching like the honorable Martin Luther King Jr did back in the dayz? That worked back then, it won't work today.

How about blowing cops up like the Black Liberation Army did back in the 70s? No. Violence breeds violence. Besides it didn't work back then and it won't work now.

So what is the answer then? Sacrifice, revolution and the propensity for action. It worked in the Attica prison revolt in 1971 (though the system has slowly taken back all the rights given to prisoners since then). Prisoners lost their lives to make that happen. Sacrifice has worked in many instances throughout history.

You know we write to MIM. We talk that talk. Blah, blah, blah. Then we get released and we do nothing to help the oppressed peoples and we get caught up in selfish crimes against ourselves and our own people. It's time to step up. Are u down?

"A man who does not have a cause worth dying for isn't fit to live" - Martin Luther King Jr.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that now is not the time for violence in Amerika, but not because "violence breeds violence" rather because violence by the oppressed from a position of weakness, and without strategic planning and support of the masses, leads to the destruction of a movement and the oppressed within it. We call this sort of violence focoism and history demonstrates its failure. We would also argue that King's strategy of non-violence did not work in his day - he argued that pacifism and working within the system was the only possible solution, and that too has been proven a failure through history. We know that the imperialists will not give up without a fight, and that they will defend what they control with violence. Where we do agree is with the need for sacrifice and organizing both behind the bars and on the streets. We need to be clear that we are fighting for an end to the imperialist system, but in this country today this is a non-violent phase of the struggle.

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