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Under Lock & Key

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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] [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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[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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[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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[Organizing] [Texas]
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Phone System Profits in Texas

Thought to enclose a prison newspaper article about the installation of an offender telephone system. I was getting ready to dispose of the paper when I noticed this article more or less coincided with your issue on money for profit in the prison system. It doesn’t take a dummy to figure out the profits the provider and the prison system will make. A lot of money will be made as there are over 150,000 prisoners in the system. The paper appears to imply that only those in protective custody in the control units and the general population will be able to use these phones, that’s still a lot of other prisoners the state and its provider will make a killing on money-wise. And as my comrades in Texas said, prisons are a business.

I have been in and out of the prison system in Texas since the mid-70s and from agriculture to industry, TDC will continue to thrive because it is the state legislators who will continue to provide the necessary funds to keep the prison thriving. What’s so scary about the above mentioned scheme is in every state, and the few of us who voice our outrage in exposing it face the state or federal government lackeys trying to silence us. This we can not allow. We must keep it strong and our voices must continue to be heard.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 9]
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FBI Arrests Peacemaker

Alex Sanchez Homies Unidos
Two issues ago Under Lock & Key released the Peace Issue. Now we are working on an issue on migrants and non-citizens in u$ prisons. The kidnapping of Homies Unidos director Alex Sanchez by the FBI yesterday demonstrates the close relationship between prisons, immigration, repression and peace.

Homies Unidos was started in El Salvador by 20 people who were deported from the united $tates due to Clinton-era immigration legislation after serving prison terms. Alex Sanchez played a key role in founding the Los Angeles chapter 2 years later, building an important link to the source of gang problems here in the belly of the beast.

The targeting and arrest of Alex by the FBI is just one more example to support our argument in issue 7 that the state does not want peace. There are few who can claim to have done more to bring peace to some of the worst affected gang areas in the world, yet the state sees him as a threat.

In the 1980s people across Central America united for a new economic system that served people’s needs. The united $tates responded by arming and training death squads to combat these movements. They used terrorism, killing local families in mass genocide, and carrying out similar brutality against supporters from other countries to discourage internationalism. Like most who Homies Unidos works with, Alex himself was a victim of the mass displacement of people across Central America caused by a decade of amerikan intervention. This period of brutality was followed by economic policies that offered one job option for the children of war: running product for the multi-billion dollar amerikan drug economy.

While most travelled to the united $tates looking for jobs, others were brought here via their jobs in the black market drug trade. Either way, these new arrivers are targeted for imprisonment by the u$ injustice system, which helped to consolidate and reinforce the criminal gang life as the only option for mostly male youth. Just like those who came before them, Salvadorans on the streets and in prisons formed groups to defend themselves from a society who feared and attacked new comers.

Alex’s arrest is a blatant attack that is part of the same system that has attacked millions coming from the same place he came from. But his targeting has been very specific and ongoing because of his efforts to organize for peace by building alternatives to violent crime as a means of survival. He posed too great of a threat to the system of control of Brown and Black youth in this country through drugs and low intensity warfare, while simultaneously threatening the flow of drugs into the richest market in the world.

Previously, Alex was targeted by the Ramparts CRASH unit leading up to the infamous scandal within the Los Angeles Police Department, where cops worked with the INS to deport drug dealers who wouldn’t work with the LAPD. At that time he was threatened with deportation. He responded by attempting to get asylum because of his social position in El Salvador, where members of the main lumpen organization there are targeted for imprisonment and assassination with more impunity than they are in the united $tates. This would have provided a way out for millions of youth stuck in the violent cycle. But the amerikan courts would not go for this argument, and granted him asylum on the basis of his political beliefs instead.

Alex has continuously put himself on the line for the interests of the lumpen class, who on the whole have yet to return the favor. Part of developing the consciousness of the lumpen is organizing the defense (and support) of those who are doing the most to serve the lumpen.

Lesson for the Criminal Minded

There are two possible lessons that members of the unpoliticized lumpen organizations can take from this. There is the message of the FBI, that it is hopeless to work against the u$ imperialists, so you’re better off working with government operations to drug and pacify oppressed communities and hope you don’t get hit by the violence or addiction yourself. This is the short-term, individualist view.

Then there is the lesson that MIM(Prisons) takes from this. Yes it is true, anyone who does real work to help lumpen youth improve their lives will be targeted by the u$ government. But rather than turning to despair and capitulation we promote a message that encourages people to look at the big picture and drop their fears as individuals. This lesson leads one to recognize the necessity of a number of strategies. One such strategy is shifting the focus of existing lumpen organizations to provide real support for independent organizations that are really helping lumpen youth. But with that comes risks, so another lesson is that the criminality of the lumpen makes it harder for leaders to help the lumpen as a class. In other words, cleaning up your act makes it easier for us to work together.

In response to the recent arrests, many amerikans have already convicted Alex of the accused crimes, because according to bourgeois idealism people are born bad and cannot change. It just so happens that people who are born bad usually have darker skin. Such idealism is only consistent with an ideology of racism.

Like MIM(Prisons), Homies Unidos stressed education of the lumpen to understand why they are where they are, while working to build leaders to change that reality. Those who benefit from the oppression and exploitation of others do not want such change to take place. They will promote individuals who escape criminal life as examples that anyone can succeed in this system (if they try). The lumpen know this is bullshit, but the lumpen need to study to see what real solutions are.

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[Organizing] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 9]
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Inspired to join the struggle in Maryland

I just received my first issue of Under Lock & Key (May 2009, #8). Wow, I’m sold. I’d love to be a comrade in the struggle.

The article titled “Remove the Profit Motive” by the comrade out in California has me sending my money out to my family. I’m becoming indigent as my first step to join the movement. Now I see why they keep building prisons. Thank you for opening my eyes.

I’m going to spread the word here and educate as many as I can while you educate me. This imperialist country spends billions on lost causes while millions are starving and homeless. Please send me literature that will help me to better understand the movement. I’m ready to do whatever I can for the revolution.


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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 9]
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Mao's Combat Liberalism Very Relevent in PA Prisons

I am writing to let you know that I received Under Lock & Key November 2008 (#5). It seems like the prison might have kept the newspaper for a while like they always do. Anyway, it is very enlightening and helpful. The “Combat Liberalism” essay by Mao Zedong really did touch home because here at SCI Camp Hill SMU there are a lot of prisoners that claim to be political prisoners and against oppression and these degrading, diabolical establishments. But when they see plainly a fellow prisoner being harassed or oppressed through their meals, mail, showers, or yard or something, they all just fall back and say “well it’s not us, so it’s not my business.” This is nauseating. I mean it’s to the point where they witness the officers here assaulting a fellow prisoner, again these so-called political minded prisoners against oppression to these diabolical establishments do not do a thing but just fall back and submit to this wickedness and repeat their same hypocritical mottos. As long as it is not happening to them they’re fine, cool But let it happen to one of them, then they’re up screaming “oppression” and “we as a people.”

The fifth type and eighth type from Combat Liberalism are totally on point and we see these just about every day here. The fifth: “to indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly.” And the eighth type: “To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue.” These two types again stood out and touched home.

The officers here keep coming onto the SMU pod here and poisoning people’s minds and keeping individuals bickering and fighting amongst themselves, it’s insane. There is not much unity here, thanks to the officers divide and conquer tactics. But who am I to say all of this - they’ve labeled me an irrational delusional psychopath!

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