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[Black Lives Matter] [Principal Contradiction] [National Liberation] [Revolutionary History] [National Oppression] [Political Repression]
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Stripping Black History From Prisons

“What makes you think you DESERVE to celebrate Black History Month”- SIS Officer at USP Tucson

These were the words that were spoken to me a few years ago, here at United States Penitentiary - Tucson, shortly before I was illegally put in the SHU (Special Housing Unit) for 40 days.

Before this incident, i was the Secretary of the Black History Month Committee here for three consecutive years, and had more experience in the committee than anyone else over the last five years. But on this particular year, as I reflect back on this, the Education Department did absolutely nothing for us in preparing for Black History Month. We were promised the resources, but as we worked from November of the previous year to February of that next year, we found that when it was time to promote Black History Month, there was nothing set aside for us to carry out any of the activities promised.

We had nothing.

I am writing this now, in February 2024, and I am again at the realization that USP Tucson, from the Warden on down, refuses to allow us to celebrate our history. Not one memo, not one event, nothing is scheduled to celebrate our history, and I can’t help but reflect back to that day where a Caucasian SIS officer (Special Investigative Services) had the audacity to tell me, to my face, “What makes you think you DESERVE to celebrate Black History Month”?

What we are seeing is a stripping not only of Black History, but of identity as well. Prisons are mandated to help rehabilitate people, and one way to do that is to reinforce their identity. There is a certain level of pride that each individual gets when he or she knows that they are part of a greater group of people. I speak as an African American, but this also applies to every other nationality, from Native Americans to Mexican Americans to even Caucasians. When prisons strip us of an identity, it makes them similar to how slaves were treated in our American history.

The slaves brought to America came with nothing, and were systematically stripped of everything they once were, and degraded to a level of inhumanity that surely is an abomination to God. Has much changed in 2024, when prisons continue to practice slave tactics?

In that year we didn’t have Black History Month, I was upset at this, and began to do what I always do… write. I wrote essays about how staff deliberately sabotaged Black History Month, and intended to mail them to the outside world.

But a Caucasian staff member in Education read my works, and refused to allow me to have them back, after I had printed them. She called them “inappropriate.” I questioned her as to why I cannot have my works, which actually I have a right to have.

Her first answer was, “Well, I was with (the staff member), and you don’t know what you’re talking about”-

Wait! I am the SECRETARY of the Black History Month Committee!! I keep ALL the notes! How is this Caucasian woman going to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about?? At this point, I was already getting angry at how I am being challenged of my First Amendment right about MY history.

Her second excuse was that I can’t have it back because I made multiple copies. This too, was bogus, because even though the general body of the letter was the same, it was very clear at the top of each copy who I was sending it to. Her argument was based on that you could not make exact, identical copies at the same time – I had every right to make three copies if they are going to three different entities.

Her third argument was, “If you want to write a grievance, you can get a BP”. This also was a lie, and what she now was doing was curbing my right to the First Amendment, shifting me to use a VERY flawed grievance procedure. What she was doing was quite illegal.

So, upset, I went back and wrote a new essay, “Is (staff member) Breaking The Law?”. I used Federal Bureau of Prisons policies, legal cases and other resources to prove, without a doubt, that this Caucasian officer was intentionally blocking me from sending these letters out.

When she read my essay, she called for backup, and the SIS officer came, took me out to the hallway and threatened to put me in the SHU (Special Housing Unit). He said, “I know how to play this game”, and then, as I tried to make my case, he said the quote I started this essay with.

My answer to this Caucasian man… “I don’t think a white man can tell a Black man, who has been the Secretary of the Black History Month Committee the last three years anything about his history”.

To this man, and to many Caucasian officers here at USP Tucson, we don’t “deserve” to celebrate our history; we don’t “deserve” to have an identity. Yet, they are quick to take vacation on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday.

The last several years here at USP Tucson, the Warden has blocked attempts for us to celebrate our history. Even now, as we came off a malicious and retaliatory 36-day lockdown, after refusing to give us stamps to mail our loved ones, after filthy showers, after feeding us spoiled peanut butter, after limiting our phone calls to a single five minute call a day, after at least three deaths due to medical neglect, and as many homicides – staff here at USP Tucson will not relent in their treatment of human beings in this prison.

It’s not just Black History they are stripping from us . . . it’s humanity they are stripping from everyone. When prisons refuse to acknowledge the captives as human beings, when they ignore the simple basics of human kindness, when they condone illegal acts done by staff, and do nothing about it, they have transported the entire environment backwards two hundred years.

It’s funny, that incident with the Caucasian officer in Education and the SIS officer happened, as I write this, about 5 years ago… those officers still work here. They were never punished in any shape or form for their prejudiced views. I however, was put in the SHU for 40 days, then found guilty of a bogus charge. It took me at least six months to appeal to eventually have that charge expunged, based off simple information that, if the Caucasian Disciplinary Officer had read, she would have thrown the charge out. But after my appeal to her during my hearing, she said to me:

“I just don’t believe she would lie to me”.

So, because I’m Black, and a prisoner, I lose the argument simply because my opponent is a Caucasian female that is a staff member. My level of equality as a human being is stripped, because my status as an prisoner is inferior.

We won’t celebrate Black History Month here at USP Tucson, because staff apparently don’t believe we “deserve” it. So, I’ll celebrate it for everyone here, and refuse to let this prison strip me of my humanity. That makes them less of a human than me.


MIM(Prisons) responds:Understanding history is about understanding where we came from and where we are going. This is the real power of history that the oppressor has tried to keep from the oppressed for hundreds of years. The system is happy to promote an identity for prisoners – one of people who are not deserving, of people with less rights, of people who are less intelligent. There are many identities we can take on, positive and negative. We do not promote a “white identity” because that is the identity of an oppressor. As communists we identify with the Third World proletariat – that is the revolutionary class of people under imperialism that offers solutions and a path from oppression.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Security] [Aztlan/Chicano] [ULK Issue 84]
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Seducing The Jaguar: Chican@ notes on U.$. Counterinsurgency

Communist Party of Aztlan logo

The methods employed by the U.$. government that are directed at the internal semi-colonies are vast. Although counter insurgency is a practice taken up by many oppressor nations globally, it is unique within the U.$. empire because of the magnitude of national oppression in the form of mass imprisonment of the internal nations and the fact that the carceral state has in fact created the very conditions that uphold and nurture insurgency from its very bowels. U.$. counter insurgency has had a program in place which changes names but stays consistent in targeting its enemies within the prison system in general and those within the prison movement in particular. Methods employed today within U.$. prisons and especially prisons within Aztlán (the so-called “U.S. Southwest”) are meant to declaw our young Jaguars and to seduce the nation into a role that is at war without shield nor spear.

It is this clear persynal experience in being a target of COINTERLPRO which led to the culmination of this paper. Our party sees the need to begin this conversation in the nations so that not just Aztlán but all who fight colonization and the hyper-policing, frame ups, state-sponsored terror, and assassination can begin the hard work of guarding against counter insurgency in an era that demands our boots on the ground to stomp out the rising tide of repression.

Revolutionaries are organizing daily in the occupied territories to raise consciousness and heighten the contradictions whenever they arise through agitation and political education. The state and its apparatus is also working hard daily to subdue our efforts and seduce our young jaguars into the temptation of empire and all the trappings of U.$. imperialism.

Chican@ units and organizations that influence the nation to challenge the state and set out on the path of liberation and independence are targeted. The imperialist state will do everything in its power to prevent socialist revolution from developing in Aztlán and beyond. Our role as Chican@ revolutionaries should be to hold workshops in every barrio of Aztlán where the ideas of socialist revolution are realized and embraced, it is the duty of Chican@ communists to respond to U.$. counter insurgency in this manner. Only by mobilizing the entire community, the entire barrio in this way, will we ever finally get over the obstacle of U.$. counter insurgency.

Political Line Is Decisive

In our analysis we uphold the idea that ideology is key in how we move. Political line helps guide us in our political endeavors and we must constantly make adjustments and test our theory in order to maneuver in ways which push not just the Chican@ movement forward but the whole International Communist Movement (ICM) forward as well. We realize that the trappings of living in the imperial core among the world’s labor aristocracy pushes many to believe that revolutionary organizing is not a life-or-death choice. The Communist Party of Aztlán (CPA) feels otherwise. Indeed we see that – even here in the First World where most “workers” are bought off by blood stolen from the Third World – revolutionary organizing is a matter of life or death to the Chican@ nation. If we do not set out on the task of organizing Aztlán and revolutionize our nation it will succumb to capitalist roaders. For this reason this paper serves not just as a study guide for oppressed nations but also as a cri de coeur (cry of the heart) for the raza to grasp the urgency that we see in the great task ahead or our nation may die.

Although we have a huge responsibility positioned here in the heart of imperialism, as we combat counterinsurgency and mobilize the people we have no confusion about the fact that the Third World leads the ICM and our efforts here in the First World merely compliment them. Maoism as an ideology is clear on this despite the eye rolls from the trots, who have never led a single successful revolution.

It is crucial that Aztlán comes to grasp the reality of the class structure in the United $nakes – as well as in Aztlán – as being made up of petty-bourgeois class forces. The exploitation of workers does not exist on the scale that it did in Lenin’s Russia, on the contrary, what exists today in the occupied territories for the most part is a labor aristocracy whose life support remains connected to the value extraction from the Third World. We need to move from this perspective and understanding. Aztlán’s future demands that we grasp this. Political line must be decisive in order for our tactics and strategies to be effective in our struggle for national liberation in the midst of the counterinsurgency offensive. Ideology allows us to identify our friends and separate them from our enemies. This does not mean we will not take losses to state repression. it simply means that we will be better equipped to continue in this beautiful struggle against oppression.

As Maoists we realize that being triumphant over U.$. counterinsurgency efforts and the occupation of our homeland will only happen when the U.$. government has been completely overthrown and a complete revolution on these shores has occurred. Anything short of that will prevent real liberation from being realized for Aztlán.

As a party for the Chican@ nation we believe the Maoist concept of mass line is the way forward. It is the Chican@ masses who define the path by their ideas which are synthesized by our party. The raza will make hystory. Ultimately, our job is to engage the people into realizing their power.

The U.$. government is at war with Aztlán, yet the tactic of low intensity warfare pulls the wool over our eyes and clouds our social reality from being realized except for the more politically conscious. Even among conscious raza in general, and communist raza in particular, one of the things which separates revolutionaries is the understanding, which Mao pointed out, of class struggle continuing not just under a socialist government but even within the party itself as a bourgeoisie develops within. Understanding this Maoist doctrine in pre-revolutionary times is perhaps more crucial than even picking up the gun in revolution. Even in our current battle of raising public opinion and evading counterinsurgency tactics by the state, grasping this doctrine helps anchor us on the path to liberation rather than the capitalist road.

Raza of all political stripes may be targets of the imperial counterinsurgency campaign. Many may even be successful in evading state repression, yet evasion per se is not the objective, our aim of course is national liberation. As a semi-colony existing in the world’s imperialist center Aztlán’s primary objective is national liberation. We cannot help free other nations if we are not yet free. At the same time we should also identify that in order to win a war for national liberation we need a Raza Army, a Raza Army that is led by the CPA.

U.$. Counterinsurgency

Counter-insurgency is a military concept meant to partake in certain actions that neutralize insurgents. The United $nakes target and identifies politically conscious and revolutionary folks within the occupied territories as insurgents and has designed a program that aims to destroy us and our efforts. This program attempts to neutralize us “legally” according to its own illegitimate “laws”, but will resort to cold-blooded murder if necessary.

Most of those targeted come from the oppressed nations. This is not to say that most anti-imperialists or revolutionaries are from the oppressed nations, but that the U.$. knows that it will ultimately be the internal nations that tip the scale in our favor come civil war. AmeriKKKa has worked hard to brainwash the oppressed and although they have managed to ward off the seizure of power by the oppressed they truly never gained real legitimacy in the eyes of the raza. At the same time the imperialist center has not held on to the internal colonies and its global influence for nothing, indeed they pour billions each year in its various agencies in order to hold onto white power.

Communists often say we are “professional revolutionaries” because we take our role seriously and understand that many times our very lives are at risk as we organize here in the Snakes. We should also grasp that the imperialist state also sees itself as professional oppressors because it is their lives that are in peril should revolution succeed.

The oppressor’s counterinsurgency methods rely largely on intel. Information about the intended target is essential. Knowing everything about a target is vital to take that target down cleanly. The state agents are like hunters at this stage of struggle, one of their roles is to stalk their prey, find its habits and activities so that when it’s time to hunt they’ll know whether to use a bullet, crossbow, knife or simply poison the water hole. We give them this intel wittingly or not because they can only find a trail that we ourselves leave.

In the year 2023 our party took some hits by the state. It’s interesting that in the California prison system the number 23 is a known symbol of white power so in some sense we anticipated the white power structure to strike in some way. But 2023 was also a year of growth and development for the CPA. We were able to learn a lot from the repression that was rained down on us when our Chairman was kidnapped.

National oppression in the form of imprisonment is one of the weapons the state uses in its counterinsurgency campaign. When targeting revolutionaries the state will often raid a cell or do a round up sweep but allow one or two to “get away”. This tactic is meant to study the regrouping method and allow the one or two “lucky ones” to lead them to the others. It reminds me of an ancient Chinese tactic, where Chinese families for thousands of years have caught cormorant birds on Weishan Lake and tied string around their throats, letting them dive in lakes for fish while being unable to swallow, in this way recruiting a fleet of slaves for the master fisher. This is also akin to probation/parole.

The state also employs agents of various stripes who do in fact infiltrate revolutionary groups and cells. Counterinsurgency aims to neutralize insurgents. The state identifies those who take up agitation and/or organizing in order to reach our goal of national liberation. Once identified these individuals, groups, or organizations become the state’s target. Various methods are used in surveillance, but of course human intel is always preferred by the state. Plants who give the state the ins and outs of a target’s daily functions as well as goals and objectives or war plans are golden.

The FBI and CIA both utilize various assets for COINTELPRO – like operations which spawn various counterinsurgency actions. Their assets may be a partisan, prisoner, or paralegal. Most people can be utilized so nothing should be a surprise and people should be on a need-to-know basis from a comrade to a lover. We should also understand that the $tates’ wet dream is to in fact have the comrade or lover of a target as an asset, it is the golden egg in the realm of counter-insurgency.

Assets

Assets come in many forms as has been stated. The state may employ a deep cover asset which would provide undercover intelligence and assist the state in gauging the threat. By alerting her/his controllers to an impending “crime” which can be real or imagined, for example the deep cover asset may report that a target has an arsenal of firearms at their residence which may not even be true, the controllers will either obtain probable cause for a search warrant or will send in an undercover informant within the scenario who can then corroborate the asset’s intelligence. An informant’s job will be to record conversations (wear a wire or plant bugs) and to get up on the stand in open court to swear on their undercover “evidence”. With regard to revolutionaries, this “evidence” is usually the most outlandish story imaginable so long as it neutralizes the target. An informational informant would be one whose only role is to gather intel to feed to the agents but would never reveal themselves nor get on the stand in open court. Such informants usually work for years in this way and almost always join the movement in some way, in an organization, as an occasional protester or in today’s world as some sort of online activist . . . the point is they will attempt to stay familiar to revolutionaries and to gain the raza’s trust in some way.

COINTELPRO - keep our secrets secret

COINTELPRO

We can never hear too much about COINTELPRO, (counter intelligence program) which the U.$. government unleashed on the people in the 1950’s. Initially COINTELPRO was used during the “Red Scare” when communists in these false U.$. borders were targeted and terrorized. The state would infiltrate communist organizations and even study groups gathering intel in order to strike. In the 1960’s the repression continued this time on the oppressed nations.

AmeriKKKa trembles at the thought of a Leninist cadre organization developing on its shores, its stomach turns when professional revolutionaries are conceived in its putrid womb. Our existence can only be realized if security measures are upheld to guard against COINTELPRO attacks.

The state employs COINTELPRO tactics to entrap or even assassinate our leaders. It develops moles of all types and agent provocateurs to get our cadre killed or captured. It slanders our brightest and most dedicated and frames those who can’t be neutralized any other way. The imperialist state does the unthinkable in order to keep the slaves holding their own blinders and covering their own ears. Just as the unjust cruelty is unleashed on the Third World, our most cherished acts and ideas are thoroughly violated in order to inflict the most damage to the movement. Not only are emotions like love defiled, in some cases they are weaponized to serve the imperialist masters.

Today we have the memory of COINTELPRO and even of the pigs that have been mostly etched out for us from seasoned revolutionaries or from the dusty pages of library shelves. But we define a pig as the MIM defined it in their pamphlet “What’s Your Line?”:

“A pig is a police officer or other representative of the government’s repressive apparatus, especially one who breaks down people’s doors or quietly infiltrates a movement.”

We often think of a pig as a uniformed badge-wearing slave hunter but, according to the above definition, how many pigs are really out there?

Our party has enacted security precautions because of COINTELPRO attacks that we suffered in 2023. We do not name members of our party. How can organizations that are seeking to seize power identify themselves to the enemy who will come to kill them when the revolutionary war arrives? Why would we arm the state with a list of those it should round up? Why would we hand them the thread to pull apart the fabric of our party?

Those who scoff at the warnings of COINTELPRO are those who consciously or not believe in the fantasy of U.$. “democracy”. They have a disdain for those who attempt to raise the alarm of COINTELPRO and who raise consciousness around these matters. These Ti@ Tacos usually embed themselves in progressive orgs and wallow in cultural nationalism if they are raza. They essentially feel safe in the United $nakes. We should identify these Toms and learn to never feel safe among them or their kind.

Most recently it was reported in the corporate U.$. news that the settler state of I$rael assassinated the leader of the Palestinian resistance in its current war on Palestine. We hear these selective strikes happen all the time yet many are still oblivious to the fact that the oppressor nation and its agencies always keep lists of revolutionaries. Their flow charts list leaders of the movement it has identified and will strike at will. We should move like we know this.

Hystorical materialism teaches us to learn from hystory in order to transform the future, and COINTELPRO in the 1960’s taught us lessons when it came to the Black Panthers. For example, the FBI sent in informants and agents who identified what groups the Panthers were funking with, and one such group was the black nationalist organization United Slaves. The feds ordered their agents to foment conflict and heighten tension. Within the Chican@ movement today we see this play out in various forms. In order to guard against this we need a no tolerance policy in this area.

Tactics

AmeriKKKa has been very creative in its efforts which have helped to stunt the growth of any real rebellion that confronts U.$. imperialism. Since colonization the state has employed various tactics to the oppressed nations, often utilizing others among the oppressed to do the $tates’ bidding. An early record from the U.$. army from Geronimo touches on this:

“Reliable Indians will be used as auxiliary to discover any signs of hostile Indians, and as trailers. This is the fifth time within three months in which the Indians have been surprised by the troops . . . given them a feeling of insecurity”

The above gets into the mindset of the imperialist state. It tells us that – despite many among the oppressed internal nations feeling as if they are mere fingerlings in the geo-political landscape – the state sees us as extreme threats. The U.$. government wants to know who the hostile people are, who the rebels are, the anti-imperialists, the revolutionary nationalists, and all the enemies of the state. The state also wants to psychologically harass and confuse us, at one time this was accomplished by horseback and today it is via the internet.

Prisons are also a target. The state knows very well that when revolutionaries are captured they continue with their duty to raise consciousness and to politicize the very concentration kamps they are held in. La lucha don’t stop in any sense of the word, if anything the struggle accelerates because of the uncut repression that prisons and prisoners experience.

The FBI actually created a prison activists surveillance program (PRISACTS) in 1970. This was meant to crush the prison movement. The methods used were military tactics which Orisanmi Burton calls “carceral spaces as zones of counter-revolutionary warfare” in Targeting Revolutionaries. This government project displays the lengths to which the state is willing to go to neutralize revolutionaries even when they are imprisoned. We take these methods serious as all people should as we all have comrades who have been captured if we are truly fighting imperialism.

Outro

The state ultimately works to seduce our raza with financial incentive, integration, or intimidation. We need to build a stronger security culture which strengthens our efforts in the anti-imperialist movement. Counterinsurgency efforts by the state are real. Our role in the empire is real.

We need to build stronger networks that nurture and support our imprisoned and captured comrades. We cannot forget about those who sacrificed their lives by being on the front lines. The front is wherever we find ourselves, even behind the razor wire and in the concentration kamps. All Power To The People!

Communist Party of Aztlán

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[Drugs] [Political Repression] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 84]
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CA Silences Reports of Drug Trade in Prisons

MIM Distributors published my article ‘Programming/Mental Health Denied as Drug Cartel Runs CA Prison’ in ULK 82, to highlight correctional officers’ (C/Os) direct involvement in the constant infestation of drugs in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF). In April 2023, I went a step further by bypassing CDCR’s inmate grievance process in order to catch a C/O in the act of distribution.

You see, CDCR’s departmental operations manual (DOM) at Section 31140.6.2, regards felonious conduct like drug smuggling in a state correctional facility as ‘Category II’ serious employee misconduct investigated by the Office of Internal Affairs (OIA).

I figured undisputed evidence directly to OIA would not only prevent a coverup inside the prison, but also save lives of those addicted to using while confined based on accessibility, and maybe even a citizen faced with some newly released parolee on the prowl to maintain a drug high fostered therein.

I used my influence and social status with their prisoners as an investigative tool to uncover one C/O’s method of smuggling. Once I monitored and confirmed the C/O’s pattern practice, including specific inmates receiving drug shipments, I recorded the exact date, time, and location consistent with audio video security surveillance (AVSS) and body worn camera (BWC) footage installed thanks to the current Armstrong v. Newsom N.D. (94-CV-02307 CW) injunction.

Late April 2023, I completed and mailed my findings on the attached CDCR approved DOM Section 31140.6.2 Category II OIA form, directly to the OIA, emphasizing concern over my safety, requesting therefore to remain anonymous. However, on about 28 June 2023, OIA Senior Special Agent Michael Newman forwarded my reported findings and identity back to RJDCF Warden James Hill in the attached correspondence “For Appropriate Handling” which commence first with the involved C/O immediate cease of all drug shipments in my specific housing unit.

Then came direct scowls and open unwillingness to address housing needs or issues followed by rumors within the prison population of me being a “snitch on C/O’s”.

And finally, as drug withdrawal riled up many addicts’ moods from days and weeks without fix, one mustered the boldness to confront me on behalf of the involved C/O, on a rant like some four legged creature foaming from fangs, blaming me for his forced clean and sober reality.

While I no longer advocate or impose violence, I am no stranger to such since I could fuck and fight before I could read and write. I’d like to think that not sensing fear sent the man beast on his way, disappointing the gazing C/O who not only stood watching the entire antic, but set the whole play in motion.

Meanwhile, my DOM section 31140.6.2 reported findings was converted into an inmate grievance, log #459686, then intentionally delayed until all AVSS and BWC footage evidence was purged. Once so, RJDCF reviewing authority M. Palmer issued the attached grievance response discrediting me as some liar or one who simply made up this whole event.

Initially, I found it courageous and heroic to risk my own personal safety, maybe even my life, to rid the prison environment of drugs by exposing not merely the problem, but more so, the reason this problem exists and persists. I always thought with the right facts and evidence I could make a huge difference, but now I realize that stopping drugs in prison is as futile as Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs campaign.

That’s because, many officials I turned to turned out to be those who want drugs inside prison, and rather than utilize resources and power to target C/O’s who introduce drugs into prison, these officials opt to use their resources and power to target the very individual bringing detailed facts to their attentions.

To me, a sacrifice is only grand should it effect change in better for those who follow. With the extent of CDCR’s decay, this type of exposure is pure suicide, or positions one to be forced to homicide, and whether the former or latter, when it’s all said and done, drugs will continue to be made available to those in prison who want them until and unless these prisons are closed down.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree that the actions this comrade took to fight state-sponsored drug trafficking was brave. It is also brave for the comrade to look at the effects of these actions, draw lessons from them, and be self-critical in front of the movement as a whole. This is a good example of learning through practice, and by sharing these stories we can all learn from each others’ practice.

We can also see how the campaign to combat drug addiction in prisons is tied to the campaign to “Stop Collaborating” among prisoners. These state-employed drug dealers are using other prisoners to attack those who speak up. These collaborators, accusing others of “snitching” on pigs, are enemies of the people. The pigs are professional snitches. To use the state to stop abuses within the state as this comrade attempted to do, is an honorable, if sometimes futile, thing to do.

As futile as this comrade’s risks taken were in the immediate term, we are not quite so pessimistic on the prospect of ending drugs in prison. As we’ve discussed many times, it is by building a community in righteous struggle for justice that we can best provide the antidote to addiction. While prisoners across the country are writing to us about the dire conditions currently, we can look to the history of socialist China, which was ravaged with widespread opium addiction across the population just decades before liberating themselves from imperialism establishing a socialist state, and ending addiction in the country for decades to come. No small task for sure, but not impossible.

While those fighting addiction feel isolated now, through the pages of Under Lock & Key we can see that there are more of you then you realize, and we can continue to share these lessons and build successful strategies to help the masses overcome drug addiction.

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[Revolutionary History] [Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [National Oppression] [Security] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 84]
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Book Review: Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear book cover
Tip of the Spear Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt
Orisanmi Burton (Author)
University of California Press
October 2023

“without understanding carceral spaces as zones of undeclared domestic war, zones that are inextricably linked to imperial and officially acknowledged wars abroad, we cannot fully understand how and why the U.S. became the global leader of incarceration that it is today.” (1)

Tip of the Spear is the story of the organization and flourishing of resistance to American imperialism as it developed in the New York state prison system in the 1960s and 1970s, including the time well before the four days of Attica in 1971. Professor of anthropology Orisanmi Burton does many things in this book, a lot of which we’ll only be able to mention briefly or not at all, but MIM(Prisons) has already sent out many copies of this book and is prepared to send out many more to enable further study and discussion of Burton’s very worthy research and ideas.

We are asking our readers to send their own feedback on this book, to write up their own local histories or stories applying the framework below, and to popularize this understanding of U.$. prisons as part of the imperialist war on the oppressed peoples of the world that we must unite against.

Prisons are War

Burton begins his investigation with George Jackson’s observation that Black people “were defeated in a war and are now captives, slaves or actually that we inherited a neoslave existence.” (2) Prison conditions don’t originate in the law or in ideas but in the historical fact of defeat in a war that still continues.

But what kind of war is it? One side surrounds the other and forces it to submit daily, the way that an army laying siege to a city tries to wear down the resistance of the population. These sieges include not just starving prisoners of food but of social life, education, and culture. In maintaining its rule the state uses the tools of counterinsurgency to split the revolutionary ranks, co-opt the cause and re-establish its rule on a more secure level. On the other side, the prisoners have themselves, their ability to unite and organize in secret, and their willingness to sacrifice for the cause – the attributes of a guerrilla army. (3)

prisons are war

Burton spends an entire chapter, “Hidden War,” laying out the strategies the state pursued when its naked brutality failed to prevent prisoner organization and rebellion. After the smoke cleared at Attica and wardens, politicians and prison academics had a chance to catch their breath, they settled on four strategies to prevent another Attica from happening: (4)

One, prisons were expanded across the state, so that density was reduced and prisoner organizing could be more effectively disrupted. If a prisoner emerged as a leader, they could be sent to any number of hellholes upstate surrounded by new people and have to start the process all over again. The longer and more intense the game of Solitaire the state played with them, the better. We see this strategy being applied to USW comrades across the country to this day.

Prisons were also superficially humanized, the introduction of small, contingent privileges to encourage division and hierarchy among prisoners, dull the painful edge of incarceration somewhat, and dangle hope. Many prisoners saw through it, and Burton makes the point that the brief periods of rebellion had provided the only real human moments most prisoners had experienced during their time inside. For example, Attica survivor, John “Dacajeweiah” Hill described meeting a weeping prisoner in D yard during the rebellion who was looking up at the stars for the first time in 23 years. (5) Burton sums this up: “the autonomous zones created by militant action… had thus far proven the only means by which Attica’s oppressive atmosphere was substantially ameliorated.”

Diversification went hand in hand with expansion, where a wide range of prison experiences were created across the system. Prisons like Green Haven allowed prisoners to smoke weed and bring food back to their cells, and permitted activities like radical lectures from outsiders. At the same time, other prisons were going on permanent lockdowns and control units were in development.

And finally, programmification presented a way for prisoners to be kept busy, for outsiders (maybe even former critics of the prison system) to be co-opted and brought into agreement with prison officials, and provide free labor to keep the system stable by giving prisoners another small privilege to look forward to. To this day, New York, as well as California and other states, require prisoners who are not in a control unit to program.

All of this was occurring in the shadow of the fact that the state had demonstrated it would deploy indiscriminate violence, even sacrificing its own employees as it had at Attica, to restore order. The classic carrot-and-stick dynamic of counterinsurgency was operating at full force.

Before Attica: Tombs, Branch Queens, Auburn

Burton discusses Attica, but doesn’t make it the exclusive focus of his book, as it has already been written about and discussed elsewhere. He brings into the discussion prison rebellions prior to Attica that laid the groundwork, involved many of the same people, and demonstrated the character of the rebellions overall.

The first was at Tombs, or the Manhattan House of Detention, where prisoners took hostages and issued demands in the New York Times, denouncing pretrial detention that kept men in limbo for months or years, overcrowding, and racist brutality from guards. Once the demands were published, the hostages were released. Eighty corrections officers stormed the facility with blunt weapons and body armor and restored order, and after the rebellion two thirds of the prisoners were transferred elsewhere to break up organizations, like the Inmate Liberation Front, that had grown out of Tombs and supported its resistance. (6) Afterwards, the warden made improvements and took credit for them. This combination of furious outburst, violent response and conciliatory reform would repeat itself.

Next Branch Queens erupted, where the Panther 21 had recently been incarcerated. Prisoners freed them, hung a Pan-Afrikan flag out of a window, took hostages and demanded fair bail hearings be held in the prison yard or the hostages would be executed. The bail hearing actually happened and some of the prisoners who had been in prison for a year for possibly stealing something were able to walk out. The state won the battle here by promising clemency if the hostages were released, which split the prisoners and led to the end of the rebellion. Kuwasi Balagoon, who would later join the Black Liberation Army, was active in the organization of the rebellion and learned a lot from his experiences seeing the rebellion and the repression that followed after the state promised clemency. (7)

At Auburn Correctional Facility on November 4th, Black prisoners rebelled and seized hostages for eight hours. Earlier, fifteen Black prisoners had been punished and moved to solitary for calling for a day off work to celebrate Black Solidarity Day. After the restoration of order, more prisoners were shipped away and the remainder were subject to reprisals from the guards.

In each case, prisoners formed their own organizations, took control, made demands and also started building new structures to run the prison for their own benefit – even in rebellions that lasted only a few hours. After order was restored, the state took every opportunity to crush the spirits and bodies of those who had participated. All of this would repeat on a much larger scale at Attica.

Attica and Paris: Two Communes

Burton acknowledges throughout the book a tension that is familiar to many of ULK’s readers: reform versus revolution. He sees both in the prison movement of the 1960s and 1970s in New York, with some prisoners demanding bail reform and better food and others demanding an end to the system that creates prisons in the first place. But in telling the story of Attica and the revolts that preceded it he emphasizes two things: the ways reforms were demanded (not by petitions but by organized force) and the existence of demands that would have led to the end of prisons as we know them. On Attica itself, he writes that the rebellion demanded not just better food and less crowded cells but the “emergence of new modes of social life not predicated on enclosure, extraction, domination or dehumanization.” (8) In these new modes of social life, Burton identifies sexual freedom and care among prisoners emerging as a nascent challenge to traditional prison masculinity.

Attica began as a spontaneous attack on a particularly racist and brutal guard, and led to a riot all over the facility that led to the state completely losing control for four days starting on September 9th, 1971. Hostages were again taken, and demands ranging from better food to the right to learn a trade and join a union issued to the press. Prisoners began self-organizing rapidly, based on the past experiences of many Attica prisoners in previous rebellions. Roger Champen, who reluctantly became one of the rebellion’s organizers, got up on a picnic table with a seized megaphone and said “the wall surrounds us all.” Following this, the prisoners turned D Yard into an impromptu city and organized their own care and self-defense. A N.Y. State trooper watching the yard through binoculars said in disbelief “they seem to be building as much as they’re destroying.” I think we’d agree with the state trooper, at least on this. (9)

Burton’s point in this chapter is that the rebellion wasn’t an attempt (or wasn’t only an attempt) to get the state to reform itself, to grant rights to its pleading subjects, but an attempt, however short-lived, to turn the prisons into something that would be useful for human liberation: a self-governing commune built on principles of democracy and solidarity. Some of the rebels demanded transport to Africa to fight the Portuguese in the then-raging colonial wars in Mozambique and Angola, decisions were made by votes and consensus, and the social life of the commune was self-regulated without beatings, gassings and starvation.

Abolition and the Concentric Prison

Burton is a prison abolitionist, and he sees the aspirations of the Attica rebels at their best as abolitionist well before the term became popular. But he doesn’t ignore the contradictions that Attica and other prison rebellions had to work through, and acknowledges the diverse opinions of prisoners at the time, some of whom wanted to abolish prisons and some of whom wanted to see the Nixons and Rockefellers thrown into them instead. (10)

The Attica Commune of D Yard had to defend itself, and when the rebelling prisoners suspected that some prisoners were secretly working for the state, they were confined in a prison within a commune within a prison, and later killed as the state came in shooting on the 13th. There was fighting and instances of rape among the prisoners that freed themselves, and there were prisoners who didn’t want to be a part of the rebellion who were forced to. And the initial taking of the guards constitutes a use of violence and imprisonment in itself, even if the guards were treated better than they’d ever treated the prisoners.

Burton acknowledges this but doesn’t offer a tidy answer. He sees the use of violence in gaining freedom, like Fanon, to be a necessary evil which is essential to begin the process but unable to come close to finishing it. Attica, even though it barely began, provides an example of this. While violence is a necessary tool in war, it is the people organized behind the correct political line in the form of a vanguard party that ultimately is necessary to complete the transformation of class society to one without oppression.

Counter-intelligence, Reform, and Control

The final part of the book, “The War on Black Revolutionary Minds,” chronicles the attempts by the state to destroy prison revolutionaries by a variety of methods, some more successful than others, all deeply disturbing and immoral.

Some of the early methods involved direct psychological experimentation, the use of drugs, and calibrated isolation. These fell flat, because the attempts were based on “the flawed theory that people could be disassembled, tinkered with, and reprogrammed like computers.” (11) Eventually the state gave up trying to engineer radical ideas out of individual minds and settled for the solution many of our readers are familiar with: long-term isolation in control units, and a dramatically expanding prison population.

There is a lot else in this book, including many moving stories from Attica and other prison rebellion veterans that Burton interviewed, and who he openly acknowledges as the pioneering theorists and equal collaborators in his writing. Burton engages in lengthy investigations of prisoner correspondence, outside solidarity groups, twisted psychological experiments, and many other things I haven’t had the space to mention. We have received a couple responses to the book from some of you already, which the author appreciates greatly, and we’d like to facilitate more.

^Notes: 1. Burton, Orisanmi Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt p. 19 All citations will be of this book unless otherwise specified.
2. Jackson, Soledad Brother, 111–12 cited in Burton p. 10
3. p. 3
4. pp. 152-180
5. Hill and Ekanawetak, Splitting the Sky, p. 20. cited in Burton, p. 107
6. p. 29
7. p. 48
8. p. 5
9. pp. 88-91
10. p. 95
11. p. 205
^

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[Political Repression] [New Afrika] [National Oppression] [National Liberation]
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On New Afrikan Victimization

There is a duality in regards to the existence of the victimization in the New Afrikan nation and generally among oppressed people. The duality expresses itself when oppressed people avoid struggle, avoid acknowledgment of their colonization and oppression, because of a psychosocial tendency to align one’s self with strength, victory, privilege, excess, and power. This tendency is deeply rooted in one of the characteristics of the “colonial mentality,” which is a lack of dignity, pride, and self-worth. In this case of identity crisis and pathology the oppressed chooses to derive its pride, dignity, self-worth and perceived social, political, and economic interests from the upper echelons of empire, from the imperialist power structure.

There is another side of this duality which thrives, not on its own victimhood per se, but more aptly on its ability to resist, thwart, and overcome the complexities of the colonial-imperial oppression. These are “the people,” so often refereed to in radical discourse, “the people’s” collective will in movement fighting, struggling ceaselessly.

The basic truth is that in every contradiction there is winners and losers. Losers, by default, die victims. Winners are victimizers. The issue, from my humble point of view, only arises when We have a social group, or a broad mass within a social group after long periods of oppression, become content with their own status as victims. So content in fact that they themselves have rendered all resistance and tactical victories among themselves as illegitimate expressions of the oppressed experience. This is indeed an issue because war has a sole purpose to destroy the will and/or ability for the opposition to resist our advancement.

“War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance… Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science [cognitive, neuro sciences, behavioral sciences] in order to contend against violence.”(1)

The inherent danger and crippling effect of the pathology of New Afrikan Victimization can be seen in many instances, but i will highlight one in particular.

i am speaking here of the case of Brother Othal “Ozone” Wallace, a New Afrikan man in Florida currently fighting against the State’s death penalty. Ozone is a father and was an active participant in the efforts of liberation for New Afrikan and other oppressed people. Prior to his current captivity Ozone was active in search and rescue missions of suspected human trafficking victims. As a craftsman by trade he helped rebuild communities damaged by hurricane disasters. Ozone was also on the front lines of armed demonstrations advocating armed self defense and armed struggle against the oppression of New Afrikans.

In June 2021, Ozone was exiting his vehicle while in a residential area, when he was approached by a Daytona Beach Police officer who asked a question common to colonial and oppressed subjects globally, “Where are you going? Do you live here?” Body cam footage shows the officer repeat, “Do you live here? Yes or no?” While he grabbed Ozone by the shoulders. At that point the footage becomes shaky and blurry, but it should be understood that this entire incident, from the Police’s observation as someone “unwelcome”, “suspect”, “threatening”, is a textbook chain of events in the efforts of occupation and counter-insurgent forces. This “regular” treatment of New Afrikans is contrary to the U.$. constitution’s Fourth Amendment right to protection from illegal search and seizure, but its regularity showcases that New Afrikans are still a colonized population whose existence is situated outside the general legalities of the empire.

Somehow during the physical struggle, initiated by the officers arrogant choice to grab Ozone, the officer ended up shot in his face, while Ozone escaped the scene. He was captured days later, in a wooded area in Georgia, where state agents also allege to have found multiple flash bangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns, and several boxes of ammunition.

In the ensuing “legal” drama, once the officer died in a hospital as a result of his wounds in August of 2021, Prosecutors began seeking the death penalty, the family of the officer filed a civil suit, suing Ozone for $5 million, specifically the money accumulated by Ozone’s criminal defense fundraiser page. Prosecutors have sought to have his GoFundMe account shutdown. In short, Ozone was and remains under attack, and his experience is synonymous with New Afrikan liberation in general.

My reason for highlighting Ozone’s experience is that i see it as an example and a dividing line question among “the left” and New Afrikans particularly and Black liberationists (of many stripes) generally. My question to the movement(s), to Our People, why is Ozone not as known as Michael Brown or George Floyd? Why is he not garnering support and attention from the Black and radical press? Why is he virtually unknown to the common persyn of the street? The simple answer is that New Afrikans, generally speaking, even within so-called radical circles, have become infected with that colonial pathology that i call New Afrikan Victimization. Some of us are too content with Our imagery and association with victimhood. Others delude themselves into behaving as if this victimization doesn’t exist on an institutional and systemic level. Instead opting for the “boot straps” mentality which is also a socio-pathology.

Too many of us have failed to acknowledge that We are at war, that we’re subjects, not free and liberated citizens of a free democratic society. We’ve failed to realize the there are no “rights” only power struggles, and those who dictate power subsequently dictate what “rights” are respected or discarded. Most important, We’ve failed to realize the implications of these failures. Thus We have Ozone, and other Political Prisoners of War lost in captivity without support or even acknowledgment from even elements of Movement(s) that are supposed to be supporting Political Prisoners of War. Such groups, generally, have forgotten the current epoch of struggle, that there are Political Prisoners being captured almost daily. That yesteryears “Black Nationalist hate group” designation that fueled COINTELPRO and PRISACTS has been replaced by today’s “Black Identity Extremist” designation that is fueling present day surveillance, sabotage, and imprisonment of movement activists. While we should never forget or relinquish support of BPP/BLA Political Prisoners or others from earlier eras of struggle, We also should not exclude or ignore those currently active in the streets (even if We do not agree with their political line).

Free Ozone and All Political Prisoners

Notes: 1. Carl von Clausewitz, 1832, On War.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Florida]
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The Experiment

Barbedwire Tears

Comrades, I know most of you are aware of the fact that we are a study specimen for experimental purposes but let me give you some details about one of these experiments that most of you are familiar with.

“Behavior Control & Human Experimentation”

These are two names with the same meaning: Behavior Modification & Special Holding Units.

SHU -> These are units that have been specifically designed to control behavior. Here is where human experimentation is legal. The purpose of these experiments is to control rebellious and revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in society at large. In several instances the control units have been used to “Silence Prison Movement Criticism”. In 1964 at a meeting in Washington between social scientists and prison wardens addressing the topics of “man against man”, brainwashing was said to produce marked changes of behavior in attitudes necessary to weaken, undermine & remove the supports of the old patterns of behavior and old ideologies attitudes. It’s often necessary to break these emotional ties. This can be done by either removing the individual physically, preventing communication with those whom the prisoner cares about, or by proving to him that those whom he respects aren’t worthy of it and should indeed be actively mistrusted.

I will share a few specific examples:

  1. Physical removal of prisoners from those they respect to positively break and seriously weaken close emotional ties

  2. Segregation of natural leaders

  3. Use of cooperative prisoners as “leaders”

  4. Prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives

  5. Spying on prisoners & reporting back private material

  6. Tricking prisoners to write statements which are then shown to others

  7. Exploitation of opportunists & informers

  8. Convincing prisoners they can trust no one

  9. Treating those who are willing to collaborate in more lenient ways than those who are not

  10. Punishing those who show an uncooperative attitudes

  11. Systemic withholding of mail

  12. Preventing contact with anyone unsympathetic to the method of treatment & regimen of captive populace

  13. Building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by and totally isolated from their social order

  14. Undermining all emotional supports

  15. Preventing prisoners from writing regarding the conditions of their confinement

  16. Making available and permitting access to only those publications which are neutral or supportive of the desired attitudes

  17. Placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations from which the standards are kept deliberately unclear and then pressuring them to conform to what is desired to win favor and some respite from the pressure

  18. Placing individuals whose willpower has been severely weakened or eroded into a living situation with several others who are more advanced in their thought-reform, whose job it is to further undermine the individual’s emotional support

  19. Using techniques of character invalidation; i.e. humiliations, revilement, and shouting to induce feelings of guilt, fear & suggestibility coupled with sleeplessness, an exacting prison regimen & periodic interrogation-interviews.

  20. Meeting with renewed hostility all the insincere attempts to comply with prisoners’ pressures

  21. Repeatedly pointing out to the prisoner and their cellmates where he has in the past not lived up to his own standards or values

  22. Rewarding of submission and subservience by lifting of the pressures

  23. Providing social & emotional support that reinforces new attitudes

Comrade, if any of these points were used on you then you have been part of the experiment.

U.$. Imperialists have tried to manipulate our environment and culture, in particular those who belong to oppressed minority groups. Reader, you might question “What they mean by Revolutionary attitudes??”

In this experiment it evidently refers to anyone who thinks and behaves as an individual, who they feel must be made to become part of their subservient system. The point is to make people less human and “subject entirely to their will!”

Comrades, we should be truly aware and on guard that the above techniques to condition people are now general practice in most if not all prisons, state and federal throughout the United $tates as well as in workplaces, schools, and other government organizations.

The author of this article has have been in the SHU-EM at a prison in Florida State and I’m a true witness that all this has been in effect for almost forty years, and what is worse is… its working!!

Don’t be part of the experiment, don’t let the system work on you – be strong minded and of impeccable heart as well as relentless spirit. Imperialism might be able to kill a Revolutionary but never the internal Revolution of the soul!

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[Revolutionary History] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 84]
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Sekou Odinga Has Joined the Ancestors

[The following statement was circulated by email from spiritofmandela.org]

Sekou Odinga

Sekou Odinga is celebrated & admired by freedom & justice movements worldwide for his persistence, courage, & principled adherence to freedom struggle.

Baba Sekou Transitioned on January 12, 2024.

Sekou Odinga was a globally recognized Black liberation activist, member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, founding member of both the New York City chapter and the International Section of the Black Panther Party, and former US political prisoner who survived 33 years of state captivity before his release in 2014.

Prosecuted as one of the “Panther 21” in New York City, Odinga was a prominent historical figure, having been featured on Democracy Now! and in numerous documentaries, concerts, mass public events, and major news outlets.

In addition to being featured in the widely circulated social movement texts Can’t Jail the Spirit (2002) and Hauling Up the Morning: Writings & Art by Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War in the U.S. (1990), Odinga published his writing in Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions (PM Press, 2017) and Black Power Afterlives: The Enduring Significance of the Black Panther Party (Haymarket Books, 2020).

A survivor of state torture and the FBI’s notorious Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), Sekou Odinga is both celebrated and admired by freedom and justice movements worldwide, exemplifying persistence, courage, and principled adherence to freedom struggle under the most repressive circumstances imaginable.

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[Prison Food] [Abuse] [Control Units] [Police Brutality] [Political Repression] [Bill Clements Unit] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 84]
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How the Prison War Looks in Texas Ad-Segs

“[A]ll over the world now the institution of the prison serves as a place to warehouse people who represent major social problems.” - Angela Y. Davis

Looking at the incarcerated world around us, it is no wonder the numbers of New Afrikan and other darker hued people who are captive is so high. It is no wonder why the level of illiteracy is most highly concentrated among the incarcerated. It is no wonder the level of schooling is low among the captive population. It is no wonder why there is more money invested in mental health services behind bars than in free world facilities.(1)

All this means that when we imagine our resistance against prison systems we must see prison as being more than just the place where people who commit crimes are sent. We have to begin to analyze the interconnected and multi-layered oppression within prison.

A key feature in warfare is physical violence. In prison, “official” physical violence is documented as use of force. The most use of force and most excessive use of force in Texas takes place at Bill Clements, specifically amongst its PAMIO program participants. PAMIO, for those who do not know, is a psychiatric program designed for those in Ad-Seg.

If you follow the logic, Texas residents with psychiatric illness are more likely to be held captive by the state, while in captivity they have a greater chance to be held in Administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). While in Ad-Seg their psychiatric state is likely to deteriorate and they are likely to face “official” physical violence at the hands of their captors at greater numbers than those without documented psychiatric history.

Conditions At Clements

Our situation at Bill Clements Unit Ad-Seg or ECB, Extended Cell Block they call it, has not improved. Although less deaths we are seeing a rise in starvation, torture, neglect, and unsupervised migrant workers running the prison as they see fit with little to no training. Regardless of what administration says. These Africans on this unit have not been taught day rules, standard operating procedures, and have zero regard for this so called rule book. And why shouldn’t they when there is no enforcement and or reprimand on the side of TDCJ.

During the last shakedown, a state-wide attempt to catch contraband, they had me in a cage outdoors for 2 hours while they tossed my cell. Guards and inmates watched me in handcuffs while Major Pacheo instructed Field Boss Shrader to steal all my electronics and commissary food items – over 200 dollars worth. All this I believe is because my toilet hasn’t worked for months and I keep requesting maintenance but it never comes. Same with the broken shower and the water leak resulting in a wet floor. I have receipts for all the electronics and commissary items they stole, and I listed all this and the witnesses on grievance – they put the witnesses on chain! Nobody goes on chain unless it’s to Montford Psych or hospital.

The second week of December we were allowed to shop commissary, the second time in 4 months. Breakfast chow consisted of two tablespoons of scrambled eggs with a quarter inch of grits and applesauce. In total it was 4 spoons of food. For lunch and dinner we had a cheese sandwich. They back-doored commissary with a shakedown and stole what we purchased.

I was allowed 1 hour out of my cell twice this year. The “weekly” library ran 9 times. Average time to see a mental health professional is 9-12 months. Delivered mail can sit in the mail room for over 6 months. They are understaffed and don’t have enough people to properly run the facility. Once they tried to put some beef on dough and call it pizza, it was not cooked and the meat was bad. Raw dough and spoiled meat. No shit. No exaggeration.

Not feeding us is not only to starve us but to keep us from relaxing. We are constantly fasting involuntarily. The hunger keeps us anxious and irritable, to put it mildly. In my pod of 60 I have seen 12 people lifted out on stretchers this year, nobody checking for a pulse or performing CPR. That’s 1 per month on average. This cell is worse than the third world POW camps I visited during my time in the USMC. The corruption is so bad with so many hands in the cookie jar that one cannot even get a judge to hear them out about violations. TDCJ just ignores our requests and cites their lack of staff as to why they have nobody to process the documents.

War in Ferguson

On November 16th all the interconnected elements of prison war worked together on the Ferguson unit as five officers, unprovoked and without cause, entered the cell of two men demanding they submit to a complete strip search and handcuffs. When one of the captives asked why, he was immediately hit in his face with closed fist by CIT Gates while SGT Vasquez grabbed the captive’s head and slammed it against the concrete wall, causing injury. The captive fell to the ground and was kicked, his head was banged against the floor repeatedly. Afterwards he was dragged to the run, outside of the cell, where he was continuously kicked in his face and was even stood on. The entire time other captives were yelling in protest for the guards to stop, but they refused. While on another row, but hearing what was happening, I began launching projectiles from my cell. Eventually this caused the guards to cease their beating. They escorted the beaten man away, then returned minutes later to handcuff and escort me.

I was housed in solitary two cells down from the victim. I had the opportunity to speak with him for the first time, find out first hand what took place. He also shared with me his history of intellectual disabilities, and mild history of psychiatric illness. He had been adopted at a young age and raised in the foster care system. Our time near each other came to a close after the pressures of solitary confinement pushed this brother to attempt suicide. Days later as a result of this incident I was notified by the Ferguson Unit Warden Wheat that I would be reassigned to Administrative Segregation, under trumped up charges of assault on staff with a weapon.

Attempts to appeal the reassignment to Ad-Seg have been hampered by Unit Grievance Officer D. Turner not allowing my appeal of classification to go through.

I have personally reported the unprovoked excessive assaults these same clique of guards have taken part in in the five months I’ve been on Ferguson. There is a culture of unmitigated brutality here and the slightest show of counter-force is excessively punished. Warden Wheat has been made aware of this clique of pigs constantly assaulting people without cause, he has ignored or punished reporters.

Prison is War. Prison is Violence. Administrative Segregation is the highest form of it, where prisoncrats are allowed to hide you and abuse you away from any and all scrutiny. A tool that is used to throw away resisters in the prison battlefield. End RHU!

Sources: (1) Angela Y. Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, pp. 23-24.

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[Revolutionary History] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 84]
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Rest in Power Ruchell Cinque Magee

As we were assembling the copy for Under Lock & Key 83, Ruchell “Cinque” Magee died on 17 October 2023. We did not learn of eir death in time to announce it in that issue.

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu Jamal recently held a memorial event for Comrade Cinque. The lawyer who helped fight for Cinque’s last minute clemency release told a story of how the state’s attorney baited Magee on the stand. The lawyer asked Cinque what ey would do if the bailiff’s gun was sitting on the table right in front of em. Comrade Cinque responded that ey would pick up the gun, take the bailiff hostage and use the hostage to get to the local news channel to get eir story heard.

Sundiata Tate also spoke emotionally on behalf of the hardship that Comrade Cinque went through, spending eir entire adult life in prison, 67 years. The brutal conditions ey faced. And eir insistence on going through it all without kneeling down to the oppressor, but staying on eir feet.

Attendees appreciated the portrait of Cinque by comrade AK47 featured in ULK 83 and many grabbed a copy. Comrades made the connection to Cinque’s life and struggle as a Prison War Veteran to the state’s use of prison as a tool of war against the oppressed.

It has become customary for the state to release political prisoners shortly before they die, to soften the potential blow back of a death in their custody. They do so at no risk of the comrade contributing to the revolutionary movement after release. A speaker shared the precious moments Cinque had with eir family members in eir last months, most of whom ey was meeting for the first time in eir life. But a real victory for the people will be when we keep true freedom fighters out of the oppressor’s prisons. That is a sign of winning the war.


Related Articles:
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[First World Lumpen] [Political Repression] [Grievance Process] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 83]
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Materialist Analysis of the Stop Snitching Slogan: Stop Collaborating!

stop snitching

Introduction: Current Existing Ideas Around Snitching

As Marxist-Leninist-Maoists it is important to apply the dialectical materialist method when it comes to handling the contradictions among the masses. In the prison context where most of our organizing revolves around, the contradictions between various prisoner individuals, national groups, and lumpen organizations can become antagonistic and it is our job to transform this antagonistic contradiction into a non-antagonistic one and resolve it from there out.

One example of idealism is around the “stop snitching” slogan and campaign. Is “stop snitching” a correct slogan? Only an idealist could answer this question without more information. The materialist method of finding out what would constitute “snitching” would be to analyze the material conditions of how this “stop snitching” idea came about, the purposes it was for, which classes were promoting it, and going from there. What we must not do is treat it like a general platitude where it can be abused for anti-people purposes and exploited by the pigs to get the masses to fight amongst themselves.

To assume the most righteous origins of the “stop snitching” slogan, we can think of various lumpen organizations, who might be in competition and rivalry with each other at times. Yet these organizations all come to agree that they have a common interest in not sending the oppressor’s cops against each other. Perhaps there is a consciousness as oppressed people uniting these L.O.s to come to this conclusion. But certainly there is a material interest in staying alive and out of prison by reducing the amount of police involvement in their lives.

The “stop snitching” campaign was a success. So much so that today, in many prisons, it has been taken up as an idealistic and dogmatic truth rather than a materialist principle to apply in differing conditions. To many this slogan is true for all times and all places. In fact, it is so absolutely true that they apply it to the police themselves! We’ve received reports from many parts of the country that comrades can’t get others to file grievances against abuse and inhumane conditions against the system because fellow prisoners don’t want to “snitch”.

Now in reality, those fellow prisoners are probably just scared of what prison staff will do to them, so they use the “stop snitching” slogan as an excuse to do nothing and live quietly under the boot of oppression which the stop snitching principle was brought up to fight against in the first place.

However, those who stand up for themselves recognize the role of grievances. We live in a bourgeois democracy. The image of the rule of law is important to the enemy even if things become lawless in the corners of society, like in prisons. There is a grievance system and the bourgeois/imperialist state says they will follow that system. That means this is a tool that can and should be used to improve conditions for comrades organizing within the belly of the beast and fight for the political rights to build independent institutions. To call that snitching is to say that something is true because it’s true; not because of any actual evidence or material basis. To call this snitching is to lack any analysis of class, nation, gender or who are our friends and who are our enemies.

And as we discussed in the last issue of ULK, we must learn to think in percentages to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Thinking in absolutes, allows the enemy to keep us divided.

Case Scenario: Inmate Collaborators and Pigs Using Anti-Snitching Sentiment to Repress Prisoners in CDCR

In one of many reports like this, a comrade in California recently wrote us:

Dear MIM Distributors,

I am a disabled person under the Armstrong v. Newsom injunction where I continue to be targeted by officers who specialize in pitting prisoners against each other to discourage and deter use of the grievance process at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD), and in retaliation for the same.

On the morning of 25 August 2023, while exiting my cell quarters to be issued my breakfast and lunch Kosher meal, one of the inmate porter workers (infamous for not only disruptions, violence, and fighting other prisoners on the unit; but also carrying out retaliatory terrorism for officers against prisoners who use the RJD grievance process to report misconduct) began to ridicule me without provocation.

Subsequent to returning to my cell and at commencement of A.M. medication, officer G. Sellano supervised pill line near my cell as the same prisoner porter worker came to my cell door and began hostile provocation calling me a “snitch” for pending grievances (Attached as Exhibit A). Both of which involve this very same inmate porter worker and officer G. Sellano.

This inmate porter worker then stood outside my cell door on a rant to provoke me by yelling “snitch, you a bitch, you wrote a buz on me and Sellano.” The whole time officer G. Sellano stood listening, watching as the inmate porter worker then openly blasted how he is able to “do what I want all around here, I can fight anybody I want and nothing will happen. I won’t even get a 115.” Challenging me to fight as officer G. Sellano stood listening and watching while supervising the A.M. medication line next to my assigned cell.

Said inmate porter worker then began yelling to the tower officer to open my cell door in order to attack me while officer G. Sellano continued to fail to intervene, act, or quell the growing disorder.

The inmate porter worker in question is allowed to volunteer work for officer G. Sellano where the inmate receives detailed information on pending grievances filed against officer G. Sellano – then uses that personal knowledge of grievance information to confront, intimidate, and provoke some violent incident with the grievant: all while officers on the unit watch.

Facility Captain Lewis has turned a blind eye to not only this particular inmate porter worker’s ongoing propensity for violence and daily disruptions on the housing unit, but also the fact that this particular inmate porter worker is and has been for months now, used as a torpedo for housing officers like G. Sellano to be programmed to target prisoners like me who use the grievance process here at RJD while Warden James Hill has been unable to prevent officers like G. Sellano from using working knowledge of department operations to gather information for the purposes of endangering the safety and the welfare of those confined therein.

Inmates vs Prisoners

Inmates are the categorical definition used by the U.$. law to white wash their crimes. It is no different politically than to call the torture of Iraqi POWs “enhanced interrogation.” Inmate also implies a more collaborative relationship between captive and captor, which is an appropriate term to use for the inmate porter described above. A politically appropriate term for the vast majority of the imprisoned lumpen in this country would be prisoners or captives. We do not live in a time where wars are officially declared or sanctioned by governments through formalized documents. Wars are declared through invasions (such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine), bombings (such as Al-Qaeda’s destruction of the twin towers), etc. The U$A has waged war against the oppressed nations inside their borders through mass imprisonment and police occupation – thinly disguised as “war on crime” or “war on drugs.” During this mass imprisonment and lumpenization of the oppressed nation masses through the criminal inju$tice system, inmates are those who collaborate with the pigs behind bars – a consciousness of a lumpen class in itself. A lumpen class for itself, as Marx used the term, would recognize the political importance of the two distinctions.

As stated earlier, the stop snitching slogan can be utilized as principled solidarity as fellow oppressed nationals within the constant anti-people activities of the lumpen class. Through popular support, such as hip-hop culture, this stop snitching principle would even extend beyond street life into the youth where telling on adults or school teachers would even be considered snitching. The principle of a specific lumpen life now become a general platitude and empty virtue. We ask our imprisoned lumpen readers, can snitching really be stopped without independent power from the oppressor? What would it mean to be loyal to “your people” or “your folks”? Can the principle of anti-snitching be applied to the enemy who it is designed to protect fellow oppressed nations or lumpen from in the first place?

We hope to move the discussion a step forward for our readers who seek to transform the anti-people gangster mentality to the pro-people revolutionary path. Using the few rights that the oppressed are given against the oppressor to build power among the masses is not snitching. Perhaps this over-emphasis on snitching on fellow criminals (as the government are criminals oftentimes in lawless corners of society such as prisons) shows the class in itself level consciousness that many of our readers might be susceptible to.

Stop Snitching!

Stop Collaborating!

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