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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Ironwood State Prison] [California]
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Pigs Endanger Safety and Security of Institution, Put Lives of Prisoners at Risk

"Everyone should know by now that prison is politics, it is part of the imperialistic policy of exploitation, oppression and domination over the internal colonies." From "Who are the Political Prisoners?," MIM Theory 11: Amerikkan Prisons On Trial

The pigs at Ironwood State Prison are at it again. Bored with the apparent lack of excitement and disturbances at this relatively peaceful and quiet yard, they have decided to manufacture their own entertainment to the detriment of the imprisoned. Within the span of two short days the pigs here have decided to raid people's houses without any kind of factual proof but only unfounded allegations from "anonymous" sources and supposed "snitches." To understand the actions of the past week however I must first recount the actions of a couple months ago.

It all began when pigs from Ironwood's Special Investigative Unit raided the cell of a born-again Christian in the early hours before breakfast because they'd supposedly received an anonymous kite stating that the Christian was going to stab a Corrections Officer. The Christian was taken to the hole pending investigation and everyone here was left somewhat surprised at this news, as everyone who knew this guy knew that he'd long since left the lumpen lifestyle behind and was only concerned with helping people out. Anyways, after finally getting out of the hole because the investigation turned up nothing, he confided in a couple people that on the day he went to the hole the pigs showed him a picture of another prisoner and asked him if he knew who this persyn was. He lied and told them he didn't, to which they responded, "that's the person who told on you."

Fast-forward to last week when two pigs unexpectedly ran to a cell and ordered the two cellmates to step out. When they asked the pigs what for, they were told not to worry about it and just step out. When the prisoners refused, the pigs immediately pulled out their batons and ordered them a third time to step out. Feeling threatened the prisoners complied. Once in restraints and out of their cell the prisoners were taken to the pigs' local command post on the yard, A-Facility program office. Once there the prisoners were stripped naked and put into holding cages where they were accused of making wine and subsequently treated to verbal assaults. Both prisoners denied the allegations, which proved to be false as the pigs searched and tossed up their cell and found nothing.

As a result the pigs had no choice but to let them go, but not before showing them the pictures of a couple other prisoners. The pigs then asked them if they knew who those two people were, and they said they didn't and were then cut loose. However, after returning to their building they started telling everyone what had happened and that the two prisoners who were in their building had snitched. Tension began to rise and it looked as if people were beginning to take sides preparing for the worst. In the end however, cooler heads prevailed and crisis was averted between the New Afrikan and [email protected] population, as these were the two nations being pitted against each other by the pigs' actions. And even though I started out this story by saying that this is something of a peaceful yard, at the end of the day it's still a prison and things happen.

The very next day almost the same scenario played out when ten or fifteen pigs rushed another person's cell and forced him out the same way they done to those other prisoners the night before. Again, just as the previous night the pigs said they were looking for wine, and just like the night before they found nothing. As the pigs were exiting this person's cell however they told him to thank the prisoners who'd gotten their cell searched the night before for their visit, thereby implying that those prisoners were somehow responsible.

These events from last week caused me to think deeper about the pigs' actions, as well as the prisoners' response to them and I'd like to discuss it here. Now, before jumping to conclusions because you took a pig at his/her word like most who are confronted with this scenario often do, why don't we first stop and actually think about what's really going on? The real issue in the examples given above aren't about who supposedly snitched on who, but about the motivation that the pigs have in exposing their supposed informants to us. Let us hypothesize that in all the examples given above the pigs were actually telling the truth and the people identified by them in their pictures were really snitching, what then? Should we handle our business in keeping with prison etiquette or do we conduct our own investigation in an effort to get to the truth?

Instead of just smashing on the alleged rat because a pig told us to, why not at least confront this person with the information given to us by the pigs and ask him if it's true before smutting him up? As a matter of fact, since when is a pig's word even worth anything?

You can even go further than this and tell this person exactly what the pigs told you and if he denies it then we can offer to file some kind of paperwork together against that very same pig. Whether it be thru your local grievance procedure or thru the courts, put it on paper and put the pigs on blast. This way there will be documentation which shows how these pigs are putting the lives of prisoners at risk; either because you mistakenly assaulted another prisoner due to a pig manipulating you or because the person in question was really a snitch - it doesn't matter!

Stop blindly taking the pigs at their word and doing their bidding, otherwise you're just a sucker who'll believe anything, as well as a tool of the establishment. We should strive to create unity out of the pigs' attempts to divide us. Turn their divide-and-conquer tactics against them and UNITE! These actions on our part could potentially have a two-fold outcome beneficial to us. First, if the pigs see that we're no longer biting into their little games they might stop baiting us, and secondly, if the rats know the pigs are giving them up and you're gonna confront them then they might think twice about telling, thereby reducing any additional oppression of all prisoners concerned. This way bad things can be turned into good.

I know that many reading this are probably laughing and thinking it's a joke, and yes to a certain degree what I'm proposing is somewhat ideal, but the harm we keep inflicting on each other is not. The possibility of creating a United Front becomes less viable without finding ways to settle contradictions amongst ourselves without resorting to violence, and we must begin somewhere.

As such, within the prison realm there are generally two different types of social contradictions: those between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves. The two are totally different in nature, and since they are different in nature the contradictions between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves should be resolved thru different methods. In order to resolve the very many contradictions that inevitably arise among ourselves we should look to the methods of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not the methods of coercion or repression, i.e. violence. This way we can arrive at a new unity with these unstable prison elements on a new basis and against the real enemy.

Now, for those of you still reading this and still wondering if the people pointed out by the pigs were really snitches, that I don't know. What I do know however is that one of the supposed "rats" is constantly pushing paperwork against the pigs on a variety of issues which concern the prisoner population. While one of the other prisoners involved recently go this life sentence commuted to a lesser term after serving almost twenty years; the pigs knew this and didn't like it.

These pigs don't care about us and it doesn't matter to them what inmates are "snitches" and what inmates are "solid". To them we're all just prisoners and the same. Perhaps we should take that as a lesson and start looking at each other as one.

To all those people who are really snitching, start showing some self-respect and stop harming the people you should be working with to unite against the pigs. If you can't stop telling them, at least tell on a pig and not another prisoner. For everyone else, stop being a pawn to these pigs and at least conduct your own investigation before erroneously labeling someone a snitch, smutting him up and getting him or yourself hurt. You never know, next time the pigs might flash your picture to someone and call YOU the snitch.

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[Middle East] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 40]
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Reject the I$raeli Settler State, Support the People of Palestine

Solidarity against imperialism

Over the past few weeks many of us locked up within Amerikkka's prisons have watched, read and heard about the genocidal war crimes currently being committed against the oppressed nation of Palestine by the white settler state of I$rael. What these events show us is not only the carnage and slaughter of a one-sided war, but that the oppressed will never be free to forge their own destinies so long as the monster of imperialism remains intact.

With forked tongues like the pit of vipers that they are, the United Nations (UN) sits idly by and does virtually nothing to help the people of Palestine as the Zionist regime attempts to bomb them out of existence. The so-called "international community" does nothing for Palestine other than speak hypocritically about the need for a cease fire on both ends and the continued need for a two-state solution, as if the mounting deaths (1,432 deaths as of today)(1) and the balance of war was even! Even as the world watches complacent and content through their pacifist, non-interventionist actions, and some begin to complain about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths, the United $tates continues to arm I$rael. The worthless UN has thus shown its true color: yellow! The international community is guilty of complicity thru complacency, thus Palestinian blood is also on the hands of the United Nations.

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of Israel to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of Israel and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."

Furthermore, with this declaration we express our concern, condolences, solidarity and humynity with the people of Palestine. We grieve your loss. I$rael must pay! Just as Palestinian prisoners of war showed their support and solidarity with the California hunger strikers by issuing a statement of solidarity to end solitary confinement in the United $tates, we must now do the same. We must recognize and acknowledge that their struggle is our struggle and we must say no to I$rael and no to the genocide of Palestine.

Long live the people of Palestine!
Down with I$rael!
Charge and convict the war criminals!
Free Palestine!


Note: The World Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN, 7/31/2014

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[Censorship] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 39]
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We Interrupt This Program: Censorship of TV and Radio in Prison

In today's world we're seeing the courts and media minimize the fact that U.S. prisons are run by criminals worse than the so-called worst confined within them. They have attempted, and have succeeded to a degree, in demonizing the prisoners being tortured and thereby desensitized the general public on that subject.

This is why it also seems the jury in the court of public opinion is still out regarding what process is due, and how the experimental implementation of political censorship known by its official misnomer "Obscene Materials Regulations" is already in progress on San Quentin State Prison's (SQ) four death row Security Housing Units (SHUs). The normalization of censorship in all its forms continues right before our eyes in SQ and beyond.

Consider how an invasion force imposes their will upon their victims preserved alive. One of the first things it does is knock out all means of communication. After installing a puppet governing body it then promotes its own agenda through the mass media. The San Quentin Antenna Cable System (SQACS) can be described as a one-sided propaganda bomb with a signal jamming warhead. It is a weapon of mass corruption in the hands of terrorists embedded in the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and other affiliates using the CDCR as their puppet to lord it over in the micro-societies of prison. Their fee for this is deducted from your paycheck, education, and social services for the disabled and elderly.

The SQACS (AKA SQTV) consists of expensive technology similar to that used by cable providers. Most cable companies receive their programming via satellite and then rebroadcast it on frequencies that boxes atop your television can receive. SQTV also consists of 14 converter boxes and several DVD players. As you may know, these devices require your TV be on channel 3 or 4 to operate. However, the SQACS rebroadcasts each on a different frequency. It even rebroadcasts free over-the-air digital signals on different frequencies in QAM (cable mode) and the UHF band.

Not only are the 14 now obsolete converters a huge waste of electricity (they've been on 24/7 nearly 5 years!) they also block free over-the-air broadcasts on the VHF channels they're rebroadcasted on. Contrary to popular belief prisons don't make money for the state. Only those working at prisons make the money and since the SQACS wastes YOUR money and not theirs, they don't care - especially when it can be used to give them job security.

Public broadcast stations KQED and KMTP are just two stations multicasting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked/restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. I argue it is actually intentional because these provide programs such as World News, Democracy Now, and even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long term torture by indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons.

San Quentin is by no means the only California prison using this technology to censor over-the-air broadcasts that don't fit their oligarchy's agenda. Radio stations received via these systems at various SHUs have reportedly cut out as the hunger strikers were being commended for their peaceful protest. The broadcast was then turned back on when the CDCR representative began demonizing it.

As stated in the essay "Free your mind; reversing the effects of prison censorship" by S. Muhammad Hyland, "The bottom line is simple. The institutional restrictions on revolutionary political material are in place for a reason: to keep us from learning how to go about securing our freedom, and destroying the system responsible for our lack of success in Amerika."


MIM(Prisons) adds: Unlike most U.$. prisons found in rural areas, San Quentin is right in the Bay Area where, as this comrade points out, there are many sources of progressive information on television and radio. It is quite damning that the state finds it necessary to censor these channels, which anyone just outside of the San Quentin compound can watch and listen to just fine. It speaks to the truth that prisons are all about social control. And it underscores the importance of not just having control of our own independent media, but also fighting for our First Amendment rights to distribute and share that media. Distribution networks are constantly threatened by bourgeois interests, from eliminating public bulletin boards, to the attempts to prioritize corporate website traffic on the internet, to blocking television and radio stations within prisons. Under Lock & Key is perhaps the most censored news source in the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System, and we are always engagedin ongoing battles in many states. We need more jailhouse lawyers and legal help on the streets to help with this fight.

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[Political Repression] [Religious Repression] [Florida] [ULK Issue 38]
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Florida Prisoners Must Salute the Flag and Praise Jesus

My most sincere revolutionary greetings to all strugglers. Just a short note informing the world on the haps here on master Martin's plantation.

On Thursday, 27 February 2014, during Black history month a white Christian band was brought in to perform on the rec yard. Upon attending the function, prisoners were ordered to sit on the grass by staff. By the time the show began only about 30 prisoners stayed sitting on the ground. The whole compound went back inside. Feeling insulted and embarrassed, the administration took dictator-style action. They entered the dorms where the prisoners had already been placed on lock down for not participating in a religious event. The officers announced loudly in the dorm that "all who refuse to participate in the religious event on the yard will not only be kept on lock down, but their cells will be shook down and their personal property will be ransacked." So to avoid our personal property from being ransacked and thrown away, everybody from every dorm went to the yard and sat on the ground. How is that for the First Amendment?

Martin Correctional Institution happens to be one of the plantations at which the Veteran's Program is allowed. Not a problem, except that when the U.S. flag is being risen and put down with the sounding of the trumpet, all prisoners on the walkway must stop walking in honor of the flag or be disciplined, even placed in confinement. Dead-ass serious.

Enclosed is a disciplinary report (D.R.) written by Martin CI mail man Mr. Payne, accusing me of mail violation because I wrote a letter to Boston ABC some time in early 2013 concerning a petition regarding the Keefe Commissary network. The letter mentions that I stated that I placed a petition online. This must be a mistake considering the fact that the petition had been online long before I was informed of it and promoted it. It's also a known fact that I did not post or initiate the petition. Be that as it may, I pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 30 days on D.R. confinement, which I'm currently serving.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The political repression this comrade is currently facing for authoring an article protesting high commissary costs is a good example of why we do not print prisoners' names in Under Lock & Key. The pigs have too much control over our comrades' lives to let them know who is doing what all the time and not have it come back to bite us.

We can also add a concerted effort to censor Under Lock & Key to the list of political repression going on in Florida recently. They do things that piss people off, and then censor ULK for being "inflammatory" by reporting on it.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 37]
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Leaked Document on CDCR Step Down Program Exposes Brainwash Techniques

coffin for SHU hunger strikers
I wanted to write a few words concerning the new step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has begun to implement. There is nothing new about this brainwash program because brainwash kamps are tools learned in the "School of the Americas" (aka Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which was founded in 1946. Brainwash kamps were unleashed on the Vietnamese by the French, on Jews and communists by the German Nazis before the gas, and the Koreans tasted these kamps by their Japanese colonizers. In fact, all colonized people experience some form of brainwashing by the oppressor. Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisons are examples of U.$. imperialism following this tradition.

First we should keep in mind that many folks captured in these SHUs are not guilty of what they are accused of. So long as information is extracted via torture, i.e. years of solitary confinement, then false information will be provided to the torturers. It is a fact that some humyn beings will say or do anything to stop the torture, and as a result many prisoners will be subjected to torture for false accusations.

We happened to get our hands on one of the journals that are used in the step down program. A guard slid one of them into our pod by "accident" and as you could imagine it was heavily scrutinized.

This brainwash manual has quotes of nameless supposed prisoners sprinkled throughout saying things to the effect that the supposed prisoner once blamed the system or other elements but has now realized it was her/his own fault. Each page has the following words on the bottom, "It is illegal to duplicate this page in any manner."

The supposed purpose of this program is for prisoners to work their way out of the SHU. This will supposedly be done to allow prisoners a way, outside of informing on people, to get back to the general population. What they don't tell you is that you will have to now go through their brainwash course. Even then they can deny you if they feel you are not sincere. But my question is, why do I have to undergo a deprogramming when I am the torture survivor? Why shouldn't my torturer have to take classes on why it's wrong to torture?

In the "journal," each page asks questions, such as for the reader to list wrongdoings you have done and then asks what caused you to make these choices. Examples are given of different crimes the supposed prisoner committed. They then ask for pros and cons of crimes one committed and one is even asked if you feel sly or manipulative when you deceive people.

All these questions are asked in a way that implicates you and attempts to blame you for not just being in prison but in SHU as well. At no time is the possibilty even hinted of someone being in SHU for false allegations. There are lists of good habits and "criminal" behavior. But good habits like "caring" or "responsibility" are what we already showed in the strikes, and "criminal" behavior listed like "dishonesty" or "irresponsibility" is exactly what the state has done. Yet this brainwash journal wants us to say we are criminal if we want to advance in this de-programming or de-revolutionizing program. There is no way I will even act or role play with my torturers just to go to general population. What they are doing is wrong and rather than take them off the hook by falsely admitting to criminal behavior I will refuse their brainwash program and continue to publicize this torture and agitate for resistance in these death kamps!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade asks a good question as to why it is not the torturer who has to take classes to help them understand that what they did was wrong. Of course there is a class character to every justice system, and in the United $tates we have a bourgeois state. When there was a proletarian-led state in China it was the torturers, landlords and spies for the imperialists that underwent re-education in what might be called a brainwashing program by the imperialists. The difference in the class character of the Chinese prison system and the Amerikan one is that those deemed criminals were put in communal living situations, where they had to learn to live and work together with others, where they were given reading materials, and required to study. So while the ultimate goal of getting the criminals to recognize that what they did was wrong was similar, this was done through group study and struggle, rather than long-term isolation and torture as is common for the oppressed languishing in U.$. prisons.

We do not oppose re-education as we are all products of our environment. Even in U.$. prisons, many of the oppressed locked up have committed (relatively minor) crimes as they emulate the values of the bourgeoisie. What we do oppose is torture, wasting of humyn lives, and a justice system that prioritizes profits over humyn life.


Note: for more on the re-eduation programs in Chinese prisons check out Prisoners of Liberation by Amerikan students Allyn and Adele Rickett or the autobiography of the last Emperor of Manchuria, Pu Yi, From Emperor to Citizen.

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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Update on CA Grievance Lawsuits

I have filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court on the inadequacy of the grievance procedure in California prisons. I've also written letters to the California Attorney General's Office, the LA County District Attorney Office, the Governor's office and various media outlets in order to seek their assistance in forcing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) staff to honor their own policies and regulations. All of my above efforts were to no avail.

The LA County Superior Court ordered an informal response when I filed my petition. The California Attorney General's office assumed the position of respondent to my petition and asked for an extension of time to reply to my petition, and then they failed to meet even that deadline. Before the Attorney General replied, the court denied my petition stating that I was not in compliance with the grievance procedure, despite being unable to cite a single grievance regulation that I hadn't complied with. This judicial abdication of CDCR staff lawlessness is routine in California state-level courts.

I had tried addressing the inadequate grievance procedure in the federal courts, by way of a federal civil suit that I filed against California State Prison - Corcoran. The ruling on this was that the CDCR's violation of their grievance procedure does not create a federal constitutional violation, basically saying that the due process clause is meaningless. The case is now pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, case number 12-17419.

My "take-away" from my efforts so far is that in dealing with these government types (da pigs, bureaucrats, politicians, government, attorneys, etc.) in general, you're up against brazenly socioeconomically biased, unreasonable, spiteful, hypocritical, out-of-touch, legitimized sociopaths. They work together to justify clearly unlawful behavior, and are adverse to a system of legitimate checks and balances. They see barely disguised partiality, in the disposition of their duties, as reasonable and good. We see evidence of this daily. I mean, the recently exposed NSA spy program is beyond any reasonable dispute a violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet they go on unapologetically violating the same constitution that they claim to cherish, absolutely Orwellian with the "double-think."

What irritates me even more is the public's complacency in the face of this brazen tyranny by this nation's power elite. The Declaration of Independence states that it is not only a right, but a duty for the people to replace a lawless government. When will we honor that duty?

Thank you for your time, consideration, and your work performed on behalf of the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's conclusions, and of course, we harbored no real expectations of action from the bureaucrats' offices and courts going into this campaign. This is why we constantly stress the need to organize people around these demands. The pigs are not usually going to do something just because it's right. They are more likely do something when they are pressured to do it. And pressure can only be applied when prisoners are organized for their common interests.

This is class struggle of the imprisoned lumpen against the bourgeois classes. When this struggle does not exist, our so-called "rights" under bourgeois democracy disappear, demonstrating that they never really existed in their own right. That is why we don't hesitate to report this comrade's failures, because they underline that important lesson. They also allow us to highlight the real victory in the grievance campaign, which is prisoners across many states acting in unison, sharing information and strategizing. Our strategies around this campaign need to keep the big picture of the balance of power in mind so that we do not get lost in an endless cycle of give and take with the pigs.

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[Hunger Strike] [Campaigns]
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Strikers Need to Hold On to Reach Their Goals

Revolutionary Greetings!

Today marks day 10 of the hunger/work strike - only a few of us in the entire cell block of 50+ men [in one of the Pelican Bay Security Housing Units] are still on hunger strike. Most went 7 days and a few went a couple of days more and now we are down to a few.

The prison has been telling people who go out to medical etc. that "everybody is eating." One person was told "All of the short corridor is eating" and this was on the 4th day. Everyone knew it was bullshit. Then today on Democracy Now! we heard that many here are still striking.

Today is the 10th day and the prison has still not weighed us, they said all protocol is out the window and they are now going by what Sacramento says. Even while we listened to Democracy Now! in the middle of the program on the hunger strike the signal was mysteriously interrupted and switched over to classical music for the best part of the show when the people were speaking on our behalf but the part where the CDCR spokesman slandered us was played just fine.

Our current treatment shows that we receive our treatment ultimately from the state, the prison is just the arm or tentacle but the state makes the decisions even in regards to prisoners who are in torture kamps from California to Guantanamo and beyond.

I have gone ten days so far on hunger strike and refused a total of 30 meals and I have not been weighed, nor have I had my vitals checked, no blood pressure check nothing! These maggots run around giggling and acting like this means nothing, pigs, nurses all these employees act the same. I have seen more concern over commercials for a dog pound.

All this tells me that in any future hunger strikes, here in Pelican Bay or anywhere in prisons, people must not set a 3 day or 1 week date as many will only do the bare minimum. One needs to always set it as go as long as you possibly can! Because the state does not understand anything else, we must deepen our commitment for justice! Nothing else will get us to the victory lane.

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[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada]
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Nevada Prisons Repression, Call for Resistance

Since early April there have been at least three prisoners shot, all in the head/face, and other shots fired resulting in lockdowns, two institutional lockdowns, and a number of pig assaults on prisoners including one in the seg unit I was released from and two on prisoners in the unit where I am currently housed. Most recently (last week) a Black comrade was assaulted in retaliation for exercising his first amendment right to expose pig misconduct. All of these assaults have been on Black prisoners by white pigs.

Amidst the above the food issue has been revived but has met textbook excuses - all of which boil down to:

  1. A prevailing sense of hopelessness among prisoners here
  2. A prevailing attitude of complacency among prisoners here and
  3. Fear of retaliation against prisoners here

The common factor? The state of mind of prisoners.

The Texas brothers demonstrated that victories are possible even with the grievance system, and history teaches us that: "In all ages and under all circumstances there will always exist abundant reasons not to fight but that will be the only way not to obtain victory." (Fidel Castro)

History teaches us that our victories are always the result of the work of a few against the many. It teaches us that we will never be a majority so we must fight that much harder and with greater determination and not allow few numbers and temporary failures to terminate the struggle. At this moment there are a few of us here fighting for proper food, proper medical treatment, and an end to staff abuse, assaults and retaliation and theft/censorship of mail. We are simultaneously trying to bring unity within the prisoner class. This will not happen today, but there is always tomorrow, as our Texas brothers so accurately noted in ULK 32, we are all fighting for tomorrow.

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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Petition Gets Response

A while back I had sent the petition MIM(prisons) circulates to the director of CDCR, Internal Affairs, the Department of (In)justice, and the ombudsmen.

First I got a response from the third level (Sacramento), J.D. Lozano (chief), saying they received my complaint. I had checked 3 boxes in the petition for: 1) screening out appeals to delay, 2) detaching documents and refusing to process 602 due to missing documents, and 3) using dishonesty to screen out 602s. In fact one 602 filed kept getting sent back for 3 months until I had to water it down!

A while later I was interviewed by a Lt. E. Noyce. Word is he was a former IGI (Institutional Gang Investigation). Well at first he asked me about the grievance petition: where did I get this "form" and did I make it. He had never seen it before so it astounded him that a prisoner could get something like this. After this he went on a tirade saying the people who sent me this are making money and I should have sent this petition to the institution appeal coordinator instead of Internal Affairs, and how I should just ask staff to "solve" the problem. That is the problem, but he's too deep in oppression to care. Finally he told me I am not a lawyer.

When I was returned to my cell I wrote to internal affairs again but this time I put it on an Inmate 22 Request Form. This way I can have a copy of what was said and if they didn't act I could move forward with 'legal' action. Always leave a paper trail!

I wrote internal affairs and told them that Lt E. Noyce had intimidated me, chilled my right to redress or file a grievance and I'd like to talk to someone from internal affairs. Days passed by and I was approached by a Sgt. and asked if I'd like to add anything to my "citizen complaint." I told him that everything's on the paper.

So to wrap this up the petition seems to rattle some piggy nerves. I recommend it to be used when applicable. And at least here in Tehachapi we're getting responses now.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is interesting that the interview of the prisoner included a criticism of him for not being a lawyer. That's the point of the grievance petition: it makes these battles accessible to prisoners who don't need to know the details of the law. This is a key contribution that jailhouse lawyers participating in the Prisoners Legal Clinic can make to United Struggle from Within organizing work. If there is no petition for your state, write to us to get a sample that you can customize for use there.

We know these individual battles to address grievances will only gain small victories, at best. But the fight to improve conditions for prisoners, especially conditions that impede prisoner's ability to organize and educate themselves and others, is a critical part of building the anti-imperialist movement. Through campaigns like this one we plug new comrades into broader education and ultimately build communist leaders.

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[SAMAEL] [Control Units] [United Front] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 32]
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Expanding the California SHU Struggle to Nevada

Recently a fellow prisoner told me he had heard that Nevada was the only state in which a CO had never been killed. Knowing that I have more than 3 decades in this system, he asked if this was true. I looked back and had to admit despite hundreds of assaults, attacks, hostage situations, takeovers, etc., I could not recall one CO being killed, ever.

Up until Nevada State Prison (NSP) closed (2011-12) it was the oldest prison still in use in the united states. The building in which the first experimental execution with gas occurred (on a cat) still stands as a testament to the gravity of the statements above.

In the early 1980s NSP received attention on "Good Morning America" as the most dangerous prison in the continental united states. This was true for prisoners only (apparently), who've died by the score.

I arrived in 1979 and the two dominating prison-formed organizations were well established, all other groups were extensions of existent street organizations. These two prison-formed orgs were based on racially charged genesis mythologies of defense from other prisoners.

The COs tended to "turn a blind eye" to, or participate in, prisoner-on-prisoner violence out of fear of retaliation or through "negotiation." Prisoners also turned a blind eye to, or participated in, guard-on-prisoner violence/oppression in return for concessions, creating an environment which thrived on the victimization of prisoners facilitated by guard/prisoner cadres. This relationship still exists in Nevada, though less visible.

Many prisoners have been killed, assaulted and raped at the hands and/or instigation of COs, myself included.

The point of this is that, historically, Nevada prisoners organize on one of two opposing platforms: 1) persynal defense/safety 2) profit. Some combine these two and others degenerate from the former to the latter. This approach inevitably results in a contradiction of defense vs. predation with the consequence of a self-perpetuating condition of disunity among prisoners, due to the self-replicating nature of these positions.

In Nevada this is an entrenched proxy of the prison political landscape which must be dismantled.

Alongside the two groups above, there have formed new organizations whose lines continue to define fellow prisoners as enemies or potential victims. In such a climate, racial polarization is inevitable in the defense camp and predatory capitalist expansion is inevitable in the profit camp.

These philosophies embrace, advocate and promote a prisoner vs. prisoner paradigm, a mirror image of the Amerikkkan/prison paradigm used to oppress the masses and to prevent organizing among prisoners. By making prisoners impotent, it facilitates their continued oppression and the violence and exploitation visited upon them, their families, and community by the state.

It was against this background that SAMAEL emerged in defense against the state and it is against this background that Nevada prisoners are oppressed today. It is time for Nevada prisoners to wake up to the reality of our mutual conditions. We reject the prisoner vs. prisoner paradigm out-of-hand and refuse to cooperate, facilitate, or participate in our abuse, oppression and genocide, or that of others. We are calling on all Nevada prisoners to join us in:

  1. Organizing for our mutual defense against our mutual enemy, the state, by opening dialogue and forming alliances with all fellow prisoners to address conditions of confinement as a single body.
  2. Ending all inter-tribal disputes by adopting the agreement to end hostilities as proposed by the PBSP-SHU short corridor collective. This should include all facilities in Nevada and all custody levels in these facilities striving to expand this initiative beyond prison walls and into our respective communities.
  3. Rejecting all racial, gender, sexual, religious and custody divisions as counter-revolutionary distractions. The enemy does not limit its capabilities based on these distinctions and we must stop allowing these distinctions to be an exploitable weapon against us. Our weakness is their strength.
  4. Ending prisoner-on-prisoner predation. While Nevada prisoners are victimizing and exploiting each other, the state is fomenting and capitalizing on this disunity to further abuse and oppress us. Do not assist this process through inaction or abuse and oppression of fellow prisoners.
  5. Breaking silence: when a CO mistreats you, grieve it. Put it on paper and into a public forum. When a CO mistreats a fellow prisoner, step up and back their play. Put it in writing and get it into a public forum. The COs back each others' play without question and we must do the same. We will only be oppressed further by enabling them with silence, and they are exploiting this reluctance to speak up. Every voice counts (see addresses below)
  6. Back up the California comrades. It is not just their struggle — many prisoners in Nevada have been segregated/tortured for decades and their voices are not being heard. We must speak for them because all prisoners are united by captivity, suffering and oppression.

    Nevada prisoners must unite against our captors and stop enabling and assisting in our own destruction.

    Expose abuses to:

    NV-CURE, 540 E. St. Louis Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104
    Jonathan Smith, Chief, Civil Rights Div U.S. Dept of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Washington DC 20530


    MIM(Prisons) adds: Also send your reports on abuse to MIM(Prisons) for publication in Under Lock and Key!

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