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[Security] [ULK Issue 28]
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Snitch-Jacketing Aoki

On August 20, 2012 an article was released alleging that Richard Aoki, a Japanese national and early Black Panther Party (BPP) member, was an FBI informant. This claim was made by journalist and author Seth Rosenfeld, whose book Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power was conveniently released on August 21. On September 7, 2012 Rosenfeld published a follow-up article, with 221 pages of "newly released" FBI documents which he believes further implicate Aoki as an FBI informant.(1)

Let's start with Rosenfeld's political worldview, because we know no journalist is truly unbiased. Rosenfeld's opinion on liberation struggles is revealed in his characterization of the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), that Aoki organized in, as a violent student movement.(2) He blames the violence of the 1968-69 strikes of the TWLF on Bay Area college campuses on the strikers themselves, not the pigs. Yet the students did not initiate violence, and in fact were sprayed with so much teargas by the pigs that the trees in Sproul Plaza on the University of California at Berkeley campus were still irritating students' eyes even into the following school year. Coming from this perspective we must question Rosenfeld's assessment of the FBI right off the bat.

Aoki
Aoki in confrontation with police at a protest near UC Berkeley

Influencing the Party greatly from its beginning, Richard Aoki is most famous for supplying the BPP with their first guns. According to his biography, Aoki helped shape the early ideology of the Panthers through his relationship with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton at Merritt College by suggesting reading material and engaging with them in political debate.(3) Besides his work with the BPP, Richard Aoki also did much organizing and protest work with the Third World Liberation Front via the Asian American Political Alliance. Aoki remained politically active and revolutionary-minded even until his death in 2009. Surprisingly, Rosenfeld is from San Francisco and has been doing research for this book since 1982, yet it wasn't until 2002 or 2003 that he learned of Richard Aoki.

Understandably, Rosenfeld's claim has sparked a lot of debate on the internet and radio as to whether it is true or not. While we are open to the possibility of nearly anyone being an agent of the state, MIM(Prisons) agrees with those who have held out for clear proof before we will consider denouncing Aoki's legacy of the state. Objectively, the current evidence supporting this claim is inconclusive at best. The original article was highly sensational, focusing on vague, chopped up, and misquoted sound-bites of a 2007 interview with Aoki that the author interprets as admissions of guilt. Besides these sound-bites, the only other evidence offered are ambiguous FBI documents, citing Aoki as providing "unique" information not available from any other source, and the testimony of former FBI agents, of whom the only one that supposedly knew Aoki is also dead.(4) Yet none of the documents say what information Aoki supposedly gave the FBI; it has all been redacted.

On the radio program APEX Express, Harvey Dong, a close friend of Richard Aoki, offered the listener a thorough reading of the relevant parts of the FBI documents cited by Rosenfeld (as well as excerpts from Aoki's college term papers).(2) The only information which allegedly came from Aoki in the first set of FBI documents is about Aoki himself and could have been obtained using a wiretap (or informant) on Aoki. Assuming the released FBI documents are real, the set released on September 7 does establish that Aoki was giving information to the FBI from 1961 to 1977, but very little about that relationship is revealed.

Richard Aoki FBI file FOIA
First page of FBI documents released under FOIA
documenting his role as an informant for the Bureau.

The fact that the FBI redacts all names of individuals and organizations that Aoki allegedly provided information on makes it impossible to speculate on the nature of his interactions with the Bureau. Rosenfeld's follow-up article pulls many quotes from the 221 pages of documents indicating that Aoki provided valuable information, but any details that might substantiate these statements are redacted or absent. Despite this release of new documents, there is still no information on what intelligence he allegedly gave to the FBI on the BPP or other groups. While we should always be prepared for the possibility that a trusted comrade is an agent, we need to see evidence of harm done to the movement to condemn someone who did so much to advance the cause.

It is very conceivable that the FBI is snitch-jacketing Aoki to discredit his work as a Third Worldist revolutionary activist, discredit the Panthers as pawns of the FBI, and more simply to sell copies of Rosenthal's new book. One of the lessons we learned from the Panthers, and other political movements of the 1960s, is the importance of security. The COINTELPRO attacks on the Panthers led MIM to develop as a semi-underground organization that keeps comrades at arm's length, centering around political, rather than persynal, relationships.

Interestingly, on 20 August the FBI had yet to release about 4,000 pages of documents on Richard Aoki, and was claiming to have no main file on Aoki himself. This cannot be true considering how politically active and outspoken he was. Rosenfeld and others saw the FBI withholding these documents as indicative of Aoki's status as an informant, assuming these were reports given by Aoki.(4) Then supposedly some time between 20 August and 7 September, the FBI released at least 221 pages of documentation just on Richard Aoki. With all the heated debate, we note that the FBI chose a very opportunistic time to release these documents, which causes us to further question their legitimacy. Why would the FBI release documentation that says Aoki didn't provide valuable information? This controversy is feeding right into their agenda to undermine revolutionary activists and movements.

The distrust that has evolved surrounding this claim is classic, and a perfect example of why the BPP often quoted Mao by saying, "No investigation, no right to speak." This Aoki "scandal" should be a reminder of how snitch-jacketing can impact our anti-imperialist movement, and our prison organizing especially. One of the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is UNITY,

"WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."(5)

This is a lesson we've unfortunately had to learn time and time again. A claim that everyone on SNY or Protective Custody is a snitch, or a rumor on the yard, is not sufficient evidence to call someone out as an agent of the state. Sometimes comrades suggest that we require USW members to submit their files from the Department of Corrections to determine whether they are compromised in any way based on charges, and where they've been housed in the past. They tell us we should ask the state who we should let into USW. Not only is this ridiculous in theory, but we know of at least one case where an informant was given doctored files and released back onto general population to be a Lieutenant in a prominent LO in California. A piece of paper from a government agency should only be considered as one piece of evidence, not the sacrosanct truth.

The state is already putting a lot of energy into making us suspicious of our fellow revolutionaries; we should not make their job any easier. Instead we should be communicating with each other directly if we suspect unprincipled divisions are being fomented. Our struggle is too important to get caught up in rumor mongering and sectarianism.

Even if evidence does eventually come out which proves Aoki was providing the FBI with information that actually helped them attack the liberation struggle, we will still not be devastated. While we don't agree with Fred Ho's subjectivist methodology of defending Aoki overall, we do have unity with his perspective on the consequence of truth in the allegation. "If Aoki was an agent, so what? He surely was a piss-poor one because what he contributed to the movement is enormously greater than anything he could have detracted or derailed."(6) This view is right in line with our view on how to maintain security within the anti-imperialist prison movement; don't give a pig the opportunity to do more damage than good. Distributing information on a need-to-know basis and applying high standards to different levels of membership will help ensure people contribute more to the cause than to the enemy.

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[Organizing] [Security] [ULK Issue 28]
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Fighting Enemies in the Prison Movement

On July 7, 2012 a kite was passed to me, and it read as follows:


"I might be in some trouble. You don't know me and this is going to blow your mind. If I die in the next day Sr. Menendez in Unit 11 is responsible and probably the warden too. They are going to use inmates to do it. I threatened the warden with letters to the health department about blatant violations in the culinary and the way they do laundry and other things they are getting away with in here. If you hear of an inmate dying in the next couple of days don't let my death go in vain."

Without addressing the veracity of this communication, it is disturbing for a number of reasons (aside from the obvious). First and foremost is the specter of the state's use of inmates (and I use "inmates" here in the most specifically derogatory and anti-revolutionary sense of the term) to do their bidding. That a prisoner who sought to expose an evil visited upon us all would then have to fear reprisal from fellow targets of the evil, at the direction of the oppressor, is treachery of a singularly despicable character. (This is nothing new, but its nature has become more dominant, as is discussed below.) This is aside from the actual violation of our most fundamental constitutional and human rights, the subsequent retaliation for exposing this malfeasance of prison officials and the complete and utter disregard and contempt for human dignity.

This "tool" culture is becoming increasingly prevalent. Today, not only do we revolutionary and activist prisoners have to combat the oppressors themselves, but we must overcome their minions within the ranks of the oppressed as well — we must be ever vigilant against their agents among us. Not in the ordinary sense of infiltrators and narcs, but a whole culture of puppets, sympathizers and panderers intoxicated by imperialist fictions. What is truly frightening about this new breed of traitor is this fact: they want no recompense for their treachery. They believe in the rightness of the betrayal. They believe in the rightness of their loyalty to the oppressor, the enemy. These "people" are not seeking gain. They are an enemy cadre, steeped in enemy thought and ideology. They are (in the truest sense) patriotic Amerikkkans.

Doubtless, the state creates deprivations and uses these deprivations as bargaining chips to enlist the aid of petty snitches and unsavories of all types. That is never going to change in or out of prison. That is not the same animal. What is named here is a devoted enemy, an unrecognized and unofficial extension of the state in both thought and deed.

We must be aware of this counter-revolutionary element and be prepared to deal with them as they arise. There is increased urgency for A) the unification of all revolutionaries and activists regardless of race, religion, gender, custody, set or hood; B) critical analyses of the battle field without set mentalities; and C) application of the principles and theory which arise out of critical analyses. We must rethink our strategies and possibly our associations and act based upon what we have been taught by our conditions, not by what we feel or desire. The local conditions as applied to the global struggle should advise us — not predilection.

The only reason why we have remained oppressed is the enemy's effective and continuous infiltration and dis-empowerment. It is the enemy's ability to disunite and exploit this disunity, which provides them with a critical advantage. These are textbook guerrilla tactics which continue to work and reinforce the need for a steel-willed revolutionary vanguard. As such, we must immediately re-evaluate our objectives and tactical assessments, and evolve to meet the pale of the enemy. This requires that we take a long hard look at our environment and account for this emerging class of "enemy combatants."

A friend of the enemy is still an enemy.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We recently announced a day of solidarity for the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which in part is about promoting the five principles to discourage the kind of petty back-biting where prisoners will sell out for small favors from the pigs. But this comrade brings up a good point, that not all prisoners can be won over. The divisions created by the oppressors are not just individuals bought off to carry out individual reactionary acts in exchange for favors, but also individuals who buy in to the Amerikan political ideology and truly support imperialism as a system. Both groups are dangerous to the movement. We must protect ourselves from these people, both by trying to turn them to the side of the oppressed while exposing them and avoiding their traps and aggression.

This article referenced in:
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[Security] [ULK Issue 28]
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CIA Front Organization or Revolutionary Group?

I don't want to sound rude or suspicious about MIM but I have to be straight up with you about how I feel pertaining to your activism. I am concerned you have been already infiltrated or you're a CIA front organization claiming revolutionary organizing. I hope I'm just assuming things, because I have been corresponding and studying with you for several years. A lot of strange suspicious things happened to me like the prison guards and other staff trying to cross me out or set me up, or maybe the COINTELPRO is trying to discourage me. How come every time somebody gets involved with MIM it seems like that person gets either killed or in big trouble? Seems to me someone infiltrated your movement.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It's important that everyone approach security and organizing as carefully as this comrade does. We know that revolutionary movements are infiltrated all the time, from Lenin's COMINTERN to the Black Panther Party to MIM and beyond. The best we can do is force our comrades to demonstrate their correct line in practice, and never take people's word for their revolutionary commitment. If someone claims to be a comrade but puts forth a dangerous line (i.e. pushing people into armed struggle that will get them killed and set back the movement), or talks a lot but never does any work, we should view them with suspicion.

Similarly, it's good to question why repression comes down on you after association with an individual or organization. In prison, unfortunately this could just mean you are working with a genuinely progressive outside group, as the authorities can read all your mail and will punish you for working with such groups. We have countless examples of progressive organizations being labeled "security threat groups."

One of the reasons we encourage organizing in a cell structure is to limit comrades' exposure to others. You can do good work with people at arm's length, forming cells with those you know and trust. But in most cases, we recommend comrades in prison stay in touch with MIM(Prisons) (and others), despite the risks, because of the need to access both theoretical and practical information to help you organize.

The danger of infiltration wherever we are is why we disagree with many who say we should only work with prisoners in general population and we should isolate SNY prisoners. In our article on "Security in the Prison Movement" we argued, "We see this as a line struggle. Anyone can pretend to be USW inside, just like anyone can pretend to represent MIM(Prisons) or Maoism. If they uphold the line set forth by the vanguard organization and/or movement, then they're out there working to advance the struggle."

Everyone should approach working with groups claiming revolutionary politics with caution. It is possible the CIA is producing Under Lock & Key or other publications like it, just to identify the "trouble maker" prisoners. But if you read the pages of ULK you should be able to determine if the line and actions of our members and supporters are correct. In the end, if the CIA really was behind this good publication and its good work, we might be getting more out of that infiltration than they are.

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[Gang Validation] [Organizing] [Security] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
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Prisons Create New Tools to Validate, Prisoners Seek New Methods of Protest

Recently I received notice of change to regulations number 12-03, publication date 25 May 2012, effective date 10 May 2012, that is said to affect sections 3000, 3375 and 3375.6. It states the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeks to establish requirements for an automated needs assessment tool to be used to place prisoners in programs that would aid their re-entry to society and reduce their chances of reoffending by identifying the criminogenic needs of offenders.

The presentation appears to be harmless, but it is not harmless for those ignorant enough to boast about their gang involvement, family criminality, and other sensitive factors that will become readily available and quickly cross-referenced and correlated with information contained in intelligence files. In addition, the information gained from the compass core assessment official record can be used as an "administrative determinate" under 15 CCR 3375.2(b)(11) in addition to 3375.3 (9)(4)(A) & (B) which is the foundation not only for validation but for intelligence analysts.

Issuing a list of demands to prisoncrats telling them what their validation process should be is ludicrous, as is the idea of telling your body when it should have the urge to excrete. Cats are quick to want to make demands without any leverage, though prisoners no matter where they are confined, have economic leverage that they are not willing to exercise because cookies are of more immediate import.

Since the 1880s the concept of boycotting, or organizing to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with prison/jail stores or commissaries, has been a very powerful tool. In California it deprives the CDCR of a source of revenue. It also affects the bottom line of prison profiteers, whose profits are guaranteed by what amounts to cash transactions for hundreds of millions in profits and revenues, courtesy of prisoners who lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for a while in order to exercise necessary economic leverage, to compel some administrative change.

Prisoners in California should remember that canteen goods originally were purchased at wholesale prices and then marked up 10% and the proceeds over the costs and expenses went into the prisoner welfare fund to finance many programs and activities that benefited prisoners. This changed with the rise of Pete Wilson, the governor who used prisoner welfare funds to help finance a re-election bid which opened the flood gates for all sorts of misuse of the foundational purpose of the prisoner welfare fund.

The validation process is a means of control and manipulation that I have noted that some general population prisoners and sensitive needs yard (SNY/PC) prisoners embrace as a sort of badge of honor, only to belatedly find out the effects. In ULK 26 an Oregon prisoner points to the most significant problems with the divisive nature in the development of LOs who are in competition with each other.

It's common for me to hear cats hollering that they are Blood this, Blood that. Crip this or Crip that, Norteño, Southsider, Bulldog, skin head, nazi, etc., trying to tout some bogus gangsta facade that ordinarily would land them on Corcoran SHU 4B and validated. These boastful cats are easily co-opted and manipulated. Their delusions of grandeur provide Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) with a wealth of intelligence via their eyes and ears on the tier.

A perfect example is the Corcoran prisoner's statement about cats in ASU I (Administrative Segregation) laying down in fear of IGI retaliation for exercising their right to file an appeal! Typically conversations over the tier are recorded when IGI doesn't have a reliable agent to make note of what he sees and/or hears. As to the idea of not taking a cellie as a form of protest, the typical response is privileges taken for 90-180 days and 60-90 days of early release credits are taken. Cats who are addicted to sports programs or television or canteen will cave in every time because they lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for the cause.

Prisoncrats treat gang membership or association as a tool of extortion used in their agenda of touting the violent nature of street or prison gangs.

The CDCR is rife with crooked officials and staff and the secretary, governor and legislature are unable and unwilling to purge itself of those who regularly falsify reports. Supervisory staff/officials fail to address the problems so as to encourage the misconduct and repression. At the same time they are quick to feed a naive public a laundry list of bogus incidents to justify the administration's unwillingness to reform itself.

I try to examine all aspects of the criminal injustice system to see what tactics we can utilize in our struggle effectively, even if I have to employ them alone. I sacrifice luxuries already so I know it's possible and a little something for all to consider.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good topic of discussion: it's important we evaluate the tactics that will be effective in fighting prison repression. There are a limited number of protest options available to prisoners, and some will be more effective than others. Whichever tactics are best may vary by prison or state, but the fundamental task of building unity for the struggle remains the same across the entire criminal injustice system. Comrades in California continue to strategize on the best ways to build on the recent prisoner rights activism there. Join United Struggle from Within and work with other anti-imperialist prisoners so that we aren't stuck employing tactics on our own, but rather in a united front across facilities, organizations and nationalities.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Security] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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More Orgs Labeled "Security Threat" for Raising Consciousness

Recently I was informed that my nación is now considered a Security Threat Group (STG) here in the state of Texas. Not because we are doing anything that's criminal, but because the system knows that we have the potential to make change possible for all, which they see as a direct threat to their institution. For years we have been around, but now they see more and more of us getting tuned in to our doctrine, becoming aware of the de-humanization of the system. So it seems that they want to slap us with this label. Recently in an article published in ULK there was a fellow Black Panther, who is here with me, informing you all that the Gang Intelligence staff have also classified them as an STG in the state of Texas.

All I can say to those manitos and manitas doing time representing [these groups]: there is nothing new under the sun! Keep underground not because we have a sense of guilt, but because by watching and studying history we made ourselves a threat and now the system is ready and waiting to take us out just like it does with so many others. The war on STG is real and the tracking mechanism they use is serious, inside and out.

¡Trucha! Always be aware and make the right decisions.

Remember, just because you are in general population doesn't mean that the future is going to be the same. This goes for all the lumpen class. Prepare yourselves for that ripple effect because the war on so-called STGs is going to get much more repressive.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that the prisons throw around the "security threat" label as an excuse to lock down conscious prisoners organizing against the system. We get many letters talking about this happening in states across the U.$. In addition, the "security threat" label is used to keep Under Lock & Key out of prisons. This censorship is so common that every issue of ULK finds many copies returned to us, in some cases banned from entire facilities.

This writer gives good advice to be very careful about what information we reveal. We don't need more good comrades locked up in segregation just for their lumpen organization affiliation. Don't make it easy for the pigs. Don't give them any information.

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[Release] [Security]
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Release Plans and Politics with Friends

I have received ULK24. I love the article by release coordinator of MIM(Prisons) Overcoming Release Challenges. It goes into detail on the "Post-Release Plan" you all sent me. A comment on the time management is that it's true that time is critical, but as we do something like traveling to and from work or to see our parole officer, lunch breaks on the job, we communicate with people. This may not seem like much but one conversation on the basics can change lives.

My backpack will go everywhere with me. And this backpack will be stuffed with the best zines, newsletters, etc. If I pass a store, I can place some on the counter: hand them out to "passer-bys." We should take advantage of every little opportunity with limited time. These "little" things will hold some over until more time frees up or until they get into the habit and get settled.

And another comment is on "the personal vs. the political." I agree with MIM(Prisons) on security issues but on the attempt to preventing the destruction of relationships with friends and family in the name of the struggle, I don't agree. I say this to say if they can't accept me for who I am, then they're not real friends nor real family. This doesn't include telling them of more clandestine activities, but in telling them of your position and what you fight against imperialism. Your friends and family should want you to fight injustice. Not saying that they are obligated to do the same in order to be my friend - No! Everyone has a role in the struggle and some peoples' may be more radical than others.

These challenges are paramount and needs to be tended to fully. The only way to go is up because we're at the bottom; we can't get any lower.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the importance of advantage of every minute to do some revolutionary organizing. And there is nothing wrong with talking in general about political views with friends and family if you think there's a chance they might be interested (if you have an FBI agent in your family you'd be a fool to talk to them about anything). But you have to be careful about what you share. What happens when they start asking questions about details on what you do just because they are curious. And when your friend is angry with you for something and decides to go tell the cops about your activity, you've just put yourself in danger unnecessarily. We encourage people to keep their discussions of politics on the level of theory with people you know, until they demonstrate a real interest in getting involved in something. There are plenty of strangers out there we can talk to about politics without fear that they can use it against us: there is no lack for people to educate and organize.

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[Security]
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SNY Debate: Everyone Must Prove Themselves Through Actions

Seeing as I am SNY [Special Needs Yard], I'm compelled to put forth a few words on this matter. I've met many folks who neither "debriefed" nor snitched on anyone. After so much time on these lines, just how much b.s. can one person take? Unnecessary politics and needless racial tensions get old. That opinion is being held on the line. When young people get to prison and hear this type of talk, of course they will go SNY when confronted with an issue that will jeopardize their freedom or personal health and well being. Why fight a battle that the leaders are clearly undecided about?

To blame this or that generation is neither manly nor responsible, it's downright cowardly. Everyone is to blame and once an individual recognizes that there are responsibilities and duties to be upheld, that whether SNY or not, let him be a man and uphold those responsibilities and duties. Stay in your own land and quit trying to tell the next man what you think he should be doing. There are recriminations coming from this side (SNY) that there is more telling on the line than anyone will ever let on. The point is: get the beam out your own eye before you can get the speck out mine.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There has been a lot written about the SNY in the pages of Under Lock & Key as prisoners line up firmly on one side or the other of the debate over whether SNY prisoners can be revolutionary comrades. Our position falls in line with what this prisoner writes: we want people to demonstrate their commitments to the struggle through action. There are many reasons why people go to SNY, and not all of them snitch or debrief. Similarly, there are many mainline prisoners who snitch or work with the guards in other ways. So we must judge each person, SNY or not, by their actions.

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[Security] [Gang Validation] [ULK Issue 25]
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Security, Lumpen Organizations and names in ULK

The recent article in ULK23 titled Hunger strike strategy: tactical retreat or advance? raised some good ideas on how to move forward in the struggle for human rights in Amerikan prisons. We need to propose ideas and theory on the situation with the strike movement now more than ever. We need to develop a clear path on how to better strengthen our efforts. This development needs not just California prisoner's attention but all prisoners across the United $tates to lend their voice to this debate no matter where their cage is at as oppression can be found in every gulag from sea to shining sea.

When prisoners participate in this discussion, many are able to take from this debate, learn and hopefully add to it in a real way. Some may use the ideas for their own battles or modify other ideas to work in their efforts. In this way ULK will serve as a message board or chat room for the captive masses. All this is of course good and healthy for any movement to grow, and I look forward to read up on new theory and add to the mix as well. It is expanding on thought for all and a "win win" for the people.

One of the things that came out of the article "Tactical Retreat or Advance" was calling on certain people or LOs to provoke their participation. Had ULK been a strictly internal document that only prisoners read then I would think 'yea right on.' The problem is that ULKs are read and heavily scrutinized by prison officials and law enforcement agencies, thus what may mean to be simple criticism becomes a serious breach. In California prisons - and I suspect it is the same everywhere - if prison officials find letters, prison kites, etc., with prisoners names and affiliations this can be used as "confidential information," "proving" what they will call gang association. This will go into one's file to be used as a point toward validation. By naming aliases along with the name of a LO, all investigators need to do is punch in the alias and the database will list those suspected of affiliating with a certain LO and connect the dots. So listing names and LOs of people other than oneself is feeding intel to law enforcement which will be used to later put people in SHUs for decades or life. To name names and LOs is harmful being that ULKs go through kops hands before reaching prisoners. We should find ways to criticize our fellow prisoners while protecting their identity, it's not hard to do so.

Someone who may be new to ULK may read the naming names and wonder, is this writer sabotaging these prisoners ability to remain on the mainline? Is he trying to get them snatched up? So we don't want to give mixed messages to people picking up a ULK of what we're about.

I know many people who were validated because their last point was someone else wrote something about them, that they were affiliated with this or that group, and so I was surprised this was allowed to take place.

I read awhile back in a MIM Theory about a comrade who was at a rally or event, and this comrade spoke about how someone walked up and said something like "hey you're from MIM, I knew the founder so and so." Well this comrade and MIM wrote something about security and how we shouldn't name comrades as this information gets in the hands of agents. Of course I know the difference between a LO and MIM, yet a LO faces repression in prison in the form of SHU.

If there is a "pig question," I think it begs the question of can there be a "pig statement"? It's something we need to look at and see if there really is a breach in naming prisoners without their knowledge in ULK. What is the damage that can come out of this? And should MIM(Prisons) allow it or partake in the same? I don't think so. I remember another article a while back where someone did the same and called out people and identified their LO but I believe it was in NY. I'm not sure how prisons in NY deal with intel such as this but I am certain of how California prisons deal with it and I am sitting in SHU for stuff like that.

I think MIM(Prisons) has an excellent policy of not putting peoples real names in its publications. MIM(Prisons) says rightly it does not do so to protect prisoners from more repression by the state. I believe this should also pertain to prisoners writing about other prisoners as well.

I think there is a way to call out LOs without naming prisoners, and it is right to call on certain folks to encourage participation, but naming names is just too harmful. When we write we must always keep in mind it is being read by not just guards but the larger state as well. I myself would not want someone to write about me by name if they are putting an LO beside my name. This is why MIM(Prisons) does not print real names. It's a matter of security. The pigs get a lot of intelligence on prisoners from their snitches who help them out, they shouldn't get more help from prison revolutionaries nor revolutionaries out in society.

I think criticism is a good thing for all prisoners and this includes LOs who are a huge part in what occurs in many prisons. Revolutionary prisoners need to develop ways to criticize without doing damage. Writing is not just succumbing to subjectivism no matter how stressful it becomes. I fully understand the frustration that arises when people are right at the ledge and all they need to do is make that leap to freedom and here we are the prison revolutionary nudging and showing the path and yet it moves at a snails pace and so we put pen to paper to jump start what seems like a stalled engine. I get this and see where we need to go but still we must remember ULK is not an internal cable, it is literally on the world wide web. Let us move forward in our efforts while staying alert in all areas. People's Power!


Editor of MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank comrade Cipactli for calling out this error in Under Lock & Key, and as editor i fully accept the criticism made. While any potential damage in that instance has been done, we are printing this publicly to correct any bad impressions it may have given people and remind all comrades of the importance of these issues. This was an opportunist error on my part that risked pushing away people that we hope to ally with, who never asked to have their names in ULK.

MIM(Prisons) agrees that it is dangerous practice for ULK to include people's LO name and affiliation and we will edit articles in the future to remove this information. While we have never printed people's real names, as Cipactli points out, this doesn't matter if the prisoncrats can make the connection between a prisoner and their LO name. We don't need to be helping the state with their repression, and feeding them information can have a real impact even when we are printing common knowledge.

This doesn't mean people should stop calling out LOs or writing about them, but ULK writers need to be careful to never use a name that can be associated with an individual. We can talk about groups without connecting them to specific names, and we can address lines and practice without naming groups. As we build the United Front for Peace in Prisons this is particularly important: we must build unity, not divisions, amongst the Lumpen Organizations.

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[Organizing] [Security]
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SNY Debate Continues: Don't Let the Prison Divide Us

I recently received ULK24, thank you. I share your newsletters with more than twenty people and an article (Correction on SNY debate) caused quite an uproar. I recognize the opinion of what people perceive Special Needs Yards (SNY) is (deviants, rats, etc.) but have major disagreement with the flawed perception.

The first of a few salient points is the strongest. In buying into the SNY/GP separation a fatal flaw emerges in ideology. The idea that SNY refugees who pursue personal safety are filth comes from a criminal mindset of values and morals. This needs correction and as a solution I offer education. SNY refugees are getting away from criminal mindset organizations and street gang policies. 99 percent of conflict within the walls isn't political struggle. It's not being able to pay for drugs, tribalism, promoting racial hatred and warfare for earlier lost battles, revenge for street gang violence, manipulation by imperialist agencies, and good old "I can't do my time so I'll make everyone else miserable."

As a mainline and SHU veteran of fifteen years traipsing across New Folsom, High Desert, Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Chino, San Quentin, and Old Folsom, the idea that I should prepare for death because a corrupt criminal organization declares it so is sheer idiocy. The idea that I could crawl under a rock in a hole somewhere and meekly keep my head down and not try to "make" my situation is sheer childlike fantasy. Convict (criminal) justice isn't blind, it is premeditated power struggles, envy, greed and the law of the jungle coming to fruition. The reality of prison politics is simple, dope is shotcaller. Greed, self-aggrandizement, negative cultural and educational values run rampant like a virus. Split by race, geography, imagined fifty year old slights and insults, the semi-ignorant masses huddle on their claimed patches of territory on the yard and build up walls of separation that tower far above the actual prison walls that confine them. Imperialists stand watching; laughing, and profiting. The convenient high noon-middle of the street showdown of physical combat isn't a noble ideal and it has replaced rational thought as the tool of necessity in the concrete culture.

It needs to be said that Republicans and Democrats don't care if you're SNY or GP, creating a mental separation to divide and conquer is proven COINTELPRO strategy. It makes moving the herd easier.

Bear this in mind please. Just because you are in a cell in prison you are not a political prisoner. As an individual you must make peace with why you're in the cell in the first place. Responsibility for your life is first. If you choose to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do that then wipe away the veil and quit dividing the world in to race, geography, and location, quit dividing your world into SNY and GP, become more than a convict.

SNY was a choice I made that I must live with. To believe that I have no redeemable value is ludicrous. I didn't testify against anyone, no one went to the hole, I did not become an oppressor of my own people. I did not leave my morals on the mainline. I do not live, associate, or do business with deviants, rats, or oppressors. I am vigilant in knowing who and what they've done in my life. I simply now walk stronger alone in my stride.

If you are still on the path of separatism you're stagnant and if your doctrines espouse convict vs. convict violence, drug profits, or control of the mass. You are not a revolutionary, you are an oppressor, as your desire is simply to be king of the mountain. Please do not don the guise of righteousness simply because of a designation the system created that you choose to use.

It is every day actions that define you. if you're still gangbanging, slinging, separating, wake up you're stuck in the matrix like Neo was.

Do something revolutionary, walk across the yard to that semi-familiar face with the ink work of a different tribe on his sleeves. Embrace the viking king, the African warrior, the Aztec warrior and realize that if you can't do it you are by choice dividing and separating, and you're the one who doesn't get it.

My heart and mind are guiding my moral compass true and I cannot see exploiting another for self-gain. Where do you stand really? It doesn't matter in the physical sense as it isn't a physical question. What is in your heart will show up in your everyday life. If I'm just talking, blowing smoke, what I've written above makes me another windblown hypocrite and false seer uttering borrowed phrases and aping the intelligent conversations of my learned betters. But if it resides in every beat of my heart and my stride matches my hearts intentions, recognize, wherever I may be.

Just because you read the little red book and you're on a mainline doesn't make you a revolutionary. Educate yourself, enlighten others, uplift all.


MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM(Prisons) does recognize all prisoners as political prisoners because who goes to prison is determined by the politics of those in power. But there is a difference between why you are in prison, and what you are going to do with your life. So we agree with this comrade that political consciousness must be learned through study and work, and is not given to you the day they close you behind a cell door.

This debate over whether there can be any revolutionaries on SNY has been raging in the pages of Under Lock & Key for 2 years now. MIM(Prisons) comes down on the side of all revolutionary prisoners. We judge people by their work and not by their state-determined classification. There are revolutionaries on SNY and there are rats on GP. And we know the rats in all units like to pretend to be revolutionaries. We can only look at people's actions to determine where they really fall.


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[Security] [Texas]
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Security Precaution Codes for Dealing with Our Conditions

I recently completed an assignment as a prospective USW leader. The topic of dissertation was of revolutionary Fearlessness, Scientific Strategy, and Security. The study offers a primary discourse on issues such as applying the scientific method in strategy, rather than being passionately or emotionally driven. The "fear factor" is addressed, and how it can be effective or reckless in issues like security.

I got a lot from the study personally. I understand as materialists we aren't supposed to be influenced by ideas of "the divine," metaphysical, or spiritual intervention in human affairs, or in any context for that matter. Maybe it's the strong indigenous traditions passed on for generations in my family and culture that lead to such first impressions and perceptions. Whatever the cause may be, within the time frame of me receiving and responding to the above referenced assignment, things were happening on the ground level directly associated with the lessons in our assignment. Maybe a Christian or Muslim would believe it was God allowing their faith to be tried and tested by satan or his legions. Or a pagan may have believed it was a fusion of Mexican and Roman war gods, Vaitzilopochtli and Mars somehow interfering with material conditions on Earth in order to sharpen and refine his skills, strategy, tactics, and security in struggle. But such convictions, regardless of how firmly believed, have no scientific basis and cannot be interpreted as truth. Yet the life lesson and the message has been conveyed.

Back in the 80s in the Texas prison colonies known as "ranchos" there was a spontaneous combustion within the social relations of Chicano prisoners. It spread like wildfire, like a virus. A true example of dialectic materialism in a controlled environment. Like Phoenix rising out of the flames, ashes, and blood, rose a democratic prison society claiming to stand together against negative activities in prison. By the late 90s, entering the new millennium there was a loose confederation of Latino tribes, regional and autonomous in nature, in virtually every one of the over 100 Texas ranchos. These regional autonomous tribes are now a dominate factor in almost every correctional institution in Texas. No longer are they confined to the Ranchos either, but have spread into the hoods and barrios, infecting our youth. There is ample evidence that the state has played an effective instigating role in a long and bloody war of attrition that has been going on for over two decades uninterrupted, in a now hidden, now open fight, a fight kept from the public eye. A war between the tribes and organized Texas families. This evidence could be used to substantiate a claim that the government has encouraged, even created the conditions for this anarchistic tribal take over of the social structure amongst Texas prisoners. Similar to how the U.S. has continuously done in the Third World, funding and provoking civil wars in the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East in order to divide, conquer, and maintain hegemonic control of economic interests and security.

Within the tribes there is no constitution, rank, or central command structure. They're divided into regional districts, and are purely democratic and autonomous in nature. What's so important and phenomenal here is the material dialectics in action. How the tribes are a natural development, the structure, principle, and form naturally developed over time under conditions of extreme oppression by more than one force. Notice how at the beginning it was a Chicano based movement, but has since embraced the Latino concept.

It should be very well noted that by no means is the tribal structure revolutionary, nor is it structured as a family. It's distinct in nature, a security measure so to say. But it's phenomenal to me. Almost any criminal, political, religious, or economic ideas can be retained by the individual, yet they cannot be instituted as a form from top down. This is anarchistic and ineffective at times, and leads to much conflicting interest, but these are the material conditions.

I happen to be a progressive individual. I believe in developing my mind, body and soul. I'm constantly studying, reading, working out, collecting my thoughts and energies, and focusing them in a productive and creative form. This is what I do, it's how I've learned to adapt to my environment and pull through these wasteful conditions. Yet I'm surrounded by negativity and destructive individuals. Other tribesmen are stuck in a state of mental and physical decadence and decay. They're manipulative, oppressive and dictatorial, straight criminal by nature. I understand these too are only character manifestations of these wasteful conditions. And something I strive against. These two separate and distinct classifications are both allowed within the context of the tribe. Of course they oppose each other and conflict at times.

Recently conflict arose between the tribes and ALKQN. What resulted from the conflict wasn't good for any of us, nothing positive or progressive was attained. In fact what resulted was the loss of solid braves, continuous lockdowns, strategic hits, and "mediation" by the rancheros to keep the steers in line. As a deterrence, the administration began rounding up tribesmen. The tribes have the larger numbers and are often perceived as the aggressors regardless of the circumstances. Anywhere from 16 to 20 tribesmen were rounded up at different times during the conflict, seed as collateral, systematically subjected to punishing intimidation, subjugation, and humiliation, all in order to psychologically inhibit the young braves, and break their will and resistance. Of course it was effective on the youngsters who average out to about 20 years old. Left for weeks without anything, in a bare cell with only enough soap to wash our ass. No writing, legal, or correspondence materials. No books or literatures with which to stimulate our minds. After 3 weeks they gave us our bibles, which we all know to be pacifist literature telling us to turn the other cheek and obey our masters. We were systematically served disciplinary cases for nonsense. Sadly it wasn't my first, and won't be the last time I go through such conditioning. I was a part of the final round up, all my property was confiscated before I was herded into the holding pen "corral." 16 volumes of legal transcripts, including legal notes and work product was seized and inspected for weeks. The round up lasted from Dec 6 2011 through January 12, 2012.

The very next day after being released onto the pasture, not any time during the "investigative" lockdown, but after my release, the Rancheros called a coup of tribal representatives, to show them a letter that was found in my property. This letter was correspondence to one of my kin on the Rancho. A written analysis of our social relations and conditional circumstances as Chicanos under this neocolonial order. It included strategy and tactics regarding pending and future litigation addressing family and communal lands stolen from our direct ancestors after the Texas revolution. The royalty and mineral rights to raw crude being pumped and refined on a particular island off the Southern coast of Texas. The letter was detailed and passionate. It was revealing and exposing. Nothing that should have fallen into agency files. Truthfully, I don't even know the full context of the letter.

Somehow the Rancheros convinced or influenced these two representatives that I had intentions of waging and leading a guerilla assault against other tribal bands. This has no logical or reasonable basis. The context and substance of the letter was written in a language of resistance. These leaders are steeped in the criminal programming and traditions, which is only a natural response, I understand. I evolved from these perceptions myself. Somehow they agreed with the Rancheros that the content of the letter was a threat to the structure and security of the tribal alliance. Council was held, both sides brought their points to the fire. The determining factor was how these so-called gangsters and criminals were allowing themselves to be used by the rancheros, and using the word and influence of the Rancheros to substantiate a claim against a tribesman. Many other subjective and objective factors played a role in the democratic process. But the objective truth is that I'm still here. I'm almost 100% sure that had this issue been brought up on a weak-minded, unrefined, undisciplined and fearful mind, the situation would have played out differently, and that individual may not be here to share the experience like this.

What's amazing to me is that this whole experience happened to coincide with an assignment on "Fearlessness, Scientific Strategy, and Security," that I received from MIM(prisons) while these very events were unfolding. The experience was very humbling. I learned a very valuable lesson: "gots ta be mo' careful."

To all you would be progressive individuals with a revolutionary vision, who happen to be involved with LOs who do not follow a well formulated line, or uphold the principles they claim to represent, be careful. Limit yourself and your activities, don't be so careless in expressing your views and concerns around ignorant unlearned individuals. People fear what they don't know. Above all, if your views and beliefs can be based on science and conditional/material facts, if you feel these scientific views to be pure and true, be loyal and stay true to them to da fullest. Stay committed and stare down adversity with a fearless spirit. Understand your material and social conditions. Please don't let no law enforcement elements interfere with your relations and influence your views to the point they become reactionary against your own. Their intentions may be all in good faith to maintain peace and security on the unit level. But their interests and security does not comport with yours in the objective long term. Proceed with caution.

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