The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Release] [Security] [ULK Issue 24]
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Overcoming Release Challenges

There are two specific challenges we face with our comrades who get out of prison and want to stay politically active. First, the difficulties of balancing work, school, politics and general home life. Second, the overlap between friendship and politics. It is important that we address these challenges to help our comrades follow through on their pledges to serve the people after gaining their freedom.

So far we have been less than successful in this regard, and many comrades fall out of touch with us, only to re-emerge when they are locked back up months or years later. In a country with such a relatively low number of active, committed anti-imperialists, losing these comrades to the streets is a significant blow to our work. As we expand our Re-Lease on Life Program, we are working to address specific challenges with life on the streets in the belly of the beast.

Meeting Your Basic Needs

There are few resources for released prisoners, and without family or friends to provide support it's very difficult to find housing, get a job and provide for basic necessities. There are few studies of homelessness among released prisoners, but those that we've found suggest that at least 10% of parolees end up on the streets without housing after release.(1) The numbers are probably higher; sleeping on a friend's couch is not a long term solution but it won't get you counted as homeless in these studies.

Unfortunately MIM(Prisons) doesn't currently have the resources to provide much help in the area of basic needs for released prisoners. We do have some resource guides for some states, and we can help you think through the best plan for your circumstances. But our ability to help in this area is limited. The rest of this article focuses on people who are released and are able to meet their basic needs. If you have a release date coming up, let us know so we can help you make a plan for the streets.

Time Management on the Streets

Behind bars life is very regimented, with little room for any decisions about how to organize your day, except when you are locked in your cell. And even there, your options for how to spend your time are very limited. You don't have to keep a schedule because the prison keeps it for you. So one of the problems prisoners face when they hit the street is the vastness of opportunities and choices, and the lack of structure.

Many comrades will want to pursue some education, while also finding a job, and attempting to reconnect with family and friends. This means a lot of choices and opportunities, and structured days are necessary to make them fit together. The demands of family and friends can be especially difficult during the initial months post-release after so long with social interactions closely monitored and limited.

Friends, family, school and work are all institutions that are deeply ingrained in and supported by our culture. There is no support for doing revolutionary organizing. That is why Re-Lease on Life is so important. People have a hard enough time doing the normal things they need to do to get by as former prisoners, especially as felons. If you just go with the flow, you'll find your time just flies by and you don't put in any political work.

To participate in the Re-Lease on Life program you need to make a commitment to political work upon release. But most people will need to keep this commitment minimal at first, so that you can focus on getting established with a plan for meeting your long-term needs as an individual, while keeping a connection to the movement.

It's important to think about the future. If you get government assistance, or have a part-time hustle when you get out, how long can that last you? If you don't have job skills or a college degree you should consider school and look into scholarships. On the other hand, it may be worthwhile to focus initially on just making some money before you consider starting school.

Think about where you want to be in a year or two. If your political work is limited by time now, how can you free up more time in the future? One way is by getting into a career path where your income will grow with your experience. Another consideration when looking for jobs is, how can it support my bigger goals? If you work in food service, you save money by bringing home leftovers. If you work at a copy shop, you get discounts on fliers and literature. Getting a manual labor job might help you meet your physical fitness goals. If you work at a security job you get paid to do your political study, leaving your free time to do outreach work.

Whatever your plan is, you need to start thinking about your time as a budget. You have only so much each week, each day. Determine how much you really need for the necessities in life and then schedule that time.

A week has 168 hours in it. If you sleep 8 hours a night that leaves 112. If you need 2 hours a day to cook, eat and take care of persynal hygiene, you are down to 98 hours. Take at least 5 hours a week to deal with other persynal stuff like finances, cleaning, and organizing. You want to work out at least 4 hours per week, maybe more like 8. Now we have 85 left. If you work full time you've got 45, plus transit time, so make that 40. If you're going to school too, you could probably use up most of that 40. If you have regular appointments with your parole officer, doctor or counselor, that will take a few hours. In your best case scenario you might have 40 hours to spend on socializing, relaxing and doing political work. Realistically, finding 15 to 20 hours a week to do political work with a normal bourgeois life is an ambitious goal that requires discipline and good planning.

Keep in mind that even if you only have 5 hours a week free for political work, that is 5 hours of work getting done in the interests of the oppressed. Any time you can set aside for this work is good. And when you first hit the streets this will be easiest if you can set aside that time on your schedule so that it is always the same day/time. For instance, you could say that Tuesday and Thursday nights you will do political work from 5-8 p.m. Block it off on your calendar and tell your friends you have appointments or classes at those times (see below). Working this into your schedule as a regular thing will make it much easier to maintain your activism. If you give up and stop doing political work, chances are good that you will never take it up again. The revolution can't afford to lose good activists like you, so don't let that happen!

Money is Time

Just as challenging for many former prisoners as managing time is managing money, and the movement needs both. Don't fall into Amerikan consumerism. Imperialism has kept itself going by building a consumerist culture at home to keep capital circulating. What that means is that a typical Amerikan lifestyle involves far more consumption than is necessary (or even healthy). Having your own apartment, your own car, a cell phone plan, and others preparing your food for you are just some obvious examples of things considered to be "necessary" expenses justifying the so-called "high cost of living" in this country. Seek out others who you can share expenses and cost-saving tips with. Extravagant spending is often a social behavior. Many recreational things like cable television, alcohol and cigarettes become habitual expenses. Rest and recreation are important, but try things that are more healthy and cost less, and if you do want to splurge, make it a special reward, not a daily expense.

One of our strengths in this country is that Amerikans get paid extremely high wages. By keeping expenses low, you'll find that you can get by on a part-time job, leaving you with more time to do what is most important to you. Remember, even if you're making minimum wage you are in the top 13% income bracket in the world. Don't use poverty as an excuse, when your wealth and privilege are really what's holding you back from doing political work.

The Persynal vs. The Political

Related to the challenges you will face with managing your time on the streets is the social demands of family and friends. The overlap between friendship and politics is something that most people don't consider. In fact, in this country we are encouraged to think about politics as something we must share with family and friends. But MIM(Prisons) does not agree with that view.

We live in a country where most people have a very strong material interest in the status quo, and so they will oppose anti-imperialist politics. The chances of winning them over to the side of the revolution are very minimal, and there is generally no need to destroy relationships with family and friends in the name of this struggle when there are so many other people out there we can try to recruit. Also, because of security concerns in this country, exposing your politics to family and friends can put you at a real risk, especially if you are on parole. If there's one thing you should have learned being locked up, it's that snitches are everywhere.

There is nothing wrong with having friends who don't share your political convictions, you just need to avoid talking about politics with them or only talk about smaller points of politics, without raising suspicion. This doesn't mean you can't share your political views with friends and family who show that they are likely to be interested and agree, but be careful because once they know your views and the work you do, you can't take it back.

Basics About Security on the Streets

When you are locked up in prison the government has a lot of information about you and knows your every move. So behind bars you can only control your security to the extent that you keep your mouth shut on the yard and don't share information about the political work you are doing with people who might use it against you.

On the streets things are a little different. Although you might have to report in to a parole officer or allow the state to track you in some other way as a term of your release, you have a lot more freedom about what information you do and don't share with people and with the government. You are under no obligation to tell anyone about the political work you do, and in fact you should do your best to keep this private from people you know unless you have a reason to believe that they would be supportive. And of course you want to keep it a mystery from the state. This is NOT because we are doing anything illegal, but rather because the state does not like anti-imperialists and will use this as a reason to find or create an excuse to lock you back up. So don't make this easy for them.

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[Security] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
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Not All SNY Prisoners Debrief

I'd like to speak in regards to the Special Needs Yards (SNY) situation. It's synonymous with the plight of my comrades, relatives and brothers detained in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and Corcoran Security Housing Units (SHUs), from which I was released in 2010.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Institutional Gang Investigations (CDCR IGI) squad uses insidiously foul tactics, involving "validating" or "associating" an "active" [gang member] who isn't really active. Somewhere within my 16.5 years on this joke, many, including myself, lost our sense of direction and consciousness. Because we've lost our direction, the CDCR has found flaws in our infrastructure as a collective.

All of the tactics you hear about to validate or get homies to debrief are true. After being detained for an assault on a faulty comrade, a SHU term was assessed and completed. After numerous incidents on Corcoran's integrated yard, and relationships with individuals of other acknowledged sects, IGI tried to seize their opportunity with interrogations. They were met with my defiance, then, they manifested a "packet".

What was troubling is that these silly goons were adamant of an alleged association with a sect that literally would be treason, had I been linked to them. Now my existence is in jeopardy.

After consultation with a selected few of my infrastructure, I had to denounce my legitimate association with whom I truly move to subterfuge the fabricated trash the IGI spawned. Pride was hard to swallow, but the flaw in their system relegated me to fall back without compromisin' comradz.

The procedures to become SNY depend on the administration at each institution, and it's at their administrative discretion. For me, in Corcoran SHU, I denounced my legitimate gang association without debriefing in order to rebuke a false alleged association. Once the process begins you are infected like a plague, whether you've debriefed or not. So I chose to drop out without debriefing, but the outcome is the same: SNY. With that label, the assumption is that I've either snitched/debriefed or I am some kind of "victim." There are now many prisoners in the SHU who are SNY and pending or are validated because someone on SNY can join the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) for mentally ill prisoners, and get his SNY status revoked to be re-integrated into the EOP/GP program. EOP basically was SNY prior to the implementation of SNYs.

There seems to be a plague, a misconception that all are debriefing on SNY — no! Nor is it legit for the validated homies to only have the lesser option to debrief in order to obtain civility and humanity in prison. That's not an option.

I now find myself in the eighth month of an 18 month SHU term. Initially, there was shame in my decision, yet I been kickin' dust from Calipat to the Bay; my gangsta, my manhood, my integrity is and always will be solidified. I'm still pushin' and movin', and was surprised to see many reputable comradz and relatives on SNY too! Don't let the fence in the middle misconstrue reality: it's us vs. them!

Do not lose consciousness, whatever side you're on. I agree, most SNYs are faulty. There's an influx of kids who tapped out without ever walkin' any line, even for a hot second! Real spill. Now, consciousness is lost when homies are unconsciously toten' "burners" and gettin' caught? Fumblin' missives? Harborin' hooks? Politicin' with emotions as opposed to rational thinking? C'mon, we've all done it. The infrastructure must be tightened. Why do you think all these young homies needed on the line are now on SNY?

Again, not everyone is faulty; they weren't groomed right. We are responsible for us, so as the homies in these SHU complexes hunger strike and resist, our lack of consciousness is inconsiderate to the struggle. The lack of consciousness only perpetuates the offensive of the CDCR.

So, yeah, I've spoke on it. I am SNY, but don't think I ain't still active!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is referring back to the long running debate in Under Lock & Key about SNY yards and whether or not we should work with people in SNY who want to get involved in the fight against the criminal injustice system. We agree with the author that we've come across good comrades who are doing good work in SNY. We judge individuals by their actions, not by their prison-imposed classification. However, we would not glorify the activities on the street that lead to prison. We do need to educate the youth, but kids coming to prison aren't going to be more political because they did more street crime. Our job is to turn that energy against the system, preferably before they are locked up by the system.

There are deep contradictions within the lumpen organizations (LOs) that are alluded to by this comrade in his calls for self-criticism and evaluation. He echoes our previous points that the LOs are playing a big role in pushing people into SNY. Right now the SHU prisoners are leading the way, showing how to gain power and respect without being predators on each other, or other oppressed people. Internationalism means not just looking out for your group or clique. When the oppressed unite internationally, then self-determination can be real and power will no longer be fleeting as it is in current U.$. prison culture.

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[Organizing] [Security]
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SNY or Violence: Making Choices for the Revolution

I would like to comment on the letter written to MIM(Prisons) by Loco1 "Forced into SNY for Political Organizing" that was published in ULK 20.

Most people cannot say or determine how they'll react in any situation unless they've had similar experience under the same pressure and conditions. Most of us can only theorize and examine best options one should take from an objective standpoint and hope to learn valuable lessons from another's mistake, in attempts to prevent oneself from ever having to face the same problem.

One general fact is that the words "snitch" and "rat" are probably the worst and last label anyone would care to have placed in conjunction with their name, especially in prison where one's name and respect is the ultimate factor in dividing and determining a "man" from a "boy." (A "boy" is one step above the label of snitch.) Once labeled a rat, Special Needs Yard (SNY) or Protective Custody (PC) are your only options, because snitching is penitentiary sin number one and the only justice served for this act is punishment upon death - as very painful as possible!

I've noticed that MIM(Prisons) made a good-hearted attempt at bringing forth evidence of credibility by producing past letters that reveal Loco1's anti-SNY sentiments and truth of his commitment to the struggle, but after a complete examination of the full story (never cross-checked), I don't believe snitching to be the issue nor do I think anyone, after investigation, feels that he snitched. His lumpen organization (LO) members were within listening range and heard the pig loudly read the hidden message found in a medicine bottle. They also allowed him to choose an option. Snitches do not receive options. Snitching is an irredeemable violation that cannot be forgiven no matter how many pigs one is willing to "clean up." This verifies that snitching was not the reason for group violation.

My judgement is that a major security breach in communications was initiated due to an irresponsible lack of diligence and, as a result, vital information fell into the hands of the enemy that brought harm to others. My discipline methods may have been different, but regardless, every man is responsible for his actions and must face the repercussions that come along no matter how great or how small. If I was presented with options given in his situation I would've unhesitatingly chosen the choice of cleaning up a pig (in a clandestine manner). Doing battle with a comrade(s) in defense of my life would've never been an option and running from a disciplinary violation would've never entered my mind. George Jackson even made the statement that a coward is no good to the cause.

What makes matters worse is that now he's labeled a snitch and a coward! All benefit of the doubt and creditability was lost when he ran and checked in with the enemy. What's he going to do when the revolution kicks off? If a person's max out date is more important than maintaining his dignity, and trust as a true revolutionary — I say fuck a max out date.

As long as the people remain in chains, there is no personal liberation for me. The struggle doesn't exist in here or out there, it exists in one's heart, mind, and soul. The only max out date is on the day of freedom or death. Some may call Loco1's actions a tactical retreat, but I don't see nothing tactical about completely losing support of allies and comrades. My assessment may seem overly critical but in the war against oppression everything is critical and criticism can never be stressed enough.

There were no excuses for the mistakes Loco1 made. What organization does not teach their members to write and speak in codes especially while operating within enemy territory? It's also common sense to never use real names or known aliases, especially on the same line with incriminating statements. Developing security awareness and communications is the most important aspect of any revolutionary organization. One wrong word in the right ears can cause whole nations to fall. I wish Loco1 the best of luck and hope he finds the road to recovery. Mao said, "a fall in the pits a gain in the wit." He never mentioned anything about diving in head first.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This response to Loco1 is a rational analysis of mistakes made and the importance of security. While many people insist that it is not possible to be classified SNY or PC without ratting someone out, we know that conditions vary between prisons and even more between states, so there is no way one person can make this blanket statement with certainty. We printed Loco1's story as an example that this is not always true. We did not print it to say that one should always choose the route Loco1 did.

Our main disagreement with the above author is in his/her insistence that it's better to opt to clean up a pig than to go SNY. Most likely, given the current balance of forces, that thinking is putting ego above the movement. You cannot be a revolutionary if you are not ready to sacrifice as an individual, but there is a difference between courage and bravado. And we can tell the difference by putting politics in command. Sometimes appearing selfless is better for the individual but hurts the struggle. The streets are where we need our comrades, and temporary setbacks in the name of long term successes are sometime valuable choices to make. We know each situation is different, and sometimes there are no options besides fighting back, but no successful military strategist engages the enemy every time they attack.

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[Political Repression] [Security] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 20]
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Forced into SNY for Political Organizing

MIM skull
[MIM(Prisons) has long defended a line that combats the divisions that the California Department of "Corrections" has tried to institutionalize by separating large numbers of people from the General Population (GP) into Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY). In a previous letter this comrade joined us in calling for SNY and GP alike to contribute to the struggle, while not hiding h lack of regard for SNY prisoners. Today h story serves to demonstrate why allowing the pigs to tell us who is our friend and who is our enemy is a backwards way of discovering the truth.]

I'm in the hole (Administrative Segregation Unit) once again, the material you sent found me when I needed it the most. This time around I'm found under an ISU/IGI investigation which will most likely result in me being sent to the other side (SNY). Surprising? Not really, I saw it coming since the day I committed myself to the United Struggle from Within (USW), in the form of either validation as a guerrilla revolutionary or the assassination of my character behind these walls through the SNY program that leaves a lot of brothers and sisters credibility out and in the cold away from the warmth of prisoner society's acceptance.

It's crazy how it happened all so fast. I blinked and at the drop of a dime my whole life turned upside down. It started October 16, officially with an unjustified unclothed cavity/cell search that I refused to submit to because the officer first claimed that they were hitting my cell randomly, then later said because me and my cellmate were exhibiting suspicious behavior when I was on the toilet taking a shit and my cellmate was on the assigned bunk asleep. I understood the nature of the situation that the corruption officers were creating. Someone dropped a dime on me, so I looked to get a paper trail.

By searching my cell they were committing a constitutional violation against search-and-seizure safeguards granted to prisoners such as notification of cell searching party (corruption officers involved), confiscation of personal property, and the right to appeal without retaliatory actions being taken against one. I made the choice to get the incident documented to bring to the attention of the administration here at Killer Kern, and I paid for it in the worst way possible. But still I stand revolutionary minded putting USW theory into practice outside of the study group's environment. Refusing to let the dragon win, I fight them with my pen and continue to force them to show their brutality on paper and physically.

After refusing to submit to their commands I was placed in wrist restraints and escorted to the facility program office cage where I spent the next few hours resisting the Sergeant and Lieutenant's request for me to submit to an unclothed body search. At this time the corruptions officers searching party (the Kern Valley A yard jump out boys) were back at the cell, searching, confiscating, and disposing of my property and attempting to pay me back for my resistance. They came across a kite [prison letter] that I had hidden inside a medicine bottle waiting to be delivered to it's destination. I will say that I slipped up! Cause I did.

The kite was in regards to a business arrangement that I had going on and gave details about involved individuals who were to participate. The kite was supposed to be delivered that same morning, but due to the unexpected visitors it wasn't and I thus forgot about it in the commotion of three COs at my door with their cans out ready to spray me while on the toilet for nothing.

I knew what was up, but didn't act quick enough and therefore allowed intel into the hands of law enforcement. And they had a ball with it immediately reading the kite loud enough for my neighbors, who were members of my LO, hoping to create the confusion that they did.

I spent three days in a small holding cell, cold, cuffed and shackled, taped in a dirty jumpsuit, with no linen, and a mattress that I was allowed only to lay on from 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. with no covering on it. Sleep-deprived with lights on all night attempting to sleep with restraints, I was deprived medical care, and denied high blood pressure medication. I was smelling like shit without a shower, and forced to eat cold meals without any eating utensils or a cup to drink from. I felt the firsthand experience of torture at the hands of the department of correction (corruption) until I had three bowel movements to prove that I didn't have anything concealed in my ass.

Once my bowel movements showed negative results for contraband (not an explosive device or a gun, or a knife, but simple contraband) they released me back to the yard, and to the cell I went.

Not even three hours after my arrival I received a kite about the matter of the disclosure of intel in the confiscated kite. It wasn't "Cuz how you holding up? Can we assist you any way?" or none of that. But with everything falling the way it did, I understand. Because a week prior to the incident, individuals of various groups were getting popped with phones. And all were cats who were making the dead presidents, but removed from the front lines. There was a leak and Investigative Services Unit (ISU) was getting more fat than a fat guy in an all you could eat buffet.

I was brought up on charges of being that leak. And if the shoe was on another person's foot, I would've really pushed for an old school lynching. Treason is a no no, but here it is in the accused, getting kites now from OGs on the bricks, and weeks later I find myself up against the wall with those who I've actually shed blood for, explaining that I ain't no fucking rat and did not intentionally drop intel into the hands of law enforcement. Time drew on with me and those that be, doing just as the pigs planned us to, as we were on lockdown due to a war with the Blacks and the "southern Mexicans," over a drug debt, a phone, and miscommunication that caused an eight-on-twelve melee between Blacks and Browns, and one Black to be stabbed eleven times.

The option came around to me after the verdict came in that I was guilty of loose lips. I could either clean up some green (guards), get cleaned up, or handle the individual who would clean me up. For those who can't read between the lines clean up in this situation means to stab something up good enough that the message (whatever it may be) be sent clearly.

Now it may seem like nothing, but I'm not new to this shit, I'm true to it. I ain't no crash dummy, I've got a close release date, and a lot of life to live. I ain't stabbin' no pig without no chance of getting away, and I damn sho' ain't about to be a pin cushion. So I got the hell out of dodge, and didn't blink doing it. I'm an SNY, I recognize that some will understand, but most won't and I am no longer who they seen me as. But my time was limited as any real active revolutionary is on the line abroad the people who are and love the same exact thing that they claim to hate. Straight up!

Politicizing amongst the LOs is a difficult task when the same ones you advocate for are advocating against your existence for individualist purposes. I bump heads with the big dawgz about policy even when certain radz advised against it because of my youth and their popularity, and I got exactly what they said it would get me. An early death in the prison game.

I sit in ASU now on my third month for investigation into my security concerns that I raised truthfully on a 602 appeal form. The ISU/IGI agents attempt to sell protection like they are some type of "Green Wall" protection agency. I'm told the more you cooperate and inform us into the details of drugs, cellphones, crooked cops, and criminal activity, the more we can help you. Since when does the lion help the lamb?

I attempted radio silence with MIM(Prisons) until I could get my ยง1983 lawsuit put in, because my mail is being highly monitored, censored, withheld and returned.

But it seems that faith will have us together married until death do us part. So I'm back like Jesus from the dead, not really back at all, reborn into the characteristic of a USW on the other side of the fence.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is one more example of our point that not everyone on SNY yards is a snitch or rat as the pigs would like us to think. A bourgeois approach to security allows the bourgeoisie to win out. By bourgeois, we mean an individualist, rather than a group approach. We oppose studying "persynalities" instead of politics. And we oppose thinking that violence against individuals builds a strong movement.

There are plenty of enemies on mainline and there are friends to be found in SNY. How we associate and how we build allows us to determine which are which, not rumors or labels given out by the enemy.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Security] [ULK Issue 22]
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Malcolm X


Who did what
who called the shot
I just don't know
all I know is that it shouldn't have been so
Malcolm should have lived until he was a
thousand years old
or even more
some say it was the COINTELPRO
of that I'm sure
but what made negroes
gun down our hero
and turn around and practice non-violence
towards a savage who threatens our very existence
while Malcolm was plotting a resistance
against the nemesis
these imbeciles was plotting against
the shining prince
they're worse than Judas
because Judas had a conscience
so he hung himself after his treacherous action
but after the treason
these Judases are still breathing
why don't they just die
and make us rejoice with joy
non-believers disguised in Black skin
sabotaging the struggle that they don't believe in
so they use their skin to deceive men

niggas killed Malcolm X
and niggas will probably kill me too

You got to be naive to believe
you can determine friend from foe
just based on skin color alone
and not by the content of the character
I see the niggas
but where my brothers at
Bob Marley said that they sold Marcus Garvey
for rice
Then they ambushed Bob Marley in the night
They say the eyes never lie
but experience tells me that they don't
always tell the truth

niggas killed Malcolm X
and niggas will probably kill me too

Huey Newton was still an asset
yet slugs put him in his casket
while agent provocateurs
that deserve death
remain in our midst
misfits in positions of leadership
navigating the lives of the less fortunate
the blind leading the blind
now we can't find our way out
of this maze
that got us trapped
and strapped with gats
that we only aim at Blacks

niggas killed Malcolm X
and niggas will probably kill me too

I'm analyzing this self hatred
wondering why this Black life of mine
ain't considered sacred
in a blink of an eye
a nigga would lay me dead on the pavement
but if my pigment was white
a nigga would think twice fifty times
before he contemplates homicide
I've stared into the eyes of these boys
who claim to be real men
and I've seen the fear that paralyzes
that make them throw away their weapon
when the cops hit the intersection
we're conditioned for submission
so the prisons are full of Blacks
who hate Blacks
and back stab each other
because they're petrified of the real nemesis
life sentences and these fools
are complacent with just being
jail house celebrities
all is vanity
buy up the commissary
and live good in the penitentiary
while we're becoming
liabilities to our families
where's the sanity?

niggas killed Malcolm X
and niggas will probably kill me too

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[Security]
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Social Networking, Smartphones and Reliance on the Masses

Social Networking
This article is aimed particularly at the young reader born into the current culture of mass communication. The concepts aren't new. We just want to highlight the implications of state surveillance, which is a reality for anyone seeking social change in a state whose primary concern is maintaining the oppressive social order under imperialism.

One of the important tasks of intelligence is to develop a map of the networks of those being surveilled. This simple fact is too often ignored in our culture today, where technology has electronically and permanently connected us. What used to at least require a warrant sent to your phone company is now public information for most people in the United $tates today who regularly use social networking through the internet and their cell phones.

To an extent, the omnipresence of these technologies in Amerikan lives have made people more conscious of this vulnerability. Yet, very few involved in voicing opinions in favor of a world without oppression actually incorporate this knowledge into their practice. Largely this is a class issue where the petty bourgeoisie feels safe living in a bourgeois democracy. In much more remote parts of the world, there is a greater understanding of the need for encryption and shielding one's identity because the consequences are life and death.

MIM(Prisons) doesn't engage in baseless alarmism to mobilize people, but this is a case where you should be considering worst case scenarios, like how a fascist government might carry out a witch-hunt for "communists" and "terrorists" using public information on the internet.

When struggling with allies about security, we regularly get the response, "I'm already on all their lists." It's often a point of pride to say this. But the oppressed know that getting on a list has real consequences. In addition, anyone who has studied COINTELPRO knows that the government is interested in more than just your name, but our sense of comfort here in the belly of the beast leads to lazy practices and nihilistic attitudes towards security.

Like we said, this isn't about persecuting people for thought crimes, though that has happened countless times to U.$. citizens as a result of information posted on the internet. COINTELPRO was about disrupting movements. It is far too easy for a fat pig sitting at his desk to know who young activists are in touch with, and what they are doing when and where. Using this information the imperialist state can be very strategic in how it uses its various tools of repression. With the current state of security culture, technology has given the oppressor the advantage, but this does not have to be the case.

After All the Tweeting, Now What?

As we work on finishing the first draft of this article, the U.$. media is talking about popular demonstrations against governments in Tunisia and Egypt and their use of Twitter and Facebook. Tweeting is a good way to mobilize a flash mob; it is not a good way to build people's power. It is about as effective as banging a pot in the street. While we don't mean to dismiss these recent movements in particular, there is plenty of history to show that spontaneous demonstrations do not save lives or improve conditions — capitalism continues on.

We've already addressed some of the class issues surrounding the dependence on technology like Twitter elsewhere. Twitter is also an example of corporations defining cultural trends. It almost seems there was a law passed last year that every corporate media entity had to mention Twitter once every 20 minutes on their programming. This free advertising should raise questions around a company that has already openly worked with the U.$. government to overthrow foreign regimes and repress resistance within this country. Despite arrests for such activities, people continue to use Twitter to report from protests in the U.$. without any attempt to cloak the identities of themselves or others involved. Meanwhile, Twitter remains mainly a tool to promote capitalist consumption through advertising.(1)

Speculation aside, it is not the intents of the corporations that we should fear (or rely on); it is the nature of the technology that makes us vulnerable. An independent, nonprofit, open-source social network does not address the main problem here, which is internet-based, public social networking itself.

More recently, the trend is to be able to Tweet, Facebook and Google on your phone. Mobile phones are generally attached to our identity and track your location at all times, while allowing remote monitoring of voice, video (which is generally ubiquitous on phones these days) and of course any worldwide web traffic. While this information would nominally require a warrant, in recent years AT&T has complained that the National Security Agencies requests for these wiretaps have become overly burdensome on the monopolizing telecommunications company, indicating that such wiretapping is far from rare.

Other than building networks, spies like to build profiles of individuals. Today's mobile phones and computers are walking profiles on many Amerikans. Even if you don't use a "smart" phone, if you don't separate your work from your persynal life you are exposing yourself. Every time you do a Google search while logged into Gmail, or access information through Facebook, your activity is connected to your identity. And of course, any internet activity from home is connected to your IP address.

Stop Worshipping Bourgeois Culture

There is a tendency that jumps on every trend, saying "if only we could get an ad that looks like that, if only we could get a Facebook group, if only we could produce hot music" then the masses would listen. A real revolutionary culture needs to be setting the trends and not just copying bourgeois forms and relying on bourgeois institutions. Without independent institutions of the oppressed we have no power over the message we put out and the work that gets done in the name of social progress.

Again, for those who were born into this culture of social networking through the internet, you need to rethink your relationship to the bourgeois institutions that shape your life.

We are not arguing against using the internet or other technology. We are only pushing people to understand the potential and likely consequences before they use it. MIM made great inroads by being a trendsetter in online publishing. Today's technology makes it easier and safer to use the internet, if you study how to do it correctly.

If you don't have the patience to learn internet security or don't believe in it because "Big Brother knows all," then don't go online. There should be Maoist work that is not known to the internet. We must combat the thinking that "it can be Googled, therefore it exists." The internet should be a place to study, to find answers, to debate and to agitate in the realm of ideas. It should not provide a quick and easy snapshot of who we are, what we're doing, when, where or how many we are.

Wannabe Documentarians

While cell phone cameras were celebrated in the exposure of the assassination of Oscar Grant by BART police in Oakland, California, they are also helping the police do their job every day. It is hard to go to any sort of political event without being surveilled by dozens of unidentified people. This means that 1) the pigs can sit on their asses looking at Indymedia websites and watching amateur videos on YouTube to see who is frequenting what events, and 2) undercover (or not) pigs can be very open in their efforts to record people at these events.

Closed meetings should not even allow cell phones in the proximity of the meeting. That may be difficult for events open to the public, but people should not be able to come in and record without any accountability. And if you want to record your own events for later use, don't record people that have not given their permission. People recording the audience should be treated with suspicion and should be stopped.

All of this is connected to who are our friends and who are our enemies. Anti-imperialist comrades should weigh the costs and benefits of doing outreach at events that are swamped with strong Amerikanism. The cell strategy should be studied and applied in a way that one only organizes with those one knows. And one should learn to swim in the sea of people they find themselves amongst. The sea we have to swim in in North America is a sea of white nationalism, so blending in isn't always appealing, but it is that much more important. Relying on the masses means looking to the world's majority who have an interest in overthrowing imperialism. Being part of the struggles of the real masses cannot happen through Tweets and Facebook groups. Building a strong movement requires keeping a distance from these institutions of the oppressor and building our own infrastructure.

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[Organizing] [Security] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 18]
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Special Needs Yards Revolutionary Fighting Fascism

I'd like to comment on special needs yards and the lack of revolutionaries therein. I am on such a unit, except here in Oregon they call them mental health units. Of course there is also protective custody but, I'm not addressing PC units in this letter.

I am a former racist skinhead who left the movement decades ago. Since then I began a movement to get others out of the white supremacist movement by educating them on issues of white privilege, aspects of class war and anti-imperialism. I was extremely successful and my efforts have been recognized at a national level. Someone needed to come forward to educate these misguided individuals. I did. Now I pay the price.

As the result of some robberies I was sent to prison. Almost immediately I was recognized and repeatedly attacked while staff lied and covered up a conspiracy to keep me on mainline knowing I had received several valid death threats. Finally I was moved to an institution where I could walk mainline and placed on a "mental health" unit. I am on such a unit because I am a revolutionary. Now I am in a system where often the line between the white power groups and the guards is blurred. In a white privileged and dominated imperialist nation what more could one expect?

Everyone in the Oregon DOC is too busy fighting one another to join together to accomplish anything and it is my experience that there are just as many rats and snitches on mainline units as there are in the "mental health" units here in Oregon. The mentally dead are everywhere. You find them not only amongst the ranks of snitches or rats but, also in those who are brainwashed into believing in the false theory of race or racial superiority.

It is not until whites of the lumpen can realize the privilege the color of their skin affords them in the united states and throw away the doctrine of race or racial superiority that we can join ranks with our brothers and sisters and truly become revolutionaries in the non-violent struggle to end oppression in the U.S. and the doctrine of oppressive imperialism our nation forces upon the innocents of the Third World.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is one of many responses we received to our article on Special Needs Yards prisoners. While we know that many snitches seek PC status in exchange for selling out their fellow prisoners, we also know that many prisoners get into these yards for legitimate reasons and that there are serious revolutionaries throughout the prison system. At the same time, there are plenty of snitches on mainline so we can't just generalize and avoid the PC units and assume our movement is safe. We must always be on the lookout for snitches who will betray the revolutionary struggle. At the same time we should always be on the look out for genuine comrades who will join and contribute to the struggle. We best achieve this by keeping politics in command. That means setting policies to address security risks that judge political line and practice, not state-enforced labels, rumors or persynal interests.

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[Organizing] [Security] [ULK Issue 19]
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Purism Divides the Struggle

I am writing this in response to the California prisoner who wrote the article lLumpen Loyalty Dividing the Struggle. What divides a struggle is divisiveness. In the context of his communique he missed several points, among which are: (1)being an informant does not render the struggle against a mutual enemy moot, (2) in the context of numbers, (i.e. strength) it is largely irrelevant whether someone is a rat or not, and (3) the known rat criteria - "known" based on what? What exactly are the circumstances and/or conditions under which one told?

Just because one is SNY, PC, PS or whatever does not mean they are rats, disloyal or even unreliable. This approach is the equivalent of saying that everyone in prison is not only a criminal, but guilty of exactly what the state has convicted them of. No self-respecting prisoner, convict or revolutionary would undermine their own ideological base by entertaining such an idea.

The state manipulates purists by slinging labels and rumors. They send hard working, devoted soldiers and revolutionaries to Protective Custody (P.C.) as a tactic to discredit them and undermine the struggle. The state knows that the purists will readily turn on their own kind and, by extension, the cause, by using emotionally charged propaganda to incite divisiveness. It is one of the most frequently used weapons by our mutual enemy.

I have no love for the enemy - rats included - but if you are a soldier devoted to a cause, then you must be able to exploit the enemy's weaknesses and turn their strengths against them. An informant is only as good and useful as the information is he's given... or gets hold of.

I have more than 30 years in prison and I have many years of political, legal and social struggles behind and before me. Purism has one fatal flaw - it is not in a black and white world where it can be put into action. And ideology is only as good as its applicability to the conditions in purposes to address.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is referencing a debate that has been going on in the pages of Under Lock & Key for several issues now, over whether or not people on SNY or PC can be part of the revolutionary movement. MIM(Prisons) stands firmly with this comrade and against the purists who will trust the label of the prisoncrats.

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[Security] [Organizing]
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Reiterating our Position on Snitches

In the Nov/Dec 2010 ULK article entitled Lumpen Loyalty Dividing the Struggle, the question was posed by a prisoner in California: "How could you consciously and intently give known rats a forum or conduit to speak and voice an opinion as if he was an honorable and principled man? When has it been right in history to accept traitors? Never!"

to which you responded with the following quote from MIM Theory 6, The Stalin issue: "It is scandalous to Christians to think of a world without timeless moral values such as loyalty, honor and integrity — characteristics that God supposedly places in each of us once and for all time, especially in the more hard-line Protestant religions upholding predetermination. These moral characteristics are then referred to by the Christians as our 'moral character.' The Stalinists' opposition to such an ideology leaves the Christians aghast and hence we 'Stalinists' appear as 'amoral' to those who claim timeless values."

You said this was "a quote that came from an article that defends Stalin for overseeing the killing of innocent people in an effort to eliminate spies and infiltrators during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union." And that "In Stalin's day the principal contradiction was the fascists versus the first socialist state in modern history. Spies could have brought the destruction of the Soviet Union." And going further to say: "In the U$ prison movement, the principal contradiction we face is the conflicts between the lumpen themselves."... "Today we are in a much different condition in our discussion of spies and snitches." And "that even the concept of being 'principled' is dangerous. Principled is too often viewed as picking a position and sticking to it no matter what, right or wrong. But Stalin only stuck to one principle, and that was to serve the people by building socialism."

But I ask you, how are we in different conditions in our discussion of spies and snitches?! Do you have any idea what these rats have done to MIM, and to us, their fellow comrades? I do not think you know the gravity of the effects these snitches are having on our movement. Not just the prison movement, but the anti-capitalism/imperialism movement.

These are the same people (snitches) who are steadily selling out their fellow comrades for little to nothing. They prevent us from moving forward with a prison movement of any kind. These same rats are part of the reason that prisons are censoring mail when it comes to certain things like MIM, ULK and USW literature. They tell prison officials that we are using the beliefs of MIM and communism to start a gang of radicals. These same rats also tell them that we are affiliated with white supremacists, and/or other gangs. That's why they will not let MIM literature in certain prisons, and are trying to stop it in others. It is also why they use MIM and communist literature to validate some people as gang members. And this is part of the reason that the prisoner from California was so upset in his letter.

And like Stalin who was trying to protect and establish socialism by weeding and killing all possible spies and infiltrators, we prisoner are trying to do the same exact thing. By eliminating and alienating all rats for the better of the prison movement, for the better of communism, for the better of the struggle against the imperialists.

This is why we have to be principled, honorable, loyal to the end, and oust anyone who isn't for the greater good of the movement in every sense.

The minority you spoke of when you said: "despite the rhetoric of honor and loyalty, it is a minority who really live by these ideals. Perhaps that minority are more reliable comrades in the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, we are trying to mobilize the prison population as a whole on behalf of the interests of the oppressed, and we believe that through education people can change their character." If it was not for that minority, like the prisoner from California who wrote in, there would be no prison movement. These rats can do nothing for you or our movement.

I understand that we (prisoners) need to unify and come together under mutual issues and work together, or there will be no prison movement to speak of, and that we must combat the ultra-leftism that prevents broader unity. But as you stated "of course there is a reason why not working with the pigs is a common principle among certain populations, while most Amerikans turn to them whenever they need help. No good can come for the oppressed form working with the pigs, but we must apply this principle in a way that best pushes the struggle forward." And that's exactly what we are doing by eliminating and weeding out these rats. And what we are doing is applying the principle in a way that best pushes the struggle forward. Because by leaving the rats who are against us unattended is detrimental to the prison movement, because of how they are helping prison officials to shut us down, and make it as hard as possible to make any headway. And the repercussions that most are facing at the hands of prison administrations due to the lies and false intel that the rats give them, leaves a great many prisoners weary about taking up the prison struggle movement, because the punishments that the prison administrators have been handing out.

The rats do this because they know they can get favors for turning in gangs, gang members, or united groups which prison officials look at as semi-gangs. And because they know that prison officials look at anyone who is trying to cure the injustices of a prison as a trouble maker or threat to security. They deem you a threat to security just so they can lock you up, and keep you from unifying. They also view anything such as MIM as a threat to security because it's something that helps us come together on a common ground and unite. Believe it or not prisons pay rats for info if they are a good rat, just like they'd pay a prisoner for working in the kitchen, laundry, etc.

So how can we trust them, how can we unite with them without detriment to our cause? We can't! If someone is tearing the prison movement apart like this, just imagine how dangerous they would be in a revolutionary situation. These rats are the same to us and the prison movement as the spies and infiltrators Stalin was trying to eliminate.

And though I do agree with you about the fact that some of them can change with education, the fact still remains that they can not be trusted! If they are stabbing us in the back now, and sabotaging the MIM prison movement, even if they do change with the proper education, what's to say or stop them from defecting on us later on down the road? I don't know about everyone, but that's a chance I'd rather not take. People like these rats we talk about are what have always helped the fascists and slimeball capitalist thrive into the scum they are today.

Now you can see the point of not trusting these rats. It's not just weed, tattoos, alcohol, etc, they're snitching on, it's everything we're trying to build. I'm not saying don't let these people have a forum to voice views from, because every bit of input we get form each other helps to energize us, and keeps us motivated, but there is no way we can ever unite or accept them as true allies in our struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Our position on SNY yards continues to raise a point that none of the responses to it address head on. We maintain that SNY yards are not just used to house snitches who are afraid for their lives but also to house people trying to escape the violence of every day prison life. Violence that prisoners as a group have the power to stop. We know that there are snitches in SNY who are working for the pigs, but we also know that there are plenty of snitches in general population also working for the pigs. We don't want to work with these people. But we do want to work with prisoners who are genuinely interested in the anti-imperialist struggle wherever they are housed.

Our moralist comrades behind bars suggest that we should not work with snitches as if it's as easy as just looking at a return address to know who is on the right side of the anti-imperialist struggle. We have found this is not at all true. In fact many people who believe themselves to be anti-imperialists and whose peers would not call snitches, are actually working against the revolutionary struggle in one way or another. We have to judge everyone by their practice.

At the same time, we must remember that Lenin kept a known enemy on the central committee for the money that he was contributing to the struggle. Similarly, if a known snitch is sending in good anti-imperialist articles or art then we should use these articles or art. We can't control who claims to represent MIM(Prisons) behind bars, we have to leave it to the masses to see through posers by reading ULK and noticing the contradictions. But we do trust ULK to represent itself and so we will send it to any prisoner who wants to read it, and in some cases we might even turn some snitches to the side of the revolution.

Lastly, we need to address the question of trusting someone who was on the wrong side in the past. It is incorrect to judge people only for their past. We need to look at everyone's current practice. We can bear in mind past mistakes and guard against backsliding into old ways. But the Maoist prisons in China demonstrated the correct way to reeducate enemies of the people and then trust them to come out of prison and actually work in the interests of the people.

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