The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [Medical Care] [US Penitentiary MAX] [Colorado] [Federal]
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Medical neglect in Colorado

One of the most alarming constitutional violations of prisoners' rights today is the denial of adequate psychological and medical treatment. In this prison alone, I have met dozens of inmates who have glaring psychological and medical problems. One quintessential case is the guy who literally tried to slice his genetalia off with a razor blade. This guy has also been kept in handcuffs and leg irons for several months, rather than be sent to a mental health facility. Keep in mind, while inmates at ADX are warehoused in the infamous "control unit," the unit where I am writing you from, it is prohibited to be prescribed psychotropic medication. Thus, guys who need psychotherapy in conjunction with psychotropic medication to function are not able to receive it while assigned to this unit. On average, inmates are serving four to eight years in this unit.

As for the inadequate medical treatment, the simplest way to describe this is as follows: for the entire prison complex of Florence, which consists of a camp, FCI, USP and the ADX Max Penitentiary, there is only one doctor and one dentist to service the entire complex. At ADX the doctor visits only one and one half days per week, and the dentist visits only twice per month. Thus, the waiting list to see either of them is astronomical. This comes as no surprise since there is over 2500 inmates living on this complex. I waited one year to receive my chronic care exam for Hep C. I also waited between 8 and 14 months to be seen by the dentist.

As a consequence of these egregious violations, I have filed two lawsuits since 1999. Twice now, media representatives, R. Scott Rappold, from the Gazette in Colorado Springs, and Henry Schuster, from 60 minutes, have contacted me in order to set up interviews with me at this prison. The prison rules clearly permit prisoners to have contact through visits and correspondence. However, the former must be approved by the Warden. So far, the warden has not approved a visit for me or any other inmate in the past nine years. Apparently, prison officials have something to hide. Even though in the prison regulations it states, we encourage inmates to maintain ties to the community, prison officials' actions speak otherwise.

Finally, it is good to read in the "Under Lock and Key" section that some brothers and sisters are still participating in the arduous yet all-important struggle for reform. Although not many are here in my midst, your publications apprise me that I am not alone.

As I sit here waiting for the seventh day to have photocopies made of legal papers with a June 19, 2007 deadline, I understand just how much patience and hard work is required to succeed against the American oligarchy.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland]
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Maryland max unit on lockdown

I am currently being housed at a new warehouse in Cumberland Maryland called North Branch Correctional Institution. NBCI is a max security warehouse that opened up in 2005. As of now NBCI has only 2 housing units but one of the housing units holds Medium II prisoners so it has only 1 max unit which houses 346 prisoners. NBCI max housing unit is a lock down prison because in 2006 smashed 3 pigs because some pigs had jumped on a prisoner a few days before. Every time we come out of our cells for recreation or showers we have to be handcuffed from behind our backs. We take 15 minute showers 3 times a week and have 1 hour rec 2 times a week.

A lot of these racist pigs who work here are trying to crack slick out of their mouths now since this prison is a lock down joint. They are jumping on prisoners while they have their hands cuffed behind their backs. Not too long ago, while I was being moved from one isolation cell to another, with leg irons on and my hands cuffed from behind my back, a sergeant pushed me so I would trip over the leg irons. Then he slammed my head against the cell wall 3 times and yanked on the leg irons a few times and the leg irons cut both of my ankles up.

I was in the isolation cell for 10 days and all the water was shut off in my cell except the hot water for the first 5 days. My toilet was only flushed once every shift. The next 5 days I was moved to a different isolation cell and all water was off, and the only time I could drink water was once every shift when I was aloud to flush my toilet. These racist pigs think they are doing something slick but they just don't know what they are really getting themselves into.

I let a few of my comrades read the things that you sent me and they are planning to write to you.

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[Education] [Control Units] [State Correctional Institution Houtzdale] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 1]
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No useful education in the hole

I have been locked up here in the PA DOC for over 10 years. Four and a half of that has been served in the RHU "Hole" in retaliation for confronting the PA-DOC administration on a wide range of issues, healthcare, dietary, commissary and about having adequate material for general and law libraries, to name a few. The years I have been locked up I have seen things go from bad to worse to sickening in regards to the way prisoners are treated here in PA.

Less and less money is being spent on effective rehabilitation and educational programs. And the programs that are up and running may look and sound very good on paper when presented to the state legislatures in Harrisburg for funding and the general public. However, in all actuality the programs that the DOC do make available to the prisoners are just a shell of what they should be. After securing Federal or State funding for a particular educational or rehabilitation program a major part of this money then gets diverted to things for the guards' new uniforms, the latest two way walkie talkies, new computers, more video security cameras, and the list goes on and on.

Here at SCI-Houtzdale, two of the educational programs that the administration likes to show off when people from the community or legislatures from Harrisburg come to tour the facility are the computer repair class and the computer aided drafting class. However, for a prisoner to get discharged from the DOC and try getting employment with what they were taught will be very difficult because the technique, computers and software they are learning on is 12 to 15 years out of date. The administration, staff, and COs are getting all the new equipment, not the prisoners. So factor this in when wondering why PA has such a high rate of recidivism.

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[Political Repression] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Resisting the subversive extremes of political persecution

We, the new Afrikan Black prisoners who are being held captive in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in the state of Kalifornia, are currently being placed under siege and arbitrarily persecuted for our political beliefs. The means of political persecution that we are being subjected to is being perpetuated on multiple fronts by our kaptors, such as 1) The continued infringement upon our 1st amendment right to the freedom of political expression and political activity, 2) The continued criminalization of our political beliefs/viewpoints as allegedly being the expressed activity of promoting gang and criminal activity in the interest of a particular prison gang. These fascist pigs have been relentless in this area, in spite of the fact that time after time it has been proven that the content of the ideological political beliefs expressed are not advocating any form of violence or criminal activity, 3) subjecting us to round 'da clock cell searches, to where any and all New Afrikan revolutionary reading material (books/writings) is arbitrarily confiscated. In particular, as it related to materials that identify with the ideological principals of New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism or the honorable and beloved comrade George Jackson, 4) The confiscation of our outgoing/incoming mail that also advocated the ideological principles of our fallen comrade George Jackson, and 5) The accumulative effect from these subversive practices is that, the material is then used against us, in order to substantiate their arbitrary decision to keep us New Afrikan Black prisoners held indefinitely in the SHU.

Note, these factors are also utilized against us at our parole board hearings, in determining whether we are suitable for parole or not. And based on the arbitrary threshold of interpretation in identifying us as prison gang members on account of our political beliefs, being found suitable for parole is out of the question.

These fascist practices are continuing, with no means to an end in sight. And this is in spite of the fact that there have been several court rulings rendered forth in our favor, to where the courts have consistently stated: "George Jackson, and the ideological political beliefs of George Jackson do not constitute a material basis for a prisoner being involved in the promotion of criminal and gang activities…"

The most recent court ruling was rendered forth on June 15, 2005 by the Del Norte County Superior Court, Case No: HCPB-04-5054. The basis of litigation centered around the fact that Pelican Bay State prison officials had arbitrarily confiscated an incoming mail package that was being sent in from Santa Rosa Junior College (prisonerwriting.com). The incoming mail package contained a political science study manual that was put together by the personnel of George Jackson University. The following reasons were given as to why the incoming mail package was being disallowed: 1) The political science study manual contained the names of several validated prison gang members, 2) prison officials had deemed the address that the incoming mail package was being sent from to be a prison gang mail drop box, and 3) they had identified comrade George Jackson as being a prison gang member, in light of a photograph of George Jackson that was featured on the political science study manual. Prison officials went on to cite the following citations and provisions of the California Code of Regulations, as a basis to justify their confiscation of incoming mail: CCR, Title 15, Sections 3006(c)(16), 3023(a), 3136(a).

On June 15, 2005, the Del Norte County Superior Court, by way of an evidentiary hearing that was held, firmly disputed and disagreed with the reasons that Pelican Bay State Prison officials gave in confiscating and disallowing the incoming mail. In fact, the court went as far as to say that "the reasons that were given by Pelican Bay State Prison officials were exaggerated." And concluded that 1) the photograph of comrade George Jackson did not constitute the promotion of gang, criminal, or violent activities, as in the words of Pelican Bay's own gang specialist Devan Hawkes: George Jackson is a member of the Black liberation movement and not a validated prison gang member, and 2) the address on the incoming mail package was not a prison gang mail drop as alleged, but was in fact an address to an academic institution for higher learning (Santa Rosa Junior College). It should also be noted that three individual pages were withheld because the issue of prisoners having a fundamental constitutional 1st amendment right to the freedom of association was not raised. These three individual pages had the names of fellow New Afrikan Black political prisoners of war, to whom Pelican Bay prison officials have arbitrarily targeted/labeled as being members of a prison gang. I have since obtained a copy of the transcripts (partial) from this evidentiary hearing, which outlines the material facts of this court ruling.

Using our historical ideological line of struggle as our guide to understanding the true nature of these fascist pigs (prison officials), we should realize that these fascist pigs have never been bound to the obligation of upholding and abiding by any laws that are created by the U$ government that don't serve their own perverse interests, as defined by the corrupt and decadent nature of the social system of U$ imperialism.

With the prison industrial slave complex being an extended mechanism of oppression for the U$ government, the only applicable means of justice that can be realized is through the power of the people. So lets mobilize around this issue and do what is necessary in exposing the unjust and fascist nature of political persecution that we New Afrikan Black political prisoner of are being subjected to.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [El Dorado Correctional Facility] [Kansas]
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Isolation cell in Kansas

I am currently being held in a box inside a death kamp here in El Dorado, Kansas. My oppressors do anything and everything they can to keep their boot on my neck. In what they refer to as a "limited-contact" cell. I can be held here as long as they feel they want to hold me.

I'm housed with the other proletariats here in Super-Max seg administrative lockdown. I'm in a cell with no window outside, no sunlight, a built in shower that when used floods my box out and sprays my cell everywhere with water. When brought to the attention of the pigs, they smirk and basically laugh at me. They keep all my property from me and will not work with me to take steps to work towards my release from this death box.

The pigs threaten me and the other prisoners with violence. Two days ago I witnessed a pig punch a prisoner in his testicles while he was cuffed from behind, slammed to the floor for nothing. I'm being held against my will in this black, sunless death box because I "battered" two pigs severely. The violence they threatened me with was received by me with violence. I live here twenty-four hours a day and live by watching my back for the crooked pigs at all times.

Keep up the fight MIM, and believe me, you have the support of a lot of people.

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[Control Units] [Racism] [Political Repression] [California]
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California Trumped Up Gang Validation

I got your information off the internet via my familia on the streets. And I felt compelled to reach out to you, as well as to share with you a little bit about myself and the struggles my loved ones and I have been blessed with. The state will tell you I'm here for a second degree murder. Of course I will tell you that it is much more complicated than that. My co-defendants, (three out of four of them were relatives) faced frivolous allegations of "gang association." Imagine that, you grow up in the barrio and know some, even grew up with some, "gang members" and they labeled us all a gang and called the alleged drunken brawl a gang fight, which legally, totally changed and prejudiced "the states of mind and intentions" of alleged to have been involved. Due to enormous pressure, I buckled and took this sentence, not because I'm guilty as charged, but in order to save my familia from receiving life sentences as well.

Regardless, I'm in this system. "I have lived within the Monster, and I know it from within." (Jose Marti) All of my life I've soaked up bits and pieces of revolutionary consciousness, always drawn like the proverbial moths to a flame to the defiant, the warriors and martyrs. Those brave and solid enough to see the bigger picture, and to lead and sacrifice for the people. But somehow my adolescent desires and undefined morals and standards led me to mis-invest this warriors spirit into gang banging. I can see from my present point of view, that I was not extraordinary in my misdirected efforts.

However, I have always strived for something bigger and better. Something beneficial to the people, La Raza, instead of solely destructive and degenerate. But I lacked the education, I lacked the consistent guidance and discipline, and I, like most of the huddled masses from the Barrio and otherwise, had to focus on survival. But now, for the last 5 years, "due to [my] case factors" and the resulting label put upon me as a "Northern Hispanic, " by the State, have had some time on my hands to focus, to explore, and develop ideas and ideals.

More than enough time, as I'd spent 3 years in the county in single occupancy cells, a year and a half on Solano's level three facility I on lockdown and I've spent over six months now in Administrative Segregation (the hole), where I'm facing a "gang validation." As is well known, the State applies social Judo tactics, so to speak, in order to keep the masses off balance and misdirected. In these divide and conquer scenarios social organizations and movements for resisting oppression and exploitation, and in furtherance of equality, empowerment, and dignity, find their focus degenerated and misdirected towards other members of their own backgrounds.

This is nothing new, and we still don't make it difficult for them to do. These tactics have literally been perfected to a science: within the confines of the CDCR. The technical aspects of these tactics are ever evolving, seemingly made up as they go, as well as laid out in a long winded maze of words (which seem really to only be there for show or manipulation) in the California code of Regulations Title 15 and the Department Operations Manual.

For example: "Gang means any ongoing formal or informal organization, association or group of (3) or more persons which has a common name or identifying sign or symbol whose members and or associates individually or collectively engage or have engaged, on behalf of that organization, or group, in (2) or more acts which include, planning, organizing threatening, financing, soliciting, or committing unlawful acts or acts of misconduct classified as serious pursuant to section 3315."

"Disruptive Group means any gang other than a prison gang." (of which there are (10) different general labels, (3) of which are relative to Latinos in particular.)

"Prison Gang means any gang which originated and has its roots within the department or any other prison system" (3 out of 5 labels are specifically Raza). "Member is an inmate/parolee who has been accepted into membership by a gang. This identification requires at least (3) independent source items of documentation indicative of actual membership. Validation of an inmate/parolee as a member of a prison gang whall require that at least (1) source item be a direct link to a current or former Validated member or associate of the gang…Associate is an inmate/parolee who is involved periodically or regularly with members or associates of a gang…"

"A dropout is an inmate/parolee who was either a gang member or associate and has discontinued gang affiliation. This identification requires that the inmate/parolee successfully complete the debriefing process."

"2. Except as provided at section 3335(a), section 3378(d) and subsection (c )(5), a validated prison gang member or associate is deemed to be a severe threat to the safety of others or the security of the institution and will be placed in a SHU for an indeterminate term."

"4. A validated prison gang member or associate shall be considered for release from a SHU, as provided above, after the inmate is verified as a gang dropout through a debriefing process."

"5. As provided at section 3378(3), the Departmental Review Board (DRB) may authorize SHU release for prison gang members or associates categorized as inactive. The term inactive means that the inmate has not been involved in gang activity for a minimum of (6) years. Inmates categorized as inactive who are suitable for SHU release shall be transferred to the general population of a level IV facility for a period of observation that shall be no greater than 12 months. Upon completion of the period of observation, the inmate shall be housed in a facility commensurate with his or her safety needs. In the absence of safety needs, the inmate shall be housed in a facility consistent with his or her classification score…."

"6. As provided at section 3378(f) an inmate categorized as inactive or validated as a dropout of a prison gang and placed in the general population may be returned to segregation based upon one reliable source item identifying the inmate as a currently active gang member or associate of the prison gang with which the inmate was previous validated…"

I myself, despite my objections, was labeled a "Northern Hispanic" by this system. In fact, probably a quarter of the prisoners labeled as such were and are not gang members of any kind, but are forced by the system into accepting this generic label, which in turn makes you an automatic target by other certain group segments. Perhaps most potentially detrimental is the system's obsession with validating each and every prisoner they label a (N/H/) as a prison gang member/associate in order to bury them alive in the confines of the SHUs.

Those prisoners labeled NHs are routinely placed on prolonged lockdowns, having constantly to defend themselves and to fight for basic safety and continually push for equality, as well as, and perhaps more harmful, the chronic violations and abuse of our rights and mental and physical well being, from the State, who, in their zeal to justify their actions, do so by habitually breaking the laws they pretend to uphold.

There are many clear and obvious discrepancies in treatment, as well as in application of the laws and regulations used to govern the CDCR. For instance, while NHs were on lockdown, they were denied visits, adequate and timely medical care, there were incidents of NHs being physically abused. The NHs often only came out of their cells 3 days out of the week for 5 minute showers, only to be yelled at and degraded throughout, and this, even during heat waves and times where there was no air circulation in the oven like cells due to air circulation system breaking down. The NHs were denied access to phone use, access to the law library, I can go on and on.

I myself ended up on Ad. Seg a few weeks before the NHs were let off of lockdown. On the day I was brought here, about 3 or 4 in the morning, the door to the cell my old celly and I occupied was opened, I was sprayed 3 times in the face with a chemical significantly more powerful than pepper spray, handcuffed, and here I am now, facing a ridiculous "gang validation" on trumped up charges.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Western Correctional Institution] [Maryland]
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Brutality in Maryland

Time has granted me the ability to speak my mind and express my thoughts on the abusive, foul-crookedness that is going on here at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. I'm on the segregation unit, it will be two years that I've been here in April.

Not long ago I was cuffed and taken out of my cell by two KKK members, a.k.a. the pigs, a.k.a. the correctional officers. As soon as I got to the bottom of the tier I was dragged into the lobby, slammed on the floor (still handcuffed), the pigs stomped and kicked me while the other pig held me down. The pigs then dragged me back on the top tier stomped and kicked me some more so everybody on the top tier could see.

After that I was put in cell #1 (the butt naked cell) with no mattress, no clothes, nothing. The pigs put a rock in the window so I would not be able to close it. The pigs then walked past the cell calling me nigger and telling me they run the show and next time I will keep my mouth shut. One of the pigs told the others to chill because I can't be broken. He told them that they already took all my soap and toothpaste before, they took all my cloths, they even took my showers and recreation for 50 something days. The pig said all the other niggers will look out for me and told them to lay off before they start a riot.

This is a life long struggle I'm fighting.

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[Organizing] [Control Units] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Locked in SHU after release date, still fighting

I'm confined in Corcoran state prison SHU program. I have been in the SHU for years. I personally don't consider myself a con, I like thinking of myself as a prisoner of war. I suggest to our brothers and sisters in this Amerikkka war against our races to take a stand in prison. Use your free time to study and use U.$. law against them and also on department of corruption and repression (CDC&R). My SHU term was up 12-1-05, but I'm still here pending transfer. Yes, it's a lot of us still here on that note. I won a few 602s, but most get lost by staff members.

I need help and candidates on the streets to carry our fights for us in prisons unmask this corruption system. Enclosed is a 602 I won, and the reason I'm not transferred yet. CDCR gives us 602 forms, but if you use them and win, you will pay your price, allright!

Someone once said I'd rather die standing than die on my knees. In simple English words, that means I will not be a coward. Refuse to work, clean up messes by Corrections Officers (C/Os), don't make deals or business with C/Os. They are not your friends! When a C/O or any official writes you up, what do you consider that? It's called ratting/snitching. All against what we believe in. So why do cons make deals with them? Refuse to program and protect your rights. Do not be a slave to CDCR.

Currently all my books and study notes were taken from me due to my beliefs - I'm called by staff "Little Castro."

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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History of the Peace Summit initiative at Pelican Bay

Concerning the Pelican Bay State Prison Peace Summit initiative, I'm all too familiar with the initiative and the brothas that are seeking grassroots community support. Back in the year 2000, we the progressive class of Black prisoners had initiated efforts through these prison bureaucrats, in order to initiate some peace/resolve to the social conflict that had materialized out in general population, i.e. "race war." But as to be expected, these prison bureaucrats launched an aggressive "armed propaganda" campaign, in order to sabotage and disrupt our efforts. Because, as you know, it is these pigs nature to exist in a quagmire of diabolical, corrupt, and violent practices. So the armed propaganda campaign consisted of spreading a rumor to the head officials in Sacramento (CDC department heads) who had sanctioned the "peace talks" initially, that we prisoners that were directly involved with these "peace talks" were manipulating this opportunity to organize and conspire in criminal and violent activities, which is completely false and unfounded!

But by the time that we got around to challenging this nonsense, our efforts had proven to be futile, as we did not have any grassroots community support, which remains to be a critical component that needs to be addressed in light of our material existence, in being held in the restricted bondage and isolated confines of the SHU (Security Housing Unit). Besides, these fascist pigs in here also had a vested economic interest in seeing that the cycle of violence remained a material factor, as it continues to be perpetuated out in general population (mainline) in the form of a "race war" (southern Mexicans and white supremacist Europeans vs. the class of New Afrikan Black prisoners), in that, if our collective goal towards peace had been materialized into a reality, then the fascist pigs would no longer been able to prey on the fears of the public, under the premise of violence being a out of control issue, and the justification for the continued existence of these super-maximum slave kamps would have also been negated!!

This is why it is ever so critical that we mobilize ourselves now, in order to obtain some real grassroots community support so that we may effectively combat this social dilemma and bring some peace and resolve, to not just these mainliners, but also in the communities of southern California, to where these acts of senseless violence has spilled over. Meaning, that individuals of these racial nationalities who have no knowledgeable insight of this social conflict (race war) is being arbitrarily subjected to the capricious whims of violence, i.e. "innocent victims." So the onus is on us to restore order on these mainlines and in the communities of Southern California, as these fascist pigs (U.$. government ) has never had our best interest at heard, in particular, as it relates to poor people of color.

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[Control Units] [International Connections] [National Oppression]
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Shutting down Control Units and the World Revolution

From mimnotes.info Adapted from a presentation by the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League at the Unlock the Box conference on October 8, 2005. —ed.

It is important to recognize that we cannot pick our battles frivolously. There are uncountable horrible injustices in the world that need to be resolved. So figuring out where to start in order to be effective in eliminating all injustice is a crucial step for us. The ‘principal contradiction’ is the term we apply to the struggle of opposing forces that once resolved will do the most to push forward all struggles in our society.

Through practice, and the summing up of that practice into theory, we have come to see that in the United $tates, the lumpen of the oppressed nations are one of the greatest allies of the world proletariat. In particular, the incarcerated lumpen are at the vanguard in dealing with the problem of imperialism due to their facing its repression on a daily basis.

Mao Zedong made great contributions in demonstrating that the principal contradiction was that between the oppressed and oppressor nations during China’s war of liberation from Japan. His old adage that "In wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism" still rings true today. Especially in a world where imperialism is the dominant force in more and more corners of the globe. This has been manifested in the recent internationalization of the U$ injustice system. While the United $tates has ran prisons and systematically tortured people throughout its neo-colonies for decades, this has usually been CIA and other secretive operations. With the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as with the whole so-called War on Terror in general, we have seen Amerikan soldiers of the occupying forces being the jailkeepers and interrogators.

The fact that the torture going on in these prisons is systematic is well- established by the number of reportings from both soldiers and prisoners. Just last week, after being sentenced to 3 years prison for abuse of prisoners herself, Lynddie England stated publicly that the Abu Ghraib pictures she was in were not the worst things going on and that everything they did was a result of orders from higher ups. U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo describing interrogation methods to be used at Guantanamo Bay that included everything depicted in the aforementioned photos before they happened in Iraq. Although he officially recanted the memo, the spread of these tactics through training of soldiers shows clear links between Rumsfeld’s orders and what is going on in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq. And of course, we also know that the same types of things have been going on in U$ prisons in North America for decades.

This begs the question of why is there so much more outrage surrounding Abu Ghraib than Pelican Bay. The difference is that the Black, Latino and indigenous nations within U$ borders have been colonized for centuries, with the dual effect of being integrated to some degree into the oppressor nation and benefiting from its exploitation of the rest of the world and the development of a colonized consciousness that is the product of dealing with this reality. In contrast, almost every single persyn in Iraq remembers a time before the U$ occupation, and they aren’t going to sit idly by while these Amerikans torture and humiliate, not to mention slaughter, their people.

To be powerful and effective in our struggle to stop torture in U$ prisons we must understand how this applies to our own conditions. This means recognizing the forces involved for what they are. The control units are often deemed ‘gang units’ and one of the primary excuses for their necessity is to deal with the supposedly out of control gangs. But we must see the War on Gangs, the War on Crime and the War on Terror for what they are, its all a part of the War on Oppressed Nations being led by the U$ imperialists and the Amerikan oppressor nation in general.

What is a gang? A gang is an organization, generally made up of lumpen proletariat, oppressed-nation youth. These lumpen organizations did not appear from thin air, nor from some alleged inherent barbarity of oppressed- nation people. These organizations come from the material reality in which whole nations are in subservient positions, and in which whole classes of people are prevented from participating in production and guaranteed consumption of basic needs. A recent program on Fox News, hosted by Newt Gingrich, spends an hour demonizing Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and calling for the imprisonment of lumpen youth, the militarization of the United $tates-Mexico border and the hunting down of al Qaeda. The latter comes from an alleged link that could lead MS-13 to helping al Qaeda bring dirty bombs into the United $tates. This link has been disputed by the FBI and appears to be pure lies and propaganda. However, Gingrich does get something right. He understands that all oppressed nations have the common interest of overthrowing U$ imperialism and so he is rallying Amerikans around this fear in defense of their empire.

If reactionaries like Gingrich were actually interested in eliminating the anti- people activities of many lumpen organizations then they would try to understand where these organizations came from and why they do what they do. Specifically, MS-13 is said to have started with Salvadorian refugees in Los Angeles for the same reason that most such groups start, for self defense and meeting community need. Why were they in Los Angeles? They were there because the United $tates was backing right-wing paramilitary troops to crush the FMLN in El Salvador, as they were doing all over Central America at the time. After the bloody and terroristic 1980s, the region was decimated and many were left with one real option to meet their needs: to become active participants in the trade corridor that the Amerikans use to bring drugs North from Colombia. This effectively replaced the revolutionary organizations in the region with more criminal minded lumpen organizations.

When the refugees arrived in Los Angeles during the war one might ask why they needed to form a gang? Any oppressed nationals in LA will already know the answer to this question. The biggest impetus is the best armed rival gang in town, the LAPD, the infamous gang unit and other associated pigs. To make matters worse, you still have to deal with divisions and fighting between various oppressed-nation gangs as well. This is the legacy of an earlier period when the Black Panthers had unified the Black Nation under a revolutionary vanguard. The response from the FBI was COINTELPRO, which killed, locked up and otherwise neutralized the Panther leadership. In this vacuum arose organizations like the CRIPs (Community Revolution In Progress), that dressed like the Panthers, spoke like the Panthers and hoped to provide a better life for the people. But without a clear political outlook like the Panthers, and with the influx of crack as the fastest solution to their economic problems, these young people embraced a criminal mentality.

Now the government would have you think that this is the last thing that they want, that they are committed to "cleaning up the streets." Wrong. This is exactly what they want. They created it. When oppressed nations organize for positive change the imperialists destroy their organizations (ie. the Black Panthers and the FMLN). Then they bring in the drugs to simultaneously buy off and destroy the minds of the next generation. In California prisons they’ve gone as far as forcing people into gangs. And the reality on the street has always been that groups of oppressed-nation youth are targeted for repression, in effect enforcing the necessity for gangs where they might not have already existed.

In the long run this works in our interests. It is vital to our struggle to organize oppressed-nation groups. If the pigs want to help by repressing people and forcing them into gangs, then they are digging their own graves. The ‘gang problem’ did not always exist. In Attica, in 1971, people from all nations and organizations came together for their common interests against their oppressor, while recognizing the revolutionary leadership of groups like the Panthers, Young Lords and American Indian Movement. This commonality is far stronger than any petty differences that currently exist between lumpen organizations. And this commonality is once again being recognized by leaders of these groups. In Oregon this summer there were hunger strikes and uprisings every month inside the prisons, where groups that at other times might have tried to kill each other stood side by side in the face of the common oppressor.

So, how do we create the outrage in this country that has been created around the Abu Ghraib scandal? The answer is in the consciousness of the oppressed nations. It is in the lumpen organizations coming together inside prisons and on the streets. And it is in the support of the family members and communities of those who are suffering in these torture cells.

When the Abu Ghraib photos came out, MIM Notes ran an article that broke the story on the history of people like Charles Grainer and Ivan Frederick, who had been involved in torture as prison guards in the United $tates before going to Iraq. The comrades who struggled against and wrote articles about this abuse where acting in concrete unity with the prisoners being held in Abu Ghraib today, even though they didn’t even know Abu Ghraib would ever exist. That is oppressed- nation nationalism as internationalism in practice.

Every victory we have in ending torture and reducing oppression in prisons in the United $tates makes it harder for them to do the same things around the world. Similarly, the growing resistance and power of the Third World struggles create more opportunities for us to bring attention to and create opposition to what is going on here. Our struggles continue to reinforce each other. And as more struggles break out on more fronts, imperialism weakens and all of our battles become that much easier.

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