We are receiving a small but steady flow of general population(G.P.) prisoners on our yard. About 10 every week or two. It's not going well at all. SNY population is now jumping G.P. when able to. First time G.P.s arrived they attacked some SNY's in work out bar course. Four on five and G.P.s got scrapped. Next time SNYs were waiting, so guards had to escort G.P.s from R&R to rear building entrance.
Next morning, 300+ prisoners were outside the building waiting for the G.P.s release. So guards decided not to release G.P.s and recalled the yard. Later guards released only 5 G.P.s and they were jumped by 20 SNYs. So this is the pattern. Only a matter of time before someone gets killed.
So now anytime in transit G.P.s and SNYs are in a possible dangerous situation. This SNY yard is super chill, with very few incidents to report. So I can only imagine how serious this issue will be on other more dangerous yards. OR when SNY prisoners are placed on a yard with the majority being G.P. Something needs to be done soon. CDC is basically staging these fights.
MIM(Prisons) adds: While family members on the outside have been petitioning to stop the integration, MIM(Prisons) has been supporting USW leaders who are trying extra hard to push the United Front for Peace in Prisons principles in these difficult situations. California prison staff have a long history of staging fights between prisoners. However, this massive integration is different in terms of the numbers involved. Comrades should search out opportunities to apply the principle of Unity, based on the fact that GP and SNY prisoners are now, more than ever facing the same conditions.
14 JUNE 2018 — Uhuru! As of today's mathematics, 14 June 2018, prisoners are being violently pent against one another in a last attempt to interfere with current demands by both the people of California and the federal government to release its ridiculously large prison population.
CDCR, at prisons like the Substance Abuse Tratment Facility (SATF) and Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP), has begun engaging in policy changes that manufacture hostilities between the prison populations. One particular change involves rehousing what is called "mainline" prisoners on yards that are considered Protective Custody (P.C.) yards by force. Now these are not P.C. yards by the standards of the law, Protective Custody. Instead they are Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY). These yards house a combination of offenders/prisoners, including prison gang organization defectors called "drop outs", prisoners with sexual offenses, prison sex victims, victims of exploitation by other prisoners and a wide range of other types.
There are offenders who were/are members of street gangs/organizations whose particular gang has been targeted by the larger gang alliances like the Mexican Mafia. Then there are those individuals who are members of left wing political organizations who struggle against corruption and blow the whistle against crooked cops and politicians in office. Though it has been promoted that all who are housed at SNY facilities are child molesters, police informants, gang traders, etc., this is a lie spread by the police pigs in order to establish the chaos that is being born across California in prisons, CDCR.
Prisons have begun rehousing small numbers of mainline prisoners who are considered the "actives" on facilities that have been established as SNY facilities amongst those who are often mis-construed as "non-active." Because these facilities are not what CDCR claim them to be; an environment with no gang activity and very little criminal violence, these facilities are a melting pot for chaos. There are possibly more STGs on the SNY than on the mainline, as the 2012 Pelican Bay SHU Agreement to End Hostilities was designed to cease gang hostilities and stem criminal behavior for all mainliners. (Mainliners are prisoners who were until recently housed at General Population (G.P.) facilities, but now SNY facilities are considered mainline, as there are more SNY facilities than G.P.)
Let the authorities that be take notice: There are those of us who will not participate in wars against ourselves but instead will bare arms against the agents of oppression, where ever they be. And we know all of you. You who see what is happening but do nothing to protect those of us unable to protect ourselves. Trust that justice will be done on the yard as so in the streets. Your time is no more!
[NOTE: The author is among a group of New Afrikan and [email protected] leaders of the United Struggle from Within (USW). Ey was among 40 prisoners transferred to Kern Valley State Prison D-facility after a riot between SNY gangs united against New Afrikans and [email protected] refusing to endorse gang culture and hostilities amongst prisoners, working the police agenda. The author was transferred from a lower level institution less hostile to growth amongst prisoners, and placed into an environment that would definitely invite conflict between them and corrections officers.]
by a California prisoner June 2018 permalinkDear ULK,
I'm writing to ask for more info on the California prison system putting SNY (Special Needs Yard) and mainline together in order to show that nothing has changed and the prisons are still very dangerous.
What I do know is that it started a few weeks ago here at Centinela State Prison and we are hearing of widespread violence at every yard they are doing this on — the so-called 50/50 yards or Programming Facilities (P.F.S.). We have only heard rumors at this point. Of course the staff would never tell us outright, but they do give hints. Any help in this matter will be appreciated. A lot of us here at Centinela SNY yard are endorsed to San Quentin PFS yard. We would love to help stop the violence, but it's really mainline shot callers that will decide.
Most of us here on the SNY side want to do our time in peace. That's why we are put on this side. Anyway, thanks for any help on this matter.
A USW comrade reports:
Here at Corcoran they're integrating yards. Now SNY/GP STG I & II are on the same yards, and being forced to program or be labeled program failures.
Legion of USW comments: June 2018 — As predicted the CDCR is doing away with the SNY/GP mainlines in favor of undesignated program yards. Legion did the math on this problem years ago and was made a mad scientist preaching that Black God stuff.
This provides USW a unique opportunity to be at the vanguard of the battle field building bridges instead of barriers. The prols have an opportunity to become the change they want to see. We have to revise and revisit certain debates about what solid looks like. The future is now and we need to adapt our struggle to the new landscape.
Legion is calling all God Bodies into formation! There's no such thing as SNY or GP on the streets. You have factors and non-factors. We are factors; socially, politically and mentally. USW is where it's at. Let's crash the system!
Power to the People!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Early in 2018, the CDCR began transforming Level I, Level II, and, now, some Level III prisons into "non-designated yards", eliminating the divide between SNY and General Population. This began with the healthcare facilities and fire camps. According to CDCR, SNY was created 20 years ago, and now accounts for one third of the California state prison population.(1)
In a video message on the subject, CDCR Director Scott Kernan calls on California prisoners to focus on themselves. He calls for them to disregard "prison politics." While tapping into a real mass sentiment that is sick of some of the "prison politics" that leads to unnecessary beef and violence, this appeal to Amerikan individualism is misleading. The new Programming Facilities require prisoners to participate in the CDCR program. This is not really focusing on self, this is joining a group with strict guidelines. This path is a choice. And CDCR wants to make it the most appealing choice.
All humyns live in society. We cannot focus on self without also being part of a society and playing a role in it. For the oppressed, the support of the group is even more important. So prisoners must ask themselves if the CDCR program is the group that best serves their interests. We await reports from comrades inside as to the full implications of this reorganization. But we can look back to the "Step Down Program" implemented for SHU prisoners in response to the historic hunger strikes in 2012 and 2013, which coerced prisoners into accepting the oppressor's definitions of criminal.(2) The PFS have a similar focus on "programming," promising a more productive and quicker release in return.
We do not have the info to fully answer the comrade's question about what is happening in these non-designated yards right now. But we echo the call from ULK 62 for USW comrades in California, especially those in the 50/50 yards, to work to build unity across different groups in these dynamic conditions.(3) As Legion alludes to above, change is in favor of the oppressed, it is only up to us to seize the opportunities that each change offers. For this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity, California USW will focus on this issue of the "non-designated yards", and building peace and unity among these new conglomerates of people. For the next issue of ULK we want to hear about the successes and failures of this organizing, of September 9th, of the 50/50 yards and what it all means for organizing to end oppression on a systemic level.
I'm writing on this topic a bit early because a lot of young brothers and sisters don't have true or real understanding regarding Black August and Bloody September. But for those of us who are politically aware, both months are rich with our blood, our struggle, and our resistance. As people who fight oppression during these two months as a peoples' movement we should focus our energies around the discussions and actions of George Jackson, the Black Panthers, Assata Shakur, Che Guevara, and any of the many revolutionaries who have set the stage for us.
We should push political education, progressive action, and the revolutionary history. We should most aggressively focus on the establishment of stronger security, because on 16 April 2018 the Department of Corrections and so-called "Rehabilitation" started a statewide weapons sweep of all California prisons to ensure that no weapons are on the prison yards when the state integrates mainline prisoners with SNY prisoners later this year.
We know first-hand what the power structure is doing — they're hoping that the yards all blow up. That would show that their jobs still matter and that we need to be in prison. This is their most outrageous move in years, and they've been feeding the disconnection of mainline and SNY for years as a tool of divide and conquer. The divide and conquer tactic has never been more effective than it is today.
As they say, a tree without roots is dead, and so is a people who are not rooted. Men such as comrade George, Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X started and enhanced their political line in prison as colonial criminals. Within these concentration camps and deep dark confines of Soledad Prison and San Quentin, the alchemy of human transformation took place. They all began to turn the cells they held into libraries and schools of liberation. As George said, to create a new world we have to be a representation of this new being, "The New Man", in words and in deeds, thoughts, and actions. This new man will be in his highest revolutionary form. So as they turned their cells into classrooms, so must we. And as they internalized the most advanced ideas about human development, so must we.
George stated that:
"I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao, and they redeemed me. For the first four years, I studied nothing but politics and economics and military ideas. I met Black Guerrillas, George Big Jake Lewis, James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson, and many others. We were attempting to turn the Black criminal mentality into a revolutionary mentality."
George and his comrades became living examples and inspirations of organized resistance for prisoners across the country. But on 21 August 1971, Comrade George Jackson and two others were murdered along with three prison guards in a gun fight inside one of California's maximum security prisons called San Quentin. For this reason, and many more, we hold bloody August as sacred.
Huey P. Newton was murdered 22 August 1989, in West Oakland on Tenth and Center, by a young drug dealer named Little Blood. He was a product of this system; the young hating the old, the light-skinned hating the dark. That's the same divide we have here today. I can get into the shit and kick up dust with the rest and the best. But I will not allow anyone to stop my hard work in being an organizer and educator. I've given twenty years to this mainline and SNY, so I'm going to push on. As Frantz Fanon stated in Wretched of the Earth, "There is no taking of the offensive — and no redefining of relationships." We know that the power structure wants us dead or locked up. So in case you didn't know, the revolution is on.
Power to the People
Build to Win
and glory be the Phunk is on the bald head man.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The California USW Primer explains how the split between SHU/mainline and SNY in California is at the heart of building a united front of prisoners in the state. All California USW comrades should have a copy of the primer as a guide for their work. Long-time readers of ULK will know that we have printed countless articles addressing this issue. Write in if you can use copies of some of these articles to help in your organizing for the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity this year. The campaign to build peace and unity between mainline and SNY will be coming to a head this year, and USW must play a leading role in guiding things in a positive direction as this comrade calls for.
SNY has been "represented", we've been building and growing for years. I personally came from the mainline after 15 years of the madness. I've been there with the Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, and Aryan Brotherhood. I was at Calipatria when the "East Coast Crips" stormed the program office. I've also walked the level IV yards with Elmer Geronimo Pratt, Ruchell Magee, as well as the comrade Askari.
The inmates on SNYs are not your enemies. "We know the enemy." A lot of us made a conscious informed choice to step away from the gangbanging and go home to our families, are we less because we made a choice best for us? Moreover I stand with you, and look for your next essay so we can build together. Check Under Lock & Key No. 40,53,55, just to start, but I'm all over. Revolutionary theory without practice ain't shit.
Dear sista, you and I know that the mainline is full of people who have no honor or respect, and the class of people are not the same as in the 1980s or 1990s, so I'm not missing the line at all. What I do miss is the respect level. But just like the mainline, SNYs have strong revolutionary comrades, it's who you have around you, just as on the line, we also know there are child molesters as well as rapists there too. One of the reason I left was because I was a part of the "Damu Car," Piru in fact, and when someone known to be a rat, and all the homies know, but since he has the drugs and he's paying rent he has a pass. I was good, not to mention the so-called homie that rob and rape another homie's wife and we have to let this unknown dude keep walking around us left a fucked up taste in my mouth. So there was only one step I could take in good conscience.
We as Damus we moved in a political motion anyway. So me becoming revolutionary was just the next step in my evolution as a man. When I hit the prison in 1992 I was taught about my history: George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Huey P Newton, Fred Hampton, The Almighty Black P. Stone Nation and all the letters because they were all here FOI-NOI-BGF-KUMI-DAMUs–Kiway's- all of that, SNYs are the way they are because when you come to this side all of your old homies consider you a rat, even if you never said a word to the pigs.
G.P. is a capitalist community; who ever has the drugs can call the shots, who ever has the phone is the big homie. That's a very tainted and corrupt political line they're pushing, I also agree with the comrade in Georgia, that the contagious disease of backbiting needs to stop. I feel the same way. The real is that I've been in the mix with a lot of the Damus on the mainline and they know where I stand, and have told that they see the improvements in me and we've had serious political talks about the state of the line vs the SNY yards.
When I was at Richard J. Donavon (see Under Lock & Key issue no 40) I created a cadre that consisted of SNY and mainline comrades, Black, white and Hispanic. And what the Georgia comrade said is right, everyone on this backbiting shit should take a long and serious look at themselves and really pay attention to the way Willie Lynch syndrome has been effective. When he instructed the slave masters to always keep them divided, separated, and distrustful of one another, and at odds with one another.
Posting up essays and articles on the wall is a go0d move, and I will add that to my get down. Anyway, I'm going to end this the same way I entered it by stating that the loss of my heroes Fred Hampton, Huey P. Newton, and George Jackson represented a most tragic set back not just for the Black Panther Party, but also for the liberation movement in general. These men who were potentially heir apparent to fallen leaders like Malcolm X, and Che Guevara.
The real shit is "SNY and the mainline," may never be able to get past the emotional hatred that comes from mainline prisoners, but will that stop SNY inmates and political prisoners from being a leading force in building the bridges that can we can cross to make the revolution? No! We are just as focused as you if not more because we have a role to play in this movement, I only live to make the revolution. So I understand my life may be cut short, but I will live and die for the people.
Revolutionary greetings, and salutations my brothers in struggle. I received ULK 58 about 2 weeks ago here in Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). I also received the CA USW Primer 1st Edition, January 2017. Read it cover to cover, and it had some very good, as well as informative topics and info. I'd like to respond on the article about, "The Biggest Divide - Not Race or Gang". I am an Special Needs Yard (SNY) prisoner.
I seriously doubt the two sides will ever be able to come together, as far as programming together on the same yards. Personally I have no problem with General Population (G.P.), and there are a lot of things I miss about being there. Things have changed a lot on the G.P. side since they have let validated L.O.s out though. As you say: "Not to fan the flames I'll leave that alone." I will say this on a personal level. I do have great respect for every soldier over there who are pushing the MIM theory and line. So I send mine to you comrades. Stay up, stay strong, and keep that "can't stop, won't stop attitude."
MIM, I do understand what our cause is pushing for as far as coming together goes. The only chance I see of that happening is if the G.P. side reverted to the old way of about 2 or 3 decades ago. That is to say letting those of us back on the yard who retired, laid down, stopped reporting, but never debriefed, and our paperwork is clean of sex offenses. Not only that but through the different L.O.s' contact with guards that are in some of their pockets, letting them know of those of us who have conducted ourselves in a convict's code of conduct on this side as well. Meaning we haven't become the C.O.s' rat bitches. Comrades — if they did allow us back — would only be a small amount of us. Maybe a handful on every yard.
Ultimately I would go as far as to say that I am a real small minority that would be willing to take that chance to unite under the above aforementioned standards. There is definitely a very long way to go on that issue. As you say, it's also a trust issue. Yes the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) is what I want. But if the comrade that wrote that article has ever been in prison, you understand the issues that keep the divide, and there are many of them. Personally I have no issues with my brothers of the past. None. They haven't given me reason to be hostile, or have any grudge against them, but there are others on SNY that don't feel the same way for whatever reasons they have.
I have something to say now about the reason I'm in ASU. When I was 6 months to release, I got fed up with the K-9 searching 2-4 times a week, so I refused to come out. I got soaked with O.C. spray. Of course whenever C.O.s either assault us, or spray us, or shoot us with block gun, or bullets, unjustifiably, their go-to "off the books" thing is, "the inmate assaulted or battered me." I - comrades - did not assault that coward. I'm the one who was assaulted by O.C. spray.
The day this took place, I.S.U. didn't even go talk to him, or take pictures, because there was nothing to photograph. He lied, and broke protocol by crossing the threshold of my cell, with no supervisor present. What makes me mad is him putting his damned boot on my back. He hit me with his metal baton like a lil girl. Excuse my expression, wimmin comrades, I mean no disrespect. Anyway I filed an excessive force 602 appeal — staff complaint — on him. Some inmate told me, "Oh man you're asking for it now." Ha! It's because of those kind of inmates that are afraid to file on them is why they get away with what they do. I have that right. Brothers died so that we can file paperwork. I remember that, when I feel lazy, 'cause I hate doing paperwork, 'cause it's frustrating and tedious. Anyway comrades that is my spill. Keep the positive work you do going forward. I'll sign off with a revolutionary salute to all of you comrades at MIM and USW. One day brothers. One day in the distant future you will see, if not you, yours, and our kids will see our world as we struggle for it, to be under one dictatorship, united. Trust and believe. It's destined to come to fruition. Believe that!
I am a transsexual female who has been in these trenches 37 years, have walked close to 30 yards and several SHUs, EOP, DMH. I want to add to Legion's presentation regarding SNYs (ULK 58, p. 19) and how they came to proliferate in Cali, and with regard to the people who walk SNY.
When I first came to CDC in the early 1980s, there were four formations that governed all the maximum security yards: Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood. Notwithstanding the wars among them, there was order and discipline within each, and the tone of the yards was one of respect and honor, an old or original tradition. There was a lot of fighting and killing at San Quentin, where I did four years in the Adjustment Center (AC) SHU. Extreme warfare proliferated as the formations fought each other, especially in AC, where Comrade George executed pigs and reactionary enemies and was martyred in 1971. It was the same AC I stepped into in summer 1982 — nothing had changed: extreme warfare through the bars (there were no solid doors, though there are now) and tiger cages instead of AC yards. In 1985, a white sergeant was speared in the heart through bars and died on the tier, which was attributed to BGF. That's when CDC went bonkers and conceived the Pelican Bay SHU monster to deal with everything (opened in 1989). It was also because of the killing of this sergeant that all SHU pigs had to wear protective vests, beginning in 1986. (Years later, alias Crips did a mass stabbing attack on yard pigs at Calipatria, and now ALL pigs have to wear vests.)
CDC's idea of an extreme control environment was a strategic mistake. First, because it could not and did not break the spirit of those who count, but reinforced their endurance. Second, it created a massive vacuum on the yards as all the OG formations were swept up and stuck in Pelican Bay SHU; soon, independent factions popped up on the untended yards, and compared to previous, the yards went haywire, like kids at a carnival. There was no discipline, no respect, no honor; SNY yards opened and grew as many stepped back from that mess. Now, wherever there is a General Population (G.P.), there is an SNY or two. Third, all of this cost CDC millions of more dollars than average, with nothing gained. Fourth, under the extreme oppression of Pelican Bay SHU, the consciousness of the formations heightened and they united against CDC. And fifth, the courts eventually let the formations out again.
A lot of the people who went from G.P. to SNY in the heydays of chaos were not bad apples but were just more serious about doing time, that the G.P. was so ruined it would've been futile to try to get it back on track.
As much as the G.P. has progressed, however, it still has some backward baggage to sort out. Trans prisoners cannot be on the G.P. because of threats of death, BECAUSE they are trans; only that. There are some progressive prisoners on G.P., the Kata, who do not persecute us. In fact they politically educated me in Pelican Bay SHU in the early 1990s. (A kata is a martial arts stance that Comrade G. practiced in his cell and disliked the pigs to see him in. Here, it connotes a revolutionary position and cadre.) But the general practice on the G.P. towards trans prisoners is transmisogyny and gender oppression; reactionary. To promote a prisoner's human rights platform, that platform must include the vested interests of all oppressed prisoners and have representation of all interests, including trans, and must extend into SNY and women's prisons. The G.P. has yet to address its position towards trans prisoners publicly.
I am with the Red Roses Transsexual Political Party (alias 36 Movement), which I founded. We are a political resistance movement, with critically vetted members. We do political work to challenge CDC's genocidal treatment of us as trans women with administrative complaints, lawsuits, and educate trans prisoners for unity and resistance. We consider ourselves a part of the Prisoners Human Rights Movement (PHRM) founded by the united G.P. at Pelican Bay SHU. Our voice needs to be heard, our situation on the G.P. hashed out. PHRM needs to extend into the women's prisons, where contradictions have peaked, with a series of suicides at the California Institution for Women.
There is no question that we are in a new era of doing time, across the whole landscape. The biggest difference is the new collective consciousness of who is the real enemy in terms of our fundamental vested interests, produced by the overbearing of the state on the oppressed. The current unity of the OG formations — and especially the Kata, as BGF and other New Afrikan unity — illustrates this.
Unfortunately, SNY is beset with wars among factions, and there have been some killings. I would advocate the PHRM shoutout to SNY factions to call a cease fire and work out a Peace Accord, to acknowledge a higher need for unity against their conditions, such as, they can't get into any self-help rehabilitation groups unless they debrief. PHRM's voice will resonate with those who count on SNY.
Red Roses urges all trans prisoners to acquire political consciousness and join the 36 Movement to resist CDC oppression as a united force. We are political, not criminal, politically educate ourselves and do for self and support each other for our collective good. Stop squabbling. We are being killed on the yards, as Carmen Guerro, who was killed on this very yard, and others (rest in peace). The 36 Movement is one for all and all for one. Let that be your motto.
This is in response to an article from ULK 55 titled "Maintain the Trust in the United Front" by a Delaware prisoner. Legion is United Struggle from Within (USW). Legion used to be ranking general in a Damu organization here in California. Then life happened and Legion began to question the line. After consulting his peoples, Legion decided to become once again a NGE 5%er. In doing so, Legion wound up on a Special Needs Yard (SNY). Never ever snitching on any former comrade from the lumpen organization (LO) he was representing.
Legion first began re-educating deaf, dumb and blind members of the Black Nation by giving them the knowledge of themselves, then using United Front for Peace in Prison (UFPP) via ULK and other publications to show and prove to these young Gods the reality of the material conditions we are living in.
In the article mentioned above, a Delaware prisoner is worried about a rapist or a snitch when this comrade is compromised. This comrade is using the state-issued labels to disenfranchise potential comrades. This comrade must not know how to turn base metal into gold. Every persyn we built with has become a valuable asset to the movement.
You can't have a united front without having every class of inmate represented because in California, SNY is a reality not a myth [having grown to one third of the prison population - ULK Editor]. And some counties are requiring gang members to PC up in county jail to get plea bargains without snitching. There are entire Aztlán hoods SNY because they refuse to pay taxes to the mob.
As for the "snitch," I know known snitches who are walking on GP yards and are protected by policy put in place in the 90s by these pigs to "keep the peace on yards." And I know some real revolutionaries, who, because of a Delaware prisoner's line of thinking, had to tap out because of unrealistic politics.
Legion is fed up with PC politics on both sides of the fence. There are so-called leaders who are further dehumanizing victims of U.$. imperialism by not letting people prove why they should be in good standing on the line. Being GP don't make you active! If you were put in a cross this is for you. If you kept quiet and wound up SNY this is for you.
Legion demands a recall of all "leaders" of New Afrikan movements who adopted white supremacist politics instead of self-determination. Hugo "Yogi" Pinell (Rest in Paradise) demanded his right to walk the line head held high because he was innocent of his controlling charge. There are a number of revolutionaries who caught cases and were accused of rape/molestation/murder/trafficking/domestic violence, etc. Yet, some woke up because of such maneuvers and became stalwarts of the movement. It is part of the setup!
Comrades can be re-educated and most take up revolutionary politics because they become aware of the injustice system that pits self against self, fast against slow, wealth against poverty, and male against female. We have to take a real scientific look at the reality of one's incarceration before we discard a 'rad as no good. Let the measuring stick be his/her/its actions now vs. what a greenwall/pig say. We can't limit our resources because a few feel superior over a group of misguided revolutionaries; that's class warfare within the prisoner class, which represents a contradiction in need of resolution.
What if a person was witness to some foul shit and the DA/Judge/PD and public pretender tried to coerce a solid kat to testify on his brother at arms but he stayed silent? Took a deal that even though evidence suggested otherwise, he had to take a deal to secure his release because a jury of 12 would have killed him off. When told on, he stayed solid. When framed — solid. When forced to be SNY — solid. How does that make sense?
California Department of Corrections (CDC) is rolling back archaic policy that says you foul for XYZ. Why? Because real revolutionaries who have been isolated for years are now running the show again. I hope every Afrikan dig deep to figure out if he/she/it/they are active or just want to go home. In the 5 we are told your square is where you live and where you die. So I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. What I speak is the principal contradiction of convict vs. the system. Class warfare under the most unfavorable conditions.
If you want revolution it's all or none. It takes time, effort and resources to build a revolutionary advocate. Real snitches are free men. Think about that.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Here, Legion echoes what we have been arguing for years about not writing off whole sections of the prison population, such as Special Needs Yards (SNY) in California, which still have a stigma among some comrades. That's not to say that there are not prisoners who have snitched or raped. Both are serious crimes against the people. Snitches, have given us a very good reason not to trust them. But we need to guard against snitch-jacketing, which the enemy will use to divide good comrades. Those who have committed rape and other serious crimes against the people also need to earn our trust and demonstrate an understanding that what they did was wrong. But again we can’t just take the injustice system's labels and convictions at face value.
Society is quick to condemn the oppressed nation lumpen. But being a hot target for the criminal injustice system can lead to making compromises that most Amerikans would never imagine having to make. Organizing the imprisoned lumpen inherently means organizing people who have committed anti-people activities, many very serious. As we say in every issue of ULK, we don't propose letting all prisoners automatically free. Under a future dictatorship of the proletariat all people will be given the opportunity to become productive members of society. We should all see ourselves as reforming criminals in this country. Whether we've been convicted by the imperialists or not, reforming ourselves requires a deep commitment to fighting patriarchy and imperialism.
Having studied for almost 3 years with Maoists such as your organization and others more militant behind enemy lines from every racial group, and in three different hell holes, I have changed my position from Naturalist/Nationalist to Socialist/African Socialism. As a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths I was always unconsciously leaning that direction. What helped me come to my senses was the article, "Approaching Conflict More Scientifically", and the diagram entitled "Strategies to Address Conflict; Don't Bargain Over Positions." (ULK Sept/Oct 2016, No. 52, p.10) As the facilitator of the Gods and Earths weekly civilization classes on this yard I was able to Born many other Gods with the light you sent to me (ULK Jan/Feb 2016, No. 48), now we all are building on socialism in its many forms.
As a soulja who's been on both sides of the prison lines (both mainline & SNY yards) I can see the AEH becoming a reality on any yard where the captive population challenges the 'role playing and behavioral norm' assigned to them under labels and stereotypes as their identity by their oppressors, i.e. the prison institutional workforce. Dr. Phillip Zimbardo explains and defines the psychological forces that create both prisoners' and guards' personas, mentalities and overt behaviors. In his book The Lucifer Effect and his case study entitled the "Stanford Prison Experiment."
Men on the SNY lines can easily see the roles they were forced to breath life into on the main line, prison politrics created and reinforced by the guards. One stark example being 'racially segregated cells.' This is the divide and conquer way of rule and abuse. Created Problem Resolution (CPR) is one of their oldest control tactics. It works by choosing one lumpen group to allow to operate an illegal enterprise, which they themselves later become the supplier and major beneficiary of, while being biased against the other lumpen groups to lesser or greater degree depending on economical incentives or the old racial motivations. SNY lines are more integrated and afford captive populations the opportunity to be united on so many levels unrealized so far. This is a place where the AEH can be realized if only the image of prisoner changes in the minds of those in captivity. Universal cultural education programming is needed. UFPP and AEH principles are being practiced by me and other comrades across racial lines on this yard. Though small now, we are struggling to grow.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Class consciousness is something that Marxists often talk about. For the imprisoned lumpen, understanding how the injustice system works to oppress groups of people, and understanding one's own role in that system is the class consciousness that is necessary to develop for a meaningful prison movement.
Building the Agreement to End Hostilities and the United Front for Peace in Prisons must be a daily activity for comrades in California prisons. This comrade speaks to the many openings that are being created, and to eir own ideological transformation through struggle and study. This is the stage of struggle that we are in, and we hold up as examples comrades like this who are leading the regular educational programs and dialogues on the yard that are necessary to reach higher stages of struggle.
Prisons in California have become one of the most active and organized areas of resistance behind bars in the United $tates. With the second largest prison population in the country, and some of the biggest long-term isolation units, this is perhaps not surprising. Out of this repression and resistance has come some strong organizing efforts over the past few years. And this has also raised contradictions that need to be resolved to advance the struggle. We use this issue of ULK to highlight the contradictions and challenge our comrades in California to think broadly about resolutions.
While SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners are about 6% of the California prison population, they were 35% of our readers according to our reader survey conducted a couple years ago. Special Needs Yards (SNY) are reported to be around 30% of the total population, but were about 40% of our reader responders. So while SHU/Ad-Seg are very over-represented, SNY also seems to be slightly over-represented among our readers. There is a big division between SHU/GP and SNY prisoners with distrust and anger on both sides. But comrades from both sides continue to do solid organizing work. One of the significant developments in Cali is the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH), a United Front that has made important strides forward but is also plagued by these divisions.
It is unlikely anything we do or say will worsen the division between SHU/GP and SNY. Rather than fan the flames, we are airing these grievances as a step towards understanding and eventual reconciliation. We also want to challenge both sides. The revolutionary, anti-imperialist, pro-people forces are tiny in all sectors. Some argue that SNY is in a better position to unite, while others say only GP has potential. So we want to encourage a little friendly competition between the two sides to see who can do more. Practice has already demonstrated the leadership from SHU's ability to mobilize the masses for a progressive cause. But progressive forces on that side must continue to move forward in order to consolidate those gains, or risk them being lost. At the same time SNY comrades claim they gained the freedom to unite and organize with whoever they want, and so they need to use that position to unite others who dropped out. To both sides we say: if you're only seeking a comfortable way to do your time you're not helping advance the struggle and the revolution has no place for you.
We received a number of responses to the article in ULK 50, "[email protected] Power Book Tainted by AEH." One comrade in SNY wrote: "In my point of view it [the Agreement to End Hostilities] contradicts every aspect that they preach. Now everybody who died, who caught a life sentence for the struggle they believed in was all for nothing. Take a second and think about that. There are people who are in prison serving a life sentence for killing an individual who opposed his views and beliefs. Now they expect him to be the best of friends with these same people? How does that make sense?
"Now you guys reading this might say 'He is only saying that because he's SNY.' Well, for 4 years I was active and I have seen both sides of the fence. Not everybody over here is a snitch. There is more unity here than there is on the mainline. You see raza from North and South united where it doesn't matter what part of the state you're from."
Saying that the AEH is hypocritical based on the past goes against the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principle of Growth. We must allow for growth and evolution of individuals and organizations if we want to see unity among the oppressed, because the old way didn't work. There are major contradictions between lumpen organizations (LOs) still, and between different housing units in California. But we see these as contradictions among the people. Which is why we stand behind the AEH, and think those old wounds can heal. It's been four years, and there's still a long way to go. But people are putting in the work, and in some locations we've seen real progress.
We understand the lack of trust that some have for those calling for the AEH in California. But we say to those people, the ones who truly want to end oppression as this comrade does, isn't the AEH a step towards what you want? Even if you don't trust certain individuals, the more we do to promote the spirit of the AEH, as well as the principles of the UFPP, the closer we get to replacing the old order with a new order based on unity of the oppressed.
This response comes from the comrade at Folsom (not SNY) who reported in ULK 50 on the progress of the AEH there, with Raza from north and south playing handball together on the same teams:
"It's a challenge educating people here, attempting to share and explain the current situation and contradiction of ideology, morals, politricks and capital. These factions seem to be following a textbook on capitalism. Yes, we have the AEH, which is a beautiful thing and can be used as a stepping stone for a more productive practice of commune. At the moment people are more concerned on exploiting the twisted habits of others and making their pockets fatter for self-interest. The 'chiefs' preach to confuse, saying that the ideology, morals and capital is framed around serve the people, united we are stronger and all that glitter. But i've not yet seen one cent invested in the people, books, education or basic needs. Too bizzy taxing the fellas for pickles out their store bags.
"Get your back straight my people, the AEH is being tainted by self-interest and is not being maximized to its full potential in a more revolutionary way. Serve the People.
"The great are only great because we are on our knees. If you don't have sycophantic attitudes towards the 'leader' and express your support they don't look great. Put some pressure, maybe then these individuals that abandoned the cause for self-interest can snap out of their pig ideology and step their game up and shape their minds and struggle towards national liberation. Resemble more a revolutionary internationalist and not the imperialist pigs that fucked us all in the first place, Tony Montana wanna-be mofo.
"I will continue to read, educate, practice and liberate regardless of the situation and this September 9 will be no different.”
A comrade in Corcoran (not SNY) is skeptical of the AEH, but echoes the refrain from many in SHU/GP that there can never be unity with SNY:
"The AEH is a godsend to all the souljas who have been held captive in the concrete tombs for 10, 15, 20+ years. The AEH is the tool CDCR is going to try and use to 1) gain more funds to build more prisons, and 2) justify the need for indeterminate SHU sentences. The current shape/mindset of prison and prisoners is not what it was back in the days that the souljas remember it being. This is going to create problems. These newly released souljas are going to be dealing with 18, 19, 20 year olds sentenced to 50, 60, 100 years.
"The AEH is going to create old-school versus new-school. That about sums it up. There's more to it. Like say the both schools are getting along there's also a snake on the police side ready to cause dissension amongst the community. Bottom line, CDCR cannot afford for the AEH to work, so they will see that it doesn't and when it doesn't they'll try to capitalize off its failure.
"They are now selling e-tablets, but only for SNY yards. There's mp3 players only for SNYs. The list goes on. Even with the trades there on SNY yards, the GP level prisoners aren't being afforded an opportunity to utilize programs that would rehabilitate them and better their lives and chances of staying out of prison. The message is clear: if you level four prisoners want to better your life you got to go SNY.
"Oh, there won't ever be a united front between GPs and SNY. You're better off trying to get a united front between convicts and pigz. See how crazy that sounds?! While there are solid souljas on the SNY yard, who became tired of the twisted prison politics. They're far outnumbered by pieces of shit, ie. child molesters, rapists, snitches, cowards, people running from drug debts, etc."
This last point is an important one that requires comment. Yes, prisoners are more likely to unite with pigz than they are with SNY because they are currently led by the criminally-minded. And it's hard to do serious money-making behind bars without working with some criminal pigz. This is a challenge and a contradiction we face trying to organize the First World lumpen. Not only are they criminal-minded, they can often make a fair amount from that crime, even some in prison are happy and prefer that over uniting New Afrika and Aztlán to fight imperialism. This is echoed by the Folsom comrade above.
All of these struggles in the California prisons remind us of how far we have to go, as humynity, to achieve a society where all people can live together in peace, in a society where no group of people has power over any other group. That long-term goal is communism. But to get there we will need to radically change our culture and the education people get from schools and society. Divisions are built into imperialism, people are pitted against each other based on class, nation, and gender generally and more specifically feuds are fostered by the imperialists to pit the oppressed against each other. This culture won't disappear overnight.
We learn from the revolutionary history of China that cultural revolutions will be needed after the oppressed take power, to re-educate everyone and build a truly revolutionary culture and society. It's a long road, and our comrades behind bars in California shouldn't be discouraged by divisions that have been created over many years of capitalist cultural indoctrination. Keep the big picture in mind and build for the revolutionary united front that serves the oppressed of the world.