Download and print this flyer to hang or hand out.
We are also asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and activists in Allred to freely communicate. There has been a rise in mail censorship as organizing has progressed.
download PDF below
print 2-sided on cardstock
cut into 4
add $0.40 stamp (or more)
go to event or public space and ask people to sign their name, city and state
explain the Junteenth Freedom Initiative to them
hand them a flyer (above) or Under Lock & Key
ask for a donation to pay for postage & printing
drop postcards in mail box (don’t mail them all at once we want a consistent stream of cards coming in)
Within the prison movement there is much talk about ‘political education’ and ‘raising consciousness’. Truthfully, even when We reflect on recent and distant episodes in Our collective struggles against the bourgeoisie, many of us often lament upon the fact that a key ingredient that has always been lacking from Our movements, parties, organizations, and the unorganized masses, is the lack of a systemic and organized framework to political education. Assata Shakur expressed her criticism of the Black Panther Party for the same reason. Veterans of the [email protected] movement i’ve spoke with have expressed the same criticisms, stating that had more deliberate, organized approaches been given back in the days it may have progressively altered the cultural nationalist tendencies of the movement towards a revolutionary nationalist praxis. Yet and still, today We’re still stressing, and rightly so, the paramount importance of political education. However, the question has become, must become, what is political education, how do we apply it, and why is it so important?
Political education takes many forms, and phases, and the correct application of it, or what is paramount for a persyn to know is dependent upon the conditions one finds themselves in. Thus i begin with Fanon,
“It is commonly thought with criminal flippancy that to politicize the masses means from time to time haranguing them with a major political speech…But political education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world…To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone.” (1)
Now as i was saying conditions will determine quite alot. So it is the line of USW, and many others, that amerika is a settler-neo colonial imperialist empire, and as such holds actual nations of people subjugated, meaning their/our self-development is thwarted, within its borders as well as in the Third World.
Hystory indicated that this line is right and exact. When We recall the process of how amerika was established we understand that it (nation of euro amerikan settlers) settled upon this land, removed, and committed genocide against the native nations of people, some of which are still among us today. So those (the indigenous) are just one group of nations within the borders of amerika, which We call the First Nations. Of course We all know about the forced migration of millions of Africans, and We know they underwent slavery at the hands of those same settlers, as did some Natives. What We often fail to analyze is that slavery, is only an economic system, it is a mode of producing social value, however, to describe the plight of the African people in amerika by mere economic lingo alone is highly insufficient. What is the term that would encapsulate the experience of the economic exploitation, social and political repression that the African people in amerika eventually triumphed over? Slavery? No, servitude? No. That one word which encapsulates that struggle is COLONIALISM.
Well, what the heck is colonialism? Quoting from the Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary;
Colonialism - foreign domination of a country or a people, where the economic, political and military structure is controlled and run by the occupying force. (2)
So African people residing in the United $tates are not merely the offspring of enslaved people, but a colonized people, and because of that diametrically opposed nature of a colonized people to its colonizer, the African people residing in amerika developed organically into a nation, that is a people distinct from the settler by its culture, its language, its land, and thus We call this nation today New Afrika, but others call it Black Amerika, or Black nation, or a host of other titles. No matter the title New Afrikan people are deep down aware that they’re distinct and separate, but the reality of a nation within an empire doesn’t register to some, to most, after a substantial time frame of this reality being obscured from the public consciousness.
Having roots in, but eventually developing distinct from the First Nations, there is the [email protected], and Puerto Rican nations/colonies. Overtime all these domestic colonies subjugated by the settler amerikan empire have developed thru struggle, and have reached a new and different phase of colonialism, called neo-colonialism, which can be characterized by the power structure now formally allowing representatives of these oppressed peoples to integrate into the economic, political and military structures, and in many ways act as a buffer between the ruling class and the masses of neo-colonized people.
This brings me back to Our discussion on organizing, and political education. See, depending on what We organizing for, one will require different political understanding. Fanon says,
“A political informed [person in a colonial situation] is someone who knows that a local dispute is not a crucial confrontation between [them] and [the system]”
“It is the repeated demonstrations for their rights and the repeated labor disputes that politicize the masses.” (3)
So basically what Frantz Fanon is saying here is that first one must understand they are indeed colonized, and this understanding disallows them from settling for any ol’ concession that can come from a ‘local dispute’. And here when he says local, We can put it in Our immediate context and understand it to mean, ‘prison struggles’.
What does this mean? It essentially means that We utilize, and in fact manufacture these ‘repeated demonstrations for their/our rights’ as a means to politicize the masses. However, if We are organizing the masses utilizing such demonstration alone We run into a few pitfalls. The one which i’ll deal with here can be understood by the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for you just might get it.” So in Our context, in the prison movement, what happens to the momentum of the masses, of the people as a whole if We as organizers manufacture a or a few demonstrations and the administration actually concedes? If the masses don’t understand the complexity of Our situation, that We’re colonized, dehumanized, an alienated sub-class, the dregs of the society, and that not only must these realities change, We must change within Ourselves, and We must take part in changing these realities, then the masses the people will quit the struggle after what they’ve perceived to be success, and they’ll resume their normal ways of existence. This pattern is counter-productive to the cause of revolution. We must at all times possible keep the masses active, and that activity pertaining to the struggle. Fanon said, “The colonized subject is at constant risk of being disarmed by any sort of concession.”(4)
So an understanding of what Our issues are, colonialism, neo-colonialism or racism, or individual wrong decision making, will determine the strategies and tactics We take moving forward. If We begin Our study of literature proceeding from the perspective that We’re colonized nations of people, We study how anti-colonial struggles have developed, failed and triumphed around the world. Furthermore We realize that unless an action fundamentally eradicates Our colonial existence than it is only a reform and does not solve Our fundamental problem(s) which stem from Our thwarted development under neo-colonialism. Thus We don’t even seek certain reforms, or concessions, and the ones We do are to advance Our strategic goal.
The question now becomes again HOW to maintain the masses attention before, during, and after demonstrations? The answer leads us to ORGANIZATION. Those who have a study level of political vision must take the initiative in forming real organized organizations. Within these organizations leaders should allow for activities to be carried out by the rank & file and must be sure that activities assigned to a comrade are in alignment with the talents, interests, and abilities of said comrade. In this way one keeps the masses involved and engaged. If able weekly or bi-weekly meetings should be established. Minutes should be kept of the meetings, meaning, write down what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, what are the plans going forward, etc. At said meetings each comrade should have a progress report, which entails what they’ve been doing since the previous meeting.
If a comrade can draw, they should be assigned something to draw. If a comrade can write, they should be assigned something to write. If a comrade has a typewrite they should be tasked with typing up the documents of the group. In fact it is good to take up one project that the entire collective can attribute to. Say a pamphlet, of course you need writers, We need art work, and We’ll need a typist, We’ll need some donations of stamps to circulate it to publishers, and in this way every one not only feels involved, but more importantly feels that immeasurable feeling of accomplishment. In understanding the complexities of Our class (lumpen) We must understand a lot of us have not accomplished much of anything in the way of real world accomplishments. A lot of us have been caged, stagnated in a state of arrested development, since Our pre-teen and teen years, and thus are persynally under-developed in many ways. This feeling of accomplishment motivates and inspires one to continue to chase that good feeling, and particularly when the feeling is derived from doing something productive, it overtime alters a persyn internally, and this is what We, as revolutionaries especially within the lumpen class want most.
Organizations in their many varieties are the vehicles of the people and their struggle. Vanguard elements must seek to organize all aspects of the people’s struggle, all aspects of the people’s lives under their leadership and influence. This doesn’t mean everyone has to or will be a member of a particular leading organizational body. What it means is that organization must make itself seen & heard & felt in each aspect of the people’s lives. The musician they listen to should be expressing some theme derived from the organization. The farmer should have the organization’s line on collectivizing agriculture and land. The prisoner and their family should know that the prisoner, if deemed capable can/will have a place of refuge, work, and re-humanization with the organization. The womyn must know she has a group trustworthy and capable to care for her kids collectively, and ensure her access to safe abortion if necessary. Those in the LGBTQ community must feel at one with the organization, enabled and empowered.
In a nutshell the proper organization will galvanize the popular masses of the people, educating and organizing the most capable from every and all sectors, and from there synthesize the aspirations, and ambitions of the people’s struggle with practical and concrete measures to realize these objectives.
With the formation of Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., the Texas USW re-branded, We have formed the vehicle for the Texas prisoner’s struggle. We have thus far established multiple wings which can/will be used to activate the stored away genius of the masses. We have the legal wing for those writ-writing jailhouse lawyers, a space for like minded cats to put their heads together to attack certain aspects of the system that can help us better build the movement. We have established, in its early stages, a wimmins & LGBTQ wing, which is again an avenue for certain people to step up and utilize what they already know how to do, in concert with the rest of the organized body to get what We want. We’ve established the Worker’s wing a lane where people around the state can collectively struggle for worker’s rights, and incorporate those struggles with the others and in combination gain bigger gains…We’ve established and/or influenced the establishment of numerous committees with the members therein playing roles in the ‘wings’ mentioned above. In all this We’ve done well in applying lessons learned from MIM(Prisons), and some of Our own experiences, thus synthesizing theory & practice.
It must be said however that We have made many mistakes. We began organizing as Fanon said, around demonstrations. We learned in practice, some of us without ever having read Fanon, that the masses, and Ourselves could easily get complacent after concessions are made. The mistake came by not initially focusing on ideo-theoretical questions. We had to learn that the truth of the matter that prior to any organization the people in question must sit down and individually intake information, after a certain amount of information has been accumulated they must come together and discuss their findings and thoughts, establish their points of unity, modes of organization, and other such matters. Of course this isn’t to say that all organizations come together like this. Many take on a more spontaneous approach to development and this approach is observed in their style of work.
The re-occurring theme will always be political education, the need for it will never cease, and the need to bring all the people to an active level of consciousness, that is a level where they can be/are active in the struggle.
In Our campaign to end RHU, it was selectively chosen for a multitude of reasons. One of which is to show & prove We can shut it down if & when We organize Ourselves and the people correctly. Because of conditions that prevail in long-term isolation, many of the most radical and politically astute people are in or have been in long-term isolation, if We could multiply those types of elements, and then get them out on the pop city We can make conditions more conductive to politicizing more and more prisoners sending more and more of these to the outside. To illustrate the contradiction that despite the various levels of illegality present within the solitary confinement apparatus, it still continues, and yet We’re the so-called criminals. There is of course the fact that if We can eliminate the punitive answer for dissent then We leave the enemy with little recourse once Our collective resistance picks up. In this way We take a tool out of their tool kit. However, the underlying goal is simply to shut seg down, what if they just capitulated and gave us what We wanted? What becomes of the struggle then? IF that was Our actual GOAL and not a MEANS TO AN END, then Our entire struggle would have been defeated, at least temporarily, not by bullets, or bombs, but by sugar-coated bullets, by concessions, by reforms, which weaken the intensity of contradictions rather than increase them. Mastering this delicate balance will determine the successes and failures of Our organizing methods.
“At first disconcerted, they then realize the need to explain and ensure the colonized’s consciousness does not get bogged down. In the meantime the war goes on, the enemy organizes itself, gathers strength and preempts the strategy of the colonized. The struggle for national liberation is not a question of bridging the gap in one giant stride. The epic is played out on a difficult, day-to-day basis and the suffering endured far exceeds that of the colonial period. Down in the towns the colonists have apparently changed. Our people are happier. They are respected. A daily routine sets in, and the colonized engaged in struggle, the people who must continue to give it their support, cannot afford to give in. They must not think the objective has already been achieved. When the actual objectives of the struggle are described, they must not think they are impossible. Once again, clarification is needed and the people have to realize where they are going and how to get there. The war is not one battle but a succession of local struggles, none of which, in fact, is decisive.” (5)
An Ongoing Discussion
We’ve picked this discussion back up, as some of us felt that somethings were still left unsaid or unclear.
We’ve articulated previously that one’s method to organization is logically dependent upon one’s goals, and also one’s circumstances or conditions. It is Our view that the conditions and circumstances being what they currently are in North amerika, the lumpen-prisoner class is a highly dynamic entity. This class, Our class is also a vacillating class, meaning its members can be like see-saws, moving from one side (revolutionary) to another (reactionary) as their emotions and whims take them. However, We assert that the other classes of North amerika have become so bourgeoisified that the social vehicles for social revolution are so slim to none that the last objectively repressed class in amerika, the class that still has little to no stake in the bourgeois democracy, is the lumpen.
We’ve reached this conclusion by analyzing the social forces and classes within North amerikan society. Observing their material benefits of being cozied up to their bourgeoisie. We’ve observed how and why social movements only advance so far, being largely unwilling, or sometimes unable to carry the struggle to higher levels, due to a certain level of comfort in the status quo. And We logically look to Our own class and see that these factors, though still present are vastly diminished. Therefore, arriving at this class analysis We say that it is most conductive to Our goal of social revolution to invest time and resources into the lumpen in order to politicize them, and that investment should be in proportion to the classes potential to lean towards a revolutionary line and practice.
Now We reach the basic question, how do we maximize the dynamic potential of this vacillating lumpen class? How do We ensure that the majority of lumpen are progressive, neutral, or all the way revolutionary and not objective enemies of the people? The answer again points to ORGANIZATION. The only way to maximize the people’s initiative in general and the lumpen in particular is to formulate them into tightly organized units/groups. The lumpen struggle is a class struggle, and thus We must organize the First World Lumpen on a class basis.
What does this mean, what does this look like? What is a class? There is often mention of the prisoner class, or a particular class of prisoners. However, very rarely do comrades utilize class in a Communist framework.
A ‘Class’ 1) shares a common position in their relation to the means of production; common economic conditions, relative to their labor and appropriation of the social surplus; 2) that they must share a separate way of life and cultural existence; 3) that they must share a set of interests which are antagonistic to other classes; 4) that they must share a set of social relations,;i.e. a sense of unity which extends beyond local boundaries, and constitutes a national bond; 5) that they must share a corresponding collective consciousness of themselves as a ‘class’, and; 6) they must create their own political organizations, and pursue their interests as a ‘class’ (6)
We must also clarify that Marx differentiated between a ‘class in itself’ and a ‘class for itself’. The difference between the two can be summarized by saying that a class in itself simply shares a common economic position but lacks the other listed criteria. Whereas a class for itself is an entity fully organized and meeting all listed criteria.
Therefore, what We are saying here is that We must organize in a manner that will bring the lumpen from the level of class in itself, to the elevated level of a class for itself. Our organization should be modeled in a way to obtain the collective mobility, ingenuity, and potential of the lumpen as a whole. We must ‘nationalize’ these structures, meaning expand them state-to-state, with each one developing its own relative strength locally.
The next question is how do We get there? How do we reach this point of mass participation and organization? We’ll quote Fanon here:
“The duty of a leadership is to have the masses on their side. Any commitment, however, presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission to be accomplished, in short a rational analysis, no matter how embryonic.” (7)
Here he stresses the basic conscious political education of the people. We continue:
“The people should not be mesmerized, swayed by emotion or confusion. Only [under-developed people] led by a revolutionary elite emanating from the people can today empower the masses to step out onto the stage of history.” (8)
I’ve put the above in bold to illuminate certain mistakes We often make. We often capitulate to the weaknesses of the masses in Our good intended desire to win them over. One of the weaknesses of this sort is the masses never-ending desire to be entertained. This desire almost always precedes from a desire to escape reality, and when done too much establishes a state of complacency with oppression and exploitation and undermines revolutionary or productive/progressive activity. When We reach out to the masses We often make the mistake of trying to move them into immediate action with a fiery speech, with the showing of the video of the latest police killing, or whatever We believe may move them. Although We have good intentions this method has hystorically proven inadequate for carrying out revolution. Instead, because it relies on emotions, which fluctuate, the activity it renders, if it renders activity at all, is necessarily fluctuating, and vacillating.
We can see this in real time if We observe the ebbs and flows of social movements in North amerika. George Floyd’s taped murder shook people emotionally. It awakened pent up anger and frustration from many sectors. People took that, and nothing else, no political education, no political organization, no political vision, only anger and frustration into their protests, and rebellions, and uprisings. Soon, the only people left in the streets were politicized people. Anarchists, Socialists, Abolitionists, and this sort. The masses however, had long since retreated back into the comforts of their amerikan life of escape, and leisure, isolating what was then allowed to be percieved as extremist/terrorist elements.
This what Fanon calls the ‘weakness of spontaneity’ showed its face. We must learn from this. In the quote above the ‘under-developed people’ are those masses of North amerikans. They reside in the land of excess, material excess, but the land of political sleep-walkers. These are the people Fanon says must be led by a REVOLUTIONARY elite. Now what does he mean by this? Because of the under-developed state of the people’s sociopolitical consciousness, those cadre elements who’ve struggled to grasp the complex concepts of political-economy, and revolutionary theory, although not desiring to be perceived as an elite, meaning above the rest, they actually do represent a higher stage of development, and in that context ONLY are they ‘elite’. The key phrase of the quote is the necessity that these ‘elite’ emanate from the people, meaning they must be one of their own, or perceived as such. The cadre-organizer must take care to balance its level of understanding with the level of the masses. There will be a contradiction between these masses and the politicized persyn, there should be, but this should not be an antagonistic contradiction. The people should be able to look to you for example, not look at you in disdain. As one might do to someone who thinks their shit don’t stink. Now we move to exactly HOW does these cadres, EMPOWER THE MASSES,
“…On the condition that We vigorously and decisively reject the formation of a national bourgeoisie, a caste of privileged individuals. To politicize the masses is to make the nation (or class) in its totality a reality for every citizen. To make the experience of the nation (or class) the experience of every citizen.” (9)
“Only the massive commitment by men and wimmin to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.” (10)
“No leader, whatever their worth, can replace the will of the people, and the national government, before concerning itself with international prestige, must first restore dignity to all citizens, furnish their minds, fill their eyes with human things and develop a human landscape for the sake of its enlightened and sovereign inhabitants.” (11)
It is Our intention as USW leaders in Texas, as Tx T.E.A.M.O.N.E. cadre, to have Our organization act as a vehicle to organize and mobilize and educate the masses of lumpen in North amerika. We hope you will be inspired to join us.
1) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.138, chapt.3
2) Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary, pg.4
3) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.63 chapt.2
4) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
5) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
6) see; Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire; also Karl Marx, The Holy Family;also, Meditations On Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, James Yaki Sayles, pg. 286
7) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.140, chapt.3
I am the same “Xinachtli” mentioned by my beloved comrade Triumphant of Texas T.E.A.M. O.N.E. at page 8 of your MIM newsletter, Under Lock & Key No. 76, Winter 2022.
The prison assigns me to psychiatric-ward-like cellblocks, filled with prisoners under ‘psychotropic medications’ so removed from these realities that one cannot engage them in a rational conversation much less get them involved in the Texas Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement. Other times, they place me in the middle of viper nests of racist, white supremacist inmates. In any event, I continue the struggle as a “one man army” continuing to expose the realities of these racist, horrendous conditions that violate all norms of human decency and civilized society. This prison is a genocidal one, not only sitting on stolen land, but the majority of its cages are occupied by Black, Chicano, and Native American tribes, the mass incarceration that makes up the entire U.S. prison industrial complex.
We, the ‘prisoner class’, have won many legal victories in our struggle, such as in the Ruiz v. Estelle Litigation, 503 F.Supp. 1265, but conditions continue to be the same in violation of civil and human rights standards and laws. Recently, a Scottish Court in the extradition case of Daniel Magee, refused the government’s petition to extradite Magee to Texas for criminal prosecution for allegedly shooting a security guard in Austin, TX, giving as reasons for its decision to continue the ongoing inhumane conditions existing in Texas prisons that violate international human rights laws and standards. (see article by Keri Blackinger, 17 March 2022, The Marshall Project)
Like Russian imperialist President Putin, the same blood drips from the genocidal claws of U.S. imperialism, in the hidden genocidal, extermination of the Mexicano, Chicano, indigenous tribes during their repeated colonial settler wars of annexation and plunder in the war crimes, crimes against humanity, committed by U.S. colonial, imperialists in 1830 through 1848 and ongoing today along the illegal U.S./Mexico military border. The Ukraine and Chicano masses are victims of a same, genocidal, war criminal governments that seek global domination of the world. We, the oppressed, must turn such imperialist wars into wars against world imperialism, and free all oppressed nations and peoples, to make their own destiny.
Please extend my revolutionary greetings to others in TEAM ONE, especially Comrade Triumphant.
Build the National Prisoners’ United Front!
All Power to the Oppressed!
Free the Occupied Territories of U.S. Southwest Aztlan!
Convert the Ongoing Russian/U.S. Imperialist War in Ukraine Into a War Against Imperialism!
Some of those familiar with Our organization, who’ve read Our Tx TeamOne Primer, and Our other numerous articles, or followed us on Twitter, may ask what is the purpose for this writing. For you would have already known that Texas TeamOne is not a nationality-specific organization.
The articulated reason some have become confused and muddle-headed is because a comrade here decided to initiate campaigns on dates some associate with New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism, and have taken exception to this.
The campaigns in question were initiated on Black August 21st and ended September 9th. The other campaign is one We’re working on now, and have promoted in Under Lock & Key (ULK) which is Our Juneteenth Freedom Initiative.
First let’s look at Black August 2st - September 9th and why We chose that. These two dates are associated with George Jackson’s assassination and the Attica uprising. What were Jackson’s politics? Jackson, at the time of his death was a Communist. Jackson expressed his desire to eradicate ‘racism’ and the necessity to differentiate himself and others as Black, or whatever color. Jackson said “Black, white and Brown are all victims together.” i say this to say that Jackson was more than just a Black man; to see him as such is to showcase one’s own limited perspective. Jackson was and is a paragon for imprisoned people entering the realm of revolutionary ideas and practice, he was a living legend to an entire state prison system, even to those who did not like him. Telling of all this is that on his death date the other prisoners who rose up in defense to smite their enemies, and were charged and came to be known as the: San Quentin Six, some of these comrades were [email protected] Hugo Pinnell, one of this group and also a supposed Black Guerrilla Family member, was Puerto Rican.
So when We take these hystorical facts into account We have a better understanding that August 21st isn’t merely about George Jackson but also solidarity to the death, shown by those comrades that day. Furthermore, August is also the month of the Chicano Moratorium, and is commemorated each year, as [email protected] learn of their hystory of revolutionary struggle around this time.
September 9th, the day of the Attica uprising, is clearly a day of multi-national prisoner solidarity, when New Afrikan, Amerikan and Puerto Rican comrades occupied the prison compound as one body. This is held up as the ultimate example of multi-national unity among prisoners.
In regards to Juneteenth, i believed that in 2022 the connections would be clear to everyone, but apparently not. Apparently some think that only New Afrikans were and are slaves. This is not the case. According to the U.$. constitution all those in prison are slaves. The contradiction is that Juneteenth commemorates a day when slavery was supposed to have ended, and Biden’s regime has made this a federal holiday now, while millions of ‘slaves’ still exist in this kkkountry, and their colors vary like the rainbow. The Juneteenth actions are so set in order to raise the visibility of this flagrant contradiction, a method used to tell the public, to showcase that while most are busy incorporating themselves into amerika INC, We, the lumpen-prisoner class are among the last unincorporated people, or class resident to North America. This is the most basic ideal behind Our Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, but not the only. The J.F.I. consists of three stages, the first mentioned above, is to publicize, the second acts to bring the issue of targeted mass incarceration and its role in the genocide of oppressed nationalities domestic of N. America, to the federal level.
The third stage acts to bring these two issues to the international level. We’ve released a more in depth communique surrounding the J.F.I. Please write in to MIM(prisons) to obtain it and be sure to provide postage via stamps.
In political struggle there are many forms of oppression and exploitation. However, these many can summarily be broken down into three primary forms of oppression, and these are national, class and gender.
In Our quest as people to undermine and ultimately devour this oppression We formulate specific types of organizations and organizational methods that We infer will best allow us to meet Our goals, and do so swiftly. Some organizations are organized around gender, for example, the National Woman’s Organization, while others are organized around nation(al) issues, like the Black Panther Party, NAACP, UNIA, RNA, Black Lives Matter and many many others. And still there are some which organize around issues of class, United Struggle from Within, Socialist Workers Party, Prison Lives Matter, and such organizations are examples here.
After much discussion within the Texas TeamOne organizational body it has come to Our attention that We must make Our position clear on the question of the basic purpose of Our organization. Some within and without the organization seem to assume that Texas TeamOne is a New Afrikan-based organization, and thus is organizing on the question of nation and nationality and this has subsequently alienated some, or at least been an excuse for their inactivity. Therefore, i would like to use this platform to publicly declare that although some in Texas TEAMONE are New Afrikans, We’re not a New Afrikan-based organization. Some of Our comrades are [email protected]/[email protected], but We’re not a [email protected] organization either. Texas TEAMONE is focused upon uniting the prisoner(lumpen) class, as a class statewide, guiding this class in asserting its class interest in a manner aligned with proletarian internationalism, and working within the masses of this class to develop political cadres (professional revolutionaries) to send out to the ‘free world’ to assist in freeing Our peoples. This is Our long-term mission.
So to be clear, what is a ‘class’? Marx didn’t see classes as simply economic groupings. Instead, Marx gives-us indispensable criteria, which could be listed as: 1) that class members must share a common position in their relations to the means of production, i.e., common economic conditions, relative to their labor and the appropriation of the social surplus; 2) that they must share a separate way of life and cultural existence; 3) that they must share a set of interests which are antagonistic to other classes; 4) that they must share a set of social relations, i.e. a sense of unity which extends beyond local boundaries and constitutes a ‘national’ bond: 5) that they must share a corresponding collective consciousness of themselves as a ‘class’ and; 6) they must create their own political organizations, and pursue their interests as a ‘class’.(1)
So while Texas prisoners are ‘naturally’ a ‘class-in-itself’, by meeting the first above criteria alone, We at Texas TeamOne are about leading the charge to make the Texas prisoner class develop into a ‘class-for-itself’, “which will depend on the acquisition and development of the remaining elements. Meaning the group must develop consciousness of itself as a class; create political organizations engage in unified action to oppose and defeat class enemies; begin to build a new society free from all exploitation and oppression and: eliminate all class division”.(2)
Texas prisoners already share a definite and distinct way of life separate from the rest of society’s classes represented in Texas. As many of you already know, despite Our inability to unify strongly in massive numbers, We do have common interests, however We get in Our own way. Numbers four, five, and six are the role Texas TeamOne shall occupy for prisoners in this state, and We will contribute to the countrywide lumpen/ prisoner class organizing being done by USW, and groups like Prison Lives Matter. The key is to build solid cadre state-to-state, then organize these cadres across the country to actualize the mighty reservoir of revolutionary potential that lays dormant behind these walls.
Before i close this out, i would like to express the importance of an in-depth study and comprehension of WORLD hystory. The oppressed nations in the United $tates have an extended hystory of organized unity. Remember Santa Anna? Why did the General call for the war against Anglo-Texan colonizers? Was it not to force them to abolish slavery? Why do people celebrate Cinco De Mayo? When the French, led by Maximillian I, invaded Veracruz, Mexico to re-institute slavery, didn’t the Mexican people fight admirably to repel the French? Didn’t free New Afrikans stand in solidarity with their/ Our Mexican counterparts? Cinco De Mayo was initiated by the Mexican Amerikan Union Army veterans in the SouthWest(Aztlán) to commemorate the Mexican victory over the european invaders who were hell-bent on re-enslaving the people. It was a holiday symbolizing national independence, resistance to imperialism, and the abolition of slavery. What is telling is that the Mexican Amerikan Union was actively fighting in the Amerikan civil war on the anti-slavery side while they called for the Cinco De Mayo celebration.
What’s my point here? In case you’ve missed it, the point is that [email protected], [email protected], Indigenous, and New Afrikan people have been intrinsically connected throughout Our hystory. We would do well to remember this, to not see Our struggles as separate but see them as Our ancestors did. For they always knew that if one allowed an Indian to be colonized, a Mexican would be colonized next. If the African was mired in slavery, the Mexican would be returned to it. Thus their unity was one of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, and international abolition.
As a final note, in recent years, because of the legacy mentioned above surrounding the days of Aug 21st & Sept 9th, comrades within the countrywide prisoners movement have utilized this period of time to mobilize outside support and action, as well as inside. This call has already gone out to mobilize for this year’s ‘Shut ’Em Down’ demonstrations, as they’ve come to be called. This adds to the reason why comrades have chosen those dates, and We hope that this brief piece dissolves any assumptions, myths regarding Our work, and that many others will actively join us in our level of commitment.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We want to acknowledge that a comrade in Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support, the MIM(Prisons)-led organization for outside supporters, also contributed to this confusion by posting an image on social media promoting last year’s hunger strike against RHU in Texas calling for support for “New Afrikans.” Once we noticed this we asked the comrade to change it, which took some days to happen. This is a lesson to the outside supporters of anti-imperialist prison organizers who may not be aware of the sensitivities among the oppressed nations to these questions.
What Team One is experiencing is something MIM(Prisons) has experienced for many years. To an extent it is unavoidable in a country where the oppressed nations are constantly pitted against each other, we will continue to alienate some readers when we support national liberation struggles. But we can be careful in how we do this, be clear on our politics, do our best to promote a diversity of voices and campaigns when they exist, etc. As the definition of United Struggle from Within on p. 2 reads:
“USW won’t champion struggles which are not in the interests of the international proletariat. USW will also not choose one nation’s struggles over other oppressed nations’ struggles.”
As the local representation of USW in Texas, Texas Team One shares this line as they describe above. Likewise, they echo the spirit and line of USW in this statement.
Sources: 1. Meditations On Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, James Yaki Sayles; pg. 286; citing Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire; Karl Marx, The Holy Family. 2. Ibid, pg.287
i am taking the time to write this because i would like the readership to know the truth about what’s been going on recently at the TDCJ Allred unit in regards to COVID-19 and targeted repression of socio-political leaders.
Many of you reading this are already aware of the spike in COVID infections related to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Here at Allred, particularly in the restrictive housing unit, which houses some six hundred plus people in conditions internationally recognized as inhumane, there has been a dangerous and life threatening pattern of administrative negligence in regards to the effort (lack thereof) to quell the spread of this aggressive virus.
Back in August of 2021, captive persyns held on the Allred RHU and other units held a hunger-strike protest. One of the issues raised and forwarded to unit, regional, and state level administrators was, ‘#10- follow all CDC COVID-19 protocols’. Even after people have literally starved themselves, the unit administration still has refused, and neglected to implement, and re-implement basic CDC COVID guidelines.
On January 6th, Comrade Ozomatli, co-founder, and key figure of the TX TeamOne organization, was strategically targeted for harassment, by way of an unlawful search and seizure, and purposely exposed to COVID-19. On the above date Ozomatli was taken from his cell and placed in a holding cage in the building’s main hallway for five hours!
i am not too good with math and measurements, but i know the cage in question is absolutely too small to place a full grown human in for that amount of time. There is no where to relieve ones self, not anywhere to comfort ones self. Regardless, Ozomatli remained in this holding cage while a multitude of agents of repression searched his usual abode. i raise the question, what possibly could they be looking for, and not find if it were there, in such a small space, for such an extended period of time?
To even begin to analyze this question We must first point out that the incident on January 6th was the second such incident targeting this same comrade in the last few months. Previously the only thing confiscated were the comrade’s contact information written down on various papers and inside books. On January 6th, the comrade’s entire cache of persynal property was confiscated, and he would remain property-less for a week.
During this ordeal, Ozomatli was placed in danger, recklessly, of catching COVID-19. Agents of repression who escorted him from and returned him to his cell weren’t following proper COVID guidelines. Afterwards, in the matter of days, a new COVID outbreak ensued on the RHU building, and unsurprisingly the outbreak has been largely centered on the pod which Ozomatli inhabits. When other prisoners on other pods show symptoms they’re re-housed on the same pod as Ozomatli. Furthermore, prisoners are being constantly moved around, leaving and being brought to the unit and thus constantly exposing more and spreading more and more COVID. Daily so-called ‘integrity checks’ are still in operation, along with unnecessary cell extractions, and are also inducing the spread of COVID.
Administrators are refusing to test or even symptom check prisoners, as was done in the mid 2020 days of the pandemic. There’s this untrue belief that the pandemic is over, despite the fact that less than 70% of people (prisoners & guards combined) are vaccinated. An untold number of prisoners have mass filed grievances, but of course appealing to the same source of Our predicament has rendered little to no results.
i would be remiss if i didn’t acknowledge the underlying political undertones of Ozomatli’s being harassed, and also pinpoint other similar patterns adhered to by the unit administration sometimes at the behest of the state level agents of repression.
Ozomatli, as i have said, is a leader with the Texas TeamOne Organization. TeamOne is an organization of politicized prisoners dedicated to politicizing prisoners and consolidating those in TX into a class that can actively struggle for its interests, as well as, and more importantly, reinsert people into the larger society as assets to communities which are all too often neglected in the realms of social, political and economic development.
Ozomatli is an abolitionist, a [email protected], and a leader that leads by example. Thus it goes without saying that Ozomatli’s very existence as a [email protected] revolutionary imprisoned in tekkk$a$‘s gulags, is seen as a threat to the enemy-state and the prison administration, and this is the underlying politics of his harassment. Ozomatli has recently been working with other comrades and formations, independent of his work with TeamOne, in mobilizing a Texas prisoners’ political action committee, it is during the time span of this work in that sphere that the administration has targeted him.
The clearly politically motivated repression tactics, in a supposedly ‘free’ country, do not stop there. i myself have been a constant target for similar tactics of intimidation, and retaliation. i have been ‘sentenced’ essentially to LIFE in TDCJ’s RHU. This repression came on the immediate back of Our collective hunger-strike effort in August (thru September 9th). i was seen in absentia by the State Classification Committee four days later. i was denied release to general population, after having been without any disciplinary incident in over four years time. The reasons given for this miscarriage of justice was that i am staff assaultive, and prone to possess weapons, and the main one, written in large bold letters, was the fact that i am currently serving an unjust sentence of Life Without Parole. The third reason was provided as the main reason for my denial of release. The catch is that i can not, on my own accord, alter my sentence therefore this decision summarily acts to confine me in isolation for the remainder of my sentence (life).
Of course the timing and the fact that these issues have never been previously brought up at these hearings, testifies to the fact that the decision is a retaliatory measure being used to quell the momentum being built up among the captives here and around the state. IT WILL NOT WORK!
Other measures of retaliation such as illegal mail tampering/disappearance are common place. Outgoing letters of even a neutral nature take up to two months to even leave the unit, and incoming mail, including books and other packages have the same waiting time. The former mailroom supervisor was made to resign for ‘undisclosed reasons’, yet mailroom negligence, and deliberate tampering continues even under the watchful eyes of one, Major Murdock, whose been made to keep eyes on mailroom staff.
By no means is this all the repressive tactics utilized by administrators, nor is it only TeamOne affiliates, or political prisoners. For the sake of time however We will hold these slights as a small example. it is important i say that none of this is meant to discourage activism and justified rebellion. In fact the contrary is the intent. i assert here that if more of the captive populace took liberatory ideals and practices more seriously We could actually begin to pose a threat, not only to the prison institution, but the established order as We know it. As George said:
“If we can reach each other through all of this, fences, fear, concrete, steel, barbed wire, guns, the hystory will commend us for a great victory won…” - Soledad Brother
As a sign of solidarity, We call on the public to report the administrative negligence surrounding Allred’s handling of COVID-19 to the following; (prisoners should write complaints regarding their own units):
Dept. of Health & Human Services, region6, regional director Marjorie McColl Petty 1301 Young St. ste#1124 Dallas, Tx 75202 or call 214-767-3301
Also, outside supporters should be sure to make a report to the following:
David Blackwell, regional director-region 5 @ 806-296-4500(ext 400)
In the forthcoming piece We would like to point out the particular inter-connectedness of many of the enemy-states’ recent counter-offensive to Our collective progress. When We speak to ‘progress,’ we’re speaking to the strategic goal of establishing a national prison movement - a revolutionary oriented prison movement. A national revolutionary prison movement that is intrinsically connected with a national revolutionary oriented united front on the outside. In this piece We’ll attempt to illuminate to the reader that recent and present ‘security’ and censorship methods enacted by the enemy-state are indeed counter-offensives and are intrinsically inter-connected both outside and inside.
Any conscious observer will readily concede that in recent years, particularly within the prisons across the empire there has been an increase in censorship tactics. In some cases these methods border on extreme.
For all intents and purposes We can understand that the current prison movement took its first primitive steps forward towards nationalization with the hystoric hunger strikes organized in California from 2011-2013. The underlying blueprint for these actions, the Agreement to End Hostilities, showcased the way forward for many around the empire. Furthermore, and what’s harder to measure, is the amount of inspiration that those actions initiated.
We have a small window into this reality, as it has been recorded that prison officials in other states, by the advent of the third and final strike, began pleading with CDCR to settle the issues the comrades in Califas raised, as they had began dealing with similar unrest in their state’s prisons.
Here it may be necessary to pinpoint that the prison movement as We know it today didn’t begin in 2011. Rather there have been other organizations that have connected the functions of prison to the human rights movement. A notable organization is the Human Rights Coalition led by elder BLA and BPP veteran political prisoner/prisoner of war Russel Maroon Shoatz. [Rest in Power, Shoatz died on 17 December 2021, at age 78, less than 2 months after eir release from prison with cancer.] However, beginning with the Califas hunger strikes there was a substantial qualitative leap forward in both participation and interest, inside and outside countrywide.
Moving forward towards the 2016 National Prison strike; the collective action, along with its subsequent 2018 sequel, did wonders in nationalizing the Prison Human rights movement gaining corporate media attention and subsequently grasping the attention of previously uninterested parties. Some of these parties were prison officials, C.O. unions, police unions, and others intrinsically woven into the criminal injustice apparatus. Others were concerned persyns: a new generation of abolitionists began to spring up, usually deriving from the college campus sector. The spokesperson of the national prison strikes, Sis. Amani Sawari, along with imprisoned activists within key organizations like Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks, Free Alabama Movement, and many in Califas helped bring the key “Ten Demands” of the National Prison strike to the mainstream as these issues began to be debated among presidential candidates throughout 2019 and 2020.
Before We move on it is important to pinpoint here that the Prison Human Rights Movement, has had and continues to have much stratification within its ranks. The first and major stratification point derives from differences in political line surrounding the role of the movement.
Similar to the days of the Civil Rights movement, when the question of ‘non-violence’ was seen by some as a philosophical or theological commitment, while for others it was simply a tactic, one to be discarded if/when it proved un-useful. The current prison movement has many of the same components. While there are many more revolutionary oriented groups/persyns who see the success of the prison movement with the advent of voting rights, or other prison reforms. Instead many of these groups agree that prisons can not be reformed, as it is an intrinsic part of the state apparatus. These groups agree that revolutionary consciousness and commitment are the most meaningful things that can come of the prison movement.
Simultaneously, in recent years there has been an upsurge in radical activity on the outside. Much like in the prison movement there are many youthful combatants, and much decentralized activities. The fact that these movements have risen parallel among each other should not be considered a coincidence, nor should the corresponding and parallel counter-offensives be seen as unrelated coincidences.
As BlackLivesMatter and abolitionist praxis protests arose around the country, particularly in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, reactionary lawmakers (persuaded by reactionary constituents) began implementing new repressive laws to quell protest. Federal lawmakers, led by the Trump-Pence duo led the way and most states followed suit. Such laws, or rather counter-offensives, included making the blocking of traffic, as had been done repeatedly in recent years, a first degree felony. In states like Tekkk$a$ that means that such protests would be punishable with sentences of 5-99 years!
Also, in a move to revamp Black Liberation era counter-offensives, federal legislators (followed by various states) felonized crossing state boundaries to partake in protests. Some students of the movement may recall that this measure was first enacted against Imam Jamil Al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown of SNNC, BPP, and RNA at the apex of the Black Liberation struggle.
These are only a few key examples of the criminalization of radical dissent as it pertains to those on the outside. However, C.O. unions, DOC headquarters, and various reactionaries began their countervailing efforts on radical and revolutionary forces on the inside first.
In the almost immediate aftermath of the 2016 National Prison Strike, DOC’s around the empire all began complaining of the same issue: an illusionary influx of drugs coming through the mail. Reading from the limited research materials i have in my cell, it seems that the counter-offensive attacking prisoner mail under the pretext of a major drug influx began in 2017, and the first states to initiate this offensives were Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Florida. States like Tekkk$a$, initiated a different sort of attack on prisoner correspondence by severely limiting indigent mail in 2015. However, relating to the “influx of drugs” ruse, many other states have since followed suit. Another related component to the attack on prisoner mail is the wide spread switchover to digitized mail services. States have begun denying all physical snail mail and mail that have implemented this repressive tactic have also by and large prevented prisoners from receiving books from “unauthorized” vendors, basically mandating that reading material be sent from a sole approved vendor.
All these measures described above are ‘on trend’ among the various states around the empire, meaning these measures are likely to be making their way to a prison near you. What We’re experiencing now is a proving ground for the state, in which they’ve been observing to see which countervailing measures will stir the masses the most, which ones will survive the initial jailhouse lawyer onslaughts.
Again, it must be understood that the major drug influx cited by (all) these state DOC’s is illusionary. That isn’t to say drugs aren’t in prison, but they’re flowing in the same frequency as prior to 2016 (national prison strike). So why now? Why suddenly the state-to-state focused attack on prisoner correspondence, and the digitizing of mail, only after 2016? The answer points to a New-COINTELPRO type program (NCTP). Part and parcel with this NCTP is the widespread, coordinated countervailing attacks against progressive and revolutionary prisoners. From Califas, Oregon, Nevada to New Mexico, Indiana to Pennsylvania; from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina to Florida, Alabama to Tekkk$a$, dissident prisoners are under attack. These attacks range from down right malicious assaults to poisoning of food/water supplies, from permanent solitary placement to the systemic silencing of these militants. In places like TDCJ’s Allred Unit, which Texas uses to isolate and torture political prisoners and captive journalists. They’ve employed a specialized individual, ex-military/ex-cop, to survey ‘specific inmates’ mail and book deliveries. Is it clear yet?
As the 2020 summer uprisings raged on into the late fall in some areas of the empire the Trump-Pence regime had already began laying the foundation to begin the mass warehousing of political dissidents on the outside utilizing some of the new laws mentioned above. As these protests raged on, political radicals have filled up prisons and jails around the empire. Do you all understand what this could mean for the prison movement?
The last time in movement hystory that We experienced a mass influx of militants and revolutionaries entering the prisons was during the Black Liberation era (late 1960’s into the 1970’s). Atiba Shanna, and the New Afrikan Prisoner’s Organization did a superb job illustrating the effect political prisoners entering the prisons in mass had on the already bubbling prison movement:
"As a result of the repression exercised upon the struggle taking place outside the walls in the late sixties and early seventies, leaders and activists in these struggles were captured and imprisoned. These were the political prisoners and prisoners of war. Their initial imprisonment was a result of consciously motivated political actions.
“The escalation of struggle outside the walls also resulted in a significant increase in the number of politicized prisoners already inside the walls… We can admit that the economic and socio-psychological ties that these politicized prisoners had with the oppressive system were such that they represent the most conscious element among us - the most conscious, that is, of the presently waging undeclared war between themselves and those who rule. Thus, they are the most receptive and responsive to the need to become ‘the people in uniform.’ BUT, their politicization resulted primarily from their being members of oppressed nations!” (1)
The people who are responsible for holding people in cages, and keeping us in cages, are acutely aware of the possible and very likely culture shock that is to overtake U.$. prisons that experience an influx of political radicals. Never forget that in the time frame mentioned above by Comrade Atiba, that the activities of the BLA and other similar formations eventually led to the U.$. moving to build more newer, more ‘secure,’ and high tech prisons designed to keep Our political prisoners and prisoners of war within them, and to prevent anymore political prisoners of war from arising from among the captive populace.
Therefore i concur that We’re currently experiencing such countervailing efforts by the enemy-state so that they may monitor captive militants, their networks and families (with the design to turn them into captive militants themselves) and prevent the rise of a more militant, more ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary national prison movement that is intrinsically inter-woven with a more militant, ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary outside united front.
By this point We hope it is clear that just as the prison movement and the movement on the other side of the walls have a dialectical relationship; the enemies on both sides of the wall also have a dialectical relationship, they also work together to the detriment of Our progress. As more revolutionary oriented comrades advance the national prison movement forward, repression will increase in intensity. We must begin to operate in a way that one’s struggles become all Our struggle. If comrades in one state are being overly repressed We must band together in multiple states, letting the pig power structure know “WE SEE YOU AND WE WON’T STAND FOR IT: 1LOVE 1STRUGGLE!” We must reach such a level of organization and operation, and We are on the cusp of it NOW. I encourage progressive and revolutionary captives to begin dialoging, corresponding, with each other. Seek out the means to do so. We must keep each other abreast to the local happenings from unit to unit, state to state. Comrades that is why publications like Under Lock & Key, San Francisco Bay View, and others are so important. However, We aren’t utilizing these platforms to their greatest extent if We aren’t constantly sending in reports, articles, informing other comrades on what’s happening. And We must also begin to support these institutions more effectively as a whole. I challenge all ULK subscribers to raise at least 10 stamps to mail to MIM(Prisons)! Which state can raise the most funds? TX where ya’ll at!? Those 10 stamps can go a long way towards prisoner organizing and educational efforts.
RE-BUILD TO WIN
1. Notes from a New Afrikan P.O.W. journal #1 by Atiba Shanna
I have to praise my fellow prisoners at the Allred Unit for challenging the injustices that have been happening to all alleged/suspected STG’s. I have been unjustly confirmed as a member of the “Mexican Mafia of Texas” since 1986. But, was suspected prior to that year. And all, because I was one of the few prisoners that got tired of correctional administrators in the 1980’s using some prisoners to conduct their dirty work for them. This is where, I believe, that I became suspected as an STG member. Which is why I have a lot of respect for my fellow prisoners that stood their grounds along with me at the Ferguson Unit in 1983, until I was shipped in 1985.
Back then I was a young person. So fighting was my type of show, my true colors. But now as an older adult I have a different mindset. Don’t get me wrong I can still get my boxing game on, only if I have to defend myself. But now I believe that a pen and paper is mightier than a sword.
This is why I believe that the only way that we’ll end all types of violence or hostile activities is for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division(TDCJ-CID) to be open to “STG” prisoners being released to the general population with unit level agreements between all “STG” members of different groups.
At this moment there are two types of renouncement programs. The first is known as Reg. GRAD for ex-members that enrolled not considering that the form they signed is unconstitutional because those individuals incriminate themselves and probably others. The second renouncement program is called “Population Release - GRAD.” And they have to allegedly incriminate themselves and others, and renounce all gang activities. But, I believe, that if the two types of GRAD groups are combined together that would open up the other STEP DOWN the prison violence by releasing “STG”s with a different kind of mindset. Because the majority of these two GRAD programs at present time are full of young set-minded street gang individuals.
I believe I am being set up by someone in the Unit’s “Security Threat Group Management Office”, with ex-members of different groups that have enjoyed “general population” for decades. They target those who don’t believe in the constitutionality of the now existing renouncement programs due to 2 reasons:
the incrimination of each enrollee and the incrimination of others; and
the “waiver of liability” for the TDCJ-CID
These are two serious violations of the 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 19 of the Texas Constitution.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a familiar story for those of us who were part of the struggles against SHU and validation in California over the last decade. We encourage the comrades in Texas to study the lessons from that struggle and develop proper leadership so that the masses are not led into the same dead ends as they were in California where SHU still exists and the list of STGs was greatly expanded.
Ultimately, making organizations of the oppressed illegal is reflective of the class nature of the state. It is only by replacing the current bourgeois state with a proletarian one that we will see the oppressed allowed a true path to redemption. It is only in a proletarian state that the oppressors and exploiters will be seen as the criminals rather than the poor and struggling. We must keep this goal in mind as we organize for the state to recognize basic bourgeois rights to free speech and association.
There are no rights, only power struggles. The second the oppressed let up as they did in California, the oppressor is there ready to tighten the screws back down. That is why we must build strong, independent organizations and not put all our energy into short-term battles.
In the recent history surrounding Texas prison reform there has been an erasure surrounding the plight of those held captive in solitary confinement as it’s practiced by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s(TDCJ) Restrictive Housing Units(RHU). There are numerous groups and persyns who proclaim that they advocate for the interests of the Texas prisoner class, but their class interests prevents them from aligning themselves with the objective struggles of this prison system’s cast-a-ways in RHU.
Many of these groups whom i’ve had the choice opportunity to dialogue with via correspondence, or have spoken to captive representatives of these groups, have fallen into the keeper’s trap of the ‘violent’ offender as the new boogey man. This line of thought ultimately concedes that those of us trapped in these isolation tombs deserve such conditions, that we’re beyond redemption. Sometimes, such persyns spew the rhetoric that We in solitary are actually well-off, and living a privileged existence. They say, ‘your food is brought to you, your laundry, and everything else’ They assert that all We have to do all day and night is basically chill, and We should be appreciative. Some officers express a form of jealously, that We don’t pay bills, yet have a handful of privileges, and seemingly unlimited downtime.
What people like this do not understand is that solitary confinement as it is practiced via TDCJ’s RHU, is an artificial environment. By artificial this means that it is an unnatural habitat. It is unnatural to relinquish all civil and domestic responsibility from humankind. We must also pose the question as to whether or not such circumstances are productive for the individual or the society? Of course not! Who benefits from the cultivation of a sub-class of people who’re forcefully and entirely dependent upon everyone else in the society, and do not provide any sort of productive function in return? When humans cultivated civilization the world over and social responsibility was entrusted to those of the peer group, these responsibilities were not merely for the betterment of the social cohesiveness, but also for the better and more balanced function of the individual as well. In short, humyns need to be engaged in meaningful and proactive activities in order to function at their highest levels of consciousness.
The conditions of TDCJ’s solitary confinement debilitate rather than rehabilitate thousands of people each day. i’ve spent 8 1/2 of the last ten years in solitary confinement. At no point in this time frame have i ever had the opportunity to take part in any form of organized instruction. i entered these isolation tombs as a politically ignorant cast away. i’ve evolved, and redeemed myself via my own independent efforts, without the interference or assistance of my keepers. Despite the state’s stated mission to have the best interests of the general public at heart, their true motives and intentions for their warehousing of so many prisoners is clear. This class of people who at any time find themselves confined in RHU are intended to be kept in an unending state of dependence and politico-economic alienation. This is even, and especially, after release. It is with this notion that i assert that it is this class of prisoners whom embody ‘paper-citizens’ in amerika, as coined in the ‘New Afrikan Declaration of Independence’.
New Afrikan revolutionary nationalist political prisoner Mutope Duguma articulated one profound statement, ‘Ask yourselves why is it that so many New Afrikans who have a strong political line just happen to be locked up in solitary confinement units. We know they are not terrorists, We know they are not gang members & We know that they are not criminals.’
The organization and movement proactively mobilizing Texas’ captive population is known as Tx TEAMONE. We’re an organization founded for and by the captives themselves, not by opportunistic outside (or inside) elements, but by proletarian conscious prisoners. One of Our main tactics in Our Mission of elevating the socio-political commitment and awareness of Texas’ lumpen class, is the prisoner-led mobilizing for the abolition of solitary confinement as it’s practiced by TDCJ’s RHU.
A Case Study on Why RHU must Go!
Beginning with the general and moving to the particular, a conscious observer can readily notice that around the empire, from state to state, politically active prisoners are being held in the most barbaric, and unthinkably repressive conditions imaginable. Almost invariably these captives are sitting in solitary confinement cells. The few that aren’t are being shipped from state to state, sea to shining sea in a federal effort to ostracize these captives from their political base(s).
Solitary confinement advances the same purpose within each prison facility. A politically active captive’s political base begins with their peers whom are also in captivity. The productive revolutionary behind the walls is the one who’s successful in organizing their peers behind a revolutionary program. (think; Attica; Angola BPP etc) Therefore, the tactical use of solitary confinement to quell revolutionary organizing has been a re-occurring reality in prisons around the world in the imperialists’ task of keeping the masses of people blind, deaf, and dumb to the socio-political truths of Our collective predicament as oppressed nation people in the era of imperialism.
Whether We look to Califas, where revolutionary New Afrikans were kept warehoused in SHU’s, or in Indiana were Bro. Kwame Shakur is being tortured in a SHU, or the domestic exile of Shaka Shakur, or the thousands of unnamed, lower-profiled politically active prisoners, New Afrikan or otherwise, it is clear that long-term and indefinite solitary confinement is being utilized to strategically remove political dissent off the face of the amerikkkan empire.
In tekkk$a$, there is a long hystory of not only warehousing political dissenters, but assassinating them. In June of 2000, innocent death row captive, Shaka Sankofa s/n Garry Graham, was murdered by the state of tekkk$a$. Not only had evidence came out that Shaka was innocent but he, unlike most of death row prisoners or prisoners in general, had become politicized while in captivity. Garry Graham revolutionized his self into Shaka Shakur, a New Afrikan revolutionary. Consequently, tekkk$a$ saw him as better off dead than alive as a freedom fighter. Six years later Shaka’s comrade Derrick Frazier, aka Hasan Shakur, another innocent Black captive whom while on tekk$a$’ death row revolutionized his self into a New Afrikan ‘revolutionary socialist to the 10th power’. He too was subsequently executed on Black August 31st 2006, while serving as both the founder of the Human Rights Coalition-TX chapter, and Minister of Human Rights of the then-named New Afrikan Black Panther Party. Lastly, yet not for lack of more victims, there is the case of Sandra Bland, a New Afrikan womyn and activist who was mysteriously found dead in a tekkk$a$ county jail.
i think it is logical to pose the question that, if the deceased freedom fighters had not been politically active New Afrikans, would they’ve still met the same fate? For We know and it has been substantiated by the recent International Jurist’s verdict, that there has been/is a systemic genocide against New Afrikan, and indigenous people in north amerika. We also know that those who possess a revolutionary orientation are the people’s only hope of defeating this genocide, and of course this reality renders such political prisoners as prone to enemy attack and sabotage.
tekkk$a$ has warehoused and isolated political prisoners in what is now called RHU for decades. Revolutionary [email protected] political prisoner Xinachtli has been in such a predicament for over 20 years. Xinachtli was signaled out for assassination by sheriffs in Brewster County tekkk$a$, for his legal advocacy for a [email protected] death row prisoner who in turn wasn’t killed by the state. Xinachtli defended his self by disarming the pig sent to murder him and for exercising his humyn right to self-defense this comrade has languished in prison for over two decades, most of which in solitary confinement.
Recently officials of tekkk$a$’ prisons have identified Texas TEAMONE cadre as ‘enemy combatants’ and singled key members out for indefinite solitary confinement (for those who weren’t already serving indefinite terms), unprovoked cell raids, in which the only confiscated materials are ones’ outside contact information. Cadre have been victims of harassment by illegally confiscating typewriters of journalist comrades, illegally disappearing mail, and upping the level of publication censorship – specifically that which is politically orientated.
In a recent twist, this writer was recently sentenced to ‘life without parole’ in solitary confinement. After some officials had elected to release Triumphant from solitary, those in the know regarding ey’s political orientation and activity demanded this comrade be retained in such conditions. Even going as far as scratching out the handwriting which stated that Triumphant shall be released. When asked for the reasoning for said continued confinement, officials listed ‘LWOP’. Of course this sentence, placed on Triumphant’s shoulders unjustly, will not remove itself from reality in six months when the next arbitrary hearing is to take place. Therefore, the state has announced that it intends to confine, isolate, and destroy, yet one more New Afrikan political prisoner in order to perpetuate amerikkka’s genocidal campaign against the oppressed nations of the globe.
In case it still is not clear to you. All freedom fighting peoples, those outside and inside, have in their best interest to work with TX TEAMONE as We struggle to politicize tekkk$a$’ captive population, while doing just that We are even more determined and justified in Our quest to abolish long-term and indefinite solitary confinement in TX prisons and prisons around the globe.
Revolutionary salutations to all Texas USW comrades, leaders, supporters, and those reading this wonderful newspaper for the first time. In issue #75 there was some dialogue regarding the BP 3.91 and i would like to speak to some things.
Comrades, as you all read in the last issue, Allred RHU went on hunger strike in protest not only against B.P.-3.91, but also the illegal use of solitary confinement as practiced via RHU, and we also fought for other pressing issues. Due to this action, on September 8th i was pulled off the outside rec yard, and brought to a cage; this cage is very similar to the one illustrated by the comrade in the last issue. Me and another New Afrikan brother were the only two of all the strikers who went through this. After standing in the cage for about 30 mins to an hour I was informed by an inmate worker that “they takin all yo shit.” By this i assumed he meant food/beverage items of which i only possessed empty condiment bottles so I had no worries. Half an hour later, the property officer and a lieutenant come to escort me. They tell me i will have to send property, particularly books, home; i have too many and they may not be given to another prisoner. As they say this i have heated words with the property officer, and have to be escorted by a major and some others. They bring me to the office and outside my property (all of it including state property) is slung everywhere. I’m irate to say the least.
It is at that time that i entered an office with regional director David Blackwell, along with three unit wardens. Here is a brief overview of what was said pertaining to the B.P.-3.91 policy.
So this policy was supposedly pushed for by these “family groups”. He mentioned Texas Inmate Families Association(TIFA) as the main culprit. Supposedly one of the TIFA members has a brother who’s a sex offender(S.O.), and she learned that he was allowed to write pen pals who sent her brother sexually charged letters. Further investigation led the sister in question to observe that he could also view/receive pictures of women as long as the female wasn’t showing her “parts”. This woman was immediately concerned that her brother was not being allowed the proper environment to rehabilitate his behavior, and this is what led to the rule change.
In case you don’t know, every week, like clock work, TIFA and other family groups like the Families for Air Conditioning in TDCJ, have phone/zoom conferences with the executive director and other top personnel. In these conferences these groups are having influence on policy changes and other things that affect us here in prison. The issue is that these groups are not in contact with the masses, which in this case is US, the captives. TIFA has a $25 membership fee yearly, and imprisoned people can join. However, imprisoned voices are a minority, and are/will be over rode by the petty-bourgeois/labor aristocrat elements which dominate this terrain and don’t allow prisoners to practice any level of self-determination. Even worse is that these groups (TIFA in particular) do not even reply to inquiries from prisoners. The pigs mentioned above provided me with their info to contact and begin dialogue. I’ve wrote, I’ve e-mailed, I’ve DM’d, and have gotten no response. This is on trend as we of TX TEAM ONE have repeatedly contacted them in the past during our previous 3 hunger strikes in the last 4 years, not including this year’s. Never have we received any reply. So what does this tell us?
It tells us that the class divide is very profound in the TX prison movement, even on the “left”. It tells us that at this present juncture we can not collaborate with such reformers in any concrete way. Our movement MUST be prisoner-led.
Speaking specifically to the BP-3.91 issue, from observation one can see that these pigs are picking and choosing when/where to enforce this rule. THE RULE DID PASS! Initially we were told that it hadn’t, that’s not the case. Not only did this Director tell us so, but as i scribe this, Allred Unit has been under rolling lock down and the pigs (from what We in RHU are being told) are solely focused on pics, mags, etc. We in RHU haven’t been hit yet. Last week the ACA came to the unit. An audit. The pigs were verbally reprimanded (the wardens were) by ACA personnel for even operating the lockdown/shake down while they are/were still supposed to be under COVID protocol. This is a violation of CDC guidelines, which is one of the things we called attention to during the strike. The ACA demanded the wardens to cease the shake down. They did so for the week the ACA was here, yet today (9 November 2021) We’ve heard that they’ve resumed on the ECB building, and are to be coming here next. U.S. weekly and Cosmopolitan have been denied here.
The legal standing they’re trying to stand on with this move is that if they were to target specifically sex offenders with this rule while not applying it to the masses of the prison population who are not S.O.s then they open themselves up for suit by the S.O.s for discrimination. What it boils down to is We’re gonna have to come together and fight this through litigation. Simple.
We encourage others who are SERIOUS about litigating this issue to contact us. While our writers within TEAM ONE are busy challenging RHU confinement, We can possibly put all Our heads together to formulate a way forward. All those who’ve filed step 1 & 2, and look to move forward towards litigation should reach out to us: Tx TeamOne/ 113 Stockhom, #1A/ Brooklyn, NY 11221
First, on B.P.-391 in Texas, there are units that are fighting this policy, yet here on Connally Unit they are taking and denying everything they can and they are not allowing us to appeal anything. We’ve written a bunch of grievances and they all got returned saying that the issue is not grievable, and when we file step 2’s, they are all getting thrown away. We have no wins here on Connally.
Second, we’ve contacted the TDCJ ombudsman on multiple ranking officers and regular officers. In doing that we are getting retaliated on and harassed. They are cell searching and destroying our property, tearing our pics, denying us our privilege of commissary, rec or day room. We’ve sent multiple grievances on these officers and they never come back. The wardens are letting them retaliate on us and not doing anything about it! The Connally Unit is steadily short staff only on their Fridays and payday. Right now we’re short staffed and when we asked a question about what’s going on, they put us on 23-hour lockdown – for asking a question. They are playing with peoples’ lives and freedoms here on Connally Unit. We can’t grieve officers because they always come back saying “this isn’t grievable.” We’re in a no-win situation here!
MIM(Prisons) responds: If they won’t let you grieve, then it’s time to come together with all who can be united there and get creative. We’ve been fighting the grievance battle for years. It is only a tactic. It will never solve comrades’ problems overall because the rules are only applied when they want them to be.