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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing]
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Entering SNY to Give Up Gang Banging

I am a strong brother who is currently living on a Special Needs Yard (SNY). I am writing this letter in response to several articles about the many individuals who are or who have chosen to live inside of an SNY yard. I know that I am an exception. I have never been in prison before. I have never testified on anybody or been victimized by another human being. I chose to lock it up or become an SNY yard prisoner despite the stigma because of my experiences as a gang banger. I wanted to give up continuously putting myself into danger and stop standing up for a code and structure that served no purpose other than to steal, kill, beat down and destroy myself, my family and my community.

I won't pre-judge those brothers and sisters in the mainline who believe that everyone on SNY is a snitch, a bitch or a tattle tell. But there are a lot of good and bad brothers everywhere who can and may contribute to this cause. We have to figure out a way that we as a people can use our common sense to focus on who our real oppressors are within and beyond these walls.

We need to address our fears and really look deeply into what are we all really fighting for. Is it to end all oppression or to continue allowing ourselves to oppress our people. Whether we are on SNY yards or on mainline yards, prison is prison and oppression is oppression.

I have started work groups and study groups with all types of individuals around me here, something that structures and constant distrust has prevented many of us on the mainline or in society from doing. I came to SNY for better opportunity, a better way for me to do my time positively and productively. Despite the stigma, I think that it is a better environment to begin to work in, and reprogram our minds from our years and years of brainwashing.


MIM(Prisons) adds: There is little question that the expansion of the SNY program in California that has been long debated in the pages of ULK is part of an effort on the part of the CDCR to weaken lumpen organizations. And this is why SNY receives much ire from prisoners of many political persuasions. While they see the expansion as a plague spreading across the prison system, we have not seen any practical antidote to this come from those who consider SNY prisoners to be absolute enemies. The structures are too rigid and are not adapting as the masses begin moving in another direction. Granted this "new direction" is still largely guided by the CDCR itself, but it has a basis in real contradictions within the imprisoned class. We see plenty of people in GP working with the CDCR in anti-people activities and we see people in SNY supporting independent institutions of the oppressed.

The oppressed need organization, with structure, discipline and security. We should work to maintain these aspects of current organization where they exist. But most importantly, we need organizations that serve the people. And this is why we welcome the work of comrades like this one who are bridging gaps and organizing where others are not willing.

MIM(Prisons) position on the SNY debate remains one of looking at each individuals actions around the revolutionary struggle to judge their value to the movement. The larger problems that led to the current levels of SNY populations still need to be addressed by comrades with a common vision in all populations.

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[Campaigns] [Texas]
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Fighting Unjust Grievance Denials in Texas

I just got my issue of ULK24 today. Not sure if it's the one they tried to deny or not. But I got it. I wanted to write to ask about this grievance campaign on page 12. I see Texas listed here, but have not heard of any inter-state attempt to rectify the grievance problems. So, could you please tell me of this and possibly who to contact?

I am struggling to keep our basic rights here. Yet, our prisons have been known to steal grievances (as they did to me last February on a solid case against them), scratch out lines written on step ones, hold step ones for extra time to ensure it's impossible to file a step two, and lastly they grade/investigate step two grievances here instead of sending them up the ladder to Huntsville, as policy says they must.

So I would like to hear more of this Texas campaign. Can you help me gain a better understanding of this and who I need to contact? I'm up for release this year and will take this fight to the outside world with me.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This grievance campaign has been growing since the initiation in California. We now have petitions for seven states, including Texas, which comrades are using to fight unjust grievance systems. Write to us for a copy of a generic petition that you can customize for your state if we don't already have a campaign in your state.

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[Political Repression] [Gang Validation] [California Institution for Men] [California]
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CA Continues to Torture Blacks for Reading

Greetings Comrades. I'm reporting from the Correctional Institution for Men in Chino. The fascist pig COs (correctional officers) are trying to validate a fellow comrade because of books he had in his possession. First they attempted to get him to snitch on who gave him the books. Now Investigative Services Unit (ISU) is holding him in isolation "pending an investigation" accusing him of being a member of the Black Guerilla Family. All behind books he was reading! The books he had were on the Black Panther Party, anarchism, Che Guevara, the Symbionese Liberation Army, etc.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Recent struggles in California have focused on the so-called "gang validation" process used to put people in torture cells for years and even decades. This is just another example that the process is a thinly veiled tool of political repression. While the carrot offered to Blacks in the United $tates has gotten quite tasty for our generation, the state continues to target Blacks who are seeking political education or doing political organizing.

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[Prison Labor] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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Protests in Colorado Win Some Improved Conditions

Fremont Correctional Facility (FCF) was recently supplying labor energies (human cattle) to 2-3 other correctional facilities within the Canon City Industrial Corrections Complex to cook, clean and do maintenance (and previously build) these maximum security facilities, and paying us very low wages. We were driven back and forth daily to maintain these other facilities, which included daily strip-outs and other various degrading experiences.

Due to administrative budget cuts and pressure from passive resistance labor strike movement protestors, FCF prisoners will no longer be forced into working and maintaining those job assignments as of (approximately) 21 February 2012. But, those facilities are opening up for "incentive" living units: single cell occupancy with a TV. Hobby work items such as color pens and pencils are also being added to the monthly catalog canteen and we are no longer in need of special "hobby permits" in order to obtain those items.

On the down side, I was just recently released from "punitive segregation" and am being charged $122 for two bursts of OC [pepper spray] that were sprayed on me and fogged my domicile, and which also saturated an FCF library book, for which the library has charged me $29.95 to replace. I am also being charged for lost and/or destroyed (missing) bed sheets, not accounted for with my personal and private property withheld from me during my wrongful stay in punitive segregation. I was occupying my domicile sanctuary in protest against administrative corruption and for the inalienable rights to vote on all matters concerning my liberty interests.

Also while in punitive segregation I had mailed out many letters to other comrades within the facility and many of those letters were never received and CDOC did not notify me or the addressees of their interception.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These local protests that lead to improvements in conditions for prisoners are a good example of what is possible with greater unity. We stress the importance of building a United Front for Peace in Prisons to expand our ability to fight for legal rights while building a broader movement to educate and organize the prison population for fundamental, revolutionary change that will bring an end to the criminal injustice system in its entirety.

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[Release] [U.S. Imperialism]
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Inspired to Overcome Release Challenges

I just received my ULK24 with the article Overcoming Release Challenges. I have 67 months until I am released. For me education, experience and pain/love for the proletariat is my driving force. Chairman Mao stated about political work "ideological education is the key link to be grasped in uniting the whole party for great political struggles. Unless this is done the party cannot accomplish any of its political tasks." (April 24, 1945) Mao's Little Red Book, The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital Vol 1, and What is to be Done? by Lenin are just a few works that we should be intimate with.

A revolutionary is more than anti-imperialist/anti-establishment. Comrade Ernesto "Che" Guevara said "the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." So if we truly tremble with indignation at every injustice and believe in what we together can change through scientific socialism and faith in MLM then why or how would I choose to not continue once released? We can't depend on the parasitic, sadistic bourgeois.

Now I would like to say that the UnUnited $nakes of Amerikkka is the aggressor toward Iran. History has shown that the U.$. does not invade unless it can capitalize from the invasion. Iran has a hold on the Strait of Hormuz, where a nice percentage of oil comes through.

Further, nuclear bombs currently held by many countries including: U.$.A. 8,500, France 300, Russia 11,000, China 240, U.K. 225 and the imperialists known as the Zionists 80. It's alright for these countries to possess nukes but not Iran. President Obama stated in his State of the Union address, "let there be no doubt, Amerikkka is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal." Rick Santorum in his foreign policy statement said, "first and foremost publicly embrace the opposition and call for regime change." Who's really the threat? Hasta la victoria siempre!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We urge all comrades behind bars to let us know your release date and work with us towards a practical plan for staying active after release. As this prisoner points out, there are many important reasons to continue the fight on the streets, but desire is not enough to ensure your success. It will take hard work and planning, along with a strong dedication, to stay political once you get out of prison. Work with us to put together a release plan when your date is getting close.

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[Censorship] [West Valley Detention Center] [California]
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MIM Notes Package Triggers Threat Assessment

This missive will be brief but informative on the level of state repression being executed by the authorities down here in West Valley Detention Center. It seems that my interest in researching history by receiving your MIM Notes newsletter has rubbed the police the wrong way. On February 16, 2012 I got a visit from a federal agent who wanted to know why I was receiving such information. The agent reveled to me that they were contacted because a package had MIM material inside of it.

Although the package was given to me it was quite unusual in the manner it was presented. Being that it wasn't classified as legal mail, I was called out of my cell and instructed to bring my ID. An officer who did not work in my unit handed over the package after scrutinizing my I.D. The package was open and was obviously inspected. Now none of this I would consider misconduct on their behalf, but suspicious in how they did not give the package to me in the regular way they pass out mail, which is through the unit officers who pass out all books, mags, and first class mail after 8pm count.

The only logical conclusion that I can reach on this matter is that they were making a threat assessment of me which would be considered absurd for receiving a publication that reports on global events. But when looking past the surface of this event, it is quite obvious that our so-called rights to the press and "individual sovereignty" are denied when we are discovering the skeletons in this nation's closet. On that note I will end this missive with a message to the masses: learn the facts of everything, don't let the authorities intimidate you.

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[Organizing] [United Front]
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Uniting to Redefine Gangs as Revolutionaries

Revolutionary - one who takes part in a sudden, radical, or complete change especially the overthrow or renunciation of one ruler or government and substitution of another by the governed.

Gang - a group of persons working or associated together, esp a group of criminals or young delinquents. Also: mob, band, clan, club, crew, pack, ring, team, crowd, horde, posse, circle, clique, outfit, friends, syndicate.

When the word gang comes into play especially by the media (i.e. radio, television and newspaper) why is it always associated with negative energy? We as members of lumpen organizations have effectively allowed ourselves to be boxed into a stereotype of negativity and successfully strayed from our paths as revolutionaries. It seems that we as revolutionaries fighting for an extreme, radical change to and for our environment have allowed ourselves to become radically changed by unseen puppet masters thus detouring us from our way of righteousness.

As members of the lumpen organizations known as Crips and Bloods, we were formed on the heels of the Black power era to override the oppression and destruction of our inner city neighborhoods and take up the baton passed to us by our forefathers to continue this fight for liberation for the people. How have we regressed from a "group of persons working or associated together" for a noble, common cause to a "group of criminals and young delinquents"?! We have allowed ourselves to be labeled "menace to society" by our true enemy (the U.$. government) but instead of refusing that moniker, we have embraced it and fallen into line like cattle to a slow slaughter.

History, true history, clearly shows what is happening: covert government operations, such as the counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO), are infiltrating our ranks and using their art of "divide and rule" to weaken us from the inside out. For all of us still living in darkness; the light of the matter is that this oppressive government tactic is working and has worked for decades! By pitting our respective families against each other, they allow us to set our own limitations on our growth and development. By keeping the lumpen organizations at each others throats, the government can deal with each faction as an individual. This has to change! Only by stifling our generations of feuding can we begin to focus on bigger and better things; only then can we focus on the rebuilding of the urban communities that we have helped tear down.

When J. Edgar Hoover initiated his counterintelligence program, to combat the Black Panthers and other Black nationalists, it was a form of genocide. They threatened to destroy anybody in the Black community who was a leader, anybody! So, they declared war on us 40-45 years ago and that war is still going on right now. That is why those in power are so afraid of our unification, because you can only keep an oppressed person or people down for so long. Then when unification comes, all of us have the same enemy and they can't have that because we become a united body fighting in solidarity with focus, determination and rage against the machine!

For us in the "department of corruption" we are already united in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy, we are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same "plantation" clothing, we are brutalized by the same racist, prejudiced pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set, creed or nationality, we know we need unity but we need a different kind of unity than we have at present. We want to move from unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving towards national independence and liberation.

Crip, Blood, Vice Lord, Gangster Disciple, Latin King, it makes no difference; we are all brothers of the same struggle. The sooner we all overstand this concept the better. We are revolutionaries, but without every individual of every feuding family taking a step for peace, there can be no change. Without change, there can be no revolution.

"Revolution is about change, and the first place where change takes place is within yourself." - Assata Shakur


MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons was initiated in 2011 to bring together those with an interest in revolutionary organizing. This comrade echoes the principle of Unity that is inherent in the shared conditions imprisoned lumpen class.

As this comrade explains, to achieve unity in practice, we must come together and resist the state-sponsored work to undermine that unity. It is not the labels that matter, but rather our actions that will make a real difference. We must judge individuals by their actions, regardless of their affiliation, location, or background.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 25]
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Tossed in Segregation for Grievance

I have spent the last 60 days in the hole for writing an administrative remedy on the superintendent. He turns around and has me placed in segregation and charges me with an offense due to my political activism. I am what they call a trouble maker because I teach others with our knowledge. But that's what I do. I was taught by the old heads to do what I do.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This response to prisoner's fighting for their legal rights against repression is all too common. It is one of the driving forces behind our expanding campaign demanding grievances be addressed. While we organize and educate for broader anti-imperialist change, we can use this campaign to fight for greater freedom to carry out political organizing behind bars. Write to us for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or to help expand the campaign to your state by customizing the generic petition to your local conditions.

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[Gang Validation] [Ironwood State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 26]
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More Targeting of Latinos for Validation

I recently came across your newsletter and found it very interesting. I am in Ironwood State Prison - Administrative Segregation (ISP Ad-Seg). All should be advised that Hispanic prisoners are being targeted by Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) in ISP for validation. Many of us were told to either inform or be validated. Myself and many others are validated on informants alone, and some on cultural drawings alone. It seems the state's agents (Office of Correctional Safety) are rubber-stamping anything submitted by ISP-IGI.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Gang validation is just one of many tactics used by the prisons to divide prisoners and target activists. The threat to inform or be validated is common, and then false information is used to validate those political activists that the prison wants to isolate. This is another example of why MIM(Prisons) says that prison classifications do not define a prisoner's revolutionary potential. Many informants walk in GP freely without anyone knowing what they did while solid activists are falsely validated or retreat to SNY. We must judge our comrades by their actions, not their prison-imposed classification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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