On August 30, 2012, a day after I mailed a document to the Florida ACLU, Department of Justice, FL Justice Institute, and James Casey of the FBI in Jacksonville FL, concerning pigs beating and slamming captives to the concrete head first while in handcuffs, I was placed under investigation for conspiracy. This was a response to a thesis I penned and distributed amongst the captive population entitled "Guan Suwannee Mo Bay." Somehow the pigs got a copy of Guan Suwannee Mo Bay and I became public enemy focus. I guess their 21 day investigation revealed that I had not in fact violated any laws, but I was not to be allowed back in to general population. So they started hitting me up with fabricated disciplinary reports to keep me in confinement.
On September 18th, they delivered a DR (disciplinary report) for a violation (I-4) disrespect to Official, fabricated by a classification officer Mr. F.P. Freihofer, who claimed that he was conducting a check of the housing unit when I stopped him and said "y'all got me in here on some bogus shit, when are you crackers going to finish this pussy shit?" Then he said, he ordered me to cease my disrespectful behavior to which I replied, "it's just bullshit to be locked up for no reason." Of course you know I didn't say any of this, doing such would have gotten me lynched (gassed) on the spot. This is just the result of a retaliation campaign to keep me in confinement to stop the spread of Guan Suwannee Mo Bay, my publication amongst the captives.
On September 19th, I received another DR, this one charged me with extortion. The classification officer, Miss Rogers, claimed that I attempted to extort $200 and some winter clothes from my cellie, by writing his mother a letter telling her to send her son $200 and order him some winter clothes. I was just helping my cellie write his mother; he is brand new in the system, missing three fingers on his right hand, and can barely write and spell, so he asked me to write the letter explaining to his mother that he had not been in prison 24 hours and he got beaten by the pigs at RMC, the Reception and Medical Center that is right down the street from his house. The pig who beat him is related to the victim in his case. He also asked me to explain to her how to call DOC, how to use the electronic depositing to send him $200, and how to go online to FL packages and order him winter clothes. I explained to her how she must use his DC # in order for him to receive anything, his DC# was on the letter not mine.
Classification claimed that she received a call from my celly's mother concerned that he was being extorted. Did classification refer the case to the inspector for investigation? No. Did she even simply just ask my cellie (whom by then had left my cell for DC confinement) if I was extorting him? No. And even though my cellie issued a statement in writing that I did not extort him and only gave him help that he requested, they still found me guilty and sentenced me to 90 days.
They are planning to bury me on closed management (CM) instead of cleaning up their Mis-justice, they're trying to cover it up. This is all retaliation for political educating and organizing!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Educating prisoners is one of our principal tasks in the fight against the criminal injustice system. But all too often we face repression and retaliation for this entirely legal work. This retaliation comes in the form of direct physical violence and torture for individual prisoners, and broader censorship for MIM(Prisons) mail and publications. All of this is a form of censoring voices speaking out against the injustice system. We must continue to expose these abuses, and fight for our limited right to speech under capitalism until we can establish a system where speech by the oppressed is valued.
In the past month, I've witnessed more prisoner-on-prisoner assaults than grievances filed on the unjust conditions of confinement here at Bowie County Corruptions Center. One week alone had at least three fights with two resulting in serious injuries that sent prisoners to the hospital.
Often these assaults take place when corruptions officers are not present at their assigned stations. These very officers who neglect their duties are also forced or coerced into writing false infractions with forged and falsified statements that make it appear as if they were on their assigned stations during these altercations. It's a lose-lose situation for the prisoner because the prisoners who receive the injuries are usually coerced into pressing charges against the prisoners who assaulted them.
For example, on 21 September, a prisoner-on-prisoner assault took place which resulted in one prisoner being slightly injured. When the assaulted prisoner demanded that ey be removed from the housing unit, it was discovered that ey was in an altercation. But the officer who was assigned to the station was asked about information concerning the altercation and eir whereabouts, and nothing could be said.
According to the injured prisoner, ey was "jumped" by several prisoners. One of the accused prisoners even confronted corruptions officers asking where was the officer assigned to that station? That officer laughed - knowing that ey was not on eir station. The prisoners were threatened with felony assault charges and later received disciplinary infractions. The prisoners were even found guilty on the infractions after thirteen other prisoners wrote statements for the accused.
There have also been officer-on-prisoner assaults such as one prisoner having his collarbone broken and his hip broken. When the prisoner initiated his 42 USC $1983 Civil Rights Complaint, Ad-Mini-$nake$ (administrators) bribed or attempted to bribe the prisoner by ordering that ey be released from their custody while ey was in the hospital. The prisoner still pursued eir complaint.
The majority of problems here at the Bowie County Corruptions Center generate from falsified infractions that officers write when there exists no officers on their assigned sections, therefore, resulting in a rise of tension amongst prisoners.
Though this practice is common in the corruptions system, we must all stay strong in this struggle together and let these situations and conditions be known to those charged with the responsibility and duties to operate these facilities. If nothing can be done on the administrative level and all remedies have been exhausted, seek relief from the courts and write letters to the media and organizations who may be able to help. Eventually justice shall prevail.
MIM(Prisons) adds: While we agree that eventually justice will prevail, we know that reform tactics such as grievances and court cases will only win temporary or small victories for the oppressed. The criminal injustice system will be willing to adjust its tactics of oppression, but it won't be fundamentally altered through legal battles. We need to undertake these legal battles to win some breathing space from the repression in prison for our comrades, but we can not lose sight of the larger battle against the criminal injustice system overall.
To take on the injustice system more broadly, and end the prisoner-on-prisoner assaults that happen daily, we must take up organizing prisoners for unity and peace. Prisoners ultimately can control prisoner-on-prisoner violence, regardless of what the guards do to encourage it. We must build the United Front for Peace in Prisons to truly end the violence. The first principle of this United Front, Peace, addresses directly the problem this writerr talks about above: "WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
Recently Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Texas enacted a City Ordinance which makes it against the law to feed more than 5 hungry homeless people at a time. Many may remember that mayor Parker made national headlines by becoming the first openly gay/lesbian womyn to be elected mayor to a major u.s. city. One would think that of all people Mayor Parker would be sensitive to the needs of the oppressed and the poor. Of course this mode of thinking is pathetically idealistic and goes against our scientific method for analyzing and solving problems.
I did a concrete analysis of Mayor Parker's actions since she has been in office, and time and time again she has strategically proposed ordinances which promote a "war" on the poor and homeless. Houston is an international imperialist strong hold. The war profiteers Halliburton and Kellog, Brown, and Root have offices in Houston. There are countless oil companies based in Houston. These companies literally rob and exploit the natural resources of many poor and under-developed Third World countries. Mayor Parker is nothing more than an "agent" for these money hungry imperialists. In Mayor Parker's eyes, the poor hungry masses in Houston are an "eyesore" and more importantly, bad for bu$ine$$!
There are many activists who have balked at this new ordinance. They include an incredibly diverse group of individuals. Socialists, Black Panthers, Anarchists, Christians, Right wingers, and Left wingers, the public at large simply does not like this new ordinance. The benevolent "snake" Mayor Parker told the activists that if they could come up with 20,000 signatures of citizens who do not approve of the ordinance she would consider rescinding it. The activists came up with 34,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Mayor Parker and City Council members conspired to sabotage the activist's ability to be heard and acknowledged at a recent city council meeting. A local judge, named Bill Harris determined that the activists submitted their petition too late!
Police terrorism is alive and well in Houston. The homeless who reside downtown are favorite targets of the abusive Houston Police Department officers. The fine for feeding more than 5 homeless people at a time is $2000 and/or jail! People who usually bring food to feed the homeless are afraid.
More than ever we are in dire need of a revolution that overthrows this wicked and corrupt imperialist system that exploits and takes advantage of the "have nots" of society. It is going to take people who are willing to fight and not negotiate with the enemy.
Notes: KPFT Radio 90.1 FM. S.O.S. Radio show with Brother Zinn, 12 September 2012. Facebook.com/KPFT Houston.
Recientes demostraciones en ciudades de Estados Unidos han clamado representar al "99%" que están contra el 1% que son ricos. MIM(prisión) soporta una distribución mas justa de los recursos del mundo. Lo que la mayoría de americanos no comprenden es que la distribución correcta de las riquezas, significa menos para ellos puesto que son parte del 13% de ricos.
En 1970 un acción similar en forma de Ocupar Wall Street (OWS) occurió en contestación al asesinato de estudiantes en la universidad de Kent State. En respuesta un sindicato local irrumpió por las calles atacando a estudiantes, golpeandolos y atacaron oficinas del estado. Refleccionando sobre este evento, un locutor de radio implicó que OWS erá evidencia de progreso, medido por el respaldo sindical que recibió.
Las condiciones materiales de la invasión de Vietnam de U.$. forzó a jóvenes Amerikanos, en ese tiempo, a tomar una posición mas progresiva que la de hoy, colocándolos en oposición a los sindicatos nacionalistas de la raza blanca. Las acciones de OWS están más dentro del mundo del nacionalismo blanco que de la "Batalla de Seattle" en 1999 donde los anarquistas y otras organizaciones, se juntaron con sindicatos en contra la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OWS). No mas los de MIM y J. Sakai reconocieron la reacción del nacionalismo blanco contra OWS estaban directamente dentro el contexto Amerikano. Pero aunqueses los narcisistas tenían una docé saludable de internacionalismo motivandolos para atrás.
El grito principal de la OWS es "defender la clase medida Amerikana." Aunque los anarqistas son atraidos por ese formato, concejos hablados y de consenso abiertos "al público," el contenido es desesperanzadoramente nacionalista blanco. Es el tipo exacto de retórica que escupieron los demócratas de la Europa post-depresión, y que llevó al surgimiento del fascismo en muchos paises.(1) Cuando las naciones privilegiadas del mundo, sintieron sus privilegios amenazasdo, se politicalizaron agúdamente en sus demandas por más. Atacaron a los super-ricos con el fin de crear la ilusión de que eran pobres comparados con ellos. Pero los hechos son obstinados, y los intereses de los Amerikanos los lleváron a gritarle a los super-ricos para que defendieran los empleos Amerikanos y respaldaran las líneas de crédito que habian tomado. Ambas demandas son incompatibles con la lucha por los derechos de los migrantes, que habían estado de moda entre la izquierda blanca nacionalista en años recientes.
MIM siempre ha afirmado que si los países imperialistas fuesen golpeados por verdaderos tiempos duros en la economía, observaríamos un incremento en el fascismo en vez de un interés en el Maoísmo. No decimos esto con el fin de atemorizar y emotivizar, pero con el fin de promover una evaluación realista de las condiciones. Fue la juventud Amerikana quienes pusieron sus cuerpos en la línea, primero en Seattle y ahora en Nueva York y otros lugares. Puesto que tienen décadas de vida por delante, los jóvenes tienen más interés que sus padres en transformar este mundo en uno más justo. Pero para que ellos lo logren, primero deben ver las cosas tal como son y alinearse con las verdaderas fuerzas de cambio progresivo.
Nos aproximamos al quinto aniversario como organización al reunir nuestro Tercer Congreso. Aunque miembros de MIM(Prisiones) - y por supuesto aquellos de USW - han estado en el movimiento de prisiones por mucho mas tiempo, encontramos que esta es una oportunidad apropiada para reflexionar acerca de donde se encuentra el movimiento de prisiones y como se ha desarrollado.
Una serie de huelgas de hambre en California, durante el año 2011, tuvo un gran impacto a lo largo de la nación. Muchos activistas, desde aquellos encubiertos, hasta anarquistas y reformistas, se unieron alrededor de este movimiento y como resultado continuaron enfocándose en el trabajo de prisiones. Mientras nuestros predecesores en MIM habían visto la importancia del movimiento de prisiones desde décadas atrás, su visión ha sido afirmada mucho mas el día de hoy cuando comenzamos a alcanzar una masa crítica de actividad. Es ahora un tópico caliente en el nacionalismo blanco de izquierda, lo cual es significativo puesto que los blancos no son afectados por el sistema de prisiones de una manera tan extensa como para considerarlo un interés legítimo y prioritario.
Este desarrollo gradual ha sido el resultado de dos factores: Una conmoción por fuera de las prisiones debido a los hechos alrededor del sistema de injusticia de los Estados Unidos, y a prisioneros organizándose en el interior de las cárceles; factores en los cuales MIM y USW han estado trabajando diligentemente por décadas. En el año y medio que ha pasado, la organización de los prisioneros alcanzó un momento importante con la huelga de Georgia y las huelgas de hambre de California, las cuales fueron coordinadas a un nivel estatal. Estos eventos fueron particularmente significativos entre los prisioneros, pero al mismo tiempo capturaron la atención de los medios y de la comunidad internacional. Más aun, porque hay una serie de acciones similares que continúan desarrollándose a lo largo del país. (Recientemente en Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, la prisión federal súper máxima ADX, Limon en Colorado y una huelga de hambre adicional en Georgia.)
Entre tanto, el aspecto de conmoción llego a un punto importante con la publicación del libro "The New Jim Crow" (El nuevo Jim Crow), el año pasado. Este libro ha logrado conseguir bastante atención en sectores diferentes del espectro político. Aunque mucha de la promoción le presta atención indebida a las conclusiones tibias del libro, el hecho de que los datos se hayan organizado en un libro hablan por si mismos. Se requiere unas nociones preconcebidas muy arraigadas para leer este libro y atreverse a negar la opresión del sistema de injusticia americano contra las seudo colonias internas. Por lo tanto, pensamos que el efecto general del libro será progresivo y significativo a pesar de sus limitaciones.
Es por estas razones que vemos la necesidad de apoderarnos del momento. Cuando comenzamos hace cinco años tuvimos la gran fortuna de construir sobre el legado de los programas de soporte a los prisioneros, establecidos por MIM. La fundación ideológica de MIM nos permitió enfocar nuestras energías en asuntos mas prácticos, tal como el lanzar una publicación nueva para las prisiones, construir programas de ayuda a camaradas que son liberados, desarrollar cursos por correspondencia de estudios políticos, y lanzar un nuevo sitio de Internet que exhiba información amplia sobre censura, reglas de correo y abusos en las prisiones del país.
Con nuestra infraestructura ya terminada y trabajando correctamente, necesitamos ahora buscar maneras de tomar ventaja inmediata de la conciencia relativamente positiva de los prisioneros y de la atención relativa que la población americana le ha dado al sistema de prisiones. Siempre hemos mantenido que sin prisioneros organizados no hay movimiento de prisiones, es así que tenemos ese objetivo como nuestra prioridad inicial. Estamos tomando pasos para mejorar la estructura de United Struggle from Within (USW), la organización de masas de prisioneros que fue fundada por MIM ye es ahora liderada por MIM(Prisiones). Construyendo sobre las sugerencias de algunos líderes en USW, hemos habilitado un plan para formar asambleas en estados donde hay múltiples células activas de USW. Más adelante explicarémos una organización estructural para nuestro movimiento de manera que los camaradas puedan saber donde pertenecen y como se deben relacionar con otros.
Tal como vimos durante las huelgas en California, cuando la organización se expande, se incrementa la censura al igual que otras medidas represivas. A medida que aumentamos nuestros esfuerzos, debemos esperar que el estado incremente los suyos. Necesitarémos más ayuda que nunca de parte de los voluntarios en el exterior para efectuar trabajo legal y de agitación para mantener al estado leal a sus propias leyes y regulaciones.
Tan grandes como estos retos aparentan ser, sabemos que habrá retos mayores a nivel interno, así como obstáculos que deberémos librar en los próximos años. Las grandes movilizaciones recientes han comenzado a revelar lo que estos retos serán. Hay mucho trabajo por hacer en el identificar, analizar y resolverlas contradicciones dentro de la población de prisiones, que permiten que en las condiciones actuales, el estado dicte como debe una vasta población de personas oprimidas interactuar el uno con el otro, y como deben vivir sus vidas.
El movimiento de prisiones que se estableció previamente a la explosión carcelería de los 1980s fue un producto de las luchas por liberación nacional que ocurrieron en su momento. Hoy, la población de las prisiones es diez veces más grande mientras que el liderazgo político en el exterior es escaso. Las masas encarceladas deben cuidarse del número grande de líderes falsos que desde afuera, como oportunistas, toman a las prisiones como el tópico del día para promover sus agendas políticas, las cuales no le sirven para nada a la gente opresa del mundo. En esta ocasión, los prisioneros necesitan prepararse a jugar un papel importante, lo cual requiere una profunda mirada interior. Debemos no solo aprender del pasado pero construir programas independientes de educación que desarrollen las habilidades de las camaradas de hoy para conducir un análisis propio de las condiciones que enfrentan. Encima de esto debemos promover y desarrollar una visión internacionalista para encontrar respuestas y alianzas en las naciones oprimidas alrededor del mundo, así se pueden remover las vendas de los ojos que nos mantienen enfocados exclusivamente en América. No se puede encontrar liberación en el americanismo. El hecho que los americanos han creado un sistema de prisiones que empequeñece todos los demás en la historia humana, es un ejemplo del porque no hay liberación en el americanismo.
Es con un optimismo cauto que aprobamos la siguiente resolución en nuestro último congreso. Pensamos que este plan responde a las propuestas enviadas por algunos líderes de USW. Esperamos que todos ustedes trabajen con nosotros para hacer de el una estructura efectiva.
Resolución del congreso sobre la estructura de USW.
MIM(Prisiones) esta iniciando la creación de asambleas estatales dentro de USW, la organización antiimperialista de los prisioneros. Una asamblea será aprobada cuando existen dos o mas células dentro del estado, las cuales son reconocidas como activas y trabajando bajo el estándar de USW. MIM(Prisiones) servirá como ente de apoyo a estas asambleas con un foque orientado a la organización alrededor de las necesidades de la comunidad prisionera en ese estado. Puesto que el sistema de prisiones de los Estados Unidos esta organizado primordialmente por estado, las asambleas trabajarán de acuerdo a las necesidades especificas y condiciones encontradas en el estado en particular.
En el caso donde las células poseen otras identidades diferentes a USW no se les requerirá que usen ese nombre. Por ejemplo, La Organización Revolucionaria del Orden Negro (Black Order Revolutionary Organization), que se identifica a si misma como un 'Nuevo movimiento africano revolucionario' podrá ser invitada a participar en una asamblea estatal de USW. Aunque USW no favorece las luchas de una nación opresa sobre otras igualmente oprimidas, como movimiento reconocemos la utilidad e importancia de una organización especifica a la nación. En el ambiente de prisiones hay muchas líneas que no se pueden cruzar bajo las condiciones actuales, esto limita la afiliación en un grupo. Mientras estas células exhiban un internacionalismo y antiimperialismo auténtico, ellas pueden poseer afiliación doble en USW por medio de su unión a la asamblea estatal.
Con esta propuesta estamos expandiendo la estructura de nuestro movimiento. Reconocemos los dos pilares principales de el liderazgo ideológico del movimiento actual: el primero siendo la célula de MIM(Prisiones) y el segundo siendo el grupo de escritores de Under Lock & Key (Bajo Llave), el cual también está compuesto por miembros de USW y dirigido y apoyado por MIM(Prisones).
Las asambleas estatales deberán buscar en estos dos grupos la orientación ideológica necesaria para organizar su trabajo. Esto se encontrará principalmente en las páginas de Under Lock & Key. En contraste, la función principal de las asambleas será el trabajo práctico y directo que sirva a los intereses de la clase encarcelada. Las asambleas servirán para coordinar el trabajo de organización de las células dispersas para que trabajen de una manera más unificada.
MIM(Prisiones) establecerá inmediatamente la asamblea de California, a la que seguirán otras a medida que las condiciones lo permitan.
For the morning meal the mess hall was virtually empty. For the noon meal there were approximately 120 prisoners in attendance. Usually, when they serve baked chicken and rice there are some 360 prisoners in attendance. A lot more prisoners turned out for the evening meal. Overall there was a low attendance for meals.
Next year things will be different and better organized. I'm in the process of obtaining two articles dealing with the Attica rebellion. I'll have copies of the articles run off and give one of each to the entire prison population. This can be accomplished within a year's time.
Being that today is September 9th and a day of solidarity and peace, all sorts of nations (organizations) got together here in the rec yard and had a jailhouse BBQ and lived in peace just for the day here at Cross City, Florida.
I always enjoy the Under Lock and Key. Hopefully one day some of my articles will be published in them. Allow me to extend in your direction a revolutionary embrace and a warrior's salute. I hope for Florida one day to move forward in our prison system. Little by little with the help of the folks at MIM(Prisons).
Today is September 9th, 2012. My comrade (my celly) and I are participating in the mass stoppage of work and fast for our comrades who fell in Attica. Although we are in Ad-Seg we have chosen to sacrifice. No food, no petty stuff, no arguing out the door, only working out four times for 1 hour each time, reading, studying and talking politics. For me fasting is something I do once a month, but today is the first time I've worked out during my fast. My comrade is pushing me and I'm not stopping. From midnight to midnight is how we're moving.
I'm writing this to not only inform you of this movement, but how things are going in these human warehouses here in Missouri. It's still hard to find unity here. No one wants to miss a meal or two to make a stand, but they'll continue to talk about how bad things are. It's not strange.
I want to raise an issue concerning your paper. My comrade who is Black just had your July/August issue of ULK censored. The reason for this censorship was the article about the mass work stoppage on September 9th. I am Caucasian and fully dedicated to the struggle. I have received your July/August issue of ULK. This discrimination towards my comrade is not strange.
My comrade has filed his grievance on this censorship. This state doesn't even want us to learn and that is just one thing wrong with this state. They would rather close down schools and build new prisons.
Greetings. The struggle is long and arduous, and sometimes we do etch out significant victories, as in the case of our brotha in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012).
It's important to emphasize that this victory is a significant step in reaffirming that prisoners are entitled to a measure of First Amendment protection that cannot be ignored simply because the state dislikes the spiel. New Afrikan prisoners have a right to identify with their birthright if they so choose, as does anyone else for that matter — Black, White or Brown. ...
[California prison officials] have gone so far as to boldly proclaim that the term New Afrikan was created by the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) and that those who identify as or use the term are declaring their allegiance to the BGF, which has been declared a prison gang. They have sought to suppress its usage by validating (i.e. designating as a gang member or associate) anyone who uses the term or who dares mention the name George Jackson. ...
Our brotha's case In Re Crawford was filed June 4, 2012, and certified for publication June 13. In a brilliant piece of judicial reasoning, a panel of justices in a 3-0 decision finally reaffirmed a prisoner's First Amendment right to free speech and expression, stating:
Freedom of speech is first among the rights which form the foundation of our free society. "The First Amendment embodies our choice as a nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom — the unfettered interchange of ideas — not whatever the State may view as fair." (Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (2011) 131 S.Ct. 2806). "The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people ... All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests." (Roth v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 476, 484."
The programs embodied in the New Afrikan Collective Think Tank, New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101, the George Jackson University and the New Afrikan ideology itself are inclusive programs emphasizing a solution-based approach to carnage in the poverty stricken slums from where many of us come. The CDCR Prison Intelligence Units (PIU) have sought to suppress these initiatives simply because they do not like the message. They have marched into court after court with one standard line: New Afrikan means BGF and these initiatives are promoting the BGF. In re Crawford continues,
As recently noted by Chief Justice Roberts, "[t]he First Amendment reflects 'a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.' [Citation.] That is because 'speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.' [Citation.] ... Speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection." (Snyder v. Phelps (2011) 562 U.S. _,_ [131 S.Ct. 1207, 1215].
In re Crawford is a very important ruling because the justices said these protections apply to prisoners as well. ...
George Jackson cannot be removed from the fabric of the people's struggles in this society any more than Malcolm X can or Medger Evers or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriett Tubman or Sojourner Truth or Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks or Frederick Douglass, or the countless others who've fought and struggled for a brighter future for generations to come.
What CDCR and its PIU are trying to do is make a run around the First Amendment by shielding its suppression activity under the guise of preventing gang activity, just as it's done historically, which gave rise to Procunier v. Martinez (1974) 416 U.S. 396, 413.
In In re Crawford, CDCR argued for an exception to the Martinez test for validated gang members. The court declined to make such an exception, holding: "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail."
The fact that they even argued for such an exception shows their mindset. Their intentions are to suppress that which they believe to be repugnant, offensive and that which they believe a prisoner ought not be thinking! In their minds we have no right to think or possess ideas, concepts or vision beyond that which they believe we should possess.
Until In Re Crawford, these highly educated judges were sanctioning this nonsense with twisted, perverted rulings permitting a newspaper article or magazine layout or book to be used against a prisoner for validation purposes [to put them in torture cells - editor]. They issued twisted rulings like those in Ellis v. Cambra or Hawkins v. Russell and In Re Furnace, where the petitioner was told he has no right to his thoughts and the First Amendment only protects a prisoner's right to file a 602 [grievance form].
These kinds of fallacious rulings ought to be publicized so as to show the skillful manipulation of the law by those sworn to uphold it. In Re Crawford reestablishes that First Amendment protections apply to prisoners and that we too enjoy a measure of free speech and expression. We ought not be punished with fabricated notions of gang activity for merely a thought!
However, if we are to continue to meet with success, we need our professors, historians and intellectuals to step up and provide declarations that we can use in our litigation, defending our right to read, write and study all aspects of a people's history, like Professor James T. Campbell did in In Re Crawford. This is the only way a prisoner can challenge the opinion of a prison official. ...
Much work remains to be done, like stopping the bogus validations based on legitimate First Amendment material. We know that many individuals are falsely validated simply for reading George's books or a newspaper article, for observing Black August or for simply trying to get in touch with one's cultural identity.
These legitimate expressions should carry no penalty at all. You're not doing anything wrong, and a lot of brothas who've been validated simply shouldn't be. Nor should folks be frightened away from reading or studying any aspect of history simply because the state doesn't like its content. Judges who issue fallacious opinions permitting prisoners to be punished for reading a George Jackson book or researching your history should be exposed.
Literary content and cultural and historical materials are not the activities of a gang; they are political and social activities that we have a right to express, according to the unanimous decision in In re Crawford.
The First Amendment campaign continues to forge ahead, although we still don't have a lawyer. The campaign still exists, and we anticipate even greater successes in the future. ... We've cracked one layer of a thick wall. Now all prisoners should take advantage of this brilliant ruling and reassert your rights to study your heritage, Black, White or Brown.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The issue in this case was one that we have experienced first-hand as well. For example, in 2008 a letter from a comrade in California was censored before it could reach us because it discussed the New Afrikan Collective, which allegedly was a code word for the Black Guerrilla Family.(1) But in reality, the New Afrikan Collective was a new political organization in New York focused on bettering the conditions of New Afrikans as a nation, with no connections to any sort of criminal activity.
The first thing that strikes us about this case is a quote from the proceedings cited by the author above, "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail." Unfortunately this is not part of the final opinion explaining the decision of the court, and it is specific to outgoing mail from the prison. Nonetheless, it would logically follow from this statement that anything that can be connected to a gang is not automatically dangerous or illegal.
"Gang members" have long been the boogeyman of post-integration white Amerika. The pigs use "gang member" as a codeword to excuse the abuse and denial of constitutional rights to oppressed nation youth, particularly New Afrikan men. And this has been institutionalized in more recent years with "gang enhancements," "gang injunctions" and "security threat group" labels that punish people for belonging to lumpen organizations. Often our mail is censored because it mentions the name of a lumpen organization in the context of a peace initiative or organizing for prisoners' humyn rights. While criminal activity is deemed deserving more punishment with the gang label, non-criminal activity is deemed criminal as well.
As the author discusses, it becomes a question of controlling ideas to the extreme, where certain words are not permitted to be spoken or written and certain symbols and colors cannot be displayed. So the quote from the court above is just a baby step in the direction of applying the First Amendment rights of association and expression to oppressed nation youth. Those who are legally inclined should consider how this issue can be pushed further in future battles. Not only is such work important in restoring rights to people, but we can create space for these organizations to build in more positive directions.
Part of this criminalization of a specific sector of society is the use of self-created and perpetuated so-called experts on gang intelligence. Most of our readers are all too familiar with this farce of a profession that is acutely exposed by the court's opinion in this case. The final court opinion calls out CO J. Silveira for claiming that the plaintiff's letter contained an intricate code when he could provide no evidence that this was true. They also call him out for using his "training and experience" as the basis for all his arguments.
The warden's argument is flawed for two reasons. First, the argument is based solely on the unsupported assertions and speculative conclusions in Silveira's declaration. The declaration is incompetent as evidence because it contains no factual allegations supporting those assertions and conclusions. Second, even if the declaration could properly be considered, it does not establish that the letter posed a threat to prison security.
As great as this is, as the author of the article above points out, they usually get away with such baseless claims. More well thought out lawsuits like this are needed, because more favorable case law is needed. But neither alone represents any real victory in a system that exists to maintain the existing social hierarchy. These are just pieces of a long, patient struggle that has been ongoing for generations. The people must exercise the rights won here to make them real. We must popularize and contextualize the nature of this struggle.
I've decided to place my pen to paper and let you know about some reprehensible bullshit the imperial pigs who run this whole prison complex racket are up to and are hoodwinking the public about.
I was reading the June 2012 issue of Prison Legal News, Vol 23, No 6 and I was utterly floored when I read the cover article titled "God's Own Warden." [This article was reprinted from Mother Jones magazine.(1)]
There is a Warden of Angola prison in Louisiana by the name of Burl Cain. This man has a full blown racket going on down there, where he not only exploits inmates with blatant slave labor, but then hides it behind religion, and openly broadcasts his money making exploits.
This imperial pig "pays" inmates 2-20 cents to move the wheels of his little prison industry down there. He's got a "museum," farming fields, a gift shop, and a rodeo arena which seats 10,000 people and draws 70,000 people each spring and fall for "prison rodeos."
At these "rodeos" they have "convict poker," where they put 4 prisoners around a table and tell them to remain seated while a 2000 pound pissed off bull charges at them. In another event they call "guts and glory," they tie a poker chip to the horn of an angry bull. While it hangs from the horn "inmates vie to snatch the poker chip off the horn" while the prisoners run after and are chased by said enraged animal. These events are done for the laughs of the people who've bought themselves tickets to this idiocy.
In 1998 Daniel Bergner wrote a book titled "God of the Rodeo" where he himself researched this rodeo and wrote a book about it, saying that he "observed the reaction of the crowd which was electrified, exhilarated, by the thrill of watching men in terror, all made forgivable because the men were murderers." He then goes on to say "I'm sure some of it was racist (see that nigger move) and some disappointed (that there was no goring) and some uneasy (with that very disappointment)." Then he goes on to say "many people were not laughing, were too bewildered or stunned by what they'd just seen."
And of course this industrial pig has prisoners outside the arena selling arts and crafts, crawfish étouffée and Frito pies. In his "gift shop," he sells miniature handcuffs, prisoner-made jelly, and mugs that read "Angola: a gated community." Then people move on to a display of "Gruesome Gertie" which is dubbed as "the only electric chair in which a prisoner was executed twice." (The first time didn't take because the executioners were "visibly drunk.")(2)
So not only does this imperial pig make money off live inmates, he cashed in on their cruel and unusual deaths as well. But that's still not enough for the deep pockets of this racketeering Warden. He contracts his prison out to Hollywood and "allows" prisoners to be extras, all for a nice fee of course!
Cain gets away with it because he hides it all behind religion and converting prisoners to Christianity. So with his money he tosses up a few plywood walls and roof, calls it a church, and says he's "saving souls."
This is the prison where a trio of prisoners had been locked down in solitary confinement longer than anyone in U.S. history, because they were Black Panther Party members (Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and the now released Robert King). They were put in solitary confinement, and have spent nearly 4 decades there, simply for their political beliefs.
In 2008 Warden Cain had a disposition taken in which Cain says of Woodfox, "He wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant... He is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize young prisoners, I would have me all kinds of problems, more than I could stand, and I would have the blacks chasing after them."(3)
Never mind the fact that these two heroic comrades are in their 60s and have a near perfect record for more than 20 years. Warden Cain says "it's not a matter of write-ups. It's a matter of attitude and what ya are... Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace is [sic] locked in time with that Black Panther revolutionary actions they were doing way back when... and from that there's been no rehabilitation."(3) Warden Cain then "suggested that Wallace and Woodfox could be released into general population if they renounced their political beliefs/views and embraced Jesus."(3)
Cain's policy is if inmates don't attend church services they don't get the good jobs (that pay 2-20 cents), or other goodies, such as a day or two off from plowing and farming his fields, a good meal, special banquets, ice cream, etc.
There should be a public outcry of complete outrage over this shit. This is the very sickening degeneracy which we as communists strive to stomp out. These atrocities going on down in Angola under the skirts of religion piss me off, and only strengthen my resolve to standup and fight these imperial piggies every step of the way. With every breath I take it fills my eyes with only the color of red. In solidarity we stand.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As we've explained in articles on the U.S. prison economy, the exploitation of prison labor by private entities is very limited in scope, with most prison labor contributing to prison maintenance and expenses. In the case of Angola, the farm laborers, making a maximum wage of 20 cents per hour, are actually engaged in productive labor and are likely providing a net surplus value to the prison after factoring in the room and board they are provided. But even in this large, well-organized operation, the income is only an offset to the total costs of keeping these men imprisoned, in particular paying the salaries of guards and administrators.
Those prisoners making jam, and other trinkets for sale outside the rodeo are raising money for Christian organizations.(1) In this case private interests are benefitting financially from coerced labor, but even then there are no capitalist profit interests behind these projects as implied by the myth of the "prison industrial complex." Petty economic interests aside, the bigger story here is the national oppression faced by the 75% Black prisoner population at Angola coerced into supporting Christian organizations and pushed into the rodeo. This is a reprehensible example of treating men like animals and turning social control into a sport for the entertainment of reactionary spectators.