I'm writing to express my concerns for the inhuman treatment being inflicted on these disciplinary-free prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. The conditions there must change because of the nature of the situation. Please allow these people room to have phone calls, send pictures to their loved ones, etc. If we have no respect for the U.S. Constitution how shall I, as a free man one day, respect or honor the rights of others, after witnessing these wrong doings? I'm facing a real challenge when I return to society in September 2011. If we continue to strive to solve problems we must begin in our community and this is one of the largest communities I've ever been a part of and I believe that the strike on July 1, 2011 will begin the process for a collective change as one unity.
I have faith you will resolve the problem.
Sincerely, [a prisoner in California State Prison - Sacramento]
The ULK will be a great help to me and others to promote education, unity, and legitimate struggle among prisoners in my area. This is an ongoing and continuous task/duty that I, and a few others, have accepted. We need informational and motivational materials such as ULK to help enlighten and recruit others.
One recent example of success: the administration at this facility recently turned off all electricity to the wing I'm housed on - a disciplinary type wing - in violation of state policy, and took all personal fans. I managed to get 3 prisoners to file grievances and 6 to sign an affidavit, which I sent to outside agencies. It took 2 months, but last week the electricity was turned back on and fans were returned.
But, of course, my fan wasn't returned because I was moved to a lower level of housing where there isn't even an outlet. This is my next task, getting outlets in all cells. Additionally, these cells now have padlocks on the doors, in violation of state fire safety codes. I'm in the process of recruiting others to act on that issue as well.
Regarding the petitions against corrupt grievance processes noted on page 12 of the ULK, would you please send me several of them? I've been trying to work on that issue - I have documentation that clearly shows the inadequacy of the process - and the petition might be a great help. I will recruit others to send them.
Thanks so much for the ULK and the motivation.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.
Today I received the campaign update and the strike flyer with example letter on back. I'm writing to inform you that I will be lending my support, by sending two letters. One to the Internal Affairs CDCR office, and the other to the Ombudsman.
It is always my pleasure to reach out and re-establish lines of communication. I hope that you all are in the best of God's care. One can never be too sure in this line of work. I'm well, as i get ready for this July 1 2011 hunger strike for the cruel & unusual treatment we prisoners held in solitary confinement have endured. All the same it is an enduring struggle that we must fight in order to change our reality.
I am writing because i need you all to forward me that issue dated in the month of June 2011 called Under Lock & Key, because I did not receive it. So if it's possible that I can get a back issue I would sincerely appreciate it.
Now, I look forward to re-opening the lines of communications because although it's not been my thought that they were cut off we are beginning to track it better, so it's all good sometimes.
Sincerely, a California prisoner
MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer hadn't heard from us in over two years due to censorship in California. But as the hunger strike approached, the staff at Pelican Bay State Prison were on their best behavior. While the strike organizers were already having sit-downs with the Warden's office before the strike began, censorship has eased for the many organizations that struggle to get their mail to those being held there. A month ago, staff claimed to not even know their own policies in attempts to censor our mail. But the prisoners' struggle has already had an impact of loosening their attempts to isolate us from each other.
Engulfed in the day to day war of oppressed against oppressor, sometimes the pressures can be overwhelming, especially in these concentration camps of the united $nakes (prisons). If you're not blind you can clearly see on the faces of our brothers the lack of dignity and the lack of hope. You can hear when they speak, that their spirits have been crushed and ambition has been washed away along with the privilege and rights entitled to them as men at birth.
But why? We have accepted these oppressive conditions, almost embracing them as if they belong to us. We've grown accustomed to the establishment's evil ways and put it off as if nothing can be done about them. In a way we have sold our souls and hope is in constant suffering because of this. Where are the elders? Where is the hope? Did the hope die along with the revolutionaries of the past who were brave enough to protest and take a stand against the establishment, later being assassinated because they did? If so, then the future of the people is in question.
The future of the people is of no success without the hope and bravery of the people now! The future of the people is determined by the immediate actions of the people. There is honestly no more time to waste. Wasted time means wasted lives and enough of our peoples lives have already been taken not just by the hands of the oppressor but by reactionary suicide which of course is because of the oppressor.
Many of us, just like Huey P. Newton in the earlier stages of his life, have been searching. Searching for meaning. The meaning of life. Huey recognized, there is no meaning to life unless there is something to die for. To die for the people is what he later discovered as being his role in life. The people being his meaning for life.
He, along with many others influenced by him, put their lives on the line, for the lives of their people. He knew long after his death, that the conditions of the oppressed will continue unless there was social change. Change in which he set out to make. Not fearing death but accepting it as his fate by the hands of the oppressor, for a new life for his people.
So you may ask, what is your role? If you are a brother like myself, oppressed, exploited, victim of racism, victim of Amerikanism, which we all are, then I say our role is the same as brother Huey's was. Why wouldn't it be? Knowing that these conditions will not change unless we the people oppose the oppressive forces, then what more could our role be in life? What has more meaning to life than pursuing liberty and happiness? If not for thy people then at least for thyself, which would ultimately catapult amongst the people. I see no other role adequate.
But this is where the problem occurs. Many brothers are aware of the oppressive conditions. But yet grown so used to them that they are "normal" within our communities. I assure you that it is not normal. If it was then there wouldn't be classes of society, in which we are in fact the lowest class.
As humans, we are mistreated and unrecognized (along with our social needs). We are underprivileged, we are undereducated, we are underpaid, we are poorly housed and we are under attack by the hands of the government, through forces of oppression caused by capitalism and racism. Yet some feel it is unnecessary to take a stand. I beg to differ, I feel it is a necessity. With no stand, there's no future. We must liberate ourselves.
To die for the people, literally means to be suicidal. This is how Huey came up with the name of his book, Revolutionary Suicide. It is almost impossible to remain alive living as a revolutionary, because revolutionaries are objects of sacrifice for their people.
A revolutionary may not be fortunate to see the revolution since it is not an action but a process. But during their lives they advance the people towards a revolution, probably dying in the process.
Do not mistake revolutionary suicide with reactionary suicide, which is ultimately taking your own life due to the overwhelmingness of oppression or engaging in action caused by your reaction that will also ultimately lead you to death.
History shows us that revolutionaries are often assassinated at the hands of the oppressors they oppose for having influence over the masses, therefore preventing a revolution and or revolutionary advancement (raising people's conscience) etc. I think it is cowardly to see brothers who have been murdered as the sacrifice of my liberty to ignore their cause because of the dangers. We will die, but we will die for our people and that alone gives meaning to our life. Some are born just to die. These people have no meaning of life. Revolutionaries are awoken to die for the cause of bringing meaning to life.
We see that they assassinated MLK. We see that they assassinated Malcolm X. We see that they assassinated Mark Clark, Fred Hampton, Bobby Hutton, attempts on Huey and all because of the brave roles that were necessary for the liberation of the people. I accept my role as a young revolutionary which is why I coined this very phrase "kill me for my people."
I am we is an old saying that our ancestors used when asked "who are you?" "I am we" they would respond. "I, we, all of us are then and the multitude." This is revolutionary suicide.
MIM(Prisons) adds: For more on the Black Panther Party and Huey Newton, check out the Newspaper Archives.
After having the pleasure of reading ULK 20, I would like to opine concerning some of its contents. While I found numerous articles to be informative and inspiring. I really want to focus on the letter entitled SMU Used to Prevent Activism and the subsequent response from MIM(Prisons).
The letter was written by a federal prisoner, and, among other things, he expressed discontent with the fact that many gang members in the BOP who have been subjected to the SMU program have been broken by it and failed to carry out strategies to thwart the oppressive system. Furthermore, most of these gang members are quick to engage one another in physical combat; however, reluctant to attack the real enemy with similar ferociousness. The prisoner then gave a call for "hard-core, guerilla, strategic revolutionary action" aimed at the "pigs."
MIM(Prisons) responded by expressing a disapprobation of the call for "hard-core, guerilla, strategic revolutionary action," saying that, at this time in imperialist countries the conditions are not ripe for armed struggle. This opinion was based on an analysis of history and current conditions.
Though I concede that overall the masses in america may not be ready for armed struggle, I don't believe the class of people that the prisoner pointed out (i.e. gang members in prison) should be discouraged from physically assailing those holding them in captivity. In prison, the oppression that one experiences is a lot more cruel than what people in society endure. And many of the gang members have the potential to formulate the vanguard needed to lead to coup. They already know how to unite, possess warrior spirits, and have displayed defiance toward the government, even if just through criminal behavior.
Keep in mind, we're not talking about the Boy Scouts here. We're talking about some of the most murderous and gladiatorial individuals america has ever created. One way or another, these gang members are going to fight violently. Not only because of their natures, but because the harsh conditions of prison life will cause them to. And I think it best that, rather than continue exterminating each other, they federate and become america's Frankenstein.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We disagree with this writer's assumption that members of lumpen organizations are violent by "nature." It is the imperialist system that forces the oppressed into organizations for self-defense and preservation. People's "nature" is not innate, it is created by their environment. And even imperialists can sometimes be retrained and become useful servants of the revolution. So we should not assume that members of lumpen organizations will always have to be violent and must channel this violence somewhere. We should give these comrades more credit and instead help them learn how to channel violent inclinations into productive avenues to fight their real enemies in the criminal injustice system and the imperialist government.
Even in a country where there is no proletariat, we should uphold the principles of People's War. Spurts of anger leading to violence against the pigs does nothing more to liberate humynity than killing another thug. We need to build understanding and support for proletarian struggle in the broadest ways that we can. If we do not win the hearts and minds of these "gladiators" then they will just as quickly be used by the state against us.
Below is an excerpt of a letter that was sent along with a resource packet to the Pelican Bay Warden and Pelican Bay Institutional Gang Investigations.
Greetings from The Yard. I am a prisoner that is providing a service to my incarcerated peers. I provide resources for self-help programs, rehab, housing and career info. It is my understanding that inmates in the SHU corridor are going to strike due to certain demands that they are asking for.
One demand that interested me was the opportunity to receive self-help and religious materials. I feel that The Yard can meet that demand. I have put together a self-help and religious resource packet that can be given to an inmate requesting self-help, religious or parole resources. All of these programs can be utilized by an inmate through the mail without any type of facilitator or supervision... The resource packet includes an application for parole resources. SHU inmates most likely do not have access to these resources. They can send these applications to The Yard and dedicated peers involved themselves in self-help programs will fill them out and send them back. The Yard has an ever-growing data bank of up to date resources for all of California...
This letter is in response to the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike. First I'd like to say thank you for not only your ongoing support for us prisoners but also your truthfulness of viewing the facts of the matter. I have passed on the info you mailed me. I have spread the word of actions being taken by prisoners at PBSP-SHU. I can not say for sure how many will join this protest. However I can speak for myself and I find one must be willing to lead and/or follow with common sense to ensure change. For only by us prisoners making a stand - not allowing this injustice to pass - can we stop it.
I am currently fighting censorship by the Wisconsin Department of Corruption. I have many outside contacts who are willing to do legal internet searches, type up legal briefs and make copies of legal documents for comrades here in prison. Due to this, the WDOC has found themselves trying to restrict the flow of free legal help coming in to the prison. This help jeopardizes their industrial prison complex and jeopardizes the identity of their snitches. The WDOC is now using a "security concern" excuse to deny me any correspondence that "pertains to the personal legal information of another inmate." This violates the law and their own established policies and procedures. The WDOC believes they are above the law. The WDOC is more concerned about keeping the identity of their snitches private, although they will never admit this. I will continue to fight against this and all censorship in this injustice system.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Illegal denials of mail are just one of the tactics used by the criminal injustice system to make our struggle more difficult. Persistence from comrades like this one is key to the few victories we do win. And this persistence will be necessary over the long haul as we build a movement to take on the larger imperialist enemy to put an end to the oppression and exploitation of capitalism once and for all.
To acknowledge your struggle which coincides with mine and many other prisoners around the globe, I would like to state some facts concerning the prison (Connally Unit) I am housed at here in Texas. The prison population is 2,812 prisoners, very understaffed due to better service at the oil fields popping up all round this prison complex.
This unit is split A and B side and then we have the dorms which are set apart for those non-gang affiliated and those who pose no threat to the establishment of the institution. Just recently we've been given Johnny's (paper sack lunches) on the weekends for the past month or so and this is due to cuts in the budget. This also constrains a lot of movement to and from the chow hall. B-side is even split two times. On B-side you have 7 building and 8 building. 7 building gets to go to chow with general population but 8 building is restricted. The new major Daniels in town has built a mini chow hall for such sections of the prison population which to them is best. They usually house those prisoner who they feel are the worst such as wine makers, tattoo artists, etc.
These institutions are set up for failure. This is why I congratulate those organizations whether they be lumpen or otherwise who have taken up the banner of rehabilitation and have started or engaged in the process of revolutionizing the minds of the masses. Revolutionizing the knowledge needed in order to free our thinkers from this blind deceptive demagogue. If we ain't the solution then we surely are the problem because until the wheels stop turning it is my duty to struggle and awaken those inactive participants into being a part of this mass movement of prisoners inside and out.
This unit (Connally) is getting worse by the minute and as one good comrade (Blaze) from New York stated, "They're taking every liberty away." Until we acknowledge collectively that there is a problem we will continue to be deceived. Just recently we have been restricted from attending religious services. Before the process of this denial, we could attend church freely without restrictions. Now we must submit an I-60 requesting to attend and if approved we can attend. Ain't that a violation of our 1st Amendment Constitutional right?
I will continue to do my investigative and organizational work for this is what I live for. When my heart and mind stop I will live in the spirits of those true to our cause, but until then I will pump out the revolutionary spirit needed in order to encourage and empower those most in need of such: Lumpen!
MIM(Prisons) adds: The need for struggle against these institutions set up for failure is a primary reason behind the launching of the United Front for Peace in Prisons which stresses the need to stand together in unity with those who share our common interests.