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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Northern Correctional Institution] [Connecticut]
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Revolutionary POWs fight to abolish control units

Northern Correctional Institution in Connecticut is a control unit that houses security risk group safety threat members (SRGSTM), chronic discipline prisoners, administrative segregation (A/S), and death row prisoners. Both authors of this are labeled SRGSTM and because of a peaceful protest are now A/S prisoners. One author has been in this control unit for almost 4 years and the other for 1 year.

We are locked down 23 hours a day and 24 hours a day on the weekends. We are only allowed 3 showers a week with leg irons on our feet. Visits: behind a window, SRGSTM gets 1 hour visit, A/S and chronic discipline 30 mins, only immediate family members. There is no school, except for prisoners under 21 years of age with disabilities who qualify. No job training to anyone. No law library except to death row prisoners. No real medical assistance. Telephones: the state of CT has a control contract with a phone company that forces us prisoners to pay far more for our calls than people in the world. We are only allowed a list of ten phone numbers that has to be approved. SRGSTM are allowed three 15 minute calls a week and A/S and chronic discipline one 15 minute call a week and all telephone conversations are monitored and recorded. We are all also cuffed with leg irons and handcuffs while on the phone. We are cuffed this way for all out of cell movements.

Recreation yard is 1 hour on weekdays. SRGSTM are cuffed behind our backs while in the yard for our 1 hour of out of the cell rec. A/S are taken off of cuffs once we are placed in a rec yard cell about the same size as our cells. Sometimes they make prisoners pick between hot food or their rec. If you go to rec, your food will be given to you cold. You are not allowed real footwear in A/S or hats and gloves in the jail, same for SRGSTM, CD, and death row. Meaning no matter how cold it is outside we are never allowed inside dayroom rec. We are only giving things to clean our cells once a week.

A lot of the time they force prisoners to go in the cells with other prisoners who have life sentences and have already told the administration they do not want cell mates and they will kill the person they put in their cells. Most of the time these prisoners they put in the cells with these lifers are short timers and parole violators. Northern has already had 5 killings because of this about two this year. They will not give prisoners personal hygiene items, writing paper, envelopes, copies of legal work, or cloths if your account says you have had money in the last 90 days, meaning you have to not have money for 90 days in order to receive any of those things.

The grievance procedures are set up to prolong your rights to the courts. They only have 30 business days to answer your grievances. If that time is up they can file for an extension. The problem with that is there is no limit to how many extensions of time they can give for one grievance.

I know you are well informed about in-cell restraints and 4-point restraints (both authors have gone through this a number of times). In cell restraints are for 72 hours, you can't use the bathroom and if you somehow find a way to, you can not clean yourself. Food comes in cups and no utensils are given to eat with forcing you to eat with your fingers at the same time you are not allowed soap or any kind of hygiene items (but if you were how would you use them on restraints?). The in-cells are never cleaned after another prisoner comes out and one goes in, you can't flush your bathroom, nor are you allowed a role of bathroom paper. These are some of the things that take place in this control unit.

They also have dogs next to you every time you leave your cells. You are strip searched for all out of cell movement even when you have not come in contact with no one. You have officers who retaliate against prisoners who file grievances on them or their fellow officers. Prisoners are beat, maced in the mouth, face, eyes, even after the situation is under control.

We stand ready and willing to assist any way we can to abolish these control units.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 14]
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Forty-three to one


I never learned to turn the other cheek,
to bow down to oppression I think is being weak;
And who taught our children to love thy enemy,
how can they have pride in themselves and,
yet be accepting of tyranny;
I will not allow our youth to be confused by
false Amerikkkan history;
I will teach them honor of Marcus Garvey, George Jackson and Joseph Cinque of the Amistad mutiny;
I will show them unity, though it be a fist of solidarity,
gloved and also in a clench,
I will dispel the myths of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Bush and the notorious Willie Lynch;
You hold up images of Armstrong Williams, Clarence Thomas and no child left behind,
yet you outlaw Malcolm, Huey, Nat Turner and Bobby Seale's Seize the Time;
Your greed is fed by capitalism which creates
a world of endless war zones;
You sell Israel F-14s, yet you watch Palestine
defend itself with nothing but sticks and stones;
You proclaim equality, so we had hope during the trial of Rodney King;
You spoke of love as an eventual reality,
but in 1968 you assassinated our dream;
You exploit our words with pawn shops,
liquor stores and broken down shacks;
You sell our kids guns, pork chops, Jordans,
Lil Wayne, Kools, heroin and crack;
you brainwash our youth to be killers and to
fight for ole Uncle Sam, but when they lose
an arm, a leg or just need a helping hand,
you say there's no money in the nation's
wealth care program;
Innocent until proven guilty, at least that's what
the supreme court say;
It took you almost 14 years,
but you still came back to make O.J. pay;
Your credibility is reminiscent of chickens
being in the care of a sly old fox;
You gave the Amerikkkan natives a trojan horse,
infected with small pox;
You invaded the motherland, with a smile, a pistol
and filled with the holy ghost, and in the blink of an eye
it turned to mischief and bloodshed,
on Afrika's west coast;
You stole kings and queens and tried to turn
them into slaves,
but some chose the Atlantic ocean to be their cold wet graves;
Some were passive and obedient, they did what
they were told,
some were like Harriet Tubman and sought
their freedom on the underground railroad;
One refused the draft as he floated like a
butterfly and stung like a bee,
while one used nationality and religion to help
uplift fallen humanity;
one was on the move, got bombed, so you know
that we had to keep her,
One used a podium and socialism and we coined
all power to the people;
We've produced lawyers and doctors
and Langston Hughes a very poetic talker;
And with great ingenuity, our first female
millionaire was the incomparable madame CJ Walker;
Some tried to shake names like Toby or George
or even Cassius Clay,
But some were called Oscar because of "Monster's Ball" and Denzel's Training Day;
So now we have Obama, the 44th President is our own native son,
but you still find reasons to hate us,
even though you're still winning "forty three to one."

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Mahanoy] [Pennsylvania]
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PA transferring prisoners out of state

I'm writing from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA about the department of corrections new policy of saving money off the backs of prisoners. They are getting contracts for shipping PA prisoners to Michigan and to Virginia, shipping them out by force and making them buy new products if they are not clear/see-through: radios, TVs, footlockers, you must trash or send them home. If you don't want to be transferred they use force.

Second issue is the law library isn't always open, it is supposed to open 7 days a week for people to have access to the courts.

Number three is the medical department staff don't check older prisoners for cancer, or any other medical problem in a timely fashion. Mental health doctors and medical staff won't give people that are arrested prescription medical for medical and mental health issues.

The prison staff tell you that if you try to put any paperwork of any kind it will go in your personal file and it will look bad for you when you try to get pre-release or parole.

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[Organizing] [Oklahoma] [ULK Issue 14]
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The situational ethics of snitching

An issue that was addressed in ULK that deserves a bit more comment is the involvement or non-involvement of so-called "snitches" or Special Needs Yard (SNY) prisoners in any political movement and/or prison reform activities.

The philosophy of the snitch is contradictory. I've been in prison for over 16 years. I have done time in three states and I have seen the hundreds of ways people have been labeled "snitches." For example, here in Oklahoma a prisoner is labeled a "snitch" if he files a grievance, even on obstruction of mail. It's seen as "snitching on staff." Prison administrators will utilize that to try and get other prisoners to ostracize a person and/or otherwise abuse, distrust or spread rumors about a person.

This is especially true when it comes to prison officials who harm or abuse prisoners. If you report the abuse, you're labeled a "snitch." Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot and a guard is harmed they run to the "snitches" for information. It's contradictory and it is also what is called "situational ethics."

Situational ethics is when a person uses a particular situation and action to justify their immediate needs, be they financial, safety, etc. If they do not like a person, for example, they'll label him a "snitch." But if they have a friend who has done the same deed they will justify his actions. It is purely situational.

The psychology of it all is baffling. But in the political sphere it has no place. As a prisoner in ULK no. 13 noted, violence on SNY is much, much less, and there is more unity on SNY. I can't attest to that myself because I've never been on a SNY, however, I do believe it to be true. I've heard that same story over and over about so-called "soft yards."

Information gathering is a valuable tactic in the political sphere as well. This is true whether it is the oppressed or oppressor. Information can be used to protect or harm. How you utilize your sources can be beneficial. If you know someone is a "snitch" or you have reasonable suspicions, then feeding that person false or beneficial information can help you and others. For example, if you know someone will run to the cops and report you then the information you tell them should only benefit, not harm you. They become an unwitting agent of good.

Lastly, prison reform will never come if you constantly look to others to motivate you. Just do what you have to do, and when you come across like-minded people - or even people who may not support your beliefs but support your efforts - you can add them to your album of associates.

MIM(Prisons) responds: What this comrade calls "situation ethics" we would also call "subjectivity." Like s/he said, subjectivity has no place in politics. We need to have a set of ethics that serve the most oppressed people in the world. We cannot let our criticism be swayed by whether we're cool with whoever did the action. This is true in all actions, not just sharing info with the pigs.

On the group or political level we define our ethics by our class perspective. It makes sense for the COs to both persecute snitches and utilize snitches depending on who they are snitching on, as this writer describes. Similarly, we want COs to expose other COs for abusing prisoners. In general, opposing snitching is progressive, because it is a source of conflict and repression as people are opportunistically spreading information to benefit themselves in the short-term. But to take an absolute moral stance on snitching ignores the fact that we need to expose the oppressor to the people.

The only point we disagree with this comrade on is that they say we should only control the information we share with known snitches or people we suspect to be snitches. We would push this one degree further and say that we should only share information on a need-to-know basis, and assume everyone is a possible informant. We went much more in depth on this topic in ULK 13.

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[Control Units] [Florida] [ULK Issue 15]
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Rolling with the punches

I'm in disciplinary confinement for 300 days. I'm informing you to let you know they are all about punishment. However, there are several benefits to confinement as opposed to general population.

First, as an analytical thinker, I have the solitude to concentrate on what's more important, instead of the normal population activities of doing what Masta says and spending my people's money on the high-priced zoom zooms and wam wams. Second, I can think of ways to further the struggle and communicate with you all from within this "think tank." Last, regardless of where on the plantation I am, the clock still ticks, so 300 days is that much closer to my max date.

I'm getting much rest and I'm preserving my mind and body for the revolution and the future. So if I can help formulate any ideas and/or literature to help enlighten and educate the masses, just let me know.

It's a shame that these people try to make the public think they're all about trying to make prisoners better people so they'll be productive members of society, yet in confinement we are not allowed any books except a bible. We can't have a dictionary or any other book to educate your mind. It's obvious that they couldn't care less about our betterment when they use education material as a punishment.

They also use hygiene products as a punishment. In confinement I can't have my soap, lotion, toothpaste, dental floss, etc. They give us half of a hotel bar of soap to last a week, and a hotel toothpaste to last a month. So I'm only able to brush my teeth once a day or it won't last for 30 days. If food gets stuck in my teeth, I have to get a piece of string out of the sheets or boxers.

Socks are also not provided so the ones I came in with have to last 300 days. With no soap to wash them, I have to take an all-water shower once a week to save the soap to wash my boxers and socks. But hey, I'm learning survival skills and I'm stronger for it!

A weak mind will take this punishment or these conditions and feel degraded, but I often think about the conditions my ancestors endured on those slave ships, and the savage, degrading and humiliating conditions of life on these plantations under forced servitude and criminal bondage. Their only crime was being born with melanin in their skin. I think of how the Masta cut up a hog and took all the lean meat for ham, pork chops, bacon, and sausage, then threw the garbage to the slaves like the intestines, the feet, ears, tails, etc. Yet they made "soul food" with it. They made swamp grass into collard greens. And everything else that was used as punishment they used to become stronger, resilient, and more hardened to whatever the enemy came up with.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Adapting to whatever challenges the oppressor throws our way is an important part of survival under imperialism, including maintaining mental health. Long-term isolation is probably one of the greatest mental health challenges the oppressed will face. So we commend this comrade's positive outlook and willingness to do work, even though it is much more limited while locked in isolation.

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[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Repression at RJD

I'm a prisoner here in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) in San Diego. I can relate to the story of the brother on your article in ULK 13 (Inspired by Mao, fighting legal battles). Like that brother, I've been sitting in the hole since November 2009.

I came to RJD on the CCCMS program [for prisoners who have been diagnosed as mentally ill]. I got on that program to get away from Calipatria prison. I was at the prison for 10 years and had enough of their corruptions. Little did I know that RJD is a lot more corrupt than Calipatria prison. Since arriving here last November I've filed numerous grievances to try to get sent to the Sensitive Needs Yard, but the 602s [grievance appeals] don't go no where. They mysteriously get disappeared. They said they would look into it and call me back to classification the following week. That was in January 2010. I've yet to go! I feel like I'm lost in this cell!

My mail comes late. I've yet to receive any of several magazine subscriptions I have. The guards don't pass books like they are supposed to. The few books I have I'm being forced to reread repeatedly to stay sane! Some of the prisoners don't have anything to read. It's no wonder why so many prisoners lose their sanity or attempt to commit suicide.

I look all around me and I say to myself, "This is not the big house. This is the crazy house!" For obvious reasons I've chosen to refuse cellies! In March, Captain Koen illegally tried to force prisoners in my cell. On both occasions I've fought them and get soaked in pepper spray; which was not legal. In the hole you have to consent to a celly before one is put there with you. On these two occasions I didn't consent. I don't know what to do. I've written the proper procedures to commence a lawsuit which begins by submitting a 602. I know the first ones got torn and thrown away. I've filed a third one, to the Director of Appeals, signed as confidential mail by a guard. I prey that made it out of the prison. Also I sent a letter to the Prison Law Office in the hopes they could assist me.

That day, there were several other incidents as well. You're right, oppression is getting worse and worse as time goes on. There's no unity whatsoever. It's so terrible here in Ad-Seg that the guards trade our showers for extra trays or lunch. We usually don't shower because we're all damned near starved. The food is just enough to keep you alive.

And for the last two or three weeks they've claimed they lost a gun so the entire prison has been on lockdown. It's all a farce as to what the real reason why we are on lockdown. It's plain to see - overtime. The CDCR is out of control and so are their guards. They believe that because we're in prison we're lesser humans than them.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades in California have taken up a campaign to fight the useless system for processing 602s that leads to harassment and retaliation instead of resolution of the problems. According to the Department Operations Manual (DOM), Subsection 54100.2, the purpose of the Inmate/Parolee Appeals Procedure is to:

Provide a vehicle for review of department policies, procedures, practices, conditions, incidents and actions which may adversely affect an inmate's welfare, status and program," and to "provide for resolution for grievances at the lowest possible level with timely responses to the appellant.

Write MIM(Prisons) to get a copy of the petition and other campaign info to join this campaign being led by United Struggle from Within (USW) in California.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Texas] [ULK Issue 14]
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Our Unity vs. their Crisis

In today's prison society, prisoners are losing constitutional rights at an alarming rate under either the security rationale or the rehabilitation rationale. Yes, our United States Supreme Court has effectively shut the constitutional door on prisoners and individuals charged with crimes. A fair trial is now impossible as any misconduct by the prosecutor is considered "harmless error." Additionally, many individuals plead to charges they have not committed due to judicial extortion; "Take this five years or we're going to give you 99." It's all sad, but reflects the state of our society and country as a whole, and the corrosion of our criminal justice system.

In the newsletter, I read that many prisoner have begun food strikes; one wanting to commit suicide, the others want to sign a petition. The sad and unfortunate truth is, none of these work. Yet there is a way to be heard that is peaceful and has a dramatic effect.

Prisons are run by prisoners from laundry, food service, landscaping to maintenance of the institution. Additionally, many prisoners work in industries that manufacture anything from stop signs, chemicals to office furniture for the state and the prisons themselves. What if we were to just stop? Yes, stop supporting the imperial system that oppresses us at every level? Incarceration costs would rise exponentially overnight. Correctional officers would have to be hired to pick up where the inmate population left off. The cost of incarceration would be so great that states could not afford to incarcerate people en masse as they do today. Until the prison population itself makes a stand against the draconian justice and prison system, they will continue to lose the most basic and fundamental rights inherent to man.

My brothers and sisters, it is us, the prison population that runs and perpetuates the injustice of the justice and prison system and it is we who can peacefully break its back. The courts have failed us; the politicians have failed us; our country has failed us. Must we continue to fail ourselves? Must we continue to be dehumanized, degraded, mistreated and tortured so others may prosper and/or be entertained? It's time to see this realistically and stand together peacefully, to battle an unjust system as one. Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he [or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [or she] stands in times of challenge and controversy." Are you a person of character who can stand as one or individually in the face of adversity? If we can't stand together as one then no matter what we do, we lose. Give some thought to this. All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We couldn't agree with this comrade more that there is no real justice to be had by the class system of imperialism. We don't expect petitions to solve the heart of the problem, though we may achieve partial victories. And we've already cautioned comrades that hunger strikes without outside pressure and support tend to be ultra-left tactics that can lead to sacrificing of lives.

But as we explain elsewhere, petition campaigns are two-pronged. One prong is to improve our ability to organize by fighting winnable battles, and the other prong is agitational to expose the state's repressiveness.

The facts behind this comrade's proposal are solid, as we discussed in ULK #8 on prison labor. And the argument is particularly strong as most state's are facing extreme financial shortages. They cannot afford to run their prisons if the labor aristocracy must do all the work.

However, in most cases, the level of unity does not exist to carry out this tactic effectively. Another comrade who proposed this same strategy simultaneously complains about this reality. Again, this is where more agitational work comes into play, like petitions, lawsuits and even small fund drives that some comrades have led. These things establish unity among people on the issues. With that unity, we can begin to talk about mass actions, such as boycotts.

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[Spanish] [Massachusetts]
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Ra'd sigue vivo en nuestra lucha

por MIM(Prisiones), Marzo 2010, publicado en ULK #13

Gracias a todo quien continua pasarnos información sobre lo que pasó a Amare "Ra'd" Selton, y por sus pésames. Aunque es difícil poder hablar conclusivamente sobre lo que sucedió el septiembre pasado cuando murió en Attica, se ha hecho más evidente que el DOCS era últimamente detrás lo que sucedió. Como nuestra camarada explica abajo, hay una lucha constante para muchos entre sobreviviendo para luchar y manteniéndose sano bajo la represión extrema. Para más sobre este tópico lea el articulo Prisionero empujado al suicidio.

Para aprender del sacrificio de Ra'd es estudiar la estrategia, y como ser efectivo en organizar para la justicia. Como materialistas, reconocemos también que las batallas ganables no serán posibles todo el tiempo .A veces no es una cuestión de si podemos ganar, sino solo cuestión de si luchamos o no antes de perder. En tal caso, nuestras estrategias debe en hacer que estas pérdidas servir como ejemplos para inspirar y exponer la injusticia. Ra'd continua inspirar a los que le conocían.

Un preso en Nueva York escribe:


Escribo para informarles y a mis camaradas de la muerte de mi mentor Amare "Ra'd" Selton. Que Alá bendiga su alma....Ra'd era mi pana, alguien que otro que le falta todo siempre admiró. Ra'd abrazaba a cualquiera que luchaba. Ra'd levantaba el ánimo a cualquiera que estaba triste. Si Ra'd observaba otro preso siendo asaltado por un guardia prestaría su ayuda como podía. Ra'd era un buen hermano, que Alá esté con él. Descanse en paz, ¡mantenga tu cabeza erguida Ra'd!

Otro preso en Nueva York escribe:


Estuve en el SHU con Amare en 2003. Es un verdadero rebelde con una causa. Que descanse en poder! El nunca fue el tipo suicida, era un guerrero, un luchador de libertad que tenía 25 años hasta la vida, así que buscaba la libertad por cualquiera manera, aun la muerte.

Tenía horas para hablar con y siempre expresaba su teoría Musulmana y su puesta contra el imperialismo y supremacía blanca, que coincidió con su muerte, lo cual estoy seguro fue a las manos de los puercos. Era una amenaza, por eso lo tenían aislado en SHU por periodos de tiempo largos.

Me conecté con él inmediatamente al conocerle porque tenía una pasión por resistir la opresión y la brutalidad a las manos de las guardias. Por eso, saber que fue matado por estos puercos me rompe el corazón. Estos puercos evitan el castigo como lo evitan en las calles después de matar un hermano/a negro/a o moreno/a que no estaba armado/a: se convierte en homicidio justificado. Esto no puede continuar suceder sin algún tipo de resistencia organizada. No se puede hablar de las resoluciones amigables ni pacíficos con esos puercos sádicos porque no lo respetan. Para ser honesto, no quiero morir en la cárcel. Soy más valioso en las calles, organizando, pero hay un límite a lo que puedo aguantar en este infierno. No soy reaccionario, pero ¡tenemos que demandar nuestro respeto de cualquier manera!

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 14]
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Fight the system: boycott work

Once again I find myself pushed in a corner with the swine in Huntingdon, PA. I've tried to get prisoners together and put in paperwork against these jokers, but many have no intent to do so. They'd rather bitch and complain and allow these chumps to keep doing what they do. But don't let another convict do or say something, or you might get stabbed or rocked with a lock in a sock. It's beyond my understanding and to be honest with you it makes me fucking sick! The prisoners would rather worry about the latest BET video or the stats of last night's NBA game. All the while, the administration is planning to take something else from us or plan on adding another provision to an already fucked up policy. What gives?

As I have said before, our cells are think tanks. We put our focus on shit that doesn't really mean shit. I'm not going to say take a guard hostage or stab a nurse. I'm saying to use our minds, stand as one, and do something rather than just talk about it. To really get their attention, hurt their pockets. Don't go to work. Do you realize that if everyone stopped working in the kitchen, they would have to figure out why, but more importantly they still must feed us? This would throw a red flag in the air. Stop going to work in the CI shops. Now, no clothes or soap is being made for the state.

I've given these ideas to many to think about. Then the new excuse is "I need my job cuz I don't have anyone sending me money." Ok, I understand. However, just say we as a whole stopped working, don't you think I wouldn't help a few soldiers out with enough to live off? I don't have shit but myself. Yet I have enough to get by and then some. I understand everyone's situation is very different, but in the same token, we are in the same situation, are we not?

All in all I'm plain ol' sick and tired of this chicken shit. Stand for what's yours. Would you allow someone to take something off you in the free world? So why allow it here? Everyone needs to get their shit together and realize this ain't a game. Sometimes I wish I was living in the era of the 60s and 70s. Back then convicts fought long and hard for theirs.

For those who are fighting strong, I'm with you! Even when I finally leave, I'll still help those inside.

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[National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 14]
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Solidarity in the fight against Arizona immigration law

First and foremost, I would like to salute all the comrades around the world that stood up and protested against Arizona's Jim Crow laws of segregation. Amerikkka's up to its dirty tricks once again. All was fine when they rode the backs of Latinos for cheap labor, but now that individuals are using their minds and starting their own small businesses, they (the U.S. or Arizona) want them out because they can't use (exploit) them any more. Never turn your back on a snake! Amerika was built upon corporate capitalism. If Latinos are all illegal then Christopher Columbus was illegal when he "came" to Amerikkka.

The Columbus anniversary is a celebration of mass murder, slavery, and conquest. He used religion and guns (after he was welcomed as a guest) against the Blacks and the indigenous in the Americas, mistakenly called Indians. All this was done in the name of white supremacy based upon the concept of "chosen people" and manifest destiny, and was designed to further cultural genocide and maintain mental slavery. Arizona is trying to put this back in full swing. They are capitalist parasites; blood-thirsty opportunists. People who would sell their own grandmother's burial plot. Amerikkka is a region of political injustice and great suffering. Columbus didn't discover shit, he came to America and exploited America with his illegal ass!!!

I'm a powerful Black conscious man, so I yell out Black Power and I fully support my Latino comrades in struggle and solidarity. And we demand justice or there will be no peace!

In struggle

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