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[Black Panther Party] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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Black Panthers in Today's Climate

July 2018 — We remember for all time in the future the terrible and untimely political assassinations of Comrade George and Jonathon Jackson. Black August and bloody September are fast approaching and while many people will of course mourn due to these fatalities committed by the state, we shouldn't be saddened by these most terrible atrocities. We should rejoice and see repression as a logical response by the capitalist masters to stop our thrust upward.

The history of Amerika's reign of terror begins with its start as a settler's colony that exterminated the otherwise "savage and backward" Indians, and raped Africa for her peoples to build and industrialize this young nation. The trends toward monopoly capital actually began during the civil war, during the only time where the masters of capital felt the greatest threats to its power. Amerikan history has always been a story of masters and slaves, dominators and dominated, capitalists and workers, and haves and have-nots. But the centralization of state power actually began during the age of the Industrial Revolution.

The earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story. At the close of World War II when the purple mushroom clouds over Japan were aired for the world to see, fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika. In fact the trends towards monopoly capital might have begun right here in Amerika.

The Black Panther Party formed as a response to state terror. The savage repression which can be estimated by a brief reading of the nation's dailies has not failed to register on the minds of most lower disenfranchised, especially when you couple the fact that we are worth no more than the amount of capital that we can raise. Whether they know it or not we are victims of both social and economic injustice and our economic status has reduced our minds to a state of complete oblivion.

The older vanguard parties were committed to reformism and its counter-productive nature. The Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Army however were committed and prepared to take the fight to whatever level needed to be taken in order to make sure that the demands of the people were met. As a response, J. Edgar Hoover and his secret branch (COINTELPRO) devised a plan to stop a "Black Messiah" from rising out of the ghetto that could lead the people to revolution. On 4 December 1969 Gloves Davis, a black officer in Chicago, killed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Of course the COINTELPRO was very effective in infiltration tactics, because Fred Hampton's bodyguard was later to be revealed as a "class defector and stool pigeon" for the forces of repression.

We shouldn't be sad that George is gone. We should be sad that no one has ushered in to take up his works, even though so many champion him and also since there are guerillas all over who shout "George," but have yet to follow in his footsteps. Our overall situation doesn't stand out as glaringly as it did during the 1960s and 70s. However we should not be tricked into thinking that the struggle is no more. The hip-shooting pigs still gun us and call it justifiable homicide due to the trends in the crime culture we have embraced. The crime culture only mimics the European experience. In order for us to seize the time we should think in terms of true freedom. The freedom that comrade George fought and died for. Long live the real Dragon.


MIM(Prisons) associate responds:

The author mentions that "[t]he earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story." However, not all the early vanguard parties were reformist. In general, vanguard parties are not reformist in nature, although they might work on reformist campaigns (wimmin's rights, prisoners' rights, etc.). Vanguard parties, by definition, aim to be the force that lead the revolution. So why did the vanguard parties fail?

One obvious reason is that the United $tates has not entered a revolutionary situation. Due to a variety of factors, and despite the presence of vanguard parties in different places and at different times, there has not been a substantial proletarian movement for freedom. In Lenin's terms, the workers during the Industrial Revolution in the United $tates only reached basic Trade Union Consciousness, not Proletarian Consciousness. Their goal was for better working conditions, not a new system.

This goes hand-in-hand with the second reason. As J. Sakai argues in Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, there has never been a substantial proletariat in the United $tates. Despite the presence of oppressed national minorities, lumpen proletariat, and a few revolutionaries, the revolutionaries have never reached a critical mass. This is especially true today, as almost all real labor has been pushed to the Third World and Euro-Amerikkkans are living off of the superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.

The author also mentions that "fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika." MIM(Prisons) believes that the United $tates is not currently a fascist country (nor has it been in the past). Amerikkka is obviously imperialist and this imperialist core was inscribed into the Amerikkkan project from the very beginning, however we do not equate imperialism with fascism. Fascism is a form of imperialism, but we don't think it's the current state of the world. And we see the most fascist expression of imperialism in Third World countries where imperialists are imposing their will.

Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we're in a fascist scenario now, or we're moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it's natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven't moved into fascism as an overall system.

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[Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 65]
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Liberation Theology as Organizing Tool

The purpose of this article is to explain that Christianity is not intrinsically counter-revolutionary, and to give my comrades some advice on how to teach revolutionary ideas to Christian prisoners.

While I am an atheist, I recognize that many Christians can deservedly be called Comrades. Indeed, Jesus emself often spoke and acted in favor of the proletariat. However, there is a dangerous strain of imperialist pseudo-Christianity prevalent in the United $tates. The leaders of this cult, who have historically and predominately been rich white men, cherry-pick passages from the Bible in an attempt to justify their selfish agenda. This tactic of distorting Christianity has been used by oppressors from the conquistadors to Amerikan politicians and televangelists such as Pat Buchanan. It's been used to justify the conquests of indigenous people, manifest destiny, slavery, retributive punishment, and the persecution of [email protected], wimmin, New Afrikans, queers, transgendered people, and poor people.

Unfortunately, this cultural brainwashing has infected the minds of many prisoners. To reverse this trend, we must show potential Christian comrades the following two points:

1. That certain lessons they learned do not actually represent the teachings of Jesus Christ. Rather, they reflect the imperialist demagogues who have opportunistically co-opted the Bible to suit their own capitalist and white-supremacist agenda.

2. That the real teachings of the New Testament are not only compatible with, but actually suggest, a revolutionary outlook.

For example, when you hear a Christian prisoner trying to rationalize homophobia, point out that many reputable Bible scholars claim that the New Testament does not actually condemn homosexuality. For example, in Introducing Christian Ethics by Roger Crook, we find an alternative interpretation of Paul's verses in Romans 1:16-32. The point of Paul's passage is not that homosexuality is wrong, but that God does not send people to heaven according to their adherence to traditional morality. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals get to heaven because of their sexual preference, but only by accepting God's gift of grace.

However, a more detailed approach eventually becomes necessary. For this, we should introduce our potential Christian comrades to Liberation Theology. The priests and theologians of this movement have actively struggled against U.$.-backed, capitalist puppet governments in the Third World in order to establish socialist governments managed by and for the people. In the book Liberation Theology, Robert Brown identifies four key themes of the movement:

  1. Commitment — taking a stand that unites thought and action
  2. Hope — the anticipation of a better future
  3. God's presence — the realization that we are not alone but that God is in our midst, in another persona and supremely in Jesus Christ
  4. A preferential option for the poor — the guideline for the kind of changes which will bring greater justice into the world (pp. 25-33)

In addition, many of these theologians have synthesized their theology with insights from indigenous spirituality, Marxism, feminism, womanism, New Afrikan studies, queer studies. The books A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone and Feminist Theological Ethics, edited by Lois Daly, are prime examples.

Remember, Comrades. "Christianity does not have to be reactionary!" Jesus was basically a socialist who preached love and tolerance for all people. Ey surrounded emself with poor people and outcasts, not bourgeois demagogues.

!Viva la Revolucion!


MIM(Prisons) responds: There have been some revolutionary liberation theology movements throughout history which provide examples of what this comrade describes. These organizations take their dedication to religion as a dedication to serving the oppressed. In Latin America there are examples of Christian groups explicitely working under the liberation theology banner to support revolutionary struggles. We have also written about the potential of Islam as a liberation theology, and Malcolm X provides a solid example of promoting revolutionary politics in this way. We have much respect for and unity with these movements. And we definitely agree that pointing religious folks in this direction is a good idea.

Quoting bible passages to religious folks to refute their reactionary beliefs or actions may indeed help reach some people. But we also shouldn't pretend that religion is all about revolution or serving the oppressed. Organized religion has a long reactionary history of its own oppression. And the bible has plenty of fuel for reactionary ideas and actions. While pointing religious folks to a more progressive interpretation, we should be careful not to mislead them into thinking that we endorse their mysticism. The very belief in a higher power discourages people from believing that they can control the development of their own and all of humanity's future.

In the end, we try to approach people where they are at. And so this comrade is offering some good tips for approaching religious folks. We just caution against leaveing the materialism out of the discussion altogether.

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[Organizing] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 65]
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When is Patience Taken Too Far?

Revolutionary greetings to all who stand firm in opposition, and we extend our most sincere wishes of suffering and death to those in our midst whom compromise their dignity on a daily, serving the interest of our captors, and killing US in the process.

We received ULK 63 and as always we were fed with the best of nutrients for the struggles. My comrade in arms (a structured Kiwe Nationalist) and I do all we can to push and pull one another, as we are virtually surrounded by: 007 agents, Adolph wannabes, and mentally retarded "gangsta" caricatures who are clueless as to what "convict" entails.

In truth, I/we are at a loss as to explain this "twilight zone" Oregon DOC system. The standards by which the vast majority base their day-to-day ethos on are so unrecognizable that we question exactly what planet we are on!! In ODOC it is "okay" to collaborate with pigs, as long as one is not a sex offender!

The majority of the populace appears to be under the influence of some kind of mind-altering pills! We note that OCOD has a deliberate "agenda" in place, in which medical doles out pills to whomever says they can't cope! We all recognize that these gulags have very negative impact(s), and some of us truly need help. My point in bringing this up is only to say that the pigs are utilizing drugs to further weaken captives. Captives who are already weakened by the effects of life as "half men" in capitalist Amerikkka. It is as if these ODOC isolation units are being utilized to create "pets," men made docile by narcotics, conditioned to serve pigs' interests, via apathy and, at times, outright anger directed towards the progressives/movement.

How do we combat "Stockholm syndrome"? The ODOC cultural norm is to be anti-ethical and as such, those of us that live and breathe struggle find our backs closing in on the walls! Permitting ourselves to be disrespected with no response(s) is exactly how we have come to find ourselves in this position. "Patience taken too far is cowardice" said Comrade George. Without examples made, the masses have no illuminated path and thus remain in darkness and ignorance! Guess what I/we ask is, at what point does it become a prerequisite to revolutionary cultural creation that the strugglist(s) utilize non-peaceful means? This is the looming question for the brothas of struggle here.

We New Afrikans are few and far between in ODOC. However, make no mistake about it, we are here and are striving forward! Boots laced, backs straight, eyes firmly on the prize! Freedom or Death! Power to the People.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This question, of when is it time to take up non-peaceful means of struggle should be at the forefront of the minds of revolutionaries. If we act too soon we end up getting ourselves and our comrades killed, or locked up (if they aren't already in prison). But if we wait too long we are responsible for unnecessary deaths and suffering.

In the more specific situation behind bars within the Amerikan criminal injustice system, we know the long game is taking down the entire system. But the smaller battles include winning people over to the side of revolutionary struggle, and making space for organizing by fighting repression.

The question we always have to ask about any action is: what is the risk and what is the reward? Someone is attacking you with a weapon, should you fight back? Risk: you get tossed in seg for fighting, Reward: you don't get killed. The reward wins. But in the case this comrade raises, where everyone is collaborating with the pigs and taking pills, the risks and rewards are harder to work out. Are there actions that will win people away from collaborating with the enemy? Or will those actions just bring down more punishment on the few who are resisting? These questions have to be answered by people involved in each situation.

We encourage our comrades to work on ways they can create revolutionary culture now, while using peaceful means. Sharing ULK is one way of doing this, and what are others?

We can only offer this framework, and encourage everyone to remember that revolution isn't an overnight action. We're in this for the long battle against imperialism. Even within the belly of the beast, surrounded by enemies, we can't lose sight of our ultimate goals.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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Minority Against Minority

We are caught up in a system of competitiveness that pits one against the other, brother against brother, family against family, people against people, braceros against domestics, ethnic groups against ethnic groups, color against color, class against class, instead of minority or lower class against the ruling class. Competitiveness creates division, distrust, suspicions, and isolation. We have too much to lose to allow ourselves to fall into the same trap over and over again. What is in it for me, for you, for us?

All of our lives, we identify with war heroes, supermen, adventurers, gold seekers, empire builders, and imaginary leaders. We dream of praise and honors and love from other people. We go through life hoping to leave some sign of accomplishment to our children, to posterity, and we end up old, tired, wrinkled, with no vision or no memories, and we leave an inheritance of weakness, boot-licking, indignity, and confusion.

We can make history. It will consist of those who tried, who resisted, who led, who dared to struggle, dared to live free. It will also expose those who are afraid, ashamed, arrogant, selfish, greedy, sellouts, malinches, social prostitutes, Tio Tacos, exploiters, and cowards.

If there is to be a movement, then there must be leaders. Those leaders must be judged by their ability to give, not take. Leadership must convert confidence, not egotism — one who sacrifices, not one who is an opportunist. Leadership is the act of using power to free people, not to control them.

All in all, we have to cleanse ourselves of "inferiority" complex, our peon complex and our immigrant complex. We are not inferior, we are no man's peons, and we are not and never have been immigrants. As complete humans, we cannot only build an organization, start a movement, but create a nation. To take these steps we have to think positively. We have to put aside negative thoughts about each other, and especially about our capacity to succeed.

The masses will make a difference. We are educating young people. Our young people here and across this country are saying, I am leading a "Resistance" against institutional racism, racism or oppression. But when no one stands up with that young person, he commits suicide? You see the reason we have problems is because too many people do not want to get involved. When the guy in the cantina, prison cell or yard, the pool hall or the barber shop tells you, "Man, those movement people are out of their minds. I take care of me." Ask him what he's doing for la causa. Ask him what he's doing for the movement. He's not going to be able to say anything. He is part of the problem because he's not doing anything.

So we look at the problem: the problem is the mass majority of society. It's true. It's true that only 6% of the population of this country controls more than 60% of the wealth of the world. It's true that 2% of this country makes all the decisions. And everybody thinks they are living in a democratic society.

So the problem is on our backs, and the way to get rid of it is to deal with it. Now, we can deal with it by saying we are going to go into an armed Revolution with 4% of the people against maybe 50% of the people?

Long Live The Days of AZTLAN!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are up against what seems like an insurmountable number of people either actively or passively on the side of imperialism in this country. It's a good point that if we took up armed revolution right now we'd be a tiny minority, up against a lot of resistance. This is because the vast majority of U.$. citizens are benefiting materially from imperialism. It's pretty obvious to most people just how well off they are compared to the rest of the world. That's why so many people want closed borders; don't let poor people in, they might take back some of that wealth we've got protected in the United $tates.

But this writer is talking about organizing the oppressed nations specifically and that's a bit of a different story. While still benefiting from the wealth Amerika has stolen from Third World countries, oppressed nations continue to face restricted opportunities, discrimination, imprisonment, and police brutality (to name just a few elements of national oppression within U.$. borders), all because of their nationality. This makes people from oppressed nations still potentially interested in revolution for their own persynal interests.

So yes, we need to heed this comrade's call to challenge people about what they're doing for la causa. We need to win over everyone we can. But we might not be in a position to take on imperialism until it is weakened from the outside, by revolutions in countries where the majority of the population has an interest in taking down imperialism. Right now we do what we can from within the belly of the beast to support the battles of the oppressed and exploited masses globally and the struggles of the oppressed nations within U.$. borders.

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[Release] [ULK Issue 65]
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Prep for Release, Plan for Future

break da cycle

Imagine you have just been released from prison. What do you plan to do with your freedom? Finally eat some real food, smoke a cigarette? Buy some Jordans? Get drunk? Score some dope? Get laid? And then go report in at the parole office?

If this sounds like a good parole plan, you obviously did not spend enough time planning for your future. Maybe what you need is another term, so that you can devise an effective parole plan to enhance your chances for success. That faulty parole plan was one that I used many times. I even changed the order, and reported to the P.O. first, but for me it always ended in a violation of parole, or a new term.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and as convicted felons the odds are stacked against us. If you are a high school dropout, woman, or minority, the opportunity for legal financial advancement are already adversely affected enough. But there are ways to level the playing field, and put the odds back in our favor.

Many prisons have pre-release classes, and re-entry services available. If your institution offers such programs, take advantage of the opportunity. If not, check your prison's library for resource guides that often provide addresses of transitional housing, and re-entry services in your area.

Residential drug programs are also a good place to build a foundation once you are released. Due to the demand of these services there usually are waiting lists, so start writing them when you're about a year to the house. And many have classes for life skills, computers, parenting, and resume building, while also providing you with a safe, clean and drug-free environment to reside, oftentimes at little or no cost to you.

If you do not have a GED, make an effort to get it while still imprisoned. If you do have a GED, sign up for vocational or college courses. This will optimize your time, by turning unproductive time into a constructive endeavor. A transitional re-entry plan is also an excellent way to plan for your release (see example below). You know your weaknesses, but you have the power to correct your faults.

Example Transitional Plan

First day goals:
  1. Report to parole office to discuss parole conditions, and any issues pertaining to the expectations of a successful parole.
  2. Abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  3. Check in to transitional housing.
  4. Call family.
First week goals:
  1. Obtain social security card, library card, and bus pass.
  2. Register with the employment development department, and update my resume.
  3. Apply for general assistance.
  4. Register for community college.
  5. Continued abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
  6. Locate and attend AA or NA meeting to find a sponsor.
  7. Buy a smartphone.
  8. Attend church.
  9. Visit family.
First month goals:
  1. Stay within the structured program of transitional house.
  2. Get at least a part-time job.
  3. Continued participation in AA/NA.
  4. Open a bank account.
  5. Obey all laws, and report to parole officer as scheduled.
  6. Be active in my church, and volunteer in free time.
  7. Meet other positive people.
  8. Continue living alcohol- and drug-free.
  9. Be punctual in work and school.
Six month goals:
  1. Continue following the program rules of transitional house.
  2. Report to parole office as required, and obey all laws.
  3. Excell at work and at school.
  4. Maintain sobriety.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Do volunteer work in the community.
Six-month to one-year goals:
  1. Be an exemplary resident of transitional home.
  2. Obey all laws, and comply with parole conditions.
  3. Continue AA/NA participation.
  4. Maintain excellence in work and school.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Help others.
One-year to five-year goals:
  • Get a stable residence.
  • Get off parole.
  • Get my associates degree.
  • Become a sponsor in the AA/NA family.
  • Get married or engaged.
  • Be employed in social work.
  • Continue my church involvement.
  • Be a productive, respectable member of society.
  • Make my family proud

    MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good practical example of the planning that should be done before release to help with the challenges of parole. We would substitute political organizing for church involvement, and we'd sub any programs that help someone maintain (or increase) sobriety for AA/NA.(1)

    This brings up another thing we'd encourage people to consider about their release goals. Is your top-level goal to integrate into the labor aristocracy, get married, and live a "normal" Amerikan life? Or is your top-level goal to put in work into the anti-imperialist struggle for the liberation and self-determination of oppressed nations? Whatever you set as your top-level goal should have mid-level (practical) and low-level (tactical) goals attached to it, and any mid-level goals that don't lead you to your top-level goal should be avoided.

    Whatever your overall life goal is, finding a community to get involved with is a good way to create ties and build a support structure, which is imperative to avoiding another bid. Some people find this in the church or NA, but there is also often family, friends and political comrades to look to for this same support. Political work on the streets can help to give you further motivation to stay out of prison as you see how much more effective you can be when not locked up. Materialists who reject religion will do better building their community outside the church.

    We don't yet have the resources or infrastructure to offer all of the support our comrades being released need and deserve. And so we really appreciate this list of options for some essential services. Ultimately we must provide our own housing, rehab programs and schooling to get free. But for now, we can take advantage of services offered by others (even the state) as we build to that point. What we can offer is political engagement and support. In exchange for your organizing work we can also offer regular check-ins, advice, and day-to-day support helping you navigate the streets. Together we can enable you to be a productive member of the revolutionary movement.

    Everyone should tell us your likely parole or release date so we can keep in touch as it approaches. But it's especially important that you tell us if you have a release date in the next 3 years. We need to start planning and working together now.

    Note:
    1. In our current social context, no drug treatment program has been shown to work for everyone. There are lots of options, but the problem is accessibility (i.e. capitalism). Abstinence is excellent, but reducing harm is better than a "fuck it" attitude. Do what you can to reduce drug and alcohol use, up to and including abstinence. Whatever your behavior toward healthier living, make a sustainable effort.
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    [Campaigns] [Organizing] [Northeastern Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Spreading the Word on September 9

    Vita Wa Watu! This is one essay on my tactics to recruit Brothas and Sistas for certain movements. Take the Day of Peace and Solidarity for instance. I sent out letters to those that have a Genuine Love for me and the Struggle and kept it real with them. I informed them that I would be fasting for the 9th day of September because it was a day that meant more to Oppressed and Lumpen than the Sabbath does to the Jews. I told them that that day is a day of Peace in the Prisons around the country and that it commemorated one of the biggest prison uprisings in the states, and also that it was the last day of the now annual prison strike.

    Then I informed them that this Glorious Day meant that there would be no beatings, rapes, stabbings, or any violence of the Oppressed against the Oppressor and that it mean a lot to me if they would fast with me. I got a few confirmations and still awaiting others.

    Also, I let the Brothers here in Ad-Seg know the meaning of this day. However, only one Soulja fasted with me. Nevertheless, the day was a success here at Northeastern Correctional Center. Stay strong, Comrades. I will join you again next year.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: In ULK 64 we printed some early reports of actions on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. We're happy to hear about this work going on in Florida.

    And this is a good example of sharing your tactics for organizing and recruiting. The next issue of Under Lock & Key is devoted to this topic and we're seeking moreinput from readers about what's worked for you, and also what hasn't worked. We can all learn a lot from our practice and from the practice of others. Sum up your organizing experiences and send them in for ULK. See ULK 63 for our prior deep dive into this topic.

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    [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Can We Overcome Greed?

    I am currently on close management (secured housing), a euphemism for 24/7 lockdown. My level was recently dropped to II, which means I now have a cellmate. However, since there are more people in this dorm, I have been able to spread some knowledge.

    I am currently involved in a struggle against violations of prisoners' rights in confinement. Although I don't know much about civil law, I am very resourceful and have found 2 non-profit law firms willing to help Florida prisoners. I have begun, after being here since May, to draw a lot of attention and have already been threatened with retaliation for my grievances (in order to file lawsuits, "administrative remedies" must be exhausted). However, I expected this, and take it as a signal that I am doing good and hitting the right issues, such as not being allowed to exit the cell for the specified "dayroom" time.

    They are trying to keep the addicts addicted. It is easier to reach people through face-to-face group studies or even individual studies. I have been doing what I can to get some of the interested prisoners involved in utilizing dialectical materialism. I have also been passing around info on how to fight against the constant oppression. Oppression is good for the oppressed. It is what motivates, and without it complacency would be the norm.

    I will be enclosing some more poetry for use in ULK. Also, the issue of Under Lock & Key sent to me was rejected citing that I already receive too many periodicals or publications. I am looking into if there is indeed a set limit or if this is just a sorry excuse for unwarranted censorship.

    I've been sitting in my room and really, truly devoting myself to studying the MIM Theory I received. I find myself aligning with MIM on all of its issues and where they stand. I do have a question. It is quite perplexing to me.

    It seems to me that one of the biggest problems Maoists and other forms of communism face all have a root in greed. The average human is not inherently good and/or caring. Rather, their main objective in life is to accumulate wealth to ensure a better life for them and hopefully their immediate family. They do not have any feelings or true empathy for those that do not have. So how do we solve this? I am new to this movement, but am very intrigued by the veracity that is communism. Expectantly awaiting.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: In response to this question about greed we ask another question: how do you know humyns are inherently greedy? Sure, this is what we see today in the world around us. But capitalism is built on a culture of greed and selfishness. It's no surprise that humyns raised in this culture, inundated with it from birth through school, entertainment, and adult examples, will learn to be greedy and individualist themselves. Further, capitalism rewards this individualism with material wealth. There is little incentive or opportunity to be selfless or generous.

    But do we really have evidence that this is inherent in the humyn species? When we look at the example of communist China during the Cultural Revolution, so many people were engaging in tremendous acts of selfless work while also actively fighting against reactionary culture. We don't have to look that far for examples of humyn selflessness. Even under capitalism there are jobs that require greater sacrifice than they offer reward, jobs that really help other people. Perhaps you could argue that these are the few oddballs who didn't get the "greed gene." But perhaps instead they represent what we all could be without indoctrination in greed.

    This writer argues that oppression is good for the oppressed because it is what motivates. While we'd agree that oppression is a motivating force, it's still something we strive to eliminate because we believe humyns can be motivated by striving for improvements for society without facing constant oppression.

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    [Organizing] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Debating Missouri Uprising

    time to ring the alarm

    13 May 2018 — 208 prisoners of every race, background, group, organization, etc. said enough is enough! We came together and sat down in a peaceful protest. During dinner (chow hall) as usual the pigs not only violated our constitutional rights (First Amendment freedom of speech) but they also attempted to bully us by flex'n and threatening us. That's when our peaceful protest turned uprising. I wish y'all could have seen the way all the guards (C.O.s, Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc.) ran out the kitchen and chow halls. You would have thought they ran track! Who the cowards now?

    For the first time in Missouri history we united. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity. In a matter of seconds we gained control of the kitchen, both dining halls, property room, canteen storage, the factory, forklifts, weapons, keys, phones, computers, etc. Well after a few hours the phones start to ring. Guess who's calling? The warden and highway patrol. For the first time they listened to our demands. They respected us. They feared our unity. They was at our mercy.

    On our own terms we surrendered 8-9 hours later. After we got our point across.

    Note: 90% of guys in our peaceful protest turned uprising have outdates ranging between a few weeks and 15 years. So only imagine if the outcome was the other way around. 90% of us could have been locked to the board (life without?).

    Due to us striving so fast and hard we left administration not only confused but also emotionally off balance. Being that this never happened before in Missouri history they acted off impulse and violated every constitutional right you can think of. Which led to KC Freedom Project lawyers starting a class action lawsuit on our behalf against Missouri DOC. The media has been on fire regarding this.

    Update? We still on lockdown! We still receiving brown bags (sack lunches). They say it was $3 million worth of damage. They making us do 1 year. We damn near 6 months in.

    Administration is still up to their tricky ways. They have attempted to divide and conquer us by destroying all the guys' property that was in the hole and told them we did it. Also telling all the guys in GP it's our fault they are locked down still. So yeah the struggle continues.

    By the way, there have been two other uprisings of this kind since we kicked it off. If we can unite here in Missouri where unity has never existed then any state can.


    Another Missouri prisoner wrote:

    It has been 13 months since the prisoners bonded together, Black, White, Native and brown (Chicano) and kicked off a riot at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, causing over a million dollars in damage. What did it accomplish?

    1. Prison property got damaged that your families who are tax payers (and you too cause you pay taxes on your canteen items) are going to have to pay for the damages.
    2. You injured one another with violent acts and all it accomplished is enemies, and lockdown of the prison.
    3. Supposedly two housing units are to be cleared out for the creation of SHU units. They are supposed to lock up all the gang leaders and violent soldiers.

    As of now, this is all just rumor, but every time Missouri prisoners show acts of violence via riots, the prison gets stricter. For example, the 1985 riot in the old Missouri State Penitentiary caused them to build a supermax housing unit.

    When are we gonna learn that we are hurting ourselves more ways than one by these acts of violence? When I was advocating peaceful protests with demonstrations of how to shut the prison system down, nobody in Missouri wanted to participate. But you go off on your own and committed this no nonsense act of violence against your brother, your friends, your families, and jeopardized everyone.

    It costs $85 million a year to keep the U.S. prisons up and running. The government is not producing this money to keep the prisons going. So where is the money coming from? Let's see now, in Missouri it's coming from Missouri Vocational Enterprise (MVE), the sign shop, the printing shop, the license plate plant (tag plant), the furniture factory, the chemical plant, information technology (IBM program), the braille program, the laundry, the cooled-chill plant (cold food storage), the shoe factory, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot work release) and the newly implemented paneling factory.

    The above-mentioned factories are multi-million-dollar industries per year. They are paying you pennies. So what a couple of these jobs pay between $150 and $300 per month. If you peacefully protest by refusing to go to work in these factories, either they are going to pay you at least minimum wage where you will be making at least $340 a week, or they are gonna bring in civilians to do the work, in which case the factories are going to have to be uprooted and moved because most civilians are not coming inside the prisons to work. So to shut down a beast like the U.S. prison system is to shut down their economy — that is, the very thing that's bringing them money to keep the prisons open is the very thing that can shut it down.

    This just doesn't begin and end with the prisoners. The prisoner has to survive. He has to eat. So the people in the free world are going to have to support the prisoner financially. Family, friends, advocate organizations are all going to have to pitch in and support the prisoner financially. That means to stop working we have to buy food to eat. To stop using the phones and tablets, we need stamps, envelopes, paper and pens to write letters that cost money. So the free world must understand that for us to make these sacrifices, then society is going to have to make sacrifices to assist us.

    So Missouri prisoners, society (family, friends, organizations, advocates, etc.), stop going about things the wrong way and do them like they should be done in order to get results.

    I go home next year on parole, but I do not leave my fight behind. There is a bigger world out there, which means a lot more opportunities to fight. I am going to find resources and seek out that they join me in my quest to do away with this beast. I will need their support mentally, physically, spiritually and above all, financially. With this, Comrades, I hope to see you on the other side, working with me and supporting me from the inside and outside.

    In struggle—In solidarity
    Arm raised—clenched black fist

    MIM(Prisons) responds: A lot of folks talk about how hard it is to get people to unite behind bars. The prison controls everything from day-to-day comfort to release dates. And that's powerful incentive to conform. Then they introduce drugs and other distractions to pacify the population. They pay off snitches to keep an eye on activists. And they lock organizers down in solitary confinement. Still, faced with all these barriers, prisoners can and do come together to protest. Conditions at Crossroads CC were bad enough to inspire this action. And while the outcome wasn't all positive, the class action lawsuit and attention of the public has forced the Missouri DOC to admit that prisoners are suffering significant restrictions due to short staffing.

    The comrade criticizing this action for its lack of focus and random acts of violence and destruction is right that often these sorts of actions lead to more repression. Though peaceful protests are also often met with increased repression. This debate over tactics in prison protests is one that should be happening within all prisons across the country. We hope the comrades at Crossroads will learn from this action and move forward in greater unity towards future actions that will be even more effective.

    Focusing on the economics of prisons reveals the ridiculous scale of the criminal injustice system. As the writer above notes, it would be a significant financial loss to the state if they were forced to hire non-prisoners for all the jobs prisoners are doing. And this is financial leverage that prisoner workers can use to their advantage.

    But to debate the value of this tactic we need to first be clear about the scope of prisoner labor. The state of Missouri 2018 budget allocated the Department of Corrections over $725 million. About the same as the previous year, which was up $50 million from 2016.(1) The state would have to allocate even more money if no prisoner labor could be used to help run the prisons, or produce products that are sold to generate revenue. But that prisoner labor is still a small part of the total cost of running prisons.

    As we showed from data collected from prisons across the United $tates, in general, losing prisoner labor would add about 10% to the cost of running prisons. Prisons are mostly subsidized by states' budgets. The labor from prisoners just doesn't come close to covering that cost. So while there is definitely economic power in those jobs, shutting down prison industries won't shut down prisons.

    We don't aim to just improve conditions. In the end we know the criminal injustice system keeps taking away rights, doing what it can to make prisons a place of suffering and complacency. But this protest showed the people involved that they have the power to take collective action. As the original writer notes, the prison can see their downfall in the unity of the prisoners. This lesson of the importance and power of unity is what will hopefully fuel ongoing organizing.

    Notes:
    1. State of Missouri Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget, HB 9 – Corrections, https://oa.mo.gov/sites/default/files/FY_2018_EB_Corrections.pdf
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    [Spanish] [Release] [ULK Issue 67]
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    Volver a las Calles es Duro

    Hemos estado tratando de establecer un programa efectivo de Liberación En La Vida, aquí en MIM(Prisons) por muchos años. Hemos extendido el apoyo de pre-liberación que ofrecemos a nuestros camaradas activos que están detrás de las rejas. Y hemos sentado algunas estructuras para un mejor contacto y apoyo en las calles. Pero, lo que podemos ofrecer es todavía muy poco frente a la realidad muy dura de una vida en las calles después de una estadía en prisión. Estamos trabajando en extender lo que podemos ofrecer. Eso se implica dinero. Pero eso también requiere de ideas y gente en las calles que trabajen en esto. Nosotros sabemos que lo que estamos haciendo ahora es inadecuado. Pero, estamos tratando de construir.

    Por varios años publicamos el boletín, "Liberación en la Vida" (Release on Life newsletter (ROL)), el cuál fue enviado a nuestros camaradas en las calles y aquellos con una fecha de libertad en su futuro cercano. Pero no hubo mucho interés alrededor de este boletín. Nosotros sabemos que Bajo Candado y Llave (ULK) inspira a las personas por que recibimos muchas cartas sobre eso y envían artículos para el mismo. Liberación en la Vida (ROL) no inspiró muchas respuestas o artículos. Así que, vamos a descontinuar ese esfuerzo. En su lugar, nos enfocaremos en apoyo practico y logístico para nuestros liberados. Y seguiremos imprimiendo artículos sobre la liberación en Bajo Candado y Llave (ULK).

    Pónganse en contacto con nosotros si tiene una fecha o espera ser puesto en libertad en los siguientes años. Empiece a trabajar con nosotros ahora para poder ayudarlo a que tenga éxito cuando salga a las calles.

    A continuación hay una entrevista con uno de nuestros camaradas, quien recientemente fue puesto en libertad, subrayando los desafíos con la vida en las calles y la importancia de prepararse y educarse mientras todavía se está preso.


    Saludos Revolucionarios!!! Yo fui puesto en libertad de la Penitenciaria el 9 de Julio del 2018. He estado fuera poco más de un mes. El Gobierno Estatal y Federal no nos están ayudando ni mierda. Esta en nosotros el trabajar duro para proveernos a nosotros mismos. Aprende todo lo que puedas mientras que estas en prisión, porque al salir a estas calles es pura acción sin parar. Para ustedes sin fecha de salida, mucho amor y respeto. Cada uno enseña a uno.

    Pregunta: Has encontrado algún apoyo para encontrar vivienda? Y si no, que has hecho y que recomiendas a otros que hagan sino no tienen todavía arreglado el ir a vivir con otras personas?

    No, no he recibido vivienda. Yo no he recibido ni mierda del gobierno Estatal o Federal. Si tu no tienes amigos o familiares que te den un techo sobre tu cabeza, entonces sí vas a lucharla de verdad aquí fuera. Yo tengo familia y amigos que me han bendecido con apoyo.

    Pregunta: Has podido inscribirte para cualquier programa de apoyo del gobierno (Estampillas para comida; Seguro Social; Asistencia Pública, etc)?

    Sí, me inscribí para beneficios y mierdas de ese tipo, pero, tanto el gobierno Estatal como el Federal me negaron.

    Pregunta: Que hiciste para encontrar trabajo después de haber sido puesto en libertad?

    Yo aplique en agencias de empleo, mierdas como esa, pero cuando investigaban mi nombre, nunca me llamaban. Todavía no tengo trabajo. He estado afuera ya dos meses. Se puede decir que trabajo por mi propia cuenta.

    Pregunta: Tú dices que las personas deberían aprender todo lo que puedan mientras que están presos. En qué tipo de programas y estudios les recomiendas a los presos que se enfoquen en prisión, para prepararse para cuando salgan a las calles?

    Yo digo, que las personas deberían aprender todo lo que puedan en prisión, como leer libros. Yo cumplí mi sentencia en encierro solitario (Ad-Seg) porque soy un miembro activo de STG. Yo mismo me eduqué. Usa tu tiempo sabiamente porque una vez que salgas a calles, es todo otro mundo.

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    [Culture] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Struggle

    All my life
    I felt nothing but pain
    I see no blood, and I see no stains
    I lost all that I gained
    Where do I go
    Where do I run
    Running in circles
    Til my feet are numb

    All my life
    I cry, I lie.
    I became ashamed, so I denied
    What I seen, and where I been
    I promise you won't understand a thing
    See it's a lie
    When they say all champions
    Wear a ring

    All my life
    It's been a struggle
    Some people only understand the trouble
    Doesn't know how it feel to be poor
    And has to hustle

    It doesn't matter how you read it, or how it look
    Never judge a cover without reading the book
    Struggle comes with mistakes
    We all understand positive
    But live our life with hate

    With struggles, life isn't fair
    Even with struggles, someone cares
    With all the hurt and pain
    We learn to move on
    When struggles tear us apart
    We now pick up the pieces
    To try and understand
    We leave the past behind
    Because with all the errors
    And still facing errors
    We can't turn back the time

    Life is a struggle
    For some to comprehend
    Life is a struggle
    To make us become better men
    With tears that fall down our eyes
    That actually means
    We now realize
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