The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Texas]
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Stop being passive and join the fight

As I sit here and watch what the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has done to my fellow man, I can't help but pick up the banner of justice and fight for a just cause.

What I see day in and day out, is a group of men beaten by a system of oppression, with no identity or cause to go on living under the title of "men." Everyone in this system has given up. They are in a state of confusion, with no understanding on what it means to be free. Free from the bonds that the system wants you to be in.

I've noticed that it's not that the system that won't let you educate yourself, they just won't. They are more interested in the idiot box (TV) and being modern day slaves of the system. The average inmate is content with where he is now. The three meals, television and living quarters, a six by nine cinder block cell, is more than some have in the free world. The mentality is that its free food, no bills, and free medications for the taking. It's a pitiful sight.

With thinking like this, the injustice system will never change. Texas is so far behind times that we still don't get good time and work time, but even with this, you are doing 80% of your time. What does it take for everyone to realize we can change this system and break it from the inside out? Without our labor, this system would fold in on itself. Our free labor makes the revenue to run this system. No work, no money.

Anywhere you look and read, the Texas prison system is running at 50 to 60% shortage of officers. As many as they hire, the same amount quit. If no one worked who would replace us and at what cost? They simply couldn't. But Texas doesn't have to worry because the breed of prisoner now is content with oppression. It's a sad sight, but it's the truth.

No one is willing to sacrifice for a better future and your basic human rights. Can't they see we are a force that can't be denied. You don't stop being a man just because you were sentenced to do time. A man will always be a man regardless of the situations he is put in.

It's hard to make them understand. the literature is open for the reading. Education, struggle, sacrifice, and unity is key for success. I'm doing my part to make the movement known. Fear has just been embedded so deep by authority that it eats their whole insides and steals their hope. Without hope, their futures are lost.

All I can say is that, I plead that these brothers (by brothers, I mean all races) open their eyes and stand up against the injustices of the system. If you have a voice, let it be heard and felt. The same fear that the system throws our way, it can be used in return. I hope word goes out to all brothers of the struggle. Educate yourselves to educate others. It is key to further the cause, and stop the injustices of not only our system, but all inustice systems of these united states.

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[Elections] [National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Misplaced rejoicing in prisons over Obama victory

A few weeks ago during the presidential election, towards the end of the evening, once it became apparent that Barack Obama would become the heir to the throne of U.S. imperialism an eruption of applause and of hooting and hollering took hold of the dungeon I am housed in. With all of the damn racket going on, I would have thought that the "three strikers" law had finally been defeated, but no, instead the source of all the ruckus was the materialization of an almost unfathomable dream for so many of my Black brothers and sisters, a Black man becoming president of the United States of Oppression. The night's celebrations almost seemed dignified. However, to quote another former member of the ruling class "what does it matter what color the cat is?" "what does it matter if the cat is black or white?" "what matters is if the cat will catch mice." (Deng Xiaoping)

In a way, I welcomed the mighty cheering and truly undue attention, it provided me with yet another opportunity to engage my fellow prisoners. The following morning during morning chow I just happened to sit with three of my Black brothers. During the course of our meal my fellow prisoners were ecstatic with almost an euphoric glow of pride and accomplishment. They went on and on with how "it's on now" and talk of how things were going to be different now that Obama's the new Pres. elect. I asked them what, that besides the obvious (a Black man becoming president), is there really to be happy about? I asked them what would Obama really be doing for them? What would Obama be doing for me? Would Obama be doing something for our families and the people of the U.S. internal colonies? What would Obama be doing for the people of the Third World, the truly oppressed, the people? Absolutely nothing at all. Obama will not open the prisons. Obama will not help me get out. Will Obama help my proletarian mother with free health care, or even affordable health care for that matter? Will Obama pay my mother's rent to the slum lord? Is Obama going to provide me with a free and real education? Will he help me to help myself to better serve the people? Will Obama begin to steer the U.S. away from its decadent, exploitative, capitalist, imperialist, war mongering ways?

No, Obama's not gonna do a motherfucking thing but sit his ass in that Oval Office and continue the U.S. dangerous and destructive quest in its search for capital. So what the hell is everybody so happy about? Now, for a second there I thought my ass was toast being that I'm a Mexican. They might have just looked at me as being racist or that I was simply talking out of my neck. However, to my complete amazement, they did nothing but sit there and think about the words that we're coming out of my mouth. This gave me some semblance of joy, because at the very least, I think I gave them something to think about. However, a few seconds later they continued with their praises for Obama.

Even if I didn't completely get through to them, I think that at least I gave them something to think about, even if they initially rejected what I had to say I will continue to engage my fellow prisoners into deeper thought.

It is truly unfortunate that so many and so much of our potential revolutionary base is so blinded and so distracted by the razzle dazzle and lies of our oppressive system.

For those of us who are somewhat educated and informed concerning the truth about socialism and communism and of the climes of capitalism it is our duty and our obligation to voice the real and engage our fellow prisoners into deeper thought, theory and practice. If the groundwork is never done and the ground is never broken, then how can there be a base for a foundation of a socialist and communist movement? How can there be real change if the system is never changed, only its leaders? For those of us who are convinced that we are 'soldiers' ask yourself, who's soldier are you? Are you some common criminal's soldier? Do you fight and work for greed, power and lust of recognition? Or will you be the People's soldier? Will you fight for the peasantry and the proletariat, the People?

Like MIM likes to say "MIM can't do it all," and reading MIM Notes or Under Lock and Key isn't enough. We must help ourselves and find ways to make things better.

So will you become a true soldier and wave that red banner of revolution? Become the People's soldier, become the vanguard. Away with this oppressive system and all that it entails. Away with capitalism, imperialism and stupid petty divisional differences such as gang rivalries and race riots. It is time for the proletarians of our world to unite. Lay waste to the oppressor and all its minions.

MIM adds: In addition to the questions about what Obama will do for prisoners and oppressed nations within U.$. borders, we have to always ask the bigger question: will he change the militarist imperialist nature of Amerika? If not, even small reforms within U.$. borders will not represent any kind of victory over capitalism and global oppression.

This article referenced in:
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[Organizing] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 6]
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Organizing a strike in Ohio

I'm an incarcerated comrade in the Maximum Security Prison of Ohio. Currently I'm in a specialized isolation unit on 23 hour lockdown called "4B". At the present moment our cell block is on a hunger strike/activities strike where we have pulled our collective minds and initiative to express our dissatisfaction at the treatment that has been administered by the prison officer of 2nd shift (2pm to 10pm).

Now, this was not organized by me, nor was I involved in the nucleus of organizing and planning this act. But, being bound by my imprisonment, I, as well as every other prisoner on this cell block, are obligated to come together and stand up against the oppressive actions administered by this reactionary, police-system in all its many forms.

What we are striking about is that the second shift officer has repeatedly neglected his duties by not picking up our outgoing mail; he has repeatedly passed mail to the wrong cell/prisoner; he has repeatedly denied to pass out kites, write-ups/informals and other institutional forms of communication (being we're on isolated blocks, these are our only means of communications). This same CO has not taken the meal list for days at a time: since I'm Muslim, I do not eat prison meat, along with other dietary preferences, we have missed meals without a choice in the matter, and this has spurred even more outrage.

This same C/O (officer) has attempted to spark a "race" conflict between the Blacks and whites by saying racial statements and joking trying to cause division. (This prison is far from an urban area where many prison staff are not accustomed to diverse cultures and skin tones. Here, the white supremacist prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, is backed by the prison staff.) For the last few days, prisoners on this cell block have put in work; but, these activities are not new to this prison nor to prison in general.

In trying to speak to higher prison officials to unveil our discontent of the actions administered by this officer (which, in reality, is only a representation of the nature of the prison-system, and in turn, the Amerikan system), this battle of ours will not cease, Blacks and whites shall continue to uphold the struggle in the face of the slobbing Pig. Thus far no one has backed down, even in the midst of opposition - which is coming in many forms. For example, a C/O sprayed mace in the ceiling vents which are connected to all the cells on this block. His excuse was that it "came from another cell block."

All in all, my intentions for writing this was to point out the fact that this system of oppression does not comprehend anything less than revolutionary united struggle. They only understand aggression and asserted action (viz the organized power of the proletariat) so long as we do not realize our power through concerted effort the oppressors will continue to win! We must play the game they play! Think about that!

- Ohio USW leader

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[Organizing] [Legal] [Censorship] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
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Combat their Violence with the Law

I'm in solitary and they have strict magazine/newspaper rules, meaning no magazines/newspapers and just this last week they said no books. I'm grieving them on the books and all the returns using this case law: Prison Legal News v. Lehman 397 5.30 692 (9th Cir. 2005) - prisons may not prohibit prisoners from receiving non-subscription mail and catalogs, Sonnels v. McKee, 290 F.30 965 (9th Cir 2002) - prisons may not ban gift publications for which prisoner has not paid, and Morrison v. Hall, 261 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2001) - prisons may not ban receipt of subscription publications sent by bulk, third or fourth class mail. I've tried writing to the mailroom and explaining the way they've been in the wrong, nicely. But it seems there's no other way but to grieve and most likely prosecute.

It's not just mail and books I've been grieving and this might be why they have been holding/denying my mail. I've grieved mental health all the way to level three and also medical for deliberate indifference. They have mentally ill prisoners over here in solitary who regularly get peppersprayed, stun gunned, thrown around, thrown on strip cell, and even end up killing themselves. The C/O's kick their doors every count, waking them up. Calling them names, egging them on. Sgt. Feikert commented just last week as they zipped up Mark in his body bag, "No big loss, this scumbag did us a favor, we need the bedspace."

I read a piece by Emile Capouya called, "Laying Down the Gun," that says this about C/Os, "The policeman's... training... [is] directed to a single object... making the system safe for the powerful. The deformation of character he suffers may be greater or less than that of the 'other' born losers he is paid to keep in line, but I imagine it must be substantial." And I can see it in their faces. They're in the belly of this beast called prison even though they go home to sleep. I've been locked up for six years, but against my will. They drive their sorry selves here each day.

But isn't the key in the general strike? If that was awakened again I believe it could work. It's not about violence, is it? I don't know but like I told these other organizations, if you could have talked to me one year ago I wouldn't have been able to tell you there's 2.3 million people caged in the U.$. of A's prison industrial complex. In my mind I knew something wasn't right and I literally saw no better way than to take a couple cops with me, hence my disarming an officer charge. But now I have something larger and more pressing to put my weight behind. I just hope others like myself see the truth before it's too late for them.

MIM(Prisons) says: We also spend a lot of time explaining to prison mailrooms and administrators when they are breaking their own rules and laws. But often they will not address the misdeeds and it is then necessary to prosecute in the courts, as this comrade explains. Unfortunately, this is usually the case, as years of reporting in Under Lock & Key have documented. Like the quote in this letter implies, this is only to be expected from those who are trained to serve the interests of the state. While oppression of certain groups serves the state, so does a semblance of bourgeois democratic rights. That is why we can usually count on the courts to give us a more fair shake than the pigs will. Such battles are necessary survival tactics for the oppressed and for the movement.

The author, like many who write us, is someone who used to think killing cops was the only way to defend himself from the attacks he faced. Prison staff abuse and disregard the lives of prisoners regularly as he describes. Lives are at stake in the amerikan prison environment, both prisoners and cops. Yet official policy institutionalizes violence by encouraging a culture of punishment while often denying any administrative recourse for those who are being abused. In many of these same facilities, even outside parties such as MIM(Prisons) have no recourse with these state employees, nominally servants of the people, when they violate our guaranteed rights by preventing us from communicating and associating with others.

MIM(Prisons) works with comrades like this to find a real solution to these problems because fist fights and stabbings are not the answer to abuse in prisons. We hope that the prison administration will recognize this and begin treating prisoners like humyn beings. Studies have shown that the u$ prison system inherently breeds abuse, while history demonstrates that only a socialist prison system that puts the interests of the world's people first can provide a viable alternative where those who have committed real crimes are restored and not victimized. So it is important that we use long legal battles to build outside pressure and oversight on what is going on inside u$ concentration camps today, in order to bring this contradiction of capitalist society to the forefront while building a broader anti-imperialist united front.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 6]
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Truth


Illusion of justice tried
to convict me
I can't tell a lie for
you to believe me
Perjure my dignity
Alienate my self respect
truth isn't a coward, truth
sets me free, respect that
Give me liberty or give me death
Truth is I'm still being me

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina]
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Break Chains


I look to Africa when
I've lost my determination
across the oceans depths my
history
within the bloody waves my
ancestry

Reflections raindrops of
emancipation ripple through
to the currents of life
the spirit of my people struggle
break chains
Alive in my eyes I find strength to fight

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[National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Former drug dealer takes up anti-imperialist struggle

This week I've been fortunate to be passed on information about the MIM organization and learn of your commitment to the oppressed of all colors. I'm a New Afrikan and the light bulb just came on for me, as I'm steadily evolving mentally and being enlightened with our past struggles, our current struggles and it's a fight one must put up to the very end.

As I sit in prison for the first time I vividly see the conspiracy on Black and Latino men. Miseducation and poverty, we're set up to fail and become a profit for white supremacists. This ordeal is beyond huge. As a reformed drug dealer from South Central, I see how I added to the problem, and I'm forever done with poisoning my folks.

What I like about this organization is, it's not about the individual but about the collective.

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[Control Units] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
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Utah classification system - we must rise above

Here in Utah the lower your classification number the higher risk you are. For example, level 5 prisoners have gate passes and can work in the community or get home visits. Level 4 and 3 prisoners are housed in general population, level 2s are housed in one of two different control units here at the Utah State Prison, depending on if they are considered STG or not, and level ones are housed in a single man cell, with no commissary privileges other than hygiene or writing materials. If you are a level one and in the hole, then you come out three times a week for a fifteen minute shower. You're walked on a dog leash, cuffed and shackled with a spit mask placed over your face by two pigs.

I've been a level one prisoner before and I am grateful for the learning experience. I can tell you first hand that this injustice system is designed to break your mind, body and soul. The best way to combat this system is to first educate ourselves and one another. Unity is essential to our survival and our rise out from under the oppression!

I would like to give thanks to MIM for all the work y'all do to educate the masses. I can go on for days about the conditions of control units and how some of us rise above and how others fall for the okeydoke. Please send me more literature whenever possible.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Locking down the fighters against injustice as so-called "high risk" prisoners is one strategy used by prisons across the country to fight prisoners' attempts to organize. It is true that prisoners are given privileges for closing their eyes and ignoring the injustice and brutality of prison. And those who rise above and take up the anti-imperialist fight are given control unit housing.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
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Big money deals


big money deals
involving big wheels
backed by the law
leave you in awe

But you didn't know
that by chasing the gold
they trampled the rights
for which America fights

State prisons abound
and still breaking ground
across this great land
to feed the demand

The feds are right there
getting their share
partners in crime
without doing time

Then there are prison for profit
who would have thought it
not me and you
it's sad but it's true

Justice for sale
will only fail
to deal with crime
but hey...it's your dime

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[Political Repression] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
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Punitive transfers in Michigan

My transfer was the inevitable response of Kinross Correctional Facility's (KCF) administration to my aggressive pro-prisoner stance as an elected prisoner representative. Apparently, the KCF administration felt threatened by the performance of my duty, as a member of the Prisoner Benefit Fund (PBF) Committee, by addressing the removal and destruction of PBF purchased books from the KCF library by Librarian Debra Herbig and the theft of several large spools of cable and numerous cable junction boxes, intended for the upgrade of our cable TV system, by the head of maintenance.

I was not alone in this as my fellow prisoner rep and PBF Committee member was similarly transferred. Said transfers were retaliatory and punitive, as the prisons we were transferred to are notoriously rotten prisons. Moreover, the KCF administration did not want to deal with the other issues we raised, such as the flagrant exploitation of our labor power (we paraphrased the similar demand of the Attica State Prison rebellion), the horrifying conditions in KCFs segregation unit, which clearly constitute torture, and the purposed scheduling of our PBF fundraiser during the Ramadan fast.

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