The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Elections] [National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

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:
chain
[Organizing] [Legal] [Censorship] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

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.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

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

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina]
expand

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

chain
[National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

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.

chain
[Control Units] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

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.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

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

chain
[Political Repression] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

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.

chain
[Spanish] [Elections] [Washington] [ULK Issue 5]
expand

Barack Obama y la nación oprimida de aristocrasia laboral

Ahora que Barack Obama ha asegurado la nominación del partido Democratico de los Estados Unidos, es importante que nosotros informemos nuestra nación oprimida de jovenes que esta siendo controlado por las mismas fuerzas que controlan George Bush, lo cual son corporaciones multinacionales, grupos de presión politica y capital patriarca internacional.

Es aparente que Barack Obama será el siguiente presidente de los Estados Unidos considerando la emoción del pais sobre el y la indispocisión de la nación de separar John McCain de George Bush.

Este es el más grande momento decisivo en la historia de los Estados Unidos, porque Barack Obama tiene el potencial de transformar la nación oprimida en este pais en una aristocracia laboral al costo del Tercer Mundo. Esto fortalecerá el imperialismo Estadounidense y debilitará la revolución en un sentido porque entre más y más Negros y Latinos ganan beneficios de la nación opresora, esas naciones oprimidas estarán menos servicial para pelear por el proletariado internacional. Esto a la larga transforma los inmigrantes en el grupo revolucionario numero uno en este pais y el grupo más servicial para pelear por el proletariado internacional.

Aunque Negros y Latinos representan la mayoría de esos encarcelados en carceles y prisiones hoy, verdaderamente creo que el sistema criminal de injusticia como también la policia drasticamente incrementarán sus campañas para encerrar más inmigrantes, y eventualmente los inmigrantes serán la mayoria de esos encarcelados en el bordo de los Estados.

Por cierto, estamos mirando esta tendencia desplegarse a como hablamos. Inmigrantes son el segmento más rapido de crecimiento de los estados y el sistema federal penitenciario. [Casi todas las estadisticas sobre encarcelamiento no separan enmigrantes de "Hispano" en general, haciendo esto difícil de confirmar pero esta creciendo la evidencia que esto es verdad. Existe un aumento significante en construción detenciones federales a lo largo del bordo tras cada ves más leyes draconicas de inmigración y reglas en años recientes. Mientras tanto, la población general de prisioneros ha continuado aumentando, pero algunos sistemas estatales han empesado a recortar. Nosotros recibimos más contribución y investigación en este tema.]

Los prisioneros Estado Unidences son actualmente el segundo más grande grupo revolucionario en este pais. Un muy importante, y algunos incluyendo yo argumentará que este es el más grande punto de vuelta en la historia de Estados Unidos y historia del mundo, y nosotros debemos poner una perspectiva apropiada en este momento crucial de historia. Es aparente que estamos dirigidos hacia ocho años de Barack Obama como presidente de los Estados Unidos y tengo un presentimiento que los siguientes ocho años (2008-2016) será el tiempo más importante en la historia de los Estados Unidos y el mundo.

MIM(Prisiónes) responde: Pensamos que este prisionero ofrece algunos comentarios valiosos sobre la nación oprimida dentro de los bordo Estado Unidence juntandose con la aristocracia laboral. MIM ha estado diciendo por años que las naciónes oprimidas son una parte de la aristocracia laboral, entonces no estamos de acuerdo que tomará Obama ser presidente para causar esta transformación. La realidad de vida en Amerika es que todos los ciudadanos se benefician de la economía de este pais imperialista y eso incluye las naciones oprimidas dentro. Por lo tanto, el interes de clase de naciones oprimidas dentro ya esta con el imperialismo. [Mira MIM Teoria 1 y MIM Teoria 10 para más detallada economia y analicis politico de clase dentro de los bordos Estadounidenses.]

Miramos naciones oprimidas dentro como potencial revolucionario por sus intereses nacionales. Pero estamos de acuerdo con este prisionero y su punto en general que el gobierno Estadounidense podría empujar hacia adelante la condición nacional de naciones oprimidas internas para elevar sus intereces nacionales para alinearlos con el imperialismo. La historia de Estados Unidos tiene bastantes ejemplos de naciones oprimidas juntandose con la nación opresora, pero esos grupos eran blancos de diversos paises, como los irlandeses [mira Colonos: La mitologia del proletariado blanco escrito por Sakai.]

chain
[Gender] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Rising incarceration rates of women and the destruction of family and community in Amerika

In the midst of Amerika's soaring prison and jail population, quite possibly the country's only real growth industry, what is often overlooked is the destruction it is wreaking on family and community. For all their polemics about "family values," no Republican or Democratic presidential candidate bothered to address, or even "spin" the subject on any level. This alone should be enough to alert any person of good conscience to the fact that something is afoot and to the distinct probability that these acts of omissions add up to a purposed agenda of the state and the powers it represents.

As of June 30, 2006, there were 2,245,189 persons incarcerated in the united $tates. That is 1 out of every 133 Amerikans and the highest per capita incarceration rates in history. This is a 2.8% increase over the previous year, and this rising incarceration rate has been rapidly accelerating since the 1960s. This trend is accompanied by an increasing racial disparity, with 4.8% of all Black men, 1.8% of all Hispanic men, and .7% of all white men in the united $tates incarcerated. Most alarming, however, is the 4.8% increase in the incarceration rate of women, as compared to 2.7% for men, for a total of 111,403 in prison as of June 30, 2006, with Black women incarcerated at nearly 4 times the rate of white women and more than twice the rate of Hispanic women. (See Bureau of Justice Statistics, [ul]Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006[/ul], NCJ217675 (June 2007)).

Moreover, the Washington DC-based Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP) statistically analyzed prison population trends in all 50 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and projected the total prison population, not including jail, will increase by 192,023 to 1.7 million between 2007 and 2011. That's three times the growth of the u$ population and an overall increase of 13%, comprised of 12% for men and 16% for women. (See PSPP, [ul]Public Safety, Public Spending, Forecasting Amerika's Prison Population 2007-2011[/ul]).

As shown by these statistics and projections, '07 through '11 are going to be lucky years for the prison industry but not for the persons included in and affected by them, particularly, women and their families. To argue that these numbers point to some accidental anomaly would strain the bonds of credulity past the breaking point, as they represent nothing less than the achieved goal of state repression of so-called minority communities in Amerika, with said goal encompassing the destruction of family as well. "Minorities" first, then everyone else.

These statistics serve to reveal and confirm the long-term pattern of intentional destruction of community and family in the ghettos and barrios of Amerika that already struggle for existence under a virtual police siege and occupation. The state has come to recognize that, with most of the men incarcerated, the women, our mothers and daughters, are still carrying on - the glue holding family and community together - so it has set about to eliminate them via incarceration. The final stage in the planned destruction of women's continued ability to resist the state's destruction of their families and communities.

This plan includes redlining by insurance companies and a direct attack on home ownership by refusing to offer reasonable mortgages in "minority" communities and, instead, offering subprime and adjustable rate mortgages, with women much more likely to be saddled with a bad mortgage than men, a good credit rating not withstanding. Further, with only starvation-wage employment available to them, many of these women are forced to subsist on welfare. The December 1, 2007, New York Times reported that almost half the states refuse to pass on the money collected for child support to the families on welfare, with most of the remaining states only passing along $50 per month, in spite of studies done of a Wisconsin experiment that showed "when support payments were fully passed along to mothers, more fathers came forward and paid...and were more likely to establish lasting patterns of payment and connection with their children." Of course, incarcerated parents are usually unable to pay any child support.

Families have little chance to survive intact with the men locked-up and the women financially hamstrung. However, chance has been removed from the equation by the state-administered death blow of locking up women wholesale for minor drug and property crimes. Imagine, if you can, that you are an oppressed nation woman trying to survive and hold a family together in the face of this flagrant state repression. Pretty scary, yes? And even scarier if you are one of the 12 million immigrants trying to do so. Patriarchy and white privilege uber alles! The state keeps its foot on our necks by using the age-old tactic of divide and conquer. Divide the community, then divide the family and all that is left are isolated individuals whose existence is completely state-mediated.

With family and community in the advanced stages of disintegration, all that remains are the children - alienated and utterly deprived of meaningful family and community upbringing. Children with fathers, and now mothers, in jail or prison. Children driven into foster "homes," juvenile detention facilities and even adult jails and prisons. Children rendered functionally illiterate by an educational system that is steadily being pried from the hands of our communities and handed over to state control. Children born and bred in a world where the driving premise is everyone for themselves and devil take the hindmost. Children artfully molded to "be all they can be," which sadly amounts to the brainwashed cannon-fodder of the Amerikan imperialist dream-death machine.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that imprisonment of men is a direct blow to families, particularly oppressed nation families, and that the incarceration of increasing numbers of wimmin means increasing devastation to families. It is true that the imprisonment rate of wimmin is rising faster than that for men, but in absolute numbers there are still far more men locked up every year and prisons are still primarily used to target oppressed nation men within U.$. borders. Also of note, for the first time since the penitentiary replaced the poor houses over a century ago, we are seeing whole families locked up in detention centers along the border with Mexico. Migrant men, wimmin and even children are probably the fastest growing group in u$ prisons.

There are issues specifically relevant to wimmin prisoners, most obvious is placement of children in foster systems because wimmin are typically the primary caregivers for children. While men may be able to rely on their wives to care for their children when they are locked up, and single men are unlikely to have custody of children, the reverse is not true for wimmin. But the loss of connection to their families and particular children has devastating effects on men and their children as well.

Groups and individuals who claim to value family and community should be working with us to stop the growth of prisons in Amerika and set up programs for family contact where they do exist. These attacks on families are some of the reasons we can still talk about oppressed nations existing within u$ borders. As long as these conditions exist there will be groups of people whose existence demands the end to imperialism and white power in this country.

chain