With that I am proud to say that they called me back within 24 hours, saying I "will no longer have any problems receiving [my] mail" :)
Finally, yesterday my name was called to pick up Sept/Oct. 2016, No. 52 issue. Honestly I was shocked, empowered to know the feeling of winning these people is such a childish move on their behalf. I sat in the dayroom reading the publication with honor and pride.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This victory came through comrades coming together and filing appeals and paperwork on the inside and the outside. This comrade should be proud for standing up for eir First Amendment rights and following through on the bureaucratic process that is often there to wear you down.
First, before we erect or construct anything we must have a strong foundation, a base – so to speak. Otherwise the whole structure will eventually collapse. That said, we must focus most of our energy and efforts on building a base inside prison, then work our way outwards. Once we are well-rooted, it will be easy to branch out by sending our ideology to the streets with serious minded brothas/sistas who will push the movement out there. However, that is not to say that we shouldn't be trying to build out there right now.
Thus, we must advocate for the development of a movement rooted in the revolutionary tradition that looks out for the interests of all oppressed people as a whole, opposes fratricidal violence (black-on-black, brown-on-brown) and work to develop an alliance with other social movements outside prison.
Secondly, we must understand that even small movements, because they include people with different ideas, reveal political debates over next steps, practical objectives, potential allies, and movement tactics. The idea and politics that guide a specific movement have a profound effect on its ultimate direction as well as on the activists involved. But, the guiding politics of social movement don't simply appear out of thin air. Rank-and-file BPP members themselves invented the armed self-defense tactics just as rank-and-file civil rights leaders developed the civil disobedience and non-violent protest strategy, and these members had to win others to these new tactics through a process of political debate and experience. They were leading with their ideas and testing them in practice.
Political leadership is just this: individuals, with the experience of struggle, can advance ideas and tactics that will strengthen the movement and develop to help prepare it for the next stages in struggle — whether economic, political, or ideological.
Huey P. Newton and others recognized the importance of uniting oppressed people into a political party that could act as a unit, providing leadership and an important counter-weight to the overbearing power of the capitalist state.
I'm going to finish with a quote from one of the leaders of the Black Power movement, who said "when a people arises, when it develops awareness, when it is convinced of the righteousness of its actions, there is nothing that can stop it. The people sweep aside all obstacles placed in their path like a whirlwind cleaning out all the dirt in a country."
Now, we have a lot of work to do before we can go around making claims like that. But this idea that we need to be building inside right now is, I think, the only perspective that fits when you understand that we're looking at a war against the system that is being launched from within, and when you understand the scale of resistance that is necessary.
People are receptive to the "idea" of resisting, but they're doing so in a context in which their revolutionary spirit is very weak and needs to be ignited. But, this is the task of our generation, and I think these kinds of ideas we are building on now are all about the process of trying to rebuild that Black revolutionary fighting anti-capitalist regime.
MIM(Prisons) adds: "Unity from the inside out" is a slogan that United Struggle from Within has used in promoting the development of unity among and between lumpen organizations (LOs) in prison. This slogan echoes the strategy promoted above of building a strong prison movement to affect the rest of society. Sloganeering is one of the tactical tasks necessary to build an effective anti-imperialist movement. Good slogans are based in mass line. This means taking correct ideas from the masses and reinforcing them through propaganda. Finding effective slogans and language that connects the mass consciousness to the revolutionary struggle should be a focus of USW. This is part of what it means to provide leadership as the comrade describes above.
Currently on a day to day we are faced with dealing with situations that are not part of our sentence. For me I have to decide what approach or tactics I can use dealing with correctional staff whose behavior has escalated from being rude to disrespectful and retaliative. Here, in Washington, Correctional Officers (COs) try to gain popularity amongst their peers by doing disrespectful things and abusing their authority in order to impress each other. They do things like slam your cuff door, kick your door while you sleep, and put your handcuffs on too tight. I've seen officers tampering with an offender's food. This causes me anxiety. I suffer from panic attacks and my mental stability can't handle the paranoia.
It's like figuring out how to deal with a high school bully. I've completed courses in Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and also dispute resolutions. I've taken classes on human relations and was a very popular person out in the community where I am from. The CO is a new kind of bully. Similar to a bad boss you can choose to submit to their abusive ways, you know, favoritism, laziness, lying to offenders, slacking off, pretending as if their job is hard and stressful. You can become more passive and avoid conflict and simply stay out the way. Take the disrespect with a smile, do your time, and go home. My father told me to do this, to succumb to their oppression, do your time, and come home.
Because I've been sentenced to 126 months to life they have extended my sentence 3 times due to infractions and some made up reason concerning my mental health. I am a convicted sex offender guilty of rape in the 2nd degree domestic violence. A crime I committed against the mother of my child. Having said that, I understand the ideology that a sex offender is a pathetic human being deserving of whatever treatment he or she has coming. However, with crime, and I mean any crime now, there are people who will suffer indirectly. Families and loved ones who care get victimized when an offender is in prison and receives unfair, cruel and unusual punishment, abuse and neglect and these are people living the right way.
For a criminal to just avoid conflict, do his time and get out, is far more damaging because you left that offender in a cycle of behavior that leads to more crime and often someone's death. So no I don't choose to just do my time and go home. I continue to make a difference, that's how I do my time. If god wants me to be in here for 20 more years so be it. I am helping the men in here internalize change. I may have stopped a family member or loved one from harm by providing new perspectives and ideas that change minds and unlock potential.
So these five tactics I've come up with have nothing to do with avoiding. Just providing solutions.
Before deciding to deal with any issue check your intentions. Deciding whether the issue is detrimental or not and it has nothing to do with your ego.
Learn the 7 habits of highly effective people. Use them, practice them with your comrades. Seek first to understand all angles, give little of your reasoning but get all of theirs. That way you can punch holes in their lies and stories.
Push paperwork, write grievances and kites, use them as documentation. Because you never know when it may go to a lawsuit. Of course, that is not the goal, but fairness and equal protection treatment is.
Transfer power, officers tend to make a lot of mistakes but be considerate of their intentions. A lot of times it's because they haven't been told something or simply feel discomfort. You can ease the tension by helping them see the bigger perspective simply by asking questions. So that way they can come to their own conclusions.
Be reasonable, listen to reason and compromise. In the end it is all about respect. You will have officers who are flat out disrespectful. A lot of them feel they have to operate this way in order to get complacence and respect. So you can't take it personal but you should handle all your issues at the lowest form always.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We want to applaud this comrade's commitment to do more than just do eir time, instead trying to transform the consciousness of others while locked behind bars. There are a few things in here we want to comment on. First, many will criticize us for even printing something written by a sex offender, but we want to push people to consider the ideas rather than judging them based on the background of the people who put out the ideas. 2+2=4 no matter who says it. But even more importantly, someone who previously advocated that 2+2=5 can change and learn why eir previous answer was wrong. We believe the same is true of all people who commit acts against the people with sufficient self-criticism and re-education.
As far as the tactics proposed by this comrade, we agree with the points that promote checking your ego, and filing grievances and maintaining documentation. However, we have some disagreements with this writer's proposals about how to deal with people. First, when dealing with our comrades we should not tell people to "give little of your reasoning but get all of theirs." If this comrade is suggesting we do this with the enemy then that's fine, but with our comrades we should be honest and straightforward about our reasoning as we seek to build unity and respect.
On the other hand we think this writer gives too much credit to officers suggesting that they can be won over through respect and consideration. While it's true that we don't need to start with aggressiveness and should seek to diffuse situations that might work against us, we should not fool ourselves into believing that officers will come around to our side if we just treat them nicely. The prison system is set up to put officers in a position where abuse of prisoners is encouraged. It's not just personalities of individuals or lack of perspective that cause the problems, it's the system itself. We need to be clear on this so that we can stay focused on the system as the enemy.
by a Pennsylvania prisoner December 2016 permalink
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was created to help prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment inside U.$. prisons and to hold fully accountable those found guilty of sexual misconduct. But is this really the case? I beg to differ with those who fully support PREA.
As a transgender woman, I am victimized daily in one way or another at the hands of my fellow prisoners and staff. I should feel free to report sexual assault/sexual harassment, but the fact is, I'm afraid to or at least reluctant to do so. The pigs in authority here in this particular gulag have decided to create a stipulation that prevents me from coming out of my cell without being video/audio recorded via hand-held camcorder. I am being told that it is for my safety and that of others. I say bullshit. This is retaliation at its finest, subtle and cloaked.
I am at the fascists' mercy for shower, yard, law library and anything else out of my cell. If my captors decide they don't feel like going through the motions with the camera (which is often) they simply have to claim that the camcorder is unavailable and/or out of service for the time being. Thus my right to shower, yard, law library, etc., is more often than not violated. I've pointed out numerous times that there are video cameras in every area of the prison, and there isn't a spot in this place that I can go that is beyond the view of a camera, but the pigs say that audio is needed for my claims of sexual harassment. When I point out that a majority of my sexual harassment allegations occurred when I was inside my cell, they have nothing more to say, as I've tripped them up in their own game.
It's simple. Things like this are done to discourage anyone from reporting any type of PREA violation whether it happened or not. Fear of retaliation alone is a violation of PREA standards. I wonder just how many others are experiencing this type of issue and what as a whole, we can do about it. Any suggestions, comrades?
MIM(Prisons) responds: Gender oppression is one of many forms of abuse faced by prisoners in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. While the PREA laws appear on the surface to take this problem seriously, we have seen that in practice PREA is more about image than action. And this is not the first report we have received about manipulation of the PREA laws to actually harm those who are experiencing the sexual harassment. We have written previously about PREA and the problems of sexual assault in prisons. Our overall conclusion is that we can not rely on the oppressors to enact policies that will stop oppression. Instead we look to the example of groups like Men Against Sexism, an organization in Washington prisons in the 1970s, to defend against sexual assault and change the culture of what was acceptable among prisoners. Organized action by the oppressed at a group level is necessary to overthrow patriarchy.
I recently received my first issue of Under Lock & Key (52). I must say that your cause is a noble one. From 2009 to 2013 I was a police officer with the Birmingham Police Department here in Alabama. I got into the law enforcement profession with the sole intent of making the world a better place by serving the people, upholding the constitution, and taking dangerous criminals off the street. It didn't take me long to realize, however, that the most dangerous criminals were my very own fellow officers. Everywhere I looked within my department was corruption, tyranny and oppression.
The details of all the events that led up to my incarceration as a political prisoner are too numerous to list in this letter, but I assure you, they are atrocious. The basic gist of it is that after repeated attempts to corrupt me and indoctrinate me as an oppressor, and my subsequent refusal and threats to report my knowledge of corruption within my department to federal law enforcement authorities, officials from my department erroneously charged me with setting fire to multiple abandoned and condemned houses that were being used as dens for drugs and prostitution. This is all a vicious lie concocted by the government.
Having faith in the old saying “the truth shall set you free” and the belief that we are innocent until proven guilty in this country and will receive a fair and honest trial, I chose to fight my case in our so-called criminal justice system or, as I quickly discovered, the criminal Injustice system.
I was informed very arrogantly by the investigators (Birmingham police officials) that they had “hand picked” the judge who was over my case and if I didn't accept a plea deal then this particular judge was going to “crush” me. The judge himself even told me that if I accepted the plea deal he would show me mercy, but if I rejected the plea deal and took my case to trial then “there would be no mercy.”
Refusing to be bullied and intimidated into confessing to crimes that I did not commit and begging for mercy when I had done nothing that required it, I proceeded to trial. After an unfair and totally biased and one-sided monkey trial in a Kangaroo court (it took me a while to realize I wasn't at the zoo), I am now firmly of the opinion that D.A. stands for “Disinformation Agent” and that our judges have even less honor than a thief in the night. I was not allowed to present video evidence that proved my innocence and showed intimidation and coercion by police officials. Unfortunately, I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 100 years in prison.
I am not submitting my story as an invitation to any pity party, but merely to attest to the corrupt and broken system that I'm ashamed to say I once worked for. A system that sends a man to prison for 100 years for non-violent property crimes where no death or injury occurred; crimes that he didn't even commit.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives us a good example of why we say that we must judge people by their actions and not just their history. People are capable of learning and changing. Someone who was formerly working for the oppressors can realize their mistake and join the cause of the oppressed. Most often this happens when someone loses their position of privilege, but sometimes it can happen just through education.
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution some people were imprisoned for anti-people activities and provided with education about why it is wrong to oppress other people. And we have examples of people who came out of these prisons devoted to serving the people, thoroughly ashamed of their former harmful actions and committed to change. This education is easier when we have state power and the government is working in the interests of the oppressed, but even now we can score victories, especially behind bars, with those who came to prison with erroneous ideas and participated in actions that harmed the people. For this reason we must judge people not by what they say, or by labels they have been given, but by their actions. Those who demonstrate to be consistently working on the side of the oppressed have a place in the revolutionary united front.
As a Black nationalist and a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE), I identify politically as Socialist. See my nationalism is on the lines of Pan-Afrikanism in alignment with the RBG and Global Panther movements. I push the Panthers 10 point program, though I be considered a Political Prisoner under the 8th demand of the 10 point program. I am a force of change even in here, by having intellectual exchanges regularly with members from all ethnic background and mindsets, sharing books full of facts about revolutionary struggles, facilitating a weekly NGE meeting where 23 prisoners discuss positive change ideals for the family units and communities.
We discuss a new underground railroad; as a network of Blacks, Asians, whites, and islanders inviting [email protected] immigrants into our homes for hiding purposes if and when the mass deportation starts taking place. We recognize we the oppressed nations in the United Snakes aren't several groups divided by race and ethnicity, but one group oppressed by capitalism in an effort to create a new economic slave class of citizens who barely survive while corporation owners benefit from the labor of these masses and live lives of lavish ecstasy. We have to unite as one with the Third World nations under the umbrella of Socialism. We are going to change law through proposing new legislation, creating a more equal legal system for our advancements as a single people, with one universal goal and intention "Self Rule & Self Govern".
This is Revolutionary and will take the effort of the people to become self-educated in these crucial areas. Taking our united fight to the floor of the United Nations and to every block in every country known to man.
Know you not that Governments are insurgent forces feeding off of the progress of the masses. There is no freedom under capitalistic rule, because everything has a price in a capitalistic society and so freedom is way too expensive for the common man.
We strive for the power to go from thought to product with outside help, from concept to conception without enlisting our oppressors. After 500 years we haven't created one gun, produced one car, owned one textile company, sent one astronaut to the moon by our self; we've done absolutely nothing to advance our independence from our oppressors. Not because we love them so much we don't wanna leave them but because the global system built around us has grown so much over the years that no matter where you are in this world, the effects of this government are felt and the ways of oppression continue to change due to its appetite and need.
Black Nationalism is not a hate group, based on racism. No we want all people to take care of their own, mate within their own and know about there own greatness. We also want this for ourselves.
I received September/October issue of Under Lock & Key. I have a couple of comments to share, regarding what I read. One person, page 9, thought the AEH in California meant he had to love someone who killed someone over his "views and beliefs." That's not what you're being asked. It would seem to me that if we look around there are serious issues that could be dealt with more effectively if we were to combine our resources. I've been in here going on 50 years, and trust me, I don't like everyone I work with. Doesn't matter — if we're fighting the same enemy.
Secondly, regarding the Texas gulag system hiding the prisoners' grievance manual, doesn't the state have an Open Records Act, or FOIA law? Even a backwater like Texas should have at least one of them.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This brief letter is very relevant to the question of the United Front and who we can unite with. We agree with this writer that we can be more effective united, and it is definitely true that we don't have to like everyone we work with. The views and behaviors we have learned over a lifetime of living under capitalist patriarchy are going to be filled with stuff that other people don't like. And perhaps more importantly, those people who aren't even interested in trying to fight their patriarchal views or other anti-people beliefs might still be potential allies. We don't have to like them, but if they are down for fighting on the side of the oppressed against the criminal injustice system we can ally with them in the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Over time we can also hope to educate them further in the various forms of oppression and perhaps awaken a broader desire for justice and equality. But we do not need all of our allies to also be close comrades. To require this would mean sacrificing our goals for unattainable ideals.
It's been rough these past couple months at Gulf Correctional Institution Annex, that is ever since prisoners attempted to have a non-violent sit down. On 8 September 2016 Administration walked around to every dorm stating "We going to treat a non-violent sit down just like a violent one." When it came to awaken A.M. food service workers to report to work, all prisoners sat on their bunk in silence. At approximately 2:05AM administration gave a final call in L-Dorm for food service workers to report to their assigned post for work. Every prisoner refused to leave the dorm and sat on their bunk.
Once the sun began to rise prisoners became aware of the large number of heavily armed Rapid Response Team (RRT) officers in full body armor marching towards L-Dorm. A sledgehammer came crashing through two open bay windows. Once an opening was cleared, officers armed with 12 gauge shot guns started aiming on those prisoners sitting on their bunks in L-Dorm. Warden Blackwood ordered all prisoners to lay on their bellies with their hands on head. The warden ordered officers to switch to live rounds, safeties off, any prisoner gets off his bunk shoot to kill.
Once the prisoners in K-Dorm and Q-Dorm witnessed how Administration and RRT members was mistreating prisoners in L-Dorm they started standing up against our oppressors. RRT members smashed out a window in K-Dorm and deployed Pepperball Launching System (PLS). RRT members began extracting K-Dorm prisoners, zip tieing them, and emergency shipping those prisoners. While in Q-Dorm prisoners were ordered to go into their cells and close the doors, RRT entered Q-Dorm using Pepperball Launching System (PLS), noise flash distraction devices, and stinger rubberball grenades.
One prisoner was disabled and confined to a wheelchair due to having only one leg. This Muslim disabled prisoner had a stinger rubberball grenade explode under the wheelchair. Officers days later was heard bragging how it launched the prisoner out of his wheelchair and into a cell! While in L-Dorm hours went by laying on bellies, prisoners were denied restroom privileges and forced to urinate into empty powerade bottles or on the floor next to their bunk. Only times prisoners had permission to sit up was when bag lunches arrived during breakfast, lunch and dinner. No drink was provided at any meal to prevent dehydration. Prisoners began to beg for water around evening. Captain Shwarz followed by armed RRT members entered L-2. Captain Schwarz had a 9mm handgun in his hand, walked up to the prisoner who had been requesting water out the window, leveled the handgun on the inmate and threatened to blow his head off if he did not cease his actions. Prisoner was then zip tied and escorted to confinement.
The following day inmates was rounded up and placed in Q-Dorm which became Emergency Confinement. Administration rounded up the majority of prisoners who had ties to one affiliation or another. This was administration's excuse for their excessive force used. The gangs didn't force prisoners to participate in the sitdown but as far as the warden was concern that's who the blame was going to fall on. Prisoners in Emergency Confinement were placed under investigation, given falsified disciplinary reports, unjustly use of force in the form of CS gas, placed in scalding hot showers for decontamination, escorted back to the same cell that had not been decontaminated, forced to sleep on steel + concrete for 63.5 hours, and had suffered a beating from the hands of officers.
All prisoners in Q-Dorm have been shipped after 60 days. Only 18 prisoners remain now, and have been escorted to P-Dorm regular confinement. I am the prisoner who suffered beating from Sergeant Kirk who was escorting me to rec. Captain Schwarz told Sergeant Kirk to "take care that little bitch for me." Once outside and out the view the camera Sergeant Kirk struck me in the back of the head with a closed fist, slammed me viciously to the ground, elbowed me to the back the head, while trying to force my hands above my head in handcuffs. I don't know why out of the hundred some prisoners in Emergency Confinement that I was left behind and not transferred. As of now I've been sentenced to 150 days disciplinary confinement, my DR's consist of "Refuse to Work," "Participating in Minor Disturbance," "Gang Related Activity," and "Disorderly Conduct." My grievances are being trashed and I expect more hands-on retaliation upon my release from confinement. This is all results of September 9th at Gulf Correctional Institution Annex.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We've printed a lot of reports about the protests on September 9, both as part of the United Front for Peace in Prisons Day of Peace and Solidarity, and part of the broader work strike. It is good to hear more details about the unity and struggle put into action on that day. We also want to publicly document that brutal, terroristic and illegal behavior of Florida DOC staff towards the peaceful protesters at Gulf CI Annex. Humyn rights in action in the United $tates of Amerikkka.
It is not surprising that the prison administrators blame lumpen organizations (LOs) for the action. Although LOs in some prisons serve a negative role by pitting prisoners against each other, in many places they have taken a positive role and stepped up to push unity and struggle against the criminal injustice system. The potential for these organizations of oppressed nations, which already have a strong cadre and the ability to quickly mobilize many, is correctly identified as a threat by the administration. And it is our job as revolutionaries to help members push these organizations towards progressive action.
Every popular movement is confronted with a common obstacle: change. As life progresses, it evolves in a never-ending forward trajectory. Because of this fact, the current questions, problems and circumstances facing the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement will never be the exact same problems in the future as they are today. This is an undeniable fact. As comrade Mao faced different variations of imperialist opposition than those faced by Comrades Stalin, Lenin and Marx, so too does the current struggle and fight for communism face distinctly different obstacles.
Tactics and strategy are the only effective measures against an ever-evolving foe. Every popular movement has set down tactics and strategies for overcoming determined opposition and many have adhered to them uncompromisingly, to the fatal detriment of their movement. Inflexibility, lack of progressive and innovative thinking, an unbending determination to follow a set course and finally stagnation. All cancerous to a movement.
History gives us examples of movements that have failed for lack of adaption and others that have survived by adapting. The Cuban wars for Independence are examples of the latter. Beginning in 1868, the Ten Years War began in earnest, led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. As their reality changed so too did their tactics and strategies. There were three major stages to the struggle that lasted over 30 years. La Guerra Chiquita in 1879 (the Small War) was the second, followed by the Spanish -Cuban-American War (1895) which ended in 1889. In each stage there were new leaders; Antonio Maceo, José Martí, Calixto García, Máximo Gomez and others. These revolutionaries never stopped evolving and adapting to the reality of their circumstances.
This Cuban example is one that should be followed as it leads to success. Overwhelming opposition, oppression, and outright violence assailed these revolutionaries. Yet, they prevailed, overthrowing the imperial yoke that burdened them for so long. Those struggling for communism must do the same: adapt and be both reactive and proactive. Tactics and movement strategy are not principles, they can be and should be changed according to the present reality. Only fundamental principles are set in stone and uncompromising. Tactics are meant to confront specific circumstances. Yesterday's tactics will not solve tomorrow's problems. Evaluating circumstances, employing tactics and strategy, re-evaluating and employing new tactics and strategies must be a part of any anti-imperialist/capitalist movement. Without adaptability failure is inevitable.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's main point that the revolutionary movement must be adaptable to current conditions and obstacles. We have overarching political line that is the theory behind our work, but then we develop strategies from this line which match current conditions in the world. And from those strategies we implement tactics suited to our day-to-day work.
The history of the Cuban revolutionary movement does provide some good examples of adapting to conditions, such as the period highlighted by this writer. Cuba in more recent years also provides us with some examples of strategic mistakes and failure to correctly account for conditions. The Cuban revolutionary strategy led by Castro missed out on some important global conditions that should have impacted their strategy, and thus ultimately failed to learn from history. The end result was a dependence on the social-imperialist Soviet Union that held back the development of Cuba and forced them into some counter-revolutionary actions and policies. Maoism was alive and well in the world at the time of the Cuban revolution but they did not learn from the successes and failures of China's experience. The Soviet Union had already given up on socialism and was building a state capitalist system when Cuba became dependent on trade in a way that mirrored imperialist countries' relationships with their satellite colonies, keeping Cuba from diversifying crops and forcing Cuban troops to fight Moscow's battles in Third World countries.
Revolutionary greetings comrades, it has been a while since I reported from behind enemy lines. As Donald Trump enters the oval office I don't see any other choice than to partner with MIM(Prisons) in order to educate and organize the lumpen underclass. My comrades and I are actively engaged in a battle which seeks to abolish prison slavery as well as shed a discerning spotlight on toxic prisons.
I arrived on Eastham Unit located in Lovelady, Texas in November 2016. This was my second transfer since the September 9th national actions. I've been placed in long-term solitary confinement because of my organizing surrounding that and other campaigns.
Eastham Unit is one of the oldest prisons in Texas. The plumbing has deteriorated and corroded in such a way that dirt and sediment from the soil leaks into the water supply producing a foul stench in the water. The offensive smell of the water was the first thing I noticed. Officers here liken the smell to boiled eggs and burnt rubber. ULK 49 (March/April 2016) published an article on contaminated water at Eastham Unit and we know the contaminants to be copper and lead!
My application of historical dialectical materialism has taught me the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) misinforms the public about conditions inside its numerous slave kamps and gulags. But moreover, I have discovered a collusive and conspiratorial relationship between state agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and TDCJ.(1)
Wallace Pack Unit located in Navasota, Texas is the case in point. The arsenic levels in the water were at least double the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard and the TCEQ knew this for quite some time. But it wasn't until Panagioti Tsolkas of Prison Legal News exposed the contamination that conversations began. However, it took the actual prisoners at Wallace Pack Unit, with representatives from the NABPP-PC to take their destiny into their own hands and file complaints with the federal court.(2)
Already I see a shroud of secrecy and the overt signs of an elaborate cover-up concerning the water at Eastham Unit. Prison officials, who are easily identified as members of the labor aristocracy and bourgeoisie imperialist pig class, do not have a vested interest in the long-term health of prisoners.
Prisoners at Eastham Unit must fight back! The first thing we do is file a Step 1 (I-127) grievance form. Then simultaneously, those that have friends and family must request they file a formal public complaint online with the TDCJ Ombudsman office (e-mail address [email protected]). While these are marinating we start a letter campaign to the Prison Ecology Project, P.O. Box 1151, Lakeworth, Florida 33460.(3)
Behind enemy lines, I will be doing what I can do to attract media attention and free world help but without comrades actively filing grievances about the water I will be on the front line by myself and the oppressor will claim I am just creating lies. A favorite pig tactic.
Even if you've filed on this poison water in the past, please consider filing again. A huge support network is following our work as we combat toxic prisons. I had a discussion with one of the pigs who works here. The subject was the closing down of Eastham because of the poison water. Here is what he said: "You think you can get the state to shut this unit down on account of the water? They don't care about that – what they care about is those 800 acres of corn we got in the ground in them fields!"
Comrades, I couldn't say a damn word! Because it will be the lumpen prisoners who will be picking that damn corn! I must echo the words of the Free Alabama Movement - "Let the crops rot in the field." And what do you think would happen to that corn if the public knew those corn fields were being irrigated with poison water!? Knowledge is power isn't it?
A significant step in this struggle is getting prisoners recognized as environmental justice communities by the EPA, so that prison facilities can be forced into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.(6) However, the state of Texas has created laws and policies that keep the EPA out of its toxic prisons so we must create a public outcry in order to knock the doors down! Apply Pimp C's "Knockin Doorz Down" as needed! UGK for life!(7)
Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is great to have clear steps in order for any tactical work to be successful, so we highlight this campaign as one with a clear path broken down into small steps, making it easy to get involved and mark progress. While we struggle on these reformist campaigns, we also know that they are unlikely to be successful. But that is all part of building public opinion for socialist revolution. In a socialist system, as in China under Mao, people's needs were valued above profits and prisoners were not poisoned via their water supply.
People should not be forced to get heavy metal poisoning just because they are in prison (or because they live in an oppressed nation community as what happened in Flint, Michigan). The EPA, one of those bandaid organizations of the United $tates government to give people something to focus on instead of straight up revolution, is unlikely to categorize prisoners as environmental justice communities, and also unlikely to enforce their policies in prisons in Texas. Even if they did, to enforce environmental policies on Texas prisons is a decades-long struggle, while hundreds of thousands of people will be forced to drink poisonous heavy metals in the meantime.
Still, we support this campaign and encourage our readers to get involved. It may win some improvements in water quality that will have a significant impact on the health of Texas prisoner. Even if the campaign fails, it is a good example of how futile petitioning the U.$. government agencies generally is. If the campaign succeeds, it will likely only be with caveats which undermine the overall campaign, which we can point to as an example of the futility of reformism. Either way, Texas prisoners come out better organized and better poised for the only struggle that has shown any success in valuing peoples' well-being, and that's the revolutionary struggle toward socialism and communism.