I am a transsexual female who has been in these trenches 37 years, have walked close to 30 yards and several SHUs, EOP, DMH. I want to add to Legion's presentation regarding SNYs (ULK 58, p. 19) and how they came to proliferate in Cali, and with regard to the people who walk SNY.
When I first came to CDC in the early 1980s, there were four formations that governed all the maximum security yards: Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood. Notwithstanding the wars among them, there was order and discipline within each, and the tone of the yards was one of respect and honor, an old or original tradition. There was a lot of fighting and killing at San Quentin, where I did four years in the Adjustment Center (AC) SHU. Extreme warfare proliferated as the formations fought each other, especially in AC, where Comrade George executed pigs and reactionary enemies and was martyred in 1971. It was the same AC I stepped into in summer 1982 — nothing had changed: extreme warfare through the bars (there were no solid doors, though there are now) and tiger cages instead of AC yards. In 1985, a white sergeant was speared in the heart through bars and died on the tier, which was attributed to BGF. That's when CDC went bonkers and conceived the Pelican Bay SHU monster to deal with everything (opened in 1989). It was also because of the killing of this sergeant that all SHU pigs had to wear protective vests, beginning in 1986. (Years later, alias Crips did a mass stabbing attack on yard pigs at Calipatria, and now ALL pigs have to wear vests.)
CDC's idea of an extreme control environment was a strategic mistake. First, because it could not and did not break the spirit of those who count, but reinforced their endurance. Second, it created a massive vacuum on the yards as all the OG formations were swept up and stuck in Pelican Bay SHU; soon, independent factions popped up on the untended yards, and compared to previous, the yards went haywire, like kids at a carnival. There was no discipline, no respect, no honor; SNY yards opened and grew as many stepped back from that mess. Now, wherever there is a General Population (G.P.), there is an SNY or two. Third, all of this cost CDC millions of more dollars than average, with nothing gained. Fourth, under the extreme oppression of Pelican Bay SHU, the consciousness of the formations heightened and they united against CDC. And fifth, the courts eventually let the formations out again.
A lot of the people who went from G.P. to SNY in the heydays of chaos were not bad apples but were just more serious about doing time, that the G.P. was so ruined it would've been futile to try to get it back on track.
As much as the G.P. has progressed, however, it still has some backward baggage to sort out. Trans prisoners cannot be on the G.P. because of threats of death, BECAUSE they are trans; only that. There are some progressive prisoners on G.P., the Kata, who do not persecute us. In fact they politically educated me in Pelican Bay SHU in the early 1990s. (A kata is a martial arts stance that Comrade G. practiced in his cell and disliked the pigs to see him in. Here, it connotes a revolutionary position and cadre.) But the general practice on the G.P. towards trans prisoners is transmisogyny and gender oppression; reactionary. To promote a prisoner's human rights platform, that platform must include the vested interests of all oppressed prisoners and have representation of all interests, including trans, and must extend into SNY and women's prisons. The G.P. has yet to address its position towards trans prisoners publicly.
I am with the Red Roses Transsexual Political Party (alias 36 Movement), which I founded. We are a political resistance movement, with critically vetted members. We do political work to challenge CDC's genocidal treatment of us as trans women with administrative complaints, lawsuits, and educate trans prisoners for unity and resistance. We consider ourselves a part of the Prisoners Human Rights Movement (PHRM) founded by the united G.P. at Pelican Bay SHU. Our voice needs to be heard, our situation on the G.P. hashed out. PHRM needs to extend into the women's prisons, where contradictions have peaked, with a series of suicides at the California Institution for Women.
There is no question that we are in a new era of doing time, across the whole landscape. The biggest difference is the new collective consciousness of who is the real enemy in terms of our fundamental vested interests, produced by the overbearing of the state on the oppressed. The current unity of the OG formations — and especially the Kata, as BGF and other New Afrikan unity — illustrates this.
Unfortunately, SNY is beset with wars among factions, and there have been some killings. I would advocate the PHRM shoutout to SNY factions to call a cease fire and work out a Peace Accord, to acknowledge a higher need for unity against their conditions, such as, they can't get into any self-help rehabilitation groups unless they debrief. PHRM's voice will resonate with those who count on SNY.
Red Roses urges all trans prisoners to acquire political consciousness and join the 36 Movement to resist CDC oppression as a united force. We are political, not criminal, politically educate ourselves and do for self and support each other for our collective good. Stop squabbling. We are being killed on the yards, as Carmen Guerro, who was killed on this very yard, and others (rest in peace). The 36 Movement is one for all and all for one. Let that be your motto.