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Under Lock & Key

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[Lopez State Jail] [Texas]
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Texas Heat Continues to Kill

It is true the heat here is unbearable. In July of this year we had a prisoner die from the heat, shortly after coming from recreation. The guards said it was because he was old but everyone knew it was because of the heat. Sometimes temperatures reach 107 degrees inside. To punish us if we don't rack up or if we're talking shit or maybe if we don't got our shirts on, the guards turn off the fans in the dayroom and they don't unlock the igloos so we can put water in them, just so they can hit us where it hurts.

We file grievances on them and nothing is ever done. As of right now we still don't have normal recreation since summer just because someone died, but that still doesn't stop people from falling out inside the dorm. I alone have seen at least three people hospitalized because of the heat, who knows how many in total here at Lopez.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've been hearing from across the state of Texas that the heat is killing and injuring prisoners and the prisons are doing nothing to address the danger. We can expect relief from the heat as the weather moves towards winter, but this will only provide a temporary change to new problems, and the heat will come back next summer. For those fighting these and other dangerous conditions in Texas, write to request our grievance pack to help demand that our grievances be addressed.

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[Religious Repression] [Arkansas]
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Director of Arkansas Department of Prisons Lies Under Oath to U.S. Courts

The hard line confederacy (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) attack on prisoner's religious rights to hair and beards while incarcerated has led to a blatant case of perjury in the State of Arkansas, in an attempt to justify this religious repression.

In an effort to deny a prisoner his right to a beard as a Muslim, magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe, U.S. District Court, ruled that while a prisoner has a right to his religious practices under the Religious Land Use/Institutionalized Person Act (R.L.U.I.P.A., 42 U.S. Code § 2000cc) the prison could overwhelm his constitutional rights if there was a credible, reasonable 'security penological necessity' to trample those rights.

In quick order, the District Judge rubber stamped this, once Ray Hobbs, the director of the State of Arkansas Department of Prisons, stated in a sworn deposition that he personally was aware of one single example of one type of dangerous contraband being smuggled, concealed in a prisoner's beard. (A long laundry list of horrors, which the state claimed 'may' be hidden in a quarter inch beard but not, presumably, elsewhere on the body, included cell phone SIM cards, knives, drugs, and homemade darts).

The U.S. Supreme Court will now take up this case. Last term, this court ruled (by the five right wingers) that corporations have religious rights that trump women's civil rights. ("Hobby lobby" case). Now, the same lawyers who argued for the corporation in that case, to create civil rights for non-living corporations, will press the prison's case to deny religious rights. The lawyers are specially appointed by the court that will hear the case. No one dares complain, after all, since to do so would be to attack the judges you hope will rule in your favor, as "biased."

In a bizarre twist discovered after the lower courts ruled based upon the sole example of a dangerous, and in this example deadly, razor blade smuggled in a prisoner's beard, perjury most foul was exposed. And it was dripping off the lips of none other than director Roy Hobbs, top good ol' boy in the Arkansas department of corruption.

Roy Hobbs swore that a prisoner named Steven Oldham smuggled a razor blade within his beard, and when the opportunity arose, he proceeded to commit suicide with that very razor blade. My goodness. How simply awful, and of course, how clear it is that beards are a deadly threat to security.

The magistrate, district and circuit judges all agreed.

Let's peek behind the perjury veil.

As was well known to Roy Hobbs, prior to and during his part in the conspiracy to defraud the courts, the razor that dealt the lethal wound was a bright orange plastic single blade item purchased by Arkansas Dept. of Corruption. This molded plastic unit with a steel blade encased within it was not ever suspected of being smuggled, hidden, or illicitly possessed. It was handed to the prisoner by prison staff, with orders to shave off his beard.

The lying director, desperate to manufacture even one tiny example of any kind of 'beard smuggling' to justify his blatantly racist attack on the religious rights of persons who, in the southern states, face a lot of this special treatment in prisons, had knowingly concocted this 'boogie man'. It worked. Only if the razor had been used against a guard would the fantasy incident have carried more weight with the tsk tsking judges all the way to the country's supreme court.

Roy Hobbs did the usual finger-pointing maneuver when caught red handed committing perjury, he blames everyone in the world for misleading him into stating he knows for a fact that which any cursory investigation reveals as false. In California, where I reside on death row, penal code §125 declares that when a person states under oath that which he does not know to be a fact, that is identical to knowingly lying. Even if the 'fact' happens to be true. That means, in this state at least, Roy Hobbs was guilty of perjury for stating as fact this 'razorblade in the beard' lie, even had it been true. Which of course, it was obviously not.

The country's highest court is now reviewing whether the 'security claim' by the prison director is sufficient to overcome a prisoner's religious rights. Even when the single faked security claim was blazingly criminal perjury. This should be an opportunity for the high court to write the rules about what level of proof of flat out corruption prisoners may use to destroy the court's own rule about how prison officials get deference when they shriek "security!"

Let's see what pretzeled logic and tortured theories the rat pack at the supreme court come out with. The only evidence of any security risk was conspired criminal perjury. Roy Hobbs keeps directing Arkansas' prisons, rather than occupying a cell in a federal penitentiary.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The entire criminal injustice system, from police to prisons, is set up to serve the interests of the imperialists running the government. So it's no surprise that false evidence is sufficient to deny prisoner's rights. This case is unique in that the perjury was actually exposed. Unfortunately, the courts don't serve up justice, and so we can expect little from them in defending the rights of the oppressed. The imperialist courts will never lead to liberation for the oppressed. We must continue to expose these cases to educate people about the systematic nature of injustice as we build an anti-imperialist movement that can overthrow the system that relies on injustice for its very survival.

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[Security] [Organizing] [California]
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Unity with SNY Threatens Credibility

This is a comment on the United in California article from ULK40. It is crucial MIM(Prisons) recognizes SNYs work or have worked with the prison administration against other prisoners. While as Maoists we know no oppression is overcome until all oppression is overcome, we can't possibly ask anyone affected by their actions to turn around and work with them. Would Mao have worked with Deng Xiaoping? I don't know Saif [the author] but the idea that there are "some good strong comrades" on SNY is not a convincing argument to administer against the overwhelming evidence of SNYs helping pigs at every opportunity. Even if it's by his exposing himself as a "leader." You're a man not a "leaf" if you can't hold on to the branch and fall, I can accept that, but we'll keep climbing without you.

While I don't promote violence against SNYs and in fact wish them well in any anti-imperialist work. I would strongly advise anyone against incorporating any SNY inmate into any work that may lead to repression from any government entity.

SNYs should keep using MIM(Prisons) as a guide in their work. But in promoting unification of SNY and "mainline" convicts in general terms MIM(prisons) blurs a crucial line. SNYs can challenge their SNY status administratively. I am a General Population inmate. Do you have "sensitive needs?" I don't. I can be housed around anyone, accept people who don't want to be around me, i.e. people with "sensitive needs."

Being scientific in our assessments of individuals involves being honest. SNYs work to reinforce the stigma that all GP convicts are inherently violent by allowing the administration to use them to say "if this inmate is housed on a GP line it may jeopardize institutional security." This stigma in turn imposes harsher restrictions on GP inmates and SNY inmates reap the benefits of the distinction....jobs, rehab programs, vocation, education, conjugal visits, etc. are given priority on SNYs, especially on the level IV yards.

MIM(Prisons) should analyze the SNY/mainline distinction in the same manner as oppressed nations within the U.$. It is my personal assessment that SNYs chose to work with the administration against other prisoners. They get to the SN Yards and realize that "no, the administration is not your friend" and then want to whine about it. Their issues are distinct from ours and while there are issues with the administration that are shared on both sides, I would not risk my standing with other GP prisoners by helping someone who is likely to have hurt them.

SNY/GP unity is not possible. The promotion of this idea undermines MIM(Prisons) credibility on GP yards. UFPP doesn't rely on this theory because SNYs chose to not be housed with us. So theoretically they can continue to uphold the principals on those yards, while we do ours.


MIM(Prisons) responds: For those new to ULK, we have explained our line on SNY in the movement in more depth elsewhere. We completely understand the reactions that many have to our position on working with those in SNY after the torture that so many people in California have gone through at the hands of the state prison system, with the complicity of many who went to SNY. Yet, practice seems to be proving our line correct both in terms of the contributions that SNY comrades make to building USW, and the direction that the CA prisons system is going overall. We do not take this question lightly, nor does working with SNY comrades mean we take security lightly. If this issue is important to you, please write to us to get a more extensive discussion of this topic.

The above comrade's contribution to this long-stading debate over the role of SNY status in the pages of Under Lock & Key is a unique perspective because unlike most anti-SNY writers, s/he advocates that SNY prisoners can do good anti-imperialist work, as long as they do it separately. The argument that SNY prisoners cannot be trusted or united with is based in the idea that all SNY prisoners have debriefed and sold out comrades on GP. But we know that debriefing is not required to get SNY status. This writer is correct that the administration plays SNY against GP, but we can't let them dictate who we work with. We must make that decision ourselves based on each individual's work and political line.

The author asks if Mao would have worked with Deng Xiaoping, as an example of working with enemies. And Mao already answered this question: yes. Deng was kicked out of the Communist Party of China and readmitted under Mao's watch. Communist China's prison system was focused on re-education, not punishment and ostracization. People who betrayed the revolution or took actions that harmed others were locked up to study and learn from their mistakes. This is a revolutionary model that we should emulate, even while we don't hold power.

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[Religious Repression] [Political Repression] [Northwest Florida Reception Center] [Florida]
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In Isolation for Influence as Muslim Leader

After being transferred here to Northwest Florida Reception Center - Annex, I have been faced with a number of confinement injustices. First of all I have written a number of grievance to the warden about food service. We have received breakfast trays with roaches crawling in them. If you report it to these pigs they don't do anything about it. In confinement with no food items we are left with no choice but to eat the three trays that they give us even if they are infested with roaches. That's just one small example of the conditions here.

And recently we had a peaceful sit down. No one posed a threat to security, and no one was injured. It happened after Ramadan, a month of fasting for the Muslims. It all started when we were going to the chow hall to eat lunch. The pig called out one brother for talking in line. That’s when all the brothers were getting disruptive, and as Imam (Islamic leader) my job is to calm them down. So, as I was calming them down, the pig called me out of line for talking. Once I stepped out of line 22 other comrades set out of line, along with me, which led to the situation I am in confinement for. The pig saw the other 22 comrades join me and he panicked. They saw that I had influence where comrades move on my move. And they don't like that.

Previously I had to speak to the Assistant Warden, because someone snitched to the pigs about my leadership. And he told me that "no inmate runs this prison", and that if my name came up again he was "going to get rid of us" referring to the Muslims. And that's exactly what happened. I am going to close management with no prior disciplinary reports. The prison administration says that I don't deserve to be in general population because I am disruptive to security.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Control units are often used to isolate leaders in prison, even when those leaders are involved in keeping the peace. This is because the prisoncrats don't actually want peace. The prisoncrats frequently encourage violence between prisoners, because that provides an excuse to lock more prisoners on higher security units, and because it prevents leaders from organizing unity against the criminal injustice system. So when they see an Imam with influence the prison moves to isolate him. This use of close management in Florida mirrors the use of control units for social control throughout the Amerikan prison system. Our best weapon is our unity. We need many leaders so that the isolation of one will not cut off our work.

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[Spanish] [ULK Issue 42]
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Amerikanos se Alegran Mientras el Militarismo de U.$ Amenaza Vidas Amerikanas

La propaganda de conflicto esta a niveles altos en los Estados Unidos, aparentemente no se ha tomado ninguna lección positiva del 11 Septiembre 2001. Se tomó por lo menos una década para que los Amerikanos perdieran interés en la Ocupación de Afganistán e Iraq por el EE UU Esto contribuyo a que casi dos-tercios de Amerikanos estuvieran opuestos al empuje de Obama para invadir Siria hace menos de un año. Ahora, por lo menos dos-tercios de la población esta de acuerdo con Obama en controlar el gobierno de Siria más bien que las Cabezas de periodistas Amerikanos se mantengan pegadas a sus cuerpos.

El militarismo se conduce con un sistema económico que esta construido alrededor de la producción de armas y requiere guerra para mantener su demanda. Embarques de armas han incrementado recientemente para I$rael, Ucrania, Siria, e Iraq en donde EE UU ha reasumido campañas de bombardeo que están destruyendo cientos de millones de dolares en valor de equipo militar Amerikano ahora en las manos del Estado Islámico. Cada golpe que se hace de cualquier lado en esa guerra es un dar para negocios Amerikanos.

Entretanto, Russia ha sido muy claro que no va a permitir que Ucrania se una a la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN - North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO). Los Estados Unidos y Russia son los poderes nucleares mas grandes del mundo. Aún así Obama esta empujando a Ucrania para que se una a la NATO, y el sentimiento Amerikano anti-Russo esta aumentando apoyándolo. Conflicto abierto con Russia solo incrementaría enormemente el ya inaceptablemente riesgo de un catástrofe nuclear debido al militarismo.

Los últimos 15 años han probado que el militarismo del EE UU no se puede parar con el movimiento Amerikano anti-guerra. Mejor dicho, revolucionarios en los Estados Unidos se deberían de enfocar en empujar la lucha por la liberación nacional de las semi-colonias internas en solidaridad con el Tercer Mundo. Campañas como la que apoya a Palestina por prisioneros de California son positivo para construir anti-militarismo en los Estados Unidos.

Actualmente los medios y políticos del Occidente promueven la linea de que el Estado Islámico es la amenaza más grande hacia la paz mundial. Están lejos de la marca. Ese papel siempre se ha mantenido en las manos de los Estados Unidos y su industria militar.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 41]
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STG Validations to Justify Reopening of Tamms Supermax

The good old boys are at it again. These slipper suckers, who feed off other people's misery, are upset about the closing of Tamms Supermax in Illinois a few years ago. Rather than let Tamms sit unoccupied, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials have devised a plan to put pressure on the legislature to open up the 500-bed hell hole again.

Suddenly they claim we have a major gang problem here in Illinois. IDOC officials are rounding up all the Latinos who they can claim are a part of a security threat group (STG) and sticking them in administrative detention (A.D.).

Some guys haven't caught so much as a disciplinary ticket in years and were quietly toiling away in the kitchen or some other form of servitude. Next thing they know they're on a bus and sent to A.D. Some guys, after serving their segregation time for disciplinary tickets, found themselves in Phase 1 of A.D.

The common thread that binds these guys together seems to be that they are alleged members of an STG. It doesn't take much to validate someone as an active member these days. Most guys were members as kids, and their record preceded them to the joint. Some were identified by gang tattoos. And of course there is always that elusive confidential informant (CI), and only the gang intel officers seem to know for certain if the CI even exists. Personally I believe the correctional officers (COs) make up the CIs because the COs know that all they have to do is say the CI's identity is being withheld for the safety and security of the institution, and no one can or will inquire further.

These brothers sit with no recourse in the courts, stuck in limbo waiting in administrative segregation for some sadist to stop using them as a means to obtain a bigger piece of the tax dollar pie so they can re-open Tamms Supermax, and give themselves a pay raise for a job well done while they are at it.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Tamms Supermax opened in 1998. As 2008 approached many who opposed the torture chambers in Illinois formed the Tamms Year Ten campaign to bring attention to it and get it shut down. By January 2013, the unit was completely closed. This campaign was one of a handful demonstrating that the closing of control units is a winnable campaign under imperialism.

That said, almost as soon as Tamms was closed we are getting reports of increasing use of control units in Illinois again. This is why our Shut Down the Control Units campaign uses a specific definition of long-term isolation rather than just counting the prisons officially labeled as "supermaxes" as many bourgeois press do. The above example of pushing false gang validations for more or higher security prisons should not surprise us because prisons are a tool of social control for the imperialists, and that social control includes long-term isolation cells for anyone who challenges the system. The oppressed must organize to build power to change this.

This situation also provides a good example of how we know prisons are not run for profit. The government regularly uses funds to open control unit prisons, which are more expensive to run than lower security prisons. In 1999, MIM Notes reported "Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon. Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus." The employees (COs and other staff) make out with nice high salaries (totaling $17 million at Tamms when it first opened), but these salaries, and everything else in the prison, is funded by the government, with prisoner labor offsetting some of the costs. The imperialists don't mind spending money to sustain their system of social control. It's money they got from the exploitation of workers in the Third World, and they will spend it freely to maintain their way of life and position of power.

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[Gang Validation] [Organizing] [Leavenworth Detention Center] [Federal] [ULK Issue 41]
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Victory in Unity at Leavenworth

At this point Leavenworth Detention Center has no gang validation or step down program. Actually it seems that the administration does very little to address gang violence. This is a detention facility housing mainly pre-trial prisoners but it seems more like a war zone. No effort is made to separate rival gang members or to place people in a safe environment. For example it is common for the pigs to house a white supremacist with a Muslim.

They pit us against each other and sit back and enjoy the show. We must look beyond the tip of our noses and begin to see the bigger picture. United we stand, divided we fall.

Recently we had a major victory! The food here is substandard at best but the meatloaf in particular is undercooked and rancid. White, Black and Latino all stood together and refused to accept trays and refused to lockdown until we were fed. The pigs brought in tear gas canisters to try to intimidate us but we simply refused to go to sleep without food. Finally we were brought sack lunches and they took meatloaf off the menu. If we stick together and stand up for what's right peacefully anything is possible.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer reminds us that prisons can play lumpen organizations both ways. On the one side we oppose the validation of people as gang members because this is used to punish and isolate and it is used to target activists and leaders. On the other side we oppose prisons throwing rival organizations together to try to create conflict and violence, which is further used as justification to isolate and lockdown whoever is perceived as a leader, activist or troublemaker. None of these actions are for the purpose of promoting safety or security of the prison population.

It is good to hear about people coming together in spite of the pigs attempts to foment conflict. Winning one change in food is a small battle, but it gives people the chance to see what is possible through unity, and hopefully will lead to greater unity in the future. Those conscious comrades in Leavenworth should take this opportunity to spread political education, and try to unite all against the criminal injustice system. If everyone is on the yard together, this is a good opportunity to start study classes. Write to MIM(Prisons) for help getting a study group started in your prison.

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[Civil Liberties] [Gang Validation] [Security] [New York] [ULK Issue 41]
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Beware of Gang Intelligence in New York

In New York what you call "gang validation" is called "gang intelligence" and every prison has at least one sergeant who works on it full time.

Alleged gang members are very often self-identified by foolish displays of colors, flags, and wacky writings found on cell searches. Sadly, many are not real gang members in any substantive sense, but foolish young wannabes who are horribly manipulated by "gang leaders." In New York, and likely everywhere, nearly all "gang leaders" are really collaborators of the worst, most manipulative kind, and they are nearly all rats. It's pretty easy for the "gang intelligence sergeant" to look good when the leader gives him a written membership list! Which doesn't have to be at all accurate, of course.

The biggest gang intelligence tool is the phones — New York State prisons record 100% of phone calls on digital hard drives. Obviously, there are not enough ears to listen to 80,000+ prisoners all the time, so they just sample or review a particular prisoner's calls. Or they may review calls to a certain phone number by multiple different prisoners. And the authorities are very careful. They rarely make direct use of recorded calls to nail minor offenders. I know about the extent of the monitoring because I double-bunked with a guy whose ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend was beaten up very badly. My bunky was questioned harshly and almost charged based on calls going back two years. Another man, who I worked with, a defrocked politician, got six months in the box, when "they" had it in for him, based on year-old recorded conversations.

A technical note: hard drive voice recording costs about 1 cent per hour once the system is set up. Put another way, it would cost more to have someone periodically erase old recordings than it costs them to keep them indefinitely.

From snippets of phone conversations I've overheard while making my own calls, nearly all prisoners are lulled into complacency and extreme carelessness by the authorities letting little transgressions slip by while they wait for the really useful information.

In New York, men identified as gang affiliates go to the most miserable prisons which have the fewest educational and remedial programs (nearly zero). Young, generally terrified, totally uneducated men get no help. I call them "five centers," just empty recyclable cans. Recidivism is good for job security. Just like a hotel or restaurant, prison employees make real money on repeat customers.

Another method is to record the information on the outside of mail. I happen to know Green Haven Correctional Facility was doing that big time (probably related to Muslim prisoners). Authorities look for multiple prisoners written from or writing to the same address. Same game with phone numbers. It's not likely ten guys have the same wife or grandma.

Regarding the petitions advertised on page 12 of Under Lock & Key, please be very careful. Petitions from prisoners are completely illegal in New York. A clear constitutional violation which has, unfortunately, been allowed by every level of New York and federal courts. Please find another word, at least, and please don't encourage more than one signature on any piece of paper, or multiple letters mailed together. Anything considered a petition in New York is a quick bus ride to a six-month box stay.

I do not mention anything in New York out of admiration. It's the worst and sometimes the best because they spend (waste and steal) the most. The real fixes are real pay, real freedom, not the phony kindness of the dictator. The most distressed prisoners must get the most help, not the least. The gangs exist mostly as a tool of domination and manipulation — in the larger view they are created by and for the system, not combated by the prison system. The only usefulness to my mind of somewhat better practices in New York prisons or elsewhere is that New York's practices may temporarily help men's arguments in other states.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are people out for themselves in all prisons, who will sell out their fellow prisoners to the guards. But we would not categorize all so-called "gang leaders" as collaborators. No doubt some are, but some are working with lumpen organizations that have a genuine interest in the anti-imperialist fight. We need to judge each individual for their own actions and political line. Similarly we judge each organization in the same way.

This comrade correctly points out the many difficulties prisoners face with secure communications and general security of self-preservation. As we've written in the past, secure communications are a critical part of self-defense at this stage in the struggle. Everyone needs to be conscious of the many ways the imperialist state can monitor our work and communications. The Amerikan public knows that all its communications are being monitored now, and prisoners should be under no illusion about theirs.

Along those lines, comrades in New York should take heed of this warning about petitions. At the same time, we should not be scared into complacency. Petitioning the government is a basic right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which reads, "the right of the people... to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." So while we should be strategic about using petitions in conditions where they have been used as an excuse for political repression, we must fight these battles for basic civil rights for the imprisoned population in this country. MIM(Prisons) will work with comrades in New York to push this battle further.

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[New Afrika] [Organizing] [Theory]
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Personality Cults, the Black Panther Party, and Principled Unity

Literature Review:
Maoism and the Black Panther Party
1992

There is one thing in particular I'd like to write about in regards to what interests are and what I've learned from the above subject matter. MIM refers to as "the cult of individual personality", when it comes to the leadership of the 3 highest ranking Panthers of the late 1960s - early 1970s. Particularly Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. I understand what MIM is getting at when suggesting that the dominant personalities of these two men is basically what led to the BPPs downfall. Mostly due to the fact that the majority of its membership chose to follow in the leadership of either Newton or Cleaver, which ultimately led to the split and the FBI's ability to infiltrate and corrupt the BPP from the inside out.

However, without Newton's leadership and personality to begin with, the BPP would never have made the revolutionary impact on the movement that it did. In my opinion, it takes great leadership to support change. Many of the BPP's successes and accomplishments would not have been achieved without the strength of character provided by Newton.

Of course, there were mistakes, flaws that allowed the party to be exploited and manipulated by its enrollees. Which we can see in hindsight. But the reality is, at that time, it took great individual courage and audacity in the face of a very powerful and dangerous adversary to be able to inspire and to get so many to come together and to present a strong coordinated force willing to fight and to challenge, not only the police themselves, but an entire system.

Nothing inspires people more than the willingness to stand up and to die for what you believe in and Huey Newton was the epitome of courage. It's easy to claim "I would die for you." However, it's a whole different story when you're actually put under the gun. Although many people want to be brave and courageous, the majority of people are overcome by their fears.

It was Huey's courage that inspired Eldridge Cleaver to join the party. Individual practices and personal agendas created a division amongst them. Nevertheless, it does not take away from the unique quality of what drove people to come together and to follow the BPP in the first place.

So yes, I agree leadership needs to be established on all levels from top to bottom. Teaching and training our brothers to understand the importance of both individual and collective leadership. So that everyone has the ability to lead and to take charge when it is called upon. While at the same time recognizing and acknowledging that it requires a certain amount of knowledge and experience to be ready and prepared to accept a position or role of leadership. Especially one that places the lives of our people under your care.

When looking back at the BPP a lot of people, including MIM, seem to place the bulk of the responsibility on Newton and Cleaver. Therefore, laying blame on these two individuals above everyone else. Which is reasonable to a point. They chose to insist on placing themselves in the position of authority. Hence, accountability falls directly on their shoulders. However, the BPP produced many great leaders including but not limited to: George Jackson, Geronimo Pratt, Fred Hampton, Sekou Odinga, Mutolu Shakur, etc. Each of whom established a following of their own. They all also suffered at the hands of their enemies. But the point I want to make is, when the opportunity presented itself, even though they were part of the BPP, they each created their own agendas, based not solely on what Newton and Cleaver directed, but on the practices and objectives they felt best served the movement.

I don't believe it is right to throw Huey under the bus for what happened. He did his best and unfortunately in the end succumbed to the circumstances that stopped him.

I think to succeed, we have to all come together and to unite under a common force. Our leaders need to put aside their egos and humble themselves to the fact that we all have a place. It is up to us as individuals to understand that place. Those who are best fit to lead us should lead us. Those who have proven over time, through correct practice and sacrifice, who have the leadership skills, abilities and qualities, as well as the knowledge, training and experience.

Just as the representatives of the Pelican Bay short Corridor Collective came together in solidarity to build a movement that was at one time unimaginable. So should those who claim to be the vanguards of the revolutionary movement on the outside. There are always going to be differences in ideologies, philosophies, and perspectives. Our goal should be to put our differences to the side and to find our common ground. Our common goals and interests. Focusing and directing our efforts and energies towards striving for what we all have in common.

I have noticed the lines that have been drawn between groups such as MIM, RCP, SWP, etc. Imagine how much can be done if only each of these groups came together to build around and upon a common goal? Creating a courageous leadership with representatives from each group. Agreeing to prioritize those things that are important to everyone. While at the same time each group respectively accepting their own individual purposes.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This commentary is on the pamphlet produced by the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) called Maoism and the Black Panther Party. There are two main points here we want to address: the personality cult and the call for unity between various organizations.

There is a contradiction around the question of the cult of personality. As this comrade points out, figures like Huey Newton and Fred Hampton were responsible for some of the quick gains in membership of the Panthers. There is a contradiction between the leaders and the masses based on the law of uneven development, which leaves the masses needing leaders in the first place. Communist practice has answered this problem with democratic centralism, including the use of the mass line. We've criticized the Panther organizing strategy for its failure to distinguish between the Party and mass organizations. By not recognizing the different roles of the two, the Party suffered and charismatic individuals had too much power, which broke down democratic centralism.

This comrade is correct that Huey's actions, based in his correct understanding, played a significant role in the Panthers early rise to success. Yet, we must temper this with a disciplined organizational structure that recognizes the important roles of the everyone in the Party. Once the Party reached a certain size, democratic centralism would have decreased the ability of the pigs to influence individuals to split the Party. And this was a major failure of the Panthers.

Notwithstanding this criticism, the pamphlet does not throw Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver under the bus. Rather, the principal message is to hold up the BPP, and its leaders, as the best example we have of Maoist organizing within U.$. borders. In fact, MIM later published an article in 1999 "Huey Newton: North Amerikan of the Century?" advocating this position. But in analyzing historical movements that failed to achieve their goals, we have a responsibility to figure out what errors were made so that we can improve on that practice.

The second question raised by this writer is that of whether all organizations such as MIM, RCP and SWP should "put our differences to the side and find our common ground." We ask the author whether s/he would also call on the Black Panther Party to unite with the US organization, a group that killed one of the great leaders, Bunchy Carter, and proved to be a tool of the imperialist government. We do not take this question lightly. It is very important for us to identify who are our friends and who are our enemies. And we have a duty to unite all who can be united in the fight against imperialism. However, we should not attempt to build unity with those who mislead the masses and actually serve the imperialists, whether consciously or unconsciously. Organizations like the RCP and SWP, who work to rally the white nation within U.$. borders for greater benefits to themselves, are objectively working against the interests of the international proletariat. If we were to "put our differences to the side" with these groups, we would be putting our anti-imperialism to the side. That is not a compromise we are willing to make. We do seek to unite all in the anti-imperialist battle, through a principled United Front against imperialism. But this United Front will never include pro-imperialist forces.


Correction May 2015

The author responded to our response to argue that the assassination of Bunchy was instigated by those who were trying to split the Black liberation movement, and even those close to Bunchy do not blame those who pulled the trigger as they were just following orders.

Perhaps that was a poor example we used with the BPP and US as it could easily be interpreted to mean that you should not try to unite with any group that has used violence against your group. We strongly support the end to hostilities in California and the United Front for Peace in Prisons and are aware that one of the major barriers to that is the history of bloodshed. But the difference is the reasons for the bloodshed. With L.O.s it is generally "petty differences" as the author describes in h letter. But with political organizations it is often about core political differences. The implication above was that the US murder of Bunchy was due to such deep political differences. Perhaps a good argument could be made that that was not the case. But either way, the reason we would not ally with SWP or RCP is because of where their politics lead. At the group level it is against the interests of the oppressed. For example, the RCP line on Iran leads to the suffering and death of Iranians as a group at the hands of U.$. imperialism. So this is a bigger picture question. And the reason we are so adamant about not working with RCP is that most people cannot see the difference between us. So to do so would be to confuse the masses, potentially leading to more people following the RCP and working against the interests of the oppressed.

A lot of these differences are deep, historical debates that were settled in the communist movement a long time ago, but confused people, or people who chauvinistically support the interests of Amerikans, keep bringing these issues up and taking the wrong side. You can check out our RCP study pack for discussion of many of these issues. And we thank the author for pointing out this correction.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 42]
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3BKingdom Joins UFPP

The Black Blood Brotha and Sistahood known as the 3BKingdom is a government of guerrilla revolutionary freedom fighters whose long-term objective is to be Black leaders over our destinies. With this objective in mind we know and understand this cannot be done without a revolution. The 3BKingdom uses knowledge of self and people to recruit people who were known for gang banging, educating them in order for them to become revolutionarily conscious, and making them true revolutionaries fighting for a true cause instead of being puppets for the establishment, killing and beefing with one another for nothing at all. As we continue to grow we understand that it is important that we make alliances with organizations who stand on similar principles in hopes to network and broaden our views to strengthen our solidarity amongst the masses so we can succeed in the revolution. We are against the establishment and we pledge our alliance to the united front to turn these concentration camps into guerrilla revolutionary freedom fighter training camps. I hope that you all accept the 3Bkingdom into the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

There are a few of my brothers here who have participated in your study group and it has received great reviews, so it is our decision to make all our members, once they pass a certain level of their studies, join MIM study groups.


MIM(Prisons) adds:We want to team up with United Front members to develop educational programs. We need local comrades to teach basic reading and writing first. Literate comrades can join our correspondence courses to develop their political studies. Once there is someone with some political background to lead local study groups, we can provide study guides and books. Your group can also develop its own study guides around what topics you are studying and submit them to us for possible distribution to other study groups. Let's grow together.

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