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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Tecumseh State Correctional Institution] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 46]
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Mother's Day Protest Against Permanent Lockdown

At the end of 2012, Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (Tecumseh SCI) made a drastic change. The administration decided to use a very poor excuse of violence to lock the entire yard down. I believe five fights happened in 24 hours, nobody got stabbed, cut or really messed up. They used this as a reason to lock the entire yard down. Everyone was only allowed to come out of their cells to eat meals, shower, and make one phone call per day. After months of this and many grievances, day room time became available, but any outside facilities like gym, ball courts, or ball field were slowly added on a rotating schedule. One hour you could go to the gym with your unit, then come right back; a couple days later maybe an hour at the ball fields then back. We no longer were confined only to our cells but could pretty much be in the day rooms all day except of course during count. Eventually it shifted to let us use the recreational facilities once per day, like ball field Monday morning, gym Tuesday afternoon, ball courts Wednesday morning, ball field Thursday afternoon and so on.

Recently they started a "wellness league" in which people who stay out of the hole for one year, and refrain from misconduct reports for 6 months to a year could be allowed to "walk the yard" for a few hours each day. This sounds good but there are administration loopholes. Like if their snitches got in a fight and went to the hole, as soon as the snitch got out of the hole they would be back out walking while the other person would be in the hole another half year and then have to wait another year just to be qualified to be on "wellness league." Of course any petty write-up would keep you off wellness league, and it was a cold day in hell if any homies could make it onto wellness league. And everyone else not on wellness league was stuck on dayroom and could access a "mini yard" attached to their building which was basically a fenced in half basketball court. That was life for a while.

Well Mother's Day this year the shit hit the fan. A last minute non-violent protest was set in motion. I say last minute because if a protest has any planning here the yard gets locked down cause snitches tell administration. So the protest started, simple walking around the yard refusing to lock down until our petitions and major complains were heard. However near the start of this a few prisoners got into it with a couple pigs. Of course we all complied when they said "get down." We cooperated when asked to show our IDs and when we were told we could get up we got up and continued marching to our protest.

Some protesters got locked in the gym so a plan to break them out to join the protest was set in motion. A short while later staff fired a live round with no warning into our group, going through one captive and hitting my good friend, and they both fell onto me. Our group was totally shocked. No chemical agents were used first, no "less than lethal," no pepperballs, and the guy who had the shot go through him was bleeding bad. We put a tourniquet on his wound to slow the bleeding, then as one huge group we carried him to medical, left him in front of medical and moved halfway across the yard so they would come out and get him.

Once he was safe the tension broke, the call went out, and the prison literally started to burn. Every single faction was on the same team, us versus the pigs. Staff got chased to the tower, everything that could be burned was burned, bulletproof glass burned, fences came undone, people got shot with less-than-lethal and lethal ammunition alike; only one more live round was fired that I know of. The entire prison banded together, offices burned, treatment files burned, office desks burned. If the glass couldn't be broken it was melted to allow access for other captives. We had total control of a whole housing unit, the gym, and half of another housing unit. We had the facility until the next morning when finally we surrendered.

Now, for the press, the administration is trying to say this was planned for months, because it was so exact in its execution, and that we burned down walls only to get "targeted individuals". Yeah right, they are saying we did all this so we could get two people? How ridiculous!

Our new director is from the Washington state prison system. He is the only one with a clear head. He says (in a memo sent to the whole prison) that he couldn't believe we didn't do this sooner with the lockdown and all, and never in his life has he seen such unity to get something like this done. The warden and even the governor now believe that the facility should permanently stay on lockdown, forever, allowing at most minimal day room time and mini yard time if you qualify for wellness league. Everyone else is to remain locked 2 per cell (was 3 per cell for a while until housing unit 2 became livable again) for 24 hours a day getting 20 minutes, twice a week for showers and telephone calls. I mean 20 minutes total, to shower and use the phone, once every 3 days. It's so fucked up out there.

Down here in the hole we live better than the people on the yard. We get at minimum 3 showers a week and at minimum mini yard 5 days a week. I assume I will be down here for a few years, hell a simple fist fight (my first in the prison) back in 2012 landed me 13 months in isolation. This one's gonna be years. And I'm not the only one. Some 240 people are getting charged. I don't even know how many of us are now stuck in the hole but we won't be going anywhere any time soon.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Prisons in the United $tates are populated with an inherent contradiction. As tools of social control targeting oppressed nation lumpen, the people locked up are easily shown the need for resistance and organizing against the criminal injustice system. The powder keg of oppression and abuse in many lockdown units is easily set off when people get together to turn their anger and pain into resistance. This contradiction between the imperialists' desire to control oppressed nations, and the actual conditions of confinement breeding resistance is just one example of how oppression creates conditions for social change.

Protests like this one in Nebraska are steps forward in unity and resistance. But as this comrade describes, no real change resulted, and the active folks are now in long-term isolation. As revolutionaries we need to figure out how to turn the righteous anger of the masses into organized protests that can help achieve meaningful change. Sometimes in prison we won't get anything more than a bit of publicity and a temporary outlet for anger, but we can do some things to increase the chances for success. This starts with building unity and educating people well before actions are initiated. We can run study groups behind bars, discussing the basics of political theory and then applying what is learned to conditions in the prison. And we need to build independent media to report on actions in prison from the perspective of the prisoners, so that we don't leave it to the pigs to interpret our actions to the public as "riots." This preliminary work will also help with follow-up after a protest. Even if something like what this writer describes is set off spontaneously, it will be important to have discipline and unity both during and after the action if we're going to effect any change within the system.

And for revolutionaries it is important that we help people see that we won't ever win this battle until we dismantle the criminal injustice system entirely. We need to draw the connection between the prison system and imperialism. While our current work focuses on prisons, we can't lose sight of the system that is behind the criminal injustice. Our education work needs to include these connections as we help raise the awareness of all potential future protesters and revolutionaries.

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[Idealism/Religion] [Nation of Gods and Earths] [United Front] [Organizing]
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God Body Builds UFPP Using Science

How can we unify the common interest of the prison population at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) when you have those who understand the needs of the masses and address them accordingly in direct opposition of those who place their own personal agendas as well as status above the needs of the people. President John F. Kennedy once said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."(1) This statement transcends class, ethnic, political and economic spheres. In 1964, Clarence 13X (2) did something for his people that was at times hidden from even the initiated parties in the NOI/FOI umbrella (Nation of Islam), he liberated the people through the development and synthesis of the supreme mathematics and supreme alphabets.(3) He exposed the true nature of the Black man (Blackman is jet black, brown, red, yellow peoples) to the masses.(4) When coupled with the Supreme Wisdom lessons given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad the result is the 120 degree Book of Life; a tool used to promote mental, physical and spiritual growth, through diligent study of the social science of life.

An experiment was conducted to evaluate the principal contradiction of prisoner vs. selfish individuals from a Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) perspective. Father Allah (formerly Clarence 13X) stated "I'm not pro Black, no am I anti white, I'm pro righteousness and anti devilishment."(5) The 33 degree of the I-40 defines a devil as any man which is made weak and wicked or any grafted, live germ from original is a devil.(6) The I-40 defines the 5% on the poor part of the planet earth as poor righteous teachers who are all-wise and righteous.(7) So the God Body put into practice a blueprint established in Message to the Blackman in America.(8) To see who in fact would make a concession for the sake of the whole (prisoners) or plot scheme and manipulate for parasitic status, personal wealth and physical lust (selfish individuals). The entire range of programs can be found in Message to the Blackman in America. The core of these programs are in direct line with United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principles of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, independence, written in language specific to oppressed youth (those without knowledge of self).

The first task was to free the God Body from the open-ended oppression of the privileged entitled hierarchy of Islam. That happened 9 October 2014, when 25 independent parts came together and collectively established a Universal Parliament(U.P.) and began building during cipher Saturdays. The U.P. was offered every other Thursday for a "trial" period. Because of the KVSP operational procedures, the God Body does not have the luxury of everyday contact, so Thursdays and Saturdays became show and prove days. The results were complex in nature. The main principal contradiction of prisoner vs prison came into play. The administration, short of Security Threat Group profiling us, made going to the chapel a hassle, made getting the God Body out on ducats to U.P. an uphill battle. The God Body was informed beforehand also of the possible delay tactics and threat assessments. Certain free staff, whom due to fear of the unknown, began to spread chaos and confusion among ill-informed followers. This resulted in hostile posturing on their part. Yet the truth had revealed a sense of security was lost when "all of the wise people walked off."

The next task, was to provide the God Body with study material to engage in informed conscious development. Collectively the God Body pooled all resources together so that no one was lacking. Then certain elements began to replace sound science with political slander for sympathy (an act that would eventually lead to a divided front). The pooling of resources was a show of growth, certain elements viewed this growth as a chance for a power grab for personal gain, such as establishing credit with parasites. Allying with capitalist movements that even Mao himself would wish to execute. The movement isn't about short-term "runs." The movement is constant, generational, so, in order to preserve the integrity of the God Body resources were issued as needed to prevent selfish deeds. Resulting in mysterious bed moves occurring at odd hours of the night.

The next task was to apply peace (9) towards the population. Peace happens to be the final goal of what we will achieve.(11) So rules of A-yo you immediately placed the God Body as a threat to the status quo. This shed light on those that had intentions of using the God Body for selfish interests. Elements began to poke and pry into affairs, blowing any and every situation into all out war, when in reality, those elements were upset that the God Body demonstrated peace and harmony instead of the usual chaos and confusion. An extra insight was gleaned also, when a proletariat has no major opposition or when elements feel the enemy has come and gone it may eat itself because peace may be seen as weakness. Prisoners vs. prisons, as a personal opinion, ensures opposition larger than a divided yard. The demonstration resulted in a pruning effect. The selfish individuals cut themselves off from the God Body, actually returning to an oppressed state.

The next task, was extending support to other righteous people who adhere to the absolute truth. In motion as we speak, is the movement to secure close ties between the Black man's nation. At this point I would like to address the notion that there are no white god bodies. Azreal and Azreal Wisdom are both well known poor righteous teachers deeply rooted in the movement. This movement allows for the entire NGE to thrive as one strong nation. To criticize one of your own for developing and implementing applied science to build up, not tear down, the nation shows a clear lack of study of the supreme sciences involved in the use and practical application of the 120 degree Book of Life. Those selfish individuals would voice the rhetoric of racial infiltration. The reality is, the God Body is not a circle within a circle. It is 3 dimensional and metaphysical. Able to assert its chemistry and algebra across all aspects of life. If elements reach out to parasites for support you can't honestly say you God Body.

The next task was and still is liberating the Black man. How can we make free a nation with plantation psychosis? Wanting to be free and actually being free is the principal contradiction. Those that preach and teach freedom yet don't know freedom should take notes on how struggles are pushed. You can’t be free and married to the master outside of self. I-self-lord-and-master(12) is how to be free! Drugs, yard sex, debt, drama, is house nigga politics. Freedom, liberation, and independence comes from struggle, hard work dedication, blood, sweat and tears. Re-education and active development promote independence. Each one teach one according to h own knowledge. (13)

After synthesis of accumulated findings the God Body can survive if and only if the selfish individuals remain outside of the body. During the qualitative experiment the selfish individuals main objective was to establish a parasitic egg inside of the God Body to bring the movement to a stand still. One selfish individual after another removed themselves from the body citing the fast of Ramadan as the reason for removal. Yet, through efforts of the prisoners working to liberate the God Body Ramadan is a non-issue. The question I pose to the world is how long will it take for selfish individuals to stop pretending and start presenting?


MIM(Prisons) responds: We salute the comrades of the Nation of Gods and Earths and other organizations at Kern Valley doing this important work as part of the struggle to build a United Front for Peace in Prisons. It sounds like they are really putting in the work with the right attitude of protracted struggle. While we have some criticisms of the NGE ideology related to Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet and their tendencies towards idealism and metaphysics that we've addressed in more depth elsewhere(14), this comrade demonstrates the dialectical materialist method in eir practice above. And it is that kind of experimentation in the laboratory of U.$. prisons that will allow USW to learn and grow into an effective organization.

In this analysis the comrade mentions a few principal contradictions, all of which are important to discuss. However, it is important to note the context of each one, as each thing has a principal contradiction that defines that thing at a given moment in time. For instance, the contradiction of prisoner vs. selfish individuals is one that we might reframe as the necessity for the lumpen to come together as a class to survive and its tendency to resort to selfish individualism following the capitalist model, which allows for short-term gains for some. This is an important contradiction that we think defines the First World lumpen class, and is therefore principal. The contradiction that defines the internal semi-colonies in the United $tates we think is that between assimilation and liberation, which is related to the contradiction discussed of wanting to be free and actually being free. And finally, there is the contradiction between prisoners and the state, which is the principal contradiction defining the prison system. Those interested in an in-depth discussion of the principal contradiction in the prison movement can write us for an essay we have on that topic for USW comrades.



Notes:
1. JFK Speech, American Rhetoric.com/JFK (2015)
2. God, Earth and 8534s, 2007. by Pen Black. P.19
3. Ibid, p.20
4. Message to the Blackman in America by Elijah Muhammad, 1965. p.107
5. The Bomb: The greatest story never told, ed. Divine God Allah, 2014, p.4
6. 120 [degree symbol] book of life, ed. Divine God Allah, 2014. p.55
7. Ibid, p.52
8. Message to the Blackman in America, by Elijah Muhammad, 1965, p.173-75.
9. Direct Quote Jose Luna KVSP
10. God, Earth and 85ERS, Pen Black, 2007, p.4
11. Ibid, 57-62
12 Ibid, p.4
13. Ibid, p.3
14. Legion, Five Percenter Responds to Religion Study Pack, January 2016, Under Lock & Key 48.

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[First Nations] [National Oppression] [United Front] [ULK Issue 45]
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Amerikan Land Must Be Redistributed to First Nations

I would like to give props to Loco1 of USW for the article in ULK 38, "Lasting Impressions." It eloquently expressed the realistic truth of non-whites rising into Amerikkkan political poverty and oppression, but ultimately becoming part of the Amerikkkan imperialist machine, and therefore part of the problem. They undeniably dance to the same tune as the kapitalist oppressors, which is the only way they can get elected into office in the first place. The oppression they become co-conspirators of far outweighs any good they may be trying to contribute to cultural progress, the revolutionary movement, or even reformism. President Obama's black face on the white-Amerikkkan agenda does very little to counter the injustices he inflicts upon the less fortunate. His priority is to please white-Amerikkka and contribute to kapitalism. Everything else is secondary.

Revolutionary minds can learn from Loco1's political view. However, it draws concern when Loco1 talks of redistributing the lands fairly: "you get what you need. Nothing more, nothing less." Subsequently following a successful revolution this act alone would shift the possession of land for one colonizer to another at the expense and exploitation of the indigenous peoples. Very little of what I've read from the MIM organization has ever gotten to the heart of land claims, which should first and foremost be redistributed back to the First Nation original owners. Many indigenous will be part of the revolution. Non-natives seem to think they are entitled to this land as spoils of war, with complete disregard to the First Nations' claims. Communism is supposed to eliminate oppression. This act would contribute to it, but with power shifting to the hands of a different ethnic and political class.

A complete overthrow of Amerikkkan power should give the land back to those it's belonged to since the beginning of time. This soil is the Redman's tribal ancestral roots and the creator's gift to our people. This includes Mexicanos. Whatever land, if any, is eventually "redistributed fairly" should be at the sole discretion of its tribal owners. Period. (And it's important that non-natives understand this.) Land would be distributed considerately and compassionately as they feel necessary and see fit. Unless, of course, the communist victors then choose to redirect their war towards the First Nation peoples with the intent of keeping them on reservations and stealing the land by force. That would make them no different than this current Amerikkkan imperialist swine.

In the article Loco1 spoke with the voice of New Afrikans but I think he should rethink his ideas for land grab from the indigenous point of view, who have suffered the biggest atrocities and injustices in history.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a letter that we forwarded to Loco1 for comment. Having not received a response we will address this question now. It seems we have great unity with the writer above, and we appreciate this point and inquiry. While Loco1's original point was more about combatting Amerikkkan exceptionalism, which justifies Amerikans having more than everyone else, the lack of mention of First Nations land claims is certainly a valid critique. It is an ultra-left error in that it is looking towards the ideal future of communism (from each according to their ability, to each according to their need), before addressing the more immediate task of national liberation.

This is an issue that comrades address in our new book, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Though [email protected] themselves are indigenous to this land, claiming all of the southwest United $tates could be seen as a threat to First Nations, including the largest reservation in the United $tates of the Navajo nation. MIM has long been friendly to the Blackbelt Thesis as well, and has printed maps showing both of these territories. We agree with revolutionary [email protected] and New Afrikan movements that land is central to the question of national liberation. As nations within what is today the United $tates, a failure to claim and liberate their own territory is a failure to liberate these oppressed nations. The same is true for all First Nations.

The drawing of new boundaries today is more of an agitational exercise than an actual political reality, except for most First Nations. So we expect First Nations to continue to be at the forefront of determining future border issues. Their weakness, of course, is in their numbers. So it is an important warning that the comrade above issues to ensure that a national program of one oppressed nation does not impose itself onto that of another. Not only is this necessary for building a just world, it will be necessary for a successful anti-imperialist project. Any efforts by an internal semi-colony to liberate itself without regard for and cooperation with the efforts of the others will lead to no true liberation and will end in it being a puppet to the imperialists rather than being free of them.

There must be a united front of the internal semi-colonies against U.$. imperialism. And once imperialism is overthrown, in imperialist nations there will need to be a joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations to take power and determine how society can best be run in the interests of the formerly oppressed of the world. Exactly how they address the land question between themselves, as well as with the existing oppressor nation on this land, will be determined in the evolution of that struggle, which will certainly bring about many more changes in the process.


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[United Front] [Organizing] [Macon State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 45]
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UFAO Links Up with UFPP

Mouse Trap
I'm writing concerning the ad in Under Lock & Key I read for the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). It was baffling, as it had every concept, principle and law that is in my Family's code. I am the Father of the United Family Against all Oppression (UFAO) and we would like to support the UFPP.

About 150 of us are currently at Macon State Prison and 20 of the Family are in other camps. I'm currently in the hole for going to war with the officers and the Bloods for breaking a peace treaty. I extend my hand in assistance to stop imperialism and oppression through paperwork or blood.

When the officers see Bloods, Crips, GDs, Muslims, Vice Lords, Piru, coming together, they don't know what to do. One day we were in the rooms meeting and no one was hardly on the floor. They came in telling us to lock down for no reason, just because they had the authority.

I had to use the scientific method in coming up with a peace treaty. I went around surveying the people of different parties about what makes them fight and kill each other. It's not the color no more, it's about different creeds stealing and tricking each other. So I came up with the antithesis to it, which was to give out prizes at chess and basketball tournaments. It had other things such as a poor box in each dorm where the UFAO is at, which is for everybody.

Nothing happened in the dorm I was in until the Bloods stole out of the box of the GDs and Muslims and they broke the treaty. So, me being the General didn't approve of it, so a war broke out. Because once you say you're revolutionary, your word and peace treaties mean a lot in my eyes.

I am also asking for guidance and support because people are getting free, going home, and I don't want the impression of a gang or drug lord. I'd rather finish what Assata Shakur, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and other great leaders left off on. I'm open for all political and friendly advice. My goal is to support all oppressed people no matter their affiliation, and under a treaty with people with affiliations in gangs.

We as a whole must unite and become one family to end the criminal label that the United $tates put on us, to disguise what their gang is doing. Because they have abandoned and malignant hearts when it comes to power and wealth. And I'm going to stop the real terrorists at all cost.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for pushing for peace on their unit, and for pointing out that the imperialists are the real enemy. It makes sense that in organizing the lumpen for peace, we will still see lumpen tendencies arise, like the one our comrade described above about stealing the poor box. Even though we're bringing people together for revolutionary reasons, we are still heavily influenced by our capitalist culture and indoctrination. We need to make it a priority to bring thorough revolutionary education to all the comrades we're working with, in order to combat this lumpen mentality of getting up on the backs of others, and undermining our struggles for peace.

Prisons are a volatile environment. And we're building for peace in prisons. It's somewhat ironic to enforce a peace treaty using physical violence. We should take this incident as a lesson that while we're discussing how to begin a peace treaty, we also need to discuss how we can hold others accountable to the peace treaty if they break it. Is a prison war the only possible method of accountability?

If anyone needs literature to help educate others about the role of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in our overall fight against our common oppressor, then write in for back issues of Under Lock & Key. If you've been able to develop a sound peace treaty and have experimented successfully with how to hold others accountable when they fall out of line of the treaty, then please send a report to ULK so we can grow stronger as a movement.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Florida] [ULK Issue 45]
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Is ULK Too Hardcore for the DOC?

Your newsletter is very empowering but a little too hardcore for the Department of Corrections in Florida. We must not forget where the people you're trying to reach are at. Our vernacular is too straight forward such as using words like "hunger strike" or "organizing of any kind." You got to start making your newsletter more informative to political theory and education and building a community. Fasting has its time and place, and its reasons. But we must be mindful how we address certain issues. I look up to George Jackson and how he focused on building the Black Guerilla Family (BGF). I am a new generation Black Panther and I use your newsletters in my political education classes. We are all in the same struggle for liberation, but we must understand that real unity comes from sharing and mutual cooperation between the comrades of revolution.

I've been in prison for 14 years and only had to fast once. Yes, it did make the pigs do their job. However, from my observation and participation we need to all just come together and focus on building communities that can adjust to their social housing. Because it's not the pigs who do the raping, stealing, robbing, stabbing, killing, etc. If BGF had to put a worldwide ban on all gangbanging, what makes you think teaching them how to organize will make things any better? There are a lot of groups who you ain't gonna be able to unite and bring peace. I'm not knocking your work, but we got to put political differences aside and focus on building a commune that will protect and serve the people. It can't be just a prison thing. In order to get a strong hold in any state you must have dedicated troops on both sides (prison and turf) all working together under one banner. Yes ULK and United Struggle from Within are established but the people who claim that they are united under the banner of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) are the very same people oppressing the people with gang violence.

How can 3 Blood Kingdoms unite with the UFPP when the actual leader of these Blood sets are in opposition with the idea of peace and unity? Most of these dudes be renegades who try to get some type of support to continue their renegading. And not knowing any better we, out of unconditional love for revolution, tell them that it's okay. No! We must draw the line and be str8 forward with them! You can't be a liberator by day and an oppressor by night! Your newsletter is on the banned list becuz these renegaders are using you as a sponsor for their renegading, plus the vernacular in the newsletters is too flamboyant. Look at how fast these same dudes are requesting to be removed off your mailing list. Their loyalty is not in the UFPP, it's to their sets. Please don't let them be the demise of a powerful tool we need in here. I don't wish to be removed becuz I'm loyal to revolution.

I believe if you ease up on your newsletter and focus on educating the people about theory and what's going on in the free world the pigs will allow the newsletter to circulate. Communicating and educating is power, so when that is cut off proper growth and development is dead. You probably thinking why didn't I grieve it? Well how can I get round justifying my rights to have a newsletter that blatantly uses vernacular that gives the pigs every right to reject it according to Rule 33-501.401 FAC (3)(G) stating: "It is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, disruption of the institution, violation of department or institution rules." And (3)(m) stating: "It otherwise presents a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person."

The pigs read everything that comes in this slave plantation, so you can't put your comrades on the chopping block to get their heads cut off politically. If you’re going to coach then coach, but don't forget that you're out there in the free world and we are not. Every day we have to deal with these pigs' bullshit! And they use the gangs as their puppets to do hits for smokes and food. That's the real story in this place that the prisoners are brushing under the rug. It ain’t just the pigs who are oppressing our people, it's their puppets. So we got to build self-defense communities that are not afraid to establish new order in the land. It's too many chiefs and political debates about bullshit. Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!


MIM(Prisons) responds: It's always good to hear about serious organizers using MIM(Prisons) literature in political education classes and as organizing tools. And this comrade is writing from a state where most issues of Under Lock & Key are being censored systematically, so we do need to take seriously our challenge of getting political literature in to prisoners in Florida. This writer says we need to focus on educating people about theory, and we do have a lot of theory resources available to anyone who asks (just trade some work for lit if you can't pay). But ULK is an agitation and organizational publication, and our goal is to educate people through information and news about what's going on in prisons and in the world in general. We purposely maintain this focus instead of just putting out political theory because we need a tool that can organize people. If we only offer political theory we are missing the final step in helping people to connect the theory with practice. While we agree with this comrade that there are some things we do not need to say, we cannot sacrifice our political line to get our publication inside. And the fact is that the prisons use these "dangerously inflammatory" and "threat to security" claims for all sorts of literature we mail to prisoners, including reference materials, history books and theory.

Further, we do not agree with this comrade that ULK actually fits within those rules for censorship. Instead of presenting a threat to security and good order, ULK actually promotes security by promoting peace. The prisons, on the one hand, claim that prisoners fighting one another is one of the biggest problems they face and so they need more guards and more security weapons to deal with this problem, and then when a publication shows up promoting peace among prisoners they claim this is a threat to security as well. We need to fight this bogus claim. ULK does not encourage violation of rules, and in fact for events like the September 9 day of peace, we encourage prisoners to work within the rules of their institution to build peace. Even hunger strikes were developed as a form of non-violent protest, so we will continue to fight the censors who claim reporting on them somehow encourages "violence and insurrection." To them, prisoners in peaceful protest is a threat of violence and pigs beating prisoners is instituting security. To them newspapers calling for the bombing of other countries are cool, but newspapers exposing torture in U.$. prisons are dangerous. We cannot accept such double standards and hypocrisy.

As for the question of various lumpen organizations declaring their unity with the United Front for Peace in Prisons and then turning around and disrupting efforts to build peace, we recognize that this is a potential contradiction with lumpen organizations. It is a real challenge for groups that have historically promoted prisoner-on-prisoner violence to take up organizing for peace. We cannot expect this path to be smooth and easy. Nor can we expect all groups to join us on this path. But even the declaration of support for the UFPP is a step forward for LOs. And we must work to push them even further and confront their contradictions, rather than dismissing them as hopeless. For the record, we don't have lots of people asking to stop their subscription to ULK. In fact very few people write to be removed from our list once they get a copy of ULK. And our subscribers continue to increase, even in high censorship states like Florida and North Carolina, because people hear about our organizing to fight that censorship. When the pigs stop abusing and torturing people in U.$. prisons we will shift the content of our newsletter to focus on parts of the world where people are still being abused and tortured.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 44]
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A Day of Solidarity, September 9th

Prisoners day - September 9th - must be kept silent no more. This particular day, marking its ground breaking appearance on 9 September 1971, is making a slow steady trod towards mass movements and prisoner organizations from the east coast to the west.

Any prisoner subscribing to Under Lock & Key, or the variety of political newsletters free to prisoners, can attest to the constant reminders of the one day that prisoners stood up in unity to get shot down, and lifted back up year after year. For many who are familiar with the Attica uprising, just hearing the name Attica reawakens the stories told about the protest back east, where a select few brothers of a mixture of lumpen organizations were put in a position to stand for something and not just fall for anything. A protest from which many political prisoners take inspiration today in their thirst for freedom. Attica became legendary.

Many prisoners were forced into the tombs of the beast, known as the control unit facilities, for their commitment to keeping alive the memory of the day that history was made by prisoners struggling for a common cause. These prisoners forced into the tombs of the beast, who spoke from the grave to the injustice of the system, became the silent force of an already nuclear-reactor-type vibration within U$ prisons.

As time went on so then did the minds and movements of the masses, its leaders, and the lumpen organizations charged with serving the interest of the prisoners. The lines of the parties involved with commemorating the anniversary of Attica were crossed and compromised. The dream of rehabilitation and reforms set many in backward positions compliant to the interest of the enemy of the prisoners, the state.

Details of the September 9 uprising and certain individuals involved began meaning less and less. The historical facts, leadership, and goals became gossip of he said she said, your homie got my father killed.

The state understood the importance of stemming the tide with the tactic of division, thus a line was drawn between the political prisoner and the prisoner just trying to do their time and get back to what they knew as freedom. The latter wanted nothing to do with the former, as these old timer political prisoners were viewed as extreme in their ideas and objectives. The former, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the latter, who at each turn of the age began to appear as a type of foreman, respecting the privileges and rewards for the good behavior of not upsetting the system. Even to this day these lines are the principal contradiction between the prisoner mass and the few political leaders.

Attica served as an example to both sides of the fence. Power is in people's unity. With the support of the people at Attica in 1971, time stood still long enough for prisoners to occupy the prison yard and a few dorms. In a stand off with state police, prisoners demanded to be afforded humyn decency.

The end result was the murders of many who knew they had nothing to lose but their chains. Attica's effect is on all prisoners. Attica's effect lives with prisoners even today. Let prisoners refresh their memories in as many uprisings as possible with peace as the objective.

It is not at this time that prisoners should be waging war with each other. Nor should we, in the United $tates, be taking up armed struggle. We must learn that prisoners must not prey on other prisoners with exploitative practices that result in the beefs that go beyond prison yards and effect more than just the local factions. But prisoners must consider the conditions of the entire class which it is rooted in and decide what direction it as a whole will move in.

Attica gave birth to many many great prisoner demonstrations and prison uprisings across the United $tates. More recently in Texas, California, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few.

The day of solidarity is rooted in a reality that prisoners must at some points and time, for a specific frame of time, put to the side their differences in order to pool the energy and resources for the causes that contribute to tearing down this system as they know it. And after that, if they want to go back to their state of parasitic lifestyles, then they can take it up with the people.

The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity is the prisoner's memorial day; the convict holiday. It is the one day that prisoners as a whole can safely cross the lines of divide that have been expanded over the ages of time. Prisoners at this time can become festive in their anticipation of the entertainment, education, application and advocation of a vocal prisoner mass speaking up and out to the injustice of the U.$. prison system.

USW invites all those who have committed to the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to participate in the coming September 9 celebrations. Submit high quality artwork to our Strugglen Artist Association to be printed and circulated within your prison, spreading the message of peace on September 9. Our comrades MIM(Prisons) offer political books free of charge that your group can study and write or draw your interpretations of the reading. You can even just write a statement describing the nature of your local September 9 celebration program.

It is now the age of speak up speak out for prisoners. If prisoners can build upon their shared experiences like the uprisings in the past, their voices can speak to their interests aligned with the internationally oppressed, and begin upsetting the system one state at a time.

Then and only then will the power be reinstated in the leadership who are most capable of representing the interests of the whole, without fear of retaliation or repression for their leadership roles. The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity prepares all prisoners for the day that all must make the decision of whether they'll stand up for something or fall for anything.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 43]
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Lessons from the Bandung Conference for the United Front for Peace in Prisons

"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you've got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. Once you see how they got theirs straight, then you can know how you can get yours straight." - Malcolm X, Message to the Grass Roots

The basis of any social movement is unity. Unification is most often formed around a common oppression and recognition of necessity by a sometimes common, sometimes diverse group of people in order to link up together to fight the oppressive powers that be. On this topic perhaps the best, yet least known example of a common, yet diverse group of people coming together to fight off the most oppressive and far reaching power the world has ever known, was the Asian-African Conference of 1955 held in Bandung, Indonesia. This gathering of Black and Yellow nations was the first time in hystory that representatives from 29 Asian and African countries would meet to discuss strategic methods for combating the effects of imperialism on their people. All of the countries in attendance were not only newly independent following the beginning of the disintegration of the old colonial order, but represented a quarter of Earth's land surface.(1)

The Bandung Conference was sponsored by the Prime Ministries of Indonesia, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India and the Philippines. The most notable and prestigious country to attend however was the then-socialist People's Republic of China. The convocation of these newly emerging forces was an important step towards the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement and it is from the legacy of both Bandung and the Non-Aligned Movement that the concept of the Third World would later be developed. Most notably barred and excluded from attending the conference were any and all Western imperialist powers, including the then-social-imperialist Soviet Union, as the newly emerging forces were looking to make a clean break from all variations of imperialism.

The Bandung Conference considered problems of common interest and concern to the countries of Asia and Africa, and discussed ways and means by which their people could attain fuller economic, cultural and political cooperation. And while to many today, particularly in the First World, the idea of the Third World liberating itself from the artificially-produced poverty of capitalism without the benefit of U.$. "aid" may seem like a pipe dream, those of us who know the mechanisms by which imperialism operates know that what is actually ridiculous is the notion that the United $tates and other imperialist powers would ever sit idly by as the oppressed and exploited organized for their own liberation to the point that they are no longer dependent on such First World aid. As a matter of hystorical perspective, Malcolm X would later explain the social context for the exclusion of the white man at Bandung:


"The number one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung Conference was the white man. He couldn't come. Once they excluded the white man, they found out that they could get together. Once they kept him out everybody else fell right in and fell in line. This is the thing that you and I have to understand. And these people who came together didn't have nuclear weapons, they didn't have jet planes, they didn't have all the heavy armaments the white man has. But they had unity."(2)

To be clear, it's not that the oppressed Asian and African countries were excluding the white man out of some sense of racism. Rather they were excluding the representatives of various white nations because the issues being discussed at Bandung were in direct contradiction to Western imperialism and the white nations they are in the service of. Never before had such unity between the oppressed nations played out either before or after the 500 years of colonialism which preceded the conference and which the Bandung 29 were trying to depart from. The United $tates responded to this political snub which they perceived as a threat to their political and military hegemony, as well as to their material interests, with various destructive acts. The most serious of these being the attempted assassination of Chinese Premiere Zhou Enlai and the mid-air explosion of the passenger plane "Kashmir Princess."(3)

Even with such acts of barbarity committed on the part of the imperialists against the oppressed for daring to carve out an existence on their own terms, the Bandung Conference was a success as the final communique of the conference can attest to: economic cooperation on the basis of mutual interest and respect for national sovereignty, technical assistance in the form of experts, trainees, pilot projects; the establishment of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development; the stabilization of commodity trade in the region and the stabilization of international prices and demands for primary commodities through bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements, just to mention some of the more groundbreaking methods by which the Bandung Conference sought to break the colonialist stranglehold on their nations.

The Bandung Conference was also convinced that

"among the most powerful means of promoting understanding among nations was the development of cultural cooperation. The Asian-African Conference took note of the fact that the existence of colonialism in many parts of Africa and Asia, in whatever form, not only prevented cultural cooperation but also suppressed the national cultures of the people. From the denial of basic rights in the sphere of education to a peoples basic right to study their own language."(4)

Out in the so-called free world we can see modern day examples in the closing of "ethnic studies" departments and the banning of [email protected] and other Latin American history books in racist Arizona; to the denial of prisoners' abilities to learn their people's true hystory for fear of "Security Threat Group" validation. What the imperialists and prison administrators really fear however is the unity of the oppressed based on common national identities and the creation of revolutionary nationalist organizations that would surely bring most prisoners together, as opposed to the divisive gang feuds that currently mark the reality of many prisons.

In the years following the Bandung Conference, the world saw the rise of national liberation movements all over the Third World, from guerrilla armies to People's Wars in the imperialist periphery, to the fledgling national liberation movements and armed struggles that under-lied the Civil Rights movements in the core capitalist countries, principally the United $tates. Political thinkers attributed these movements in part to the "Spirit of Bandung" and the example set there for the rest of the oppressed nations by the Bandung 29, in particular the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC led by example, showing the world what true independence and balanced self-reliant development could look like. For what many oppressed nations could only just begin to aspire to, the PRC was already doing and had to a large degree already accomplished.

"[The Spirit of Bandung] can be summarized in the following five principles: (1) respect for the fundamental rights of people as well as for the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter; (2) respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations; (3) equality of all nations and people both large and small; (4) non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries; (5) no recourse to acts or threats of aggression or to the use of force. These five principles were also referred to as the "five points" of peaceful co-existence."(5)

The Bandung Spirit Lives On!

Today prisoners from different nations and many different cliques and sets are taking part in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and are hence putting United Front theory into practice. Peace and unity between prison organizations mark not only the beginning stages of national liberation movements within the oppressed internal nations within the U.$. empire, but the embryonic stages of the peoples struggle in the United $tates for socialist revolution in alliance with Third World communist movements. Just as surely, the Bandung Conference marked the entrance on the hystorical scene of the people's liberation movements in Africa and Asia, and represented the first impetuous rising of countries still oppressed or scarcely liberated from imperialism. Thus, from this we take the Five Fundamental Principles for Peace in Prison also known as the "five points of unity":

  1. Peace: By organizing to end needless conflict amongst prisoners we not only struggle against the pigs divide and conquer strategies, but we set a positive example for others and likewise help to begin the constructive reconstruction of our prison and lumpen organizations and nations.
  2. Unity: As against a common oppression we fortify our peace-treaties by using this opportunity to work together in one form or another to both better our conditions and understanding of each other.
  3. Growth: Without growth on an individual level or a group level our newfound unity will not survive. So comrades should take the time to build themselves up and each other so as to aid and push the movement further, as the movement in return will push us all further.
  4. Internationalism: Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism. Within our conditions this essentially means that in struggling for our own nations now we effectively aid the struggles of other oppressed nations by forcing the oppressors to contend with us. Hence on a strategic domestic and international level our tactics are to pit ten against one.
  5. Independence: Then and now independence has always been the ultimate aim, both at Bandung and in the prison movement. By building our own institutions and programs of the oppressed independent of the U.$. prison administrators and their inmate lackeys we help solidify and consolidate the prison movement. Just as the sponsoring countries at Bandung cut out the white man and found that their unity and movement could only be strengthened as a result, so must we cut out all the prison administrations' officially sanctioned prisoner representatives because they cannot truly serve us, but have only served to better oppress and suppress us.

For all these things to work we need not only unified resistance to oppression, but the one crucial aspect that was missing at Bandung. We need vanguard leadership and mass struggle working together so that the prison movement will truly get somewhere and not merely stagnate and die after a few petty reforms are put in place. Hence we need correct leadership to guide that resistance. Correct leadership and struggle comes from a correct understanding of material reality and of the correct methods for influencing that reality; not sporadic and short-lived rebellions where the masses learn nothing but the taste of defeat with incompetent leadership that has no one's interest at heart except for their own, and who clearly lack the vision of carrying the struggle forward until true change and reform is won. This is the difference between victory and defeat, and it is the kernel of truth which we must all grasp if we want to change our reality.

Connected to this kernel of truth is the fact that the prison movement will be dialectically connected to the streets and to the national liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies. All that is left for us to do is to grasp these truths as part of the objective laws of development for our cause and vigorously build on them. As such there can be no successful prison movement without the help of the rest of the oppressed nation masses and various revolutionary organizations outside of prison walls, just as there cannot be any successful national liberation movements for the oppressed without the help and leadership of the revolutionary lumpen in the semi-colonies and behind prison walls playing a vital and pivotal role.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 42]
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United Front for Peace in Prisons Status Report

This issue will be marking four years of organizing under the banner of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). It was over the winter of 2010-2011 that we firmed up the documents that defined the UFPP, and the United Front was announced on a mass scale in ULK 19. The discussions involved a number of very active comrades at the time, representing a variety of lumpen organizations across the country. The impetus for the project came from countless calls over the years from behind bars for the need for unity and the many who have dedicated their lives to building unity in prisons and in oppressed communities.

When we first announced the UFPP we got a flurry of responses and statements from other organizations wanting to join, most of which we knew little to nothing about. We pushed further engagement with these groups as we sought to develop outlines and protocols for the peace process that have been tested in practice. And we attempted to pull in those more skilled with the written word to develop a writing project focused on the lumpen class.

In 2012, the UFPP took a big step into the realm of coordinated action when one group initiated the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity and called on all UFPP signatories to participate. Even with short notice, the response was strong and was promoted via independent media on the outside by activists working with MIM(Prisons). After 2 years of networking, it was a good sign that things were moving forward.

In 2014 we saw another surge in groups signing on to the United Front's 5 principles. We cannot say whether this reflects more peace organizing on the ground, a greater reach of Under Lock & Key, or more active promotion of the UFPP by us. But regardless, we want to tap into these organizations to further consolidate this movement, which must be both particular to the local conditions and generalized to continent-wide efforts to unite the struggles of the oppressed nations, and oppressed people in general.

In the coming months, we will begin to refocus on the ongoing project to develop theoretical material looking at the conditions and history of the lumpen class in this country. Along with that we hope to put out more agitational materials challenging the lumpen ideologies that are counter to the interests of the oppressed. We have discussed putting together a zine containing some United Front documents, but we would like to have more practical examples of comrades' work before we do so. We already have the Attica study pack put together to organize for the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity and MIM Theory 14 that addresses the Maoist theory of united front. We want to work with UF signatories to utilize these materials to push the third principle of the United Front — Growth.

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[United Front] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 42]
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Agreement to End Hostilities is the Main Struggle in CA

In early December 2014, we received a letter from a comrade who had recently run into a number of revolutionaries who had been held in Pelican Bay SHU since it opened in 1988. He wrote,

I am writing to say thank you for all of your work and all that you do for us convicts, political activists, freedom fighters and all parties of the struggle. The last hunger strike achieved a lot. Many of the political prisoners housed in Pelican Bay have been released, due to the step down program. Some have been released to step 5 — mainline. Others step 3 and 4 at Corcoran I, or Tehachapi SHUs. But they are close to getting out there. I had the pleasure of talking with [a handful of these comrades] on the bus from Pelican Bay. All of the individuals mentioned had been in Pelican Bay since it opened in 1988, and had arrived from Tehachapi.

We spoke candidly about many things and all parties expressed a deep desire to push and maintain the Agreement to End Hostilities. Even the youngsters smiled and saluted the end to the senseless racial violence of old. For we can overcome obstacles and achieve our definite chief aims by understanding the true cause of our racial divides, which were always perpetuated by the administration to bring about our demise.

Our 20 representatives are doing a great job to maintain order and a common goal. By 2017 or 2018 the entire leadership from all sides should be out. Once that happens I would love to see all political and revolutionary parties establish a round table, power house, to jointly and successfully build the most powerful revolutionary structure the United States have ever known.

We are pleased that some of the leaders in Pelican Bay will be gaining relief from decades of solitary confinement soon. But we need to be clear that the Step Down Program being employed will not have an overall positive effect. In the article "(Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs" from ULK 41, cipactli explained how the Step Down Program to get out of isolation actually legitimizes the validation process, and why they will not be participating in it. And there is still no plan by the state of California to shut down the torture cells altogether, as new prisoners continue to fill the empty spots. Even this comrade notified us of plans for another strike in Corcoran where the state has not upheld its end to the agreement made after the 2012 strikes. Getting some people out of the torture cells may create opportunities, but alone it doesn't change the conditions overall. We must push a campaign of total abolition of the SHU.

All that said, the Agreement to End Hostilities continues strong, and we were glad to receive word of some of these comrades regaining humane conditions on the mainline where their important work can have more impact. Without the end to hostilities between prisoners, there is little hope of ever ending torture in California prisons. Recently, comrades from the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) Collective Think Tank (NCTT) in Corcoran SHU put out a good article reinforcing the strategic importance of the Agreement to End Hostilities as well.(1) Below are some excerpts.

They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another — and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units — Security Housing Units (SHUs) — and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy — as we were further dehumanized and despised.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood... until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that — hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


"Only social practice can be the criterion of truth ... Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world." — Mao Zedong

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

...

The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships may emerge.

"This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people's support, will of necessity triumph." — Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power — not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society — will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

The main thesis of this article by the NCTT comrades is that the Agreement to End Hostilities can be a basis for ending the legal enslavement of prisoners. We have some differences in strategic focus, as we see focusing on the enforcement of the First and Eighth Amendments as more important to building a struggle for a just society than repealing portions of the Thirteenth.(2) Speaking to this point, the article even points out that, "it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized."

We agree with the overall analysis of the NCTT, which addresses the many ways that the lumpen, migrants, and oppressed nations in general do not have full citizenship rights in the United $tates. As a result they do not have full vested interest in the maintenance of this government and economic system. And from there we conclude the importance of the Agreement to End Hostilities in prisons, and extending that to the lumpen on the streets, as building a motive force for social change.

That is what the Agreement to End Hostilities and the United Front for Peace in Prisons are and always have been about: transforming society. Less fighting amongst prisoners is not our end goal; it is a step towards reaching our goals. These goals that have been kept from the oppressed and concealed through manipulations by the oppressor nation in this country. And that is why independence is one of the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. The criminal injustice system exists to prevent us from working together to end the hegemony of the oppressor.


Notes:
1. NCTT-Cor-SHU, "Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery," 25 December 2014.
2. 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
8th Amendment - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
13th Amendment - [1.] Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
[2.] Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 43]
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Carry on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity

I'm responding to the article "Summing Up September 9 Protests" from ULK 41. I became aware of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Day of Peace and Solidarity from my August issue of ULK. I fasted on September 9, but it was done in a custom as Ramadan. This year I will fast according to UFPP custom. Solidarity means working or struggling in a union, and I want to start with those who choose to participate. In solitary confinement here at this prison it is difficult to get the prisoners to partake in the fast because of their political immaturity. Many of them are gang members and they are in the hole for fighting amongst themselves. I try to talk with them about taking life more serious, but peer pressure is what forces many to stay in a state of illusion.

You asked what needs to be done about the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity to broaden its impact. We must continue to promote that day and try to let prisoners see it as a day of unity that represents all prisoners in this racist country. They need to view it as a so-called holiday for prisoners throughout this country. Try to promote to them that this is their day in solidarity with the brothers or comrades at Attica, who lost their lives for better conditions in prisons. Being in captivity since the mid-seventies, I learned that this new generation of prisoners doesn't appreciate the sacrifices those made decades ago. I was labeled as a ring leader and spent over 3.5 years in the hole for being one of the peace makers during the Camp Hill spontaneous uprising.

I understand that not everyone can fast for health reasons, and most individuals can't afford to risk losing their prison jobs because that's the only income they receive. Therefore, you must come up with an alternative so that everyone can still support the cause of September 9 in their own way, because you don’t want anyone to feel as though they can't be part of the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity because of not fasting or needing to work. Hopefully we can have a larger participation this year. I'm looking forward to it and I will definitely spread the word.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is responding to the article we published summing up the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity 2014, which saw a decrease in reported participation. We asked for input on how we should proceed with that action. We agree with promoting this as a day of solidarity with the comrades in the Attica struggle, and we encourage everyone to participate in building peace, by networking, putting a moratorium on fighting, and educating others on the necessity of peace. This is something that can be done regardless of whether you take up the fasting and work strike, by reaching out to educate others about the Attica struggle and our work today and why we need to build peace between individuals and groups throughout the prisons. If we can have this one day with no conflict between prisoners, that would be a great victory in demonstrating what is possible, and we can use that to build lasting peace. A critical part of this is education: our activists need to be well-educated themselves on the history of this struggle, so that leading up to, and on, September 9 they can in turn educate others. To this end we've put together a study pack for everyone building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which includes historical information about Attica as well as organizing materials for September 9. Write to us for a copy. Let's make 2015 the most productive Day of Peace and Solidarity yet!

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