The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[United Front] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 25]
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Who's Leading Lumpen Peace Work?

"I was born in jail." This was Stokely Carmichael's response to a Swedish reporter in 1967 when asked if he was afraid of being sent to jail for helping to organize the Black nation for national liberation and self-determination.(1) In making this very poignant statement, Stokely Carmichael was putting forward the correct political analysis, referring to the prison-like conditions of the Black nation and other internal semi-colonies of Amerika at the time. It's been 45 years since then and a string of reformist struggles have proceeded. The completion of the civil rights movement, the appointment of the first Black U.$. Supreme Court "Justice," and the election of the first Black pre$ident. But have the material conditions of the Black nation truly changed when compared to other First Worlders? According to the Census Bureau statistics for the year 2006, which show more Blacks and Latinos are living in prison cells than college dorms, they have not.(2)

A new documentary titled "The Violence Interruptors: One Year In a City Grappling with Violence" makes this point ever-so-clear. This documentary centers on an imperialist-funded lumpen organization from the streets of Chicago whose membership is primarily made up of ex-gang members. For the most part they have all done some serious time for some serious crimes, but upon their release made a commitment to themselves and their communities that they would help stop the pointless violence that takes so many lives.

These ex-gang members call themselves "Violence Interruptors," which is a reference to their pacifist tactics. They are funded by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Cook County Board of Commissioners and the U.$. Department of Justice, among others. They run the Violence Interruptors under the guise of the non-profit organization called Cease Fire. The initial idea of the Violence Interruptors program was proposed and partly funded by Dr. Gary Slutkin, who upon returning to Chicago from a medical tour of Africa saw the dire straits of the oppressed here and drew parallels to the African experience. But the organization's true roots date back to Jeff Fort, whose life centered around his leadership in a Chicago lumpen organization that had one foot in Black nationalism and one in drugs and gang banging.

In federal prison from 1972 to 1976 due to his use of War on Poverty money from the government, Fort took up aspects of Islam and rebranded and restructured the Almighty Black P. Stone Nation when he got out. Along with other leading members, and at times working with the police, he worked to build peace between lumpen organizations and to keep crack out of Chicago. But of course the Amerikan government never likes to see the oppressed come together for the betterment of our people, even if at first they pretend to agree with what we're doing. So they had Fort arrested and sent back to prison on trumped up terrorism charges, where he remains today. Having successfully neutralized Fort and other early leaders, the Stones today remain a largely divided umbrella for many sets of gang bangers across Chicago, the status quo preferred by the state.(3)

Carrying on Fort's legacy, Ameena Mathews, a former gangster and Jeff Fort's daughter, is a Violence Interruptor. Mathews, like other Violence Interruptors, is no stranger to the streets and sees it as her own persynal responsibility to stop the violence, even if it means putting her own life at risk. An example of this is caught on film when during an interview for the documentary that's being given inside of her home, a fight breaks out on the street. Recognizing that even a one-on-one situation has the potential to turn deadly, she immediately rushed out to try and bring peace to the quickly-growing crowd. While attempting to calm everyone down, a young man saw a rock hurling at his cousin and sacrificially put himself in the line of fire to protect her. He was hit in the mouth. Afterwards threats are made with the promise of gunplay to come, but Mathews quickly ushers the victim away and tells him that he's the real gangsta because he defended his family and defending their families is what true gangsters do.

Eddie Bocanegra, aka "Bandit," is another Violence Interruptor who did 14 years for murder, but who, during his imprisonment, went thru a period of reflection. He recognized that he not only fucked up his life but that of his family and the family of the person he killed. Now on the streets Bandit admits to having identified pride with his gang but now sees that it was all pointless. Besides being a Violence Interruptor, Bandit also visits schools across Chicago in an attempt to counsel oppressed nation youth who might find themselves in similar situations to the ones he once did.

In the film, a delegation from South Africa requested to meet the Violence Interruptors during a recent visit to the United $tate$ in order to find out their secret to keeping the peace. Yet, the delegation became critical of one of the Interruptors' policies, which is to never involve the pigs in the community's affairs. The delegation argued that the Interruptors were not "neutral enough." The Interruptors responded that this was the reason that they were so effective within the community, because the community knows they can confide in and trust the Interruptors with their problems without the fear of being sold out. Certainly the masses are correct to think this way. Problems that arise within the community should be dealt with by the community. To bring in the pigs is only to justify the oppression and occupation of the internal semi-colonies and oppressed communities. The potential problem we see with the Interruptors is that the state is happy to fund them as independent mediators for small meaningless violence, but how do the Interruptors deal with community organizations that are not state-funded, and may come into conflict with the state? The Interruptors present themselves as an independent force, but their funding tells us otherwise.

One indication of the Interruptors' reputation with the community occurs when the family of a young murder victim receives word that his funeral is gonna be shot up by gang members looking for their original target. So seemingly effective and revered are the Interruptors that the murder victim's family calls them to provide security instead of the police. At the end of the ceremony, Ameena Mathews gives a fiery speech in which she righteously calls out all the gang members in attendance and struggles with them to "get real" with their lives because that dead body they were all there paying their respects to was certainly real, and "it don't get more real than that!"

While the documentary was being filmed, sections of the Woodlawn neighborhood, an epicenter of violent drama, came into conflict over a plan to militarize Chicago using the National Guard. The plan was developed by politicians with some members of the community. By building a real, independent peace in oppressed communities, we can eliminate the divisions within oppressed communities triggered by the wild behavior of lumpen youth and form a united front to keep the state's occupation out. The section of the community that spoke out against the call for militarization knows that the National Guard will not provide more safety, only more oppression. This shows that just because the state has gotten smarter about how to control its internal semi-colonies does not mean that they no longer see the need for armed force.

Jeff Fort and the Almighty Black P. Stone Nation's peace activism legacy lives on in the new federally-funded Violence Interruptors. Similarly, the once largely popular efforts of the Gangster Disciples to hold peace summits in Chicago has evolved into a project that works closely with the political machine of the state. Amerika has proven unable to solve the problems that have plagued the ghetto for generations. While Amerika was worried about what the Stones or the GDs might become, they were scared of what the Panthers already were. They drugged and shot Fred Hampton at age 21, while they eventually sent Fort and Larry Hoover to supermax prison cells with very limited contact with the outside world. While Barack Obama has thousands of people murdered across Africa and the Middle East, we see the level of criminality one must have to become a successful Black leader out of Chicago in this country. The imperialist-funded non-profits use pacifism for the oppressed, while painting mass murder for the oppressor nation as "spreading democracy."

Many think that the Violence Interruptors have people power, but in fact they do not, for they wouldn't even exist if they didn't have the blessing of the oppressors. While the short-term goal of the Interruptors is to "stop the violence," the long-term goal of the oppressors in creating the Interruptors is to stop the violence from spilling over onto themselves. They do this by not just co-opting grassroots attempts by the people to overcome their oppression and bring peace to the hood, but by creating organizations such as the Violence Interruptors which in the final analysis are nothing more than sham organizations; it is the bourgeoisie laughing at us.

In the Third World the bourgeoisie forms shadow organization and calls them "communist" in order to split the people and stop them from launching a People's War. In the imperialist countries, like here in the U.$., they either co-opt or infiltrate and wreck those organizations already in existence. While the Panthers were given nothing but the stick, the Stones themselves were easily distracted from the path of the Panthers with the carrot of a little money from the War on Poverty. After destroying any independent mass movements, the imperialists allow and even encourage groups that promote integration or confuse the masses.

While it is true that there is only so much that we can do for the betterment of our class given our current position as oppressed nations within the belly of the beast, we must also recognize the importance of social consciousness on social being and stop letting the circumstances of our imprisonment both in here and on the street dictate to us the confines of our reality. We must come together and build our reality. We must come together and build our own institutions that are there to serve us; institutions of the oppressed. The Black Panthers had this power and we can too. We must learn to reject the bourgeois notion of power, which is only crude power and serves to oppress and exploit. This type of power is currently exhibited by many LOs, both in here and on the streets.

While commending those individuals within the Violence Interruptors who really are trying to do their part to stop the violence, we must also draw a clear line between fighting for self-determination of the oppressed and serving as the friendly face of the imperialist state. We need more allies on the streets doing this work in support of the efforts of MIM(Prisons) and USW in building peace on the inside. Only by building our own institutions of the oppressed will we truly be able to stop the violence that takes so many lives and keeps a substantial portion of oppressed nation youth behind bars.

Brown and Black Unite!
All Power to the Oppressed!

Notes:
1. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, 2011.
2. Associated Press. More black, Hispanic men in prison cells than dorms. 27 September 2007.
3. Natalie Y. Moore and Lance Williams. The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of an American Gang. Chicago, Lawrence Hill Books: 2011.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 25]
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Internal Unity Should Precede United Front

As an active outstanding member of the Growth & Development struggle down in Texas, I feel it's my duty to speak up on the article "Criticism and Good Communication Helps Us Grow and Develop" by Ras Uhuru in ULK 24.

In the vision of our great leader, growth starts on an individual level; to reach the great discovery you got to have self-growth. Once you reach that then as a nation, as a movement, we can develop. That's where the three Ds come in - Dedication, Determination & Discipline. The three Ds in self are three keys to reaching development. Our great leader tells us to let these concepts reside in our hearts & be guiding light for us. Everyone wants to change the world but our honorable chairman tells us revolution starts with self: educate yourself, be dedicated, determined & disciplined, grow as individuals then we can develop as a nation. That's the "Blueprint" and the 21st Century concepts for GD are all based on this.

I wouldn't say we are a revolutionary organization but fo'sho' we are political and struggle and strive for success in everything we do. To the Revolutionary Gangstas, I preach that to you brothers, regardless of all else, always strive & struggle for success. Educate yourself on the new concepts of GD. As for Ras Uhuru, the Growth & Development movement is obviously something you don't have a full understanding of either because the four stages of GD start at Gangster Disciple and end in a Great Discovery. Maybe these brothers in South Carolina have not reached past the first stage of GD. But to be aware is to be alive and so I strongly advocate that all of these brothers from Mr. Uhuru on down to the Revolutionary Gangstas educate themselves about a movement before speaking up on it.

The Growth & Development is FOC - For Our Children, For Our Community, For Our Cause. The new struggle is for education, politics, economics, unity, organization & social development. Get on point brothers and keep ya shields up and your swords sharp, and always seek and share in the vision of our great leader - Free King Larry Hoover!


MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we hope everyone can agree that Under Lock & Key is not the place to have internal debates within other organizations. If there are disagreements within a group about what the group should stand for, those debates should happen within those organizations' own independent means of communication. At the same time, we print statements from other organizations to establish where MIM(Prisons) has unity with them, and to struggle where we disagree. This is a key principle to ideological development for all of us.

We printed the article by Ras Uhuru in particular because we thought it brought up an important concern, which is that we should promote unity whenever it exists. Ras Uhuru's criticism of the Revolutionary Gangstas statement was that it could be read as an implied criticism of Growth & Development, but without any substance. We agreed with Ras Uhuru on this and printed h article in response. Ras Uhuru also felt that the Revolutionary Gangstas should be working for better understanding and unity within their organization as opposed to forming a new organization. This may or may not have been good advice, as this would depend on the conditions these comrades faced on the ground.

As for the position of the responder above, we agree that one must educate oneself first, and that struggling within allows for greater unity with others. This is also true for organizations, which must develop greater internal understanding and unity before they can ever unite with others (see Ras Uhuru's article on United Front). While pushing many positive principles that align with the United Front, the author above states clearly that s/he does not see hself as part of a revolutionary organization. This is a good example of what a United Front looks like. There are clear differences between MIM(Prisons) and GD (even if this author's vision is disputed by others). And yet we can agree on the certain key principles that we both think will further the goals of our respective organizations.

It just so happens that "Growth," the third principle of the United Front addresses this point. The United Front principle of "Growth" states in part, "We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle." So we are not idealistic in promoting unity; we know that sometimes groups will not want to unite with us even if some of their membership does. We know individuals will leave organizations, and sometimes whole organizations will split. But this should be done in a principled way, with clear political explanations and an attempt to maintain good relations as long as we are all still moving in the same general direction as a United Front.

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[United Front] [Cimarron Correctional Facility] [Oklahoma]
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MPMM signs on to United Front for Peace

This is AR-15 of USW. My new LO's name is Magnanimous Peace Manifesto Movement. As a lumpen organization, we are devoted in uniting together for world socialism and peace in prisons and the world beyond these walls and gates. We agree to uphold the statement of principles set forth by MIM(Prisons) and our fellow comrades in this United Front for Peace in Prisons.

As the founder of this organization, I began by addressing the needs that needed to be addressed in the control unit known as the "Intensive Supervision Unit" (ISU) here at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Oklahoma. I spoke to the contract monitor from the Oklahoma DOC and our unit team about what needs to be done in order for prisoners to succeed in our struggle for betterment.

One of the main issues was education amongst rehabilitative programs. A treaty was developed and the oppressor is going to provide the following:
1. Education for those prisoners who have educational needs
2. ESL for our Latino Nations; and
3. Rehabilitative programs, e.g. thinking for a change

This treaty has been placed into action as of 20 May 2011. To this end, revolution is on the rise!

The Magnanimous Peace Manifesto Movement was formed to promote better growth and development amongst our comrades. Though educational work is a part of our mission, we represent peace, unity, and growth. We believe that there can be no achievement without sacrifice, and a man's worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused-animal thoughts and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance. He who would accomplish l title must sacrifice little, he who would achieve much must sacrifice much, and he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly. MPMM is focused on reforms within all U.$. prisons because we've all (Lumpen Organizations) come together as a collective whole in a United Front for Peace.

We uphold the Statement of Principles established by MIM(Prisons) and other Lumpen Organizations in the United Front for Peace.

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[Organizing] [United Front]
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Uniting to Redefine Gangs as Revolutionaries

Revolutionary - one who takes part in a sudden, radical, or complete change especially the overthrow or renunciation of one ruler or government and substitution of another by the governed.

Gang - a group of persons working or associated together, esp a group of criminals or young delinquents. Also: mob, band, clan, club, crew, pack, ring, team, crowd, horde, posse, circle, clique, outfit, friends, syndicate.

When the word gang comes into play especially by the media (i.e. radio, television and newspaper) why is it always associated with negative energy? We as members of lumpen organizations have effectively allowed ourselves to be boxed into a stereotype of negativity and successfully strayed from our paths as revolutionaries. It seems that we as revolutionaries fighting for an extreme, radical change to and for our environment have allowed ourselves to become radically changed by unseen puppet masters thus detouring us from our way of righteousness.

As members of the lumpen organizations known as Crips and Bloods, we were formed on the heels of the Black power era to override the oppression and destruction of our inner city neighborhoods and take up the baton passed to us by our forefathers to continue this fight for liberation for the people. How have we regressed from a "group of persons working or associated together" for a noble, common cause to a "group of criminals and young delinquents"?! We have allowed ourselves to be labeled "menace to society" by our true enemy (the U.$. government) but instead of refusing that moniker, we have embraced it and fallen into line like cattle to a slow slaughter.

History, true history, clearly shows what is happening: covert government operations, such as the counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO), are infiltrating our ranks and using their art of "divide and rule" to weaken us from the inside out. For all of us still living in darkness; the light of the matter is that this oppressive government tactic is working and has worked for decades! By pitting our respective families against each other, they allow us to set our own limitations on our growth and development. By keeping the lumpen organizations at each others throats, the government can deal with each faction as an individual. This has to change! Only by stifling our generations of feuding can we begin to focus on bigger and better things; only then can we focus on the rebuilding of the urban communities that we have helped tear down.

When J. Edgar Hoover initiated his counterintelligence program, to combat the Black Panthers and other Black nationalists, it was a form of genocide. They threatened to destroy anybody in the Black community who was a leader, anybody! So, they declared war on us 40-45 years ago and that war is still going on right now. That is why those in power are so afraid of our unification, because you can only keep an oppressed person or people down for so long. Then when unification comes, all of us have the same enemy and they can't have that because we become a united body fighting in solidarity with focus, determination and rage against the machine!

For us in the "department of corruption" we are already united in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy, we are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same "plantation" clothing, we are brutalized by the same racist, prejudiced pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set, creed or nationality, we know we need unity but we need a different kind of unity than we have at present. We want to move from unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving towards national independence and liberation.

Crip, Blood, Vice Lord, Gangster Disciple, Latin King, it makes no difference; we are all brothers of the same struggle. The sooner we all overstand this concept the better. We are revolutionaries, but without every individual of every feuding family taking a step for peace, there can be no change. Without change, there can be no revolution.

"Revolution is about change, and the first place where change takes place is within yourself." - Assata Shakur


MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons was initiated in 2011 to bring together those with an interest in revolutionary organizing. This comrade echoes the principle of Unity that is inherent in the shared conditions imprisoned lumpen class.

As this comrade explains, to achieve unity in practice, we must come together and resist the state-sponsored work to undermine that unity. It is not the labels that matter, but rather our actions that will make a real difference. We must judge individuals by their actions, regardless of their affiliation, location, or background.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 24]
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Criticism and Good Communication Helps Us Grow and Develop

[The following is in response to a United Front (UF) statement from a group calling itself "Revolutionary Gangstas." Unfortunately, due to almost extremely widespread in South Carolina, we have not been able to get a response from them. On our website we continue to print solidarity statements with the UF, one of which is from the United Gangsta Nation, who was also sent some of these criticisms, but has not responded. We are printing this belatedly to voice the concerns brought up, and further all of our efforts at building a United Front. As with most letters we receive, the author's words below have been edited for brevity and clarity.]

Confusion most often is the agent provocateur's most precious tool to plow furrows in the soil of a lumpen formation, so to plant the bacillus seeds of annihilation.

This process is done by three means: (1) Those agent provocateurs who willingly work with the oppressors. (2) Those unconscious agent provocateurs whose behavior is so reckless and contrary to their formation or movement that they kick up enough dust and problems for the oppressor to use their actions to either plant and kill or as justification for more oppression and suppression. (3) The third type, while not agent provocateurs, can cause just as much damage. This third is "uneducated members" of a movement or formation who misrepresent that movement by stating or doing things inconsistent with the official position.

The brothers in ULK 21 from South Carolina state they are founding members of a formation they call "Revolutionary Gangstas." However, on the 21st line they also say they are "members of the Gangster Disciples," which is GD's former nomenclature.

I have a serious aversion with the misinformation, confusion and incorrectness that's being presented. First, if these brothers are "learned men" in that former nomenclature, they would not step into this LO revolutionary vita theater using defunct nomenclature that's inconsistent and contrary to the leader of that defunct LO's official position.

Secondly, they would know that LO is now officially and publicly moving within, and a vanguard in, the same principles of the United Front for Peace in the Vision of the Growth and Development Movement. Therefore, no "new" interior formation is required to be part of the UF for Peace. If these brothers wish to be part of the peace front, do so as believers of the Vision of Growth and Development, not as Revolutionary Gangstas.

As a secondary note, almost anyone can and has come to be "gangsta;" however being "gangster" as in Gangster Disciple (when it was in operation) was a privilege and entitlement that one had to learn and earn. It was not no fad or cartooning. Too many died for it to be cheaply commercialized into the hip hop distorted concept of gangsta. Cease and desist.

If someone was educated in the Vision of Growth and Development, they would know that that whole gangster concept was put into the box of self-defense and selective reactionary response because our visionary teacher and his trusted companions recognized prudently how inferior that gangster could be in respect to our vision for real and true Revolutionary Growth and Development.

As men and intelligent thinkers and doers, we know that being gangster has its limitations that go against our vision. Therefore being gangster became a contradiction in practice and principle and needed to be put in its proper context, i.e. self-defense and selective reactionary revolutionary response only.

Our uniqueness is sublimated because we have been there, done that, and perfected that. Anyone who still holds such attachments are still asleep. Our visionary teacher has made it clear and has supplied us with the blueprint and tools to become that reclaiming power and force we need to be to matriculate within the formations of the struggles of USW and UF for Peace.

Way before the UF for Peace came into play, our vision has been instructing us through the Universal Laws of Existence that the "Love" of "Life" and the correct "loyalty" to it by applied "dedication", "determination" and "discipline" will produce in us a "knowledge", "wisdom," and "understanding" that will bring an inner peace and will be able to have unity and from there some "growth" and independence. And by implication, internationalism comes naturally because our vision is universal.

So if these brothers are serious, then do so by being properly educated and live, act and be all you can be as one within the vision.

I leave, as I come. One in the Vision of Growth and Development and a vanguard in the USW and UF for Peace. A student's teacher.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are printing this discussion to work on two of the principles of the United Front for Peace. The first is unity, which requires communication and true facts. In addition, the principle of growth requires that we all strive to educate ourselves and each other. While we are still in the beginning stages of building united front, we are not the first to walk this path. Those with experience to share should submit their analysis of that experience to ULK so that others can learn from it.

From day one MIM(Prisons) has been aware of the many problems we would face printing statements from individuals or small groups that claimed affiliation to larger organizations. We are wary of the problem of prisoners using ULK's prestige to launch new pet projects with no real leadership, while recognizing that we are in a stage where small, isolated groups of anti-imperialists are stepping out to join forces and dialogue with each other. At our last congress we made a self-criticism for promoting anarchism around ideas of the cell structure and united front. We corrected this deviation with the resolution Building New Groups vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons). This resolution should also be considered in relation to lumpen organizations (LOs) by their members. The lumpen class has contradictions within it, and we should not dismiss the successes that LOs independent of the state have had in overcoming these contradictions and uniting large numbers of people over extended periods of time.

In the statement from the Revolutionary Gangstas in ULK 21 they make a criticism that could be extrapolated to a whole, large organization. While "Revolutionary Gangstas" is providing an alternative, it is not one with a practice MIM(Prisons) can vouch for. To the extent that printing their statement suggested that they were a better alternative to Growth and Development, MIM(Prisons) was misleading the masses.

We addressed a similar issue in ULK 17 when a former Latin King wrote us to criticize those affiliated with the group in his area. There we wrote, "For the lumpen to be internally critical is a necessary step for the development of a proletarian consciousness among the oppressed inside U.$. borders. However, to print public criticisms without providing real alternatives and leadership does more harm than good."

As our comrade expands on in subsequent writings, we do need better leadership and we do need to develop our analysis. But we should not criticize existing leadership until we have a viable alternative and existing leadership has rejected it. Our class analysis tells us that the oppressed nation lumpen organizations are our friends, and we should approach them from the standpoint of unity-criticism-unity.

As we recognize Growth and Development for their leadership and experience in this arena, we would not use the word "vanguard" to refer to them as Ras Uhuru does, as we reserve this term for those organizations that uphold the most correct proletarian line. Part of developing correct political leadership means taking up true internationalism. Ras Uhuru refers to internationalism being inherent in a vision that is universal. But organizations of various class interests too easily claim "internationalism" via identity politics or just vague phrases as in the example above. As stated in the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, internationalism means that "We cannot liberate ourselves when participating in the oppression of other nations." As citizens and residents of the most powerful country in the world we have a long way to go to prove our own internationalism.

In the spirit of unity-criticism-unity we appreciate the feedback we continue to get from our allies in various LOs who are working to make the United Front a reality.

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[United Front]
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Politics Over Personality

While reading the last few issues of ULK I have seen a theme which has appeared in the past concerning Special Needs Yards (SNY). Every state has its version of SNY. Whether it is called Ad-Seg, PC or SNY is a matter of the "weak."(1) People end up on SNY for all kinds of reasons. We have a whole pantry full of names for such people: PCs, catch outs, drop outs, victims, rats, rapos, cho-mos, or whatever the case may be.

When a person enters the penal system in the U.S. they are instantly thrown into a chaotic world of racial, religious and gang hatreds complicated by competing interests, decades-old animosities and a complex and contradictory idea system that we call the "convict code." All of that is coupled with the prison administration's coercive nature of "rehabilitation." The continued conversation over special needs yards demonstrates that many of us cannot see past the "institutional personalities" that the prison system forces on us.

The reality, whether one wants to face it or not, is many so-called PCs have been the ones that have fought for and secured many of the "rights" we have as prisoners. In the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Farmer v. Brennan 114 S.Ct. 1970, the prisoner was a so-called "weak" element. Farmer was a long-time prisoner rights advocate. It's ironic that the very people who point the finger at SNY prisoners then cite those same prisoners' cases to protect their own rights.

As prisoner activists one of our first goals should be in protecting the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Sometimes that means you have to overcome your own personal prejudices, fears and attitudes which might have developed as a result of the polluted psychological environment in prison. It also means careful self-examination. Socrates wrote, "do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others."(2) That is a concept we all could stand to reflect on.

Every person has their own cross to bear. We shouldn't add our weight to someone else's burden. I welcome the input of so-called SNY or PC prisoners. I have no interest in making their time harder. The first and primary concern we should have is how to collectively work together to secure rights and improve prison conditions and, second, to further political goals as they relate to the first. What we shouldn't do is victimize each other or conform to an institutional personality that hinders political reform.

Notes:
1. On p. 14 of ULK 20, "Not all SNY Prisoners Debrief" was a continuation of the SNY debate I've read over the years.
2. www.quotationspage.com

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[United Front] [Virginia]
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Black Mass Army Joins United Front for Peace

I've written this missive on behalf of the Black Mass Army. We represent a multicultural group of individuals that is committed to destroying the weapons of mass destruction: imperialism, fascism, racism, police brutality, ignorance, and mental slavery. We support the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles. Our political philosophy "to cure the sickness to save the patient" is our goal by liberating one prisoner at a time through education, revolutionary science, human psychology and self-defense.

Oppression is worse than slaughter and this hellish reality of mass incarceration is the culmination of U.$. state power and its constitution. We believe and practice the ideology of Ho Chi Minh. We use revolutionary science and this means we take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them thru study, then turning them into concentrated and systematic ideas. We then go to the masses and reproduce, spread info and explain these revolutionary ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action and test the correctness of these revolutionary ideas in such actions.

We will stand together with you and defend ourselves from the repressive, tyrannical, draconian, ruthless, unjust dictatorship of imperialism of U.$. bureaucracy. This is what we want and this is what we believe so that the oppressed will have a revolutionary knowledge of his/her self and this spirit must never be suppressed or repressed for the exploitation of others because the human whole is geometrical; "the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts." This means that The Black Mass Army wants freedom, liberation, security of our communities so that we can determine the destiny of the world's oppressed people against the controller, thereby uniting the mind with the body.

Because of the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles the U.$. prison industrial complex cannot be victorious. The walls, bars, and guards cannot conquer or hold down an idea. We sign on and you have our support 110% x 110%. We are a movement within the Virginia State Prisons.

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[United Front] [Texas]
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Revolutionary Mandingo Warriors Join United Front for Peace

To an amazing extent, my organization, Mandingo Warriors, would like to put our strength with your strength and unite as one, under one common cause - the United Front for Peace in Prisons. It is our honor to be listed as an affiliate of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

The Mandingo Warriors are a non-disruptive organization in Texas prisons which was formed to protect each other from harm and defend our community from oppressors. We strive to improve spiritually, morally, mentally, politically and economically. Our concepts and principles are no different than the United Front organization: peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence. We study and uphold the five principles, our cause is not about self-destruction and mis-educating the people. Instead our purpose is to educate the people and uplift our people from fallen humanity. We will incorporate no different principles into our cause than the United Front's five divine principles. We will help promote peace and unity between factions where we are at on the basis of opposing oppression of all prisoners and oppressed people in general.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
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Hunger Strike Strategy: Tactical Retreat or Advance?

So we now have the attention of the state, what is it that we will do with it? We have shown the ability to logically comprehend the repression that we're up against, and the strength to take a stand against the common oppressor, but what's to be done after we're standing?

After we've shot that bow across, or at that battleship, known to some as the CDCR and to others as the oppressive state of California; what is to be done next? Do we continue advancing on the enemy or do we retreat in the face of a failed tactic? This is the true question to be answered by the leaders of our movement.

Recently CDCR put out a memo of what it is they'd like us to do (see September 27 memo "Inmate Programming Expectations Relative to Hunger Strike"); they want us to retreat. And if we don't, "disciplinary action" will be taken against us.

So there you have it. For the arrow that was shot at the state, at a time when we need to be concentrating our energies into resolving the contradictions within the prison population dividing us, CDCR has fired back with its canon to not only discourage participation and leadership in peaceful protest, but has begun to set the stage for punishment for such protest.

They call it a disturbance to the safety and security of "their" established institutional order; our mass actions disrupt the everyday program of the department. Give this a little time to ferment and it will become, for every leader of such activities, disturbing the peace officer and obstructing duties. This is a felony offense that I am being prosecuted for in a state court as I write.

Do we retreat or advance? I personally believe that at this stage comrades should retreat. We should fall back and focus on the divisions that are the primary reason for low participation of prisoners. Most will feel that because we fall back we stop in this struggle, but they are wrong as our struggle is a protracted one.

This was a great shock therapy experiment. Now we must learn from yesterday, live for today and plan for tomorrow. In this war we must pick battles big enough to matter, yet small enough to win.

Let us not forget that although our civil disobedience is one of a peaceful nature it is still disobedience and can result in greater repression and punishment. Yes we are willing to die for a change of the current conditions, but are the masses willing to keep the movement alive after we're dead? Because the masses aren't even yet trained in such civil disobedience, the answer is no, they won't keep the movement alive. We can't expect them to do anything less than die out once their leaders die, and the state has begun its disciplinary actions against them. They have their lights on us for real now, so there isn't much to cloak our activities under. Our leaders will be targeted, so we must prepare others to lead when they fall.

We haven't trained our people in the effective art of hunger striking, how they must drink more water than usual to continue standing strong, how they must develop specific reflex mechanisms to respond in swatting away the urges of all officials, who have only one interest in the matter, which goes against the interest of the strike, and who will be like flies trying to get participants to take a sack lunch, or maybe even have an extra tray convincing them that they will not accomplish anything through striking. Amerikkka doesn't negotiate with terrorists (at least not in public), and they see the leaders of this action as such, no? Shouldn't our participants be trained in these and other methods in order to be more effective?

We leaders are responsible for ensuring that all participants will anticipate the repression that will come as a result of mass action, as well as what shall be done when these repressions take place. Have we done this? No.

It is more correct to re-evaluate our actions now to more progressively advance the demands of the prisoners. In this re-evaluation we shall address the key issues at hand that cause prisoners to be divided. In doing so we will be better fit in establishing the necessary communication with various organizations that can initiate the unity process for prisoners to engage in mass protest demonstrations. We will not be going backwards by doing this. It will actually prove to be forward progress for the prisoner liberation movement.

In ULK 21 BORO called out numerous LOs in their position of where it is that they stand in this struggle. As a USW member/leader I will follow suit in regards to my fellow captives in California: OG Flower and Ronny Brown, where y'all at? Coco where you at? Big Coup what's poppin dawg? Trech and Evil, here it is cuz? Hoover D and Big Owl, where y'all at? Where them NF comrades at? How about them NLRs? We either gonna go hard or go home, cause the state ain't even started yet. Y'all better take a look at Syria, and Libya. We all gone get it, so we all got to get involved.

The above organizations have leaders in the SHU who still fly kites to the line. They still have representatives in other areas. If they can enforce upon their members to engage in this as well as other non-antagonistic activities then I'm sure they can enforce upon their member population to struggle.

As I've said before, this is a good place to begin United Front work, but we must first resolve the contradictions of ourselves before we really begin outright battles with the state. Don't feel that we can't stop now because we've already started the movement, because this assessment of our klass conditions is really a step forward in strategic advance, but a tactical retreat. Remember, you can retreat and lead the enemy into an ambush.


MIM(Prisons) adds: From the time this article left our comrade's pen to when it was published here we have heard from the outside mediators that most in Pelican Bay had stopped their hunger strike, while other prisons followed shortly after. Whether in the midst of the strike or at the end, we think Loco1 brings up important points to consider in terms of moving forward while the issue is at the forefront of the masses minds.

While MIM(Prisons) did not lead or initiate this hunger strike, we do firmly support it and other progressive non-violent protests by prisoners demanding livable conditions in the context of the fight against the criminal injustice system. The strikers were prepared in building support and communications sufficient to execute an action that got the attention of not just the prison administration but people across the state of California and around the world. Actions like this are learning experiences for leaders and participants, while building unity and demonstrating the potential for such movements. However, we do agree with Loco1 on the need to evaluate both the successes and failures of these protests, and build on them for the future.

The hunger strike itself has already served as a uniting force, with thousands of prisoners standing together for a common cause. While Loco1 may be correct that this is a small portion of California prisoners, this demonstration was unprecedented in its size. We did receive some reports of differences in participation along national and organizational lines, and even more of the pigs trying to foment such divisions. With the strength of some of the LOs in California, overcoming these divisions could happen quickly under their leadership. But it requires putting the petty stuff, the things that currently dominate prison culture, aside for bigger goals. The original Five Core Demands of the hunger strike are an example of big goals (see ULK 21). While some argued that these only affected SHU prisoners, any prisoner can become a SHU prisoner in the blink of an eye. So the demands represented a blow against torture for all California prisoners.

We do not want more people in SHU. Control Units exist to control the oppressed nations and anyone the state sees as a threat to their interests. It is one of the most overtly political forms of repression we see in the United $tates today. And we agree with USW leaders who have pushed for a more explicit demand to end long-term isolation altogether.(see 1 or 2)

We agree that successful hunger strikes and similar actions require great unity and discipline, which the masses of California prisoners did not have going into this. But the strikers worked around this problem of unity and communication. The SHU prisoners pledged to fast til the demands were met, and only asked that others showed solidarity in whatever ways they best could. For many, that meant fasting for a determined length of time.

One of the major lessons of this hunger strike is the need for a unifying organizational structure through which action can be coordinated and goals and information can be formulated and shared. The United Front for Peace in Prisons provides this opportunity by bringing together LOs and individuals who understand the importance of unity against the common enemy. As the announcement of the United Front stated:


We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already "united" — in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know "we need unity" — but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.

We look forward to summaries of the successes and failures of the hunger strike in future pages of Under Lock & Key and encourage our comrades to send your stories on how you are building on this movement to greater unity and strength.

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[United Front]
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USW Study Cell Signs onto UF for Peace

I have been working for years to help uplift the consciousness of prisoners and your five points for peace serve as a beacon of hope for the imprisoned masses.

I come from a united struggle from within U.$. prisons where prisoners suffer horrendously. So much work is to be done in prisons, and prisoners have much room to improve their understanding of the society that brought them to prison. The first step is identifying the oppressor and for some, being able to grasp what oppression is, is a difficult task. Most in prison have lived their entire life in mental chains so oppression becomes the norm and attempts to free one from this oppression are met with antagonism, sort of like the kidnapped victim who comes to love their captor.

Yet peace is a first step to being new men and wimmin prisoners, and then the imprisoned masses will begin to de-colonize their minds. A united effort is needed to help educate prisoners and your joint peace statement cuts a goat path through the muck we are forced to endure. My study group agrees with your peace statement and so I sign on as a result.

In Struggle.

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