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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] [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]
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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] [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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[United Front] [ULK Issue 23]
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Ghost Guerilla Mafia Signs on to United Front

To my comrades of the United Front for Peace in Prison, I give the services of the Ghost Guerilla Mafia to bring together those comrades who are lost in the primitive battles of who's blue, red, yellow or green. As "Gs" we give our full effort to establishing unity, peace, and independence amongst the comrades we encounter. Having first accepted the task of fulfilling the aims of the Ghost Guerilla Mafia, and now the task of serving the people, we recognize our true enemies for what they are. Our battles are not with the people, for we do not do the dirty work for the scum of the U.$. bureaucracy. The goals of the Ghosts are as follows:

  1. Unifying resistance forces, especially among our youth, for the preparation of the overthrow of unjust dictatorship and what we call imperial-democracy in the U.$.
  2. Educating the masses to the political struggles inside and outside the institutions and gulags of amerikkka, and to the past and future struggle of the common people here and abroad.
  3. Standing on the side of impoverished and otherwise oppressed people in their struggles for freedom, justice, respect, and fair distribution of wealth.
  4. Endeavoring for harmony of all indigenous and immigrant minorities in this country
  5. Establishing institutions for learning and expression for the people of our communities
  6. Ensuring the protection and security of our communities from oppressive/insurgent action.
  7. Bringing the poor to power, peace, strength, growth and liberty.

    We appreciate the efforts of all of your brothers and sisters and we are behind you 1000%.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 25]
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Build the United Front to Address LO Contradictions

This papyrus is to all United Front (UF) lumpen organizations (LOs) who are plenipotentiary strawboss [this refers to chiefs who claim complete authority over their local group]. And some items will have a unique affinity to those who strive and struggle in a Growth and Development pose. And in that case, I will be specific to whom those items are geared towards.

Some serious questions have been presented to ULK on matters that will either keep or further dissimulate any form of umoja [unity] among the LOs that have expressed an interest in UF.

Umoja over Dissimulation

[Biographical info removed per security policy. In contrast to those who are "plenipotentiary strawbossing," the author claims deep history in a disciplined structure. We will let h credentials speak through what h has to offer in the form of ideas. - Editor]

In a 9 November 1999 column in the Final Call newspaper, my lumpen chief reiterated a previous call for unity and peace among the LOs, specifically in the mid-west. However, in laying out his nationwide peace and unity initiative in book format in 1996, he let it be known that our "vision" for Growth and Development was one for universal unity and peace. Hence, this United Front (UF) project is consistent with my brother's vision.

In the 26 September 2011 letter to United Front members from MIM(Prisons) the proposition set forth was the struggle certain LOs are having in putting their differences to the side. It should be understood that grown women and men have to make tough decisions. Significant among them is the making of personal and collective sacrifices being asked for that don't merely serve you and a few of your homies or comrades. The sacrifice here is for collective LO unity, which will benefit the future of all of our collective kith and kin. This is what it means to become part of a class struggle, the lumpen being a class. In signing on to the UF, you have to join the collective interest.

In ULK 17(November/December 2010), UF was defined for all: "United Front is the theory of uniting different groups across class lines for a common goal or interest, while maintaining independence where those groups disagree. The application of united front theory is about recognizing different contradictions in society and utilizing them in the interests of the international proletariat."(p. 1 "Building United Front Surrounded by Enemies")

In that same issue of ULK, and on the same page, under the title "Lumpen United Front: Its Basis and Development" it stated "The basis for unity among lumpen is class. The lumpen are the disenfranchised who derive from the economically depressed areas — the Barrios and ghetto projects — and are for the most part oppressed nations people. The lumpen are known to the oppressor nation as the 'criminal element' which is code word for persyn of color. The lumpen usually come from a lumpen organization that the oppressors call a 'gang,' or survive as some type of parasitic hustler."

In ULK 22 (September/October 2011) the United Front principles were enunciated and have been reprinted in each issue since. The five principles were direct and extremely clear. LOs started writing to be with it. So no LO should be confused as to what is expected of them and what is required of them based upon their own pledges of unity and peace.

Historically Long and Deep-Rooted Feuds

Those who have or are dealing with this issue should do one of three things:

  1. They can settle their differences among themselves (the two conflicting/feuding LOs) which should be done as expeditiously as practical.
  2. Call upon a congress of six. The congress of six (C-Six or C-Six Session) will be composed by each feuding LO in the conflict picking three LO reps from a neutral LO not involved in the issue, to represent that particular LO's interest. And the other LO in the conflict shall pick three for theirs. That C-Six shall bring a resolution to those LOs' problems and it shall be binding upon both and all its members and factions, based upon umoja, or unity pledge each LO gave upon the second principle of the UF mission and goal statement.
  3. If one, two, or more LOs cannot bring resolution to their beefing and feuding employing any of the former two offerings, a UF congress shall be called by any UF LO reps and all LOs who signed on shall bring a resolution to those two LOs' problems. If the resolution is not embraced by the feuding LOs the UF congress should take exclusion measures or other UF fealty measures.

If we are serious about this, these suggestions shouldn't be a problem. I know from personal experience and universal education and training that many of the LOs already have such conflict resolution policies in play in the streets and behind enemy lines of the oppressor's machine. So this is not utopian in nature.

Ideally these C-Six resolutions should first be attempted in-house and regionally before going multi-state and nationally. Let's not be remiss that the opposition to lumpen cohesion is reading our solutions and resolutions. So it is to be expected that that same dynamic will put all kinds of tools in force and effect to break the chain of unity. Among them, their ease at censorship and suppression. That's why it is imperative LOs must be very judicious in how we are politicking this movement in ULK. For this is a medium we cannot afford nor permit to be short-circuited. So we should refrain, if possible, from placing problems on the national stage if it's possible to be resolved in-house or in-state.

Baseless and petty allegations that cannot be judged and weighed across the nation serve no good other than becoming the ham's fodder to rationalize oppressive-suppressive censorship programs. So it's not good to throw this on MIM(Prisons)'s or ULK's door without proof.

Rebuilding Organizations

Now let's move on to the contradictions within. If we aim to be truly successful with this endeavor, all LOs must do some self-analyzing and self-examination. Every formation, like the communities and families we come from, have bad juju in their midsts. And we know this project is not about transforming the economics of LOs (though we hope that the good eventually have such an effect).

I think I can speak for all and say we wish to keep that kind of debatable aspect of the LOs' habits away from what we are striving to do here. For contamination and cross-transference can happen very easily and it's something that quarter hams are greedily waiting for to not only discredit us, but shut the movement down.

Here I will paraphrase Atiba Shanna from the "Vita Wa Watu" and apply his ideas to our LOs: Each LO must emphasize re-building. We must re-orient and re-organize based upon in-house examinations of our LO and based upon what aspects of their mission need to be improved or omitted. Because the self-destruction LOs engaged in in our previous structures, and the reasons for it, wasn't of a mere quantitative nature. That is, the movement and our organizations didn't suffer defeat (the mass incarceration of each LO's members, loss of lives and material and political gains, schisms etc.) and set backs simply because of the state's repression, but also, primarily, because our "minds" aren't right for a vast majority of LOs and their governing bodies and rank. We are wrong in thinking that we can resolve all our problems by doing counterproductive/counterrevolutionary hustles and resolving all conflicts among ourselves with not only the sword but the hammer and anvil that built sword and spear. Our practice isn't up to par.

And as another of my great teachers taught me: "If one plants an orchard on a chemical dump without first digging it out and replacing it with good soil, it will produce poisonous fruits."

We have two million plus strong, oppressed beings in these county and state psyche incinerators. We have some purchasing power. And we have political power abstractly through the family unit. As field marshal of the struggle, George Jackson stated: "A good deal of this has to do with our ability to communicate to the people on the street. The nature of the function of the piston (system) within the police state has to be continuously explained, elucidated to the people on the street because we can't fight alone in here... We can fight, but if we're isolated, if the state is successful in accomplishing that, the results are usually not constructive in terms of proving our point. We fight and we die, but that's not the point, although it may be admirable from some sort of purely moral point of view. The point is, however, in the face of what we confront, to fight and win. That's the real objective: not just to make statements, no matter how noble, but to destroy that system that oppresses us."(Cages of Steel p. 179)

All scientific knowledge and experiments must evolve. Things that may have or were once working for an LO may not cut it in today's world. Conditions are changing. Just look at the amount of power and force being aimed at the LOs.

We cannot stay stuck in the same old "spear over gun" syndrome/mentality that got Shaka Zulu killed. He and others refused to fight with guns at first, but instead insisted on fighting guns (in the enemies' hands) with Zulu specialized spears in colonial Afrika. Similarly in the dawn of the civil rights movement we saw this approach reintroduced by promoting prayer over protest. Later protest had completed its role, but people still promoted it over "self-defense" and "self-determination" in the late 60s and 70s. Now it's greed over respectable and righteous hustling; the individual over the collective LO; dissimulation over unification.

Most of all the older LOs have some chimera elements in regards to their political philosophies, and those have evolved to the point where capitalism is the end of all means. Even loyalty has a price tag. The nationalism and anti-establishment fight against oppression is relegated to their lit of old and passing stories of the old homies and history books. With "getting money" the ends of all means, no cohesive political line can be drawn. So we must, under the UF banner, agree to some basic principles that we can unite around.

We have witnessed where and what tribalism (in excess) and wars bring. It permits others to oppress and disrespect us more than any LO I ever knew has done to me and my LO. Yet we don't fight the oppressors with the same zeal and hatred we direct towards each other for lesser disrespect and abuse. Therefore, UF should be the highest priority among the vanguard of each lumpen, and the women and men steering said LOs.

We would be fools to believe that designs are not in play to do away with those who are moving to end oppression. According to a news release a week or so ago, the department of just-us claims that the U.$. has 33,000 LOs nationwide with 1.4 million members. It's not known if they are counting those behind concrete and steel or not. Regardless of the truth in the numbers, these figures serve one thing: a notice that they see a problem to be addressed. When you release propaganda or statistics like that, they serve a greater point.

We know they take our existence very serious, united or not. The question to all LOs is whether we are going to take our existence serious or not, and act. There is a saying attributed to Nat Turner and his struggle that "we can either all hang together for fighting or hang separate as comrades who did nothing."

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[United Front] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 23]
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S.O.B. Joins United Front

I am writing on behalf of Soldiers of Bondage (S.O.B.). We are a movement within the Illinois State prisons that fights the oppression by our government.

We fight obscurantism, opacity, and refuse to abnegate to our oppressors! Like any real movement we fight with every resource that we possess; instinct, intelligence, conviction, and (when necessary) violence.

Our mission is to free everyone from their chains of bondage so that they may be free and that we, as a unified people, can live under equitable conditions.

After reading and digesting the July/August 2011 issue of Under Lock & Key I have decided to unite with my comrades in order to better achieve the goals of S.O.B.

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [United Front] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 22]
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No Real Change, Hunger Strike Continues

Pelican Bay Food Strike - Isolation Sucks

On September 26, prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison will resume their indefinite hunger strike after 2 months of hiatus, during which they negotiated with the state. The strike began on July 1, sweeping across California, and was put on hold by organizers on July 21, after 3 full weeks of fasting. Multiple prisoner negotiators from Pelican Bay have confirmed that Scott Kernan of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) promised the 5 demands would be met, but that they needed 2 to 3 weeks to comply. That window of time has long since passed, and comrades are gearing up for what promises to be a longer stretch with no food.

In a statement from one strike leader announcing the September 26 restart, he stated:

I appreciate the time and love you all have given to us and you can believe that we will not yield until justice is achieved. We went into this trying to save lives, if possible, but we see now that there will have to be casualties on our side and we all know that power concedes to no one without demands.(1)

On August 23, state legislator Tom Ammiano headed a hearing on conditions in California's SHUs and on the validation process that gets people placed there. It echoed previous hearings that did not stop torture in the SHU. He promised he would push the issue further than it has gone in the past, but like the reforms given by the CDCR, this is too little too late as comrades who have faced decades in these torture cells take this struggle to the next level.

The Truth About the Negotiations

The strike didn't end over some beanies and calendars. Letters that came from the leaders after the message was sent that the strike ended were very clear that they were only giving the state time to meet their demands before they would restart the food strike. Those in D-Corridor and other SHU prisoners aren't done yet.

The initial story that came out of limited communications between the inside and outside negotiation teams was that the strike had ended, period, in return for beanies, calendars, proctored exams and a promise to investigate the major complaints of the strikers. The extreme limits put on the outside negotiation team, who were only granted access to the strikers on a couple brief occasions, allowed the state to control how the negotiations were portrayed. As a result, many across the state were let down by the misleading reports that first came out, because the strikers had pledged to strike until all 5 demands were met.

It has since come to light that Scott Kernan circulated a fake version of the five demands,(2) and that prisoners received notices that they had broken the rules by organizing against the abuse that they face and that they will face "progressive discipline" in the future for similar actions. The latter contradicts CDCR Spokeswoman Terry Thorton who stated on record, "There are no punitive measures for inmates refusing to eat."(3) In typical repressive fashion, the state responds to complaints of torture committed by state employees with outlawing any form of protest by the victims. It just goes to show that their efforts to maintain "security" have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with social control.

It's also important to note that the best public offer coming from the state right now is that they might move away from gang affiliation charges and focus on actual rule violations as justification for throwing someone into a torture chamber. Within U.$. prisons the First Amendment is generally ignored and any form of expression or organizing not sanctioned by the state is considered against the rules. But even this reform has been on the table for a long time with no action. According to the 2004 Castillo court decision, which took 8 years to litigate, the CDCR committed to providing logical justification that evidence used to put someone into SHU was criminal in nature. Yet nothing has changed, as the lead attorney on the case, Charles Carbone, asserted at the August 23 hearing.

As Carbone pointed out, with exasperation, we already went through the whole song and dance of having hearings around the SHU with Senator Gloria Romero and the United Front to Abolish the SHU years ago. Another testifier at this year's hearing made testimony in the 70s and 80s about the detrimental effects of isolation, but they still went on to build Pelican Bay State Prison. It is clear that the state sees the SHU as an important tool of social control and cares nothing for the destruction they cause to oppressed people.

Scott Kernan was very clear at the hearing that the CDCR would continue with the debriefing process, using confidential informants, and that they will not allow prisoners to appeal secret evidence used against them. He also said gang validations will likely continue to bring indeterminate SHU sentences. Kernan did not stick around for the public comments, and remaining CDCR staff were not given an opportunity to respond when a public commenter asked when the 5 demands would be put down in writing, after Kernan promised it would only take 2 to 3 weeks.

Lessons in Organizing

Through this process we are all learning how to organize in our conditions and what limits we face.

One of the successes of the California hunger strike was the demonstration of United Front to the masses, which inspired many to the possibilities of prison-based organizing. We do not know the details of how groups coordinated on the inside around the strike, but we do know that many groups would not be willing to sacrifice their independence to others, and yet they worked together. This example should be followed by those on the outside. We need to recognize the strength that comes in uniting all who can be united at any given time on the most pressing issues that we face. Coalition organizing strategies have held back support by not allowing a diversity of voices to come out in unity in support of the hunger strike.

Having outside pressure during a food strike is crucial to ensuring that the state just does not let prisoners die, as they are more than willing to do if there isn't too much noise about it. Outside organizations also played an important role in spreading word about the hunger strike that was initiated by some of the most isolated people in the whole state. But, ultimately, the state controls our communication with prisoners. Despite all the work put in by the coalition to develop an outside negotiation team, the only role the state allowed them to play was to announce when the strike had ended and ensure that everyone knew to stop. The state realized that a memo from the CDCR was not going to be convincing. Other than this, the negotiation team was not allowed any access to the prisoner negotiators.

In ULK 21, we made it sound like the strike was over for beanies, calendars and proctors and some empty promises of change. This was the information coming from the outside negotiating team and the best information anyone seemed to have. Frustration with the outcome immediately started coming in and we fear that disillusionment may have followed. But this is what the SHU is designed for. This is why SHU inmates can't call people on the outside. This is why the press is not allowed in California prisons. Misinformation would be much harder to spread otherwise. So overcoming these barriers is part of what we need to learn here.

We need to learn to build protracted and sustainable battles. There are no quick fixes, and prisoners can't rely on the mainstream press or outside organizations to come in and rescue them. Recently, Pelican Bay censored MIM(Prisons)'s study pack on organizational structure. They recognize the importance of such information for prisoners to really get organized and exert their rights. As much as they want to label us a "security threat group" for doing it, MIM(Prisons) continues to struggle for our right to support prison-based organizing. For it is the prisoners who have the drive and determination to make the changes that need to be made to end this oppressive system.

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