I am reaching out to you all out of sheer respect. There is not enough of this in our (Black folk) community. Secondly, shout out to the entire USW, MIM, the conscious Blood, Crip, Gangsta Disciple Black Guerrillas, Chicano and global prison movements for y'all efforts to advocate and assist in the struggle. You all, I view as brethren, you who are not amongst the delusional.
Our (Damu, Cuz, Gangsta Disciple, Black Guerrillas, etc.) war shouldn't be amongst or against each other because none of us, the above factions, didn't arrive out of happenstance. Poverty, disfunctional homes, no fathers, Willie Lynch syndrome, ignorance, oppression, the need for camaraderie and illegal/legal servitude created the machines we operate. Our mission is to teach the youth and uneducated people around us the real cause of the revolution. Whether it be just transforming itself. We have to educate our brothers; not just with codes, hand language (gang signs), and crime; but knowledge, wisdom and understanding, to actually fight for a purpose.
The upper class black folk has lost their fire and direction. Since the oppressor's foot has been raised from their necks to their backs, they no longer "care" to fight or contribute to our cause. Dissension is the beast that no longer bothers them. It is going to take for us all to inspire, infuse and move the masses. And it starts with those of us within these quasi asylum institutions and concentration camps our oppressors hold us captive in. I am not talking about making an alliance, I simply mean coming together in solidarity. Jessup Correctional Institution and other prisons around the world are the way they are because we all, who have the power to control ourselves and inspire others, won't take a stand and we continue to accept being in separation.
I can't say all the things I really want to because the administration might place on me the Mumia Gag Act like they have Mumia Abu Jamal. Snitches, rats, informants, toms and division dictates the quarters we are all confined to. Divide and conquer has ruled over us far too long. We know the problem, enemy and war waged against us, so now we have to help solving it.
I work to inspire all brothers to act in the revolution. No matter your banner, you all have many soldiers who look up to you and men who will follow you, the leaders of the lumpen organizations, to the fiery depths of hell. Why not compel education upon them? Self destruction has ruined us for years, and in turn we become enforcers of the government when we continue to let the men and youth we all call our so-called homies, cuz, and comrades rep with a destructive state of mind. Take much time to ponder what I said. Remember, blood makes us related but loyalty makes us family. I leave as I came, in struggle.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer's call for unity amongst lumpen organizations fits well with the United Front for Peace in Prisons. There is tremendous potential power in this unity, as is demonstrated in the California Agreement to End Hostilities and series of hunger strikes to fight long term isolation and group punishments. We hope others in Maryland will step forward to build unity with this comrade and the various groups behind bars.
I write to inform the internation community of comrades that select comrades and myself currently held kkkaptive within Georgia's prison system have finally amassed enough mutual support amongst ourselves to come to the position of forming what we call the Red Confederation ("red" as in anti-imperialist, anti-police state), comprising a body of politically conscious prisoners affiliated with various lumpen organizations, i.e. prisoner/street organizations.
Individually we've come to realize that regardless of our organizational affiliations/differences, we all stand on common ground as to our repressive confinement conditions, our degraded and demeaning treatment by the pigs, and, ultimately, who our oppressors — the real enemies — are. Thus, we recognize collectively the need to build unity, solidarity, organization, and informed resistance amongst ourselves statewide against the ever-increasing repressive tactics being employed by the Georgia Department of Corruption in their efforts ("efforts" being synonymous with "subtle war") to suppress lumpen organizations and all politicall conscious/active prisoners in general.
Accordingly, we are not unmindful of the State's underlying impetus for their actions — their compulsory need to oppose the ascension of lumpen organizations of the oppressed in an attempt to maintain the current social order of their oppressive regime. We recognize that the State is in reality acting out of fear and self-preservation, as they foresee the end of their control of us — the diminishing of their power — within our unity.
All that is to say that, by virtue of this letter, we consciously join the United Struggle from Within, and, in so doing, we incorporate into our "Protocols of Consideration" the five principles of the United Front. We are of the opinion that upholding them is essential to begin organizing for effective, efficient resitance by building bridges along common interests of the oppressed both nationally and around the world. We adopt the fundamental political line of MIM(Prisons) as the official guiding philosophy of our own organization. And as we continue to struggle together internally so as to disclose ways in which we could more accurately serve the interests of the movement particular to the objective reality of our current confinement conditions, we will strive to develop a more comprehensive peace treaty amongst ourselves with the intent of sending it in for others to study and possibly use or modify, as may be needed given a group's unique objective conditions.
Moreover, in light of the multifarious (many and diverse) human rights violations being perpetuated — and actually propagated by the State — in its recently implemented statewide Tier II long-term isolation program we, as an organization, have taken it upon ourselves to revive the campaign to end solitary confinement in Georgia. For we are of the opinion that the plaintiffs in the Ashker v. Brown case "sold out" and ultimately betrayed the entire prison movement by "settling" the way they did.
Our class action (Nolley, et al. v. Bryson, et al.; 5:15-cv-00096-LGW) was commenced on or about December 1st, 2015. We've since then forwarded letters to both the ACLU of Georgia as well as the Southern Center for Human Rights, seeking the representation of their respective organizations. And i am currently drafting a similar letter with intentions of forwarding it to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which, in my understanding, was the lead attorney organization in the Ashker v. Broen case. We will keep you updated.
Finally, we ask that you send us any and all material you have in your possession concerning California prisoners' Agreement to End Hostilities that may be useful in providing us with somewhat of a guide to kick start the Agreement to End Hostilities amongst Georgia prisoners.
[A comrade in the Virginia prison system sent us a proposal for a United Front among lumpen organizations in that state. When we sent some feedback on the statement we got this response explaining that so far it has been difficult to build support for the united front. The author also explains why this statement is focused on New Afrikan lumpen groups. MIM(Prisons) did not substantively edit the peace treaty except to remove one point of conduct prohibiting sagging pants. In discussion with the author we agreed that this is divisive on a point that is not critical to the united front. - MIM(Prisons)]
The inspiration for this peace agreement is the Agreement to End Hostilities that the imprisoned comrades put together in California back in 2012. Unlike the California prison system, there isn't a legacy of revolutionary formations in the Virginia prison system. There is virtually no code of conduct, no guidelines of discipline, etc. amongst the general population and even within the lumpen organizations here. Pretty much "anything goes." So the peace treaty is an attempt to establish a "Central" code of conduct or guidelines of discipline that all organization affiliates could accept and embrace, which will then establish unity and have us all moving in one accord.
When I say "us", I am referring to New Afrikans because as Huey Newton stated: "there can be no black-white unity until there first is black unity." And as it presently stands, there is virtually no black unity in the Virginia prison system as it pertains to the "struggle." So, before we can work towards black-white/black-brown unity, we first have to establish black-black unity.
I am sad to inform you that it was not a success on a large scale, although a few individual members from various lumpen organization embraced the peace treaty. I grant you permission to modify the peace treaty as you see fit. It is only an idea, and as with all ideas, they evolve over time and blossom into something transformative and revolutionary.
The United Lumpen Front for Peace & Unity in Virginia Prisons
The basis of any real and lasting unity amongst all lumpen "tribal" or "street" organizations inside Virginia prisons requires an agreement on the following points and guidelines. We must hold each other accountable if any one of our comrades fail to uphold these points and guidelines.
Points of Unity & Peace
Peace: We organize to end the needless and petty disagreements, conflicts and violence between ALL lumpen organizations in the Virgina prison environment. Our captors (the pig administrators) use Willie Lynch style divide-and-control tactics so that we fight, oppose and oppress each other instead of using our time and energy on challenging and changing unjust and inhumane prison conditions. If we want to change our conditions, defend ourselves from racist oppression and regain control of our own lives and destinies, we must establish lasting peace in all Virginia prisons and organize across lumpen "tribal" and "street" organizational lines for our own survival.
Unity: We must achieve power by uniting, bonding, and struggling side by side with people in other lumpen organizations who face the same oppression, the same genocide, and the same enemy for our own common interests and survival.
To maintain lasting unity, we must establish a mutual love and respect between all lumpen organizations, and maintain an open line of communication so that we can peacefully and strategically handle any conflicts or disagreements that may arise. This is especially needed in Virginia prisons because of how our captors (i.e. pig investigators) use snitches/informants to pass rumors that divide us and keep us oppressed. The reactionary pig administration uses such tactics because they see the end of their control within our unity.
Proposal of Guidelines to Achieve Peace and Unity Amongst Lumpen Organizations in Virginia Prisons
We must establish a committee made up of two people from all lumpen "rival" organizations. This committee will facilitate an open line of communication and networking between all lumpen organizations, and at all times work to maintain peace and unity in the event conflicts and/or disagreements arise. Therefore, those people appointed to this committee must have considerable respect and influence within their respective organizations. This committee shall meet once a month (or as needed) to address grievances, resolve conflicts and disagreements, and discuss strategies on how we can best fight oppression and improve our living conditions in a collective manner. In addition to the above, in order to create structure in our prison environment based on discipline and militancy, and draw a clear line of distinction between us and our common enemy, this committee should establish the following rules for all lumpen organization members:
People from different lumpen organization should strive to eat together in the cafeteria, walk the yard together, work out together, study history together and smile and show love and respect for each other at all times. This will allow us to build a bond based on Black-on-Black bulletproof love and unity, and allow us to see each other as allies and comrades instead of rivals and enemies.
Stop laughing, joking, playing, and engaging in casual conversations with ALL prison staff members. Don't initiate any conversation with them unless it's for the purpose of trying to get personal matters taken care of. If prison staff members speak, then it is up to that individual prisoner to choose to speak back out of courtesy, or not. This draws a clear line of distinction between us and our common enemy and will cause our oppressors/captors to take us seriously and have much more respect for us than at present. This also builds unity because it will give us the sense that we are doing something collectively.
Stop throwing your hoods up, peacing each other up, stacking, etc. in front of (or in clear view of) all prison staff members. The wise should always move in silence and we should never expose who we are, what we are, or who our comrades are to the pig administration.
No one should engage in the creation or passing of any rumors or gossip. The pigs use rumors and gossip to sow seeds of dissent and distrust amongst the oppressed. If a comrade attempts to create or pass any rumors or gossip it must be immediately reported to a committee member.
Every accusation made against a comrade should be backed up with true facts and not based on assumptions or poor intelligence, information, or understanding.
Everyone who has a minimum of ten years left to serve must attend the law library, study and learn the law, and work on their own case, or assist another comrade on their case.
Workouts (exercises) at least three times a week should be mandatory for everyone with Black lumpen hood/tribal organizational ties. All Black lumpen hood/tribal organizations were birthed out of the Black struggle and the need to protect and defend our neighborhoods, ourselves and our communities. We must be in the best physical condition to effectively defend ourselves, our comrades, our people and our communities from racist oppression and white supremacy.
These guidelines are a work in progress, therefore they can be amended/modified to fit your specific environment or area for maximum effect as long as they adhere to the two points of peace and unity.
"Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people." - Comrade George Lester Jackson
by a North Carolina prisoner November 2015 permalink
I am writing to inform you of the work that I have been doing here at Tabor Correctional Institution in Tabor City, North Carolina. I am currently housed on Intensive Control (ICON) and I've been spreading the word to a few people in my block. One of the brothers in my block was the real confrontational type who would try to start arguments with different guys simply because the block was too quiet. Usually I would ignore his antics because I understood his cry for attention and fear of having to look in that proverbial mirror, i.e. being alone with his own thoughts. One day after hearing him verbally attack another comrade as well as just cursing out officers without cause I reached to him by calling him on his childish and misguided ways. At this time he told me he never got involved in the conversations that myself and a few others often had because he didn't know anything about it. I then told him the easiest way to learn about it was to ask questions, which led to me sending him two issues of Under Lock & Key. Now this same young brother is a part of these conversations about the various degrees of prison struggle. He is also a member of the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR).
I founded the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR) while housed on ICON. I did so after witnessing the relentless ongoing cycle of gang violence within the North Carolina prison population. I became a member of the Bloods organization in 1998 and in 2015 I renounced my position as a member of that organization to found the Soldiers of Revolution.
I founded this organization because of the gang violence but also because of the constant oppression the prison population endures with no one to teach them how to go about overcoming the oppression. I saw that while many gang members claimed to battle oppression they failed to do so because they were perpetuating it. I understood that they didn't know how to begin the fight against oppression because they were never educated on the many levels of oppression. So SOR was created to educate the masses as well as to be the voice and vanguard of the politically ignorant prison population in North Carolina.
SOR is a political organization founded on the principles of mass political education of all oppressed nations, the battle to end oppression, and peace within the prison population to end gang violence. We stand united in the face of oppression and fully understand that the first step to breaking the cycle is to initiate proper political education. Since we understand the importance of political education in regards to the struggle to liberate the oppressed nations, we have study groups and issue class assignments to further the desire to be politically conscious and active.
SOR is not a gang nor gang-affiliated, though some members are former gang members. As we are primarily a non-violent organization we do not condone or support gang bangin' in any fashion. We do not wish to perpetuate the lifestyles and stereotypes that plague many oppressed nations. We do not adhere to the doctrine of oppressing others to further our own cause. We will offer our assistance and stand united with other political organizations of the oppressed nations but we will not be ruled or governed by anyone but SOR.
MIM(Prisons) responds: SOR is doing important work pushing forward the political education and unity of oppressed nations, and underscores a point that is important for activists: oppression and violence are learned behaviors and we need to work hard to help humynity unlearn these terrible habits. We can't expect this change to happen overnight. In fact we know from the experience in China and the USSR that even after a socialist revolution a new group of people (many of whom were oppressed before the revolution) will attempt to take power for personal gain. This is not surprising since the individualist elements of the culture of capitalism will not be wiped out overnight.
The Chinese initiated a mass fight against the ongoing idological holdovers of feudalism, which they called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, as they worked to create a culture of socialism. Everyone was encouraged to study politics and freely criticize their leaders. This vigilance is the only way we will eventually eliminate the culture of oppression and violence which permeates every aspect of society and pulls the lumpen into anti-people activities like bangin'.
Each individual who belongs to a lumpen organization needs to assess your own situation to decide whether it is best to stay in that organization and struggle from within to build the anti-imperialist movement, or if you need to leave your organization to push forward your revolutionary organizing. There is a place for all of these organizations in the United Front for Peace in Prisons, where we can all come together to oppose prisoner-on-prisoner violence and build unity among lumpen organizations.
I would like to say thank you for the support you guys put out for us in prison. As much as we don't want to give leverage to these parasites, we have to realize what we're up against. By analyzing current events and the possibility of change to happen, we have to accept failures in order to gain grounds. The path we choose now will determine where we're headed. It can be seen everywhere that the old system ain't working. As much reforms are placed on the table, the crumbs are repacked and tried again. No matter how different it's made, it's the same old ideas. The boiling point has been exceeded and riots are getting more intense. This will happen when the people decide their own fate. A hero is not needed, only the spark which will light the way for others.
I emphasize decolonizing ourselves and making the connections between our oppression and imperialism. Being a person of color, I know where I stand. Therefore I do agree on the five pillars of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. I'm an anarchist and belong to a First Nation. The liberty tree branches touch certain ideas we agree upon. By coming familiar with other struggles outside our own lines we can connect the dots that lead to a common enemy. By placing the teachings of resistance in several minds, we can prevent it from being destroyed by placing it in one basket, which will help us prevail into the unknown future.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome this comrade into the United Front for Peace in Prisons, especially as an anarchist and a member of a First Nation. We aim to unite all who can be united against imperialism. Sectarianism (prioritizing your group over the entire people) leads to divisions between Maoists and anarchists, which are unnecessary in our fight against our common enemy.
We also agree with this comrade's emphasis on educating many people rather than building up single ideological leaders. Building up the political competency of all of society is one of the keys to success of our revolutionary struggle. If we rely on a single leader, or a single party, for guidance, then we will inevitably be led astray when that leader is no longer around, whether by natural death or assassination. Spreading political study to as many people as possible helps protect our struggle and helps people to be masters of their own future.
One hundred years since the hystoric Plan de San Diego took place does yet another monumental and hystoric event develop; the publication of [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán is a revolutionary nationalist book that focuses on the revolutionary struggle of the [email protected] nation against Amerikan imperialism. This book is in the service of all oppressed Raza within Aztlán and should be studied by those who are interested in liberating the [email protected] nation from U.$. imperialism, especially Raza who are interested in establishing a [email protected] People's Republic in what is currently occupied and oppressed Aztlán, i.e., California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
[email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán sheds light on the darkness that is national oppression, a darkness that has shrouded and enveloped Aztlán, by directing its luminous rays onto the shining path that has been paved for us by all the great people's struggles the world over. People's struggles in which the heroic Third World masses continue to prove not only their bravery in the face of disastrous imperialism, but the validity and effectiveness of People's War and the revolutionary ideology from which it sprung: Marxism-Leninsm-Maoism, principally Maoism.
[email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán enjoins us to vehemently attack national oppression and criticize the proponents of national oppression whoever they may be. This means that as revolutionary nationalists and the advanced detachment of the [email protected] nation it is our duty to be the first to openly criticize our own sell-out political and reformist leaders. It does no good to go about praising oppressors just because they have a Spanish surname, speak Spanish, or are Raza by birth, as doing so only confuses the issue for the rest of the [email protected] masses who look to us for theoretical and ideological guidance. As revolutionaries we must constantly blaze the trail in matters of political outlook and awareness and must never give in to complacency which inevitably brings about political degeneration. We must put an end to [email protected] nationalists masquerading as Maoists who in the name of Aztlán would raise the red flag only to oppose it. Communists from the [email protected] nation should therefore take a hard and uncompromising stand against these national chauvinists who with their sophistry would only set back the [email protected] movement for liberation and independence.
That said, real Maoists believe in uniting all who can be united in the struggle to free the nation. This is in accordance with United Front theory and practice as developed by Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR during the Soviet people's struggle against German fascism, and Mao Zedong in the Chinese people's war of liberation against Japanese militarism and imperialism. As such and in making this statement it is recognized that there is a contradiction between uniting all who can be united and struggling not only against erroneous tendencies within the [email protected] movement and nation, but outright deviations and revisionism within the [email protected] communist movement as well. Maoists from the [email protected] nation should seek to resolve these differences and contradictions now, starting with the more advanced elements of the [email protected] masses, through the method of unity-struggle-unity. We should not wait for the national liberation stage to be completed before taking up this ideological struggle. This should not preclude our breaking with other [email protected] organizations on the basis of principled stands of scientific dispute as "the struggle bursts forth continuously." We should recognize that in such instances what we must do is not unite two into one, but struggle to divide in order to liberate Aztlán and make revolution.
We should also recognize that before the movement can really take shape through the power and strength of the [email protected] masses there must first be a consensus among all the revolutionary elements of Aztlán so as to consolidate the [email protected] national liberation movement; whether that be within a loose united front of various [email protected] and [email protected] organizations, or under one united flag with a single program, cannot possibly be determined at this time. What should be acknowledged however is that the revolutionary forces within Aztlán must begin the process of consolidation so as to continue to move the struggle forward. The principal way of doing this at this current stage of the struggle undoubtedly revolves around Under Lock & Key, the voice of the anti-imperialist movement behind prison walls. It is thus the revolutionary duty of Maoists and other anti-imperialists from the [email protected] nation to unite in order to begin the long and arduous process of liberation and decolonization de toda la gente.
The [email protected] revolutionary nationalist movement should be in firm unity with all genuine Maoist forces the world over as well as all revolutionary forces fighting imperialist backed regimes and lackeys. Clenched fist salute! A clenched fist salute is also extended to all Raza and camaradas currently locked in Amerikkka's prisons who have taken the qualitative leap towards gaining freedom and liberation for our people by engaging and struggling with Maoism; the third and highest stage of revolutionary science.
Comrades should also seriously study the ten point program of MIM(Prisons) as well as the six cardinal points of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons before attempting to create their own Maoist organizations as they can help to demarcate between real Maoism and phoney communist organizations. These programs should serve as a general guide to the type of organizing and organization we should aspire to. Revolutionary cells claiming both the mantle of Mao and Aztlán should be open to all [email protected] and should not be contingent on past street or prison organization, but on the deep seated belief that Aztlán is a territory of the [email protected] nation which must be liberated!
On that same note [email protected] Maoist organizations should have very strict admission policies as revolution is not a game or a lifestyle, but a matter of life and death and so only the most committed revolutionaries should be recruited. Comrades should also seriously study the Leninist concept of "better, fewer, but better" for this stage of the struggle. Lastly, comrades should enjoin the oppressed prison masses, in particular imprisoned Raza, to take up struggle and begin working with other lumpen organizations amiable towards revolution in the spirit and practice of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, as this is not only the most effective way of establishing peace in prison but of sustaining it. Peace amongst the lumpen is not only a precursor, but a prerequisite to victory on a strategic level.
The [email protected] and other prison masses must realize that Amerikan imperialism grows increasingly weaker every day, both on a domestic and international level because of its extended, hegemonic over-reach. Instead of gaining the imperialists a greater grasp on the far off and distant periphery this presence is instead met with fierce resistance and hate on the part of the resolute Third World masses. The masses must know that Amerikan imperialism is a paper tiger and on a strategic and long-term level its' show of strength amounts to nothing more than shadow boxing strictly for the benefit of those it would wish to subjugate and oppress; it is a concrete monster with feet of clay and wherever it chooses to plant its feet it gets attacked.
"No rewriting of history can change the fact that it has been the national liberation struggle which has handed imperialism so many military defeats" ("The National Question and Separate Vanguard Parties" in MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Nationalism)
I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health and high spirits. I received the information on how to form a study group and a copy of Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons) you sent. Thank you. It has been very helpful. I also received Under Lock & Key No. 45.
The study group I started only has three people involved so far. It's difficult because we are currently being housed in administrative segregation, so we basically have to yell back and forth to one another. But it's not all bad. Having to yell to one another might get others involved in our discussions because they might hear something that touches base with them.
The comrade in the article did some good things, like setting up a "poor box" and doing tournaments, but we feel that he stopped making progress when he waged a war against officers and a lumpen organization (LO). The comrade said that by a member of one LO breaking into the boxes of two other LOs, somehow his treaty was broken. I'm curious, did the comrade investigate the incident to determine whether the theft was sanctioned by the leadership of the one LO? If the theft was just an isolated incident then it should not have had any effect on the treaty. That's assuming, of course, that the treaty in question was a peace agreement reached between the leadership of each LO in that particular barracks or at that particular unit.
We believe that if it was just an isolated incident then the comrade should have let the leadership of the LO the thief belonged to hand down punishment. However, since the comrade is the leader of the UFAO, he could have called together a "committee" to determine how the situation should be handled. We feel that if the comrade would have just prevented the thief from participating in, or benefiting from, UFAO function, he would still be in population pushing the cause forward.
We've learned from the comrade a lot of positive things we might try out in the future, like the poor box, but we also learned to never rush a decision, especially one that could possibly result in a "war." We believe that all decisions made should be in line with the progress of our cause, and any decision reached should be a collective effort to ensure the best path forward is taken.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In our response to the UFAO article that this Arkansas study group is responding to from ULK 45, we asked others to share tactics for how to handle a breach of a peace treaty without resorting to violence if possible. Everyone's conditions will be different, and what works in some facilities might not apply to others. This writer's suggestion of approaching the leading members of the treaty-breaker's organization is one potential option.
Even though the specific agreements you adopt will vary, it's a good idea for everyone forming a peace treaty to discuss this question in advance, before an actual breach of the treaty happens. That way you'll already be in agreement about how to handle a situation like the one explained by UFAO in ULK 45 where the peace treaty was thrown out the window, a "war" was initiated for retribution, and the leader of the peace treaty ended up in solitary confinement.
We hope to continue this discussion of how to make our efforts to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons as fruitful as possible. Send in tactics that have worked in your peace-building efforts to maintain course when it seems to be going off the tracks.
9 September 2015 marked the fourth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons throughout the United $tates. This is an opportunity for us to commemorate the anniversary of the Attica uprising and draw attention to abuse of prisoners across the country. The demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization participating in United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people committing to participate in prisons across the country. Activities vary, from peaceful resistance and fasting to study groups and educational events. Some observe the event alone due to their confinement conditions and some take this opportunity to organize with others.
This demonstration is focused on the UFPP principles of peace and unity: We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence among prisoners, and we strive to unite with those who have a common interest in fighting the oppression of the criminal injustice system. On this one day we call on all prisoners to take up these principles and cease all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities, and use the day for solidarity building and education.
While we don't organize for just one day of peace and unity, this day of action expands awareness and broadens our base of support to build for peace and unity year round. In this way we build from smaller campaigns to broader goals and ultimately to a movement that can stand up against the entire criminal injustice system.
We have already received reports from a number of September 9 participants, which are summarized here. Look for more reports in upcoming issues of Under Lock & Key.
Comrades in Arkansas commemorated the day by joining USW and committing to stepping up their work in the coming year:
"Happy Day of Peace and Solidarity! Today my comrades and I celebrated by eating a chili spread and discussing the many ailments that plague prisoners as a result of our confinement. We also discussed the ways we might non-coercively combat the prison establishment from within. That is no easy task because at the first sign of unity the pigs are quick to lock us up and separate us. Not that we have much to lose considering we are being housed on administrative segregation (23 hour lock down).
"We decided to name our study group CRASH or Crazy Revolutionaries Against Social Hierarchy. We thought it fitting to name ourselves on this day to commemorate Attica. We would also like to join USW. We absolutely agree with all 6 points of MIM(Prisons) and would like to join other like-minded individuals and take a more active role in helping unify the oppressed against imperialism. All power to the people and let burn the renewing flames of the communist revolution!"
In Louisiana a new comrade devoted the day to serious study and fasting:
"I am writing to inform you that because of knowledge I received by reading Under Lock & Key I participated in my first commemoration of the September 9 Day of Peace Peace and Solidarity movement. Six months ago I was unaware such a movement even existed, especially since I was first exposed to the tragedy in, or rather at, Attica in the late 90s - the same time I was first introduced to the Souljah George. The organization I was/am a part of already in our protocols recognized Black August. But the September 9 movement was unknown to us.
"Even though I hadn't heard of the movement I still responded to your call to arms. I fasted from solid food the entire day and only had one cup of water after sundown. I also, after each prayer (as I am a conscious and conscientious Muslim), reread articles from ULK and expounded upon them to my neighbor who, incidentally, is the guy who was involved in the failed judicial lynching attempt of Lil Boosie.
"I also revisited The Wretched of the Earth by Fanon with particular emphasis on the preface written by Jean-Paul Sartre. And although it is a scathing denunciation of European imperialism/colonialism and a concise treatise advocating, or rather understanding, the use of violence to uproot that system, I still believe it was appropriate reading for the commemoration of this day. For as we know, the overall goal you wish to achieve and those I am aligned with will not be a peaceful act in the traditional sense of the word. The forces of capitalism will not go quietly into that good night."
In Michigan one organizer is spreading information about this history of Attica and the September 9 Day:
"I've been talking to a lot of prisoners about the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity but a lot of prisoners knew nothing about the Attica uprising by the comrades against the injustice department of corruption of the DOCs across the country. I myself fasted on September 9 for the remembrance of the fallen comrades, but the majority of prisoners in the Michigan DOC played games, watched TV, and talked shit about the 'new private food services trinity.' But they aren't for peace and solidarity."
While this comrade found most prisoners wasting time, the seeds of discontent are there with their discussions about the food service. These seeds can be nurtured with education and organizing to build a core devoted to peace and solidarity.
A comrade at the California Health Care Facility wrote in advance of the date about plans:
"For September 9 this year my comrades and I are organizing a hunger strike to make the pigs start cleaning our unit. We live in a controlled unit that doesn't allow porters, leaving the cleaning up to the pigs or custodians. But they never do it so we are forced to live in filth."
On September 10 we received the following update from this same comrade:
"Update on my September 9 hunger strike. The pigs conceded and cleaned the unit. On top of that I had 15 copies made of the grievance campaign petition and had two comrades join me in flooding the listed offices with them. I provided the postage for them all since they are stingy with the indigent envelopes here. I also led a small group in which we went over the history and importance of September 9 and enlightened a few who were unaware of the struggle. I broke my fast at midnight a few minutes ago so now I'm going to spend some time in contemplation and get some zzz's."
Another California comrade wrote about organizing at California Correctional Institution:
"For September 9 I attempted to raise the level of consciousness amongst the inmates here on a few issues:
"1) I spoke on comrade George L. Jackson's untimely death at San Quentin, and his particular struggle transforming the colonial and criminal mind into a revolutionary mentality. I talked about how he vied to unify the blacks and other groups. But, the reactionary system wasn't having it one bit. So as a result of his struggles in prison he was assassinated.
"2) I also spoke on Hugo Pinell, who was also slain unfortunately during Black August, and what he stood for in terms of solidarity amongst progressive people. I also spoke on Attica's uprising. Mao said, 'one spark can light a prairie fire.' And it definitely did.
"3) I spoke on how it is vitally important to end all hostilities amongst all groups of prisoners and beyond. In spite of the fact that hostilities will be fomented by the reactionary state. We must continue to vie for peace, harmony and love amongst each other no matter what. The enemy will stop at nothing to foil our efforts. It's part of the struggle to continue moving forward until our goals can be realized, and at that we can set more.
"Also, I spoke to them about the importance of maintaining a study group here even after my departure from prison. And that each and every one of them have an inherent obligation to conduct and maintain a study group amongst themselves so that they can continue raising the social and political consciousness of prisoners as a whole.
"I did what I could to commemorate September 9. The discussion was for 2 hours. It turned out pretty well. Most of the participants didn't have a clue about these historical events and about the prison movement in general. And of course, some had questions. About 12 people attended the group. Also, I did a thousand burpees myself to commemorate September 9. It was exhilarating and refreshing at 53 years of age, to continue to push forward in my 34th year incarcerated. Pamoja tutashinda uhuru sasa!"
Also from California at High Desert CF we received a preview of September 9 plans from the organization Abolitionist From Within:
"As the leading member of the Abolitionist From Within (AFW) I do support MIM(Prisons) and embrace as a group the five core principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. While AFW may not agree with every political issue MIM(Prisons) advocates, it is the issues that we both support that bring us together in this revolutionary struggle. AFW recently had our first demonstration at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. We brought up the issues of the day affecting us and we all offered solutions from each individual's perspective. It was a beautiful and righteous energy as we synergized, listening to each other, and offered the best of ourselves during this time. We will meet again on September 9 and try to agree on the best solutions in attacking and combating the issues that are inflicting us today from the first meeting."
These comrades followed up with a report on their September 9 activities:
"It's been a blessing to learn and grow from each comrade who has engaged in a solidarity demonstration with the movement, Abolitionists From Within (AFW). We came together for all the lost comrades and those that continue to struggle and unite to break the chain of injustice.
"We fasted September 8 to September 9 in a show of solidarity. Also we studied together reading books with study questions and we also read material from Under Lock & Key No. 45 and the September 9 Day of Struggle Study Pack. After reading, we came up with questions from the material and off we went back to our cells. We also shared the word with anybody who was willing to listen. Back in our cells i heard the comrades feeling like freedom revolutionary fighters and that's what's up! We stand in solidarity with the comrades who fought and died in the uprising at Attica. Continue to struggle with peace on our tongue.
"Here on 'D yard' there was nothing but peace today in solidarity with the movement and with the Attica freedom fighters. The movement prevented many young men from being swallowed by the prison culture and that's how I feel about the MIM(Prisons) movement helping us comrades who want change, so I say stay struggling and thank for your continued struggle with us prisoners. Revolutionary Greetings!"
In California Pelican Bay also represented this September 9,
"Today was a good day. No one had any canteen or nothing to make food, but we had good conversation about Yogi's death and how it was a benefit to the state. The hunger strike was brought up and I talked about how our hunger strike was a continuation of the struggles of Attica.
"It was hard to speak of peace when we are so close to the tragedy at Folsom, but folks here with me want peace; we have all voiced peace and how it helps us all in our own struggles. Doing the state's bidding by oppressing other prisoners is not coming from anyone housed around me. We know that the real contradiction lies in prisoners vs. the state. Hopefully other circles come to realize this or are weeded out because Attica gave us a concrete example of what us vs. them looks like. So did the San Quentin Six and the California hunger strikes."
This spring we sent out a request to all California USW supporters to give us updates on the status of the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) at their prison, and to send us a follow up report following the September 9th Day of Solidarity. This status report has been overshadowed by the murder of Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell on August 12 at New Folsom Prison. Here is a report on the incident from one comrade:
"Today at around 1:00 p.m., with the help of police provocateur agents a riot ignited on B-Yard with numerous inmates involved and I regret deeply with anger and rage to inform you all that a true Black man by the name of Hugo Pinell was murdered by not only white inmates, but police as well. It was stirring up for weeks before the incident occurred that violence was to take place and Hugo was definitely the target! Due to disrespectful gestures of a white woman during visiting hours in the visitors room, which was supposedly settled verbally.
"No matter how old, Black lives do matter. The prison officials mockingly placed information directly to reporters/media about Hugo's past as far back as the 1970s, and how he dealt with pigs or whatnot. He's a human being who was (unjustly and spinelessly) murdered by agents and their spies. Only two warning shots were fired and while numerous stabbings were taking place no officers were hurt. Despite being attacked, Black inmates have been assassinated for assaultive gestures, not to mention actual violence.
"I know that Babylon and their stool pigeons been waiting to take down someone of Hugo's caliber, so it's not a secret. These cowards murdered this man. We must make our society aware of the fact that as incarcerated warriors of the struggle, we as a people are subjected to every form of torture, rape, mental anguish, murder/assassination at any given moment still to this day."
Another comrade at California State Prison - Sacramento (aka New Folsom) wrote more recently to explain his interpretation of what happened:
"The most profound and logical explanation is the most evaded and overlooked, and that is the whole situation is said to be orchestrated by Correctional Officers in retaliation for the animosity that they (COs) had towards the brother over historical incidents dating back to the days of Convict vs. Tyrant COs. The hostilities are fueled by institutional propaganda, some may claim that after all these years the white "Aryan Brotherhood" finally got revenge. However, that theory is ludicrous, due to the fact that they no longer really have loyal and active subjects. As hard as it is to foster a thought, that the guards are the bad guys amongst the bad guys (civilian thinking about prisoners) it is the actual, logical and only real answer."
The comrade goes on to describe a series of abuses being faced at New Folsom.
A couple weeks before Hugo's assassination, a third comrade at New Folsom told us,
"I see prisoners pass through here for needed medical attention who come from other yards. One of the "primary" signatories to the AEH, one of the primary leaders, has been released from the dungeon some time ago who has been here in the facility, and yet, despite his presence and authority, I have seen a semi-steady flow of camaradas pass through here after having been viciously stabbed. The latest one was both stabbed and sliced up with a box cutter."
This comrade called on politically conscious prisoners to acknowledge that the success of the AEH as it is being portrayed does not correlate with concrete reality, and that we must address this reality.
Despite this reality that there was a series of conflicts leading up to Hugo's murder, the outpouring of calls for both justice and continuing to build unity among all prisoners are coming in from across the state. This is a disciplined response, where the prisoners in California are thinking strategically about how to react to this tragedy. That in itself is no small feat, which should be recognized.
We received a call from a comrade of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter down south, who represented some older brothers there. We also heard back from a comrade we quoted in our last update on the AEH in ULK 42, from January 2015. His story of O.G.s building with youngsters in a bus ride from Pelican Bay caught many people's attention. He wrote on 13 August 2015,
"I had written to you in October 2014 about... how the Agreement to End Hostilities project was going so well, and now this... We have achieved so much with methods of non-violence amongst the prisoner population... The core reps must meet at the round table to find a solution."
A comrade writing from Calipatria had a similar analysis to those above, with a more or less positive spin on the status of the AEH,
"Having been around the system and noting that the same process of targeted assassination via drone strike or other means, people whom correctional staff feel that they can use to try and spark a breakdown in the Agreement to End Hostilities are used and in this case it is only obvious that prisoncrats had involvement in selecting a target of such renown that it was figured that riots would occur all across the state. The idea was kicked around and so far in most cases sobriety of consciousness have been maintained.
"Isolated incidents have occurred that could have blown up into mass conflicts, which it has been becoming obvious to some prisoners in recognition of plots by agent provocateurs who consistently strive to have us going at each other in manufactured proxy wars so that prisoncrats could justifiably perform acts that cannot otherwise be officially sanctioned.
"The significance of the murder of Hugo (Yogi) Pinell is not lost on prisoners of conscious whose main question tends to be: With all the history, how was the plot allowed to be accomplished when there should not have been a single prisoner unaware of his presence and of his significance to all prisoners? Men of consciousness can reflect on the teachings of Sun Tzu relative to knowing the tactics and practices of the enemy...
"Prisoncrats without a doubt recognize that the introduction of non-violent protests by other means have opened the eyes of prisoners who assumed that the only way to obtain results were by violent means. I suspect that “race” is not as viable an instrument of power among the prison population as a result of the AEH, throwing a wrench into the works of the prisoncrats. So we must be aware that they will not limit themselves to one tactic to try to create new conflicts along various divisions."
So while the reaction to Hugo's death could have been a lot worse, there is a lot of work ahead to learn from this, as we address the injustice that occurred and strengthen the prison movement moving forward.
Other than New Folsom, we got reports from several other prisons on the status of the AEH, and we hope comrades keep sending in their reports. From Corcoran, we received:
"I'm here in the COR SHU 1L building, which is considered the short corridor. We New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists (NARN) have placed our ads in the many news outlets (SF Bayview, Turning the Tide, Prison Focus, The Rock, PHSS Newsletter) informing all that the NARN Collective Think Tank in Corcoran SHU's mission statement is the agreement to end all hostilities, and as far as we know it's being honored everywhere that's received its message. It is our only hope at obtaining our political objectives in this struggle if we all come across the racial lines and bring about a mass united front as we did with the hunger strikes to show our solidarity hasn't changed. On the 4B yard (where I am) we hear that all the building's inmates are programming together, as in exercising on the yard in the cages and looking out for one another with basic necessities, as much as we can do in the SHU."
A newer comrade, from a different building in 4B at Corcoran had just got information about September 9 organizing and jumped into action. However, he laments,
"we are the ones who divide ourselves in this place. In this SHU we are integrated with general population (GP) inmates as well as those in protective custody (PC). By in-house politics, GP inmates are not to communicate or interact with those on PC status and needless to say the limitations of being locked down only limits our conversing with those few in our pods.”
This just demonstrates that even getting the full picture of what's going on at one prison requires more reports from the ground. But it is safe to say that there are still divisions preventing basic communication, which is a barrier to the goals of the AEH. No one expected a declaration of peace to just be verbally accepted and automatically translate into action. Building peace is a process, and the first step is crossing barriers that have no useful basis. Then we can expose the more serious contradictions that require more effort and creativity to really address.
Pelican Bay represented this September 9th,
"Today was a good day. No one had any canteen or nothing to make food, but we had good conversation about Yogi's death and how it was a benefit to the state. The hunger strike was brought up and I talked about how our hunger strike was a continuation of the struggles of Attica.
It was hard to speak of peace when we are so close to the tragedy at Folsom, but folks here with me want peace, we have all voiced peace and how it helps us all in our own struggles. Doing the state's bidding by oppressing other prisoners is not coming from anyone housed around me. We know that the real contradiction lies in prisoners vs. the state. Hopefully other circles come to realize this or are weeded out because Attica gave us a concrete example of what us vs. them looks like, so did the San Quentin Six and the California hunger strikes."
Another comrade there reported on the status to the Agreement to End Hostilities,
"As we're all aware, in order for an end to hostilities to become a reality, all prisoners should promote it or encourage it to other prisoners who are just arriving to the system. In my location (Pelican Bay SHU), all have adhered to 'ending hostilities" even though it's been evident the pigs have tried to crack it by putting certain prisoners in compromising circumstances, such as opening the wrong cell when one comes back from yard. It's done in a manner that's obvious. I've witnessed this happen at least 3 times in a year, but with no incidents as all are adhering to the AEH!
"Although September 9 is a historical day in California prison history, we now have July 8 which we can reflect on to see our efforts transcend expectations.
"To sum up, in my area the AEH is adhered to and a lot of class conscious conversations are constantly being addressed. Everything pertaining to prisoner rights and the abolishment of solitary confinement is a hot topic where ideas are matched, and debates and polemics are welcomed with respect. Our lives are affected by all our actions. It just helps more when we're all on the same page. I cannot say that a grand meeting will be held on September 9 or anything else. We do have class consciousness, but not all are receptive to political/revolutionary discussions. Being that my unit is very small, I will probably be the only one participating in a solidarity fast on September 9. My revolutionary solidarity goes out to all other USW comrades."
Leading up to September 9 we received a joint statement from the United KAGE Brothers and the Prisoners Political Action Committee out of Pelican Bay, which was a pledge to end hostilities on the inside and out.
From California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, one of the comrades who has spent more than 10 years in SHU reported in July,
"Yes, the Agreement to End Hostilities campaign has been popularized in my area. I'm aware of it based on observation and active participation in our class struggle to abolish solitary confinement, which has me directly engaged with the people involved. Therefore, I'm able to confirm, there hasn't been a single issue of violence on the group yards here at Tehachapi SHU, which have been in effect for over a year now.
"The Agreement to End Hostilities is being reinforced on the issues that we're organizing around and what it will take for our efforts to not only be sustained, but being successful. The understanding of this, is realized by prisoners on several fronts, such as, individuals from various formations exercising together and aiding one another on the political, social and economic contradictions that manifest.
"On a final note, we prisoners at CCI Tehachapi have been boycotting CDCR's 'How to make a slave' step-down program since May 11, 2015. Please be sure to publicize this fact!!"
In Kern Valley State Prison we received reports of active building across different groups in the spirit of the AEH. In particular the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Rastafari groups there have been leading progressive efforts. One God reported on a 30-day event including many lumpen organizations (LOs) called Project Build. He states,
"The People/masses/folks support the Agreement to End Hostilities based on the fact that in this particular facility there are 20 (currently) self-help groups as well as Bakersfield College... As for development of a sort of treaty, that has not been put into effect due to the individualists who will rat to the pigs for an extra phone call or to go out to a 'Regular Day Off' yard. Those who are aware of the need to end hostilities are toeing the line. Those that aren't are socially condemned by those who do not fully comprehend, and slowly re-educated by those who see them for the unconsciousness they give off. Communication is key."
This reinforces the sentiment that lumpen organizations (LOs) are on board for the AEH, and those who violate it are isolated individuals, or individuals with connections to the state. At the same time the LOs are not monolithic organizations and we must not be idealistic about declaring "Peace achieved!" We have much to celebrate as we mark 3 years of ending hostilities in California this October 12. But there is much work to be done to address the existing contradictions that are lurking beneath the surface. As comrades above acknowledge, it is not just agent provocateurs creating trouble, though they are very real, and easily influenced and bribed. To believe that it is just agent provocateurs is to idealistically ignore the contradictions among the people that must be addressed. There are antagonistic contradictions among the imprisoned as well, especially in a situation like California where some LOs have very entrenched economic and power interests. Addressing both types of contradictions must continue in order to see another 3 years of peace and achieve the goals of the prison movement in improving the lives of all prisoners.
We've been working hard to express the need to end all hostilities amongst all ethnicities. Us New Afrikans here in the belly of the beast known as the Corcoran SHU have just completed a beautiful BAM (Black August Resistance/Memorial) and we came together to struggle today [September 9th] for the purpose of unity. We exercised in a group that consisted of ourselves, a couple southern Hispanics, and a northern Hispanic. Our study habits still consist of revolutionary literature, economics, politics and some history where our cultural and social interactions are similar without division.
We don't have a short corridor anymore here in this concrete tomb, so with people arriving from the mainline just to do a SHU term we can educate them on the importance of the agreement to end all racial hostilities, and stay on guard because the fascist oppressors will always try to sabotage our collective struggle. A lot of these youngsters who come in here don't have a clue about the Attica uprising or Black August Memorial, and how could they when all the teachers of New Afrikans struggles are still anguishing behind enemy lines. The importance of us getting out of the SHU is to educate our youth about their history.
Today we had a group study session on the importance of revolutionary internationalism, which is the ideological expression of global revolutionary scientific socialism in service to the oppressed underclass of the world. We feel that revolutionary internationalism is the ideological vanguard of global liberation and source of theoretical development in coordinating disparate national revolutions. Also, keeping the permanent struggle of ideological mental warfare going in order to eradicate backwards and unprincipled thinking, or incompatible ideas or activities, and proving the correctness of the revolutionary party's views.
This weapon in which we speak is part of the dialectical processes that are ongoing and endless, until the principle contradictions of the oppressed and the oppressor are eliminated. Once this takes place you will see the transformation of the cultural values, practices and relationships of the people prepare and condition themselves for a revolution against the oppressor state. The outcome is uprooting and destroying the old oppressive rationale and mindset of colonial society and bringing into being new values which move the people outside of the colonial mindset and into that of the emerging revolutionary society. We can accomplish this through the agreement to end all hostilities. So we strive to do so. It's a long out-dated situation that produced no winners, and only losers, and that has also further pushed us into oppression. We realize that now, and since it's not too late to correct it, we struggle collectively to do so.