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Under Lock & Key

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Police Brutality]
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Can We Breathe?

george floyd qualified immunity

(Remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and OTHERS)

I done seen too many mothers cry, brothers die,
while the children left to wonder “Why?”
I’m on the side of the righteous in the time of crisis,
Is the prize really worth it? I tell em that its PRICELESS.
I don’t have hope, kuz hope is for the children,
and those UNABLE to take part in what we’re building.
But we’re ALL gonna benefit when we defeat the nemesis.
A new beginning for humynity, modern day Genesis.
It’s THEM that want war kuz we’re bangin on the door,
They’d rather see us breathless and layin on the floor.
But I woke up this morning to a BEAUTIFUL site.
Black, Brown, and white, its TIME TO UNITE!!!
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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Police Brutality] [Racism]
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What is Justice?

What is Justice?

This is the question of our time.
It’s the struggle that people go through when they’ve been wrongfully convicted of crimes.

It’s the outrage over Black men dying and our race being marginalized by this capitalist society.
We’re targeted by fascist forces of white faces in high places who push the agenda of these racist polices.

Which perpetuates poverty and inflicts us with pain;
we’re steady searching for the sunshine but all we seem to find is the thunder and rain.

In order for there to be justice, first there needs to be a change.
To abolish the system that views a Black man as a cold-hearted killer or a member of an organized gang.

It’s a damn shame how they view our people as animals who needs to be tamed.
When they can’t even seem to control these fascist forces of pigs who really needs to be trained.

Honestly, they really need to be slain for trapping our black bodies in chains,
and for killing our brothers in the streets every day like it’s all apart of the game.

Justice is insane!
It’s a process full of heartache and pain.
It’s like the government is the Devil and we just caught in the flames.

Yankee politics are to blame for causing another Brother to be slain.
“I can’t breath! Officer please” was his claim.
So to overthrow the capitalist reign, we ain’t gone let that Brother die in vain.

What’s his name?   What’s his name?
  George Floyd!     George Floyd!

And to all the other Brothers and Sisters that we lost to this racist system.
The People have become conscious;
the revolution hasn’t quelled!

-Forty

#AllPowerToThePeople!

#LongLiveTheGuerrilla!

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Knowledge Supercedes Any Title

When you enter a new mental, you tap into true potential

Unsatisfied with the gat you become attached to the pencil

You can’t brag on your little strap when they enemy’s blastin missiles

Do the math on that real fast, now you get the picture

You wanted to get cash real fast now you in the system

Then you want that wealth that’ll last once you get the wisdom

It’s not about “DEVELOPING PLANS” it’s staying with ’em

Knowledge supersedes any title, so it’s vital!

It’s not about what you read, it’s the substance of your recital

First you try it, then apply it to your life and just let it guide you

It’s more than quoting the Qur’an, Hindu Scriptures, and Holy Bible

It’s Essentializing Beneficial Knowledge without College

Using LOGIC and not VIOLENCE when it’s time to solve your problems

It’s more than filling up your pockets and seeing your whole profit

The real challenge is to BALANCE getting dollars with killing DRAMA.

K.S.A.T.

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[Medical Care] [COVID-19]
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San Quentin Staff Spread COVID-19 in Prison, Now to other Prisons and the Streets of San Francisco

Continuation of San Quentin: Greatest Concentration of COVID-19 after Guards Refuse Masks and Put Hands in Prisoners’ Food

On 15 June 2020, swab tests for COVID-19 were performed outside East Block on what is called G yard. Donner’s 1st tier and 2nd tier (now occupied by a group of grade B condemned prisoners from the AC which is being used as a quarantine unit) are now waiting to see who got infected by the disrespectful sows too righteous in their own eyes to cover their snouts.

Since 29 May 2020 forward less and less care is being seen. Trays went from having no lids to being paper without much if anything protecting them from any number of pathogens during food seizure.

On the morning of 15 June 2020 and throughout early afternoon, locking cuff ports were installed on holding cages. When asked why no plexiglass partitions were installed (because the cages are literally only separated by the grated walls they’re made of) the installer’s response was “they’re doing a lot of stupid things right now.” That rings truer than wanted.

New rules implemented 1 June 2020 get rid of CDCR 22 forms. The purpose of such forms was, according to DOM54.090.1 policy, to document communication between staff and inmates. By getting rid of a way to document communication between staff and inmates it opens up a trap door for things like grievances to fall through. It also shuts down any prisoner’s attempt to resolve problems in a timely manner that could and now will spin out into oblivion. Of course, CDCR must have another purpose for invoking “emergency regulations” as regards the appeals process (see 15 CCR 3084-3086 on http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations). But CDCR hasn’t said what the emergency is concerning appeals and/or CDCR 22 forms. Why not emergency enforcement of 15 CCR 3052(e)(f)? Why not emergency training for disrespectful sows that don’t tuck their snouts into their masks?

On 16 June 2020 Donner condemned is allowed yard with 1/2 of East Block (one day after testing and before results). It turns out EB is getting fed with normal trays that have lids. When confronted, staff explained that it’s because the kitchen doesn’t want to chance spreading COVID-19. Nobody in Donner has tested positive, but 2 prisoners with “symptoms” were moved to the AC. Even still, how does serving food uncovered on a paper tray stop the spread of anything? The bullshit thickens.

On 22 June 2020 ABC News at 5 did a story called “Outbreak at San Quentin”. It did have snippets of testimony and video footage but it was edited to be misleading. It casts CDCR as being proactive and without cases until a transfer of inmates from Chino. Not only is that bullshit, it explains nothing about how death row prisoners became infected having no contact with those Chino prisoners. As of 15 June 15, at least 30 of the other 300 reported infected prisoners at San Quentin are death row prisoners currently warehoused in Donner Section.

The virus will continue to spread out of control because of staff’s extreme lack of care expressed by their actions and/or reckless disregard for the health & safety of both themselves and others.

Today (23 June 2020) two of the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner RC (Busseman and Peters) began their daily asinine antics by first prepping the RC prisoner food without face coverings. Later, the same two handled the 5th tier’s canteen without face coverings or gloves. Then they handed it to each of the intended recipients. Prisoners continue to be put at risk when exposure is available. This outbreak springs from an extreme lack of care NOT Chino.

According to the news ticker going across the bottom of the TV screen, KPIX 5 reports over 160 death row prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 (as of 26 June 2020). More than 1/4 of all DR prisoners! In addition to not wearing their masks properly or not at all, the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner continue to follow orders to do other really stupid things which facilitate the spread of the virus. Death row prisoners warehoused in Donner take showers in cages with no way to be more than 3’ from the prisoner in the cage next to them. Here’s another example of stupid from the guy who built them. When drunkard Ron Denis was warden at S.Q. he decided to prohibit prisoners from using the yard showers. Rumor has it that the decision was in response to female employees complaining about seeing naked men. A stenciled sign was also posted on each yard prohibiting “bathing”. That reactionary mole only detracts from what would be an available option. Death row prisoners have been denied yard for 12 days as of 28 June 2020. However, a continuing lack of care blinds the S.Q. administration’s ability to see and implement common sense solutions. The present plan seems to be keep everyone locked in the units (health professions warned have such poor ventilation) until all prisoners are eventually exposed to a lethal dose of bullshit. Appeal #SQ-A-20-01123 recently submitted 29 March 2020 was due 29 June 2020 but continues to be ignored despite the issues cited therein being major contributing factors to the spread of COVID-19.

According to KPIX News (30 June 2020) a 71-year-old man on the row died in his cell last week from COVID-19. CDCR is now assigning blame to outside hospitals to further bury the fact its own employees NOT wearing face coverings correctly or not at all are willing accessories.

The same report mentions 40 prisoners have been transferred to an outside hospital due to COVID. Stepping up enforcement of Newsom’s mask mandate has been and remains a joke as “essential employees” such as Busseman, Peters, Alwhart, Costa and others “on assignment” for now or who returned after being infected themselves remain a vector refusing to properly wear or wear a face covering at all. Unfortunately, it is that same selfish attitude that has led to the sharp spike in this whole state - this whole country. According to every employee asked who returned after a bout with the virus, S.Q. is NOT testing for the virus prior to their return. These employees explained all S.Q. did was basic symptom checks without any requirement to actually test negative for COVID-19.

Now that CDCR says all its employees at S.Q. have been tested it seems as if quite a few of those employees think a negative test means you’ll never get COVID-19. But they could now get it (or give it) walking into any cell block. Here’s another illustration to help make this point more clear: on 15 June 2020 all death row prisoners being warehoused in Donner Section were swab tested for COVID-19. Those who tested positive could have been infected 2 weeks or more before the test was done - BEFORE the transfer of prisoners from Chino even arrived. Those who tested negative could have been infected while en route back to their cell under “hands on escort” AFTER being tested.

On 1 July 2020 Gov. Newsom said nothing about the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 at S.Q. “Technical difficulties” prevented any questions from the media. The Gov. went on about contact tracing for a moment but the narrative surrounding the cause of the outbreak here remains fictionalized in the mainstream version of events.

On the same day, later that evening it was put out on the wire that another death row prisoner died. From what remains undisclosed at this time. Can Gov. Newsom put a moratorium on the Pestilence Pilot Program?


a CMF prisoner: From California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, CA, where we have no program.

So like so many Californians I watched the governor’s speech. Sitting in my 8x10 cell I watched yesterday as Governor Newsom spoke on the impact of COVID-19. The spiking of coronavirus in our state and the prison outbreak in California.

He spoke about coming out to Vacaville the day before to oversee the building of a tent city out on the yard. His project is meant to reduce the population of San Quentin State Prison due to out break of coronavirus and all the deaths there by moving them out. Implying the truth with out coming straight out and saying it, that they would move them here. Thereby, jeopardizing an already medically fragile community housed here at CMF, which is in fact a hospital. Most of us here are 55+ years of age with medical issues, many of which are the underlying medical conditions we hear them referring to all the time when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. I wonder, is this the Governor’s plan to reduce the population of CDCR?

But reducing the population of CDCR by means of population control by euthanization through coronavirus?

They are expecting the virus to spread like wild fire here, now like it did at San Quentin. Even more so because of the medically fragile population here.

But when it does, don’t believe the lies and fairy tales that CDCR will put out on it, and Governor Newsom stories of caring about incarcerated populations. Because his actions prove otherwise.


MIM(Prisons) adds: One prisoner recently told eir story of being released from San Quentin prison and dropped off at the San Rafael transit center, as is standard practice. After riding a bus to San Francisco, this persyn got off the bus with flu-like symptoms and passed out on a bench. Ey tested positive for COVID-19 immediately after release.(Snap Judgement on National Public Radio, 25 July 2020)

California, which began the pandemic as the good example in the United $tates, is quickly going downhill as capitalism demands business opens up to “keep the economy going.” Meanwhile, the San Quentin humanitarian disaster is an embarrassment for the CDCR across the country and in the global news. Yet, the staff still seem proud to violate safety procedures and endanger the people around them.

The sickness that is spreading throughout the population of the United $tates that is due to the COVID-19 virus is just a symptom of a deeper sickness that is the individualism and cruel sadism that has allowed the virus to spread so much more in this country than in others. It is no coincidence that this cowboy, settler, #1 imperialist country in the world sees itself as superior and invincible and enjoys inflicting suffering on others. These characteristics are required to keep imperialism going. Yet, this pandemic is an example of how these characteristics will be part of this empire’s undoing. They are intentionally spreading a disease among their own people, even as the oppressed and the imprisoned suffer disproportionately from their behavior. Recent events have only strengthened the oppressed peoples’ cries for organized resistance that serves humyn need. It is in these conditions that real leaders and servants of the people must act to bring us to a new stage of history.

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[COVID-19] [Organizing] [Valley State Prison] [California]
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Exercise Your Influence, Lead by Example

In early March [2020], at the beginning stages of the public information campaign regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, I was informed of preventative methods such as wearing a mask and hand washing by family and friends on the outside. I began to educate the other prisoners at Valley State Prison (VSP) of the pandemic and how the administration was trying to down play the severity of the situation.

I decided to exercise my influence by leading by example, so my first step was to create my own face mask, second step I wore it in public every time I got the chance. At first I looked and felt rather silly because I was the “only one” wearing a mask not even medical staff were wearing masks, people were calling me paranoid and hypochondriac, they said it was not that serious and the virus would not come into prison. One day while going to A-yard dining hall a really rude officer named miss Avila stopped me and confiscated my mask and told me “Inmates are not allowed to wear a mask.” I was also warned by another officer that worked regularly in my building, that I was causing a hysteria among the prisoners by wearing my mask he also said he believed the pandemic was just a hoax.

By the end of April, CDCR’s Prison Industry Authority(PIA) starts creating and distributing masks to all of California’s imprisoned population. Medical staff began to wear mask, but custody staff officers still refused to wear any masks. Officers would harass any prisoners not wearing masks, although it was hot and the masks were uncomfortable we wore the masks as a symbol out of solidarity we want to protect one another in particular our elderly population and those with high risk medical conditions but the officers still refused to participate with us by wearing a mask. On 24 April 2020 we united around a common interest as imprisoned lumpen striving to build a healthy environment and we filed a group Appeal L (602) Log# VSP-A-20-01089 with 12 prisoners and on 5 May 2020 a memorandum was issued ordering “All Staff” Mandatory wearing of cloth barrier masks by warden R. Fisher Jr. On 5 June 2020 our inmate appeal was partially granted and all staff was mandated to wear “cloth barrier masks.” I want to thank MIM for encouraging me to exercise my influence by creating a united front and helping me to turn my knowledge into political organizing.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an example of real leadership. Recognizing what the material needs of the people are, and sticking your neck out to lead by example in how to meet those needs. The people soon recognized this leadership and followed. This is just one of many examples we have printed in recent weeks of prisoncrats actively resisting safety measures to protect prisoners (and staff). This is everyday treatment of those in U.$. prisons, it just has more immediate relevance to the outside world because of the global pandemic. Supporters of United Struggle from Within join these comrades in these day-to-day struggles to say “Prisoner Lives Matter!”

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[COVID-19] [Political Repression] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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San Quentin: Greatest Concentration of COVID-19 after Guards Refuse Masks and Put Hands in Prisoners' Food

15 May 2020 - During the 2 weeks that came and went since my last report, I’ve encountered quite a bit of backlash. Another prisoner and myself are always reminding these so-called “essential employees” here at San Quentin to wear a face covering. On 14 May 2020 during second watch food service we observed two “essential employees” NOT wearing masks. Upon pointing out the obvious, one (Alwhart) approached the prisoner’s cell who spoke up. Alwhart then threatened the prisoner, saying “Shut up and mind your own business if you know what’s good for you, PC piece of shit.” Alwhart mumbled something else (unintelligible) as he walked away to be confronted by another prisoner about the same thing.

Later, when yard release program was called, Alwhart arrived at the cell of the prisoner he threatened earlier and began the process. The prisoners are required to hand the “essential employee” the items they are bringing with to their assigned yards. The prisoner passed Alwhart a clear plastic ziplock bag containing lunch fruit, bread slices, antiseptic scrub (within its own clear ziplock labelled KOP) and a small ziplock containing a small amount of dry beverage. The first thing Alwhart did was open the clear ziplock, then he began stirring the contents with his gloved hand. As he stirred, Alwhart said to the prisoner he was clearly harassing: “I’m going to search the shit out of your cell too when you go to the yard because you need to learn to shut up.” The prisoner he just threatened for a second time said: “I figured you might go that route so I left you a note with copies of Title 15 3084(g) and 3287(a)(2).” The prisoner continued, “Your threats of violence don’t sway me a bit and you need to wear a mask or I’m writing you up for violating 15CCR 3271 and Marin County’s mandate that all”essential employees wear a mask at their place of employment at all times." Alwhart then threw the prisoner’s searched property back into the cell and falsely reported to the assigned tier officer (Costa) that the prisoner refused yard program. True to form, Costa packed Alwhart’s play and feigned ignorance about the arbitrary yard denial. Sgt. Guitierrez (who also does NOT wear a mask) tactically avoided paying any attention to the unbecoming conduct of the essential employees under his supervision. That’s to be expected. That Sgt. also refuses to respond to a CDCR Form 22 attempting to resolve the issue of the other disrespectful sows in his pen NOT wearing masks.

Some other prisoners in Reception and the death row tier are beginning to understand how the insolence and pig-headedness of these so-called “essential employees” is going to adversely affect the entire prison population. We (death row) are already on an unbalanced yard rotation schedule. There are no visits and no mental health yard program. Once any death row prisoner is tested positive for COVID-19, contact tracing would not require Dr. Bright to shine light on the obvious.


MIM(Prisons) adds: San Quentin has been making lots of news around the epidemic staff have brought there. This began when prisoners were transferred from the California Institute for Men (CIM) in an attempt to protect them from COVID-19. It turned out some were already infected and brought it to San Quentin. And as this comrade reported in April staff have continued to intentionally put prisoners at risk, even after it was clear that the disease had arrived at the prison, violating federal, state and local mandates.

As of 27 June 2020, San Quentin has the most COVID-19 cases within CDCR (614) and CIM is second with 514.

notes: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/population-status-tracking/

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[Culture] [Rhymes/Poetry]
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Sittin' in This Cave

Sittin’ in this cave
Where these people are tryin’ to make it my grave
But thank A.L.L.A.H. that HE gave lessons so myself, I could save
That’s that 19th degree
My culture is freed
My teacher is the one who did it for the seeds
But tell me who 96?
Who stayed on the lessons like a dope fiend stays lookin’ for a fix?
I’m Maoist like Huey and Seale
New generation Panther, I got my letters, I’m sealed
I’m livin’ righteous for real
Free Larry Hoover before them 2-7’s have yall lookin’ like banana peels
Hot peppers gettin’ chilled
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[COVID-19] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 70]
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They Need a Healer

After reading the article “34 years too long: The case of Political Prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur” in the San Francisco Bayview newspaper, Feb. 2020 issue, plus watching the news on the current events on the coronavirus epidemic, I can’t help but laugh and wonder; Is this pay back for locking up and killing our New Afrikan healers? As a young New Afrikan who grew up listening to and admiring the late Tupac Shakur, knowing that Pac came from a revolutionary background, when given a chance to study Dr. Mutulu Shakur deeper, I took it and was astonished that he co-founded the BAAANA (Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America).

It pisses me off how Dr. Mutulu was framed and is still locked up after serving his 30-year sentence unrightfully. Just as much as the killing of Dr. Sebz, America doesn’t want to heal individuals not without capitalizing on it. Now we’re in a period where all the natural healers are needed, and this epidemic of the coronavirus has individuals in the multitudes fearing for their lives. Due to the Surgeon General claiming there’s no cure and advise individuals to self-quarantine if they have symptoms that coincides with COVID-19. But where’s the natural healers now? In prison cells or 6 feet under the ground. For every action there’s a consequence and here’s the Imperialistic-Capitalistic world consequence for murdering and imprisoning our Brothers and Sisters.

I knowledge that if the United $tates didn’t do the evil wrong doings to the New Afrikan community and strayed away from the natural way of life, as a whole we would be better off like the majority of the continent of Afrika. Now Amerikkka is going into her rapist tool box and do what it does best, which is blood suck whoever has the cure dry then dispose of the evidence.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammed wrote about the Fall of Amerikkka and said the worst is yet to come. How shit is looking now, the worst is just beginning to happen to Amerikkka the great. As the New Afrikan nation is in motion to free our Brothers and Sisters from the belly of the dying beast. Our next move is in the separation of this failing nation and watch the fireworks. Amerikkka is in a desperate need for a healer, or a savior which will only come from US. Who are the Fathers and Mothers of civilization, Supreme beings.

FREE DR. MUTULU SHAKUR!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We also foresee challenging times for the United Snakes empire coming out of th coronavirus crisis. This creates opportunities for real change, and real change of the economic system will come when oppressed nations begin delinking from the imperialist system as this comrade says.

We must caution against taking our critique of the imperialists too far into pseudo-science. There are many promoting “all natural” cures to coronavirus to make a quick buck these days. It’s not just the U.$. President pedaling dangerous unproven solutions. Certainly, if soldiers like Mutulu Shakur were not targeted by the state, New Afrikans and the world would be better off. And by seeing through Shakur’s vision of a socialist future, we will be much better prepared to handle pandemics in the future, by putting the people before profits.

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[Organizing] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]
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New Location, Old Conversations, New Technique

Revolutionary Greetings,

This letter is to inform you that I have been transferred. My transfer was long overdue and now after those long years in Ad-Seg I should be getting released to population soon. I am now housed in a two-man cell after spending the last three years in a one-man cell because that’s the way the other units in Ad-Seg is set up. So that also is an adjustment I’ve had to make to my work-out/sleep schedule.

This is another of the Arkansas units that’s known for rampant drug trade and use, so I’m trying to prepare myself for combating the mindset that comes along with that among my fellow prisoners. I have been here now for two weeks and have not heard any revolutionary conversations, let alone any political discussions that were based on concrete research or facts. No one is talking about unity or anything of that nature.

I started a conversation with another prisoner about the going-on in Iran. I told him that I assume Chump assassinated Iran’s commander to initiate a war because of the upcoming “elections,” and the prisoner I was talking to started taking a defensive stance and the kapitalist mindset came out. You know the justification, “Oh, the economy is better than it has ever been!” When I asked him at what price has the economy got so great he got in his feelings and told me I sound like one of the Trump haters that have been trying to come up with anything to get him out of office! I then just changed the subject to the San Francisco 49ers taking the Super Bowl this year but he didn’t like that any more than the political discussion! Ha.

The point I was trying to make about who actually pays the price for Amerikkkan prosperity was completely missed and I was reminded of something I read in the essay “Intro to Neo-Colonialism” by Kwame Nkrumah, which we are studying in the University of Maoist Thought (UMT). Nkrumah states “In fact neo-colonialism is the victim of its own contradictions. In order to make it attractive to those upon whom it is practised it must be shown as capable of raising their living standards, but the economic object of neo-colonialism is to keep those standards depressed in the interest of the developed countries. It is only when this contradiction is understood that the failure of innumerable ‘aid’ programmes, many of them well intentioned, can be explained.”

The reason I brought the issue of “aid programs” up is because in the course of the conversation my fellow prisoner’s only grievance about Amerikkka was that these other countries (Iran, Russia, etc.) look at Amerikkka as weak, because after we go to war with countries in the Middle East we send them all kinds of “aid.” I started explaining the system of neo-colonialism and how none of these other countries are fooled into believing that the Amerikkkan government provides “aid” to these countries we’ve invaded out of righteous motives, but he couldn’t grasp my point.

It just goes to show how deep kapitalist ideology indoctrinates its multitude of “patriots.” Amerikkka has given you a life sentence in their machination of mass incarceration, but these dudes are still willing to argue for the monster’s “honor.”

It’s hard for me to see any future victories over a kapitalist system that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of our present day society that I can see why it’s so easy to become agreeable to the multitudes and just go along with the way the system is. Not myself personally, but so many others that I think should be on the side of the oppressed. It makes me question my own abilities in comparison to a Mao. Their essays and policies are so far-reaching and deep, and here I fail at getting a point across to a fellow oppressed prisoner, or as they say I can’t even preach to the choir!

Well, as I said I was touching base to let you know about my transfer and my current status on getting ready to get released to population, and I also wanted to give my thanks to my komrades in the study group and the study group facilitators for helping me get through my time in Ad-Seg, and the growth I’ve experienced.

If it wasn’t for this study group, among other things, I don’t think that I would’ve made it through with a sound mind. So thanks again and I look forward to struggling into the future with UMT and MIM(Prisons).

UMT coordinator of MIM(Prisons) responds: Before writing our response, we asked another comrade from UMT to respond to this article. We suggested a potential angle for responding.

“The main thing I was thinking to respond to (which does not need to be the thing you respond to, you can respond however you see appropriate) is that this persyn was not coming from a place of unity in the conversation with the other prisoner [more on the meaning of "total unity" below - Editor]. Ey was trying to make a point, or win a debate. That technique is useful if there’s an audience of people who are coming to their own conclusions about the debate, hearing both sides. But for an individual conversation, I think we have to come from a place of total unity in order to help people see political distinctions. Again, you can respond however you see fit, I just wanted to offer that as an idea.”

In response, our UMT comrade sent some feedback:

"With respect to the article, I’d have to disagree with your statement that the author was not coming from a place of unity. It is very difficult for me to see how ey could’ve found a better way to struggle with that persyn according to what I read.

"The fact that ey even attempted to engage that persyn in a political discussion is proof enough for me that ey was attempting to unite with em. Furthermore, what is political struggle with someone like that if not a debate? While I don’t believe in showing people up who I’m trying to build with, I also don’t believe in being subtle or sugar-coating reality for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings. That would be liberalism, would it not?

“I once read a MIM article in which the author stated that a good teacher doesn’t assert the correct principles, rather they teach the correct principles. This is the model I always try to uphold when it comes to political struggle and I hope MIM(Prisons) still upholds it as well.”

I think there is a very subtle distinction between unity and discussion, versus division and debate, that i am still learning how to bring to fruition in our work. Of course there will still be moments of disagreement with our comrades, which is perfectly healthy to political growth. And there will be moments of frustration and conflict within a revolutionary organization and movement. I believe the goal in these recruiting conversations is in minimizing the conflict, while hashing out the disagreements, and holding the other persyn in high esteem and unity throughout.

With people we’re recruiting, there is some baseline unity that we can build on. Either you’re both prisoners, both have a deep hatred of capitalism or inequality, or you are working on the same campaign or project. Or as our UMT comrade says above, you are in a conversation at all, so there’s unity. That level of unity is a good starting place, for sure.

If we’re talking about helping people shift their deeply-held inaccurate beliefs which are reinforced by bourgeois propaganda daily; and empowering people to make a difference in their locality and the world; and asking people to take on the magnificent and difficult and self-sacrificing task of building revolution over the long-term while not cooperating with the pigs for their persynal benefit in the short-term, etc… then I believe a deeper unity is needed in order to break through all those barriers to catalyze this profound shift.

As advocates for the liberation of the world’s people from the oppression of capitalism and imperialism, i believe we have an obligation to learn how to communicate with people in a way that we can be most effective. And I’m not saying to throw out accuracy and facts for the sake of false unity. It’s about having discussions with (potential) comrades with unity as primary, even in spite of disagreement.

One way to picture this subtle distinction may be to pause at any point in a conversation and honestly ask yourself “is it blatantly obvious we are on the same team right now? or is it more like we are on opposing teams?” And ask yourself these questions from the other persyn’s perspective, and from an observer’s perspective, too. If the answer to this inquiry is that in that moment you are more in opposition than on the same team, then that’s what i’m talking about.

Another barometer to measure whether we’re coming more from unity or division, is to look at how do these conversations resolve? Are they resolved with greater unity and understanding, or, like in this letter we received, is the result that the persyn totally didn’t grasp the message?

One appropriate time for debate is in a conversation where you are distinguishing whether you even want to be on the same team with a persyn or an organization. These private debates can help clarify for ourselves our own view, the views of others, and help decide the best steps forward in terms of working together, or not.

Another time and place for outright debating is in public discussions. When others witness a debate, it helps the viewer clarify their understanding of the people in the debate, and helps clarify what views they are most aligned with. Under Lock & Key is a great public forum for these types of public debates.

And again, I’m not talking about letting things slide, or ignoring disagreements (that would be liberalism).(1) I’m talking about having conversations with people we are trying to unite with, coming from a place of deep listening. We have to, in a way, “allow” others to believe what they believe, in order to help them see something different. Not agreeing with them, but listening to them.

There are many conversational tactics and methods that can be used, and the effectiveness of specific language will vary persyn to persyn, culture to culture, situation to situation. Rather than a formula of things to say, i think cultivating one’s authentic commitment to developing with others is what signifies to them a deep level of unity, no matter the words. Developing this commitment (even in spite of our own persynal frustrations!), as well as the tactics that are effective, is a lifelong practice. You can use this approach with anyone, even people who hold differing views. And i think this approach is a precursor to people even listening to facts or points being made, which is a precursor to deeper unity, growth, and recruiting.

Comrades in Maoist circles have disagreed with this approach, and have said it’s too much focusing on subjective opinions and tone. And to that i would throw MIM’s “where’s the beef?” taunt back in our own face. Where’s our success? Where’s our results? If we’re outright debating people we’re trying to recruit, and simply trying to show them that they’re wrong, is that working?

I fully agree that viewing the world with the most accuracy as possible brings us power, which leads to effectiveness, and liberation. Sharing accuracy with others is extremely important to our work.

And I believe it’s subjective to behave as if we live in a post-subjective society, and that the most efficient way to liberate the world’s people is to go on unnecessarily dividing with people who could otherwise be our comrades. We can’t teach people to think scientifically by pretending they are already fully objective scientific thinkers.

While working toward a cultural shift where people can see and hear facts delivered in any tone and in any manner, i believe we also need to acknowledge that our culture isn’t there yet. It would behoove us to communicate with others with an awareness that this is the culture we’re speaking into. And in my view, there’s no harm to trying on different conversational techniques. Interacting with others from a place of profound unity (rather than just saying words or speaking one’s mind) is one i would recommend trying out.

I would even argue that being an objective scientific thinker isn’t about thinking scientifically 100% of the time – we are humyns after all, and part of being humyn is having subjective thoughts and feelings. Being objective isn’t about squashing those impulses, it’s about training ourselves to notice when we are approaching a question subjectively, and training ourselves to put that aside. Even long-time revolutionaries are subjective about things! We’re just also committed to developing our objective muscles. We can’t expect that quality of listening from people who have a lifetime of practice in all subjectivism all the time.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this technique, and i can definitely see how on the surface it sounds like liberalism or being wishy-washy. I believe it has been validated by all the seminal works i’ve studied on “how to relate to people” from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to studying about Mao’s long march. That this view is in a minority in our organization is even further evidence of my lack of expertise in bringing this shift to our work. And, of course, maybe i’m wrong! Maybe head-on debate between individuals, in private, is the way to build unity, our organization, and our revolution.

I could go on even more trying to explain it, probably writing an entire book here. Instead i would love for comrades to try it out and let us know what they discover. If you come from a place of profound unity, deep listening and compassion in a conversation where you disagree with someone else, did anything shift in your relationship or organizing work with this persyn or people?

Note:
1. Mao Tse-tung, Combat Liberalism, 1937.

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[COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Another Way to Thin Out the Death Row Population at San Quentin: The Pestilence Pilot Program

So here we are in San Quentin’s death row experiment. The latest twist as we go head first into the COVID-19 pandemic may be described as a new method of execution. Many may not know most prisoners here die from something other than the “official” method of execution or that all sorts of ailments permeate the aging population. But saying the elderly here are now more at risk than before the outbreak would be an understatement.

As this report begins there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases among the death row population at San Quentin. There is however one confirmed case of the virus within the ranks of SQ staff. With visits suspended, the only remaining vector for COVID-19 is CDCR employees. They may bring it in to us without even knowing they’re infected or spreading it. So it’s only a matter of time until it spreads.

Despite knowing they are the only possible vector, SQ custody staff are not wearing N95 masks when “security” reasons require them to be within 6’ of death row prisoners. Instead of halting the spread by taking precautions, the higher ups set up a “window dressing display” that consists of pretending to be complying with Newsom’s shelter-in-place order by implementing a rotating yard schedule for death row. Half of East Block’s death row prisoners go to their 7 different yards one day, then the others (which includes 1 of 2 tiers in Donner Section) go the next day. That may sound like it facilitates “social distancing” but where prisoners are celled and which of those 7 yards each is assigned to, is not balanced in any way. One day we see upwards of 35 prisoners on some yards. The next day some yards have only 3 or 4. Again, don’t forget there are no COVID-19 cases among prisoners while the only vector is conducting those yards release/returns with close proximity to all of us, without N95 masks. That means the rotating yard schedule is in no way conducive to stopping the spread of COVID-19 among death row prisoners (or any of the other staff for that matter).

While nobody in any California prison is not at risk, death row prisoners at SQ are intentionally being put at risk when exposure is avoidable. Oh, by the way, as for those who may reason death row prisoners don’t deserve to be safeguarded from COVID-19, consider the fact that when we start taking up space in hospitals and precious spaces are being used up when this pandemic really takes off, you can thank the disrespectful sows and their lack of urgency regarding this national emergency for that.

[Update, Addendum] On the morning of 29 March 2020, it was announced over the P.A. system that medical quarantine is now in place and there will be no yard program. The reason for the quarantine is not yet confirmed but it only applied to death row. One corrections officer, on 30 March 2020, did supply a simple answer to the question about why there was a medical quarantine – a breakout of influenza not COVID-19.

Shortly after April Fool’s Day the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines recommending everyone leaving their homes for essential travel to wear a cloth mask. That decision was made due to evidence that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can be contagious 48 hours before exhibiting any symptoms [and many people are contagious and never end up showing symptoms at all - editor]. Unfortunately, instead of following CDC guidelines, the disrespectful sows employed by CDCr assigned to warehousing its death row population continue to snort in protest, refusing to wear a protective mask of any kind. Sicker than that, or at least close second, is the fact custody staff assigned to in-cell food service continue to be in willful noncompliance with California Heath and Safety Code 113969 Hair Restraints (see also 15CCCr 3052 (a)(f)). Consider the fact COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic carriers coughing, sneezing, talking or just breathing; common sense dictates – come on this isn’t brain surgery! These disrespectful sows walk handcuffed prisoners by the arm anywhere they go. So much for social distancing – no mask plus no 6’ social distancing equals: there’s no math involved!

Here’s another part of this Pestilence Pilot Program to be dissected: According to 15CCR 3274 Inmate Count and Movement “At least one daily count shall be standing count wherein inmates shall stand at their cell door, or in a dormitory, shall sit… during the designated count time.” So, if we just ignore 15CCR 3271 which requires “The safe custody of the inmates confined…” Demanding close proximity in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic where CDC and California Health & Safety is being routinely ignored by the CDCr employees; it’s just another day at the office for the disrespectful sow counting inmates in between counting sheep (that is, if they’re not watching TV, playing cards, shooting baskets in the trash can or eating). Even among themselves, no masks, no social distancing, no respect and no common sense! Now here’s the funny part: any prisoner not standing at the cell door to be counter (and exposed) gets a Disobeying A Direct Order Rules Violation Report. Again, let’s not consider 15CCR 3274, oh, and that the cells are only about 10’ x 4.5’. Unless the bars are blocked or the prisoner is under the bunk, one can be seen and accounted for. That old ostrich with the head in the sand trick can’t be done!

And with that, the higher ups’ newest window dressing display features distribution of a 27 March 2020 memo telling inmates “all individuals [who] enter a facility… showing any symptoms of respiratory illness are not permitted to enter” and “[w]e are doing all we can to keep everybody safe” and they “will continue to follow CDC guidelines for responding to COVID 19.” (But not really.)

On 7 April 2020 the rotating yard schedule started up again. The only change is which side of East Block goes with the 1st tier of Donner. It’s a “same shit different day” scenario. There continues to be disproportionate numbers of prisoners on the group yards, which is not conducive to facilitating social distancing. When it was suggested that group yards be ran in a manner similar to SMY (Small Management Yard or walk alone “W/A”) it is met with mock confusion and resistance. There are around 100 prisoners assigned to W/A but there are only 31 cages (SMYs). So, to give all assigned to W/A a chance to go out, a list is made each morning by an assigned officer going cell to cell until the number of prisoners wishing to go meets the number of available cages. The next day the assigned officer begins the list where it became full the previous day. There is no reason the group yards should not be ran in similar fashion during the COVID-19 National Emergency. As employees should be wearing masks as recommended by CDC guidelines and the (A) Warden Broomfield 27 March 2020 memo claiming SQ employees must “Follow [CDC] guidelines for responding to COVID 19” shouldn’t allow common sense to be swept under the rug. Getting into compliance with CDC guidelines and limiting the number of prisoners allowed on each of the 7 group yard to 30 makes sense under current conditions. Unfortunately, making sense proves to not be high on the SQ administration’s list of priorities.

On 9 April 2020 the Director of the Center for Disease Control again announced that all employees (working in essential business) should be wearing cloth masks at all times. The CDCR22 [grievance form] sent to "AS of Specialized Housing (Death Row) remains non-responsive and CDC guidelines regarding masks continue to be ignored just as all other CDCR22’s on this and related topics have been since at least 29 March 2020. At this point in time the visiting restriction rules out the possibility any future infection to death row prisoners came from any source other than a CDCR employee not in compliance with CDC guidelines. Security cameras would reveal a few medical and custody staff do wear masks. It would also reveal most do not. Could this be an example of too little too late? It’s definitely an example of CDCR staff endangering themselves and others in their custody. Death Row prisoners at San Quentin cannot spread COVID-19 among themselves until CDCR employees spread it to them first.

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