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[Organizing] [Special Needs Yard] [Gender] [California] [ULK Issue 58]
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We Can't Write Off Whole Groups From the United Front for Peace in Prisons

This is in response to an article from ULK 55 titled "Maintain the Trust in the United Front" by a Delaware prisoner. Legion is United Struggle from Within (USW). Legion used to be ranking general in a Damu organization here in California. Then life happened and Legion began to question the line. After consulting his peoples, Legion decided to become once again a NGE 5%er. In doing so, Legion wound up on a Special Needs Yard (SNY). Never ever snitching on any former comrade from the lumpen organization (LO) he was representing.

Legion first began re-educating deaf, dumb and blind members of the Black Nation by giving them the knowledge of themselves, then using United Front for Peace in Prison (UFPP) via ULK and other publications to show and prove to these young Gods the reality of the material conditions we are living in.

In the article mentioned above, a Delaware prisoner is worried about a rapist or a snitch when this comrade is compromised. This comrade is using the state-issued labels to disenfranchise potential comrades. This comrade must not know how to turn base metal into gold. Every persyn we built with has become a valuable asset to the movement.

You can't have a united front without having every class of inmate represented because in California, SNY is a reality not a myth [having grown to one third of the prison population - ULK Editor]. And some counties are requiring gang members to PC up in county jail to get plea bargains without snitching. There are entire Aztlán hoods SNY because they refuse to pay taxes to the mob.

As for the "snitch," I know known snitches who are walking on GP yards and are protected by policy put in place in the 90s by these pigs to "keep the peace on yards." And I know some real revolutionaries, who, because of a Delaware prisoner's line of thinking, had to tap out because of unrealistic politics.

Legion is fed up with PC politics on both sides of the fence. There are so-called leaders who are further dehumanizing victims of U.$. imperialism by not letting people prove why they should be in good standing on the line. Being GP don't make you active! If you were put in a cross this is for you. If you kept quiet and wound up SNY this is for you.

Legion demands a recall of all "leaders" of New Afrikan movements who adopted white supremacist politics instead of self-determination. Hugo "Yogi" Pinell (Rest in Paradise) demanded his right to walk the line head held high because he was innocent of his controlling charge. There are a number of revolutionaries who caught cases and were accused of rape/molestation/murder/trafficking/domestic violence, etc. Yet, some woke up because of such maneuvers and became stalwarts of the movement. It is part of the setup!

Comrades can be re-educated and most take up revolutionary politics because they become aware of the injustice system that pits self against self, fast against slow, wealth against poverty, and male against female. We have to take a real scientific look at the reality of one's incarceration before we discard a 'rad as no good. Let the measuring stick be his/her/its actions now vs. what a greenwall/pig say. We can't limit our resources because a few feel superior over a group of misguided revolutionaries; that's class warfare within the prisoner class, which represents a contradiction in need of resolution.

What if a person was witness to some foul shit and the DA/Judge/PD and public pretender tried to coerce a solid kat to testify on his brother at arms but he stayed silent? Took a deal that even though evidence suggested otherwise, he had to take a deal to secure his release because a jury of 12 would have killed him off. When told on, he stayed solid. When framed — solid. When forced to be SNY — solid. How does that make sense?

California Department of Corrections (CDC) is rolling back archaic policy that says you foul for XYZ. Why? Because real revolutionaries who have been isolated for years are now running the show again. I hope every Afrikan dig deep to figure out if he/she/it/they are active or just want to go home. In the 5 we are told your square is where you live and where you die. So I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. What I speak is the principal contradiction of convict vs. the system. Class warfare under the most unfavorable conditions.

If you want revolution it's all or none. It takes time, effort and resources to build a revolutionary advocate. Real snitches are free men. Think about that.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Here, Legion echoes what we have been arguing for years about not writing off whole sections of the prison population, such as Special Needs Yards (SNY) in California, which still have a stigma among some comrades. That's not to say that there are not prisoners who have snitched or raped. Both are serious crimes against the people. Snitches, have given us a very good reason not to trust them. But we need to guard against snitch-jacketing, which the enemy will use to divide good comrades. Those who have committed rape and other serious crimes against the people also need to earn our trust and demonstrate an understanding that what they did was wrong. But again we can’t just take the injustice system's labels and convictions at face value.

Society is quick to condemn the oppressed nation lumpen. But being a hot target for the criminal injustice system can lead to making compromises that most Amerikans would never imagine having to make. Organizing the imprisoned lumpen inherently means organizing people who have committed anti-people activities, many very serious. As we say in every issue of ULK, we don't propose letting all prisoners automatically free. Under a future dictatorship of the proletariat all people will be given the opportunity to become productive members of society. We should all see ourselves as reforming criminals in this country. Whether we've been convicted by the imperialists or not, reforming ourselves requires a deep commitment to fighting patriarchy and imperialism.

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [United Struggle from Within] [ULK Issue 58]
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USW Reaching Out to Outside Orgs - Open Letter to CURE

Reaching Out
[These guidelines were compiled by the USW Coordinator of MIM(Prisons) incorporating points made by members of the Countrywide Council of USW.]

The Countrywide Council of USW, or Double C, has been working on a concerted effort to reach out to other organizations as a way to expand organizing with people on the outside, and to build a united front in general. The Double C decided to publish their letter to CURE in ULK as an example of these efforts, and to provide a guide to others. We invite all USW comrades to participate in this outreach campaign, and this article is to provide some guidelines in doing so.

First, many readers may ask, am I a member of United Struggle from Within (USW)? Can I write to other organizations as a member of USW?

Good question. Anyone could send out a letter and sign it "USW", we have no control over that. But we certainly hope you would not do that unless you are pushing USW campaigns and politics accurately. USW has two levels of membership: supporter and leader. Supporters are defined as:

"A USW supporter helps build USW in eir prison/area. This persyn might not initiate projects by eirself, but will readily implement requests from USW leaders and MIM(Prisons). Supporters may contribute in many different areas of work including: writing articles for ULK, producing revolutionary art, translating, sending in donations, running a study group or otherwise educating people and building reading skills, working on a campaign such as the grievance petition, referring new subscribers to ULK, and conducting MIM(Prisons)-directed surveys. This persyn writes to MIM(Prisons) less regularly [than a USW leader] but is responsive to letters and completes work assigned within a reasonable timeframe."

A leader is someone who launches campaigns and efforts to expand USW independent of MIM(Prisons), and/or organizes others under that leadership. Once you've developed a practice of leadership that we can verify over a period of time, you are considered a leader and you become eligible to join the Countrywide Council of USW.

As a mass organization, USW does allow for its members to also be members in other local, lumpen or nation-specific organizations at the same time. Comrades in the Double C should not identify themselves as such. Statements representing the Double C, and USW as a whole, must go through the Double C for approval first. Therefore publicly identifying oneself as a Double C representative gives a false sense of authority, while risking the security of the individual member.

The Double C is currently developing its protocol for conducting official correspondence with other organizations. If you feel comfortable representing USW work and positions, then you can write a letter from "[Your Name], a member of United Struggle from Within." However, since you might not accurately represent certain aspects of USW’s positions because you are new, the Double C will serve to provide official responses from USW to other organizations. You can even mention this in your own letters.

With this guideline, you do not need to be a USW leader to write other organizations about USW campaigns. In fact, if you’ve been reading ULK for a while, perhaps writing such a letter could be your first action taken as a USW supporter. But before you do so, you might ask: What should I write to these organizations about?

The focus should be on USW campaigns, projects and positions, and how they might overlap (and differ) from those of the other organization. A good way to structure your letter is "unity-struggle-unity." Start off talking about some aspect of USW work and how it connects to the work of that organization. If you can identify disagreements with this organization then you might bring those up as a form of struggle next. Or the struggle may just be something like, "hey, I haven’t seen you working on this issue, you should do more on it." Then close with more forward looking unity – try to lay out some practical steps for how they might work together with USW.

You may also write to other publications in response to a specific article or topic to point out a disagreement, or something that they missed. We often print such struggles with readers in ULK. Again, "unity-struggle-unity" is a good approach, and circling back to USW's practical work and analysis is helpful.

Regarding the letter to CURE from the Double C below, we should point out that CURE is a very different organization from ours. CURE believes imperialism can be reformed and it does not stand for the liberation of oppressed nations in this country. But the letter focuses on where we have unity and where we can work together, while pushing CURE to work with us in those areas. That is a good example of building toward a united front, where organizations with different beliefs and missions can find commonality.

We encourage comrades to reach out to other organizations as a USW representative on your own, and in many cases we will have multiple USW members writing the same organization. This will build up USW’s reputation among other organizations, and allow our membership to grow by engaging in these dialogues.

What do I do when they respond to my letter? Once that dialogue reaches a point where you are not sure how to respond or proceed, you will want to hand it over to the Countrywide Council of USW or even to MIM(Prisons), depending on the topic of discussion. We will keep you in the loop on the ongoing discussion.

What is the goal of this campaign? There are multiple goals. First, we hope to popularize the work of USW with those on the outside, demonstrating our scientific work on the ground. This will increase the chances of building support for that work in the future. Second, we hope to build working relationships on campaigns and projects with other organizations. We hope to expand the view of these organizations and publications beyond select popular prisoners to the prison masses as a whole. Third, we hope to increase political unity within the prison movement. And where we can't establish unity, we hope to clarify our differences. This will help everyone in the movement better grasp the issues and the different positions that organizations take.

If you think USW is focused on the right campaigns and issues, and you think others should get on board, then this might be a good project for you to get involved in. Let us know who you're struggling with and over what. Or, if it's not too much trouble, even send us a copy of your letters. We can work with you if you want feedback before you send your first letter.


An Open letter to CURE National

from the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within

CURE National
PO Box 2310
Washington DC 20013

5 September 2017

First and foremost, we would like to give you thanks for the service that you offer to prisoners and the families of prisoners. In these days prisoners find it hard to locate individuals and organizations worthy of praise beyond the worth that most newsletters and papers are printed on. Members of the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within have read the latest few issues of CURE National’s Newsletter back to front and front to back. We must say, it checks out, so thank you.

One of the first CURE National Newsletters that we received included a listing of state chapters alongside the new requirements for state and issue chapters, namely that chapters have to meet, maintain a newsletter, and report the names of their members to their office in Washington. Now, we reviewed the list and see California is listed, but has nothing more than: [an individual's name, email and phone number].

One of our Council representatives wrote Colorado-CURE, Iowa-CURE, Nevada-CURE, New Mexico-CURE and Oregon-CURE of the western branches. Two replied in favor to our inquiry to be involved in local struggles, on account that California has no official branch of its own. Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Chair at Colorado-CURE, suggested our Council representative write to the national office with comments.

The Countrywide Council is a leading body of a prisoner mass organization under the name United Struggle from Within (USW). USW is the brainchild of members and their students within an organization by the name Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons). Though it is an organization that is political from the vantage point of anti-imperialism and thus is anti-prisons, USW works for any reforms that are scientifically sane with the potential to [contribute to] end[ing] prisons as they stand.

USW has a leadership in prisons across the United $tates and can attest to a strong following in the pages of our bi-monthly newsletter (free to prisoners), published by our mother group, under the title Under Lock & Key. In the state with our strongest source of political activity, California, there isn't even a CURE branch?! We believe CURE is missing out on the greatest opportunity it could have, and this is why the Council is committed to help CURE remedy this.

It is the job of our members to find ways to keep our movement working on issues that have the greatest potential of reducing prison populations and partnering with groups and organizations who share our vision of a world with less to no prisons. We believe that working with CURE National to develop a CURE California, the California Statewide Council of USW can put to use much more of the information and resources available, but only in a more direct way.

Take CURE National’s policy initiative for 2016. USW missed the opportunity to involve itself with the CURE policy initiative for 2016 due to unfamiliarity with CURE and the lack of any direct line of communication with its leadership, which would be needed before we moved for the Council to follow. We commend the democratic process of decision making in regards to what struggles CURE concentrates its resources and power. Particularly, CURE National Policy 924 – prisons. As USW is a group heavily engaged in struggles with nearly every state in the United $tates – addressing "The failure of prison grievance systems", we are sure that we, and our memberships may unite in forces to bring about a uniform grievance system in prisons across the board.

USW, and its supporters, has been working on a national prisoners campaign demanding prison officials address, honor and upkeep prisoners' grievances. Petitions have been developed at prisons in all of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Each state has a petition drawn particularly for its local conditions and regulations. [There is also a more generic petition written for use by prisoners held outside these states.]

USW's most difficult task is finding public support to move forward our campaigns in a peaceful and legal way. CURE National’s policy initiatives 2015 1185 hinted at what it thinks is the root of prisoners' problems: "Introducing a Constitutional Amendment into Congress that would repeal the exception clause in the 13th Amendment. This clause provides that slavery is not abolished for those incarcerated. Prisoners are exploited, and for many groups the exploitation raises to the level of slavery." For the purpose of saving time and space, we will not share our science on the subject, but instead guide supporters of the amerikkkan Constitution to the very First Amendment and protecting it. The salvation of the entire Constitution relies on the sound voice of the civilized people. If it is believed that prisoners are slaves and not citizens then it should be understood slaves are property, not human beings. Slaves are objects of labor, tasked as tools and instruments to build or destroy an ideal society. Slaves have no voice to speak of injustice, but instead masters and lords who represent them as Power of Attorney.

Prisoners have not signed off of the grid (U.$. citizenship). So it is extreme to take up struggles to have the state abolish prison slavery, however it would be totally reasonable to educate the public about the need for public oversight and community advocacy for the First Amendment rights of prisoners to be protected. It is with greater grievance power that prisoners and their supporters may address the injustices of prisons.

Prisoners, their organizations and the support groups behind grassroots crews lead in civil rights battles with the state. The problem is that the massive so-called grassroots base is alienated when it comes to discussions regarding the general body of the massive population (or masses). We believe this comes at the expense of a care-free public. People aren't interested enough in the affairs of prisoners or their families. The general consensus is that prisoners did the crime and must face the time.

Organizations like CURE National are in a position to change the public opinion. Its members, who are of the public, may interact with communities in ways that prisoners cannot; whether it be due to high levels of censorship applied by prison guards disrupting our lines of communication, or interference from a higher power (the U.$. intelligence agencies). Prisoner leadership behind these walls requires greater socialization opportunities if the Prison Movement is to impact upon our state of existence the change that rehabilitates. So here you have it, an open letter calling on you to serve.


In Struggle,

Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
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[Organizing] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 59]
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Organize the Streets Against Imperialist Genocide

With rhetoric targeting Islamic institutions, and President Trump's policies towards fighting ISIS, today (27 March 2017) on CNN a top military adviser was questioned about these so-called air strikes which have been blamed for the death of civilians. His only answer was, "we're doing an assessment on what happened in Syria and Iraq." Americans who support imperialism, is it right to kill people for profit? Have we forgotten that corporate america has so much investments tied up in Iraq and its natural resources? Are we so truly blind to ignore the genocide of Syrians and Iraqis at the hands of globalist pigs? We need to get away from national struggles and take up international struggles as a whole.

We're so american which is a contradiction in itself. To say you're american and support a system which exploits, murders, enslaves, and justifies bombing innocent people is saying you're not true to what you base your belief in: A belief in freedom and liberty and pursuit of happiness. Is your happiness someone else's death? This system of capitalism has to be abolished and replaced with communism, where no government will have power over other governments or people having control over other people. People need to be the controllers of production. Socialism must be our goal and communism the final chapter where all people can be equal.

We in prison must create a public opinion to change this system of oppression. Those in the streets can learn a lot from us prisoners locked away. We challenge the administrations here in prison and no matter what they do to us, we unify and get things done. If the prisoners can go on massive worker strikes for wages and make some small change I believe the street orgs can do the same. If all the workers was to strike and just have one day of solidarity and unity around all the issues which causes oppression and injustice we might see some change or create a movement which might affect others across the world to do the same. This strike will shake up the elite, and they will realize that the people do have the power, not them. Without the workers, capitalism can't thrive, but there will be a percentage of people who are so addicted to consumerism and the system of capitalism and will sell out. So we must unify the masses, and help one another with food, and the necessities to make sure all are taken care of during the struggle when the system collapses.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on about the contradiction between people who say they believe in freedom and justice while supporting the Amerikan system exploiting, brutalizing and killing people around the world. The Amerika-first mentality that many people, including prisoners, have is in direct opposition to the value system that Amerikkka claims to uphold. And we applaud the idea of prisoners setting an example for organizers in the street with the unity and struggle being built behind bars.

One point we have to consider when comparing the potential actions of prisoners and those on the streets is where these groups fit in on a global economic analysis. The vast majority of workers in the United $tates are part of the labor aristocracy. They are actually being paid more than the value of their labor, at the expense of workers in the Third World. The profits from Third World workers' labor are propping up the economy of Amerika. This is why it's so easy for Amerikans to support imperialist militarism; it is actually directly in line with their own material interest. So when Amerikan workers go on strike to demand higher wages, it ends up being a demand for even more wealth stolen from the Third World. At best this is a demand that the Amerikan bourgeoisie give the workers a bit more of their large share of this stolen wealth. Either way it's not a progressive demand.

The demands of prisoners' strikes are oftentimes far more progressive because prisoners are not getting paid from the wealth stolen from Third World workers. Also usually prisoner strikes are not focused on wages, and are tied up with issues like brutality, isolation, censorship, and medical care. So while we definitely think organizers on the streets can learn from the solidarity and activism behind bars, we have to be sure to consider differences in conditions between these two situations when applying what is learned.

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Theory] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 57]
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Disabilities and Anti-Imperialism

disability in prison

[Co-authored with PTT of MIM(Prisons)]

Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.

When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.

Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.

Disability and Class

In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.

It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.

It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.

Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.

Disability and Gender

Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:

"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary

This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:

"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)

Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:

"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)

Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.

Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.

Patriarchy and Prisons

U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.

There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.

The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.

It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.

In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.

Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.

Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.

Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).

Disability as a Means of Castration

Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.

Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.

Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement

The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.

Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.

Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.

[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]

Notes:
1. From MIM(Prisons) Glossary, Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy, Oxford University Press, 1987, p.239 Appendix.
2. bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, Washington Square Press, 2004, p. 18.
3. Erica Gammill & Kate Spear, Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit, Prison Justice League, 2015.
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[National Oppression] [ULK Issue 60]
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The Wizard Behind the Curtain of Mass Incarceration

After reading The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, by Professor Michelle Alexander, one can see the dynamics of how the political economy shaped the prison system by taking away the jobs which would in fact increase the crime rate. It's been reported over time that the CIA was the biggest drug trafficker in the country and flooded the inner cities across Amerikkka, which only made room for one thing — distribution by the inhabitants of the inner city. Due to this new social phenomenon, lawmakers had a field day with funding SWAT teams to serve narcotic warrants, and perform paramilitary drug raids throughout the United $tates.

The Economic Recovery Act of 2009 included more than $2 billion in new Byrne funding and an additional $600 million to increase state and local law enforcement across the country. [The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. - Editor] Multi-agency drug task forces receive their finances from the federal government to help them increase the prison population, while the lawmakers come together to get Congress to pass laws that will keep inner city youths in prison for mandatory minimums. The 3-strikes-you're-out law orchestrated by Bill Clinton allowed all the newly-built prisons (California built new prisons from the 1980s to 2000) to stay full, and also allowed other states to use this same sentencing method.

Before coming to prison, I along with others from the inner city had no idea about the political landscape that jump started our oppression. What shaped our views was learning how to apply a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, and how to apply this philosophy within our culture. This concrete analysis is called dialectical materialism, and once used correctly we were able to better understand our situation and how to change our conditions. Through the study of our New Afrikan history we realize our struggle was always due to our resisting oppression. Oppression from the same class of people who first enslaved us once arriving on these shore, via a capitalist/imperialist system, established through military conquest, that controls you economically.

We New Afrikans have become political prisoners by challenging these imperialists' control over us through their oppression and have established a social, cultural, economic, ideological, religious, military, and personal interaction between us as a group of people in a society. Our politics encompasses the totality of all human activity and relationships.

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[Campaigns] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 57]
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A Call to Action to the Prisoners of HDSP in Nevada

The Nevada Council for the United Struggle from Within (USW) is putting the call out for prisoners at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) to end all the hostilities, and to join together in the ongoing grievance campaign and ultimately the mass 1983 civil complaint campaign, that is now underway at HDSP.

The conditions of confinement at HDSP must be challenged. Over the years, our constant infighting has distracted us while our conditions of confinement have gotten progressively worse. We are now faced with a situation where we remain confined to our cells up to 22-24 hours a day, are not given proper cleaning supplies, are denied the use of our toilets, are housed with those who should be being treated for their mental illnesses rather than being overly medicated, etc.

This campaign has already begun, with many individuals having filed grievances, while the final stage of filing a civil complaint is already under way. Our main focus is and must be the lack of programs, education, and work abilities which deny prisoners housed at HDSP the credits which shorten their sentences.

We are in the position that we are in because our national groups have failed to be properly mobilized around an internationalist class consciousness. We have focused on individualistic issues. We as prisoners have allowed this to happen to ourselves. With each new restriction imposed, no action or protest was organized. We are as much to blame as anyone else. Without organized opposition, the administrators have reached new heights of repression and disregard of our needs.

But the United Struggle from Within Nevada Council has taken steps to organize this grievance campaign. We are calling on all nations within the walls of HDSP; PC, GP or otherwise, put aside your differences and conflicts. We are not enemies. We are allies, and share a common interest in fighting back against what we are faced with every day.

So, we are putting out the call. Let's stop all hostilities and join together in raising our voices as one and demanding that we be treated as humans.

Comrades within the USW in Nevada have already united with a few nations in this struggle. There are already over 30 grievances filed! Change will occur, but only if each of us do our part to fight back.

To aid you in this struggle, we have compiled examples of the grievances that have been filed. The examples cover all three grievance levels. We are also writing up an example civil complaint, which can be utilized to challenge the NDOC in court.

If you want change, fight for it. Join our campaign. Stop all hostilities, and pick up the pen!


MIM(Prisons) adds: Nevada was where the first September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity originated in 2012. It's good to see comrades in Nevada keeping it moving. Any prisoners of the state of Nevada can write us for a copy of the example grievances.

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[United Front] [Campaigns] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 58]
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Nevada Call to Action and Unity

Over the past few months the United Struggle from Within - Nevada, has been hard at work, alongside groups such as the Reetboys and PLF/MISM, in a show of prisoner unity, building up a grievance campaign. Together, these groups, with their different ideologies, continue to lead a struggle for unity and peace within the NDOC.

We have had great success, and we now see open dialogue between and among groups which had previously been at odds with one another. This unity is coming in despite of our language, national, religious, philosophical, and/or ideological differences.

The USW-Nevada, alongside the PLF/MISM, Reetboys, and others, are now calling on prisoners at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), be you in general population or protective segregation, to stop the hatred and join in our current and ongoing struggle against the level system as it is employed at HDSP. Especially as it relates to the lack of programs, the inability to earn good time/work time credits, get parole, or be released. Prisoners housed at HDSP are being denied the very same opportunities given to every other prisoner at every other prison within the NDOC.

The grievance campaign has been ongoing, and over the past 2 months we have seen some 100+ prisoners file grievances on this issue. The response we have received has shown the attitude of the HDSP authorities. Namely that education, programs, and work are a privilege, not a right. This is being said despite the mission statement of director James Dzurenda, which states the following:

"The Nevada Department of Corrections will improve public safety by ensuring a safe and humane environment that incorporates proven rehabilitation initiatives that prepare individuals for successful reintegration into our communities.

"Vision – reduce victimization and recidivism by providing offenders with incentive for self-improvement and the tools to effect change.

"Philosophy – we will pursue our mission with integrity, act in a professional and ethical manner, be responsible for our actions, and raise the department to the highest standards.

"Goals – operate the department according to the best practices. Ensure the best use of department resources, educate stakeholders and customers, improve communication."

The actions being taken at HDSP, where the overwhelming majority of prisoners are denied work credits, programs, and any advancement within the level system itself, are contrary to this mission statement, the best interest of society overall, and the welfare of the inmates housed here.

Every day that we allow this to continue is another day that we will be forced to stay in prison. HDSP is denying us work time credits, which costs us 5 days a month, as well as education, which costs us 120 days for a GED, and 120 days for a high school diploma. While every other prisoner in any other prison within the NDOC earns these days, we at HDSP must do more of our sentences. For example, if you have a 12-48 month sentence, you will get out in approximately 912 days by working and getting both your GED and high school diploma. However, at HDSP, even if you do not receive a single notice of charges, the same prisoner would be forced to do every single day of that 4 years. Meaning the same inmate is required to do 548 more days on his sentence for simply being housed at HDSP. This number increases when you consider the days that can be earned by completing programs not available to prisoners at HDSP. Think about this number!

The United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), a movement underway in Nevada, alongside the United Struggle from Within, the PLF/MISM, Reetboys, and many national groups have joined together in a single voice to call for unity, and an end to prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and to join together in a struggle for change. Join this struggle for change.

The grievance campaign will continue into a civil complaint. We will attempt to get it certified as a class action filed on behalf of all inmates, but in order to do this we need every inmate to file the grievances, and then file the individual 1983 Civil Complaint. Towards this goal, we are including examples for each level of the grievance process, and will make available to all who have completed the grievance process an example 1983 Civil Complaint.

We have not only completed the grievances, but letters have been sent to the director and the warden of HDSP. We have also been able to, via a whistle blower, get our hands on OP516, which describes the level system, but is marked "no inmate access." We will make this available as well.

We will end this here, but before we do we would like to say that in order for change to occur we must stand up and fight together for that change. The reason that things have gotten as bad as they have is due to cowardice. We have become so individualized that we covet what little we have, and fear retaliation. When is enough enough? Let us build up a voice and fight, as a single, unified body, for what is just!

Contact USW-Nevada through MIM(Prisons), for more information about prisoner issues and the continued struggle: MIM(Prisons), PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140.

AR740 and the Grievance Process

Nevada has implemented an unconstitutional grievance process. This grievance process is outlined in AR740. It states that an inmate may file no more than a single grievance in a single week, and that no more than a single grievance issue may be raised in a single grievance. This, of course, is unconstitutional, and should be challenged. But we are still required by law to adhere to the grievance process, no matter how unconstitutional it is, if we want to get to court.

We know that many prisoners have trouble with the grievance process. We will go over the basic process here so that you will know exactly what to do.

Step one – Start to write kites to your caseworker, unit SCO, and every job position, requesting placement in work, or to join programs. Save these responses, and a copy of the original request to show proof.

Step two – Get an informal grievance from your floor officer, be he/she a porter or a bubble office. Also get at least a grievance continuation form. Fill out the grievance using the example given herein.

Step three – Fill out your name, cell number, institution, etc. and then sign and date the grievance. This should be done first so you don’t forget. The same needs to be done for the grievance continuation form. Leave the grievance number area blank.

Step four – Using your own words, write your grievance.

Step five – Tear off and keep the last page of the grievance and grievance continuation forms.

Step six – Put the remaining pages, folded together, in the grievance box.

Keep track of your days. They have 45 days to answer your informal grievance. If you have not received a response on day 45, proceed to your first level grievance.

When filing your first and second level grievances, follow the same instructions as above, but attach the copies of the grievance, and any responses you have, with the grievances.

It is important to proceed through all 3 grievance levels. You have 45 days for the informal, 45 days for the first level, and 60 days for the second level. Make sure you keep a copy of every kite, grievance, etc., you have. You want to build up as much evidence as possible, so always have your unit officer sign your kites, and keep a copy. Every week you should send out as many kites as possible requesting job placement or program participation.

Grievance Example

I am grieving the application of the level system as it is employed at HDSP as it relates to programs, work, and educational opportunities. This grievance is based on my due process and equal protection rights based on the future of HDSP to offer me any ability to earn good time/work time credits which is available to all prisoners within the NDOC but those housed at HDSP.

Why is HDSP denying me any ability to program when Director Dzurenda has specified in his mission statement that: "The Nevada Department of Corrections will improve public safety by ensuring a safe and humane environment that incorporates proven rehabilitation initiatives that prepare individuals for successful reintegration into our communities." The mission statement then goes on to say the vision is to "reduce victimization and recidivism by providing offenders with incentive for self-improvement and the tools to effect change."

None of this mission statement is being applied at HDSP. In fact the level system denies prisoners any ability to program, educate ourselves, work, or any other means by which we may better ourselves, which, as stated by Director Dzurenda, is the goal of NDOC. Furthermore, not only are you endangering society by failing to offer rehabilitative programs to the 3,500 prisoners at HDSP, you are denying me due process and equal protection.

Every other prisoner, on every other yard, irregardless of level, is given the opportunity, even encouraged, to participate in programs. Meaning a prisoner serving a 12-48 month sentence on any yard other than HDSP, who works and programs, which is available to every prisoner, will do approximately 912 days of the 1460 days sentenced. The very same prisoner, housed at HDSP, receiving no writeups his entire sentence, will be forced to do the entire 1460 days. Meaning, HDSP is making prisoners do 548 more days on a 12-48 month sentence for no other reason than he is at HDSP. This is an unconstitutional violation of my right to due process and equal protection because any other prisoner, with my exact sentence, will be released earlier than I will, for no other reason that I, being housed at HDSP, am being denied the same access to programs available to prisoners on every other yard within the NDOC.

How can the NDOC justify telling prisoners who are begging for rehabilitative treatment that they do not deserve treatment, that this is a privilege, not a right? The warden and caseworkers at HDSP are refusing to help prisoners better themselves and are thus directly responsible for the recidivism rate, violence and crime that occurs at HDSP.

Why does HDSP see fit to deny drug addicts or sex offenders treatment? How will the community react when they find out HDSP is refusing to treat its prisoners, who are begging for treatment, and then releasing these people back into their community?

The fact is that HDSP houses approximately 3600 prisoners but work, education and rehabilitative programs, are available to only approximately 470 prisoners. That leaves 3130 inmates without any access to work, education, or rehabilitative programs. Which in turn means that I, and these 3130 prisoners, are being denied access to the very programs offered to every other prisoner within the NDOC.

Remedy Sought

  1. I want HDSP to offer rehabilitation programs to all 3600 inmates at HDSP.
  2. I want HDSP to review the mission statement of Director Dzurenda, and act accordingly.
  3. I want HDSP to stop punishing me and other prisoners for simply being at HDSP, and recalculate my days to include the 5 days a month due to the lack of work/programs at HDSP.
  4. I want HDSP to employ active, proven rehabilitation programs as a means/requirement for advancement within the level system, and not as a privilege.

For the remaining answers, on levels I and II of the grievance process, utilize this example, but formulate your response based on their responses to your grievances. Do not become disheartened by the denials. They will fight us on this.

Some further ideas for grievances

Others and I are also currently grieving the following issues. All of us should challenge them. They are, but are not limited to:
  1. The lack of proper hygiene supplies. 1 roll of toilet paper and 2 bars of soap a week is not sufficient. Furthermore, every other prison makes soap readily available, with 2 rolls of toilet paper.
  2. No cleaning supplies, and lack of time to clean cells.
  3. Toilet timers. No other prison requires inmates so long between flushes, especially when locked down in a cell, with another inmate, 22 hours a day.
  4. The grievance process. The new requirement of 1 grievance a week is unconstitutional and forces us to choose what issues to address. It thus directly effects our ability to access to the court.
  5. Supervisor Graham, and the law library. Supervisor Graham routinely denies access to the courts by refusing to make legal copies, confiscating legal work, and has written at least one false notice of charges.

If you know of, or can think of more issues, please feel free to contact the USW and let us know.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Download and Print] [United Struggle from Within] [Illinois]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Illinois

ILpetition
Click to download PDF of Illinois petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.



John Baldwin, Acting Director, 1301 Concordia Court, PO Box 19277, Springfield, IL 62794-9277

US Dept of Justice, Civil Rights Div, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, PHB, Washington, DC 20530

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Ireland] [International Connections] [Hunger Strike] [Organizing]
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REVIEW:Ten Men Dead

Ten Men Dead: the story of the 1981 Irish hunger strike
David Beresford
Atlantic Monthly Press 1987

This book chronicles the period and events in Northern Ireland leading up to when nine members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and one member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) starved to death while on hunger strike inside Northern Ireland's notorious Long Kesh prison. While reading this book one may be tempted to draw parallels between the actions of imprisoned Irish nationalists and the actions carried out by prisoners in California who protested the use of solitary confinement and indeterminate sentences in the state's infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) in 2011 and 2013. However, there were qualitative differences between these two movements. Whereas one was revolutionary nationalist in nature and sought to ultimately eject British imperialism by linking the struggle behind prison walls to that of every oppressed Irish national on the streets, the other was of a reformist character and has lent itself to the preservation of the status quo; AmeriKKKa vs the oppressed nations. [Today, the hunger strikes by Palestinians in I$raeli prisons are similar in nature to the Irish strike. - editor]

While the British first invaded and began to colonize Ireland in the year 1171, the focus of this book is on more contemporary times so we'll start there. Having failed to wipe out Irish nationalism thru sheer military might the British government sought to switch strategy, and in 1972 initiated a new method of oppression called "normalization". Normalization was the policy devised to crush the IRA and other Irish nationalists by criminalizing the struggle for national liberation & self-determination. As such, normalization was also termed "criminalization". Criminalization required a four prong attack on the Irish people:

First local police and British occupation forces would cease to refer to the IRA and other Irish nationalist groups as political organizations with a political mandate. Instead Irish revolutionaries would begin to be labeled as "thugs", "criminals" and "terrorists".

Second, criminalization would entail eliminating juries and diluting the rule of evidence in IRA and INLA trials to make it easier to obtain convictions. As can be expected the number of prisoners sentenced in Northern Ireland spiked from 745 in 1972 to 2,300 in 1979.(pg 19)

Third, criminalization required that Britain begin to pull its troops from Northern Ireland delegating national oppression to local police with special military and counter-intelligence training, thereby giving the public the impression that fighting the IRA was a law and order issue and not a war.

Finally, the linchpin towards normalizing Britain's 800 year oppression of Ireland would be the repealing of Irish political prisoner status known as "special category": special category was granted to captured IRA and INLA members. Prisoners granted special category were given preferential treatment. More importantly, however, from the IRA point of view the fact that special category existed was an admission of sorts that British occupation of Ireland was something to be contested, even by the Brits.

As in any struggle, the 1981 hunger strike didn't simply develop overnight, rather it was the product of a series of protests almost a decade in the making. When Britain announced an end to special category status in 1976, prisoners immediately got to work. For Irish revolutionaries the fact that they had been captured didn't mean the war had ended. Instead prisoners viewed Long Kesh as just another front line in the war for national liberation.

The struggle to re-instate special category was first sparked 16 September 1976, when a fight between guards and a prisoner broke out after the prisoner refused to put on a prison uniform while being admitted into the general population following a conviction on a terrorism charge. Prior to 1 March 1976, there was no such thing as terrorism charges being applied to Irish revolutionaries. Once in prison, IRA and INLA members were segregated from the general population. They were also allowed to wear their own clothes. Soon other IRA & INLA members began to refuse to wear prison uniforms which marked them as criminals. As a reaction to this resistance administration then refused to clothe prisoners who refused to comply leaving them confined naked in their cells 24 hours a day with only blankets to cover themselves.(pg 16) The "blanket" protest had officially begun.

Two years later, the "no wash" protest was initiated when special category prisoners were given one towel to wear around their waist on their visits to the bathroom while being denied a second towel for their faces. Rather than continue to be humiliated in this way prisoners refused going to the bathroom facilities all-together and were given chamber pots for use in their cells. Fights with guards soon followed however when guards refused to empty the chamber pots. These events then led to the "dirty" protest in which prisoners began throwing the contents of the pots out of their cells thru windows and tray slots. After windows and tray slots were covered prisoners began "pouring urine out the cracks and dispensing excrement by smearing it on the wall."(pg 17)

Wimmin also participated in the dirty protest after thirty-two prisoners at a Northern Ireland wimmin's jail were beaten by male and femals guards in a pre-meditated attack after prisoners attempted to defend themselves during a search. The search was for IRA military uniforms which the wimmin had worn in a defiant para-military parade held in violation of jail rules.(pg 20)

Afterwards prisoners began to organize more effectively when IRA leaders began to arrive in Long Kesh. In 1979 efforts by prison administrators to isolate IRA leadership backfired when top IRA figures were transferred to H Block 6. According to the author it was the equivalent of setting up an "officers training academy" inside the prison, as prisoners began to further develop "a philosophical and strategic approach" to Irish national liberation. (pg 18) Nine months later administration became alarmed with how prisoners had taken control of their new social conditions. They soon split up the "academy", but not before prisoners began to discuss hunger striking to protest normalization and an end to special category. However, outside IRA leadership was opposed to a hunger strike by prisoners on the grounds that the IRA's limited resources would be better spent on the military campaign against Britain instead of on building public opinion on behalf of the hunger strikers.(pg 21)

After much discussion the IRA Army Council and Sinn Fein the political wing of the IRA gave the go-ahead for prisoners to begin a ten man hunger strike to the death if their demands weren't met. However, the hunger strikers were prohibited from making any explicit references towards the re-instatement of special category or normalization in order to give the government some room to compromise. Instead the protest would officially be known as the struggle for the "five demands".(pg 27) The five demands the prisoners put forth were: "the right to wear their own clothing; the right to refrain from prison work; the right to have free association with other prisoners (a right implying freedom to separate from other paramilitary groups); the right to organize recreation and leisure activity — with one letter, parcel and visit allowed per week; and the right to have remission lost, as a result of the blanket protest restored. A suggestion that demands for the reform of the Diplock court system — the system of trial without jury and related dilutions of the rule of evidence — be included was vetoed by the external leadership as being too ambitious."(pg 27)

For the government to give in to the prisoners' demands from the IRA point of view would have meant a de-facto re-implementation of special category and a step towards repealing criminalization. Criminalization was turning out to be a very effective public opinion/smear campaign against the IRA and was having a real effect on how Irish Catholics were viewing the IRA:

"The phasing out of special category status in 1975 was an integral part of a new security strategy developed by a high powered government think-tank — which included representatives of the army, police and the counter-intelligence agency MI5 — in an attempt to break the IRA and end the fighting in Ireland. Known as the "criminalization" or "normalization" policy it was essentially an attempt to separate the Republican guerrillas from their host population, the Catholics; depriving the fish of their water to echo Mao Tse-Tung's famous dictum."(pg 15)

Once the decision to hunger strike was made it was decided that only ten of the most dedicated volunteers would be chosen being that they would be hunger striking to the death if the government refused to meet their demands. Leading the strike would be a young revolutionary named Bobby Sands. Sands was one of those "young Turks" deemed to be responsible for the "Marxist strain" that seemed to be spreading in the IRA at the time. At age of 19, Sands was made an officer in the Provisional IRA commanding one of the huts in Cage 11 where he was housed. According to the author, Sands "showed himself to be a prolific as well as a politicized writer: He read voraciously — his favorites including Frantz Fanon, Camilo Torres, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, George Jackson and of Irish writers, Connolly, Pearce and Mellows — keeping a fat growing pile of exercise books full of political analysis, quotations and notes. He was planning to write a book with it all, but they were destroyed in 1974 when the IRA in the compound burnt their huts in a dispute with the administration over rights and privileges."(pg 43)

Sands also contributed articles to the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News, which he was able to smuggle out of the prison thru the use of couriers.(pg 46) Something else that was relevant about Sands, and which is worth noting here, is that he showed the correct attitude with comrades when it came to discussing revolutionary politics. Sands would push his comrades hard on the topic of political study. Whenever he lent someone a book he'd question them on what they'd learned, and if he didn't think they'd seriously absorbed the material then he'd insist they read it again.

When Sands first arrived in Long Kesh he was sent to a segregated area called the "Cages". The Cages was where IRA, INLA and other nationalists were sent to prior to the 1 March 1976 cut-off date for special category. Because the IRA as a organization never developed or held to one particular ideology that they believed or upheld to liberate Ireland meant that there existed different cliques and factions within the IRA that believed that different roads would lead to Irish liberation. This had a huge impact on the IRA and surely contributed to many of the set-backs and stagnations in the national liberation movement there. One example of this was how the younger prisoners housed in Cage 11 were looked down upon and called "renegades" by the older, more conservative "veterans" of the IRA who were housed in Cage 10 due to Cage 11's belief in a socialist road to liberation. The veterans in Cage 10 despised Marxism so much that they went so far as to stage book burnings of such works as Marx's Capital, The Communist Manifesto and The Thought of Mao Zedong. Cage 10 outranked the younger Cage 11 and considered ordering them to stand down after word spread that the Cage 11 presented a series of lectures called Celtic Communism.(pg 42) No doubt, that prior to these lectures the speakers in Cage 11 studied On the Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State by Freidrich Engels, which is a revolutionary study from a dialectical materialist standpoint of how property relations and the patriarchy influenced and shaped humyn society from the primitive stage of humyn development to civilization.

The struggle for the five demands would rage for six months while the British government publicly refused to negotiate with "criminals" and "terrorists". Behind closed doors however was a different story as the government reluctantly began to give in on the demands after public opinion began to shift in favor of the hunger strikers. International pressure also became a strong factor as one country after another openly condemned the Brits. Also, Guerrilla attacks and bombings on British occupation forces were not only sustained during this period but were stepped up. The five demands were finally met, but not until six months had elapsed and the last of the hunger strikers had died of starvation-related health complications. On 5 May 1981 Bobby Sands was the first to expire, but not before managing to become an elected member of the British Parliament, a seat he won while in prison for an attempted bombing.(pg 39) 30,000 people voted for Sands, thereby dispelling the government lie that the IRA had no support in Northern Ireland.(pg 332)

Conclusions and Analysis

Unfortunately, the author doesn't tell us what happened next, even though six years had elapsed from the time of the hunger strike to when the book was written. A new updated edition of this book would be great to explain how Ireland's national liberation struggle has played out. According to MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism, printed in 1995, the Irish struggle had greatly degenerated as IRA leaders began to opt more and more for the ballot over the bullet. The belief that bourgeoisie democracy and/or the imperialists will ever consent to the people coming to power, or give up peacefully thru a vote, the territories they have stolen and occupy is a pipedream. Bobby Sands being put up as a candidate representing South Tyrone Ireland in the British Parliament was only intended as a move to agitate around the five demands and no one ever really thought he'd win, not in the beginning anyways.(pg 72) That said, it seems that Sands' victory spurned on those within the IRA who were already looking to put down the gun in favor of taking up electoral politics. But as MIM Thought has continuously re-iterated: the oppressed nations will never be free to control their destiny so long as the imperialists hold a gun to their heads.

Maoists understand that there can be no peace so long as the imperialists hold power, therefore the only solution for the oppressed nations is to take up armed struggle once the conditions are finally right. Instead of looking to put more people from the oppressed nations into the imperialist power-structure, [email protected], New Afrikans, Boriqua and First Nation people should be working to establish a United Front to liberate their nations and towards the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations.

Revolutionaries should always strive to push for the best possible deal for the people without selling out the masses or trading out our socialist principles. That is the excellent and heroic thing about what the hunger strikers in Long Kesh did, even when the movement began pressuring them to quit the hunger strike or settle for one or two of the demands instead of the five they refused to budge. In the words of Bobby Sands:

"They wont break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon."(pg 73)

The peddling of multi-culturalism, the temporary success of globalization following the temporary defeats of socialism and revolutionary nationalist movements as well as the election of Obomber have created the notion that the struggle of the oppressed nations are irrelevant. Even back in 1986 the author of this book was pandering this idea when he said that the 1981 hunger strike "belongs more to humanity than to a limited Nationalist cause, no matter how ancient ... "(pg 333)

The reality of national oppression however contradicts the author's idealism, this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so threatening to AmeriKKKans and why it has slapped post-modernism in its face, because it dredged up a reality they once thought distant and better left repressed — best to pretend like genocide, slavery and annexation never took place. Most importantly, however, because it signals the contradiction coming to a resolution and the smashing of empire. What the oppressed nations need are more national liberation movements, not less.

Another point worth drawing attention to is the false distinction the IRA made between political prisoners and "common criminals". We believe that is a bourgeoisie distinction and one that sets back both the prison movement and national liberation as they are inter-related. MIM Thought has consistently held that all prisoners under this system are political exactly because the system is political. One need only to look at mass incarceration in the United $tates and its many similarities to the criminalization policy that helped derail the IRA at a time when it was at its peak.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Learning History and Organizing Thru the Walls

When I first came to prison my whole perception of organizing in the streets changed. It changed due to education of history: history of other movements and how to organize the streets from within the prison walls. I do believe that prisoners can have a great influence on activists due to our struggles in here. But as the saying goes, a prisoner struggle today is the street's struggle tomorrow. The work which must be done inside these walls to help influence other organizations is education, strategy, and unity among all workers and oppressed people. But what I find is happening in the streets is that everyone wants to choose what battle is most important to their cause rather than finding a solution to all organizers' challenges.

Here in prison we sometimes get caught up getting a big head for fighting an issue which just caters to a person's selfish desires, rather than challenging issues which change the system as a whole. So we must learn to unify under one umbrella to tackle the issues we face.

My target audience will be the workers 'cause I believe they have power but don't know it yet. But the difference that contradicts working with workers is some are so caught up in consumerism so that they will not organize, or they don't want to lose their status so they will not wholeheartedly strike or fight for better wages. The lumpen can also be tricky to work with, due to a lack of resources.

We will have to build public opinion thru certain media outlets, hip hop culture, sports entertainers, and thru magazines. The contradictions to capitalism must be exposed so the targeted audience will have something to fight for. But to conclude, prisoners can help street LOs by building unity and overstanding each others' issues and combining theory and using science to challenge the system of imperialism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about needing to be able to look beyond our persynal issues and desires to the broader problems of the oppressed. This is especially important if we hope to unite beyond our local set. And we can certainly use cultural outlets to build public opinion and unity.

On the question of organizing workers, we've written a lot about the bought off nature of the vast majority of workers within U.$. borders and we see this as a material explanation for what this writer notes: they are caught up in consumerism and don't want to lose their status. These workers are earning more than the value of their labor because of all the profits from exploitation in the Third World brought back to this imperialist country. And so the workers here do understand that their status is valuable and profitable. They have the money to spend that allows them to get caught up in consumerism. As a result, we have seen throughout Amerikkkan history that these folks are not a force for progressive change. And organizing them to demand higher wages is not organizing against imperialism. This is one of the reasons we focus on organizing the lumpen as a group more likely to have an interest in revolution.

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