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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Theory]
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Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

Reading the June issue of "The Rock," a recurring theme kept on popping up. That theme was the raising up of prisoners' consciousness. This is a very good thing as the majority of prisoners lack the consciousness and ideology of a revolutionary.

The demands being put out are good, but as a 23-year old prisoner I can't help but shout that the same demands we are asking for we already had, and more so, they shouldn't be privileges but rights! Fighting for positive reforms is good in itself, but one shouldn't miss the forest for the trees. It's said best by Lenin:

"People always were and always would be the foolish victims of deceit and self deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interest of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society that surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle, the forces which can, and owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new."(1)

I quote this in length because it screams at me. "Owing to their social position", and what is our social position? Second, third class citizens? What's to keep prison 'gangs' form forming into political parties? Swapping our old ideas for new ones? To dismantle our old selves and transform into a force of change not only in prison but society at large?

We have the 'fuck you attitude,' we have brass, now the question is do we have the will to organize, agitate, analyze and act? To learn something you don't know is a difficult task, I could attest to that. Putting a burden on us (prisoners) more so is the culture we cultivate and the ideology that we act out. That is the coming up on people; robbing, selling drugs and trying to conquer every female we come across. The majority of the time when we do this we do it to people who are in our same "social position." They're in the pit just like us.

Good thing for us there's the ability in humans to change, whether it be consciously, mentally, spiritually or ideologically. The main thing though is to bring it into practice. Karl Marx observed that "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness."(2) Again what is our "social being?" Bluntly, it's shit! We need only to look at the environment we grew up around. Liquor stores are in overstock, drugs are roaming freely, homes have no foundation or stability. most have grown accustomed to this way of life. With this deadly (literally) way of thinking, it ain't no surprise our consciousness is lacking in many areas of life.

There's a striking notion that says prisoners now-a-days lack the backbone their predecessors have. Sad to say this statement is slightly true. I have numerous books, but urban novels and novels period got a strong hold on my brethren. Many feel that there is no oppression, genocide or killing of our people and other acts of aggression from the government, but just as one sees a movie or TV show and can't see the camera, that doesn't mean it's not there.

Taking a passive or neutral stance is taking a stance on the side of the oppressor, it seems that you're OK with the status quo. Activity and agitation is taking the side of history as Marx viewed, "...freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it's not understood."(3) As history shows times always change. We could look at it as it passes by, we could hop on board or we could go even further and build the vehicle of change, start it up and drive it. Closing my humble thoughts, I'll let Karl Marx do it, as he said it well: "There is no royal road to science [or learning] and only those who don't dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."(4)


Notes:
1. V.I. Lenin, On Marx and Engels (foreign language press Peking. 1975) First addition pg 68
2. Ibid, pg14
3. Ibid pg10
4. Capital. Vol 1 (International publishers, NY 1967) Preface to the French edition. pg 21.

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[Culture] [Economics] [First World Lumpen]
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Hip Hop Serving the Middle Class

I want to comment on your article "Soulja Boy Dissed by Amerikan Rappers," featured in ULK22. Personally it is a grave disappointment to witness what hip hop has morphed into. We went from "Fuck da Police" and "Don't Believe da Hype" to "A Milli" and "Arab Money." Ironically the vast majority of the people that these modern day braggarts grew up around don't even have U.S. middle-class money, let alone "Arab Money."

Modern day hip hop artists seem unable and/or unwilling to move beyond this brag-about-my-wealth style of rap. Of course there's exceptions to this but in general there's no longer any social consciousness or depth to the lyrics of these mainstream hip hop artists. I'm no hater and I love to see people prosper and enjoy life but an album has to go beyond an artist detailing his or her good fortunes, to really have merit.

But pertaining specifically to the article, is it any real surprise that these artists ostracize an associate for something as simple as speaking his mind? The one main thing that the Black nation has been consistently good at throughout the years is attacking one another and embracing division, internal division.

Additionally all, or most of, the major hip hop artists are personally benefiting from the current system and establishment so naturally they stay in tune with it. They don't care that the overwhelming majority of people who look like them have been systematically discriminated against and oppressed from the very origin of this racist and corrupt country. The Hollywood set of the Black nation, which most of these hip hop artists integrate to, would sell their mothers and sisters for the crumbs their "massa" throws to them.

In part it goes all the way back to their forefather's house, which is Uncle Tom's cabin. A place where anybody who opposes "massa" is the enemy. And these descendants of Uncle Tom are the same today, they will go the extra mile, extra 1,000 miles, to protect their imperialists masters' interests; chiefly because they perceive some sort of shared interests and maybe even camaraderie.

Many people, even some in the underprivileged class, accept and embrace the glaring inconsistencies and contradictions which permeates U.$. society. They willfully embrace the lie that the establishment means good for them and the rest of the world, and when they're being pacified with their "Arab-Money" there's little chance they'll think any different.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we share this comrade's dismay at the current state of politics from major hip hop artists, we don't see them as quite so isolated in their benefits from the current system. While the New Afrikan nation certainly faces ongoing national oppression within U.$. borders, they also enjoy the wealth of an imperialist country and can see that they are better off than the majority of the world's people. The vast majority of U.$. citizens, regardless of nation, are earning more than the value of their labor and are part of the labor aristocracy. So in a way, hip hop artists who speak about their good fortune, do represent something real to their audience, even if their level of wealth is unattainable for most of their listeners. And the shared interests with the imperialists are real: the wealth of the labor aristocracy is won from the exploitation of the Third World.

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[Death Penalty] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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Texas Murder Milestone: 500 People Executed

As we approach the midpoint of 2013, the state of Texas is about to surpass a horrific benchmark. On 7 May 2013, the state of Texas will have killed 500 men and wimmin via their barbaric death penalty which is nothing more than the state sponsored murder of humyn beings [update: According to http://www.texasmoratorium.org, the 498th execution is scheduled to occur as we go to print. The 500th is currently scheduled for 26 June 2013]. Governor Rick Perry of Texas has signed the death certificates of 250 men and wimmin all by himself!

Governor Rick Perry's hands are dripping with blood, dripping with the blood of the citizens of Texas, many who were actually innocent. The state of Texas has paid out $65 million dollars to exonerees — people who were wrongfully convicted of capital offenses, many who were facing death. Texas exceeds every state in the union in exoneree payments ; it is number 1 in wrongfully convicted humyn beings. However, the $65 million dollar question is: "How many innocent people sentenced to death were not exonerated?" How many innocent people have actually been murdered by this bloodithirsty governor? Remember Todd Willingham (an innocent man executed in Texas in 2004)?

Also, where is the international outcry? 500 murders by the state of Texas! Texans cheer, while Amerikkkans whimper or simply remain silent. Silent to the systematic genocide happening right under their noses. Then when the "chickens come home to roost" intelligent humyn beings scratch their heads, perplexed as to why the Grim Reaper has visited the Lone Star State, and Colorado. Definitely tragedies, but is the state of Texas simply an innocent victim? Do I need to mention the disproportionate number of Black and Latino humyn beings who are sentenced to death in Texas? I say the state of Texas along with Governor Rick Perry are guilty of systematic genocide. They know what they are doing.

We have tried pursuing the violation-of-civil-rights route by appealing to the "Big Boss Man" in Austin, Texas to recognize our civil rights struggle. The bottom line is this: Governor Rick Perry is guilty of heinous crimes against humynity and should be tried at the International Court in the Hague!

Texas legislators tell their constituents "times are hard we have no money." They cut $5.6 billion dollars from the state public education budget, robbing our children of the resources they need to compete in today's technology advanced world and economy, paving the road to the penitentiary while obstructing the path to success. And you tell me this is not a systematic plan?!

Texas legislators ignore the fact that each humyn being sentenced to death in Texas costs the state two million dollars when they exhaust all judicial appeals. Remember, these humyn beings are fighting for their lives, literally. So most, if not all, are going to exhaust every avenue possible to save their lives at the tax payers' expense and countless children suffer for lack of quality education that could be funded by this blood money!

Is there a sentence of death under socialism? Yes there is. However socialists and communists don't use the death penalty as a covert tool to ethnically cleanse the lumpen masses. At the end of the day, that is what Texas is up to — ethnic cleansing. Get rid of the niggers and wet backs so the good white folks can feel safe. So now you know the truth. The question is, what are you going to do about it?


MIM(Prisons) responds: In response to the deaths of hundreds in a collapsed factory in Bangladesh this April 2013, the people have called for the execution of the factory owner who forced workers into such unsafe conditions. This is a prime example of the people's line on justice, and a situation where a socialist state might utilize the death penalty. Ultimately, by eliminating the profit motive and the power of an elite over the masses we can eliminate such events from happening in the first place, therefore making the question irrelevant to begin with. Crime is a social phenomenon. This means it can be eliminated via social change. But social change also requires holding those in power responsible. And it is those with more power that can commit the most heinous crimes, as this author describes.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Gang Validation] [Florida] [ULK Issue 32]
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MIM Investigated as STG in Florida

It has recently been brought to my attention by the Security Threat Group (STG) coordinator at this Correctional Institution that the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) and cells thereof is/are currently pending STG classification in the Florida Department of Corrections. As a result all MIM publications will be subject to censorship as "STG material," the possession of being punishable by disciplinary action/confinement.

I am discontinuing my subscription(s) as well as correspondence due to the coordinator's interview as mentioned above.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are still gathering information on this situation in Florida. We have seen a complete blackout of our literature to select individuals, but not the overall population.

We have repeatedly addressed similar situations in the past, stressing that the physical safety of both prisoners and staff at facilities where prisoners study Maoism and work with MIM(Prisons) has only improved to date.(1) Meanwhile, according to U.$. law, it is still illegal for the state to censor political speech, affiliation or association because they find it disagreeable.

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[Campaigns] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Grievances Denied in Texas

A comrade recently sent a grievance petition to the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and he refused to answer and rerouted it to the central grievance office. The entire system is corrupt from top to bottom. However in order to get them in court via 42 USC §1983 or Birens we have to keep filing. I've had over 20 lumpen file on this fabricated and bogus case-writing lieutenant and all grievances being returned with same reply: no evidence found - officer denies allegations - no further action warranted. We are going to have to seek outside help: ACLU, media, legislators, etc. I personally have 6 or 7 step 2 grievances pending.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisoners in states across the country are building on the grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. In Texas there has been some success with this petition, though we know that for every victory the prison administration will try to take something else away or implement some other repressive policy. To win in court, as this comrade points out, you must be thorough in documenting the problem as a pattern. In addition to using their paperwork, Under Lock & Key is another way to document patterns of abuse for the masses to agitate around a cause.

We currently have grievance petitions for many states. Write to us for a copy and if you are in a state not currently covered by the grievance campaign, we will send you a template for the petitions and you can look up citations and policies specific to your state for reference.

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[Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Grievance Retaliation and Successful Tactics

I have a lot of things to catch you up on in regards to the never ending struggle against the oppressors who run the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). I've been moved. I have been "mashing the gas!" on these oppressors: pressing them on their abuse of mentally ill prisoners, religious discrimination towards Muslim prisoners, and extremely poor quality food and unsanitary conditions at Estelle High Security Unit.

These folks have sent me to a unit where the food is excellent, known as "the friendly" Wynne unit. I'm still trying to reconcile the "friendly" tag with a place that holds an overwhelming number of elderly men who should be free! Or how "friendly" it is to have humyn beings locked in cells in which I can touch both walls standing in the middle of the cell. I'm in a very small dog kennel, but the food is good. This is still torture and my comrades on Estelle are still being beaten, and fed slop. I firmly believe this was a ploy to disrupt my operations.

A few of us sent grievance petitions to TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston, Chairman of Texas Board of Criminal Justice Oliver Bell, and other agencies, including legislators. All correspondences sent to any TDCJ upper level administrator were re-routed to the risk management office and central grievance office.

In the streets we call this activity "short stopping." TDCJ is doing all they can to thwart our efforts to expose the abuse and injustices being perpetrated against us. So we had to go around and through them. I hooked up with a like-minded comrade, he modified the grievance petition to fit our unique circumstances, and we did a mass mailing to legislators, media, prison activists, ACLU, and DOJ civil rights.

That was March 18, 2013. Three days later I was shipped. I'm told I may go back soon. At first I was like "shit." I hate Estelle and all the pigs who work there, but I love to fight them and I've been lighting their ass up. And now I have help. So warm the bus up! I'm ready for round 2, 3, 4 and 5.

On or around March 9, 2013 another comrade of mine attempted suicide on the Estelle High Security Unit. This comrade, who I have watched deteriorate mentally, was removed from his cell by Lieutenant Pope. Lt. Pope beat my comrade half to death, with his fists! My comrade was taken to a hospital in Conroe, Texas where he was placed on the intensive care unit as he clung to life. No one wants to hold these people accountable for their heinous crimes but I get written up for an extra sock!

I also must report, a Texas state representative Dr. Alma Allen (Black womyn) has proposed House Bill 877 that would create a grievance oversight committee separate from TDCJ. This is great news but I don't think it is going to pass. [As of December 2013, HB877 has been pending in committee since March 2013. - Editor] The chairman of the Texas senate criminal justice committee, Mr. John Whitmire, also the most senior senate member, says he doesn't want to create another bureaucratic entity. But the system is fucked up. On the real, he doesn't want "outsiders" observing the abuse and lack of accountability that is so prevalent in TDCJ. It is out of control. The grievance program is a sham. I have suggested they scrap the entire system and fire or re-assign every grievance investigator in Texas. These people are "oxygen thieves" who are complicit in heinous crimes against humanity. We will never be treated fairly nor have our grievances addressed in a just manner as long as this cronyistic, nepotistic, obstruction of justice filled grievance program is in place.

In reference to the pigs attacking a mentally ill man, well I'm still waiting! Remember this incident happened December 28, 2012. It has been 3 full months and no justice, just coverups and lies. I've even challenged the oppressors to a polygraph. Hell no they don't want none of that. I guess not.

Strategy for Grievance Petition and Abuse Issues in Texas

Texas hates negative publicity, period. So it is imperative to flood the media and internet with details of mistreatment, abuse, and serious brutal acts of violence aimed at prisoners. Always include name, date, time, who, what, where, when. Who to write:

1. Concerned Christians for Inmates
PO Box 101094, San Antonio, Texas 78201-9094
210-737-2600

As a rule socialists and communists do not promote religion. However, these are some "Gangster" Christians why go hard in the paint to address prisoner abuse. They are going to make somebody answer the tough questions. And they are going to go the extra mile. They know no boundaries. If you have been the victim of serious physical abuse by TDCJ employees, copy all the dirty details and get at CCI ASAP.

2. Kathy Griffin Grinon - Host
The Prison Show!
KPFT - 90.1 FM
419 Lovett Blvd
Houston, TX 77006
713-526-5738
JAM KPFT, A pacifica station.

Kathy is a former prisoner. She is super connected in the political realm and specializes in human trafficking and prostitution issues. She will expose these oppressors but you have to stay on it. She is super busy, but if you get her attention, look out.

3. Austin American Statesman
Attn: Mike Ward - Journalist/writer
305 S. Congress, Austin TX 78704

Mike has written pieces on prisoner abuse and prison issues in Texas for a few years. Truthfully, he is just one more option. But if your story is news worthy, he will do an exposé. Media attention is like mothers milk to me. Learn to use it in your favor.

4. Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
PO Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
512-463-0345

5. House Committee on Corrections
PO Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
512-463-0796

Hit these two simultaneously. The briefer you are the better. But pack your letter with details and heinous acts of abuse. Give it to them raw and uncut but use your intellect to articulate the wrong and ask for an investigation and accountability.

6. Have family or loved ones file formal citizens complaint with
TDCJ-CID Ombudsman
936-437-6791
Find online: tex.gov.org

You can't file a formal citizens complaints with the Ombudsman, but your friends, comrades, and family can file on your behalf. Make sure to have details (who, what, where, when, how) and by all means include the pig's full name and rank. Ask to be kept abreast of the investigation and notified when resolution is achieved. This is important, be sure to follow up.

Lastly any serious civil rights issues that have to do with prison conditions physical abuse by guards vs prisoners and religious discrimination, don't hesitate to write:

DOJ-Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section PHB
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington DC 20530

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[Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Revolutionary Spirit Kindled by Isolation and Political Repression

In this environment (prison), I am a prison activist. I was placed in high security because I got fed up watching prison officers abuse and mistreat elderly and disabled prisoners on Estelle Unit. I went to Unit Classification Committee and I made a threatening "political statement." That direct action landed me in high security.

When I came to Estelle in 2011 I had never ever been in any serious trouble; I was the "model inmate." But something changed when I observed the abuse and foul treatment of the most vulnerable prisoners. I became more politically aware, and my former cellmate gave me a copy of Under Lock & Key. I was impressed with the cerebral, scientific, and pragmatic approach to facing these prisoncrats. I discovered that people listen to me and respect my opinions. I stepped up my commitment to Islam, giving Katbahs and hosting Tawleem, speaking more.

On March 14, 2012 I witnessed an officer slam the fingers of an elderly blind Latino man in a chow hall doorway. I wrote it up, Step 1. I wrote Senator Whitmire and Mr. Oliver Bell at the Office of the Inspector General. I was very angry at the injustice. And then the retaliation began: bogus and fabricated disciplinary cases, threats, and before I knew it, I had 50 days commissary and recreation restriction. I was devastated. There was a collusive and concerted effort to shut me up and set me up. However, instead of breaking a man they helped awaken a revolutionary! My main focus is to maintain this same passion, energy and fervor when I am released.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's experience speaks directly to a contriction of oppression: on the one hand, oppression keeps a certain population down; but on the other hand, the oppression leads that population to resist and rebel. One of our jobs as revolutionaries is to tap into that urge to resist and rebel, and to guide it in the most productive way possible. We need to reach these people and plug them in to campaigns and strategies that fit into our revolutionary objectives. Under Lock & Key will always be a medium to recruit new comrades into the struggle, and to push that resilient warrior spirit in a direction that will fight oppression everywhere.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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These Pigs

These pigs are liars!
These pigs been tryin to set me up, for six months maybe eight.
Motivated by sick fun, oppression, and their self-hate.
Is it my intellect, my confidence, or the fact that I refuse to break weak?
These pigs are attempting to sabotage my success, my future is looking bleak.
These pigs never play fair, they have plenty of tricks.
Refusin to feed me, tamperin with my mail, teasin me about my faith! This is how the pigs get their kicks!
These pigs are playing with dynamite
Takin for granted that tomorrow is guaranteed.
But I'm a secret warrior and I yearn to be freed.
I guess somebody should've warned them
I don't play games, I play for keeps!
A retired Iraqi veteran, a contract killer from the streets!
The pigs are oblivious to my condition
They don't even have a clue.
These pigs are not held accountable for their actions, or the damage that they do!
Will I rise and take their bait?
Or will I be humble and abstain?
Realizing the sun always comes out after the most severe torrential rain!
Today I choose Political Activism!
Love, happiness, and peace!
A collective of soldiers from MIM
Has helped to tame this beast!

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[Abuse]
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Redefining Violence

If you can't criticize a country without being hunted down for ten years and shot to death, along with innocent wimmin and children, in your own living room eating shish kabob. If you can't criticize a pig for putting too much pressure on your neck with his knee, as you lie face down, unarmed on cement, without being shot to death in the back. If you can't speak up about your countries military terrorism without being exterminated in the process. It's violence!

If you can't write essays on the internet without being refused parole for doing so. Even though the families of dead captives, who were killed by solitary violence, are helped by your essays and remembrances. Even if that speaking up lessens further future suicides because the most violent, abusive pigs were removed. To be punished for this. It's violence for stopping violence.

Yet it's me being punished for being violent in this damn solitary cage. Even though I've never been violent.

I've never starved children to death by economic sanctions. I've never fired on an unarmed tied individual as he lay on his stomach on cement, or sat lashed fighting to a wooden chair. I've never pepper sprayed anyone. Nor have I dragged anyone anywhere and shot them to death. This hand has never injected people with poison, without their consent.

A lot of people call me worthless and crazy but you don't see me tracking them down and shooting them, and their wives and children, over leftover steaming bowls of kebab.

Did you see the celebrations for Osama Bin Laden's family's murder? Have you watched fat, drunken people exit a firing squad execution giving high fives and cheers for witnessing a murder? Have you ever watched 500,000 children starve to death because of your country's economy sanctions?

What about 15 million children starving to death worldwide annually because Amerikkkan capitalism/imperialism chooses to destroy excess grains and throw out the piles upon piles of MacDonald's fast food that's partially overcooked? Destroy food because no one will buy it. Can't buy it because they don't even know what money is.

You can't steal Third World resources and teach those in the Third World economics at the same time. But missionaries do a fine job teaching "the meek shall inherit the earth," as that very earth is stolen from under the bishops' students feet.

You can't destroy millions of captives and teach revolutionary politics and high self-esteem at the same time. Psychiatrists work perfect by teaching "you are inferior beings who lack what these pills provide." As these pigs turn us inferior.

Let us fear perfect solutions to imaginary problems as this is an age old formula for genocide. And let the oppressed unite as one and intimidate back! After all, it is us in the majority with history on our side.

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[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Retaliation for Exposing Vicious Beating

On December 28, 2012 at approximately 8pm, I and many other prisoners housed here at Estelle Unit High Security witnessed a heinous act of violence. Four TDCJ employees viciously beat a mentally ill Black prisoner whose hands were cuffed behind his back. Some prisoners wrote grievances, and some wrote their family members to complain about the inhumane and barbaric behavior of the officers. In the months and weeks that followed I have witnessed one of the most devious and calculated programs of retaliation that I have ever seen anywhere.

Lieutenant Deward Demoss who works on this High Security Unit has undertaken the task of targeting prisoners who spoke out against the beating. He has instructed the officers under his supervision to write fabricated and bogus disciplinary reports on specifically "pre-chosen" prisoners. Then Lieutenant Demoss goes further by violating prisoners' due process rights by faking investigation and hearing entries on paper work. The coup de grace is when Lt. Deward Demoss actually runs court on the prisoner who has been "set up" by this modern day Agent of Repression! Yes, comrades, this is an example of the type of pig Ward Churchill and Jim Vanderwall warned us about.

However, all is not lost. Many prisoners have responded to this unethical and criminal behavior by writing numerous Step 1 and Step 2 grievances. Letters have been sent to the ACLU, state legislators, and the media. Prison officials have even knocked out the local Pacifica Radio affiliate, KPFT, to sabotage prisoners access to the fearless free voices on KPFT who champion prisoner issues. Stay tuned for more reports from the front lines.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is not the first time Deward Demoss has been called out in Under Lock & Key for his work at Estelle prison. We know the problem isn't really about one individual, replacing Demoss will not change the fundamentally oppressive criminal injustice system. This prisoner is correct to call out the responses of filing grievances and publicizing the violence and subsequent retaliation. The pages of Under Lock & Key are open to all who work to expose injustice in their institutions. We encourage everyone to take an example from this prisoner and build both publicity and resistance to the repression. And then we must take it one step further and educate all involved about the role individual oppressors and actions play as a part of the imperialist system as a whole. Through this education and organizing we can build the anti-imperialist movement.

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