Under Lock & Key Issue 35 - November 2013

Under Lock & Key

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[National Oppression] [Theory] [Culture] [ULK Issue 35]
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Racism: A Product of National Oppression

big brother racist contestant

Much has been said recently about the overtly racist remarks made by one of the contestants on the "Big Brother" reality show. Viewers were shocked at the nerve of some of the show's participants, not only in the fact that they would say such things, but in the contestants' blatantly unapologetic attitude afterwards. After all, this is the 21st century, and according to some, we have moved beyond those inconsistencies in Amerika's past which had previously kept her from fulfilling the promise of its ethos. Most Amerikans (white people in particular) like to believe that although things like slavery and segregation are all a part of our nasty past we should all just forget and move on from this shameful hystory. Surely the United $tates has made great strides when it comes to "race relations," and Amerikans of all colors have never experienced a more collective prosperity than they do today, never mind the previously unthinkable: a Black man in the White House.

So why then does racism continue to exist? More importantly, how do we eradicate it? To properly answer these questions we must take it back to where it all began, and for this we'll have to revisit some ugly truths.

Origins of Racism: Connections to Capitalism

People forget that Amerika is a nation of settlers founded on genocide, slavery and annexation. This oppressive nation-building formula includes the more subtle forms of national oppression and the many different ways they are institutionalized and manifested in our society. One particularly malevolent form of national oppression, which most of us are all too familiar with, is of course racism and the more pernicious racial ideology from which it stems. But racism isn't simply some oppressive philosophical dogma utterly disconnected from the real world. Rather, racism and racial ideologies are direct products of national oppression, which is engendered by society based on property relations and the division of labor produced therein, which in turn has influenced how humyn beings have come to interact with each other in the struggle between the global "haves" and "have nots." In short, racism has not been around forever. As a matter of fact, the very concept of "race" didn't even exist prior to the 16th century. Racism and racial ideologies have only been around so long as capitalism itself has been around. The concept of "race" developed alongside the rise of modern society and not as usually believed as a remnant of the irrational and dark Middle Ages. What's more, the concept of "race" has been directly linked back to the primitive accumulation phase of capitalism, which is itself grounded in the first rape and plunder of Africa and the Americas. This primitive accumulation phase is clearly explained by radical eco-feminist and author Maria Mies when she stated that:

"Before the capitalist mode of production could establish and maintain itself as a process of extended reproduction of capital - driven by the motor of surplus value production - enough capital had to be accumulated to start this process. The capital was largely accumulated in the colonies between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of the capital was not accumulated by merchant capitalists but largely by way of brigandage, piracy, forced and slave labor."(1) And furthermore, "One could say that the first phase of the primitive accumulation was that of merchant and commercial capital ruthlessly plundering and exploiting the colonies' human and natural wealth..."(1)


U.$.  nazi war criminals

What should be kept in mind here is that as feudalism disintegrated and capitalism came on the scene the common people, the peasants and the soldiers, needed to be reassured that what they were doing to the people of the colonies was not only in the beneficiary population's interest but the interest of the colonized as well. The European masses also needed to be taught that the colonized were less than humyn so as to discourage any feelings of solidarity amongst the oppressed. Hence, the racial ideology was borne, which wasn't just about the innate ignorance and stupidity of the colonized, but of their innate treacherousness and savagery as well.

Examples of Racism in National Oppression, Yesterday and Today

Racism as a building block for the rise of the modern western world was as indispensable for that society as it is to the continuing subjugation of nations and the integrity of the First World today. Testimony to this is the way that the people of Islam have been demonized as "dark" and "backward" by the "civilized" west who sees itself as "exceptional." Thus the role that racism has played in gaining public support for the current wars of conquest is undeniable. One need only examine how Muslims, who were Amerikan citizens, were vilified and attacked by settler violence following the retaliatory attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon under the guise of "Amerikan Patriotism." The conscious connection of these actions to the collective white history of colonialism in Africa is manifested in the term "sand nigger." What this "Amerikan Patriotism" really translates into is a special brand of oppressor nation chauvinism, and a vehicle for white power in the 21st century. It is particularly popular and appealing to [email protected] and New Afrikans who think they can fully integrate into Amerika by becoming agents of imperialism and uniting with the oppressor against the people of the Third World.

Therefore the revolutionary character of militant Islam, seen when it is waging war for the independence of Muslims from U.$. imperialism, should be supported by the oppressed nation lumpen as it is objectively an anti-imperialist struggle despite the reactionary views of those leading the struggles, whether it's Al Qaeda or Bashar al-Assad and their associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism. The struggle of the West and their "democratic" running dogs in the region strengthen the victory of imperialism. Real communists know that there are only two sides to a battle, therefore it is our duty to unite all who can be united in the camp of the oppressed and build a United Front against the imperialists and their racist backers! In his day, Stalin had to combat those promoting a "third way" between the socialist camp and the imperialists, pointing out that those who broke away from the Soviet Union inherently joined the imperialist system, becoming victims of it. The lack of a socialist camp today does not change the bankruptcy of the third-way idealists. Revisionists today point to the forces waging war in the Middle East and call them the "Two Outmodeds" and are peddling a third way out for the oppressed. However, this third way out is itself reactionary and anti-revolutionary, and if upheld will in fact reinforce the very same imperialist structure it pretends to be against, by weakening national unity of the oppressed. This is one lesson we take from the theory and practice of United Front in the Chinese war of liberation against Japan.

Racism as Pseudo-Science and Glossing Over of the National Question

Purveyors of racial ideology fancy themselves as being backed by science, and indeed there is a "science" to racism, it's called eugenics and it stresses the genetic makeup of people as determinant of their "natural" abilities and inclinations. Eugenics was developed as justification for the oppression and enslavement of non-white people and outlaws alike. It was, however, thoroughly criticized and debunked by the wider scientific community for, among other things, not being an objective and quantifiable method of analysis of the humyn species. While most people today have hardly heard of eugenics it was certainly popular back when England had stretched the tentacles of the British empire (forerunner to U.$. imperialism) all over the Third World, while here in Amerika the slave owning south was likewise using it for the continuing oppression and enslavement of the New Afrikan nation.

  1. The lack of scientific relationship to biology since there is only the human race.
  2. The creation of categories of inferior and superior based on arbitrary characteristics and definitions.
  3. The creation and perpetuation of a system of oppression of the "inferior" group in all aspects.
  4. The re-enforcement of a relative differential in treatment - and it's ideological justification between those considered inferior and those considered superior.
  5. The use of race as a principal means for social control.
  6. Rendering irrelevant the experience and viewpoint of the subordinated population except and insofar as interpreted by dominant populations. This specifically has been applied to African descendants, Indigenous peoples, Asians, and Latinos, those usually referred to as "people of color."(2)

Author Bill Fletcher, to whom the above is attributed, explains: "Race is, then, not a state of mind, but a socio-political reality. Even though there is no scientific basis for race, it occupies a real space and the institutions of the racial-capitalist society reinforce this reality every day."(2)

We'd also add that the false concept of "race" is a social construct originally based on power struggles between humyns in the pre-capitalist era of slavery, and it has done much to gloss over the fact that the oppressed internal nations of [email protected] and New Afrikans are separate nations from the Amerikan nation (white settler-state), with separate hystories distinctly their own. Therefore we speak of nations and nationalities where most people speak of "race," in order to refer to a group of people who share a common language, culture, territory and economy. The concept of nations is thus more accountable to hystory and is firmly grounded in material reality. (See "Marxism and the National Question" by J.V. Stalin.)

Methods for Resolving the Principal Contradiction

Despite the fact that the concept of race has been repeatedly disproven, proponents of racial ideology and the national oppression it engenders (and vice versa) hold steady to their un-scientific beliefs. And to a certain extent this is fine. They have their beliefs and prejudices, but we have science! We know where they stand and we know that the oppressed people of the world will not sit idly by but will take up armed struggle against the imperialists to impose the will of the people on today's oppressor nations. What isn't fine however are the so-called allies of the oppressed nations within the Amerikan "Left" who mistakenly call themselves communist yet go about espousing the concept of "race." Whether they are speaking about the common cause of all the "races" that are equally oppressed by capitalism-imperialism, or whether they are agitating around the "race issue" here in Amerika, they're of no great help. They are immediately caught in the irrevocable trap of idealism, and that is no attitude for a communist to have. First, these idealists objectively hurt the revolutionary movement within U.$. borders by elevating the problem of "race" to that of principal contradiction when in fact there is no problem of race. There is a problem of imperialism and national oppression. Secondly, they deny that the principal contradiction is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations by emphatically denying that there are any other nations in the United $tates besides Amerika. Some have opportunistically come to acknowledge New Afrika, while denying other nations' existence, not because they are dialectical materialists, but because they're focused on pulling numbers to their side. Lastly, by denying the concept of nations and national liberation and instead focusing on multi-racial unity they deny the theories and practice of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, as well as the revolutionary movements they spearheaded and the many national liberation movements that followed in their traditions.

Racism in the United $tates or any other place in the world will not be wiped from the earth solely by educating it out of existence, but by getting rid of the many material conditions and relations from which it springs. Racism is a product of national oppression, hence we must focus on uniting the oppressed nations for their own liberation from this jailhouse of nations that is the United $tates. Only then will we seriously be able to talk about combatting racism as a backward idea from another period of history.


Notes:
1. Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale, Maria Mies
2. Race, the National Question, Empire, and Socialist Strategy, Bill Fletcher Jr.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Philippines] [Environmentalism] [ULK Issue 35]
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U.$. Showboats As Filipinos Die From Imperialism

dead bodies rot after Typhoon Yolanda
Tacloban, the Philippines, an island devastated by a recent typhoon, shows the contrasts between wealth and poverty, and underscores the reality that "natural" disasters are not natural at all. People in First World countries have the infrastructure, resources and response systems in place to save lives that are lost in the Third World when the same disasters hit.

Overall the Philippines is a poor country; in 2012 there were 15 provinces with over 40% of the population below the poverty threshold.(1) While not in one of these 15 provinces, the government reports 32% of people in Leyte (Tacloban's province) are below the poverty line.(2) These people, living below the poverty line, had an income of less than $179/month for a family of five. A third of Tacloban's houses have wooden exterior walls and one in seven have grass roofs.(3) In these conditions, it is no surprise that a typhoon could wreak such havoc in Tacloban.

Bodies of the dead are rotting in the streets as aid fails to reach those devastated by the storm. There is no clean water and little food. Yet the Philippines is a country frequently hit by severe storms, with about 20 typhoons a year, and this storm was identified well in advance. Both these conditions should engender preparedness on the part of the government. However, in the Philippines disaster preparation and relief are delegated to local governors without a strong central leadership. Some services are more effectively delivered on a large scale. This is one area where we can show obviously that communism has a better solution than the individualism of capitalism. Where central control will lead to more efficient solutions, a communist-led government would not hesitate to take that control. But capitalism is not focused on serving the people, it is focused on maximizing profits and power for the few. And these profits result in deaths from malnutrition, military aggression, lack of health care, and "natural" disasters. As long as the imperialists retain their power and wealth, they don't mind tens of millions of preventable deaths a year.

In an interesting historical connection, Imelda Marcos, wife of the former president of the Philippines, is from Tacloban. The family of Imelda Marcos dominated local politics for years; she herself held a congressional seat in the 1990s. Imelda's husband, Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled in the Philippines from 1965-1986 with the support of the U.$. government, embezzled billions of dollars in public funds while in power. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) waged revolutionary armed struggle against the Marcos regime, growing in strength during the Marcos dictatorship. In the end, when Marcos's demise was inevitable, the United $tates stepped in to have a role in the change of government, turning on Marcos and backing Corazon Aquino. Her family legacy lives on today as her son Benigno Aquino holds the President's office. Unfortunately, the popular movement that forced Marcos out did not go further than installing another imperialist puppet. While the communist movement was strong, it was not yet strong enough to lead the people to force the U.$. imperialists out, leaving them to play a dominating role in the country's politics and economics to this day.(4)

This is the backdrop for the reported six warships the Amerikans sent to the Philippines last week, with more than 80 fighter jets and 5,000 navy soldiers.(5) Today the United $tates is taking advantage of the disaster in the Philippines to increase military presence, while playing the hero. As reported in a CPP press release:

"The US government is militarizing disaster response in the Philippines, in much the same way that the US militarized disaster response in Haiti in the 2010 earthquake," said the CPP. The high-handed presence of US armed troops in Haiti has been widely renounced. The US government has since maintained its presence in Haiti...

"What the disaster victims need urgently are food, water and medical attention, not US warships bringing in emergency rations to justifty their armed presence in Philippine sovereign waters," pointed out the CPP. "If the US government were really interested in providing assistance to countries who have suffered from calamities, then it should increase its funds to civilian agencies that deal in disaster response and emergency relief, not in fattening its international military forces and taking advantage of the people's miseries to justify their presence," added the CPP.(5)

Much of the press is quiet about the ongoing war in the Philippines between the U.$. puppet regime and the CPP-led New People's Army (NPA), as well as other liberation forces in different regions of the islands. But it has been brought up in the Filipino press to spread propaganda about NPA soldiers attacking government relief efforts. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have denounced these lies pointing out that the location of the attack was not in an area where relief efforts were needed. The CPP reiterated that "NPA units in areas ravaged by the recent super typhoon Yolanda are currently engaged in relief and rehabilitation efforts assisting local Party branches and revolutionary mass organizations in mobilizing emergency supply for disaster victims." Shortly thereafter a ceasefire was declared on behalf of the NPA in order to focus on relief efforts.

The liberation struggle has long been connected to the protection of the natural resources of the islands that the imperialist countries continue to extract for great profits off the backs of the Filipino proletariat.

The storm has also received a lot of attention at a climate change summit in Poland where Filipino officials have begun a hunger strike to attempt to force "meaningful" change in relation to energy consumption. Climate change has been predicted to cause more extreme weather conditions, and this recent massive typhoon is just another possible indicator that that is happening. Yet, as international summits continue, little change is made in the over-consumption of the imperialist nations driving this disaster.

As many in the Filipino countryside have already recognized, the only solution to environmental destruction and disasters is an end to capitalism. With a rational system that puts the needs of the people over the goal of profits, we can build infrastructure suited to the environmental conditions, set up emergency response systems that provide fast and effective support, and plan consumption in a way that does not undercut the very natural systems that we live in and depend on.

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[New Afrika] [Theory] [ULK Issue 35]
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Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan

africans xcape prison oppression

The African continent has long been a symbol of Black nationalism in the United $tates.
However, New Afrika is named such because it is a new nation with its own territory
within the United $tates. We must combat cultural nationalism, which does not address the
need to liberate this new nation here and now.
MIM(Prisons) took up the debate over the use of the term "New Afrikan" at our January congress this year. We have historically used the term "Black" interchangeably with "New Afrikan," but had received a proposal from a comrade to use the term "New Afrikan" to the exclusion of "Black," only using "Black" like we would "Hispanic," when context requires.

MIM took up this question of the terms "Black" and "New African" back in 2001 in MIM Theory 14 when it published a letter from a RAIL comrade (RC) proposing use of "New African." In that letter, the RC proposed that "Use of the term New African is waging ideological struggle to establish a national identity." S/he goes on to explain that "New African implies the identity of a national territory - the Republic of New Africa" while the term "Black" "cannot and will not be distinguished from integrationist, assimilationist, and other petty bourgeois reactionary agendas." MIM responded to this pointing out that the term "African-American" has emerged to distinguish the petty bourgeois integrationists. MIM's main complaint with the term "New African" was cultural nationalism:

"What makes including the word 'African' in the term relevant? Culture. That is, it is not the land in Africa that makes Blacks in North America a nation, nor the economy, language, and so on. It is the cultural history that survived the genocidal purges of the Middle Passage and slavery that links Blacks to a historical African culture. This is completely true, and this connection is obviously important. However, for the definition of the nation it plays into cultural nationalism to give this aspect too prominent a role. In fact, as MIM has argued, this term has been used most often by people with cultural nationalist tendencies. All the arguments for stressing the African link are cultural, and therefore the tendency of this term is toward cultural nationalism, which is a serious danger from the petty bourgeoisie and comprador bourgeoisie as well."(2)

MIM(Prisons) has researched the use of the term "New Afrikan" and concluded that while there may be cultural nationalism associated historically with some who use the term, overall today it is being used by the most progressive elements of the revolutionary nationalist movement within the United $tates. While we have some reservations about the ties to Africa promoted by some, we have concluded that "New Afrikan" is a better term to represent the Black nation than "Black," which has strong racial connotations and is generally not associated with a nation. "New Afrikan" is a term specific to the historical context of African-descended people in North America and so better represents our line on this oppressed nation within U.$. borders.

Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP), New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP), New Afrikan Collective Think Tank (NCTT) and the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) all use the term "New Afrikan." Except for NAIM, these are all prison-based organizations. NAIM was the progenitor of the term "New Afrikan."

NAIM has written: "to call oneself New Afrikan, at this early stage, is to be, by and large, about what We in the NAIM are about: Land, Independence and Socialism." They lay claim to the term: "We are the ones who led the ideological struggle for the usage of New Afrikan as our national identity (nationality) over 'black' as a racial identity."(1)

One argument NAIM uses for the term New Afrikan is: "...colonized Afrikans, who evolved into New Afrikans here, were stolen to be used as a permanent proletariat. The New Afrikan nation was born as a working-class nation of permanent proletarians. The fact that We weren't paid does not preclude the fact that We were workers. What do they think so-called 'slavery' (colonialism) entails if not work?"(1)

On this last point, MIM(Prisons) disagrees that New Afrikans are a permanent proletariat. As MIM laid out and we continue to expand on, the vast majority of U.$. citizens are part of the labor aristocracy, not the proletariat. This does not necessarily negate the use of the term "New Afrikan," but we want to be clear where we differ with NAIM on the class makeup of the nation today.

The NABPP promotes Pan-Afrikanism, promoting the common interests of the various oppressed nations of Africa and extending it to the so-called African diaspora of New Afrikans in the United $tates and other imperialist countries. This is one of the pitfalls of the term New Afrikan: it can lead people to associate imperialist-country Blacks with the oppressed nations of Africa. While most Blacks were originally brought over as slaves and certainly were strongly connected to their home continent at first, we see a very distinct oppressed nation that has developed within U.$. borders in the hundreds of years since the slaves were first forced to North America.

We do not use the term "New Afrikan" to promote pan-Africanism among U.$.-resident peoples. New Afrikans have historical ties to Africa, but today New Afrikans have far more in common with, and are more strongly connected to, other nations within U.$. borders. New Afrikans are closer to Amerikans in economic interests and national identity than they are to Egyptians or Somalis, and will certainly lead any pan-African movement astray and likely sell out the African oppressed nations.

We have not seen a clear rationale for the distinction between "New African" and "New Afrikan," but some use the letter "k" in "Afrika" to distinguish themselves from the colonial spelling. According to a writer in MIM Theory 14, the term "New Afrikan" originated in 1968 when the First New Afrikan government conference was held by the PGRNA (Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika).(3) We have adopted this spelling, as it is used by the progressive elements of the nation, but welcome input on the relevance of this spelling distinction.

Notes:
1. Get up for the downstroke: a response to "Black Liberation in the 21st Century, a revolutionary reassessment of Black nationalism," Sanyika Shakur, NAIM, August 20, 2012.
2. MIM Theory 14, 2001, p10-11
3. MIM Theory 14, 2001, p12-13

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[Hunger Strike] [Political Repression] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 35]
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Response in California a Hypocritical Farce

The battle against torture in California prisons is heading for a breaking point with unity running high among prisoners and resistance to change stiffening within the state. Since the third round of strikes ended in early September the promised state legislature hearing around the Security Housing Units (SHU) occurred and Pelican Bay SHU representatives met with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials. Yet the actions taken by the state in response to the protests have been the same old political repression that the SHU was created to enforce, not ending conditions of torture. One comrade from Corcoran reports:

I read in your latest publication that you guys hadn't had any news of the concessions Corcoran SHU made in order to bring our hunger strike to an end. For the most part, the demands made here are not even worth articulating, as they don't incorporate, in any way, the push towards shutting these human warehouses down completely.

The demands put forth here are simple creature comforts, which have not even been met by the administration, to pacify those who seem to have accepted these conditions of confinement.

Worse than the petty reforms, is the blatant political repression of strikers just as the world's attention is on them. The state knows that if it can get away with that now, then it has nothing to worry about. As another comrade from Corcoran SHU reports:

I stopped eating state food on 8 July 2013 and as a retaliatory measure I and a bunch of other prisoners were transferred from the Corcoran SHU to the Pelican Bay SHU. Only the thing is, when we got to Pelican Bay on 17 July 2013 we were placed in the ASU instead of the SHU, which made it so that we would have a lot less privileges and we couldn't even get a book to read. So we were just staring at the wall. On 5 August 2013 others and myself were moved to the SHU where we were again just staring at the wall. On 7 September 2013 we were again moved back to the ASU to sit there with nothing. On 24 September 2013 I was moved back to the SHU and I just received all my property last week.

So we were moved around and denied our property for 3 months or more. But that seems to be it right now and I can finally settle in. But I'm telling you that was a long 3 months. Other than that no new changes or anything else has happened around here. I did, however, receive a 115 rules violation report for the hunger strike, along with everyone else who participated, and in it it charges that I hunger striked as part of some gang stuff so it was gang activity. This is ironic since the hunger strike was about the CDCR misusing the validation process and what is considered gang activity. So now that 115 can and will be used as a source item of gang activity to keep me in the SHU longer.

While that comrade was sent to Pelican Bay, our comrade below is being "lost" in Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP). Organizing in California has gotten so advanced that the CDCR is moving people out of Administrative Segregation to isolate them. But with a third of the people actively participating in protests, there is no way for them to brush this movement under the rug.

I am writing to say that it's been over 5 weeks since our peaceful protest was suspended. I am a petitioner in the Corcoran Administrative Segregation Unit 2011 strike and am a participant and a petitioner in this 8 July 2013 one. I have been moved around and retaliated against. I went from ASU-1 to Cor 3B02 on 24 July 2013. I was moved back to ASU-1 on 16 August 2013 and then on 19 August 2013 I was moved to where I am currently housed in isolation with no access to anything although I am not "EOP." I am being housed against my will and the correctional officers here tell me I don't belong here but that they can't do anything because it's above their pay level. No one seems to know anything about why I am being housed here but all come to the same conclusion: that someone above them has me housed here. I'd like to know if there is anyone out there that you may have heard of that find themselves in similar situations or am I the only one?

We haven't heard anything yet. But don't let their games get to you comrade.

Another indication of the strength of change in California comes from a story being circulated by representatives of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective. Multiple versions have been circulating about a historic bus ride where these "worst of the worst" from "rival gangs" were left unshackled for an overnight bus ride. It was reported that not one of the O.G.'s slept a wink that night, but neither did any conflicts occur. At least some of these men self-admittedly would have killed each other on sight in years past.(1) This amazing event symbolizes the extent to which this has become about the imprisoned lumpen as a whole, and not about criminal interests.

The CDCR keeps telling the public that they are instituting reforms, while in reality they are torturing people for being "gang members" for reasons such as protesting torture. Outside supporters can up the pressure to end this system of repression by letting them know that we know what they're doing, that their words mean nothing, and that going on hunger strike is not a crime. There is a campaign to call the CDCR out on their hypocrisy by contacting:

M.D. Stainer, Director
Division of Adult Institutions
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento CA. 94283
(916) 445-7688
[email protected]

Those on the outside who want to do more after they make their phone call should contact MIM(Prisons) at our new email address.

As we reiterated last issue, it is prisoners who determine the fate of the prison movement. And the only way prisoners can actually win is by building independent power. As long as this is a campaign for certain reforms, the state will go back to business as usual as soon as the outside attention fades. Torture cannot be reformed, and neither can an exploitative economic system that demands it. Of course prisoners can't end imperialism alone, but wherever we are we must focus on building cadre level organizations that can support independent institutions of the oppressed.

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[Legal] [Civil Liberties] [Connecticut] [ULK Issue 35]
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Connecticut Prisoners Lack Access to Legal Info

"The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the Constitution of the United States only requires a state to provide its inmates with access to a law library or access to persons trained in the law. Bounds v. Smith, 40 U.S. 817, 97, S. Ct. 1491, 52 L. Ed. 2d 72 (1977). The choice of which alternative to provide lies with the state, not with the inmate. Connecticut has chosen to rely on access to persons trained in the law in order to comply with the requirements of Bounds." - CT DOC form letter

One of the services that the Connecticut Department of Corrections offers to prisoners is the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services at Yale University. In a letter dated 17 November 2012 that organization responded to a comrade stating:

We received your letter requesting assistance. Unfortunately, this office no longer has the resources to provide information or representation to such requests.

This is similar to the situation in North Carolina where the state contracts with the completely useless North Carolina Prisoner Legal Service, Inc. But, as we know, in other states where law libraries are provided, the resources in those libraries are also grossly inadequate. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton's Prisoners Litigation Reform Act seriously hampered the ability of prisoners to get their grievances heard in U.$. courts. For those interested in this law we recommend Mumia Abu Jamal's book Jailhouse Lawyers.

Our response to all of this is two-pronged. The main lesson is that legal battles cannot win prisoner rights under imperialism. As Mumia exposes in his book, the belief that they can leads hard-working jailhouse lawyers to literally go crazy. To win, we must organize oppressed people to establish a joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations over the former oppressors. Under proletarian leadership, exploitation and oppression will become the biggest crimes, and prisons will become places for education and re-socialization rather than torture and isolation.

Our second prong is our Serve the People Prisoners' Legal Clinic. This is our short-term strategy. We know that legal information is difficult to obtain in the current system, and that providing access to this information in a useful way helps oppressed people in prison to survive this system. Just be careful that our legal work does not help prop up the very system that oppresses us, as Mumia warns. If you want to help prepare and share legal guides for anti-imperialist jailhouse lawyers write in and ask to work with the Prisoners' Legal Clinic.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Theory] [ULK Issue 35]
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A Message to Street Organizations: Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!

urban lock & key

There are two wars waging in oppressed communities throughout the United $nakes: a war by the imperialist-oppressor nation to keep poor and oppressed communities in semi-colonial bondage, and a war between lumpen street organizations. The battlefields are the reservations, barrios, ghetto cities and prison plantations. Many of you have defined the war between us and the dominant nation incorrectly as "racism," but what is really going on is national oppression. And, in order to defeat and destroy national oppression a "nation" must engage in a national liberation struggle with the end result being national independence. But this is getting ahead of myself.

Many of you who belong to a street organization, misnomered a gang, know the history of your group and can trace yourselves back to when your organization fought against injustices being perpetrated against some segment of your community. And you know that many have deviated from your origins and laws. At the same time, a lot of you are struggling to re-define and re-direct your organization back to their original purposes — serving the needs of the people.

Conversely, we all recognize or should recognize that the conditions of our communities and nations are a direct result of our colonization by those who settled this country. The poverty, misery and suffering, the drug addiction and violence are all because you are not in control of your own development and destiny. Those who don't rule, get ruled.

My question to you is 1) who ultimately bears the responsibility to see that peace exists in our communities? 2) who bears responsibility to see that we have adequate housing, medical care, education, etc? 3) who benefits most from our communities being saturated with drugs? 4) who benefits most from all of the violence in our communities? 5) who benefits the most from all of us being incarcerated?

Know that the state and federal government have been discussing changing federal laws that would declare gangs and gang nmembers to be domestic terrorists. Why would they do that? Because those in power know that you have the actual and potential power to change this society, that you have the actual and potential power to liberate your nation. You can put an end to police brutality, homelessness, hunger, war, etc. Yea, you have that power!

"The police, and those that they truly serve and protect, do not want us to respect the actual and potential power of our young people, they do not want us to glimpse, through our youth, the power that lies within each of us. If the crips and bloods can bring peace to our communities, and the police can't or won't, then why do we need the police? If the Disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings and other street organizations can serve and protect our children and elders, and the state demonstrates that it can't or won't, then why should we continue to depend upon it and profess loyalty to it? If the power to end violence exists within our own communities, then we should be looking for ways to increase our power, and we should be looking for ways to exercise it."(1)

Ain't nothing wrong with being in a street organization, because after all, a "gang" is a group of people with close social relations that work together. The problem is that most street organizations are moving in the wrong direction. They're engaging in the wrong social practices which are retarding the growth and development of our people.

Through the media and other outlets, the negative images of gangs are filtered (like that bullshit Gangland), so that our people will see street organizations as the main problem existing in our hoods, and they'll ask for more police presence and harsher prison sentences for those identified as gang members. But gangs didn't create the current problems. The state fears that you'll become conscious and active and solve the problems.

Dig this: "One of the main reasons for the rampant crime that occurs in the colonies is national oppression. The colonized live in areas where there is unemployment or underemployment, crummy housing with high rent and poor education. The colonized kill and fight over the money that secures necessities... this reality afflicts the nationally oppressed in the most harmful ways. The nationally oppressed do not hold state power nor the economic power to compete with the oppressors... so the rampant crime in the colonies is not due to self-hatred but national oppression and capitalist culture and policy."(2)

So you see, "Our problem is not that there are gangs in our communities — our problem is that our communities are colonized territories that suffer from arrested development caused by the U.S. settler-imperialist state. Thus, we have no need to attack gangs — that is, ideally, we have no need to attack any organized group of our people that work to free the process of our collective development. [my emphasis] What we must do is make sure that all organized groups in our communities have this as their goal — and so long as we deal with members of our communities (i.e. members of our families), the means that we use should be education and persuasion, rather than physical force. However, even if stronger means are called for, they should be means created and employed by forces within our own communities and not those of U.S., local, state and federal governments. The transformation of gangs into progressive groups within our communities is part of the process of acquiring group power that will enable us to control every aspect of our lives. Our problem is that too many people in our communities — old and young — lack the identity, purpose and direction required of us if we are to acquire the kind of power that we need to truly free ourselves and begin to pursue the development of our ideal social order."(1)

The betterment of our conditions must begin with self, with you making a conscious and disciplined commitment to transforming yourselves and your organizations. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of legitimacy? This is an aspect of the "criminal" and the "colonial" (slave) mentality: continued recognition and acceptance of the legitimacy of the colonial rule, to continue to feel that the colonial state has a right to rule over the colonized.

If we take control of our communities and the power to control every aspect of our lives, then we can ensure that the lynchings end. You can put an end to there ever being another Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Trayvon Martin lynching.

Soldiers, Riders, Gangstaz — protect your community, clean it up, build it up, feed it, educate it, and let no one do it any harm. That's gangsta, but revolutionary!

Ride or Die!
Unite or Perish!
July 2013

Notes:
1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki Yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)
2. Essay: Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, by a New York Prisoner, MIM Theory 9, 1995. Available from MIM(Prisons)

MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from BORO is a good explanation of why the United Front for Peace work is important, and is demanded by the people. While we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons we must also work towards a United Front on the streets, where the lumpen organizations come together to fight our common enemy: imperialism. We have seen examples of strong unity and educational advancement in many street organizations. The UFPP works to set an example in prisons that can be taken to the streets.

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[MIM(Prisons)] [Security] [ULK Issue 35]
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NSA Hacking Google and Yahoo Data Centers Reveals Broad U.$. Government Spying

In a joint U.$. and UK spying operation, agencies hacked into links to Yahoo and Google data centers, allowing them to freely collect information from user accounts on those systems. This data collection project, called MUSCULAR, is a joint operation between the U.$. National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Documents released by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden and "interviews with knowledgeable officials" are the sources for this news that was broken by The Washington Post on October 30, 2013. Google was "outraged" at this revelation, and many Amerikans were shocked to learn of the violation of their privacy by their own government.

Of course, for those of us serious about security in our political organizing work, this is not breaking news. It is just further confirmation of what we've been saying for a long time: email is not secure, especially email on the major service providers like Google and Yahoo. Back in August MIM(Prisons) had our email account shut down when the U.$. government demanded that our email server, lavabit.com, turn over information on the accounts it provided. Lavabit decided it would rather stop providing services at all than comply with the government's demand. We can only assume that any email service still in operation is supplying information to the U.$. government.

What is interesting about this story is not that the NSA is caught red handed snooping on people's email, but that they would even need to do this in the first place, when major companies are freely providing backdoor access to the U.$. government. A court-approved process provides the NSA with access to Yahoo and Google user accounts, through a program known as PRISM. Through PRISM, the NSA can demand online communications records that match specific search terms. Apparently this restriction to court approved search terms was too limiting for the NSA, who has been siphoning off vast portions of the data held in Google and Yahoo data centers, for analysis and more targeted snooping.

MUSCULAR gets around the already lax U.$. government policies on spying on Americans by exploiting links between data centers holding information outside of the U.$. where intelligence gathering falls under presidential authority and has little oversight or restriction.

As we pointed out in the article Self-Defense and Secure Communications: "Currently, we do not have the ability to defend the movement militarily, but we do have the ability to defend it with a well-informed electronic self-defense strategy. And just as computer technology, and the internet in particular, was a victory for free speech, it has played a role in leveling the battlefield to the point that the imperialists recognize computer warfare as a material vulnerability to their hegemony." In that article we provided some basic suggestions for communications self-defense, most of which are only possible for people outside of prisons.

As more information comes out on the vast resources invested in electronic surveillance it is clearer that improving our technology is a form of offensive work as well, even if we aren't launching attacks. The imperialists are spending a lot of resources trying to defeat the tools we mention in our last article. In using these tools in our day-to-day work we tie up those resources that could be used to fight other battles against the oppressed elsewhere. This should be stressed to those who think security is taking time away from "real work."

Some will not organize until they've read all of Marx's writings to ensure they understand Marxism. This is a mistake, just like waiting to get the perfect electronic security before doing any organizing work. But you should assume that all of our communications are being intercepted. Take whatever precautions you can to ensure your information cannot be accessed, or if it can, that it cannot be used against you or others. Security is like theory and any organizing skill; it should be constantly improved upon, but it should not paralyze your work.

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[United Front] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 35]
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South Carolina Prisoners Coalesce to Join UFPP

from R.A.V.E.N. (Revolutionary Advancement, Victory, Equality, Necessity)

After reading the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles, I realized how similar our goals and views have been. We have only now taken a name to join the United Front.

We have instituted self-government for peace among every form of affiliation. Our dorm was labeled the worst in the state. I'm proud to say that our way of governing ourselves has been highly successful, as we are nearly four months without a stabbing on A side, and 6 on B side. We are for peace.

To become effective we are unifying the revolutionary minded from among the ranks of all brotherhoods in order to create a board/counsel. We understand that only through unity can we be effective in the fight against the oppressive imperialist pigs. From us, we intend to infect all of South Carolina Department of Corrections and bring forth many more voices and arms. Our voices will be heard. Our struggle will become their bane.

The majority of the population is hungry to learn. We have classes of various topics: law, history, religious, physical, combat, etc. We believe in education, as knowledge is power. We encourage all and welcome any who seek earnestly. We accept no racial discrimination, nor do we tolerate any concepts of racial superiority.

As for internationalism, it is something we know little of. We fight against oppression, period. The founders of this organization all have communistic views and intend to provide truth to all who have ears to hear.

Our statement is simple. We are similarly situated in our beliefs to the united front. We fight the same fight. We see no limitations. Unity, Equality, Peace, Prosperity, Devotion, Growth & Development.

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[Hunger Strike] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 35]
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TX Close Custody Struggling Over Conditions

The hunger strike that was to start here at Connally Unit on 21 October 2013 has been postponed. The powers that be have had close custody on continuous lock-down after an annual lock-down was lifted. Even though close custody went on lock-down before the rest of the unit, we have remained on lock-down unable to buy stamps and basic hygiene.

However, a planned hunger strike to protest these conditions is temporarily on hold after meeting with the warden who claims that after we get shaken down we will be let off these inhumane conditions. If the warden does not start taking steps to change our status and conditions we have more who will go on hunger strike with us when we start back. Since we have nothing, we have nothing to lose. The seeds are being planted.

Liberty and Justice!

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[Hunger Strike] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 35]
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Illinois Strike Ends Prematurely

Illinois prisoners hungry for justice
The 22 prisoner hunger strike at Pontiac Correctional Center that started at the beginning of October 2013 has ended, unsuccessfully, with prisoners being manipulated by the pigs to end the strike. One of the pigs' tactics was to not document prisoners who were on strike more than five days, thus causing some to stop striking. Others simply came off strike because the pigs "promised" to meet some of the demands that were being made. These demands included adequate sanitary supplies, programs for prisoners in long-term segregation, replacement of the current grievance officer, better recreation environment, etc. These requirements have yet to materialize and most prisoners who participated in the strike are scattered throughout the prison now. This separation was inevitable. For the pigs know in unity there's strength, so they reacted by separating us. But this will not stop the struggle. For each one will teach one and strengthen prisoner solidarity in the process.

The goal now is to continue to build unity and peace amongst prisoners so that next time we strike we will be more organized and prepared to struggle fully!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This report highlights some of the risks of getting ahead of the masses. This is at least the second hunger strike organized at Pontiac in the last year that we've heard of. So we do not mean to second guess the comrades' organizing choices there. But as these tactics show successes in some places, they are being imitated elsewhere. And it is important to assess your conditions where you are at, as you must gain more in terms of building peace and unity than you lose in the pigs moving people around and demoralizing the masses from engaging in future actions. The prison movement is on the rise, and by being smart it can continue to rise.

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[MIM(Prisons)] [United Front] [National Oppression] [Utah] [ULK Issue 35]
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Utah Street Gang Injunction Demonstrates Parallels Between Prison and Street Battles for Oppressed Nations in the U.$.

October 18 - The Utah Supreme Court overturned an injunction that had barred almost 500 people that Weber County claims are members of a lumpen organization known as the Ogden Trece from associating with each other. Members were banned from driving, standing, walking, sitting, gathering or in any way appearing together anywhere in a 25-square-mile area that covered most of the city of Ogden. It also imposed a curfew between 11pm and 5am for these folks. This ban has been in place since 2010.

The Supreme Court threw out the injunction on a legal technicality, because the county failed to properly serve summons to members of the organization. The county posted notices on a Utah legal notices website and in the Ogden Standard Examiner, a local newspaper. The court found this to be insufficient notice. Members of the organization also challenged the constitutionality of the injunction in denying their right to associate, but the Court did not rule on this challenge.

The Deputy Attorney for Weber County made a case for the injunction: "Case loads on average going from 16 per month on something like graffiti down to four. So we can show a 75 percent drop in criminal street gang activity." This is an interesting definition of "criminal street gang activity": acts of graffiti.(1) Clearly the police and courts are determined to go after this lumpen organization, which they call a "public nuisance," civil liberties and rights be damned.

We see a lot of parallels between validation in prison and identification as a member of a street organization in Ogden. According to the Ogden Gang Detective Anthony Powers, the police keep a "gang database" to document who belongs to a street organization. There are eight possible criteria, and anyone meeting two of them is entered in the database. A musician in a group that includes people believed to be Ogden Trece members was included in the injunction because he has been seen around with these folks.(2)

We only have news of this from the mainstream press, but we regularly see this same repression of oppressed nations both in prisons and on the streets. The trick of labeling someone a member of a lumpen organization is used to lock prisoners in solitary confinement and keep them from having contact with other prisoners. It's often used to target politically active prisoners. On the streets, whether in Utah or any other state, we are seeing that Amerikans, who are often willing to suspend constitutional rights for prisoners, are similarly unconcerned about this same practice on the streets.

What really worries the state is when lumpen organizations come together for peace and to promote national liberation struggles. This was seen in California during the recent hunger strike, in Florida during the September 9 Day of Solidarity last year, and in the many lumpen organizations and representatives signing on to the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

We know that street organizations, just like prison organizations, are a natural result of imperialist society in the United $tates. The oppressed nations are going to come together in self-defense, and in the absence of revolutionary leadership they will join whatever group meets their needs. While lumpen organizations are fighting one another and targeting their people for street crime they are helping the imperialists. This is why we work so hard to build a United Front and bring these groups together for the betterment of all oppressed people.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 35]
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No More Herman Wallaces!

Herman Wallace April 2013
Herman Wallace earlier this year, before his release from prison
We honor Black Panther Herman Wallace, who died on October 4, 2013 after spending 41 years in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison for allegedly killing a prison guard. These charges were always suspect, and on October 1 a U.S. District Chief Judge agreed and overturned his conviction, ordering his immediate release. Despite the State of Louisiana's attempt to block the release, Wallace was able to spend the last two and half days of his life out of prison with family and friends.

The fact that Wallace had only days to live was well-known and likely played into his release. On the same day of the decision, his close comrades, Robert King (released in 2001) and Albert Woodfox (still in solitary confinement) were able to visit him due to his dire condition.(1) Together they made up the Angola 3, three of the longest to spend time in solitary confinement. Woodfox is in his 41st year in a control unit and is still locked up.

On 7 October 2013, the U.N. special rapporteur Juan E. Mendez called for the release of Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement, saying his isolation amounts to torture. Once again, the U.N. went on record stating that "the use of solitary confinement in the U.S. penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under international human rights law."(2)

The movement to free the Angola 3 has been championed by a dedicated group and echoed by supporters of political prisoners for decades. And the three, who formed a strong prison chapter of the Black Panther Party before being put in isolation, have continued to stay politically sharp and struggle for the rights of oppressed people. Robert King has been dedicated to not just supporting his two close friends, but opposing the Amerikan criminal injustice system.

While we recognize their indominable spirits, and the pleasure Wallace must have felt in his last few days, the tragedy of wasted lives in U.$. torture chambers remains unacceptable. These men, who became dedicated revolutionaries because of the adversities they faced, were prevented from fully acting on those aims by a system that intentionally framed and isolated them for political reasons. The state wants to brand activists like the Angola 3 as "cop killers" when in reality they were dedicated to a life of serving the people. They were individuals who could have transformed the destiny of New Afrika, and supported the liberation of all oppressed people from imperialism. Instead, Wallace was tortured by Amerika for four decades, until he was within days of death.

The case of Herman Wallace epitomizes the politics behind the United $tates's sanitized version of torture, in what is the largest mass incarceration experiment in the history of humynkind. And while it may be easier for some to support a Black Panther framed for killing a cop than to support a Crip accused of being a "shot caller," we must recognize the continuity between them. Otherwise we only spend our time on the individual cases, without addressing the system. We respect the work of the Angola 3 Coalition and groups like it. On the other hand, we should not be satisfied with victories like the release of Herman Wallace 2.5 days before he dies. We celebrate the organizing that has reached international attention in California in recent years, where prisoners of all backgrounds in long-term isolation have stood together to attack its very existence. While even that is just one piece of the system that must be addressed, we can best pose a real challenge to this systematic use of torture that is used by the Amerikan oppressor to control those who might challenge their hegemony over the world by organizing all those affected by it.


Campaign info:
Shut Down the Control Units
This article referenced in:
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[United Front] [Security] [Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 35]
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Report on United Front for Peace Work in Texas

I do all I can here to educate prisoners in the science of revolution. I share Under Lock & Key, I pass MIM(Prisons)'s address around, I conduct study groups, I raise consciousness and awareness while showing solidarity. Yet, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials are agents of repression using all kinds of divide and conquer tactics against these efforts.

The other day I was conducting a study group in solitary confinement and the pigs were using disruption by instigating a racial argument between two Black prisoners and a Mexican prisoner. I tried to keep the peace and unity among prisoners, but the pigs are constantly breaking the unity and provoking racial conflict. I tried to intervene by telling these three prisoners to stop arguing about insignificant things and to set aside their differences and come together in unity, solidarity and cooperation. Then two of the Black prisoners started caling me "wet back." I just had to terminate the study group at that moment to prevent further altercations and racial conflict among these three inmates. I had similar experiences in the past when I tried to educate fellow prisoners; sooner or later the pigs manipulated the situation and use these ignorant inmates to turn against me and start calling me racial slurs.

Look comrades, I have to be very cautious when I give your address to some of these prisoners because some of them are agent provocateurs, snitches, double agents, pretenders, informants and just brainwashed. So be aware of this matter. I just don't let these pigs get to me with their dirty tactics of divide and conquer. Some comrades over here are willing to learn, others are just playing games, and others are just brainwashed and it will take too long to make them conscious of revolutionary knowledge so I rather concentrate more on those comrades willing to learn and to assimilate Maoism into their thinking.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This report from a United Struggle from Within (USW) comrade is an example of United Front work among the imprisoned lumpen. This is the more tedious stuff that dedicated comrades must engage in over years and decades before getting to more glorious examples like 30,000 prisoners refusing food on the same day in California. So we want to recognize all who, like this comrade, keep working and not letting the pigs get to them.

It's true those who follow the pigs' manipulations are ignorant, and someday they will probably recognize that and feel great shame. But this story itself is an example of a teaching moment. By setting a good example, others learned something that day about the roles of the pigs because of the efforts this comrade made to build unity. And it is by consistently providing examples like this to the masses that ignorance is overcome. When an individual overcomes their ignorance and opens up to new ideas, those are the people who should get your persynalized attention to develop their theory and practice.

Finally, we are aware that many people write us with bad intentions. Some have requested that we not send materials to such people. But this allows the very people we are trying to avoid to manipulate us into censoring ourselves. And in the current format of our work, there is no certain way for us to identify all pigs. As we have written in articles about security in the past, we must judge people based on their actions, and only give out information on an as needed basis. So we are very conscious about what information is public and what is not, and we will spread public information as widely as we can. As we recently wrote, comrades should not mistake Under Lock & Key subscribers for USW members. Just because we send someone mail, does not tell you anything about our assessment of that individual's political reliability.

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[Abuse] [Hunger Strike] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 35]
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"New Policies" Being Implemented in MD to Quell Protests

On 9 September an organized collective of over 30 prisoners representing the North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) movement for humyn rights submitted demands to the imperialist overlords in regards to the inhumane, unjust and degrading conditions here.

The vanguard of this "demonstration" was determined by pigs to come from the SMU, D tier. Their notice of infraction reports read, "A mass of officers was assembled and a cell to cell inspection of the entire tier was conducted."

Inside the prison, the grunts feel the movement has been suppressed, but the truth is even their tactics of not reporting strikers in need of medical attention, destroying personal effects, and elevated level of all previous oppression had no bearing on the suspension of the protest. The suspension is based on the collective recognition by the Governor, Secretary of Public Safety and DOC Director that change is needed and imminent. A total review has been issued and guarantees of policy change are at hand, as ambiguous as they were.

Since June 2013, NBCI has been on lock-down status. The "new policy" currently being implemented places the entire prison on a "level" system. Their answer to a "return to normalcy" is to allow one hot meal a day in addition to the two bags, one hour of outside recreation a week and one shower a week. Those in general population get one 15 minute telephone call a week as well. In addition, butter has been re-issued to bring the diet calorie count back to pre-lockdown levels. The pigs attempted total control through all means including the withholding of adequate required calorie count. It doesn't seem like much, but 300 calories of butter removed from a 2200 calorie diet does have an effect. Especially when bags are often shorted or withheld. The ever popular "air bag."

Many lawsuits and grievances have been labeled moot in the wake of the drafting of the new STG/step down program as it will supposedly address many of the main demands, like ending indefinite Administrative Segregation. However, nothing currently has been published and I for one hold reservations. When final products have been issued and all fall out dealt with, if copies suffice, I will send them for review.

There are a few soldiers so sick of the outlandish psychological torments that they utterly refuse to eat until they are removed or die. We have tried to reach and support these brothers as we know news reporting ceased a while back and we don't want good soldiers losing themselves to a battle when the war isn't over.

I persynally hope to unify more brothers for a future response for what will most likely be a failed reform, but time is needed to allow the overseers to implement their newest tactic in humyn warehousing and degradation. Then our time shall again be at hand to show the flaws of imperialist bourgeois ideology of suppression and exploitation.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade was organizing around the September 9 day of peace and unity campaign to promote the United Front for Peace in Prisons. It is true that our organizing will go in cycles, with some set backs, and then some forward progress. We are never optimistic that promised policy changes from the DOC or government will result in any positive changes for prisoners. But we can use these set backs to educate others about the failure overall of the criminal injustice system and point to these examples for why we need to organize outside of the system for lasting and fundamental change. These are all good examples of the importance of building an anti-imperialist movement, rather than just fighting small reformist battles. We look to the examples of socialist China to see what is possible in terms of revolutionizing prisons, and society in general. That transformation required the seizure of power from the capitalists and the reorganizing of the economic structure of the whole country. But just as that transformation began in remote villages of China, we can start it today in those who are hidden away in the prisons and control units of the United $tates.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 35]
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Striker Still Seeking Justice After Brutal Claw Hammer Beating

As a member of the Georgia hunger strikers of 2012 and the focus of Georgia's prison beating, I strive to awaken these brothers here in Georgia. I have been spreading ULK to all here and to a lot of associates at other prisons. As of 16 September 2013 the video of me being beaten with a claw hammer by these pigs has gone viral. A comrade and myself have filed charges on those pigs, and due to all the exposure, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is doing their best to do damage control, but the damage is too great. Two state Senators are calling for the whole ordeal to be investigated, including the Internal Affairs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I'm still at the so-called Special Management Unit.

To the brothers in California I salute you all! To all the fallen comrades: your sacrifice will not be in vain!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the power of media to expose injustice. Unfortunately, mainstream media has little interest in exposing imperialism or the criminal injustice system, as that would not sit well with their advertisers or their Amerikan readership. This is why we need an alternative press. ULK fills this role for prisons in particular. And we can best cover news when prisoners write about what's going on in their state. The 2012 Georgia hunger strike was not written about extensively in ULK because we had to rely on non-prisoner sources. Our ability to contribute to struggles like this one is greatly enhanced with comrades like this writing in with news about the struggle. Exposure does sometimes embarrass the pigs into making changes, and even when it doesn't, we must continue to educate people about the abuse and injustice going on across the criminal injustice system.

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[United Front] [Campaigns] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 35]
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Peace and Solidarity Protest in Nevada

September 9, 2013 has come and gone, and while the turn out was significantly improved over last year, there is still room for much improvement. This is, of course, reflective of the general malaise which has infected the population concerning prison conditions and prisoner solidarity. But it is also the result of an inability to reliably communicate between units and custody levels here at High Desert (HDSP).

The turn out for this unit was approximately 8% but this may or may not be representative of prison-wide participation. There appears to have been significant participation from our brothers and sisters at Ely State Prison and our utmost respect and gratitude goes out to you all for standing with us. There have been some indications here at HDSP that there is a storm on the horizon and there is currently some discussion and preparation in anticipation. But we must wait until events begin to unfold before embarking on any course of action. This includes pushing September 9, 2014 harder and longer this year.

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[Campaigns] [United Front] [Hancock State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 35]
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Peace and Solidarity Fast in Georgia

It was a good fast day for me on the most recent day of Peace and Solidarity, a powerful underground movement. I am in the midst of a lot of things right now and I may be getting transferred soon, I don't want to put the re-mailing cost on you, because I know that there are a lot of people who look forward to your paper. I am also enclosing a few stamps to help out with the financial element of the movement. I'll get in touch as soon as I move.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 35]
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Fighting Gender Oppression in Nevada Builds Unity Among Prisoners

On 21 August 2013 I was doing research as part of my challenge to my illegal perpetual imprisonment — officially I am being kept in prison forever only because I have no birth certificate, i.e. I am a prisoner of the war on terror.

Upon leaving the law library, I was groped/sexually assaulted by a senior CO under the guise of a "pat search." After the incident (and collecting my wits) I made a written complaint to the unit caseworker. Since then I have had my cell searched, been given a notice of charges, been sanctioned, and have received special attention from the good ole boys in the form of attempts at intimidation, verbal abuse, and derisive sexually charged remarks concerning my sexual identity and persuasion. In the wake of this incident, however, something else has also occurred, and that is an unexpected level of support from both comrades known and, until this incident, unknown.

It is my hope that this incident will galvanize people and raise their awareness of the need for unification. I'm not the only prisoner, transgender or otherwise, to be sexually assaulted at this prison by guards. It is only one of the many abuses we are exposed to, one of the many symptoms of a degenerate system that thrives on violence and exploitation.

It is my hope that in time our solidarity will prevent abuses rather than merely tend to the damage caused by them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Prisoners are in a unique position of gender oppression in Amerika. While the vast majority of prisoners are male, they face gender oppression on the scale otherwise experienced by biological wimmin. This is because prison guards use sexual harassment as a power tool, and a form of abuse. It is good to hear about people coming together to help this comrade in this battle. This is the kind of unity we need to build against all forms of oppression. We can look to the struggles in Washington state from Men Against Sexism as an example of prisoners coming together to fight gender oppression.(see ]ULK 29)

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 35]
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Tactical Move in Texas Grievance Campaign

Our struggle here in the belly of the beast continues! I'm writing to update you on the recent communication I received from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning the petition I sent them in regards to the grievance system. In the DOJ's response to my petition, they wrote, "The Special Litigation Section only handles cases that arise from widespread problems that affect groups of people."

I have not received a response from the many other mailing resources you indicated on the petition. Therefore I suggest that those engaged in fighting against this unjust Texas grievance system gather all petitions and send them to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, PHB 950, Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20530. Comrades, let's flood their office with these petitions!


MIM(Prisons) responds: The imperialists will use every excuse in the book to justify their oppression. So one piece of our struggle involves making it harder for them to make excuses, which further exposes them as the willful oppressor. In that light we are promoting this comrade's suggestion as a next step for the campaign in Texas.

UPDATE: Texas prisoners also need to send formal complaints letters/I-60's to the Central Grievance Office, PO Box 99 Huntsville, TX 77342-0099. Also, MIM(Prisons) has a new guide available for the Texas grievance system combining the information from a couple supporters of this campaign.

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[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 35]
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La Cultura de la Tortura Amerikana Golpea al Inmigrante

El inmigrante proletario ha sido componente fundamental del incremento en el número de prisioneros en los Estados Unido$ en los últimos años. Debido a ello están sufriendo en sus propias carnes las tácticas de tortura que los Amerikanos utilizan contra sus propios ciudadanos. Un informe reciente muestra que la oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas de los EEUU tiene a más de 300 prisioneros en aislamiento en 50 de sus mayores cárceles, lo que supone un 85% de sus detenidos. La mitad son mantenidos en aislamiento durante 15 o más días y cerca de 35 de los 300 llegan a permanecer en esas condiciones más de 75 días(1).

Aunque estas condenas son relativamente cortas comparadas con las que ya se consideran habituales en los Estados Unido$, las experiencias vividas en ellas son particularmente difíciles para el inmigrante que no habla ingles y han sido víctima del trafico de seres humanos.

Los autores del articulo citado anteriormente relatan con tono cauteloso que los Estados Unido$ usan el aislamiento más "que cualquier otra nación democrática en el mundo." Esto solo indica que es posible que otros países utilicen el aislamiento todavía más. Una de las razones por las que no pueden obtener estadísticas sobre las prácticas carcelarias de algunos países es que éstos son regímenes títeres de los Estados Unido$ que se administran de una forma intencionadamente opaca para permitir formas extremas de opresión contra los pueblos oprimidos. No hemos podido encontrar pruebas de una nación mitológica que torture en confinamiento solitario a más gente que Amerika.

Los Amerikanos encarcelan a más gente que ninguna otra nación incluso excluyendo a aquellos que mantienen en prisiones de terceros países. Con al menos 100,000 personas en aislamiento de larga duración dentro de las fronteras de los EEUU, parece altamente improbable que ningún país pueda superar sus números. Podemos encontrar más pruebas si observamos el estado de las prisiones en la mayoría de los países del tercer mundo, las cuales son más transparentes con su información que cualquier prisión de baja seguridad en los Estados Unido$. Las excepciones a esta regla siempre son los países con gran actividad militar o de inteligencia Amerikana, donde normalmente son los propios Amerikanos los que gestionan las prisiones.(3)

El ciudadano de los EEUU Shane Bauer fue encarcelado con cargos de espionaje por el gobierno de Irán, el cual es independiente de los Estados Unido$. Bauer nos ofrece ejemplos de como sus condiciones en aislamiento se distinguen en lo positivo y en lo negativo de las de aquellos encarcelados en Pelican Bay SHU en California. Lo más llamativo es el tiempo total pasado en aislamiento, que en su caso fue de sólo cuatro meses. Comparándolo con el "democrático" sistema de injusticia de los EEUU, Bauer escribe sobre Iran: "Cuando Josh Fattal y yo finalmente nos presentamos ante la corte revolucionaria de Irán, teníamos un abogado presente, pero no se nos permitió hablar con el. En California un reo que se enfrente a la peor condena posible, con excepción de la de muerte, no puede tener a su abogado en la
sala. No se le permite acumular o presentar evidencias para su defensa. No puede llamar a testigos. Muchas de las pruebas, recabadas por informantes, son confidenciales y por lo tanto imposibles de refutar. Eso fue lo que el Juez Salvati nos dijo después de que la persecución soltase su discurso acerca de nuestro papel en la vasta conspiración Americano-Israelí: había montones de pruebas, pero ni nosotros ni nuestro abogado podíamos verlas."(2)

Cita luego una decisión de la corte de los EEUU: "el juez dictaminó que 'un prisionero no tiene garantía constitucional de inmunidad al haber sido falsa o injustamente acusado de una conducta que pueda resultar en la privación de su libertad.' En otras palabras, es perfectamente legal que las autoridades de la prisión mientan con el objetivo de encerrar a alguien en aislamiento."(2)

La célebre prisión Californiana de "Pelican Bay" informa de un promedio de tiempo de los reos en el SHU (Unidad de Confinamiento Seguro) de 7.5 años. Muchos de los que pelearon por la liberación nacional contra el imperialismo Estadouniden$e han pasado 30 o 40 años en aislamiento en prisiones a lo largo de los Estados Unido$. MIM(Prisons) no conoce informes de ningún otro Estado que utilice el aislamiento como herramienta de castigo hasta estos
extremos.

Las técnicas de tortura desarrolladas en las unidades de control Amerikanas fueron diseñadas para destruir el espíritu combativo de las personas y grupos sociales que desafían el status quo, en particular el imperialismo de los Estados Unido$. Treinta años después de su desaparición, la posesión de materiales del Black Panther Party (Partido de los Panteras Negras) todavía mete a la gente en problemas de forma regular, siendo incluso citados por una infracción del tipo "Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad" (Security Threat Group). Éste es el termino Amerikano para los "crímenes de pensamiento".

Puede que estas técnicas se están desarrollando en centros de detención de inmigrantes como forma de disciplina para el proletariado Mexicano que los Amerikanos temen como una fuerza social de cambio. O puede ser un ejemplo de la cultura de una nación opresora extendiendo sus tentáculos hacia otras naciones. Sea como fuere, esta es una de varias formas de opresión que sirve para socavar el mito propagandístico de Amerika como nación que promueve la libertad.

Durante años, los Estados Unido$ han sido criticados por las Naciones Unidas como el principal Estado responsable del uso del aislamiento de larga duración como forma de tortura. Hoy, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos dijo, "Debemos ser claros: los Estados Unido$ están en clara violación no solo en sus propios compromisos sino también en leyes internacionales y normas que están obligados a cumplir."(4) Estas palabras figuraban en una declaración dirigida a los 166 extranjeros que llevan más de una década detenidos en la prisión de Guantanamo Bay, muchos sin ningún cargo.

Así como el armamento de alta tecnología no pudo ganar la guerra de los Amerikanos en Afghanistan, las técnicas más sofisticadas de tortura de las modernas unidades de control no pueden acallar el ultraje extendido de las masas que viven bajo el dominio imperialista. Las oportunidades para hacer conexiones internacionalistas en el movimiento de prisiones dentro la fronteras de los EEUU no hace más que crecer a medida que más y más gente de
fuera de esas fronteras son atrapados por el sistema.


Notas:
1. Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz. Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks, New York Times, 23 March 2013.
2. Shane Bauer. Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons, Mother Jones, 18 October 2012.
3. Cora Currier and Suevon Lee. The Secret Prison
ProPublica gathers the best reporting on detention and rendition under Obama, 16 July 2012.
4. Stephanie Nebehay. U.N. rights chief calls for closure of Guantanamo prison, Reuters, 5 April 2013.

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