A modern-day example of New Afrikans building independent institutions and public opinion for socialism is the groups carrying out the Jackson-Kush Plan in Jackson, Mississippi and the surrounding area. There are a number of different organizations involved in, and evolved out of, this Plan, and its roots go back to the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA) in the 1960s. It is directly built on the long history of New Afrikan organizing for independence, going on since people were brought to the United $nakes from Africa as slaves. The Plan itself was formulated by the New Afrikan People's Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement between 2004 – 2010. (1, p. 3)
The project has gone through many different phases, all focusing on attaining self-determination for people of African descent in Mississippi and the surrounding region. Sometimes the organizing has been more heavily focused on electoral politics,(2, 3) sometimes more on purchasing land, and currently the Cooperation Jackson project appears to be at the forefront of pushing the Plan forward.
Cooperation Jackson's mission is to develop an intimate network of worker-owned cooperatives, covering all basic humyn needs, and more: food production and distribution, recycling and waste management, energy production, commodity production, housing, etc. The main goals of Cooperation Jackson (C.J.) are to provide sustainable livelihoods for its organizing base, which includes control over land, resources, means of production, and means of distribution. Currently C.J. has a handful of cooperatives in operation, and is building the Community Land Trust to have greater control over its target geography in Jackson. This is just a snapshot of the work of Cooperation Jackson, which is explained in much more detail in the book Jackson Rising.(1)
The Jackson-Kush Plan is being carried out despite big setbacks, repression, harassment, and roadblocks from the government and racist citizens alike, for decades. This is the nature of struggle and the folks working with the Plan are facing it head-on. C.J. and the other organizations involved are doing amazing work to establish what could be dual power in the state of Mississippi.
While the MIM has congruent goals with the Jackson-Kush Plan (at least including the self-determination of New Afrikan people; control over land, economy, and resources; environmental sustainability; an end of capitalism and imperialism), there are some notable differences.(4) We're holding out hope that the Plan is being intentionally discrete in order to build dual power, but the ideological foundations of some of its structure point instead to revisionism of Marxism.
Cooperation Jackson's plan includes working with the government in some capacity. It needs to change laws in order to operate freely and legally. This itself isn't wrong – MIM(Prisons) also works on and supports some reforms that would make our work of building revolution much easier. But because of its relationship to the state, C.J.'s voice is muffled. MIM(Prisons) doesn't have this problem, so we can say what needs to be said and we hope the folks organizing for New Afrikan independence will hear it.
Cooperation Jackson's structural documents paint a picture of a peaceful transition to a socialist society, or a socialist microcosm, built on worker-owned cooperatives and the use of advanced technology. Where it aims to transform the New Afrikan "working class" (more on this below) to become actors in their own lives and struggle for self-determination of their nation, we are for it. So often we hear from ULK readers that people just don't think revolution is possible. Working in a collective and actually having an impact in the world can help people understand their own inherent power as humyn beings. Yet it seems C.J. sees this democratic transformation of the New Afrikan "working class" as an end in itself, which it believes will eventually lead to an end of capitalism.
"In the Jackson context, it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy."(1, p. 7)
This quote also alludes to C.J.'s apparent opposition to the universality of armed struggle in its struggle to transform the economy. In all the attempts that have been made to take power from the bourgeoisie, only people who have acknowledged the need to take that power by force (i.e. armed struggle) have been even remotely successful. We just need to look to the governments in the last century all across the world who have attempted to nationalize resources to see how hard the bourgeois class will fight when it really feels its interests are threatened.
Where C.J. is clearly against Black capitalism and a bourgeois-nationalist revolution that stays in the capitalist economy, we are in agreement. Yet C.J. apparently also rejects the need for a vanguard party, and the need for a party and military to protect the interests and gains of the very people it is organizing.
"As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained within the nation-state edifice. We are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn't dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats."(1, p. 8)
As students of history, we assert that C.J. is putting the carriage before the horse here. National liberation struggles have shown the most success toward delinking populations from imperialism and capitalism. Yes, we agree with C.J. that these national liberation struggles also need to contain anti-capitalism, and revolutionary ecology, if they plan to get anywhere close to communism. But C.J. seems to be saying it can dislodge from capitalism before having national independence from imperialism.
The end of this quote also raises valid concerns about who holds the means of production, and the development of a new bourgeoisie among the party bureaucrats. This is one of the huge distinctions between the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and China under Mao. In China, the masses of the population participated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which attacked bureaucrats and revisionists in the party and positions of power. These criticisms were led from the bottom up, and the Cultural Revolution was a huge positive lesson on how we can build a society that is continually moving toward communism, and not getting stuck in state-capitalism.
Another significant difference between the line of the MIM and of Cooperation Jackson is our class analysis. Cooperation Jackson is organizing the "working class" in Jackson, Mississippi, which it defines as "unionized and non-unionized workers, cooperators, and the under and unemployed."(1, p. 30) So far in our exposure to C.J., we haven't yet come across an internationalist class analysis. Some pan-Africanism, yes, but nothing that says a living wage of $11 is more than double what the average wage would be if we had an equal global distribution of wealth.(5, 6) And so far nothing that says New Afrika benefits from its relationship to the United $tates over those who Amerikkka oppresses in the Third World.
We can't say what the next steps for the Jackson-Kush Plan should be. There's still opportunity for people within the project to clarify its line on the labor aristocracy/working class, the necessity of armed struggle to take power from the bourgeoisie, and the significance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. MIM(Prisons)'s Free Books for Prisoners Program distributes many materials on these topics. Some titles we definitely recommend studying are On Trotskyism by Kostas Mavrakis, The Chinese Road to Socialism by E.L. Wheelwright and Bruce McFarlane, and Imperialism and its Class Structure in 1997 by MIM.
Every time I write MIM(Prisons), talking about what I've got going on, or what I'm trying to do, my moves are intercepted, interfered with, or I'm retaliated against. It's not wise to write to y'all and give the enemy the upper hand, or an advantage over me. If a person is in prison, then guess what? You're in the devil's back yard, where the devil says what goes. Common sense and history should obviously tell you that it's the police's jobs to police you. If you're dumb enough to open your mouth about incriminating shit, while you know that the spotlight is beaming on you, then you deserve the consequences. A lot of these people in Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) just don't got it in 'em to zip it. There's a time to talk and there's a time for silence.
Organizing tactics will vary, depending on why you're getting organized and what you're getting organized for. There's no "one size fits all" organizing tactic. You got to be versatile and able to adapt under pressure and constant changes. To be able to roll with the punches, in other words. Keep your eyes open.
Everybody isn't down. Everybody's not a rider, or a soldier. Not everybody cares, or is able to listen and see. You have to be careful who you're talking to, or what you're openly/publicly speaking about, in ADC. Ironically and paradoxically, getting assigned to a one-man cell is one of the only ways to dodge the bogus individuals in ADC, if you know how to do time in a cell. The cell-blocks in ADC are analogous to SHUs [solitary confinement]. The prison culture in ADC is twisted. Got to be ever-mindful of this while organizing in the ADC.
One of the main problems that I personally experience in the ADC is that the prisoners are over-friendly with the police/guards. It's accepted to befriend the police here, to pull them aside and whisper/gossip, or to kick it in the police's offices. The majority of the ADC prisoners don't even understand how to distinguish between a police and a snitch, or how to identify what "snitching" is and isn't. What's really troubling is that these gang affiliates allow police into their "gangs," which contradicts everything that they claim to stand for. They call the high-ranking police their "OGs" here, and they see nothing wrong with this. In my eyes that's an organized snitch-operation, with benefits.
They suck up to the police for scooby snacks. The dope fiend culture here is largely to blame. They believe that it's acceptable to cooperate with police for drugs, highs, money, etc. (That's the same as collaborating with police for time-cuts in my eyes.) They call collaborating with the police here "gangster moves," "OG moves," "shot calls," etc. Technically, the government is a gang, but not in the sense of a street gang, or a lumpen organization (L.O.). They're letting the government into their street gangs and L.O.s, which causes immense problems and struggles for people who are trying to get organized against government corruption, or imperialism.
There's no fixing this type of issue overnight. One individual can't tackle this issue single-handedly. I refuse to associate, in those types of ways, with the police, or snitches who work hand-in-hand with the police. These types of snitches are not concerned about making changes, and one of these undercovers will only put on a front, to infiltrate your organization and stir up chaos and confusion.
Like I said though, it really all depends on the direction that you're trying to go, in terms of organizing and unity. Revolution, or reform? Long-term, or short-term? What types of changes are you aiming at? Do you honestly believe that you can pop off a full-scale "revolution" from inside of one, tiny prison? A prison riot isn't a revolution.
My personal opinion is that if you're trying to reform the prison system with long-term changes, that litigation is the most efficient, or effective method. History shows that the most significant changes in the prison systems in America have come from litigation. Litigation, generally, doesn't work too well when trying to deal with short-term problems, or isolated incidents, mainly because litigation isn't instantaneous, it takes time. And it's doubtful that you can jump-off a revolution by litigating in a government courthouse, or by filing grievances. You have to first troubleshoot the most pressing problems inside of your facility, if you plan on reforming the prison system. And you must be able to think everything through, before you initiate a campaign.
I know from experience that single-handedly bucking on these police with physical force rarely accomplishes very much, except for giving the police a bogus excuse to press their foot down on your neck, or to exercise more control over you.
It's probably a good idea to begin by getting to the least oppressive position before trying to do what needs to be done. Prison is not the place. The odds are stacked too high against prisoners, inside of prison, for prisoners to be able to leave too great of an impact. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there's nothing positive that can be done. It's just that many prisoners believe that the solution is to try to wage, or talk of waging a real-deal war with America from behind bars, and this is madness — counterproductive non-sense. Your greatest weapon from inside of an American prison is a pen and paper, which typically doesn't involve getting 100% unity of prisoners. Another thing is that you're never going to get all prisoners to agree on every little thing, at all times, which gets in the way of organizing, or unity.
I believe that one of the best things that a person can do is just to focus on themselves first, before trying to build up the next person, which constitutes as "leading by example." Other people will see you doing positive things, or will listen to you speaking positively and they will often emulate, or mirror your actions. In order to change the world, you must begin by changing yourself. You must become the changes that you want to see in the world.
I've gotten good educational convos and occasional study groups going, to help others learn. The problem with that is, every time I get us organized on a positive tip like that, I always experience opposition, hostility, retaliation, interference or resistance from guards and/or prisoners.
One thing that does help me and has taught me a lot is radio talk shows like Ground Zero and Coast-to-Coast, (got to give them credit). Plus, these shows help me to do time easier, while learning. It makes learning fun and interesting. In a way, those talk shows are kinda like study groups. Because people can call in and give feedback. I think that it'd be an excellent idea to model study groups after the structure of these talk shows. To have an individual, with a particular expertise in a specific subject, prepare a speech, in conversation format, and then allow feedback and questions after the selected individual concludes their initial discourse. Then you can rotate new individuals to speak each session. The group can vote, maybe, to decide topics, speakers, etc. You can assign homework and self-study assignments for the down-time in between groups. Not everyone is going to want to be a speaker, which is fine, too. I fear simply speaking about starting a study group, because I already know how it goes. If a hater catches wind of such things, trouble isn't far off.
Another suggestion is, if you're in prison, with access to educational/radio shows, you can organize a group of people to listen to each show, and afterwards you can have civilized group discussions and debates on the show's topics, with feedback and questions. One step further is to get out of prison and start your own radio show for prisoner education. A station for prisoners to tune into, for prison news, discussion, education programs, contests, etc. I haven't done my research into that, but it wouldn't be too hard to do. The good part is that prisoners can listen to radio broadcasts for free. Books and some newsletters/mags can be expensive, or impossible for prisoners to obtain. Also, it'd be kinda hard for people to shut down the study group if it's done over the radio, huh? The prison guards can't "censor" it, because it's the FCC's duty to censor radio broadcasts, not uneducated prison guards. The FCC decides what's appropriate for American citizens to hear over the radio. True enough, radio-show hosts can deal with hostility as well, but at least the radio show isn't trapped inside of a box, while battling sadistic foes.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer starts off with an analysis of conditions in Arkansas that lead to the conclusion that it is impossible to organize in Arkansas, but ends this letter with some excellent and creative ideas about how to run study groups. And so we really hope ey will implement these ideas and report back on how they work.
There are significant barriers to our organizing work here in the belly of the beast where the wealth of imperialism is thrown around to buy off even the lumpen in prison. We need to rise to this challenge and think creatively about how to break people off from the system and channel their energy into fighting the criminal injustice system that is the cause of their misery. Creative study groups are one such approach. We welcome thoughts from others about what this comrade might do based on the conditions ey describes in Arkansas.
Under Lock & Key has been the voice of the anti-imperialist movement within U.$. prisons for 11.5 years. This issue is going out one month later than our usual schedule, because it is the last issue of ULK in its current form.
ULK has been an exemplary independent institution of the oppressed in preparation to take state power. It's within these pages that United Struggle from Within — the anti-imperialist mass organization of current and former prisoners — developed and organized dozens of campaigns. Through ULK the United Front for Peace in Prisons was developed to stop violence in prisons that was not only keeping us divided, but also being used as an excuse for lockdowns and other repression. These are all examples of independent institutions of the oppressed, and it's fitting that this, ULK's final issue, is dedicated to this important topic.
An important lesson that comes from Lenin's book What is to be Done? is the importance of a movement's newspaper, to spread ideas and organize with others. Have no fear! Even though ULK is changing form, we're in no way stopping producing a newspaper. U.$. prisoners need a voice, and there's no one else making a newspaper like this, from a proletarian perspective. That will not be lost in this transition.
As we explained in ULK 64 we have a goal of producing a monthly newspaper. In our work towards that goal we are making some big changes to ULK.
We are extremely excited to be joining forces with the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) in a consolidation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) into a single newspaper (name TBD). RAIM's portion of the newspaper will cover much more international news and analysis than is typically in the pages of ULK, which our readers have been asking for for years. We'll be decreasing our costs, and greatly increasing our distribution on the streets. This is all in preparation to produce the newsletter on a monthly schedule!
Our movement organ (newspaper) will continue to be fully independent. Meaning it is fully funded by the MIM cells, and costs are partially offset by donations we get from subscribers and people on the streets. There is no grant money or government support for this revolutionary work. We need our readers' continued support to make this possible — every donation you send helps us send more letters, educational material, and resources to our subscribers behind bars. And ultimately we will need your financial support to fund a monthly newsletter.
The beauty in being financially independent is that it gives us the freedom to be ideologically independent. We can say whatever it is that needs to be said. We can speak from a proletarian perspective, even if the vast majority of people in the First World find it upsetting. No one can pull the rug out from under us if we say something they don't like.
In this independence, we (the movement) have full responsibility for our successes and failures. If we can't recruit enough distributors — that's on us. If we can't get enough financial support — that's on us. If people don't want to contribute to the newspaper — again, on us. While taking on this responsibility might seem like a big burden to some, because they think they can sit back and let others make revolution for them, it's actually quite liberating. If we want it, we can make it. It's hard work, and it's possible. Nothing can hold us back. No strings attached.
"We" isn't just MIM(Prisons) and RAIM members; it's all of us in the anti-imperialist movement in the United $tates. This newspaper has been and will continue to be a voice for all our contributors. The artwork, poems, reports, and analysis that come from our subscribers behind bars are what make ULK actually "from under lock & key," and we will continue to rely on these invaluable contributions.
Making the newspaper is one thing, and making it an organ to advance our struggle against oppression is another. We request that each persyn reading this article send (at least) one letter to someone on the outside asking them to donate and/or commit to distributing the new newspaper. Our subscribers know the value of this newspaper even better than MIM(Prisons) does. You writing directly to your contacts will be more effective than anything we could say to ask them to get involved.
Your contacts' participation is a matter of you engaging them in the value of this newspaper and this work. ULK is more than just words on paper; it's more than just an outlet to vent. It's an independent institution for creating a world without oppression, which has a real impact on the lives of its subscribers and readers, and the world. Share with them what you have gotten out of reading ULK and participating in projects with MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within. Share how the United Front for Peace in Prisons has affected your day-to-day life, and how the articles in ULK have helped you in your time behind bars. Be direct and unwavering in your request for their participation. Worst case scenario is they say "no."
For donations, your contacts can send cash, stamps or blank money orders to the address on page 1, and every amount really does make a big difference! Being a distributor doesn't have to be any huge additional commitment, either. If your outside contact(s) can identify one place where they can put the new newspaper, we'll send them a stack to stick there each time a new issue comes out. Many places have free newspaper areas — coffee shops, libraries, laundromats, etc. Ask them to find one and commit. Then either send us their address so we can follow up, or ask them to write to us directly. The ripple effect of your one letter can have a huge impact on the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist struggle toward communism.
The rest of these pages of ULK talk about other independent institutions of the oppressed, within the MIM and without, current and past. We'll apply lessons we've learned from history to our analysis of these institutions. We are proud that ULK and all our contributors have spent the last 11.5 years being among them. And we are looking forward to expanding in the new newsletter in 2020.
Unabashedly, the goal of the Maoist Internationalist Movement is to eliminate capitalism and imperialism. We aim to replace these economic systems with socialism, and then communism, to end all oppression of people by other people. In our study of humyn history we see Maoist China as the most advanced social experience to date toward this goal, and we draw on our study of Maoism (shorthand for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) to build our strategy. Maoism is a universally-applicable science of social change, which has its effectiveness proven in practice.
Our study of history shows the necessity of armed struggle to take power from the bourgeoisie, to build a world without oppression. Yet we're not presently in a period of social upheaval that we would call a revolutionary scenario, which is why we discourage people from initiating armed struggle at this time. While we prepare for that inevitable reality, the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) works on our dual strategy of 1) building independent institutions of the oppressed to seize state power, and 2) building public opinion against imperialism.
This is all in preparation for when the United $tates's military power becomes sufficiently overextended, and nations oppressed by Amerikkka start striking significant blows against Amerika's domination over their land and livelihoods. When the United $tates enters this period of social upheaval, we will be equipped to draw on the public opinion and independent institutions we're building now. The point is to get started now so we're ready to help a revolution in this country be successful, with results in favor of the most oppressed people in the world. Our institutions in themselves will not cause the transition to socialism, because the bourgeoisie will not allow us to carry out a quiet coup on their power.
Independent institutions of the oppressed are designed to simultaneously meet the peoples' present needs, while organizing against imperialism. When coupled with political education in building public opinion for socialism, these institutions help to advance our movement toward communism. People can see in practice what it would look like (and that it's possible) to meet the social needs that the government is failing on. And people learn how to work collectively.
Maybe this is obvious, but independent institutions don't have ties to the power structure that we are fighting to dismantle. Our goal is the full liberation of ALL people, not just some people, and not just our people. To do that we need to have true independence, so we can say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done, without one arm tied behind our backs.
Defining who are "the oppressed," who our institutions are in service of, is extremely important. While many institutions are happy to just serve any oppressed group, in the MIM we want to make the transition to communism as swift and efficient as possible. We take instruction on this question from our class analysis, and particularly our class analysis on the labor aristocracy and lumpen.
We recognize that the vast majority of so-called "workers" in the First World are actually a bought-off class of net exploiters. They are relatively comfortable with the existence of imperialism, and our independent institutions don't aim to serve that class's interests. Most people don't want to hear that they are net exploiters, and that actually they are in the top 13% globally.(1) It stops them from crying about being in the "bottom 99%" and self-righteously working for a minimum wage that is three times higher than what it would be in an equal global distribution of wealth.(2) Representing the interests of the international proletariat makes MIM(Prisons) an unpopular organization among the vast majority of the population in the United $tates.
In contrast, in our class analysis we see the oppressed-nation lumpen as the most likely group to favor a proletarian internationalist revolution in this country. When the Maoist Internationalist Party – Amerika disbanded into a cell structure in 2005, MIM(Prisons) was established specifically to organize among the lumpen population. There are many, many areas of life that need Maoist leadership and independent institutions – many that can even be built around the coinciding interests of people in the First World and Third World, like revolutionary ecology — and MIM(Prisons) focuses on the needs and education of the imprisoned oppressed-nation lumpen.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) had a prolific set of Serve the People programs and independent institutions. The BPP coincided with the tail-end of the New Afrikan proletariat's existence, and focused its organizing among proletarian and lumpen New Afrikans.
In its independent institutions, the BPP served tens of thousand of kids breakfast across the United $tates, accompanied by political education during the meals. The BPP ran other services such as "clothing distribution, classes on politics and economics, free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, transportation for family members to upstate prisons, an emergency-response ambulance program, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and testing for sickle-cell disease."(3)
In addition to providing necessary services for New Afrikans, the BPP's Serve the People programs also built public opinion for socialism by showing what a world could be like with people working together to meet humyn needs. We often hear myths about humyn nature, that people are "too selfish" or "too greedy" or "don't care enough" to ever have a socialist economy, let alone participate in a single campaign. Yet BPP programs showed that selfishness, greed, and apathy are values of the capitalist-imperialist economic system we live under; not inherent to humyn nature. And the education programs built people's consciousness around how the economic structures of imperialism and capitalism are related to the seemingly-insurmountable problems in their lives. Coupling that with Maoist theory and practice, the BPP provided an ideology for how to overcome these economic systems, further building public opinion in favor of a transition to socialism.
The Black Panther Party did all this without government funding. Yet they did accept hefty donations from white leftists, especially during the Free Huey campaign to get Huey Newton released from jail in 1967-70. This lack of self-reliance had a big negative impact on the organization when the white leftists stopped donating.(4) The experience of the BPP shows extensive positive examples of how oppressed-nation organizations can build institutions to contribute to the liberation of one's people. It teaches another lesson on independence, which is to never rely on your oppressor-nation allies to fund your liberation.
Other Outside Orgs
Whenever we connect with an organization that does work that's related to ours, that gets government funding or is linked to a bigger organization like a university, they say the same thing. They are really excited about our work, because they know how important our line is, and they have seen first-hand the limitations in their own work. When we ask why they can't say or do something similar to what we say, it goes back to a funding source or an authority they're operating under.
These institutions of the oppressed aren't wrong for organizing this way. They are doing great work and reaching audiences we can't reach in our current capacity. Yet they aren't reaching them with the stuff that's going to bring an end of oppression in the grand scheme of things.
MIM(Prisons) chooses to do the most effective thing, which in our case requires total independence. If everyone who saw the importance of our line actually worked to promote it, it would inevitably increase our capacity to also reach the people these dependent organizations are currently reaching, and with a program to transform the deep-rooted causes of the problems they're working to change.
An example of limitations imposed by funding sources was explained in a 2012 interview MIM(Prisons) did with a comrade in United Playaz (UP). UP is a "San Francisco-based violence prevention and youth development organization," staffed and run by many former prisoners. It is work that is desperately needed, and UP has a huge positive impact on the lives of the people it works with.
"If it's up to us, we're gonna go hard, and really fight for peace. But because we're fund[ed] by DCYF [San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth, & Their Families], they limit our movement. We can't even participate, or like rally. If there's a Occupy rally right now, we can't go, cuz our organization are prevented from doing things like that. And I think that's important, that we're out there with the rest of the people that are trying to fight for change. Every year we do a Silence the Violence Peace March. That's okay, you know, Martin Luther King, marches like that, we're okay to do that. But when it's like budgets, and crime, and about prison, you know, rally to try to bring those those things down, we can't really participate. ...
"What's going on outside the youth can affect them in the future if things don't change. And why wait til those kids get old and take em to expose them to march and fight for your rights? You know I love to take these young adults to a movement like that, cuz that gives em knowledge of life, that there's more than just hanging out on the street. But unfortunately we're not allowed to participate in that kind of movement."(5)
Under Lock & Key (and the new newsletter that’s coming January 2020)(6) is a media institution of the oppressed, with a mission to serve two classes: 1) the oppressed-nation lumpen in the First World, which our class analysis says is the most likely class in imperialist society to be favorable to the long hard struggle to communism; and 2) the Third World proletariat, which is the revolutionary class with the least to lose in imperialist society. All the articles and line in ULK revolve around this mission.
The pages of ULK, and behind the scenes in MIM(Prisons)'s work, have developed many other institutions of the oppressed. Regular readers of ULK will be familiar with the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) and the accompanying 5 Points of Unity.(7, 8) The UFPP can't in any way be canceled by prison admin or stopped because of budget cuts. In fact, the impetus for the UFPP being formed was because prison staff were actively creating disunity among the prisoner population. We had to create our own independent networks and agreements for creating peace, because peace efforts were being actively thwarted by staff. We have to build "Unity From the Inside Out."
United Struggle from Within (USW) is the MIM(Prisons)-led mass organization for prisoners and former prisoners, and another example of an institution that has developed and organizes within the pages of Under Lock & Key. USW is a way people can plug into anti-imperialist organizing from behind bars, leading campaigns, handing out fliers, putting out art, participating in petitions and struggles. USW cells have independent institutions locally, including study groups, libraries, food and hygiene pools, jailhouse lawyer services, and other forms of support. Through ULK, USW can share experiences and knowledge to further build the anti-imperialist movement behind bars.
USW and UFPP organizing comes with its own set of challenges. Organizers are moved and isolated all the time. Repressive attacks and false disciplinary cases are also carried out by prison staff on our comrades. Censorship of mail impacts our ability to organize, with some states or institutions fully banning ULK or mail from MIM(Prisons). It means we hold no illusions that anyone else can or will do this work for us, and we take that on, with all the sacrifices and challenges that come with it.
Some comrades choose to work within larger organizations, or with prison staff, to get a bigger platform for their organizing. Like any alliance, a big consideration is if one can actually do the work that needs to be done within that alliance, because most likely these alliances will require you to water down your political line. Everyone will assess their own conditions to see what they can do to be most effective in the facility where they're held. The method we use to do this in MIM(Prisons) projects is analyzing the principal contradiction in a situation, and upholding MIM(Prisons)'s 6 main points.(9)
Other Prisoner-led Projects
Within ULK we also regularly report on independent institutions that didn’t originate in our circles, which serve the interests of the oppressed-nation lumpen in the First World. There are many hardships that prisoners can organize around inside, to build independent institutions (communication channels, organizational connections) and public opinion in favor of socialism.
One example is the organization Men Against Sexism (MAS), which existed in the Washington state prison system in the 1970s. Men Against Sexism worked to protect new, and otherwise vulnerable, prisoners from sexual assault and other forms of gender oppression that prisoners were doing to each other. It was a different time back then, and these guys were celling together so they could organize better, and collecting donations from outside to purchase cells from other prisoners to house people who needed protection from the typical prison bullshit. MAS eliminated sexual assault in the Washington state system.(10) Imagine if you came together with other people in your facility to enact your own prisoner rape elimination campaign. What difference would that make for you and the people around you?
"Like prison groups today LADS focused on combating oppression and providing education for the imprisoned Chican@, and LADS also left us with some good examples to learn from. They created several serve the people programs in the pinta, for one they created a committee that worked with new prisoners, what we may call 'first termers' here in pintas in Califas. This was important because a new prisoner or 'fish' may be easy prey for some predator in prison. In this way youngsters were given revolutionary clecha once they entered the pinta by LADS 'O.G.'s.' LADS was comprised of prison vets who were politicized. Within LADS were many sub-committees such as the Committee to Assist Young People (CAYP), as well as a security committee called the Zapatistas. The LADS were anti-dope and combated drug use or sales in the pinta. They were not trying to poison the imprisoned Raza, rather they were trying to build the Raza."(11)
Protecting newcomers, sexual assault, and drugs are only some of the issues that prisoners have to take care of themselves. There are no petitions we can send you, and there's no one to appeal to to resolve these problems. Like our comrade at Telford Unit in Texas reported in ULK 59,
"My brothers in here have fallen victim to K2, which is highly addictive. They don't even care about the struggle. The only thing on their minds is getting high and that sas. I mean this K2 shit is like crack but worse. You have guys selling all their commissary, radios, fans, etc. just to get high. And all these pigs do is sit back and watch; this shit is crazy. But for the few of us who are K2-free I'm trying to get together a group to help me with the struggle."(12)
Nowadays conditions are a lot different in prisons than they were in the 1960s and 70s. Still, it's possible to build independent institutions to meet prisoners' needs. Bigger organizing happens in even worse conditions than the United $tates. There's no perfect set of conditions that need to be present in order to make a difference. It's a matter of choosing to do it ourselves. We want to report on and support these prisoner-led serve the people programs in ULK. So get to work, and send us your updates!
Educational Institutions and Public Opinion
ULK is a big part of how we build public opinion in favor of socialism, and in studying different movements and organizations, we saw that many failures are based in a lack of education and empowerment among the masses in society, or the organization's membership. Depth of political consciousness (and, related, correctness of political line) is arguably the number one reason why movements fail. Depth of analysis isn't about flashcards and pop quizzes. It's about "How to think, not what to think."
We've taken this to heart in our emphasis on educational programs. We run a number of different correspondence study groups, including a University of Maoist Thought for our advanced comrades. We run a Free Political Books for Prisoners Program, which isn't just about books, it's about books in service of our mission of liberating everyone, including the Third World proletariat, from imperialism. We don't do general book distribution because we want to liberate more than just individuals' minds. With our comrades' help, we develop study packs and distribute literature and study packs to prisoner-led study groups on the inside. We are really offering every format of political education we can through the mail, because this is such an important task in our work.
Besides the written word, there are many other channels for building public opinion. POOR Magazine and the Poor News Network (PNN) are independent institutions using events, rallies, and street theater in combination with the internet, radio, and videos to build public opinion in favor of oppressed-nation and lumpen struggles in the United $nakes. POOR Magazine runs a liberation school for children, and many, many other programs. POOR Magazine is funded independently from its own participants, events, and a donation program for individuals via Community Reparations. PNN goes hard on its line against capitalism, imperialism, and settlerism even with some funding from "reparators," which is the real measurement of independence.(13)
One radio program on the Poor News Network that especially builds public opinion for national liberation struggles and socialist revolution is Free Aztlán. Free Aztlán airs weekly and covers current issues concerning Raza and Chican@ communities. It has interviews, poetry, music, and even readings from the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán for people who don't or can't have a physical copy to reference. That PNN is willing to air a program like Free Aztlán says a lot about PNN, and we look forward to this program being a staple in our independent education institutions moving forward!(14)
Building public opinion isn't just about sharing information and exposing people to ideas. Applying our study to our conditions, we can help educate others in developing their own desire for socialism. It's an exercise in "Each One, Teach One." This was explained in our book review of Condemned by Bomani Shakur:
"The first theme addressed in 'Condemned' is the author's ideological transformation. MIM(Prisons)'s primary task at this point in the struggle is building public opinion and institutions of the oppressed for socialist revolution, so affecting others' political consciousness is something we work on a lot. On the first day of the [Lucasville] uprising, Bomani was hoping the state would come in to end the chaos. But 'standing there as dead bodies were dumped onto the yard (while those in authority stood back and did nothing), and then experience the shock of witnessing Dennis' death [another prisoner who was murdered in the same cell as the author], awakened something in me.' Bomani's persynal experiences, plus politicization on the pod and thru books, are what led em to pick up the struggle against injustice."(15)
We can't predict exactly what events, what books, or what conversations will spark the revolutionary fire in people. Everyone has their own unique journey into this work. Building independent institutions is one huge way we nourish and support that spark: empowering ourselves and others to do things to change our actual present conditions, while we build toward a socialist future.
First and foremost, we would like to thank ULK for being a platform to spread the message of prisoner united fronts and solidarity within these dungeons. ULK has been a big part of helping in reeducation and enlightenment. To us revolutionaries, who are the tip of the spear here in Colorado, ULK is a great tool. We hope this brief update gives encouragement to all of us conscious of our battle against capitalism, its social-control mechanism – mass incarceration – and use of prisons as modern day slave camps.
Here in Colorado, with hard work and much determination, many different groups have come to the realization of subversive tactics the state and badge engage in to divide and conquer. Exploiting gang rivalries, perpetuating violence by manufactured conflicts through "set-ups" of STG members, and at times, nation unrest. After years of watching the badge laugh it up, get pumped off the live action, replaying videos of their puppet mastery, enjoying their own pithy commentary for amusement, pursuing judicial redress (criminal convictions) for violence they made possible and encouraged, freely and gleefully using chemical warfare, tazers and non-lethal weaponry (for some reason these always seem to be headshots, although this is strictly against written policy!) — with the help of many different group leaders, violence between rivals, L.O.s has stopped, almost state-wide.
For us at the spear's tip, some critics recriminate and admonish – we've gone down in flames, being removed from population to areas sufficiently isolated; all our privileges (telephone, canteen, TV, visits, etc.) removed, subject to out-of-state transfer. The badge resort to textbook "cointelpro" tactics: spreading misinformation, rumors, delaying or stopping mail. Worker pigs, "porkers," trying to revitalize dessicated STG-conflicts to take the spotlight off of them. Any means necessary to escape the repercussions. But, out of the ashes has risen a mighty phoenix, one that has sent a cold chill down our oppressor's back.
We've demonstrated that real leadership is based in action, not handicapping our people, but rather in providing the knowledge, tools and freedoms to act. Setting examples of sacrifice, tenacity and hard work. Understanding that the struggle to change minds is hard even with the truth staring some in the face; some would rather desperately clutch at what's most familiar and be a stubborn hindrance to those of us conscious and progressing the movement. That is human nature, it will take patience. No matter how many obstacles, as long as you keep the big picture in your mind nothing else matters. Those of us answering the call must cherish that we will never know the comforts of the meek. It is a long, hard road, but we can be proud we are doing our part and did not look away. If we are not willing to risk the usual, we will have to settle for the ordinary. This would very much please capitalists and their contributors, were we to become subjugated.
Self-determination is our only path. Take up one cause (i.e. removing capitalism), make that one cause your life, think of it, dream of it, live on that cause, let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that cause, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. One or many defeats in battles do not constitute loss of the war; remember the big picture. Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. Of the latter there are two kinds who will tell you that you can not make a difference: 1) those who are afraid to try; and 2) those who fear you will succeed where they can not. (1)
We suggest, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong stumble, or where and how a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marked by dust, sweat, blood; who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the greater devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least, fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be among those cold, sententious, timid souls who have never known victory nor defeat.
To those who, like us revolutionaries here in Colorado, understand and struggle for a united prisoner movement: We tip our hats to you all. The fight is hard, and well worth the effort, sweat, blood, deprivations and temporary setbacks. Change is happening, change is coming.(2)
In ULK 68 we were asked to submit articles for the next five issues devoted to each of the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). One question asked "How can we build institutions of the oppressed behind bars?"
One sure way to achieve this is by direct exposure. As prisoners, we are all suffering under the same roof. Although there seems to be some issue concerning whites as not being considered as lumpen, this is surely just yet another example of the imperialists' subliminal divide-and-conquer tactic, set aside color, we are a race of inmates. But I digress, direct exposure: One of the easiest ways to build unity, and this does tie in to the statement above, is to universally teach.
And one way to do this is to sign up your fellow oppressed to receive information and education. Regardless if they read the material or not, by signing your brothers and sisters up to receive this publication, you are planting a seed. And the choice to water that seed lies in the receiver of the gift.
And by doing this, not only are you building the subscription list, you are also opening the door for people who may not have known of the possibilities of unity that UFPP can bring about. Although there are sure to be some that will not adhere to the education, there will be many that will. Being as we are all suffering, even the most hard-headed or ignorant still wants and needs solidarity, and can find this in Under Lock & Key.
The next question was "Why shouldn’t we just use the programs run by the U.$. government/police/prisons?" I may be interpreting this question wrong, but to me, in an effort of re-education, it is most beneficial to actually utilize programs run by the oppressors against them. We are at a distinct disadvantage here as prisoners, we lack funding, organization, means of communication, and sadly, education availability at large. This imperialist system of oppression has been deeply ingrained into society and has even bled into the foundations of our own prisons.
But by educating ourselves on the Rules & Regulations, and the Civil Rights and Constitutional Laws, we can effectively use their own words for our benefit. I personally have been raising lawsuits against the DOC in my prison for not following its own policies. My most recent success was in changing how the DOC's policy for "Step-Down Management Program" (SDMP) was operated.
SDMP for a long while was basically an extended disciplinary segregation sentence, served after completion of your actual discipline sentence. In Minnesota, the law had been that no prisoner could be subjected to more than 90 days of loss of good time for a single disciplinary offense, and the court ruled this to also mean that a single disciplinary offense could not result in a sentence of more than 90 days of disciplinary segregation.
The Minnesota DOC retaliated by the implementation of a program that they claimed "is not punishment," keeping prisoners in disciplinary segregation-like environments years after their actual discipline sentence was completed.
As a right of the U.$. Constitution, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law. And this program sought to deprive prisoners of property and liberty, with no due process. This was illegal. Thankfully, prison officials made placement on the program ungrievable, so there was no need to exhaust grievance remedies at all, and we could file suit directly according to Prison Litigation Reform Act standards.
Now, if you are on this SDMP, you actually get Ad-Seg privileges. The next step is fighting for no SDMP at all.
The last question was "What should be our priority for new independent programs?"
First and foremost: Education. It has been long proven that by forced ignorance of the majority, the minority can safely rule. By educating ourselves, we can defend ourselves.
Second: Promotion. By spreading the message of Unity to all available ears, we will find those who will listen. The pigs seek to silence us, so the more of us who hear the truth of peace and solidarity, the more our message will spread.
Third: Solidarity. We need to acknowledge that there is no other race in reality other than the human race. To accept and use other imperialistic-created class names or distinctions serves only to take away from our true mission. By this I do not mean to disparage your ancestry, or your own personal heritage or ethnicity. I mean only to convey the truth our universal brotherhood of humanity, by washing away castes, sets, class, etc. We are all in this together, all for one, and one for all.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for unity of all behind bars. And we echo that call in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and all of our organizing work. We want to encourage this comrade to go deeper in eir analysis around distinctions of class and nation. We vehemently agree that race is a made-up concept that only serves the interests of imperialists to keep us divided from each other. At the same time, in looking at material reality through the lens of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we see oppressed and oppressor nations, and we see exploiter and exploited classes. Talking about these distinctions isn't a problem for our work. It's when people take on these distinctions as part of their identity and in an chauvinistic manner that it's a problem.
So for example we wouldn't call for unity with the imperialist bourgeoisie because we know they have no basis for uniting with us. Similarly, while we call on all prisoners to unite against the criminal injustice system, we recognize that there is a very real historical basis for the vastly disproportionate number of First Nation, New Afrikan and Chican@ prisoners. And this national oppression provides a material basis for national unity to fight against the oppressor nation which has benefited from imperialism and national oppression. We can't just wish away these distinctions because they exist with years of reinforcement through economic, educational, and cultural oppression. So we must consciously address this reality. Only with this honest assessment of conditions can we build unity across nations and classes behind bars.
We continue to try to keep abreast of developments in relation the Non-Designated "Programming" Facilities (NDPFs). And while MIM(Prisons) and USW have seen this as a potential opportunity to push our campaign to breakdown divisions between G.P. and SNY, most of our readers have recognized the integration as an attempt to create violent situations by the state.(1) Below are some reports that we have received recently on how this is playing out on the ground.
"I am a G.P. prisoner and only want to finish my time with G.P. prisoners. My family feels the same. We are being forced to be put in bad situations where they now have used STG (Security Threat Group) status. On 15 February 2019 me and many others were not part of a riot at RJ Donovan in San Diego. We have been in Ad-Seg ever since; limited to $55 at the store, 1 hour behind the glass no contact visits, three hours every other day yard, every other day showers. Locked all day in a cell. No disrespect but my family wants me to program as a mainline G.P. prisoner and not abuse the system like EOPs or SNYs. They all have their own real problems that I would like to remain away from."
We're not sure what this persyn means by "abuse the system like EOPs or SNYs." But we will reiterate that we do not take sides here. We have very good comrades in all types of prisons in California, and there is all kinds of bullshit happening in all places, as comrades in this issue of ULK allude to. Last issue, we heard the other side of the coin where more conscious comrades are being sent to NDPFs as a form of punishment.(2) While many NDPFs are not succumbing to the inter-prisoner violence that everyone feared, conditions are still problematic, and "programming" is reportedly non-existent.
From California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, a comrade reported on 1 May 2019:
"I was transferred from Centinela level 3 to SATF level 2 50/50 yard or so-called Non-Designated Program Facility (NDPF). Well, I will say the transition from SNY to an NDPF was an easy one here at SATF, but to call this a program facility is a stretch. They run a split tier type program, and night yard or dayroom is non-existent for the most part (on F yard, I don't know about the others). If they run program at all, it won't be until after 8pm to 9:15 with only 2 phones. It leaves only 8 sign up spots for 88 people so you can see the problem when you only get 3 night dayrooms a week. Prop. 57 said they were sending lifers to level 2 for more access to family and more program, well this isn't happening, not here anyway. Our MAC chairman just becomes a yes man to the free staff.(3) As you know, when you limit someone's family contact it causes stress and stress leads to violence. All of this is an easy fix but it doesn't seem to be going in that direction, not here anyway."
Finally, we heard reports on 15 August 2019 of a riot in Soledad State Prison in other press outlets. There were a reported 200 prisoners involved, 60 injured, and 8 had to be taken offsite for medical attention. Supporters in touch with prisoners at Soledad blame the practice of "gladiator fight" setups, where prisoners who are known to have beef are let out of their cell one-by-one to recreation. We have not read of Soledad being a NDPF, but we have never had much of a base there either.
As we approach September 9th, we reiterate the call for peace and reconciliation in California prisons. Though comrades will not get this issue of ULK until after September 9th, this struggle to weaken the biggest divide among the imprisoned lumpen in California continues. The Agreement to End Hostilities was a step in the right direction, and we must keep moving that way by including more sectors of the prison population into the United Front for Peace in Prisons.
A quick thought on the topic in ULK 68, overcoming the gangsta mentality. I'll say first that like most of U this topic and the well-written articles by all the contributing comrades was very personal and thought-provoking to me. Reason being, I entered imprisonment 8 cycles ago as a 20-years-old die-hard gang-banga. I was ignorant to the brutal truths of the world and basically I was lost in the sauce. In all the ways imaginable I dedicated and sacrificed self for the "turf," Naybahood," and my "cuzzins."
At 21 I blew trial, narrowly missed Texas's legal murder machine (death row), yet wasn't so lucky to miss the alphabets (LWOP). Initially while in prison I went on mental auto-pilot. Physically existing yet emotionally dead. I continued to build my reputation by further acts of self-destructive behavior until I was quickly placed in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg).
It was here where I initiated my journey and courses of auto-didactic education. Through constant trial and error, learning, practicing, and relearning I've matured and with maturity and education (direction) I've learned to redirect the gangster mentality towards more productive revolutionary actions. The education acted as a fan to the fire that had been simmering. Understand, every gangster, or criminal, is a rebel to some extent. However a committed revolutionary is a notch above simple rebellion. This is why juvenile facilities and prisons are breeding grounds for radical revolutionary potential.
Like comrade and beloved ancestor George Jackson said, "That's the principal contradiction of monopoly capital's oppressive contract. The system produces outlaws." The so-called "criminal" is by nature a rebel and an outlaw, yet generally this type of individual lacks the direction and vision that should be provided by a vanguard group. However, this particular type of persyn is highly susceptible to internalizing revolutionary concepts and when/if this persyn ever commits themselves to the cause of the community of the world they will be a productive weapon for revolution.
It is for this exact reason why one should not attempt to "overcome" the "gangster" mentality. Instead redirect that mentality. Remaining disciplined will be a struggle yet the strong will carry on. It is no wonder nor coincidence that during the history of the inner-city survival groups within black colonies each has had a period of political consciousness. This occurred while many damus and rip-ridaz were held kkkaptive by the police state. One may note such consciousness taking form and awakening and more politicized formation(s). Gangster Disciples elevate to Growth and Development and there are many other examples. One must encourage would-be comrades to elevate the formation that is already dear to them by taking the communist road. As the comrade Pili expressed "I realized how my varrio will always be my varrio, my homies always my homies ... But to liberate Aztlán it will take more than being a rebel."(1)
The message to the lumpen should be to mold themselves through political education into the highest functionality of their persyn, and become the guiding light to elevate their org, nationhood, etc. through active revolutionary tactics. This road has worked for me persynally in my own journey as well as during teaching moments. A rev doesn't have to be a saint nor priest. A rev need only to possess an amount of awareness and conviction accompanied by the knowledge to pursue the most productive means to victory.
Gratitude to all the ancestors, present comrades, politikal prisoners and any and all who've ever sacrificed to further the reality of liberation. Peace and respect to u all from I ur comrade in struggle.
by a South Carolina prisoner August 2019 permalink
When I think of unity, I think of "together." It doesn't matter your sex, race, religion, organization, age, or where you're from. Unity is putting all our differences aside, coming together to focus on the bigger situation. Like the saying "there's strength in numbers." If we're constantly battling against each other, how can we ever focus on the root of the problem?
I'm currently incarcerated in Ridgeville, South Carolina at Lieber Correctional Institution. I'm not a part of any organization, but I've learned about a movement going on throughout the yard, promoting "peace" as well as "unity." An older brother told me about the movement from my cell door, and he explained that you shake hands with 2 fingers, meaning "together" and "peace." Then I moved to another unit, where brothers are throwing up the peace sign passing by in the unit, and hollering out "peace" from across the unit. Now, I find myself peacing up brothers, and after reading ULK 68, I find myself peacing up brothers more than I used to. After reading ULK 68 I was impressed with the movement, and was eager to promote peace as well as unity, considering myself a leader, as well as being looked up to, as respected.
I began telling brothers about ULK, MIM(Prisons) and USW movements, and I'm dying to receive a copy of the next newsletter. To educate myself, as well as share to educate other brothers as I was educated by another leader about this movement. I'm in the process of putting something together on the oppression going on right here at Lieber, so I promise you'll be hearing from me again soon. Thanks, as well, for voicing our concerns, conditions, and struggles behind these walls, that the public never knew, knew and didn't care, or didn't believe what goes on back here.
In the past several weeks propaganda actions have been carried out by revolutionaries in several cities as a response to massive immigrant round-ups and abuses against both interned migrants and prisoners by the imperialist u.$. state.
Several weeks ago in Atlanta, GA, local Maoists associated with the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) attended a march in solidarity with prisoners at the Dekalb County Jail facing extreme abuse. Prisoners were being denied proper food, beaten and tortured by guards, and barred from communicating with those outside to prevent a leak of information on abuses. The event was called by the Anarchist Black Cross after the public circulation of an image of an inmate holding a plate with the message "Please help, we dying, need food" written on it, along with complaints from the mother of an inmate at the jail. Due to anarchist leadership, the march was poorly organized and vulnerable to police violence, but demonstrators persisted and the marchers made it to the prison in spite of police pressure. Maoists distributed issues of Under Lock and Key to demonstrators and discussed the capitalist-imperialist roots of prison conditions. Once at the jail, demonstrators were attacked by police while burning an amerikan flag and attempting to communicate with prisoners in the jail. One prisoner broke a window and attempted to throw an object with a message written on it to protesters, but it was seized by guards. Police acted swiftly to disperse protesters with batons and excessive violence, arresting 4 demonstrators.
More recently in Atlanta, comrades attended another demonstration in support of immigrants harassed by ICE in a new sustained campaign of raids and deportations launched by the imperialist Trump administration. Specifically, the protests were sparked by the plans to build a new ICE detention facility in the city, and demonstrations had been planned to take place for several weeks to prevent it. Maoists distributed agitational materials in both english and spanish that summarized recent events from a Maoist perspective, and urging opposition to reject liberal so-called progressives such as those in various NGOs and the Democratic Party, proven enemies of the people, for their treacherous and pro-imperialist politics. Comrades also carried signs that read End to Ice, Power to the People, Hasta La Victoria Siempre! Other protesters held signs that read No one is illegal on stolen land! and Ice Freezes out Humanity!
In Binghamton, NY, Maoists attended a demonstration at the Broome County Jail, where prison officials were denying medical care to prisoners resulting in the deaths of at least 10 individuals since 2011. Comrades spoke with fellow demonstrators about jail conditions and distributed issues of Under Lock and Key, most of whom responded positively and were excited to see content written by and for revolutionary prisoners. Additionally, comrades discussed the plans to utilize the jail as a detention facility for migrants on their way to larger ICE facilities.
Later, comrades in Binghamton distributed issues of the Progressive Anti-War Bulletin around the local campus and elsewhere in the city, which covered u.$. imperialist aggression abroad as well as the war on immigrants and network of concentration camps currently run by ICE. At the university many showed interest in the content of the bulletin, but one "radical" liberal student group dismissed its content in a focused anti-communist campaign, demonstrating the liberal contempt for peace and support for imperialism. Off-campus, another bulletin was vandalized, but generally its message was well received, especially when delivered directly.
In Springfield, MA, Maoists agitated against ICE raids and the network of spies that assisted them. Flyers criticized liberal capitulationism and pro-imperialism, while pointing out Maoism as the only conceivable path to liberation for the masses held at gunpoint by ICE and the neo-fascist thugs that aid them. Flyers detailing amerikan abuses in Puerto Rico were also distributed, criticizing both u.$. imperialism and their lackeys on the island and in Puerto Rican communities on the mainland. The flyers, as well as the comrades who had distributed them, were mentioned on the local radio station on two separate occasions, including in a discussion with a man from the Sheriff's office, who chided Maoist propaganda as "misguided youth" that will "soon come to understand how the world works" and presumably give up their task. In spite of reactionary sentiments aired on the radio, none are willing to give up their task to agitate for revolution, for they already know "how the world works" and it is precisely this which motivates them to continue.
Peace to all the Gods that's stuck in these chains. I would like to speak power to the truth. I'm a young God in prison, but I feel there is a need for U$ Afrikans on these prison yards to focus more on building up a school than to focus on these prison politrix. What will the curriculum be in this school??? Knowledge of Self (KOS)! Why?? Well my son, that's a question asked most by the 85 and less by the 5ive%. It's a necessity for U$ to gain this truth about ourselves and all of our stolen greatness, to remind ourselves who you really are: "Original Man."
Because the majority of U$ are living in a bunch of lies, believing the blood suckas and what we've been taught by them; the trick-knowledge, weak wisdom, slick-understanding enslaved our mind frames believing since I was born and came from the trenches I have to depend on the United $nakes government for GR, Section 8, SSI, EBT, etc. to live and function as a citizen.
Wake up, that's wrong G. See this issue we focus on the topic at hand, which is "Independence." That's 1 of our 5 principles in the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Correct and Exact. So we don't need no government assistance in building up a school, we just need brothers who are dedicated to show up to cipher, getting these lessons Father Allah gave U$ Gods. It's all about chain of command with the system. If custody sees brothers coming to cipher they should have no problem getting our cell doors unlocked for school. Word is Bond.
Is it possible to defeat gangster mentality in ourselves? The short answer is: Yes. There is plenty of solid individuals who have turned their back on the thug life and criminal thinking. But, is that what is needed when building a revolutionary cadre organization? Instead, perhaps we should attempt to harness and direct our vision of revolutionary social force into a hammer to first shatter the old imperialist system. And then from the ashes and rubble shape a new and better society that will serve the masses free of exploitation.
As members of the revolutionary cadre organization, each of us has to be a leader, a teacher, an activist, a soldier and represent the future by our conduct. Individual members must take the initiative to bring together various organizations for a united front. For this to happen our members have to think beyond their neighborhood, set or clique. All of us are already soldiers of battles that take place right under the nose of pigs. The system does not care if we kill each other. Actually they encourage warfare between lumpen organizations. When we fight each other we do their job for them.
Fight the imperialist system by making peace in prison and on the street. Educate the young, think on an international level, and lead by example. Evolve from a gangster into a hardcore communist revolutionary. Consider your time fighting for your neighborhoods as basic training for the real battle yet to come.
There's this old reggae song that says "They always use one of us to bring us down." That totally fits the assbackward movement that is going on in the New Afrikan community at California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr).
It's completely redundant and pitiful for these watered-down O.G.s and paperback shotcallers to be instructing their own kind to be attacking each other in 2019, following the politrix [of powerful L.O.s outside the nation]. New Afrikans have enough trouble expressing their Uhuru (freedom) from being oppressed by this racist system.
We have come too far to start going assbackward to start helping the pigs with ridiculous rules and regulations out of fear. The same exact shit Afrikans have been fighting against for the past 40 years is now taking effect to control the entire New Afrikan Community.
The New Afrikan man/woman has the right to go wherever they please. This ain't no sugar-coated dictatorship. Unity and Peace starts with all of us respecting each others' manhood and personal decisions. This is no reality check that the Latino and the Caucasian is the enemy. No! The oppressor is the enemy and anybody working with him.
It's funny because most of these smacks got life telling young Afrikans they gotta do this they gotta do that. How bout you got 90 days to take off on the pigs since you trying to politik, coward?
All it is is a way for us to start going backwards all over again. I smell bacon! These cats are scary and they'll do anything for some zoom zoom and wham whams (AKA cellphones and dope). Going nowhere hella fast whatever faction you represent; Blood, Crip, etc, etc. All of them started as positive, constructive organizations to better the New Afrikan community.
We're New Afrikans because We were stolen from Afrika and brought to a new land. We broke from slavery with a new perspective to be free and to manifest our own destiny. G.P. wanna tell SNY what to do or how to live but ain't none of them politikin against the pigs. Ain't none of them taking off on them either. They're still using one of us to bring us down in Kalifornia.
by a North Carolina prisoner August 2019 permalink
In 2018, North Carolina prisoners answered South Carolina prisoners' call out coordinating amongst each other in multiple states alongside outside supporters, agitators and Anarchist Black Cross by organizing their POW movement (prisoners of the world).
Three prisoners [names removed] staged a peaceful protest with the support of over 300 prisoners and outside public supporters. They even hung signs on the prison fence made out of sheets. Meanwhile nearly 100 public protesters piled out of dozens of cars, vans, and SUVs, armed with bullhorns, signs, and drums in solidarity with the prisoners while perimeter guards trained loaded firearms at the prisoners and the supporters. Then prisoners submitted a list of demands:
Establish parole for lifers who demonstrate rehabilitation
End life sentences
End all 85% mandatory minimum sentences
End long-term solitary confinement
Abolish article 1, section 17 of the constitution of NC which permits slavery to those convicted of crime through the 13th amendment of the U.$. constitution
End $10 administrative fees for the guilty disposition of a write up or rule violation
Better food with real beef
Better health and dental care
Allow prisoners to purchase JP4 players/notebooks
End security threat group policies that restrict contact visits with their wives, children and fiances
Fair wages for our slave labor
End exaggerated censorship policies
More meaningful rehabilitation and educational opportunities
The following day, on 21 August 2018, prisoners at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Raleigh went on strike, refusing to eat our work, followed by prisoners at Craggy Correctional Center. Then reports began flooding mainstream media that thousands of prisoners across the U.$. were joining the international prison strike in solidarity with the POW movement.
The organizers were then each transferred to separate super maximum security prisons and charged for inciting a riot with the exception of [name removed] who was sent to Butner, NC to a prison that is so violent and popular for 5-on-1 fascist beatings that prisoners call it "baby Guantanamo Bay." After 8 months of cruel and harsh treatment with reports of fascists putting glass in food and feces in another, prisoners [two names removed], with the help of public support, organized their national grievance day calling on all NC prisoners and any similarly situated prisoner in other states who are affected by this oppressive rule to join them and file grievances against their director in their state to end the oppressive rule that prohibits anyone in the public from sending a prisoner money unless that person is an approved visitor on the prisoner's visit list.
As a result of this new restrictive discriminating policy, many prisoners whose families are poor and of color, who don't have identification or transportation to visit a particular prisoner to show em support, now cannot send the prisoner any money. This has resulted in a scarcity of funds to go around resulting in an uptick of gang violence and rule violations. For example, prisoners who can't hustle for money due to no artistic skills or other lacking reasons and whose family can't send them any money for hygiene, food, stamps or phone time now are forced to have their families send money gram, western union, square cash app or greendots to pay inside drug dealers for K-2, CBD, marijuana, suboxone, heroine, or other drugs that they can easily sell in order just to survive.
So in response to this intrusive rule, on 21 May 2019 both men and women prisoners stood together in solidarity and sent in more than 15,000 administrative grievances against the NC prison director. Then on 1 June 2019 North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) reported receiving more than 100,000 phone calls and emails from angry families and supporters internationally backing up email servers and phone lines nearly causing their site to crash, urging the director to repeal his 5 February 2019 Jpay rule. One outside organizer spoke with the public affairs office and reported that "there was an ongoing investigation and the director will be looking into it."
Outside activists and supporters are reporting good feedback from the NCDPS, and folks behind bars. Also an art gallery in New York contacted organizers from itsgoingdown.org and is asking for NC-specific art around this extension of our POW movement and wants to get behind NC prisoners to support them.
With the 21 May 2019 national grievance day, in addition, prisoners are beginning to coordinate amongst each other in multiple states, and working with outside supporters; word of the coordinated action has now spread all over the country.
Supreme Court shut down Prisoner Organizing
For nearly 40 years, prisoners in North Carolina have avoided the political arena surrounding prisoner rights ever since the United $tates Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Jones v. NC prisoners labor union, inc. 433 u.s. 119, 129 97 S.ct 2532, 53 L.Ed 26, 629 (1977), preventing NC prisoners from unionizing, meetings and solicitation of membership.
The union formed in late 1974 with a stated goal of "the promotion of charitable labor union purposes" and the formation of a "prisoners labor union at every prison and jail in NC to seek through collective bargaining... to improve... working... conditions..." It also proposed to work towards the alteration or elimination of practices and policies of the Department of Corrections (DOC) which it did not approve of and to serve as a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of prisoner grievances. By early 1975 the union had attracted some 2000 prisoner members in 40 different prison units throughout NC.
The state of NC, unhappy with these developments, set out to prevent prisoners from forming or operating a union. While the state tolerated individual "membership," or belief, in the union, it sought to prohibit prisoner solicitation of other prisoners, meetings between members or the union, and bulk mailings concerning the union from outside sources. So on 26 March 1975 the DOC (now North Carolina Department of Public Safety - NCDPS) prohibited that activity.
Since prisoners were on notice of the proscription prior to its enactment, they filed suit in the U.$. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of NC. That was on 18 March 1975, approximately a week before the date upon which the regulation was to take effect. The union claimed that its rights of its members to engage in protected free speech association and assembly activities were being infringed by the no-solicitation and no-meeting rules.
The district court felt that since the defendants countenanced the bare foot of union membership, it had to allow the solicitation activity, whether by prisoners or by outsiders and held "we are unable to perceive why it is necessary or essential to security and order in the prisons to forbid solicitation of membership in a union permitted by the authorities. This is not a case of a riot. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that the union has been utilized to disrupt the operation of the penal institution." The warden appealed to the fourth circuit who also agreed with prisoners. The warden appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who reversed the 4th circuit's decision.
The court deferred to the warden's conclusions that the presence and objectives of a prisoners' labor union would be detrimental to order and security in the prisons. The court held those conclusions had not been conclusively shown to be wrong in this view, and that when weighed against the First Amendment rights asserted, these institutional reasons are sufficiently weighty to prevail. In sum, the court's decision established that the institutional interest of the prison outweighs a prisoner's constitutional rights. The rulings in Jones, in hindsight, defined prisoners' status as "prisoners" and eliminated prisoners' rights to free association and essentially paved the future for correctional czars to place iron curtains between the First Amendment and prisoners with impunity.
Punished for writing a letter to organizers
Update: On 12 June 2019 and still claiming actual innocence as to why ey's in prison. Prisoner [name removed] was in eir cell writing organizers when a sergeant and two prison guards entered eir cell for a search. During the search one of the prison guards picked up the letter and began reading it. The prisoner was handcuffed and charged for inciting a riot for simply stating in his letter to outside supporters and organizers "thank you for helping put NC prisoners on the map and for giving prisoners a voice on May 21, 2019 and June 1, 2019 as we continue to bring our collective struggles to the battlefront. I look forward to the 2020 strike calling on all us prisoners to stand in solidarity to demand an end to slavery in prisons and to restore our freedoms."
At this time, this prisoner was scheduled to receive eir first visit in 11 years from eir sister who has no criminal record and who had been unapproved for no reason and was finally approved. Unfortunately, eir sister drove over 8 hours to visit and took vacation time plus a portion of eir husband's disability money to cover the expenses. What's worse is that eir son was just accepted at university which puts an even worse financial strain on the family. Meanwhile this prisoner remains in administrative segregation and faces another 8 month long-term lock up. While in lock up ey accused prison guards of putting feces in eir tea and poisoning eir food. Ey reported having diarrhea, vomiting blood, inability to hold down food, weakness, shakes, hallucinations, hot-cold sweats, stomach pain and dry heaving. Ey has since recovered after two weeks on a self-induced diet of milk.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are some important lessons in this report from North Carolina. First, the restriction on organizing and even just basic free speech of prisoners is pervasive. It takes the format of transferring or charging with crimes prisoners who initiate protests or even complaints against conditions behind bars. But it is also codified by the courts in rulings like the prohibition of union organizing. These laws and actions amount to telling prisoners that they must accept any and all oppressive conditions, that the so-called "rights" of U.$. citizenship do not apply to them.
We can take inspiration from this oppression. While the threats and retaliation will scare some out of taking action, revolutionaries will understand that our actions must be effective if we have frightened the prison and legal system into enacting rules and policies to stop our organizing work. And so we must continue! These organizers in North Carolina are continuing in the face of serious repression, and providing an example of determination and perseverance for others.
Whether your work is focused on educating others, or directly taking on repressive actions by the administration, it can all contribute to building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. This United Front challenges the criminal injustice system through the unity of the oppressed behind bars. We need more stories like this one about the battles being waged. And for those looking to get involved, write to us for resources, educational materials, and support for your struggles.
by a South Carolina prisoner August 2019 permalink
I want to touch base on the fellow Damu comrade April 2019 "Konfused Gangster Mentality" in ULK 68.(1) I am in total agreement with that author. We as Damus who are incarcerated as a whole are oppressing ourselves, people, and nation. For two decades I've been a Damu under the UBN and for the last 10 years the Damu nation has been watered down. Askaris not fully overstanding the concept of our way of life. There's no way we override oppression and in the same sentence we oppressing the oppressed.
Leaders of the Damu tribes are recruiting but not fully teaching. We bang 5 watts and I see so many askaris falling prey to the trick tyrants are creating. We as Damus must get organized and truly contribute to our Uhuru by any means necessary. I agree with the askari "Damu on Damu is a Double O Banga" not just beef within our nation but with others as well.
The United Front for Peace in Prisons is a structure for unity to stand against imperialism. Damus aren't oppressors, we are Black leaders, therefore we must lead ourselves, people, and nation. To the many Damus askaris in imperial-Amerikkka we must unite within our nation and come together to assist with those who are making changes. Oppression works by turning us against the oppressed, never against the oppressor. A gangsta is one who uses his intelligence. Peace.
At the latest Democratic Party debate among candidates for U.$. President, Tulsi Gabbard made headlines by appealing to emerging views on the criminal injustice system among younger Amerikans. Ey did so in attacks on former California District Attorney Kamala Harris. Gabbard focused on two issues of particular interest to the petty bourgeoisie: drug decriminalization and prison labor.
Senator Gabbard opened eir comments by expressing concerns for the "broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting Black and Brown people all over this country." Ey went on to say that Harris "kept people beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California" and condemned Harris for imprisoning people for marijuana possession and then laughing when ey was asked if ey had ever smoked it.
The prison labor point was specifically about concerns Harris's office raised about losing firefighters if they complied with court orders to reduce the prison population.(1) The court had ruled that overcrowding in the state had led to cruel and unusual punishment. As we've established in our own surveys and research, most prison labor is for the state, and most of it is to maintain the prisons themselves. Fire fighters are the exception in terms of the important role their work plays in protecting humyn life, and no doubt Harris's legal team was playing that up at a time when wildfires were a major headline in California. But the fire fighters are typical in that they are not producing value or part of the profit-making of private corporations.
Prison labor (and the privatization of prisons) has been an ongoing issue of concern for Amerikans in the age of mass incarceration. MIM(Prisons) has long demonstrated that there is a myth that exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration in this country.(2) It is important to point out that the petty-bourgeois obsession with this myth is largely based in class interests. On the one hand there is a fear among the labor aristocracy about competition with prison labor resulting in lower wages and higher unemployment. This has been the major political barrier that explains why prison labor for profit is so rare in the United $tates. More generally, there is a contradiction between the petty bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie that causes the former to be skeptical and fearful of the latter, because the petty bourgeoisie favors small-scale capitalism. This results in a general sentiment against corporations profiting off prison labor, even without the direct concern of wages. In a recent campaign ad, Gabbard condemns private prisons for profiting off prisoners.
Drug decriminalization is also very popular among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie, in particular the movement to decriminalize marijuana. In 2016, Pew Research found 57% of Amerikans supported legalization of marijuana compared to just 12% in 1969.(3) And the younger generations were more favorable of course. In this case, public opinion is based in class interests around economics and leisure time. While there is a financial interest in the booming legal economy of marijuana products for young Amerikans, the broader public opinion is based in leisure-time interests.
The movement to legalize weed will often give lip service to condemning the blatant racism in many U.$. drug sentencing laws, similar to Gabbard's opening statement against Harris's criminal injustice record (above). Yet the scale of your average weed festival/rally versus that of the size of your average protest against torture (of primarily New Afrikan and Chican@ men) tells a clearer story. These reformists for persynal freedoms of the petty bourgeois individual are not going to do anything about national oppression in the form of targetted arrests, sentencing, concentration camps and torture chambers that make up the U.$. criminal injustice system.
MIM has long used the "Willie Horton"-style of campaigning as an example of Amerikans support for national oppression, especially of New Afrikans.(5) While "tough-on-crime" politics is finally waning, we have yet to see whether Amerika can really start to decrease its prison population now that the infrastructure and economic self-interest has been built up around it.(6) Beyond that, the national question is only more at the forefront today, with Amerikans chanting "send them back" at a recent rally held by current President Trump, where they were calling for female Senators who are not white to be sent back to the countries their ancestors came from.
It is important to be aware of these shifts, as they may provide opportunities for the anti-imperialist prison movement. But there has been no change in the overall orientation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement that sees nation as the principal contradiction both internationally and within the United $tates. We continue to organize with the medium-term goals of building dual power and independent institutions of the oppressed and the long-term goal of national liberation and delinking from imperialism.
Today a lieutenant pig walked to the cell next door and the prisoner explained to the pig that ey was in Ad-Seg for assaulting another prisoner. The high ranking pig said "as long as you don't assault staff we're cool." And then ey walked away. I had to use much mental discipline to overcome emotion; understanding that this same misguided emotion has kept me and my comrades in these Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Ad-Seg torture chambers for years.
Our kites are ignored, we have practically no access to grievances and it is only those strong in self-discipline who abstain from physical retaliation. Tactics I have often used to no avail.
There is a strong revolutionary presence in this Jefferson City Correctional Center Koncentration Kamp. Young comrades who, like myself, are gang affiliated yet well-studied and ready to stand up for a change. All we lack is an effective strategy that can truly unite us all. All I lack is the knowledge to properly form a United Struggle Within.
I am open to corrections, ideas and strategies from comrades and political prisoners more experienced and advanced than myself.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is providing an example for all, by contributing regular work writing and producing revolutionary art. We have sent em lots of letters and other material, but it appears to be largely censored. So, much respect for staying active in spite of this censorship. We print this letter to encourage others to speak on this topic. By sending in regular reports on your organizing you can contribute to United Struggle from Within's knowledge of conditions on the ground and strategizing efforts. There is much to learn through practice in action.
On our side of the bars, MIM(Prisons) offers revolutionary education classes (study groups), political literature, and resources to help form study groups behind bars, and other organizing guides. But this support isn't that helpful if we can't get it past the censors. This underscores the importance of our battles against censorship.
I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.
The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.
There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.
So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.
Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.
This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.
Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.
I would like to inform the supporters, comrades and my fellow brothers throughout the world, plus also in the "Amerikan Prison System," that we must be watchful of our message that we are attempting to give and spread to those who very well needs it. The ULK article that was titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" was deemed to be a threat to the Morgan County Correctional Facility. So it was rejected by the mailroom staff. This decision was upheld by the "Security Threat Group" coordinator, and by the final decision of the head warden.
The article was said to be written by a supposed gang member who has ties to the Bloods street gang. It was said by the prison officials that the way the word “confused” is spelled as "Konfused." But also that the word "Damu" that's a part of our Afrikan native people spoken language, that many of our slave ancestors spoke called Swahili. This was brought to the land of Amerika by the Afrikan slaves, who spoke Swahili and also many other Afrikan language dialects.
Even today across the great land of Amerika, you can hear Swahili spoken throughout many major cities as common language by "Afrikan Amerikans." Many may greet one another in such of a way for all to hear. "I love you Damu of my Damu!" Let me translate "I love you Blood of my Blood!" Because for we as Afrikan Amerikans we share something in common. That our people was stolen, kidnapped and then shipped across the Atlantic, during which millions of people died while being transported.
Now when we are attempting to speak to brothers, sisters, supporters, plus comrades through the ULK, we must choose and use our words wisely in our articles, so the law enforcers won't be offended. Because here at Morgan County CF they have a long history of being taught to be racist, prejudiced, biased and abusive by assaulting prisoners while being in restraints. Yeah they're country boyz here at this facility. They don't want prisoners awoken and told what they should be doing against their oppressors. Because that would mean that these coward "Correctional Officers" would be getting their ass kicked left and right when they do things to us in a wrongful act.
And last, but not least, it was said by the STG coordinator here that he didn't like that the article titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" used the word pig to describe law enforcers. I myself thought it was funny, because this same STG coordinator at MCCF, he has witnessed his co-workers partake and possibly himself also in one or two of the foul acts I mention above.
Now we know that this is an ongoing problem that's not confined to the prison system; it also is happening in our streets of Amerika. The law enforcers are killing unarmed black males at an alarming rate as they did in 1950s thru the 1960s when our true brothers and sisters known as the Black Panthers became aware of the problems and began to form a movement to deal with them.
If you are affiliated with a gang my brother, keep your gang slang, your dissing ways toward another gang out of the ULK. Because these swine are always looking for ways to stop such articles and paper from entering into the prison systems. And that goes for being straight forward when it comes to speaking on dealing with the law enforcers. And being behind enemy lines without the system knowing that it has been infiltrated by us in all forms. Then more damage can be done against who we are fighting. This simple, but effective technique has been used by the oppressed through the world.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a difficult question for those of us working to expose the criminal injustice system. We want our publication to get in to our readers behind bars. We also want to print the truth. And we want to use language that inspires and empowers our readers. This truth and this language sometimes leads to censorship. We try to walk the line, always printing the truth, but choosing our language carefully when there is an alternate word that means the same thing and can prevent censorship. We can be thoughtful about what words we put out front.
We also need to take on these censorship battles and use them to expose the prison system, and the lack of free speech under imperialism. Like this writer, we need to appeal censorship when it happens. And when you appeal, if you inform MIM(Prisons) of the censorship we will also write an appeal as distributor of the publication. Even if we don't win these appeals, we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention to their rule breaking. Often the words and articles they cite as reason for censorship wouldn't pass a review by the courts. We need to remind them of these laws. If you don't have a copy of our guide to fighting censorship, write in to request one.
Scott Daniel Warren faces 20 years in prison for his volunteer work distributing food and water to migrants in Arizona. Warren works with the group No More Deaths to aid migrants crossing the border in the Arizona desert. For this work, and for providing a place for two men to sleep, Warren was charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of felony conspiracy. Eir trial ended on June 11 with a hung jury.
Warren was arrested in January 2018 along with other No More Deaths volunteers. The arrests came just hours after the group released video of border patrol agents destroying jugs of water left in the desert for migrants. This case isn't closed yet; federal prosecutors may choose to retry Warren.
The Arizona desert is one of the deadliest places for migrants to cross the border due to the extreme heat. But people are forced to this area by the 1994 Clinton era "Prevention Through Deterrence" policy aimed at making border crossings more deadly. The idea was to force crossings over more hostile terrain, putting more lives in danger, to discourage migrants from attempting the journey. Metrics of the plan's success included "deaths of aliens." By that measure, the plan has been a success. The total number of people attempting the crossing has dropped but the odds of dying have gone way up.(1)
Hundreds of migrants are found dead every year. Trump's border policies are just a continuation of the anti-immigrant policies of all Amerikan imperialist administrations, including Obama. Closed borders maintain a cheap source of labor and natural resources for the imperialists. This preserves wealth for those within at the expense of poverty for those on the outside. Migrant deaths are just one result of these borders. Fighting the Trump border wall is a distraction from the real problem. Fight borders not walls. Open the borders; return the stolen wealth to occupied nations at home and around the world.
First we must begin with asking why do we have a gangster mentality? It is because we know we are under attack, and the form of warfare is oppression and prejudice. We act in a way of gangster mentality because we know we must defend ourselves, and our minds from such attacks. Therefore, we are defensive. That is where the mind frame stimulates from.
We are active in battle on these streets because we are no fools, we know survival is at stake. Although street and hoodlum affairs keep every gangster blind to which war we should really be fighting; our focus should not be going against a gangster’s mind, our focus should remain on ending all attacks so that a gangster no longer has to pay any mind.
The best way to begin re-defining toughness, is through understanding; by first accepting every man for who he is, as he is. It isn’t the gangster that needs to change, what needs to change are the threats against us that have made us what we are.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the system of oppression that breeds the gangster mentality. Understanding where people's mindset comes from is a good first step to changing that mindset. And as this writer reminds us, we shouldn't blame people for the culture that created them. The next step is transforming this lumpen outlook into a revolutionary outlook. And that's the long-term struggle that we're taking on in prisons right now. Conscious comrades behind bars can step up and build by educating others. We can focus on building peace between lumpen organizations through the United Front for Peace in Prisons. And through this peace we can turn our warfare on the real enemy, the criminal injustice system.
Here in California, the Agreement to End Hostilities has ushered in a new era for all of us behind bars and on the streets. Prison yards in California are a laboratory for society at large. If we can do it here then so goes the rest of the country. It's not easy to undo racial antipathy, but we are doing it here in California. Every time we forge a new friendship or business association with those of other races it is one more bridge across what divides all of us.
"The pig system" has tactics to separate us so we are weak without unity. But those of us with an open eye toward the future work to minimize what can be used against us. I myself am nearly 50 years old and have spent over 30 years as a serious hater as part of a well-known street/prison gang. The 21st century will be one of great change for us all. The best advice I can give my fellow humans is to let go of the dogmatic ideology of the 20th century and evolve in a constructive manner. Our fight is not between one another but between the "haves" and "have nots." We are the "have nots," no one will give anything to us; we will have to take what we need for our people.
Educate yourself in history, politics and economics. The United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Statement of Principles is a good place to start. Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, Independence is a sound formula for success. If you are reading this it is not by accident. Mankind, in order to survive, will have to reach for the stars at some point. But first we must refine ourselves in the furnace of evolution. If we humans as a species can cooperate with each other, in time we will cross the threshold. It starts with the man in the cell next to you or across the way. Peace.
A reformed Nazi
MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this as a testament to the strength of the AEH, the UFPP, and especially the anti-imperialist prison movement that inspires those who've held all sorts of backwards lumpen mentalities to become arbiters of revolutionary unity and change.
However, it is easier to win over those who have matured and learned the errors of their ways over time. To be successful we need the 20-somethings, the youngsters, the up-and-comers to take the revolutionary road. We must develop tactics to accelerate the education and maturation of the young lumpen leaders and would-be leaders in our midst.
19 de Octubre 2018 – Una semana después de las festividades en México del Día de La Raza, una caravana de 3 o 4 mil hombres, mujeres y niños emigrantes (formando parte de lo que se apodó el Éxodo Centroamericano), tomaba por asalto la frontera Mexicana-Guatemalteca en Chiapas, un estado sureño Mexicano, exigía salvoconducto a través de México para llegar a los EE.UU. Los emigrantes habían pasado siete días andando desde Honduras, donde originaba la caravana, hasta Guatemala, donde aumentó a causa de que se unieron los guatemaltecos. Al llegar a la frontera de México-Guatemala, los emigrantes fueron detenidos por las Fuerzas Armadas Mexicanas que llevaban equipo contra disturbios,
vehículos blindados y helicópteros del modelo Black Hawk, provistos por los estadounidenses. El gobierno neo-colonial
Mexicano estuvo actuando bajo órdenes del presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, quien emitió la amenaza de sanciones económicas contra México, además de advertir que podría enviar tropas a la frontera conjunta de los EUA y México, si México no evitaba que la caravana legase a los EUA. Se dieron órdenes similares a Guatemala y a Honduras,quienes ignoraron las órdenes al principio. Como resultado, el Presidente Trump amenazó con cortar la ayuda económica a los países reacios.(1)
Con hambre, sed y cansancio, la caravana atravesó la reja de la frontera y entró a México en oleadas, donde las Fuerzas Armadas Mexicanas dispararon gas lacrimógeno y tuvieron que usar sus bastones contra los emigrantes a fin de hacer retroceder a la caravana. Mientras algunos emigrantes empezaron a
lanzar rocas contra la policía, el acontecimiento alcanzó un punto principal cuando un@s jóvenes empezaron a trepar las puertas del puente, donde los detuvieron, así que empezaron a saltar hacia el río bajo de Suchiate. Después de fallar en disuadir de saltar a la gente, un reportero presente, preguntó ¿Porque saltar? Un emigrante respondió que lo hacía por sus niños, y aunque no quería morir, el riesgo valía la pena si podía alimentar a su familia. Otros respondieron que preferían morir en vez que volver a la
pobreza oprimente y a la violencia pandillera dominante que les aguarda de regreso a casa. “Sólo queremos trabajar”, otros emigrantes dijeron. Cuando todo ya había terminado se reportó que había muerto un niño debido a inhalación del gas lacrimógeno.(2)
Desafortunadamente, los problemas de la caravana no se acabaron allí. 48 horas después de haber sido detenida en el Rio Suchiate, casi la mitad de la caravana fue eventualmente admitida en México, mientras que un@s 2 mil optaron por subiese a los buses de regreso a Honduras. El 22 de octubre, los miembros restantes de la caravana se juntaron con con otros refugiados centroamericanos ya en Chiapas, que resultó en el aumento de la caravana de 7 a 8 mil. Esto incluyó a 2 mil niños entre la caravana junto con la organización de los derechos para los emigrantes, Pueblo Sin
Fronteras (People Without Borders). Miembros de la caravana hicieron una petición pública a las Naciones Unidos para que declaren al éxodo centroamericano como una crisis humanitaria.
Le pidieron a las N.U. que intervinieran y enviaran unos emisarios y una escolta militar para que vigilaran el pasaje de la caravana por México, al que se refirieron como el “Corredor de la Muerte.” Representantes de la caravana acusaron al gobierno Mexicano de perpetrar abusos de los derechos humanos contra ellos. Dijeron que las mujeres habían sido violadas y que habían secuestrado menores. Además, contaron sobre niños en la caravana que de pronto viajaban solos porque sus padres habían desaparecido.(3)
Entretanto, más hacia el sur del hemisferio, la actriz Angelina Jolie, quien es una embajadora especial de la Comisión por los Derechos Humanos para refugiados de las N.U., viajó a Perú para llamar la
atención a la “crisis humanitaria” que se está dando en el país vecino de Venezuela, donde la inflación y falta de comida ha conllevado a migraciones en masa hacia Perú, Brasil y Colombia.(4) L@s migraciones fuera de Venezuela han sido ampliamente cubiertas por los medios estadounidenses junto con una retórica cada vez más hostil por parte de políticos para derrocar el régimen de Nicolas Maduro, el cuál se ha manifestado en contra del control imperialista del país. En comparación, la petición de la caravana Hondureña apenas ha recibido atención por parte de los medios de difusión de habla inglesa, exceptuando por su influencia en las elecciones intermedias aquí en los E$tados Unidos. ¿Podría esto deberse a que el gobierno Venezolano ha sido una espina en el costado del imperialismo estadounidense por los últimos 20 años, mientras que los gobiernos de México, Guatemala y Honduras han sido sirvientes leales, tal vez reacios, de ese mismo poder imperialista?
Desde 2005, la cifra oficial de refugiados en el mundo aumentó de
8,7 millones a 214,4 millones en 2014.(5) Sin embargo, visto que la
propia definición y criterios para calificar como refugiado están dictados por los propios imperialistas, y por lo tanto, políticamente motivados, estamos seguros de que la cifra real es mucho más alta. Por ejemplo, según a las N.U., Honduras no se considera si quiera como un país de origen para refugiados. Tampoco lo es México, y aún así la mayoría de gente emigrando a los E$tados Unidos viene de México, y ciertamente, la gente de Honduras y Guatemala están huyendo de condiciones bastante peores que la reciente crisis en Venezuela.(6)
Ya en 2014, habían 11,2 millones de emigrantes indocumentados en los EE.UU.; 67% venían de México y Centroamérica. De estos 11,2 millones de emigrantes, el 72% vive en cuatro de los 10 estados con las poblaciones más grandes de indocumentados. De estos 10 estados, 4 son Aztlán, ej., California, Texas, Arizona, y Nevada.(7) Las estáticos también demuestran que los emigrantes centroamericanos de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador se incorporarán a Aztlán y sus niños serán asimilados por la nación Chican@.(8)
A medida que la contradicción principal del mundo (el imperialismo contra las naciones oprimidas, principalmente el imperialismo estadounidense) sigue desarrollándose y la crisis empeora, podemos anticipar más de estos éxodos en masa en el futuro cercano. Ya hay reportes de otra caravana de al menos 1000 emigrantes saliendo de Honduras. De seguro que para los estadounidenses esto debe parecer una pesadilla hecha realidad, literalmente miles de refugiados del tercer mundo golpeando las puertas de su ciudadela imperialista. Tan trágico como todo esto parece, es tan sólo un vistazo de cómo las masas del Tercer Mundo se levantarán al fin, y en su desesperación, terminarán con el imperialismo una vez por todas. Curiosamente, las fuerzas revolucionarios en México todavía no han aparecido a ayudar a la caravana, mientras que gente normal trabajadora ya ha dado un paso adelante para ayudar. ¿Cómo responderán l@s Chican@s? Eso está por verse.
El Fondo Nacional de los E$tados Unidos para la Democracia estuvo implicado tanto en el golpe de 2009 para derrocar a Zelaya en Honduras y en el golpe de 2002 para derrocar a Chavez en Venezuela (posteriormente revocado). Hillary Clinton tristemente ayudó también a orquestar el golpe en Honduras. Desde entonces, generales asesinos entrenados por la Escuela Estadounidense de las Amerikkkas han aterrorizado a la población, matando a gente indígena, campesinos y activistas ambientales. Los EUA ha establecido una presencia militar grande en Honduras desde el golpe, apoyando el robo de tierras a campesinos indígenas pobres y a campesinos de descendencia africana.(9)
I recently thumbed through a hand-me-down Under Lock & Key. It was the September/October 2018 issue, No. 64, and had an overwhelming inspiration to write pledging my allegiance to your cause, and to make comment on some of the articles I read concerning offenses against women/girls.
Mostly targeted to those of which appeared to be attempting to justify their actions with the phrase "consensual" sex with under-aged girls. I just hope my thoughts and writings will be as readily accepted as those of others written!
Crimes against women are the most cowardly atrocious acts one can do. Especially when it involves violent forcible rapes, on down to taking advantage of under-aged girls, and I am ashamed and humiliated to be a man during instances as these!
I don't write from a dark hateful place neither in a negative energy, but must say, if you are going to stand for a cause, especially a cause such as the revolutionary one, stand tall and with integrity.
I consider myself a revolutionist, suffering through struggles just to help change the oppressive abuse of authority being displayed by prison officials.
Because the current government structure, as you all would say the injustice system, is designed to make prisoners worse, most likely to return, for their benefit. It appears their attempt is not to rehabilitate but destroy, creating spitefulness and anger especially when they get away with their injustices.
But falling victim to this cycle only lessens us as human beings, if we get caught up in the wheel of things we are not living up to what we claim to be standing up for, which is change.
We are ambassadors for change and must conduct ourselves accordingly. We must stand out from the crowd, not be afraid of individuality. We must carry our heads high and keep our shoulders squared ready to support the weight of others, and to lend a shoulder to cry on if need be, with no ghosts lingering there in the closet.
We must be an energy more spectacular than the universe, an energy that gravitates others to us, a life energy that creates, cultivates and protects those we have around us. Building blocks for them to stand upon, for them who wish to embrace and enjoy change, something new. All of what we're allegedly standing for.
If not we are just a fake and a fraud and a continued part of an ongoing dilemma. Then we are no different than an immoral cult with a fancy name.
Young ladies (and young girls) should not be preyed upon by older guys, (especially not us). Guys, even if she were to show interest, and because you're a type of role model with a higher standard of morality.
As a revolutionist we are obligated to change the exploitation of girls and women alike. Instead, we should help her identify her potential, help channel her energy into something more spectacular, building her up to becoming a powerful leader of her own kind who could lead the way for others who either of us probably could not reach and relate to.
I am sadly disgusted, if not outright disturbed, when a guy, especially an alleged revolutionist claims consensual sex with a young girl. Are you truly incapable of handling a woman who knows how to handle a man?
I will not forget to mention that more despicable crimes against women like forcible rape with drugs, drink or intimidation. We should be advocating for these women, just as well. We cannot continue to accept these types of cowardliness and we as men are just as cowardly if we refuse to intervene. If you see a woman in need of help, help her. Don't turn a blind eye to her black eyes, in the hallway or at the store, step in.
If not where's the revolution?? It isn't simply a donation one goes through with while you're incarcerated? Or is it?
So then where does it start? With us here and now while in prison with the wonderful help from those there on the outside who understand and sympathize with our struggle of oppression, and who also want to unify and make changes.
Us as prisoners must strive to finally become educated women and men. We must come to realize the government down to the prison authorities have things just the way they want them, conquered and divided, defeated and hopeless (don't think) (don't know) and surely never united, they snicker and laugh.
We have slumbered for too long. We must allow the awakening of our minds which is an extremely powerful entity on its own, coupled with your energy and drive we can really make a difference. We are the biggest army (and can be the most fearless army) any government could go up against. They wouldn't know what to do if we shook the illusions from our eyes.
We as prisoners must lay down the knives and pick up the pens and books, learn the law and your rights.
It starts here and now with us and carries on afterward onto the streets. It's war time, our slogan all lives matter equally, not just the corrupt in high places, our pasts are gone, future is ahead.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Glad you found ULK so agreeable and took the time to write us. We agree that being a shining example is an important aspect of leadership. In thinking about recruiting and retaining recruits, consistent behavior by our leaders that is upstanding in the eyes of the masses is something that contributes to this greatly. While we prefer people learn to follow correct ideas rather than individuals and great leaders, we can benefit by always trying to be and develop more great leaders. The fruits of this practice can come to bear years down the line when you least expect it.
Being ashamed of being part of an oppressor group (men) is a righteous response, and one that leads many of us to commit class, nation or gender suicide; meaning to take up actions and politics that go against the interests of the oppressor groups that we belong to. In the imperialist countries we all must struggle in this way to be in solidarity with the world's majority.
We have addressed the question of dating/romantic relationships, how they should be approached by revolutionaries, and specifically the question of older men dating younger wimmin. In doing so we strongly discourage dating recruits, especially in situations where things are more likely to be construed as manipulative, such as dating younger wimmin. (1) As for dating in general, again we echo your advice of being shining examples that the masses will respect and trust.
We like your message of helping empower young wimmin with your influence. This is in contrast to a patriarchal/protective approach, that emotions around these issues can lead to. To say that crimes against wimmin are the most atrocious tends to fall into this subjective/patriarchal thinking. We do not believe that crimes against wimmin are inherently worse, but that our society treats them very differently because we live in a patriarchal society. A California prisoner addresses the impact of approaches to gender oppression that is purely emotional on the imprisonment of New Afrikan men in "Due Process in the Era of #MeToo."(2)
ULK 61 was very informative to me. I'm 47 years old, and I have what you call street cred. I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business. I'm currently serving a ten-to-twenty sentence, and all my charges are for drugs except for one.
In 2001, I worked in roofing. When I got to the job site there were no shingles so the boss sent us home early with half a day pay. When I came home, as I started up the stairs, I heard a commotion in my front room where me and my wife sleep. As I opened the door I saw my wife (or ex-wife) naked and a man jumping out the window. I lost my mind, started calling her all type of names and beat on her pretty badly. The neighbors called the cops. When I was given my charges it was rape, burglary, kidnapping, and breaking and entering. What should have been a crime of passion turned into something else. They did a rape kit and it was negative. I had keys to the house, and bills in my name.
I had a public defender because she had all my money. So me being a poor Latino, afraid of the racist justice system, I took a deal of 2 years for sexual battery plus ten years registering as a sex offender. I was evaluated by a professional and was determined that I didn't have a sex problem. Therefore I did not have to take the sex program that a sex offender must take. I've been to prison 4 times after that for possession with intent to deliver and all four times I was evaluated to see if I needed the sex program and every time it's been determined that I do NOT have a sex problem. My problems are with drugs. So my question is, if I do not have a sex problem, why is the state of Pennsylvania still registering me as a sex offender and wants to do it for life?
I want to change my life around but it's a heavy load to have as an older man. If anyone knows how I can get relief, please help me if you can.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores our point that labels from the criminal injustice system shouldn't be trusted. Ey also raises an interesting question related to the topic of crimes against the people. Ey writes "I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business." Drug dealing is harmful to those who do and buy drugs, and their families and community, and so we put it in the category of crimes that are against the people. This is different from, say, robbing a bank, or tax fraud.
It sounds like this comrade now sees the problem with dealing drugs, and wants to turn things around. This is a good example of someone who has great potential to reform and become a productive member of the revolutionary movement. Having a S.O. label is not a barrier to that, though we would struggle with this comrade over whether they feels justified in beating up eir ex-wife. Drug dealing is a business and a means to get by for many who are deprived of better options. Some think it is cool, others find it degrading. If someone has stopped and understands why it's wrong. We care most what ey does with eir life going forward.