Tag Archives: Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.)

Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery

From: SF Bay View, Dec. 25, 2014

by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham and Kambui Robinson, NCTT Corcoran SHU

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” – George Berkeley


“Slavery is nearly as old as human civilization itself, but … (in) 1698 …the construct of ‘race’ was hardly formulated … This racialization of American slavery was rooted in economic calculation and psychological anxieties … In fact, the human family was carved into modern “racial” pigeonholes – white, black, red, brown, yellow – in order to control, confine, discipline and dishonor … Racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” – Dr. Cornel West


“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” – Amendment XIII, U.S. Constitution

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. There are moments in human history when doors to genuine human freedom are opened. This does not mean we, as a species, always take advantage of the opportunity to walk through those doors – but every once in a while, the true potential for our liberation arises. Often, we fail to take advantage of those opportunities because we genuinely don’t know they exist; in such cases, a lesson in dialectics is learned.

However, more often than not, it’s because there is some social force standing in our way – be it unprogressive attitudes, backwards ideas, old style tendencies, or the very real fear of freedom that’s been deeply imbedded into so many of us. Something acts to bar us from entering that new world of unrealized promise.

On Oct. 10, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, men from various cultural groups and walks of life, put into effect the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” perhaps the single most significant “door to genuine freedom” opened in American society in recent human history. What makes it so significant is not simply its motive force but, more importantly, its true potential for our collective liberation as a society.

On this second anniversary of this historic agreement, we’d like to give you all a glimpse through the door the Agreement to End Hostilities has opened for us all. For us to appreciate the path the Agreement to End Hostilities has paved for our futures, we must look back at the “road” we traveled thus far and understand its interconnections to both those forces which have historically opposed progress and those which foster it.

Owing its origins to the primitive accumulation of capital within the chattel slave system and the extermination of the Native Americans, the very concept of race was manufactured by European colonial slavers and business interests to develop a “legal” and ideological foundation for establishing the socio-economic hierarchy and dehumanization of various cultural groups – an ideology of superiority and inferiority which reflected the European capitalist world view of economic, political and military domination and exploitation of the Earth.

This system of global white supremacy was forged on the dehumanization of the remainder of humanity by embedding the artificial ideology of “racism” in its every institution. The correlation between the chattel slave system and Native American genocide in the “New World,” the development of the “race” ideology and “racial” antagonisms in American society, the slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment for convicted felons, and the years of “race”-based hostilities among U.S. prisoners – and the communities they hail from – cannot be accounted for simply through the macrocosmic-microcosmic reflection of society and prisons.

No. It is much deeper and more disturbing than this, and it is why the Agreement to End Hostilities is so potentially devastating to the pillars of American capitalist exploitation.

“(We) always agree that “race” is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.” – Paul Gilroy

The system of American capitalism has always used the fictitious construct of race as the central means to maintain the fluid functioning of the class system and in turn the dominance of the ruling class. It is woven into the base and superstructure of American Society.

As James Yaki Sayles observed, race has come to function on the superstructure; it’s become part of our distinct way of life and cultural existence. The interests of race – as a characteristic of the peculiar class and national social relations of capitalist and colonial exploitation – have become part of the group interests that we share and which stand as antagonistic to the interests of other groups of people, classes and nations.

It’s part of the collective consciousness which informs the creation of the organizations and institutions we use in pursuit of our aims. Now all this is really less about race than about class and national formation and consciousness. It’s not about race, since that’s a fiction.

As we’ve observed, racism developed as an ideological concept to sustain slavery and as a justification for the extermination of First Nations people. It was anchored in the economic deliberation, financial interests and the panic of Europeans of the age over their numeric inferiority in relation to the remaining human cultures of the world.

Conveniently, the same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today. These racial antagonisms, like so many other social ills, are magnified and concentrated in the socially hostile microcosm of prison.

The same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today.

This intentional warping of man’s social being – forcing the false construct of “race” to be manifested as a social force in U.S. capitalist economics – has been so thorough that it has allowed dehumanization to not only be codified in the supreme law of land, the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment, but “normalized” it. Now tens of millions of people in America accept dehumanization – disenfranchisement, third and fourth class citizenship, “civil death” and diminished constitutional and human rights – as a natural outgrowth of their economic position in relation to the productive system.

There was a time when questioning a people’s humanity was tantamount to a declaration of war. Yet millions so affected simply accept it – as does American society as a whole. EVERY PRISONER in the U.S., including parolees, regardless of cultural identity, religious or organizational affiliation, is considered by the state to be a slave and is viewed no differently from Afrikans in Amerika in the early 1800s.

“The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, then moved back again towards slavery.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The chattel slave system in the U.S. required Euro-Amerikans – and not simply those engaged in the slave trade – to dehumanize the subjects of the brutal practice: slaves. They went so far as to develop baseless, pseudo-scientific rationales for phenotypical human variation, a product of human evolutionary adaptation, and to connect these to a stratification of the human species.

Their rationale reflected the irrational world view of the European proto-capitalist: The European male was the only “true” human and the creator of civilization; the rest of humanity was reduced to various retrograde sub-human phenotypes with the Afrikan being the hindmost – a mere “three-fifths of a man.”

When the Prison Industrial Complex erected the “new Jim Crow” on the backs of the poor nationally, the “legal,” ideological and political structures already existed to extend this dehumanization to those who refused to accept the status quo of property relations and the dictates of the ruling elite: the felon, the outlaw, the prisoner.

When we speak of America being a locked, anti-poor society, we are speaking of the conscious dehumanization of the underclass and the lumpen. Just as a quack “science” sought, and failed miserably, to create some scientific justification for “racial” ideology and racist dehumanization so as to legitimize its material force in society, so has modern quack “science” sought to create justifications for criminalization ideology and “criminal” dehumanization to legitimize the disproportionate policing and imprisonment of “citizens” from poor, non-European and underclass communities.

“Doctors” like Stanton Samenow and Dr. Yochelson have produced a body of pseudo-science based on the eugenicist premise that “criminals” are “born bad” and “genetically different from other humans” and the “only solution is to separate them from society.” That every objective sociological, physiological and psychological study refutes such baseless claims as hokum is not what’s relevant.

What’s relevant is authoritarian powers want to believe them and penal institutions across the U.S. have latched on to this tripe and transformed it into a material force, building an entirely new sub-industry of the PIC: cognitive restructuring. Their hope is to brainwash hundreds of thousands of the imprisoned poor to absolve the nature and structure of capitalist society of all culpability in the lack of viable choices available to them and for the existence of social automation technology and instead accept their innate criminality and that they were born social degenerates.

Instead of moving away from the “Bell Curve” [a 1994 book by that name arguing that racial differences in intelligence are genetic and immutable], Samenow, Yochelson and their ilk have simply expanded it to encompass anyone convicted of a crime – almost exclusively non-Europeans, the poor and the underclass – an absurd notion in a nation where the average person violates several “laws” daily that they are unaware even exist. In the case of cognitive restructuring, it’s just the latest way to monetize social control and add an air of “scientific” legitimacy to dehumanization.

“For every system of state and law, and the capitalist system above all, exists in the last analysis because its survival, and the validity of its statutes, are simply accepted (by the colonized) … And these laws retain their validity even when personal motives or the force of circumstances have induced him to violate them.” – George Lukacs

The truly disturbing aspect of all this is so many of us for so long accepted this, even acted in accordance with it – much as slaves did in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. The system of slavery was NOT maintained for so long because of the lash, the noose or the guns of the slavers. One can only be a slave master if the subjugated accept their roles as slaves.

No. It lasted so long due to the way slaves were orientated and divided. It was the science of “man breaking and slave making.” They pit the male slave against the female slave, the dark skinned slave against the light skinned slave, the young slave against the old slave, the field slave against the house slave – none would trust the other, yet ironically they all “trusted” the slave master.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period. It is their chief weapon of dominance over the remainder of society.

There was a time in American history when that weapon was always pointed at the Native American, the Afrikan slave, the unruly Mexican or the European indentured servant. Now that weapon is always aimed at us – the lumpen, the underclass, the convicted felon, the prisoner – because we, like the Native, slave or indentured before us have no interest in upholding and perpetuating a system which declares its imperative to dehumanize and repress us. Again, see the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period.

There is an entire body of law which articulates the “legitimacy” of the “civil death” of prisoners and the “appropriateness” of the absolute despotism of the state in their lives. We tacitly support it by accepting our dehumanization, though it runs contrary to our interests.

As a wise man once said, “The question I’ve asked myself over the years runs this way: Who has done most of the dying? Most of the work? Most of the time in prison (on max row)? Who is the hindmost in every aspect of social, political and economic life? Who has the least short term interest or no interest at all in the survival of the present state? In this condition, how could we believe in the possibility of a new generation of enlightened fascists who would dismantle the base of their hierarchy?”

The modern Prison Industrial Complex has picked up right where the “Peculiar Institution” [of slavery] left off, only substituting the long standing cultural divisions of “race” ideology for traditional slavery’s labor and social function-based divisions. They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another – and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units – Security Housing Units (SHUs) – and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy – as we were further dehumanized and despised.
Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.

“Only social practice can be the criterion of truth … Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world.” – Mao Tse Tung

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

There are few among the entire population of prisoners and their family members who, just five years ago, would have believed this possible. That in just two short years of social cooperation which defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status could produce such a result.

Though this victory, in actuality, simply exposed the fact that the state has housed hundreds of men in torture units who should have never been there, it does not mean the struggle has approached its logical conclusion. On the contrary, the struggle has only begun.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


The next logical step is to move to reclaim our humanity and reorganize the social life of ourselves and our communities in such a way that it serves our interests. The Agreement to End Hostilities has provided us with the impetus to organize ourselves to abolish not only indefinite SHU torture, but the “slavery” provision of the 13th Amendment upon which the civil basis of our dehumanization rests.

Doing so would ensure we reclaim our humanity and become self-actualized human beings with the right to influence our world and participate in the social processes of life. To do this we must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

In just two short years social cooperation defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status.

It is within our communities where the “school to prison pipeline” opens its maw to consume our youth and subjugate our collective future to the role of slaves, powerless to do little more than poison, pimp and slaughter one another on our way to the concentration kamps of the state. The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships many emerge.

We must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

“This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people’s support, will of necessity triumph.” – Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power – not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society – will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

A recent Pew poll showed how new authorization, right-wing backed voter registration and ID laws have reduced voter access to underclass, nationally oppressed and youth voters by 30 percent. Direct access to the political process for the prisoner class would push back against this trend of legislative disenfranchisement.

These “legal” attacks on the people’s democratic rights are designed to further marginalize the underclass into a solely labor and surplus labor role – to work, be chained by debt, submit to exploitation, accept criminalization and not be heard.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor. Involuntary servitude is fundamentally inhumane and only serves to reinforce the essential condition of oppressed man as the laborer whose production is appropriated by his “masters.” It would create new spheres of social cooperation to de-criminalize prison unions and provide the underclass and other affected communities with the political will to defend and expand organized labor unions in their communities.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime. Brothers and Sisters, do you not see the correlations?

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime.


As Michelle Alexander observed in the section of “The New Jim Crow” titled “The Birth of Mass Incarceration,” “conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime.”

In classic irrational fascist reasoning, it was not the inhumanity of Jim Crow law which was criminal; it was protesting against that inhumanity which was criminalized. Identically, it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized.

“One function of the entire cultural apparatus at any given period has been to internalize in men of subordinate position the idea of a necessary domination of some men over others, as determined by the course of history… As a result and as a continually renewed condition of this cultural apparatus, the belief in authority is one of the driving forces, sometimes, productive, sometimes obstructive, of human history.” – Max Horkheimer

Restoration of our humanity by abolishing the basis for our dehumanization is the first step in us all reclaiming our rightful voice in social affairs. Intentional underdevelopment in the chattel slave epoch and intentional underdevelopment in the modern Prison Industrial Complex – enforced idleness, all-encompassing dependency, repression of political expression, retardation of socio-economic self-determination etc. – are both social control mechanisms reliant on legalized dehumanization to accomplish that end.

They point to our intra-cultural (“racial”) antagonisms and conflicts as “proof” of our sub-human nature, while simultaneously reinforcing the ideology of racism as a material force in every aspect of human activity – though not for the reasons many of you may believe.

“Race” serves the base by hiding its true nature and core contradictions, such as the contradiction between workers and the relations of production – specifically the trends of ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of labor’s surplus value. The ideology of race antagonisms obscures the origin, the source, of social contradictions and hinders the progressive development of humanity as a whole.

“Race” obscures “class,” so we cannot locate and understand the source of social contradictions or the foundation of social development, which are primarily the province of “class” relations. The Agreement to End Hostilities clears away this “fog” and provides a basis for broad class cooperation. Without the divisional dynamic of racial antagonism, the truth of our human suffering of both its source and our own unwitting participation in it is revealed – allowing us to move against it.

The Agreement to End Hostilities provides a basis for broad class cooperation.


To be sure, already the Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all. A more dangerous portent for the current nature and structure of capitalist society does not exist.

The Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all.


“Instead of the ritual indignation and despair at the cultural condition of ‘the masses,’ it is necessary to break through to the central fact that most of our cultural institutions are in the hands of speculators, interested not in the health and growth of society, but the quick profits that can be made … The real question is whether society can afford to leave its cultural apparatus in such irresponsible hands … We should be much clearer about these cultural questions if we saw them as a consequence of a basically capitalist organization, and I at least know no better reason for capitalism to end.” – Raymond Williams

We, ALL OF US, are under assault at every point of human activity. Even the food we eat is governed by industrial interests that intentionally structured the modes of production to maximize profits, minimize food safety, increase the intake of unhealthy corn based, genetically modified, sugary, sodium packed processed foods by the underclass – while ensuring healthy and/or organic produce is cost prohibitive. This in turn ensures a steady influx of chronically ill, low income patients whose health care costs and debt will ensure the profiteering of the pharmaceutical, health care and debt based industries.

All of these industries in turn legally bribe your “elected” officials by lobbying them into maintaining these modes of production. Meanwhile, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and ever increasing incidences of e coli contamination disproportionately ravage the underclass and threaten the entire food supply – turning workers not merely into paupers, but sick paupers.

By extending the Agreement to End Hostilities to our communities, we establish the foundation upon which we can build Sustainable Agricultural Communes, Closed Circuit Economic Initiatives, Health Care Co-ops and Community Clinics, Block-Vote Democratic Initiatives and Youth-Community Action Programs [described in “A discussion on strategy for the Occupy Movement from behind enemy lines.”] We can finally begin to re-organize social, political and economic life (transfer culture) so we can actually live and not simply exist.

Every one of you who are reading our words right now, regardless of culture, class or social standing, are by your inaction supporting the maintenance of slavery and dehumanization in America. All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the very class which has organized and structured the apparatus of our collective human misery: the bourgeois authorization, the capitalist, the ruling class.

From Ferguson to destabilizing imperialist adventurism in the Middle East, from the e coli factories of the U.S. beef industry to the maintenance of the U.S. domestic torture program in supermax prisons across the U.S., the greed, hate and hypocrisy of the ruling class has demonstrated in every area of human activity – particularly in the codification of dehumanization for prisoners and the poor – that it is unfit to dictate social life.

All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the ruling class.


At almost this same time of year in 1847, Karl Marx and Frederick Engles observed: “The modern laborer … becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”

“At the end of this massive collective struggle, we will uncover our new man (woman), the unpredictable culmination of the revolutionary process. He (She) will be better equipped to wage the real struggle, the permanent struggle after the revolution – the one for new relationships between men (women).” – A Wise Man

Finally it is here in this observation as relevant and accurate today as it was in 1847 wherein lies the great significance of the Agreement to End Hostilities. It has the potential to topple the Ruling Class by transforming the nature and structure of the human relationships upon which the capitalist system is based. The “race” caste system and economic class systems are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

Without cultural antagonisms – especially within the underclasses of society – the system cannot function as designed. To end hostilities among cultural groups, to engage in social cooperation which serves our collective interests – in both society and prison – erodes the very purpose of the race caste system. It ceases to perform its function to bar broad class cooperation and uphold European male dominance. Thus the core contradictions, the “face(s)” of our true enemy, are revealed and together we have moved and can continue to move against it – until we win or don’t lose.

Our futures – and the future of humanity itself – is in our hands. Will we be equal to the demands of history, or will we buckle under the weight of our collective contradictions and descend once again into the miasma of the mass psychology of fascism?

Our confidence is as ever with YOU, the people. We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to encourage you all to support the Agreement to End Hostilities in YOUR communities. Support the New Afrikan Prisoners Rights Coalition Movement and, most importantly, support one another. Our love and solidarity are with you all always. Until we win or don’t lose.

NCTT Corcoran SHU

For more information on the NCTT or its work product, go to NCTTCORSHU.org or contact:

  • Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-28, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212

NCTT mailed this to Kendra Castaneda Perez. She is a writer, a prisoner human rights advocate, and the wife of Raymond “Chavo” Perez, who is one of the 12 representatives responsible for the historic Agreement to End Hostilities and who spent 18 years in Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor until January 2014, when he was transferred to Sacramento State Prison (New Folsom) general population into Step 5 of the Step Down Program.

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A Discussion on the Agreement to End Hostilities as a Basis for Socio-Economic Empowerment and Inter-communal Independence From the NCTT-COR-SHU

A Discussion on the Agreement to End Hostilities as a Basis for Socio-Economic Empowerment and Inter-communal Independence. From the NCTT-COR-SHU
“To overcome the intelligent by folly is contrary to the natural order of things; to overcome the foolish by intelligence is in accordance with the natural order. To overcome the intelligent by intelligence, however, is a matter of opportunity” (Zhuge Liang)
Greetings brothers and sisters. On August 12, 2012 the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.) in all prison and juvenile facilities and called for its extension to our communities. The strategic and material benefits for our ongoing human rights struggle, [for] thousands of prisoners and their families is obvious.
What may be less obvious is the unprecedented opportunity for social progress and community development represented by the A.E.H.; and more precisely why its popularization in the communities from which prisoners hail, and all similarly affected communities nationally, is so vital. The potential benefit to our interests collectively is equally as vital as the abolition of domestic torture units and mass incarceration as a whole, and in fact, may serve as a new front in that struggle.
In a recent 60 Minutes” exposé a New Jersey state trooper and former Iraq/Afghanistan Occupation Force Veteran began employing counter-insurgency techniques imported from those Middle Eastern battlefields to “clear and hold” poverty-stricken communities in New Jersey. As we watched this program they employed everything from quantification of tattoo I.D. and inter-communal violence data, to “winning the hearts and minds” of residents in order to increase informants amongst the population. The increase in arrests and convictions stats which followed came as no great surprise…nor did the corresponding imprisonment that followed. We noted the lamentable that followed. We noted the lamentable economic condition of the state and this community, in particular at the outset of the story, but only a passing reference was made to potential economic development opportunities that had any hope of empowering that community and those that lived in it.
One of the prevailing factors which prompted this further militarization of law enforcement was the alleged violence between street tribes (i.e., “gangs”) and that surrounding the local drug trade knowing full well these phenomenon are structural aspects of the capitalist arrangement which force many in those communities to form (or join) street tribes for social empowerment or enter the underground economy (narcotics trafficking, etc.) as a survival activity, it reveals this new counter-insurgency-inspired approach was just the latest tactic to win public support for yet another streamlining of the school/poor community to prison pipeline and expansion of the prison industrial complex (PIC).
The NCTT is not simply an analytical body. It is an analytical body whose goal is to provide practical solutions to society’s ills. We immediately began to make inter-connections on the theoretical level between these phenomena, the Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.), collective community development programs, and a commitment to total community inclusion. This New Jersey community could have been any community in Watts, L.A., West Oakland or Southeast San Diego. We thought: would such repressive and authoritarian state measures be justifiable if an effective A.E.H. was in place?
Furthermore, if there were community-owned and operated economic ventures, educational development initiatives, and socio-political empowerment platforms inclusive of, and beneficial to, everyone in the community would there even be a needfor the residents to sell dope to, or ride on, one another?
If our communities were self-sufficient, politically-empowered, and markedly less violent would that not translate into less of our brothers, sisters and children being exposed to the prospect of imprisonment and our communities being subjected to the militaristic occupation tactics of the state? It is our contention that the potential exists for this and much, much more.
The violence and rebellion against private property and bourgeoisie “law” which accompany the desperation of poverty and social alienation have long been the foundation for justifying the introduction and passage of draconian laws and GeStaPo-style enforcement tactics in depressed communities. We can assure you, the NYPD is not pushing “stop and frisk” on the [denzins] of the Upper East Side. These self-fulfilling prophesies of underdevelopment have decimated entire generations of young men (and women), consigning them to the (maw of the) PIC. It has also been utilized as the chief cornerstone in the state’s justification for the maintenance and expansion of SHU torture units. It is the very basis of the “worst of the worst” propaganda that Stainer and his ilk continue to spout.
The A.E.H., designed to preserve and expand the solidarity of our prisoner human rights struggle has also had the objective effect of further undermining the state’s untenable position by taking that argument away from them. If intra-prisoner violence is no longer occurring as a result of the A.E.H., how then can intra-prisoner violence be used as a way to confine men to torture units indefinitely as “the worst of the worst?” It obviously can’t.
However, what may not be obvious is the A.E.H. provides us with a unique opportunity to also take that argument from community-based law enforcement agencies and remove tenuous justifications they’re currently employing to terrorize our communities. It is a crime to be poor in America. From the indentured servitude and pauper’s prisons of the 18thand 19th century, to the array of criminalization measures used today (i.e., “gang injunctions,” prohibiting citizens from congregating with their own friends and neighbors; “stop and frisk”- powers which legalize profiling, and mandatory drug testing for recipients of public financial aid–the ugly essence of criminal presupposition) the U.S. capitalist state has always sought to criminalize the poor.
The A.E.H. can alter the historic dynamic by providing our communities with an environment in which to restructure our socio-economic reality and common ground upon which to pursue mutually beneficial cooperative efforts, independent of the hostile, antagonistic state and its modern predatory capitalism.
But how would that look on the ground? To answer that question we discussed the validity and practical application of such an undertaking, in relation to the realities on the ground. The final interpretation of that analysis led us to two basic conclusions:
1) Many of our younger brothers and sisters are so embroiled in these cycles of violence and retribution that if the A.E.H. were embraced en masse beyond the walls, not only would it require a productive program of genuine material benefits for them, to act as an incentive and fill the void previously occupied with contra-positive activities, but
2) We’d also need principled and respected soldiers on the ground to mitigate misunderstandings.
The remainder of this discussion will thus be a direct outgrowth of these two primary prerequisites.
The NCTT-COR-SHU has previously articulated within the context of comprehensive community development and social transformation three pilot programs. It is our contention that these same pilot programs and other initiatives specifically developed for youth social empowerment, such as “The Youth Community Action Program (YCAP)”, initiated within the confines of a universally-adopted and mutually enforced Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) can give us the tools to reclaim our own communities from police state occupation, rebuild them into bastions of collective prosperity and shared success, while denying the PIC and the capitalist state the opportunity to exploit our young homies, g.homies, comrades and the intra-class/race contradictions we’ve had to endure under this corrupt system (divide and rule).
We took the time to explore the viability of these ideas by engaging those right here in this torture unit (Corcoran-SHU) from every cultural group on whether this would be something their homies and communities would be interested in. If brothers and sisters didn’t have to worry about being tripped on, or having to ride on cats that rode on their homies, would they be interested in pursuing and working in community-owned businesses and agricultural communes that kept all the funds, fruits and employment in their community? Prison industrialists, corporations and politicians are consistently drafting laws to criminalize our daily lives and cultures. Would they be interested in organizing all their families, homies and home girls without felony records into voting blocks and lobbying bodies to push legislation that benefited theirinterests (i.e., abolishing the slavery provision of the 13thAmendment that precludes those convicted of a felony from voting, creation of community-based parole boards so their loved ones could finally get a date, or abolishing “gang injunctions” that criminalize associating with friends and neighbors you’ve grown up with all your life)? We held these conversations with young and old alike, from every cultural group and affiliation, and the response was universally positive. Some had never even viewed these concepts as a possibility, but by the wisdom of the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective the A.E.H. has given rise to possibilities previously unimaginable.
It is our contention that a concerted effort by all cultural groups and affiliations to extend the Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.) to all communities in society where we have influence, coupled with designating specific personally-respected and reputable soldiers – to ensure the A.E.H. is understood and adhered to by their communities would give us both the social climate and manpower to organize effective closed-circuit economic initiatives, sustainable agricultural communes, and block-vote democratic initiatives.
In so doing we would transform the socio-economic paradigm in our communities, increasing the options and opportunities of our peoples without having to submit to the expropriation of our labor and talent by those who’ve built an industry around our inequality and enforced human misery.
What are we suggesting is extending the A.E.H. to the streets as a basis upon which to build an independent economy, our own self-sustaining agriculture and organized political power capable of ensuring our communities and loved ones are no longer a marginalized segment of the population preyed upon the fuel the prison industrial complex (for more information on the NCTT three pilot programs go to: NCTTCorSHU.org or see “A Discussion on Strategy for the National Occupy Movement” @sfbayview.com and nettcorshu.org.
But there is even more opportunity for us here, brothers and sisters. One of the universal complaints of responsible thinking soldiers from all cultural groups is [that] our young brothers and sisters are receiving no meaningful development and are left to the tender mercies of the U.S. capitalist counter-culture of predatory greed and reactionary violence. They are emulating the irrationality inherent in the poor and powerless preying on the poor and powerless as a path to power and prosperity. This is not to castigate the quality of our young soldiers but to acknowledge structural setbacks in orientation and development.
Those who were following the “Each One, Teach One” tradition are either (to a great degree) isolated in prisons, SHU’s or have turned their backs on the community completely for upward class mobility. There is even an unsavory segment who are actually taking advantage of this situation of uneven development for their own selfish gain. In either regard, all of us can agree that increasing the quality of young men and women being developed in our communities will empower us all, further improve the problem-solving skills of our young brothers and sisters, and improve the quality of life for all our people(s).
To that end, we propose the adoption and implementation of the “Youth Community Action Program” as a model for both developing and empowering our young sisters and brothers in the hoods, projects, barrios, rural towns, suburbs and trailer parks where our communities are situated. The Youth Community Action Program (YCAP) is both an educational/training program and a co-operative economic nonprofit initiative which targets underclass youth and neighborhoods employing volunteers from the youth’s own community and family to work in concert with YCAP activists in a two phase development initiative.
Phase I – Involves a five (5) times a week, 2-½ hour (after school) educational and training initiative that focuses on history (from the true perspective, think: Zinn, Diop, and Dela Valle); cultural awareness to retard racial conflicts and strife between oppressed nationalities and citizens stemming from stereotypes and misconceptions of Asian, New Afrikan, Mexican/Latino, Euro-American, and Middle Eastern (etc.) cultures; computer- and technological literacy, the arts (visual, music, dance, etc.) and science/engineering; three out of every five days a week the final hour will be devoted to martial arts, self-defense training and strategic thought (to promote self-discipline and critical thinking). Participants must comply with participation in Phase I to be eligible for Phase II inclusion.
Phase II – Involves establishing a collectively-owned community-based venture which each youth participant will own an equal stake in and be trained in the area of the venture which best suits them. All will receive equal revenue portions/pay (collective work and responsibility, equalitarian distribution of wealth).
Perhaps one of the more enjoyable commonalities shared by all the cultural groups engaged in A.E.H. is a fondness for the custom-car cultures. Building on the intra-cultural commonality, the pilot venture can be a custom-car garage (think “pimp by ride”) where we can seek in-kind donations of equipment and old cars (all tax-deductible), cash donations and fundraiser revenues to fund the rest. Volunteers from this industry will train such youngsters in exchange for marketing publicity for their own ventures while we also seek industry-related sponsors. The cars will be retrofitted, rebuilt and “pimped out” into custom low riders, donks, and euro-tuners and then put on the lot for sale and website auction. The proceeds from each sale or client “fix-up” will be split equally among the youth (50% of the profit), 20% will go to expand the nonprofit initiative, 20% will go to a college fund for them all, and 10% will flow back into expanding the venture. We, in this manner, provide them with an economic incentive to be indoctrinated into collective practices and progressive activism, bring the community closer to one another, and introduce a new source of revenue into the underclass community where that chapter of YCAP is based.
The positive social impact on our communities for our people who live in these communities should be significant. But equally impact-ful is all this progress would originate with the A.E.H., and the A.E.H. originated from prisoners in the SHU (the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, to be precise). Can you all imagine the political success for our movement to abolish indefinite SHU confinement which would glow from such irrefutably positive public opinion? In the face of such success we would eradicate the myth that we are “the worst of the worst” while exposing the intention underdevelopment and predatory law enforcement practices of a capitalist state which has effectively dehumanized our communities, our families, our very children.
Central to understanding and responding to our indefinite torture as validated SHU prisoners and to human misery endemic of underclass communities where the majority of us come from is understanding the nature and structure of U.S. capitalism and our relationship to the productive system. The fact that we are holding this discussion with you from a SHU, and underclass men/women are virtually the entire prison population, is the best proof that the relationship between our communities and the ruling class of the productive system is a hostile one, one where we seek to wrest power from them sufficient to reclaim our humanity and enforce our dignity in the arenas of social life, while they in turn are disinclined to relinquish their authority to dehumanize and exploit us. As long as we are bound by the paradigm of the dominant culture, functioning within the labyrinth of our own exploitation by a socio-economic structure which institutionally disfavors both our communities and ourselves, regardless of cultural character, will continue the cycle of torture and misery.
What must be understood is the small social forces which have deemed our communities “high crime areas” and we (SHU prisoners) “the worst of the worst” are the same social forces that have reduced the social ties between people to naked self-interest and callous cash payment; the same forces who have transformed personal worth into mere exchange value, and subordinated countless of our hard-won freedoms to their one and only freedom – the freedom of “free trade.” We are mere commodities to them, piles of human flesh they can use to expropriate a specific annual amount of the social product (taxes) depending on where they warehouse our flesh (G.P., SHU, Administrative-Segregation (Ad-Seg.), etc.) – our exchange value tabulated by prison industrial labor aristocrats (CCPOA, Administrators) and corporate interests to determine exactly how they need to manipulate public opinion and the electorate to maintain their privilege. We have an opportunity with the A.E.H. to fight back!
We have the opportunity to forge a new socio-economic and political paradigm which is structured outside the confines of the dominant culture, and definitely serves the interests of our communities, our families, us. The only question is do we collectively possess the political will to carry the Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.) to its logical and victorious conclusion?
But this is all theoretical, a discussion designed to promote and inspire a glimpse of one possible future and encourage us all to consider it. We have a chance to not only change our communities for the better, but to definitively turn public opinion in our favor in the protracted struggle to abolish the domestic torture units SHU prisoners are condemned to endure.
No matter where this discussion leads, the very foundation of the premise would not exist if not for the wisdom of the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective in enacting the Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.). We all, and society as a whole, owe them their thanks. Think on these things. They are cause for great meditation.
NCTT-COR-SHU.
For more info on the NCTT-COR-SHU or its work product go to NCTTCORSHU.org or contact:
Zaharibu Dorrough, D80611, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
J. Heshima Denham, 38283, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1l-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Kambui Robinson, C82830, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Jabara Scott, H30356, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.
For more information on the NCTT three pilot programs go to:

Twitter: @NCTTCorSHU

This essay was also posted on: SF Bay View (August 30th, 2013)