Tag Archives: New Afrikans

On Self-Defense against Racist Murder

A discussion on the culture of hate and violence in US society and the rationality of securing New Afrikan communities

by the NCTT: Zaharibu Dorrough, Heshima Denham, Jabari Scott and Kambui Robinson

Published in: SF Bayview, April 26, 2016

Part 1

It is well known that the Black race is the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family. It is well known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries … a bitter disgrace on mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after … years of so called “emancipation,” American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material suffering, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching … Imagine a furious horde, fists clenched, eyes bloodshot, mouths foaming, yells, insults, curses … They are armed with sticks, torches, revolvers, ropes, knives, scissors, vitriol, daggers – in a word, with all that can be used to kill or wound … In a wave of hatred and bestiality, the lynchers drag the Black to … a public place … When everyone has had enough, the corpse is brought down … While on the ground stinking of fat and smoke, a black head, mutilated, roasted, deformed, grins horribly and seems to ask the setting sun, ‘Is this civilization?’” – Chairman Ho Chi Minh, 1924

Instead of trying to avoid conflict or whining about the injustice of it all, consider an option developed over the centuries by … strategists to deal with violent and acquisitive neighbors; reverse intimidation. The art of deterrence rests on three basic facts about war and human nature: First, people are more likely to attack you if they see you are weak and vulnerable; second, they depend on the signs you give out, through your behavior both past and present; third, they are after easy victories, quick and bloodless. That is why they prey on the vulnerable and weak.” – Robert Greene

The need to not mistake enemies for friends is especially great for us. Part of the reason for us being issue oriented is that we don’t yet see the need to assume responsibility in the development of the strategies affecting our lives. Those who are misgoverned and oppressed merely respond to the oppressive issues and conditions as they arise, and as the suffering triggers our awareness.” – Yaki Sayles

For two or more centuries, America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred – making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike – rather, a great religion, a world war-cry.” – W.E.B. DuBois

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Amerikkka is a sick state – its social ills the product of the malignant sickness of ruling class morality. For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.

There is a direct correlation between the origin of U.S. society, the relationship of New Afrikans in its development, the racist murder of nine women, men and youth in Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the ongoing wave of Euro-Amerikan police slaughtering New Afrikans in their communities, and our failure to develop a national policy of self-defense. To understand that correlation, we must trace its etiology.

The mode of production and appropriation is what determines the composition of a society and which class will rule it. When the Euro-Amerikan bourgeois settlers overthrew colonial British socio-economic organization in North Amerika, it retained for itself the same privileges of usurpation that the aristocracy had so long enjoyed; they simply replaced, through the restructuring of the modes of production and appropriation, the layers of illusion used by the nobility – mysticism of symbols, politico-religious illusions like the divine right of kings, etc. – with naked self-interest, direct exploitation, pseudo-scientific justifications for racialization and inhuman brutality and open, unashamed oppression. Human worth was reduced to mere exchange value, and all of the social life was commoditized for efficient valuation, barter and disposal.

These values made up the basis of “morality” for the U.S. ruling class, and they imposed their values on the whole of society through their enforcement apparatus, “the state.” The institutions of U.S. society were structured to orient the population in these notions of “morality” and “law” as well as their underlying basis: PROFIT AND VIOLENCE.

In doing so, the U.S. ruling class embedded the illusion into the whole of society that the ruling class’s interests and the people’s interests were one and the same, thus developing a slavery of the willing. Hierarchical and authoritarian in nature, the function of these institutions was to reproduce these warped values in society as a whole – based on one’s class, cultural group and resultant social function – as the supreme rules of social life.

This process of assimilation to the ruling class took its own unique form for each culture and class subject to its domination. For New Afrikans, it took the form of Jim Crow apartheid lynch law, COINTELPRO, the deliberate application of poverty, the intentional introduction of narcotics, criminalization, “legal” re-enslavement (in mass incarceration) and “civil death.”

Throughout each of these eras, we saw racist violence and murder being visited upon us at the hands of the state and aspects of its majority Euro-Amerikan population. Though New Afrikan resistance to the assimilation process has been consistent over the course of our 400-year domestic colonization – including organized self-defense at different periods throughout that history – we have yet to develop and implement a consistent and comprehensive secure communities strategy across the New Afrikan collective in Amerika. Our failure to do so has both maintained our vulnerability to racist violence in the U.S. and emboldened those who perpetuate such attacks upon us to continue to do so.

(W)hile the economic conditions of an ideology give us an insight into its material base, they offer us no immediate knowledge of its irrational core. Subject to the specific economic conditions of a society, man reproduces the historical economic process in his ideology. By forming ideologies, man re-shapes himself; man’s core is to be sought in the process by which he forms ideologies. Thus it is clear that the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s structure irrational.” – Wilhelm Reich

We watched along with the world the images of Dylann Storm Roof calmly walking into historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He sat in fellowship with nine of our sistas and brothas for an hour, then pulled out a gun and slaughtered them like sheep. Moments later he calmly exited the church, completely unmolested, got in his car, and drove away, leaving Rev. C. Pickney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. D. Simmons Sr., Uzia Jackson, Tywana Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Sharonda G. Singleton, Rev. Depayne M. Doctor and Ethel Lance dead.

This immediately conjured images of another New Arikan church in another time … of four little New Afrikan girls in an Alabama church murdered by a klansman’s bomb. Our minds moved to Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and so many more, stretching in an unbroken line of corpses all the way back to the Middle Passage. Actions and organization of the broad masses of New Afrikans seemed to reflect a collective irrationality, which could not analyze the core contradictions accurately, and as a result were incapable of developing viable solutions to these contradictions.

Before we can speak of a genuine anti-racist agenda in the U.S., it must be understood that racism and its underlying basis, reactionary racial violence, are ideologies, and these ideologies are structural components of U.S. society. They cannot be “reformed” away. They are woven into the superstructure and base of capitalist Amerikka and are foundational components of its culture.

Racism itself, an ideological component of the system of global white supremacy, owes its very existence to New World slavery and the genocide of Native Americans during the U.S. ruling class’s primitive accumulation of capital. Racism is a uniquely Amerikan creation, and it is wholly irrational for us to seek to “reform away” the cultural fiber and ideological foundations of society.

It is even more irrational to seek to affect such change through identifying with its state and looking to its institutions – judicial, legislative, academic, socio-economic etc. – for such reform, when it’s the function of the state and these institutions to preserve the Amerikan cultural fiber and defend its ideological foundation – which includes the race-caste system and its underlying basis: racist violence.

It’s as though a large swath of the New Afrikan population has been so thoroughly assimilated to the ruling class that they have lost their capacity for rational thought. It is as though they’re incapable of thinking outside the dominant power system.

Consider the response of a significant number of our people in the immediate aftermath of Dylan Roof’s attack: They clamored for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina State Capitol, instead of clamoring to secure our communities and their institutions from further attacks.

We watched the entire proceedings, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime and staunch defender of maintaining the Confederate flag “as a symbol of (their) heritage,” shook the hands of the families of those slain as the flag lowering ceremony commenced. We looked upon this sea of humanity outside the South Carolina Capitol begin to cheer as an “honor guard” marched out to respectfully remove this symbol of death, torture, exploitation and hatred of New Afrikans and were amazed at the depth of irrationality in the U.S. mass psychology.

The state’s obsession with pomp and pageantry was clearly designed to deepen the delusion that the removal of this flag had any significance whatsoever in the structural racial hatred and institutional white supremacy imbedded – consciously or unconsciously – in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of Euro-Amerikans.

We noted, as the flag was removed, New Afrikans were shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” and waving tiny U.S. flags, while only a few yards away, over half the crowd – all Euro-Amerikans, all clearly less than joyful – were hoisting Confederate battle flags in every size, while at the front of their crowd, one fellow was hoisting a large U.S. flag in one hand and the Confederate battle flag in the other. As if mirroring our thoughts, the camera panned back to the mixed half of the crowd still blithely shouting “USA! USA!” as if the contradiction only feet away wasn’t underscoring the irrationality of both their chant and their celebration.

Between 2005 and 2012, according to a study by USA Today, New Afrikans were murdered by Euro-Amerikan police officers at a rate of twice a week. Every one of those officers had a central commonality: Each of them had a U.S. flag sewn to their uniform. It was almost as though we were looking upon a physical manifestation of the U.S. fascist mass psychology.

We often view the ideology of racism as something separate from us, while failing to analyze how our core psychology has been affected by it. At the same time they were removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol, it was being erected in millions of homes across the U.S. Amazon.com reported a 3,260 percent increase in sales of “Old Dixie” the day it was removed.

It would have been more rational to leave that flag right where it was, as a constant reminder of just what type of sick society we live in and our need to organize ourselves for self-defense and social transformation. The Confederate battle flag is just that – a symbol of Amerikan’s willingness to fight to preserve institutional racism as a structural component of U.S. capitalist society … just like the U.S. flag.

Consider this: In response to the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E., “Black Lives Matter” was spraypainted on the statue of a Confederate general. The response of Klansmen to this was to burn down six New Afrikan churches in five states. U.S. mass media mentioned a NAIM formation was holding a rally in South Carolina; the Ku Klux Klan’s response was to hold a march and rally through downtown Charleston, complete with national media coverage and police escorts to ensure their security.

The same way the U.S. government views ISIS or Al Qaeda as terrorist groups bent on the destruction of their nation and interests, the New Afrikan people in Amerikka view the KKK. There is nothing ISIS has done that the KKK hasn’t done to New Afrikans in Amerika – only the Klan carried these atrocities out with much more frequency over a much longer period of time.

However, if ISIS were to march and rally in downtown Charleston, S.C., they would be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment under the U.S. Freedom Act, National Security Act and other “anti-terrorism” laws. But if the KKK does the same, they’re provided the full protection of the U.S. Constitution – armed police escorts and national media exposure.

Amazingly – or perhaps NOT so amazingly – the local NAACP president asserted, “They have a First Amendment right to do so,” and he supports their right to exercise it. What is the difference between ISIS and the KKK? One is all Euro-Amerikan, Christian, kills New Afrikans and is protected by the U.S. state; the other is primarily Arabic Muslim, targets Amerikans and Europeans, and is summarily killed by the U.S. state.

In the face of such gross contradictions, do you truly believe “Black Lives Matter” to the U.S. state? Racism and racist violence will continue to re-invent itself as long as the ruling class and state in power remain in power.

Part 2

Racism will continue to exist so long as the belief in the concept of ‘race’ and the material reality underlying it exists. It’s this belief which allows racism to appear as totally autonomous (independent) of the economic relations it serves: capitalism. Unless and until it is uprooted, its forms will change, and its practices will ebb and flow, following the needs of its base, the political requirements of the oppressive state, and the forms and levels of struggle engaged by the people.

Must racism be challenged? Yes. Does ‘race’ have a certain kind of ‘reality’? Yes, but, what we fail to focus on is that ‘race’ is only as ‘real’ as our consciousness and our practices will allow it to be.” – Atiba

Understanding the primary purpose of “racism” – to prevent broad class cooperation across cultural lines and to destroy unity amongst oppressed cultural groups with common interests – ensures that we develop strategies which protect our communities from the effects of this psychosis, without compromising our class unity or prospects of social cooperation. “Understanding that racism is a manufactured concept aids us in fighting it from the proper perspective – rationally and scientifically.”

“Combatting racism” is the conscious engagement of a fiction which has been granted material force in the world through its ideological structure. We are struggling against an illusion which only exists in the minds of man and woman. But much like superstition and the supernatural, it imposes itself on reality solely through our belief. Though irrational and unscientific, racism is nevertheless like the ghosts and ghouls that haunt our dreams, very lethal – and as such, it must be defended against … rationally.

Rationality is a hallmark of resistance to fascist assimilation. It is an indication of the peoples’ capacity to see its relationship to the productive system and social life as it actually is – and respond to it accordingly. It is not the existence of racist murder, violent atrocities, state sponsored terror and national indifference to the plight of New Afrikans in Amerika which should shock the conscience – that is all fairly standard in the U.S. It is the suicidal irrationality of our collective response to it which should concern us all.

A cursory analysis of the New Afrikan experience in Amerika from 1619 to the present clearly reveals Amerikans socially control, exploit, contain and kill New Afrikans as a matter of national policy. It is a policy that has evolved to maintain its function through every change in mode of production – from manual labor to industrialization, mechanization and computerization to financialization – pursued invariably through each, ever emerging, ever resilient.

Yet, in the face of tragedy after tragedy, be it racist police murdering us or psychopathic wannabe “Rhodesians” massacring us, we have yet to collectively commit to self-defense and securing our communities.

A primary question asked on tests measuring human intelligence is “If a faucet is running and a sink is overflowing, what do you do first?” (a) Get a mop and clean up the water, or (b) Turn off the faucet”? Of course you secure the faucet first. Otherwise you will be mopping indefinitely.

Similarly, what should we as a people do first? Organize ourselves so that our communities are no longer vulnerable to racist violence, or, continue to plead and organize within the same system that is responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of that racist violence?

The answer would seem obvious – yet it is not reflected in our social practice. Great effort has gone into organizing efforts like The Black Youth Project (BYP100), Dream Defenders, and reorganizing the NAACP, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of our people to hold elected officials accountable, organize rallies and direct action campaigns to raise the peoples’ consciousness, garner media attention, holding voter registration drives, organizing on social networks, and developing legislation in hopes of ending collective oppression. All very good and very important work … the same work that we have been doing since “Reconstruction” … mopping the floor.

It’s important that no one misunderstand our point here: The floor does need to be mopped … just not while the faucet’s still running. Yes, prayer and faith are vital aspects of our culture and solidarity in such times of tribulation – but they are a poor defense against bullets. And a reliance on the benevolence of those citizens who are either responsible for the national oppression or who benefit and have historically benefited from it is simply irrational.

New Afrikans, communities of color and poor people have always been willing to engage in dialogue with the state to create a just and humane society. Because it has always involved protest – the only time the state has ever been willing to engage in any kind of dialogue with us has been as a result of protest – the state’s response has always been exactly what it is now. The state really does hate us.

We overestimate the power of conversation and the benevolence of the state and those who benefit from our oppression, because, on this very basic level, we will not call this what it really is: hate!

We must defend ourselves against their hate. We must secure our communities – now! Any other course is irrational adventurism … just more floor mopping.

Even more irrational is the response of many of the warriors among us. As if to rub salt in the wounds of our own contradictions, the story the news ran immediately following that of the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. was of the epidemic of New Afrikan on New Afrikan gang violence plaguing Chicago.

As we watch these images of our brothas, sistas and children murdering one another across Chitown, we realized that it could have been Watts, Cleveland, Oakland, Baltimore or Southeast San Diego that they were talking about. In the face of unprecedented racist attacks on our communities from agents of the state, self-styled vigilantes or run of the mill racist psychopaths, our response is to help them out by murdering one other over hood, set, turf or (drug) sack.

We can’t be serious!? Actively participating in our own genocide, in the face of non-stop assault on our humanity, is a classic example of the hate that hate has produced. Our inability to be able to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves – the absence of a cultural kinship – is a consequence of our being under the influence of white supremacy.

It represents how much under the influence we are of – and how much we have been and continue to be damaged psychologically by – slavery. Indeed, the nation does still suffer from this pathology of hate.

There is nothing fly about wanting to be like forces who are committed to our destruction. The system of slavery is understandably viewed initially as a Black and White master-slave issue: racism. But slavery, the process by which one group or gender is made subordinate to a more powerful, stronger group, involves us all.

We are up against a united and powerful force and system. And the only chance that we have at defeating it is by coming together.

Division and disunity is weakness and vulnerability, but unlike a weak buffalo on a savannah that has become weak through illness, age or injury, ours is a willful weakness, a deliberate vulnerability and, as such, it is reversible.

The solution is to create a qualitative transformation in one social extreme – in this case, disunity-born weakness – by quantitatively increasing its opposite: UNITY.

It should never be easy to harm us – any of us. We must put our collective survival before our petty self-interests.

Part 3

When someone attacks you or threatens you, you make it clear that they will suffer in return. He may be able to win battles, but you will make him pay for each victory … You make him understand that every time he bothers you, he can expect damage, even if it is small. The only way to make you stop … is for him to stop attacking you. You are like a wasp on his skin: Most people leave wasps alone.” – Robert Greene

We must protect ourselves and our communities from these attacks by securing our communities. And that includes developing self-defense groups within our communities, safe zones that encompass public spaces for our children and grandchildren to play in, where our mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, wives and lovers, friends and neighbors can engage in other areas of social life without fear of violent death by the hands of those of whose responsibility it is to protect them and our communities. We must also work diligently to overcome the mentality that has us held captive.

It will only be as result of our changing the way that we think – being under the influence of the hate that hate produced – in order to be able to develop strategies and tactics that will make it possible for us to not simply be left alone, but to create and maintain a just and humane society. And we honestly do not have a lot of time left to do so.

Our communities, like much of the planet, have already become giant cemeteries and mental health facilities. Citizens here and abroad are being displaced by wars and deprived of the things that we need to live routinely: water, food, housing, decent wages, employment, education, life!

At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that we are in fact in a fight for our very survival and that we are really dealing with people, an ideology – fascism – and white supremacy that has no interest whatsoever in the creation and maintaining of a just and humane society. And when that happens, people are going to start fighting back. You just cannot expect people to continue to allow themselves to be massacred, stepped on and herded off into prisons. At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that this is happening because we are subordinating ourselves to tyranny.

And tyranny is not a greater good. Fighting against tyranny does, at some point, involve violence. Whether we want it or not, whether we consider it to be acceptable or not, it is a natural response to tyranny.

One of the chief psychological factors which have long undermined a collective policy of self-defense within the New Afrikan community, communities of color and poor communities is the state’s insistence that violence is their sole province. Non-violence and passive acceptance of brutality is popularized in the media, revered in discourse and monuments by the state.

This is not by happenstance.

It is the historic continuation of the deliberate imposition of psychological weakness and submission to white supremacy begun in the “man-breaking, slave-making” process centuries ago. To reverse this process requires struggle – constant, non-stop struggle.

Constant struggle and protest is the only rational response to the non-stop assault on our humanity and the planet that is occurring. We must love freedom, ourselves and the humanity of our fellow citizens.

And that love is what we must subordinate ourselves to. That must be the greater good.

The act of securing our communities and reclaiming our humanity has a dialectically progressive effect on our people and on us all as well.

We begin to shed the capitalist delusions and colonial psychosis which have been imposed on us through the assimilation process. We begin to see the true nature of hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty etc. We see past the shadow, which it is, on to the unequal social and economic relationships of the capitalist system which is actually casting it.

We begin to see our manufactured animosities and sub-culture divisions as aspects of our national oppression and, through this realization, glimpse the prospect of a new form of social life. This is what FUNCTIONAL UNITY looks like.

Functional unity is both a psychological state and social act; it is the conscious determination that one’s subjective animosities or active hostilities within our collective are subordinate to the survival of our people and humanity. It is consciously acting on a daily basis to ensure the welfare and survival of each other.

If our national oppression has taught us anything, it’s that the only “rights” we have are those that we can enforce. Our rights can only be enforced through self-defense.

Attacks upon poor communities, both physical and socio-political, are not abating but increasing. In the months of October, November and December 2015, just around the St. Louis area, seven New Afrikan churches were burned to the ground and, in the previous August, Yogi was assassinated. There is no area of social life in Amerika where New Afrikan mortality is not under threat, no place in this land where New Afrikan life is not undervalued, no other rational conclusion we can reach than we must educate, organize and mobilize our communities and ourselves for self-defense and our own security.

We think it appropriate to end this statement with “Freedom” by Frederick Douglass:

Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation,
Are men who want crops without
Plowing the ground;
They want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one,
And it may be a physical one,
Or it may be both moral and physical,
But it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.

Find out just what any people will submit to
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and
these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those whom they oppress.”
– Frederick Douglass, Aug. 4, 1857

Let’s come together! Love, and struggling with you,

NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank):

  • Zaharibu Dorrough (s/n Michael Dorrough), D-83611, CSP Solano B7-131L Level III, P.O. Box 4000, Vacaville CA 95696
  • Heshima Denham (s/n S. Denham #J38283), KVSP B2-117U, P.O. Box 5102, Delano CA 93216
  • Jabari Scott (Aaron Scott), H-30536, CSP Cor 3A-02-143, P.O. Box 3461, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson (Tyrone Robinson), C-82830, HDSP D8-113, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

Editor’s note: This was written when all of the NCTT brothers except Kambui were still in solitary confinement in the Corcoran SHU. Since then, as a result of the hunger strikes, which they all participated in, and the Ashker settlement, all of them have been transferred out of solitary to “general population” yards. Visit NCTT’s new website for more wisdom from the think tank: https://narncollectivethinktank.org/.

 

 

Welcome to the new site!

Since the Settlement of Ashker v. Brown, the NCTT-Cor-SHU team is being spread around in different locations. That is why the webteam has decided to make the move to WordPress and to give this site a new name and home.

Our new URL: NARNCollectivethinktank.org

Our new Twitter address: @NARNCTT

Our new Email address: NCTT [@] riseup.net

Thank you for staying with us in making change happen for justice, equality and progress!

A Eulogy for Chokwe Lumumba (2-25-2014)

In the 1980s the Ku Klux Klan planned to march down West St. in Downtown Jackson, MS, and Chokwe and the New Afrikan People’s Organization (of which me and my homies were members of their ‘self-defense forces corps’) had organized a counter-protest of hundreds and hundreds of New Afrikan people, and some White brothers and sisters, and we all converged on West St.

I was young, ultra-radical, and full of fire – and I really wanted a physical engagement, but it was not  to be – and that was a good thing. The cops were out in full force with riot sticks, and the Klan were grouped around their 3 busses ant the top of West St. with the cops – some Black – in a defensive line protecting them.
Chokwe was at the head of us all, with a bullhorn telling us all how we were not going to let the Klan march. As Chokwe inspired us all, he yelled out: “They have the ‘po-lice’ to protect them and their hate, and we have our protectors of our right!”And when he said it, 30 NAPO-S.D.C. soldiers – big, musclebound New Afrikan men in black muscle shirts, black tame, and black combat boots, detached from the crowd in perfect unison, and walked into the street in orderly rows, assuming parade rest opposite the police – those of us from the corps (most of us were former street thugs) converged in the street behind them, pumping our fists in the air, and as we did so, a miracle occurred: the Klan piled back onto their busses and pulled out! Chokwe yelled, as though he knew the course of events all along: “The Klan’s not going to march here today – we are!” – and began to lead us all in a historic march down West St. and throughout downtown Jackson, ending in a vacant lot on Farish St. (a historically and traditionally New Afrikan section of Downtown) and gave a rousing speech on the merits of anti-racism, human dignity, and resistance to hate.
The feeling I felt this day, the elation, love, and unity has never left my mind, nor did this tall, wise, slim man who invoked it in me: Chokwe Lumumba. I loved him, I still love him – and I will always love him. I have always, by writ of my social experiences and development, been imbued with revolutionary potential – but it was Chokwe who inspired me to try and fulfill that potential – to translate these ideas into a social force.
Our world is diminished without him, but I will never stop seeking to live up to the example he set for me over 30 years ago.
March 2014

Ncttcorshu.org

Published as part of the article: Chokwe Lumumba: Dare to struggle, dare to win!  in the SF Bay View

First Micro-Loan from NCTT-Cor-SHU-team to a KIVA-borrower

Thanks to someone who sent us a donation for a Micro-credit loan on Kiva, we funded a loan to a farmer in San Diego, CA. We have become a member on Kiva in order to help realize our Ten Core Objectives for Progress and Social Transformation. We plan to form a group for those of you to join us in creating a better world.

We chose to lend our first microloan to Hernan becaus of his story here

“We always wanted to be close to nature, raise our kids in nature, and be self-sufficient through growing our own food,” shared Hernan. “It’s empowering to be able to produce something and provide for others, instead of consuming without participation.”


If you want to join us and help transform society to one where equality, human values, human dignity are our focus, please feel invited by NCTT-Cor-SHU to join Kiva by clicking this link. You can also donate to our Micro-loan Fund and we will be able to loan to more borrowers worldwide via Kiva.

On the Correlation Between the Willie Lynch Method and the Debriefing Process

This is a Zine or Pamphlet written by J. Heshima Denham, a member of the N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU, in 2005. It was also published in: Prison Art Newsletter  Vol, 5 (2005) nr 5 (where we found it, link is gone).


By J. Heshima Denham, with an introduction by Ed Mead

The cause of progressive social change is the guiding ideological force behind the Party’s works, policies, and programs and it’s in fact the very reason for its existence.

For purposes of this essay, “The Party”, encompasses all imprisoned revolutionaries, including all politically aligned units and organizations, as well as individual revolutionary activists. Yet, in recent decades, the Party’s functional ability and influence have been drastically curtailed due primarily to its leadership’s inability to truly trust the functional apparatus of the Party’s membership following devastating instances of betrayal and compromisation by Party personnel who have “debriefed.”

Debriefing  is a process which entails revealing Party and operational secrets, doctrine, self-incrimination, and the implication of other Party personnel in revolutionary activity. It is the contention of this piece that the origins of this functional blight on our glorious Party lie in the Willie Lynch Method of slave making—man breaking; and it is the correlation between the William Lynch Method and the debriefing process which is the single most insidious evil plaguing the Party’s functional ability.

Throughout the history of New Afrikaans resistance to slavery, cultural annihilation, brutality, racism, and second class citizenship there has also existed a seldom spoken about, but all too often attested to, Legacy of Mistrust amongst the truly committed elements carrying forth that resistance.

Following many decades of retribution, escape, sabotage, and outright rebellion by Afrikaans slaves in the New World, many white slave owners sought to develop methods of control to secure their economic interests in those slaves. This delving into the process of psychologically bonding and bowing a people to the yoke of servitude reached its loathsome heights in 1712 with the William Lynch Method of slave control. The Willie Lynch Method of slave making and man breaking is perhaps the greatest psychological bane to the cause of revolution that has ever plagued the New Afrikaans collective.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas observed of this phenomena: “conscious of the injustice and wrong they were every hour perpetuating and knowing what they themselves would do were they the victims of such wrongs, they were constantly looking for the rst signs of the dreaded retribution. They watched therefore, with skilled and practiced eyes, and learned to read, with great accuracy, the state of mind and heart of the slave, through his sable face. Unusual sobriety, apparent abstraction, sullenness, and indifference—indeed, any mood out of the common way afforded grounds for suspicion and inquiry.”

The William Lynch Method was developed specifically to thwart that “dreaded retribution” before it was ever allowed to blossom into the fertile hearts and minds of the oppressed by thoroughly stamping out the DESIRE for such retribution, let alone the cognitive and emotive faculties to carry it out. As stated by Willie Lynch himself: “I have a full proof method of controlling … slaves. I guarantee that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years … I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes.”

No self-respecting professional revolutionary or political historian can deny the fact that the bane of every major revolutionary political movement by Afrikans in Amerikkka has been to a greater or lesser degree hampered, halted, or destroyed by fear amongst the uncommitted, distrust by one faction of another, or envy of this leader or group by another or its own subordinates.

The historic examples of this methods effect on Afrikan Revolutionary Movements in this nation are legion, but I will attempt to shed light on a few of the more glaring examples in hopes that you will grasp the crux of this new perspective on an old problem. Nat Turner, himself a chattel slave, led a successful rebellion that had the potential to become a much larger resistance movement had slaves from the Jones plantation not taken up arms against Nat and his forces in defense of their “master.” These slaves feared freedom and retribution, more than harsh bondage and the whip: they trusted the man who beat and humiliated them, while distrusting a fellow slave come to free them. Willie Lynch’s admonition that, “you must also have your white servants and overseers distrust all Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us.
They must love, respect, and trust only us…” Each time I examine the failure of Turners slave rebellion, these words ring tauntingly through my mind.

Denmark Vesey, in 1800, developed a plan to seize a military outpost / port town in Charlotte, North Carolina but was betrayed by one of his own lieutenants who, it is said, did not appreciate the “lofty manner in which Denmark Vesey spoke down to him.” Discovering the enormity of the conspiracy, and the alarming certainty of its success, Denmark Versey and 16 of his inner circle where discovered and summarily hanged without getting off a single shot.

In the early 1900s through the 1920s Marcus Garvey, and his United Negro Improvement  Association, were one of the most dynamic forces in the cause of Pan-Afrikan Liberation and self-determination the world has ever known. With his rousing oratory and the comparative success of his Black Star Line, Garvey sparked the imaginations, stirred the spirits, and raised the hopes of countless millions of Afrikans the world over. However, it was primarily the relentless attacks of W.E.B. DuBoise and his NAACP which led to the Federal investigations that resulted in the Honorable Marcus Garvey’s incarceration, disgrace, and failure. This, of course, coupled with the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars (unbeknown to Garvey) by his own accountants, tolled the death knoll of perhaps the greatest Black Power movement of the 20th Century. Garvey was the victim of DuBoises’ envy, and an inability to trust his own financial agents.

However, it was the launching of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTEL PRO), and CDC’s accompanying validation and debriefing process which first staggered, then stalled, the Black Liberation Movement of the 60s and 70s and now decay the Party and its revolutionary apparatus under an insidious mold of mistrust. As revolutionary activists and political dissidents were arrested, imprisoned, and maltreated in the sweep of COINTELPRO, some uncommitted elements rather than make the necessary sacrifices for the cause, chose instead to compromise Party and organizational secrets. Not only becoming informants, but giving the tools of reaction the necessary ability to infiltrate the Party and other progressive organizations.

This process, coined “debriefing” by FBI handlers, became the crux of mistrust and rifts, not only amongst the various progressive political organizations but within the Party itself. Some claim such functional mistrust was the reason comrade Jonathan Jackson failed to have the necessary operational support present, allegedly promised by other Party personnel, which resulted in the death of this beautiful warrior and five other comrades that fateful day at the Marin County courthouse. Others contend this is also the reason comrade Fred Hamptons’ security detachment was conspicuously absent the morning he was assassinated. 

With so much “rattery” and betrayal occurring, no one knew who could or could not be trusted. In the wake of the Black Liberation Movement, and on through the transition to the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, as more of the Party’s functional apparatus in California was imprisoned and they turned to  revolutionizing the criminal mentalities of those Afrikans who also found themselves in the concentration camp environment—seeing the success the Party was having—the California Department of Corrections turned to the same, seemingly effective tool as the FBI began, first validating progressives and revolutionary activists, and then offering them the option of debriefing—of further compromising the Party in return for their freedom and a role as a continuing informant.

Naturally, with the William Lynch Method still prevalent in the psyche of the uncommitted, they were successful in penetrating Party security with the aid of those willing to comprise their principles for a cell in a different party of the concentration camp. This was the beginning of mistrust in the imprisoned Party.

There exists a direct link between the William Lynch Method and mistrust in the Party, so profound, that it is eroding our functional ability as surely as the Colorado River continues to carve away at the Grand Canyon.
It is my contention that the origins of uncommitted personnel and their subsequent actions (such as debriefing and informing) lay in the unevolved slave mentalities they yet possess despite their political indoctrination. If one ever wishes to find the origins of his circumstances and reality he need search nor further than his own thoughts.

Our thoughts dictate our actions; our actions dictate our circumstances; our circumstances dictate our reality. If we could bring forth the collective uncommitted elements who have compromised the Party from its inception on, and analyze their psychology individually, we would invariably discover that they each, to a greater or lesser degree, still cling to ideas and behaviors reminiscent of the slave mentality. Liberal sentimentalities; envy and back biting of the truly committed; a willingness to still engage in unethical or criminal activity; intransigence; trepidation or outright cowardice in the face of sacrifice; ignorance; greed; selfishness; all remnants of the slave mentality, all the fruit of the Willie Lynch Method. Such Party personnel were never truly committed to the cause nor the Party, only to what they themselves could wrest from the People, Party and Revolution.

It is within our inability to foster ‘Internal Revolution’ (that process by which one’s psychology and very being are changed) first, in all Party personnel prior to their indoctrination where lies the reason these uncommitted elements have even been able to infiltrate our ranks. What must be understood is not that uncommitted elements exist in the Party, but why they are uncommitted elements; and the answer is because their minds have yet to be liberated. They are still for all intents and purposes slaves; and thus their actions are those of slaves.

As William Lynch states …”I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust, and envy is stronger than adulation, respect or admiration. The Black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.”

These words are an ominous portent comrades, 287 years later and the slave mentality still plagues us and our efforts at collective liberation. But what is more damaging to the functional apparatus of the Party, the truly committed, is not merely the presence of the uncommitted in our ranks, it is CDC’s ability to sew dissension and mistrust within our functional ranks through the debriefing process.

The manner in which they accomplish this end is two-fold, and I will attempt to illustrate those with correlates from the Willie Lynch Method in hopes they illuminate my points more vividly, though macabely. In the Willie Lynch Method of slave breaking the Afrikan female is made to watch the strongest, most rebellious male beaten to bloody ribbons, tied between two horses, tarred, feathered, and set on re before the two horses tear him apart. As Willie Lynch states: “the next step is to…beat the remaining (slave) male to the point of death in front of the female and the infant… We have (now) reversed the relationships. In her natural uncivilized state she would have a strong dependency on the… (slave) male, and would have a limited protective tendency toward her independent male offspring, and would raise females…to be dependent like her… we reverse nature by burning and pulling one… apart… and whipping the other to the point of death—all in her presence. By being left alone, unprotected … the ordeal caused her to move from her psychological dependent state to a frozen independent state…what have you got? You’ve got the (slave) woman out front and the (slave) man behind and scared. This is a perfect situation for sound sleep and economics.”

Similarly, after witnessing supposedly solid comrades, debriefing and informing and in many instances being debriefed and informed on, truly committed personnel begin (and understandably so) to mistrust all Party personnel to a greater of lesser degree, who aren’t in their similar set of circumstances and standing rm. They are thrust into a quasi “frozen independent state”, fiercely guarding those few Party secrets and resources from all but a few, because they feel they can no longer depend on those who haven’t “gone bad yet.”

This is a perfect situation to ensure the political progress and operational range of the Party is curtailed by the Party itself. And as Willie Lynch states, “Before the breaking process, we had to be alertly on guard at all times. Now we can sleep soundly, for out of frozen fear, his woman stands guard for us. He can not get past her early infant slave molding process. He is (now) a good tool…”; and comrades, unfortunately this too is relatively true—before the inception of the debriefing process the forces of reaction “had to be alertly on guard at all times”, now they sleep soundly because we stand guard for them against our own great potential.
And comrades, potential unused is as good as having none at all. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

The second is even more insidious, because it is more self-destructive than it is passively degrading. In our attempts to weed out uncommitted and philistine elements from our functional ranks, truly committed personnel are finding any fault, even those perceived and not necessarily existent, within other truly committed personnel resulting in further fear and mistrust.

A subtle, but constant organizational self-mutilation is occurring within our ranks; like a rabid dog which gnaws off his own foot in an attempt to separate the infection from his healthy form, yet only serving to increase his injury. And here in lies another correlate from our nemesis Willie Lynch, as he states:

“Don’t forget you must pitch the old Black male vs. the young Black male, and the young…vs. the old… you must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skinned slaves… and the female vs. the male… if used intensely… the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful…” 

Though the Parties’ own internal rivalries often flow along the lines of young or new comrades vs. old or veteran comrades; differing ideological branches; different sectors; and conflicting personalities, the correlate is none the less relevant. It is the ever present specter of the debriefer, the rat, the  betrayer which causes us to seize on the most minor or middling infraction and raise them to the level of major breaches in Party discipline, protocol, or procedure. Even I have found myself in an instance, too quick to condemn another comrade to the ranks of phillistia and uncommittedness; and I berated myself and asked the forgiveness of the comrade in question and the Party as a whole for such rashness in the throes of my zeal because, most importantly, it was wrong. I see in it, not the vigilance of the truly committed to Party security, but instead the subtle influence of our enemies in their attempts to foster dissention in our ranks. I say thee nay, comrades! We can not allow them to manipulate us into slowly devouring ourselves. Strict adherence to doctrine, discipline, and security are paramount, but this descent into organizational mutilation and mistrust of Party personnel is nothing less than slow suicide for our glorious Party and the Cause of Revolution as a whole.

The effects of this mistrust are crippling not only the Party’s ability to function, but our ability to evolve, grow, and develop. The primary purpose of all professional revolutionaries is fighting to build the Party, but I have seen firsthand comrades, this is a fight we are losing. Our ranks are dwindling. Though the masses cry out for progressive leadership there are too few truly committed, or even willing voices to answer. I have traveled the State of California for the last year, and what I have witnessed is truly disturbing. The Party’sinfluence, once deep rooted and far reaching, is now virtually symbolic alone. Though always assuming a leadership role, and gaining deference from the various Afrikan tribes, units, and organizations I encountered—that deference is almost that which is rendered to an honored elder who’s day has passed. When speaking of the Party, though with the utmost respect and admiration, the masses speak, as if referring to a great and awe inspiring warrior who fought valiantly to the death, but is dead none the less. There are those who actually believe the Party no more! This alone should alarm the entire New Afrikaans Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, all those who love freedom, justice, and equality, and most of all, every Party member alive, man and woman. Is our strategic and tactical expertise so awed that we can not evolve to the point where we can balance Party security with our need to grow and our ability to influence the People? I know this is not true, because I know this Party—I know my comrades—and our ranks boast some of the greatest social, political, military, economic, and cultural minds of our time, so I can only conclude that it is this insidious phenomena of perpetual mistrust which is crippling our personnel, crippling our Party, crippling our cause.
Revolution, radical progressive social change, is illegal in the oppressor nation in which it takes place; therefore imprisoned Party members are a natural outgrowth of pursuing the cause of righteousness in this Evil Empire. But for the truly committed revolutionary agent, imprisonment does not stop the forward progression of the Cause; and so the forces of reaction developed “validation” and adopted the debriefing process and its Willie Lynch Method correlations have served to do great damage to the Party’s functional ability, thus gravely harming the Cause, weakening its proponents, and degrading the Revolution.

If the Party is to continue to exist as an organizational entity and more importantly if The Cause is to continue to be carried forth, the party must resist and overcome this phenomenon.

When a thing’s small, at its beginnings, it is easily uprooted or destroyed… A seed is much more easily uprooted than a tree. But this evil that plagues us is centuries old; a gnarled tree with thick canopy, many branches, and deep roots—but if we are to remove this “tree” so the “sun” of organizational success can reach us again—we must wrest this vile tree up by its roots, we must strike at its origins. Acknowledging the William Lynch Method as the true origins of the debriefing process is the key to halting its affects upon imprisoned revolutionaries. By being aware of the subtle psychological effects of the William Lynch Method that vibrate through the undercurrents of the decisions being made by imprisoned revolutionaries which are hampering our collective efforts, we can begin to devise and implement successful psychological counter measures and operational procedures which will forestall this vile evils’ effects on our Cause and finally sever this centuries-long link with the slave mentality.

We are aware, painfully so, of the myriad methods that Willie Lynch, those who employed his methods, and now the Department of Corrections have used over these many years to destroy the trust, unity, cohesiveness, and influence by which we depend on to carry forth the works, policies, and programs of the People, Party, and Revolution. Therefore we must make ourselves equally, no, more intimately familiar with those methods which will not only counter their effects but give the imprisoned revolutionary the means by which to evolve to a new and higher level of operational sophistication.

Primary among these is, and always will be, the insurance that those who claim allegiance to the Revolutionary Cause and expect to serve the people in any organized capacity must have first undergone internal Revolution before they are initiated into the secrets of the professional revolutionary Party. Internal Revolution is the process by which an individual’s psychology is so drastically changed in the direction of righteousness, progression, and willingness to sacrifice for that progress toward what is right, that he is virtually a new being. Internal Revolution is the only reliable path to true commitment, and only truly committed elements can be unfailingly relied upon to be free of the Willie Lynch Methods affects or its correlates, no matter the form they may manifest themselves (threat of validation, fear of debriefing, etc.). Lip service is one thing, but the truly committed will reveal themselves by their day to day actions and can be tested reliably in the service of the Cause. This, our ability to develop truly committed elements is the single greatest weapon we have against the debriefing process, it’s Willie Lynch correlates, and any other sinister machinations the enemies of the masses can and will throw at us.

I’m sure none would disagree with me when I say security is the preeminent concern in any clandestine political movement; and I can say with equal alacrity that it has been our strict adherence to this dictate which has been the crux of some of our own self-immolating decisions. Our fear of compromisation has bred an almost paranoid distrust amongst those in positions of responsibility and trust within our various units and organizations, of their own membership at large: and this is understandable. I myself have been informed on while promoting revolutionary sentiments and socialist mores, I myself have been validated, and uncommitted elements have compromised me in their debriefing processes. Instances of such betrayal are legion. 

But instead of succumbing to my own innate desire to put everyone in the “suspect” category, it made me more determined to build trustworthy personnel wherever I encountered revolutionary minded men and women. This is real simple: the Party must trust its membership, despite this phenomenon… or die. We must adapt already existing procedures and protocols to deal with our enemies’ evolution in intelligence capability, and develop new ones to account for future breaches in our operational security. There have been instances where legitimate revolutionary functionaries have reached out for logistical, tactical, or operational assistance from those in positions of responsibility and trust, and received only silence in reply, dooming potentially beautiful operations or sinking progressive programs by cutting their own personnel off from the well spring of functional capability. It’s killing us…slowly… but as surely as malignant cancer. But unlike cancer, there will be no outside intervention, no group of concerned individuals  to treat our organizational ills; the cure will come from one place and one place alone: ourselves.

Only we can take the necessary steps to place our functional personnel in a psychological and operational position where they all can feel comfortable trusting one another, of depending on one another, of having faith in each other and thus our cause.

Only we can wield our potential as it was meant to be wielded, and be condent that we can be relatively safe doing so. Only we can identify, develop, and encourage Internal Revolution in others, thus forging truly committed personnel. Only we can stamp out the fear, mistrust, and pettiness plaguing the imprisoned revolutionary collective. Only we can bury Willie Lynch’s vile influence, which yet haunts us like a ghost, in the impenetrable tomb of our own determination. Let us be about the business of doing so. Let us say to the forces of reaction: “Bring on your lies and false labels; bring on your SHU cells and torture; bring on your rats and informers, for we shall never surrender, never give up, never submit, never give in… and in the end we shall win.” Solidarity to all those who love freedom and fear only failure. Think on these things, they are cause for great meditation.

Prison Art Newsletter vol 5 nr 5 (2005)
And:

Anti-misogyny and sexism

The N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU stands in diametric opposition to the oppression of man/woman by man/woman. In the face of unprecedented violence against women in the near and middle east, a direct outgrowth of imperialist expansion and patriarchal authoritarian religious fundamentalism, it is necessary that we criticize the maintenance of cultural misogyny and institutional sexism. From Pakistani schoolgirls and teachers being brutalized and killed by misogynists besmirching the sacred name of Islam, to Christian fundamentalist G.O.P. Senate candidate Todd Akin’ comments about “legitimate rape,” this cultural sexism finds its origins in the establishments of the monogamous patrilineal family unit and the patriarchal authoritarian psychological structure which has gained cultural hegemony across much of the world.

Sexism and misogyny are both cultural and socio-economic phenomena. As Frederick Engels explained in The origin of the family, private property, and the state, the patriarchal authoritarian social structure was established “to make man supreme in the family and to propagate, as the future heirs to his wealth, children indisputably his own.”
This could not be accomplished without complete control over a woman’s sexual life, which required nothing short of their total economic, social, political, and psychological subjugation of women to the dictates of men. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite their history(s) of brutal conflict and war, share a common cultural and socio-religious ethic of justification for brutal colonialism, economic exploitation, and violence against women. Traditional and contemporary judeo-christian and Islamic fundamentalism have been exceptional vehicles for genocide, slavery, sexism, territorial expansion, misogyny, and imperialism. As stated by Max Weber:

“One must go to the ethics of ascetic Protestantism to find any ethical sanction for economic rationalism, and for the entrepreneur.”

No matter if it’s India (where a woman was recently raped to death by 6 men on a public bus) or the U.S.A. (where in February 2012 House Republicans held a hearing on contraception and intentionally did not invite women to testify, but instead 5 male clergy to offer their “expertise” on the subject of women’s sexual health rights), societies based on competition and private expropriation of social production, employ the patriarchal family unit. Such family units have proven perfect incubators for labor submission and socialization, and in order to perpetuate the economic order of capitalism found it practicle to establish the intimate oppression of women.

This sexist repression has been reflective of domestic slavery; women have been used and exploited as servants, sexual pleasure tools, social companions, child bearers, child teachers, and child correctors. Legislation is incapable of altering cultural mores which are rooted in the productive system itself. Suffrage and the “Lily Ledbetter Act” have done little to alter sexists’ social attitudes in the U.S., or the misogyny it has exported around the globe via imperialist economic penetration.

This is because, like the economic class and race-caste systems, institutional sexism is a structural component of monopoly capitalism. The middle class is so vital to the maintenance of the capitalist culture because it is the mainstay of patriarchal marriage and the authoritarian family unit, which are primary logs in service to the 1%’s interest in material profit. As Wilhelm Reich states in The Mass Psychology of Fascism [The Autoritarian Ideology],

“It is the class that preserves nothing less than several thousand years of patriarchy and keeps it alive with its contradictions… The social position of the middle class is determined by 1) its position in the capitalist production process, 2) its position in the authoritarian state apparatus, 3) its special family situation, which is directly determined by its position in the production process… There are indeed differences in the economic situation (of middle class families) but the basic nature of the family situation is the same.”

Therefore there can be no serious discussion of the abolition of sexism and misogyny in the U.S. and abroad without it taking place within the framework of the abolition of global capitalism through scientific socialist revolution. With that in mind, the totality of women’s oppression is not located in the profit system, nor will the overthrow of capitalism guarantee complete freedom for our sisters. No. Even more central to this aim is the abolition of the puritanical and patriarchal authoritarian culture of conservatism upon which the economic exploitation of gender inequality is based and sustained. This can not be accomplished via bourgeoisie democracy or attempts to reform that which can not be reformed. As Emma Goldman stated:

“The history of the political activities of man proves that they have given him absolutely nothing that he could not have achieved in a more direct, less costly, and more lasting manner… There is no reason whatever to assume that woman, in her climb to emancipation, has been, or will be, helped by the ballot… Her development, her freedom, her independence, must come from and through herself. First by asserting herself as a personality. Second, by refusing the right to anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them; by refusing to be a servant to god, the state, society, the husband, the family, etc. By making her life simpler, but deeper and richer… only that, and not the ballot, will set woman free…”

We concur. Our sisters must first conquer their rights, by self-defense and force of arms where need arises. Ideologies are indigenous, and feminism is an ideology of liberation which finds its origins with our sisters. It is our sisters which must take the lead within the scientific socialist revolution to indoctrinate their brothers in feminist ideology and the abolition of these sexist, chauvinistic, and misogynistic tendencies which remain in us all.

In the final analysis, it is this commitment to destroying the capitalist values and mores within ourselves – removing the artificial divisions between us all of race, gender, class, and culture which will prove the death knew for monopoly capitalist exploitation. Our solidarity is the ruling 1%’s worst nightmare. We must all commit ourselves to destroying sexism and violence against women wherever it rears its head.

Until we win or don’t lose.

N.C.T.T.-Cor. SHU
January 2013

Mutope Duguma’s Court Victory for New Afrikan prisoners in California

From: SF Bay View

August 20, 2012

by Mutope Duguma

We as New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Freedom Fighters have won a major court victory toward throwing off the shackles of mental oppression. 

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco has ruled in a 3-0 decision that alleged members and associates of the New Afrikan revolutionary leftist organization titled the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and all New Afrikan prisoners have a First Amendment right to expression of their United States constitutional rights to speak to the New Afrikan nationalist revolutionary man ideology. 
The California Prison Intelligence Units (PIU), i.e., the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) and the Investigative Services Unit (IGI), have now been instructed to comply with the ruling by Justice James Lambden.

These are clearly our political beliefs, synonymous with the various ideological developments:
  • New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN),
  • New Afrikan Nation (NAN),
  • New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man (NANRM),
  • Black Revolutionary Nationalism (BRN),
  • Revolutionary Nationalism (RN),
  • Black Nationalism,
  • New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Freedom Fighter (NARNFF),
  • New Afrikan Ethnic Group (NAEG),
  • New Afrikan Revolutionary Guerrilla Nationalist Resistance Movement (NARGRM),
  • New Afrikan Socialist Man/Woman (NASMW).
They are stated in the Writ of Habeas Corpus, Case No. HCPB 10-5298, dated Dec. 26, 2010 and the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco’s Case No. A131276. 
Three justices ruled unanimously against Pelican Bay State Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation personnel G.D. Lewis, K.L. McGuyer, J. Silveira, G. Wise, K.J. Allen and D. Foster.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco has ruled in a 3-0 decision that alleged members and associates of the New Afrikan revolutionary leftist organization titled The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and all New Afrikan prisoners have a First Amendment right to expression of their United States constitutional rights to speak to the New Afrikan nationalist revolutionary man ideology.

Yes, my Brothers and Sisters, we have only begun to struggle for our ideological beliefs on all fronts. Therefore, file your grievances, complaints and direct your claims to the state and federal courts forthwith!
Following is a declaration that I personally believe was very instrumental in winning this case due to James T. Campbell establishing clearly our New Afrikan struggle here in Amerika since 1619.
I can only hope that this ruling can allow the many New Afrikans throughout this nation, held in these prisons, general populations as well as solitary confinement torture units, to express our New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist ideology free of any attacks by overzealous prison intelligence units.
United we stand!
Mutope Duguma

Declaration of James T. Campbell

  1. I am over 18 years of age and fully competent to make this declaration. I have personal knowledge of the matters described here unless otherwise noted.

  2. I am currently the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History at Stanford University. My research focuses on African American history and the wider history of the black Atlantic. I am particularly interested in African American intellectual and political history, including the long history of interconnections and exchange between Africa and America.
  3. In my quarter century teaching at Stanford University, Brown University, Northwestern University, and the University of the Witwatersrand I have taught the following courses: Slavery and Freedom in American History; The Politics of Retrospective Justice; The Harlem Renaissance; History and Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement; The Life and Work of W.E.B. Du Bois; Celluloid America: History and Film; as well as survey courses in American and South African history. My curriculum vitae is attached as Exhibit A.
  4. I was contacted by the Prison Law Office to review a letter dated April 11, 2010, written by James Crawford, along with some of his other writings. I was asked if I could determine whether the contents of the letter and, in particular, the terms “New Afrika” and “New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man” communicated genuine political ideas about Black Nationalism in the context of African American history, which is an area I have studied extensively.
  5. After reviewing the letter carefully, I reached the conclusion that Mr. Crawford is rooted in a political tradition with deep roots in African American intellectual and political history, a tradition that stretches from the first African emigration movements in the era of the American Revolution, through the classical Black Nationalist tradition of the nineteenth century, and extending through the twentieth century in such incarnations as Marcus Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Black Panthers, and the Republic of New Afrika. The language that Mr. Crawford uses to communicate his ideas reflects a thorough immersion in and understanding of this history and ideological tradition.
  6. Mr. Crawford’s use of the terms “New Afrika” and “New Afrikan” are consistent with the movement in the 1960s and 1970s to allow African Americans the right of self-determination to decide whether to form a Republic of New Afrika in the South. The Republic of New Afrika was one of the movements that popularized the usage of Afrika with a “k.”
  7. As is characteristic of Black Nationalist thought in American history, Mr. Crawford’s letter does not appear to trace back to a single source but rather reflects a synthesis of a range of ideologies and movements stretching over the entirety of American history, with particular emphasis on the Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.
  8. Although I have no personal knowledge of what Mr. Crawford was trying to communicate in his April 11, 2010, letter apart from reading it, in my judgment he is a serious political thinker using terms such as “New Afrikan” and “New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man” that were ubiquitous in Black urban life in the 1960s and 1970s and that to my knowledge have no particular connection to prison gangs.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed July 3, 2011, in Palo Alto, California.
Mutope Duguma, a frequent contributor to the Bay View, is the author of “The call: Hunger strike to begin July 1,” “Pelican Bay SHU prisoners plan to resume hunger strike Sept. 26,” “We are willing to sacrifice ourselves to change our conditions,” “They took the 15 of us hunger strikers to ASU-Hell-Row,” “We’ve taken their power away by uniting as one,” “The solitary confinement profiteers“ and many more. Send our brother your congratulations and some love and light: Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford), D-05996, PBSP SHU D1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Launching a Campaign of Resistance

by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough
In: SF Bay View
Aug 15th 2012

“The way prisons are run and their inmates treated gives a faithful picture of a society, especially of the ideas and methods of those who dominate that society. Prisons indicate the distance to which government and social conscience have come in their concern and respect for the human being.” – Milovan Djilas

We should never accept being abused or mistreated. It’s our duty as human beings to fully resist. Our strike activity over the past year, followed by strikes as far away as Palestine/Israel, has shown that solid resistance is not only possible but also very effective, and it can be done in smart, fully advantageous ways. It simply requires prisoners to come together collectively for the common good of all and with the support of the people outside, forming a powerful force to compel changes that are long overdue.

“Our compliance and recognition of the prisons’ power over us is our downfall. If we collectively refuse to comply and refuse to recognize the prisoncrats having any power over us via refusal to work, refusal to follow orders, then these prisons cannot operate,” wrote Pelican Bay strike representative Todd Ashker in the March San Francisco Bay View.

Our only solution, as overwhelming as it may seem, is to launch a long, protracted campaign of resistance throughout the prison system – level three and four yards – not only to close the SHU facilities down completely, but to gain back everything we’ve given up over the years. The time for us to get off our knees is long overdue.
With the application of new and correct tactics employed throughout the system, accompanied by class action 602s and lawsuits, coordinated written statements from us to the media and support from various prison activist groups and, of greatest significance, mass solidarity, we can achieve this. The legal struggle that was being waged in the interest of the entire population to overturn the process failed to provoke a unified response. We are, as a prison population, oppressed as an entire population, therefore the solution is to be found in a group response.

We as a prison population are becoming increasingly more self-centered and driven by self-interests as our material conditions continue to deteriorate, and in turn we become contributors and accomplices to CDCR’s agendas and the further downward spiral of our own deterioration. More often than not we do so unconsciously; that is, we do so unintentionally and unknowingly.

“We live within circumstances where the existing and predominate ideology of ‘individualism’ is self-defeating and destructive to all of us as a population and where the collective mentality is an absolute necessity for the improvement of our living conditions,” wrote C.L. in “The Road Ahead” in the March issue of Rock.

Finally, hundreds of men in the ASU at Calipatria State Prison participated last year in the Pelican Bay State Prison Hunger Strike that reached statewide in July 2011 and another in September 2011. The men at Calipatria State Prison ASU who starved themselves were in unity with Pelican Bay State Prison’s five core demands, but these men added their own demands, which were to have appliances, either a TV or radio, to stimulate their minds if they had to be forced to stay in segregation.

With help from articles that were published to expose the illegal extended years these men are serving in these “temporary” segregation units, loved ones on the other side of these walls pushed CDCR to have these men’s demands met for appliances. The men at Calipatria ASU described to the public the extreme inhumane conditions they were faced with, and after Warden Leland McEwen was removed, Sacramento approved TVs for all men in Calipatria State Prison ASU.

On April 19, 2012, at the expense of CDCR, TVs were distributed and installed in all ASU cells. This demonstrates that the issue of addressing the need for prisoner unity, of specific examples of solutions and the importance of developing a political consciousness and its role in developing successful strategies and tactics inside and outside of prison is an important part of the dialogue.

The success of any struggle is tied to the strength of its movement – a movement that we all belong to as a result of our willingness to resist and make sacrifices. Unity requires dialogue and commitment, and our only interest is in broadening and deepening the unity and support that all of the efforts made have realized for us all.

As revolutionaries, we will and must continue to pursue the formation of a broader “National Mass Movement” which will support the realization of the five core demands articulated by Pelican Bay, just as we all strive to transform the nature and structure of capitalist society itself which gave rise to the need to pursue the California Prisoners Hunger Strike and the Pelican Bay D-Corridor Collective to create the five core demands.

Other areas that can be pursued are contacting the hunger strike coalition, if this has not already been done, and explain to them the circumstances of your situation. Write to your families and loved ones and make them aware of your situation. And educate them about the prison movement as well.

The Prisoner Activist Resource Center (PARC, P.O. Box 70447, Oakland, CA 94612) is an invaluable resource. And again, the article “The Road Ahead” in the March issue of Rock is an excellent study material to refer to.

Struggling with you.
Michael Dorrough

Send our brother some love and light: Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, Cor-SHU, 4B-1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This story is an excerpt from a letter sent to Ed Mead of the Rock newsletter.

A day in the life of an imprisoned revolutionary

by J. Heshima Denham
In: SF Bay View, May 8th 2012

“The purpose of the … control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large.” – Former Marion Supermax Prison Warden Ralph Aron

“In several instances (the control unit) has been used to silence religious leaders. It has been used to silence economic and philosophical dissidents.” – Federal Judge James Foreman, U.S. District Court, East St. Louis, Illinois, 1980


“This type of struggle gives us the opportunity to become revolutionaries, the highest form of the human species, and it also allows us to emerge fully as men; those who are unable to achieve either of those two states should say so now and abandon the struggle.” – Che Guevara, Bolivia, 1967


Heshima wrote on the back of this photo – a rarity, as prisoners in isolation often go decades without being photographed: “This photo was taken a few days after the first hunger strike ended (last July). I was only 178 pounds; I’d lost 42 pounds.”

Greetings, brothers and sisters. Perpetual existence in the sensory deprivation torture units of Amerika, like any form of socio-political violence, is virtually impossible to understand if you’ve not personally experienced it or some other form of coercive force over a prolonged period. Though the human imagination is infinitely capable of conjuring fantasies of such horrors, what appears equally shocking to many is how can some not only resist such systematic psychological torture, but actually improve themselves under such conditions of extreme duress.

Ironically, the answer lies in the motivation of the torture itself. The origin of our resistance lies in the very nature of the core contradictions of capitalist society in conflict with the advanced elements of its most oppressed strata: the bourgeois state’s attempt to stamp out revolutionary sentiment amongst the lumpen-proletariat in hopes of maintaining and expanding its reactionary character, in contrast with the struggle of political and politicized prisoners to raise the consciousness and revolutionary character of the entire underclass, all while resisting the fascist state’s attempts to silence our dissent, crush our will to struggle and foment defection.

We have consistently sought to expose the objective reality of our collective exploitation, of what society’s ills are, their origins in the arrangement of the productive system, and how to change them in the interests of the vast majority of the world’s people. We have consistently been tossed in control units for doing so.

Prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society at large.


Prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society at large. The same structures and relationships – political, social and economic – that make up U.S. society are reflected on any prison yard, stripped of the pretense of patriotism and unity. Those social forces who dictate society’s guidelines – i.e., the ruling class, bourgeois state, the 1 percent etc. – have ensured “the rule of law” is structured to sanction those who would disturb the maintenance of the core contradictions upon which capitalist society is based – i.e., social production leading to private appropriation, the economic class structure, the race card system etc.

Should critics or dissenters rock the boat too far outside the bourgeois prescribed course, they invariably find themselves ostracized or imprisoned. Once in prison nothing is different. Abuses of imprisoned revolutionaries dates back centuries in the U.S. The legacies of John Brown, Eugene V. Debs, Melvin B. Tolsen, Clifford James, W.L. Nolan and George L. Jackson continue today in the indefinite sensory deprivation isolation of Leonard Peltier, P. Sangu Jones, Mumia Abu Jamal, Sondai Ellis, Zaharibu Dorrough, Sitawa Dewberry, Jarvis Masters, D. Mutope Crawford, L. Powell, Wembe Johnson, F.Y. Carter and so many more principled servants of the people and champions of humanity, all daily subjected to indefinite psychological torture solely because they will never renounce the struggle against the oppression of man by man … and neither will I. I am a product of this unbroken legacy of revolutionary thought, action and eternal commitment and have shared the same torturous fate for 12 years, and will continue to do so until we win or don’t lose, until victory or death.

But I’ve been asked, “What is it really like, a day in your life?” We share a functional collective consciousness, so sharing a single day from my life should give you a glimpse into the “lives” – the existence – of all these examples of humanity’s most noble spirit: the revolutionary in perpetual resistance to indefinite torture.

I’ve been asked, “What is it really like, a day in your life?” We share a functional collective consciousness, so sharing a single day from my life should give you a glimpse into the “lives” – the existence – of all these examples of humanity’s most noble spirit: the revolutionary in perpetual resistance to indefinite torture.


I wake to darkness and cold. It’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m in my small cell in Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit). I turn my head slightly to see the photos of my children and grandson on my wall and close my eyes to thank the creator for giving me another day of life in which to make some contribution to the cause of freedom, justice, equality and human rights. I ask that my comrades, my children and my siblings be watched over, their health preserved.

I then open my eyes and rise. It’s particularly cold this morning as I lace up my shoes, fold my linen, and roll my mattress back. After attending to my morning ablutions, clean the sink and sweep my floor, I turn on my TV to the news and enjoy a cup of coffee in preparation for my routine.

I have to be extra careful as I change the channel since the last power surge fried my TV cord and if I move my TV it’ll blow out again. The c/o (correctional officer) walks past flashing his light into my cell. I have the cell light that glares 24/7 blocked using a piece of string and sheet so I can stave off the migraines that accompany the constant illumination we endure daily.

I watch the various stories engaging bourgeois state-controlled media today: Multinational and domestic corporations, sitting on trillions in cash reserves, are refusing to hire because they claim a combination of “regulatory uncertainty and adverse consumer sentiment” has them sitting on the sidelines of the labor market. I see through this blatant gambit to manipulate the working class into opposing greater financial regulation and health care reform in seconds.

In an economy fueled by consumption, which is directly proportional to wage labor payrolls, corporations are intentionally prolonging the depressed economic cycle by not hiring, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of reduced consumption creating the perception amongst the exploited workers that re-establishing the deregulated free market – which is what caused this current recessionary-recovery cycle – and repealing the petty bourgeois policies of the Obama administration in favor of more industrial bourgeois policies that are championed by Republicans is their only course to broader employment.

I shake my head in a combination of pity, anger and disgust as I hear these deluded patsies parroting the ideas of the ruling class as they languish “trapped in the matrix,” their desperate conditions blinding them to their own interests. They continue to grasp and flail ineffectually to realize their immediate interests, seemingly oblivious to any conscious aspirations of changing the system itself, of seizing power and structuring society so the ownership of the means of production and distribution actually reflects the reality of social production and human need.

I immediately berate myself for the direction of my frustrated thought: I remind myself, as I rise and begin my warm-up routine of jumping jacks, that it’s not the people’s fault when the revolution fails; it is the fault of the vanguard party, our fault … MY fault. I/we must redouble my/our efforts, I think. We must combine our ideas, analyses and efforts in a more effective and efficient form to get our words heard, these ideas understood, these theories tested in the vital arena of social practice.

It’s not the people’s fault when the revolution fails; it is the fault of the vanguard party, our fault … MY fault. We must combine our ideas, analyses and efforts in a more effective and efficient form to get our words heard.


I did weight work yesterday, filling my laundry bag with stacks of transcripts and old magazines, then lashing them down with pieces of sheet and string to make a weight bag. So today I’ll do circuit training. I settle on 10 circuits of five exercises: 50 pushups, 40 crunches, 50 split-lunges, 20 dips (between the dunks) and 50 three-count squats.

The pain in my right side, which has been there since the first hunger strike, is like a piece of shrapnel in my side and by the sixth circuit I’m feeling my age, my body wanting to quit. “No one’s here but me,” I think. “I’m sweating, I’ve pushed my body, why continue to endure this pain?” Almost instantly a more insistent voice answers: “What if you were in the field of battle and the lives of your comrades and the people depended on you fighting on? What is pain to the future survival of the people, the party and the revolution? Nothing at all.”

All life is suffering; it is the nature of your existence, the price of your unwavering commitment to what is right. I heed this second voice. I ignore the pain and exhaustion and push on. I feel the cold stone under my palms and the sweat flowing from my pores, but none of it registers in my mind. I am fueled by images of combating the sick bastards on this TV who are dragging an old woman away in cuffs, her head bloodied, from an Occupy Movement protest line.

I strive to control the fire, to channel it into my exercises, and just as the rage against all the injustice I’ve witnessed and endured at the hands of this sick system seeks to overwhelm my reason, my discipline clamps down on it, I detach from my emotions, and finish my last set. I pace my small cell and drink a cup of warm water, re-asserting greater control of my breathing and heart rate in preparation for the next half of my morning regimen, cataloguing the work I have before me today and prioritizing it.

The c/o’s walk by for morning count and unlock the barbox – the sound of the metal gears falling into place, of tray slots being unlocked in preparation for chow signaling the start of another day in the torture unit. When they leave the section, I put up my window blockers and do 45 minutes to an hour of kata and martial arts training.

Here in the 4B1L-C section short corridor, the windows in the gun tower are mirror-tinted and the section windows blacked out. They can watch you, but if they’re staging a raid or monitoring your in-cell activities, you can’t see them. You thus live in a state between perpetual uncertainty and hyper-vigilance, never knowing when you’ll have your cell torn up and property destroyed or confiscated.

They are aware most imprisoned New Afrikan revolutionary nationalists practice some form of self-defense, and they believe they have sufficient documentation as to the extent of my decades of attention to these sciences in my C-file and elsewhere, but they really don’t, so I prefer to train in conditions of privacy to keep the extent of my expertise to myself. I end with some light moving meditation and then take my bird bath.
Around this time they are coming through the section door with chow. It’s scrambled eggs and potatoes today; it’s Tuesday. The menu never changes. You know the meal by the day of the week. We’re being served on paper trays, the food is grossly under-proportioned and ice cold. I go to the door and accept my small tray of food and sack lunch, looking at these c/o’s laugh and joke about the game they enjoyed over the weekend.

Through hooded eyes, I speak politely, thanking them for the cold food and wishing them a good morning. Startled by this response, they offer a nervous pleasantry in reply. I deposit my meal in a white paper cup, place the 2 slices of bread over it and scoop the 3-½ spoonfuls of cold cracked wheat cereal into my mouth and wash them down with some warm water.

I see this for the subtle psychological attack it is, reminding myself provocation and/or mental degradation is its intent. I form the opposite reaction, remembering there are men and women right now in some CIA blacksite prison in Uzbekistan being raped with a cattle-prod for breakfast yet maintaining their ideological integrity. I’ll do no less. The fact that they’ve been feeding me this way for 12 years and counting only strengthens my resolve. I’m desensitized by this point. I eat only to survive. I stopped eating for taste, texture or temperature years ago.

The food is grossly under-proportioned and ice cold. I see this for the subtle psychological attack it is and form the opposite reaction, remembering there are men and women right now in some CIA blacksite prison in Uzbekistan being raped with a cattle-prod for breakfast yet maintaining their ideological integrity. I’ll do no less.

I finish my “bird bath,” clean my sink, toilet, walls and floor, then sit down and eat half of my eggs and potatoes, saving the rest to eat with my lunch. My sack lunch – one slice of bread, two thin slices of bologna, a pack of two graham crackers and a small pack of almonds (12 almonds in a pack) – needs these extra calories to hold me till chow at 5 p.m.

I make my coffee pack, sit down and open my “office.” I intentionally maintain a massive workload so all of my time is consumed with activity. I am very conscious of time, of the quantity and quality of my daily service to the revolutionary cause.

I’m doing a portrait of a family who’s befriended my comrade Kambui in hopes of strengthening those social ties and displaying the quality of my/our work to a broader public audience; I’m designing new pieces for my/our greeting card line in hopes of raising funds for our progressive community development programs; I’m litigating a medical civil rights claim on behalf of a prisoner here with diabetes where I’ve been forced to file four different motions for extension of time because we’ve not been given law library access since August.

We’re supposed to get law library access today. I have several chapters and papers I have to review in various texts on economics, politics and mass psychology for a new piece we’re writing on the practice application of revolutionary scientific socialism in the U.S. today. I’m helping some good comrades gain a broader understanding of the ideas of Fanon, Marx, Engels, Mao, Trotsky and Ho Chi Minh as they relate to the ever-evolving conditions in modern society, trying to finish some work for our brothers and sisters in the progressive media and the Occupy Movement and putting the finishing touches on a Japanese cultural piece I/we initially intended to donate to the Fresno Museum of Art to auction off for the Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund but can only assume the museum director never wrote back because we are prisoners and she could not see past the propaganda of the state and its corresponding social stigma.

I take on all these projects, and more, intentionally. Enforced idleness is a key element of the sensory deprivation torture unit. The isolation is designed to concentrate the psychological impact of this endless idleness. The mind is supposed to turn in upon itself, warping reality. It is structured to re-enforce the concept that you have nothing to look forward to but the same nothing … forever. Its purpose is to break the minds of weak men, to transform them into craven informants, agents of the state, rats, debriefers.

The mind of the developed and committed revolutionary cannot be broken. Whenever it encounters such adverse conditions, it changes those conditions. I/we have no “idle time.” From the lowest, most oppressive conditions in this society, the SHU, we struggle daily to advance the progress of humanity itself.

We must work 10 times harder than any other segment of society to have the most miniscule influence on human affairs because we have such overwhelming power arrayed against us with the sole purpose of repressing our ideas – i.e., IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), ISU (Investigations Services Unit), prison administrators, state officials, the U.S. federal government, decades of false propaganda and entrenched social stigmas which have created an aversion and irrational skepticism of anything positive and progressive originating here.

I/we have no “idle time.” From the lowest, most oppressive conditions in this society, the SHU, we struggle daily to advance the progress of humanity itself. We must work 10 times harder than any other segment of society to have the most miniscule influence on human affairs because we have such overwhelming power arrayed against us with the sole purpose of repressing our ideas.


We have a monumental task just overcoming the obstacles to communicate with you all. We have far too much work to do by writ of our chosen lifestyle to ever fall prey to such an innovation in psychological coercion. We are not simply immune, but where the truly committed are concerned, such attempts have the opposite effect: The fact that they would even attempt such attacks on dedicated servants of the people only hardens our resolve to resist. It makes us more revolutionary, better servants of the people and better men.
So I sit here for the first half of my day and work on this portrait. As I work, my thoughts tend to drift to my regrets. I’ve been imprisoned for most of my children’s lives and thoughts of their welfare and safety consume me: What are their interests and views, what do they value, what do they love? I look at the photo of my daughter Jawanda. I’ve never seen her face in real life or heard her laughter. I write them all (I have five children) at least once a month or more, but it’s been years since I’ve heard from most of them. I’m convinced my daughter Jawanda hates me for not being there for her and her brother as they grew up.
I push the thoughts away, comforted in the knowledge that my daily efforts in the cause are the greatest gift I could give them: a world where the interests of the many actually govern its direction and nature, democracy in form and not simply in word. Though I will not live to see the victorious revolutionary change for which I have labored all their lives, and will continue to for the remainder of my own, their children just might usher in this new social order on the heels of our contributions.

I hear keys as the section door opens and IGI officers enter the section wearing their arrogance and warped perceptions literally on their sleeves. They’re here to escort someone to ACH (hospital clinic). As they do so, the nurse and escort officer walk the tier dispensing medication. I accept and take my own meds, treatment for the inescapable damage done to my own mind which has manifested itself in an actual imbalance in my brain chemistry. I ask the officer, “Are they going to run law library?” They haven’t called with a list yet. But “doubt it,” he says.

I leave the door and return to my work, suppressing the sharp spike of anger at their continued refusal to allow us to access the courts to redress these inhumane violations of our rights. Another log on the pyre of the daily usurpations of our basic rights. Before I know it, it’s noon and I set my artwork aside and prepare my lunch while the news plays in the background.

I pick up the book Zamarabu sent down to me, “New Theories of Revolution” by Jack Woddis, and I pick up where I left off as I finish my meal. Most of the texts and concepts Brother Woddis is critiquing are close at hand and by the time my meal is finished and sufficiently digested, I have several tomes opened, cross-referencing ideas and concepts while I simultaneously view them through the prism of current social conditions and my own dialectical analysis.

I save two slices of bread, my apple and a slice of bologna from my lunch so I’ll have something to work forward to this evening. With that done, I turn my attention to addressing a question one of my comrades had on whether the practice of several small businesses trading among themselves to keep their overheads low equated a form of socialism, having seen the same story on PBS. I explained to the comrade his question underscores the importance of ideological development and a firm grasp of historical materialism when analyzing socio-economic phenomena.

What he had observed was a barter system amongst petty-bourgeois proprietors in an intra-class conflict with the more powerful industrial bourgeois interest – in this case Wal-Mart; this was not socialism. Those small businesses continue to offer their goods and services to consumers at a profit mark-up, continue to appropriate the surplus value of their workers’ labor, continue to support this system of white male privilege, race-class divide and rule, and labor exploitation. They are not socialist or revolutionary; quite the opposite, they are reactionary as they seek to turn back the wheel of history to the point where their mode of small production was the dominant segment of the bourgeois class base, where now they seek to bank together against the ruling bourgeois strata to keep from being cast back down into the working class because they can’t compete with the ruling bourgeois’ industrial scale mode of production and labor exploitation.
Socialism does not seek to “reform” capitalist property relations amongst the bourgeois elements; no, socialism seeks to abolish bourgeois property relations altogether. I went in depth on the question as did other comrades. Mind you, because we are in a sensory deprivation torture unit, these discussions cannot be held verbally, no. We must write them on paper, then shoot our lines and “fish” them to and fro amongst each other, sharing ideas, lending moral, emotional, psychological, material and spiritual support to one another via a piece of string and a weighted item tossed down the tier from one cell to another.

Because of blockers welded to the base of the doors and c/o’s who will snatch and break your line, this is of course difficult. But again none will deter us from exercising our fundamental human rights. We are here only because we believe the oppression of man by man should be opposed.

Because we are in a sensory deprivation torture unit, discussions cannot be held verbally. We must write them on paper, then shoot our lines and “fish” them to and fro amongst each other, sharing ideas, lending moral, emotional, psychological, material and spiritual support to one another via a piece of string and a weighted item tossed down the tier from one cell to another. Because of blockers welded to the base of the doors and c/o’s who will snatch and break your line, this is of course difficult. But again none will deter us from exercising our fundamental human rights. We are here only because we believe the oppression of man by man should be opposed.


By the time I finish, evening chow has come. I set my cake aside as a special treat for later and watch “Nightly Business Report” as I finish my meal, assessing and analyzing the daily permutations of global capitalism; then I watch BBC News and PBS Newshour. I then get back in “the office” and work on political pieces for various media interests, until I run out of gas around 8 p.m.

But I have one more thing to do. Today is special to me, and as I’ve done for the past 17 years of my imprisonment – this is now my 18th – I write a letter to my son giving him the benefit of my life’s experiences for the year, summing it up by recounting a story of children in India who are sent in bulk by labor firms to plantation factories as young as 9, 10 and 11 to pick cotton and work the gins in conditions as deplorable as those we experienced in the chattel slave epoch to develop textiles for a mega-rich British multinational. I explain to him that this was evil and how all that was necessary for such evil to continually prevail was for good people to do nothing.

I end my letter, slide it into the tray slot and sit down to enjoy a comedy program on TV while I eat the items I’ve saved from my earlier meals. Conscious of the pain in my side and health benefits of laughter, both chemically and psychologically, I release my emotional control and allow myself again to feel. I let go of the melancholy which is my constant companion and allow the mirth to strike me in the belly as the underclass antics of “Raising Hope” play across my TV.

Conscious of the pain in my side and health benefits of laughter, both chemically and psychologically, I release my emotional control and allow myself again to feel. I let go of the melancholy which is my constant companion and allow the mirth to strike me in the belly as the underclass antics of “Raising Hope” play across my TV.


I hear the section door pop, the bar box being opened and the gears being locked back in place as the other c/o passes out mail. It’s a special day, I’m expecting some mail and hoping to hear from my son. I receive a card wishing me holiday greetings from the beautiful brothers and sisters from a Pasadena community parish in solidarity with the prisoner hunger strike coalition. It fills me with gratitude and warmth. It’s 29 days old and postmarked, meaning IGI held this meager card for at least 26 days. I also get a ducat for blood draw in the morning.

I leave my door and laugh away the disappointment of not hearing from my family on this day, as I enjoy the 10 o’clock news. I see a wonderful story in honor of Muhammad Ali’s birthday, on how he defied the U.S. war machine by refusing to submit to coercion into their imperialist adventure in Vietnam. I suddenly feel even better, knowing I’m in such good company.

I look at my children’s photos and the images of Chairman Mao, Bob Marley, Jonathan Jackson and Buddha that are the only other images on my wall. I again close my eyes and ask the creator to watch over and bless my comrades, my children, my siblings, parents and all the people languishing under the yoke of this global Moloch of greed we call the capitalist “free market.” I close my eyes wondering why I heard from no one. I cut off my TV. I have an early start in the morning. I’m not as young as I used to be. Today was my birthday: Jan. 17, 2012.

Our existence here is one of struggle, of constant, ever present, inescapable daily struggle. I/we have attempted to convey this reality to you in many ways, but these are words, only valid if they serve to influence you positively in some way. What must be understood in the final analysis is we here are not “gang members” when speaking of adherents of NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Scientific Socialism; we are revolutionaries. We think, act and communicate differently than those who have not given their lives to the people.

I say this not to disparage anyone; it is simply a statement of fact. The Honorable Comrade George Lester Jackson stated, “Revolution is a war for the minds of the masses.” The state has buried us in these torture units specifically to ensure we cannot effectively communicate the reality of the collective subjugation of 99 percent of those in this society to the whims of an avaricious ruling elite. They seek to criminalize legitimate political discourse, to disparage the truth in favor of an ever-evolving lie. The truth of the matter is you and I both are nothing but commodities to these people, our values being exploited or intentionally suppressed as the interests of their profit margins dictate.

Saul D. Alinsky in his book “Rules for Radicals” said, “When you are trying to communicate and can’t find the point in the experience of the other party at which he can receive and understand, then you must create the experience for him.” I have tried to do that here without horrifying you. What must be understood is some of the greatest political, social, economic, cultural, scientific and military minds of our time are languishing in the short corridors and cell blocks of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs. Many of you in progressive circles are familiar with my writing, but I am merely a product of the phenomenal principled men I mentioned at the beginning of this discussion and the unfinished legacy of democratic change and equalitarian struggle that is the hallmark of the evolution of civilization.

The state has buried us in these torture units specifically to ensure we cannot effectively communicate the reality of the collective subjugation of 99 percent of those in this society to the whims of an avaricious ruling elite. They seek to criminalize legitimate political discourse. Some of the greatest political, social, economic, cultural, scientific and military minds of our time are languishing in the short corridors and cell blocks of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.


Under these conditions – indeterminate SHU confinement – we have the full weight of the state arrayed against us. Our words in some instances are our only effective tools. If I/we write or say something I/we consider revolutionary, that I hope will alter the nature and structure of society and improve mankind, but in the final analysis fails to move anyone in a substantive way, it is not revolutionary or progressive. Communication that fails to effect its intent is so much idle chatter.

The concrete analysis of such concrete conditions would be nothing has been changed. The reason we commit so much time and effort into understanding the history and present interconnections of all human activity in our world is the ability to change people’s minds, to alter their perspectives so a previously hidden truth becomes self-evident. It’s a serious matter, as serious and strategic as war, because revolution is a war.

As you read this I’m waging that war now, against entrenched biases and artificial social stigmas manufactured by a specific socio-economic interest. This is why we are so hard on ourselves, why we intentionally expose ourselves to conditions that would crush most men’s minds and subsume their wills: Failure to communicate these ideas to you effectively is to fail you.

We are speaking of the future evolution of the world, of forging a society more reflective of human decency than human misery. We cannot fail. Our cause is just because our cause is you – serving the people.
It is my sincerest hope that you leave this brief discussion with not simply a greater grasp of this injustice, but more centrally with a determination to insist the state end this hidden hypocrisy. The U.S. – and the state of California – cannot continue criticizing Syria, China, Burma and Russia for their alleged repressive measures against dissent and maltreatment of political prisoners, yet continue to maintain its own domestic program of torture against political prisoners. It is inhumane, illegal, hypocritical and just plain wrong.

Our imprisonment has no bearing on the truth and validity of our ideas. If this is truly a nation which values democracy, equality, human rights and fundamental fairness as its social imperatives, surely its people cannot allow this practice of political repression to continue unchallenged. Surely you will challenge it.

Our imprisonment has no bearing on the truth and validity of our ideas. If this is truly a nation which values democracy, equality, human rights and fundamental fairness as its social imperatives, surely its people cannot allow this practice of political repression to continue unchallenged.


If nothing else, I hope sharing a day in my life will compel you to value your own a little more and cherish that of your fellow man or woman as you do your own. My/our love, loyalty and solidarity to you all … until we win or don’t lose.

We dare to win: The reality and impact of SHU torture units

Discussion in the wake of the Aug. 23 legislative hearing

In: SF Bay ViewNovember 11, 2011

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. … We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Written Oct. 12, 2011 – These sage words by Dr. King are both appropriate to the discussion we’d like to have on indeterminate SHU confinement and cautionary as to who we are and what we allow as a society in these troubled times. This second point is very relevant to this discussion and we hope you’ll stick with us, as the subject matter is both broad and disturbing; it requires us to share some inconvenient truths.

 

Security Housing Units (SHUs) like those in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and this one here in Corcoran are torture units. They are used to indefinitely house human beings in solitary confinement based on an administrative determination that they are “gang members” with impetus towards breaking their minds in hopes of eliciting information and coercing them into becoming informants or active agents in the state.

These units are the tombs of not only alleged “gang members” but political and politicized prisoners, imprisoned human rights activists and jailhouse lawyers alike, most anyone who, in the sole determination of institutional gang investigators and administrators, is not content to submit passively to his role as a commodity in the prison industrial complex.

The U.S. and many of its media outlets, such as The New York Times and San Diego Union Tribune, prior to the U.S. War on Terror, routinely criticized China, Turkey, Syria and other nations for holding prisoners in indefinite solitary confinement under conditions of constant illumination, sensory deprivation etc. for expressing contrary political views. They universally condemned the practices as torture, citing the United Nations Human Rights Commission Treaty. Their hypocrisy was of course revealed after the policies of U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and numerous CIA blacksite prisons was exposed.

Yet what has been America’s dirty little secret is that years before Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, they were boiling men alive at Pelican Bay SHU, they were holding murderous “blood sport” style bouts here at Corcoran SHU and they had been holding people with left-wing political ideologies as “gang members” for decades in sensory deprivation torture units at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and Tehachapi SHUs. Yes, indefinite solitary confinement and constant illumination is being used right now in California SHU units, in conjunction with a program of systematic isolation and experimental behavior modification to torture prisoners every day, without end.

The California and U.S. Supreme Courts, in blatant indifference to international and constitutional law, have repeatedly refused to intervene in most cases on behalf of prisoners in Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs who’ve lived in solitary confinement under constant illumination and daily psychological stressors for 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years straight. This is gross hypocrisy wherein your nation is torturing its citizens in your names.

The “United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

This virtually defines the validation, indeterminate SHU confinement and debriefing processes, which are all interconnected. We are routinely told, quite frankly, at ICC (Institutional Classification Committee) hearings, “You’ll only get out of SHU if you parole, debrief or die”; at parole board hearings the line is no different: The panel of law enforcement officials states, “If you want a parole date, you may want to think about debriefing.”

When, after serving 24 years, most of that in these indeterminate SHU torture units, for a crime where he was simply a 16-year-old bystander and had not had a single rules violation in over a decade, had family and community support and several job offers, Sondai Ellis was told that very thing as he was denied parole again. I was, and continue to be, so furious that it is only through the discipline and adherence to principled conduct instilled in me by brothers like Sondai that I’ve been capable of keeping that fury in check at such bald-faced injustice.

To debrief one must become an informant, an agent of the state, and decades of torture and withholding of freedom are strong state sanctions to compel some of us to make something up or simply parrot what we are told to say to get out of SHU or support a law enforcement agenda. In at least two recent online articles, we see debriefers doing just this: actually advocating the merits of the very torture units that reduced them to broken men and made them thralls of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and its various units and affiliates. They – the Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI), Investigations Services Unit (ISU), prison guards etc. – are the ones who have an economic and political interest in maintaining the symbolism of these torture units as the final abode of “predatory gang leaders and organized criminals.”

The U.N. Human Rights Commission has stated prolonged solitary confinement for purposes of extracting information is prohibited as torture. SHUs are by definition torture units and specialty, experimental, ultra-supermax isolation units like Pelican Bay SHU’s D-Short Corridor and Corcoran SHU’s 4B1L-C-Section short corridor are specifically engineered to warp reality for purposes of breaking men’s minds.

Torture, no matter the supposed justification, is never an acceptable practice for a humane society. The U.N. Convention Against Torture states, “No exceptionable circumstances whatsoever, whether a state or threat of war or political emergency, may be invoked as a reason for torture.” As it stands, your correctional department, courts, some of your elected officials, and all law enforcement agencies do feel torture is justified as long as it’s applied to those they deem “gang members.”

But there is a much more insidious socio-economic and political motivation for the maintenance and expansion of SHU torture units and indeterminate SHU confinement based on “gang” validation. It is sustained by manipulating your perception of truth and humanity and by controlling your perception of these things. The prison industrialists dictate your actions, reactions and inaction to their impact on your lives and communities.

As you may know, we embarked on a historic 24-day hunger strike in July and at this writing are 17 days into a second hunger strike that began on Sept. 26 in solidarity with the Pelican Bay SHU D-Corridor collective and the five core demands recognizing our human rights. We were joined by some 6,600 other prisoners across the state, 12,000 in this second effort and countless others across the nation, and we garnered the support of principled people all over the world.

On Aug. 23, a hearing was held in response to those issues. I want to take this time to use some of the distortions, misrepresentations of fact and outright lies by CDCR Undersecretary Scott Kernan, a key prison industrialist, to illustrate just what we’re talking about here. There is an articulable basis why state-sanctioned torture units are maintained in California and throughout the U.S. And before we get into Mr. Kernan’s comments, it is necessary for you to have a clear understanding of what they are so you can understand why he would contradict himself and openly lie to a legislative oversight committee.

The purpose of SHU torture units – and “gang” validations resulting in indeterminate SHU confinement – is to ensure your financial and political support for the expansion and maintenance of the prison industrial complex as a viable business model by maximizing your fear and capitalizing on your ignorance. The foundational cornerstone of their success is convincing you that “gang members are depraved, inhuman monsters hell bent on the rape, murder and predation of innocent people,” and only they, the “gang experts,” know who these monsters are and how best to “protect” you from them.

These so-called malevolent, irrationally violent and predatory organized “gangs” are the source of all of society’s ills and the very origins of crime in our communities. By creating these torture units and proclaiming they are the abodes of “the worst of the worst,” they have a symbolic manifestation of the validity of their claims.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, chair of Public Safety Committee, speaks at the rally before convening his hearing on prison torture in the SHUs.

No one can refute their accounts or characterizations because transparency is non-existent. Prisoners have no voice. The CCPOA successfully lobbied to ban media interviews with prisoners so the public is left to a unilateral, state-sponsored view of prison conditions and their discontents. This allows them the ability to perpetuate the myth of the inhuman “gang member” unchallenged and, with tacit media support, to dehumanize an ever-growing segment of the underclass.

Have you not noticed how your local news reports on arrestees or incidents in these communities? If someone is arrested for DUI, a drive-by or petty theft, he or she is paraded on the news and the first identification made is “he’s a validated gang member.” When incidents occur in or around our children’s schools, the school is put on “lockdown,” a term derived from the California prison system to denote a prison yard being locked down after a riot or other incident.

These terms, “gang” and “gang member,” automatically conjure images of innocent drive-by shooting victims and prison rapes inspired by “Oz” and cinematic visions, divorcing these men and women from the human condition, dehumanizing them. These people, more often than not, were saddled with these characterizations because of the communities they come from and may well have never committed a violent or predatory act in their lives.

But you don’t know that. All you know is what you’ve been told by the TV anchor, police or CDCR spokesman. They know that because they’ve used millions of your tax dollars to engineer it that way.
The truth of the matter is there are no malevolent, irrationally violent predatory gangs roving the streets of your cities or the prison yards of CDCR, only desperate men and women forced to the bottom rung of society through institutional disparities in economic and race-based distribution of educational, employment and empowerment opportunities at virtually every point of human activity in the U.S.

Do gangs exist? Of course, but that’s not the relevant question. Where are they prevalent and why do they exist? This is what is of note. “Gangs” and, more centrally, gang violence are prevalent primarily in underclass – poor – communities.

The national unemployment rate – not counting the underemployed or those who’ve stopped looking – stands at 9.1 percent, yet in the New Afrikan (Black) community, it’s 17 percent and in the Latino community it’s 14.5 percent. Those without a high school diploma stand at 16 percent unemployed while those with a Bachelor’s Degree a mere 1 percent.

New Afrikans and Latinos make up 90 percent of the prison population but a scant 26 percent of the national population. The origin of crime is not gangs. Gangs are a social symptom of that origin. The origin of all crime is the disproportionate distribution of wealth, privilege and opportunity in our society.

This is not by chance or happenstance. It is by design. Wage-based employment and entrepreneurship are the only ways to “legally” create wealth in this society. When social conditions are such that a community contains a large population of surplus labor – either they are unemployed due to their lack of education or marketable skills, or the market simply cannot sustain that population of workers – the only alternative to survive is the underground economy, be that illicit services such as narcotics, the sex trade and gambling or predatory crimes such as extortion, robbery and identity theft.

There is a corresponding sense of socio-political impotence which accompanies the innate insecurity of poverty. Young men and women who have no power, no hope, no impact on their world form community-based organizations to fill that socio-political void in their existence. Those the state calls “gangs” and has decided to wage “war” on them, only furthering the isolation.

One of the reasons so few people vote in underclass communities is these disparities are institutional and systemic to U.S. capitalist economics. No matter who’s in office, their plight doesn’t change. Because these communities are a marginal constituency, public officials extend a corresponding indifference to their plight.

Families and supporters of prisoners from across California held a rally prior to the Aug. 23 hearing called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano on the torturous solitary confinement in California SHUs.

Instead of “protecting and serving” those communities, law enforcement, judicial, legislative and correctional officers all too commonly have a containment, suppression and adversarial relationship with those communities and those who come from them. Yet the bell-curve theories and notions that young men and women want to stand on a street corner selling crack or want to risk their lives and freedom by engaging in unprovoked gang violence are simply untrue.

You pick any prisoner in these SHU units validated as a “gang member” and offer him a job making $20 an hour, and I can guarantee you he won’t break the law. But the environment in these communities and most assuredly the environment in CDCR prisons are not structured to produce such success or opportunity, which brings me to my next point:

The California corrections system is an environment designed and maintained by its administrators. Thus, any failures must be attributed to those who have precluded an environment for success. CDCR effectively retards rehabilitation especially among SHU prisoners – those who by the state’s own admission most need rehabilitation – by withdrawing the vital tech-based vocational training and higher educational opportunity needed to compete in today’s high tech world. It was primarily through the successful efforts of the CCPOA that funding through Pell grants for higher education was taken from prisoners.

Of course, what followed this repeal of the inmate bill of rights was an unprecedented boom in prison building and a population expansion by 800 percent in the last 20 years. Racial antagonisms are encouraged so as to preclude broad class cooperation amongst prisoners like the unprecedented unity shown statewide in the recent hunger strike.

Underdevelopment while in prison, coupled with an emphasis on seeking most any impetus for “violation” by parole officers once out of prison, is designed to preclude successful re-integration into society, maximize recidivism rates, and undermine the underclass communities from which those ex-offenders hail – all to maintain the steady social dysfunction and economic desperation in these family units so a consistent flow of bodies is exiting these communities to enter our jails and prisons, court systems and probation departments, ensuring a recession-proof industry of profit and expansion for the prison market and those who depend on your tax dollars to sustain their privilege.

The very structure of CDCR regulations is designed to promote dependency, destroy ingenuity and self-determination and deter unity. They actually have rules which bar prisoners from running a business, which always boggled my mind in an economically depressed recessionary capitalist cycle. If there are prisoners with the insight, talent and entrepreneurial acumen to make a meaningful contribution to this state’s economy and job market, men and women who the courts have determined owe some debt to society, why would you codify a basis for them not doing so?

Outside of the same “potential for impropriety” rhetoric they use to justify accepting unsubstantiated confidential information and mere suspicion as a basis for SHU confinement, there exists no justification for such a regulation. The only basis that follows reason is to prevent independence and promote dependency on the state, thus promoting institutionalization.

If you combine this with the psycho-social decimation of men’s minds resulting from prolonged and, in some cases, endless isolation in conditions such as these, is it any wonder psychologists universally agree this type of torture effectively destroys one’s ability to function in society? Which is the point.

As we’ve stated before, the modern criminal justice system – and correctional departments in particular – are the biggest conflicts of interest in U.S. history. Those entrusted with reducing the number of criminal offenders and protecting public safety have their potential profit margin directly attached to maximizing the number of offenders under their control at any given time.

This is why the CCPOA fought so hard to stop out-of-state transfers of prisoners to reduce overcrowding. The more prisoners under their control, the larger their budgets, the greater their salaries and benefits, and the more overtime hours they can bill to your tax dollars.

But most vitally, the more prisoners held and for ever greater durations, the more ensured they are of their long-term job security no matter the fragility of the economy in this current crisis. To be sure, an economic downturn to the rest of us is an economic upturn for those in the prison industry. It means an inequitable increase in human commodities: prisoners.

According to CDCR, they spend an average $78,000 to house us in these torture unit cells each year. Perhaps a little more due to the added isolation features in 4B1L-C-Section and D-Corridor. We assure you it does not cost $78K to feed us the two small trays and sack lunch we receive each day or to keep this light burning 24 hours or power our small 13-inch TVs.

Besides being escorted in chains to the K-9 style dog cages for yard two to three times a week and five minutes in the shower three times a week, we never leave these cells. So I assure you that money is not being spent on prisoners being housed in the SHU. No, it’s spent on guards – on their salaries, benefits, equipment, training, guns and bullets – NOT US. The guard working the SHU makes the most money and with all the overtime they have action at, they can in essence write their own checks on your buck and at the expense of our minds, our bodies and, sometimes it feels, our very souls.

The CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association), the prison guards’ union, considers the California State Capitol in Sacramento its turf. It is the state’s most powerful lobby. No governor has dared challenge its power for decades, but the hunger strikers dared.

During the Aug. 23 legislative hearing, the CDCR panel representative, Undersecretary of Operations Scott Kernan, made such baseless, overly simplistic and outright false statements concerning prison life and conditions related to SHU and so-called “gangs” that they MUST be debunked with the truth. He stated “gangs” were responsible for “ordering ‘rapes’” in prison and are the primary threat for such heinous acts. This is not only an outright lie, but in fact quite the opposite is true.

For the vast majority of those housed in these SHUs, and virtually ALL those in these indeterminate SHU torture units, the forced sexual subjugation of anyone, not to mention another human in these conditions, is not simply frowned upon by SHU prisoners but forcefully opposed. Mr. Kernan’s assertion that men housed here would even condone such sickness is a testament to the fear and dehumanization-based rhetoric which has become the basis for prison industrialist propaganda over the past 20 years and is an insult to the humanity of all of us housed here.

We in the NCTT Cor-SHU collectively have over 100 years of experience existing in the most violent and reactionary prisons in California and can say with definitive confidence that the vast majority of the “8,000 assaults and stabbings the department has each year” has little to do with gangs, as Mr. Kernan states, and everything to do with overcrowded facilities and limited space.

Be it a dispute on the basketball or handball court, an unpaid gambling or dope debt, a cross word said in frustration at overcrowded conditions taken as disrespect, etc., these things have little to do with “gangs.” And in those instances where a gang member may be involved in a personal dispute – and according to CDCR everyone in CDCR runs with some gang – they report or record it as “gang related” when the “gang” in fact has nothing to do with the initial incident.

He went on to state “millions of tax dollars were ‘wasted’ each year, and ‘gangs’ would be identified as the primary problem.” Mr. Kernan has no factual basis for this statement. I can’t even conceive of the rubric by which he would venture this opinion when targeting educational and economic development programs in underclass communities and amongst criminal offenders has proven an effective means by which to reduce both predatory and market-based crime rates and reduce recidivism amongst prisoners, yet funding for such initiatives, due primarily to lobbying efforts by the CCPOA and their political cabal, has been repeatedly diverted to prison budgets under the auspices of public safety, an oxymoronic application of the term if ever there was one.

Mr. Kernan went on to state it’s “only 3,000 validated SHU prisoners in a population of 165,000 – that’s a very small number.” The Marquis de Sade is said to have tortured some 2,000 prisoners out of the 100,000 that passed through Elba – before honing his skills on women – when he was a gaoler (jailer) there. No one in the French aristocracy minded De Sade’s dalliances with prisoners much either. It’s this type of thinking that led to the use of CIA blacksites in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt and, yes, Libya under Qaddafi to imprison “under special conditions” terror “suspects” and torture them for years, continuing still, in the U.S. “war on terror.”

SHU survivor Jitu Sadiki speaks at the rally prior to the Ammiano hearing Aug. 23. – Photo: Wanda Sabir

Three thousand torture victims in a population of 165,000 is 3,000 too many. Mr. Kernan went on to state, “We don’t allow media to talk to individual inmates for fear of their sensationalizing their crimes, like Charles Manson or Scott Peterson” – a patently absurd notion he knows full well was untrue. First of all, it was the media that “sensationalized” Manson and Peterson’s cases, not Manson and Peterson themselves.

But, more importantly, no one here wants to “sensationalize” their criminal convictions or past lifestyles. In fact there is a significant segment of the indeterminate SHU population, such as the NCTT, the Freedom, Justice and Human Rights Initiative, George Jackson University etc., who have dedicated their lives to not simply atoning for the damage to our communities as a result of our ignorance and lack of consciousness in the past, but putting forward meaningful programs and initiatives to improve life in those communities, such as those mentioned above.

The only prisoners in SHU that Mr. Kernan allowed the media access to, and the only prisoners such media outlets as the Sacramento Bee seem to be interested in quoting are debriefers, informants and agents of the state. Mr. Kernan did not allow media access to the D-Short Corridor collective, like Sitawa Dewberry, Todd Ashker or Mutope Crawford, or the 4B1L-C-Section collective because he did not want politically and socially conscious prisoners articulating the true basis of SHU and reason for the hunger strikes and the inescapable deteriorating psychological effects of SHU.

This is simply another example of state controlled media in a society that purports itself to be “free and open,” yet another manifestation of CDCR’s successful gambit to monopolize the conversation. I found it ironic that Mr. Kernan attempted to dismiss and redirect the blatant human rights violations which torture units represent by stating “the violence the gangs perpetuate is the human rights violation,” when the vast majority of the “8,000 assaults and stabbings” occurring in the modern CDCR are occurring on “sensitive needs yards” (SNYs) by the very debriefers and protective custody prisoners IGI has relied on, or broken, to manufacture uncorroborated and unsubstantiated “confidential information chronos” to put, and keep other prisoners in indefinite SHU confinement.

To be sure, the most violent “gang” in CDCR is “2-5” – half of “5-0,” the “prison gang” made up of debriefers and informants who directly work for IGI, ISU, SSU (Special Services Unit) and other law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Kernan was adamant that the courts have upheld the validation process and “though harsh, the SHU is not torture.” We’ve established without doubt this IS torture, so that brooks no comment.

But as to the comments on the courts, that’s not entirely true either. California courts, most judges having been elected with the backing of CCPOA lobbying dollars, rarely uphold the Constitution where prisoners, and especially SHU prisoners, are seeking human rights protection. But there are exceptions. For example, in the Koch v. Lewis case that the Supreme Court took up to address the equally harsh SMU II torture unit in Florence, Arizona, the court found that Koch’s solitary confinement violated his right to due process under the 14th Amendment, which is applicable to states because there was no evidence that Koch had committed any overt act to warrant such torture. The claim that he was an Aryan Brotherhood member was insufficient.
Substantive due process requires that evidence used must bear a logical relation to the specific deprivations.

As Judge Moran stated, “The labeling of plaintiff Koch as a ‘gang member’ does not itself create legal concerns. Rather it is the placement in SMU II as a result of the alleged association that is constitutionally significant.” After hearing evidence of SMU conditions – identical to California SHU conditions – and the psychological harm Koch and all prisoners faced, the court not only found a significant liberty deprivation but also that the very practice of sending inmates to supermax torture units based on status alone, with no charges or evidence of misconduct, violated due process.

The court concluded that there must be some evidence of misconduct, some overt gang-related act, to justify placing Koch in SMU II for an indefinite – and very likely permanent – term. Yet, as Mr. Kernan stated, virtually lifelong supermax detention for alleged “gang members” in U.S. domestic prisons continues to be judged constitutional here in California despite the ruling in the Griffith case. CDCR still has not released him from SHU despite multiple rulings to do so.

It’s not that they, or he, does not know these torture units violate basic tenets of humaneness; they simply have an overriding interest in their maintenance: money and control. Your money, their control. This assertion by Mr. Kernan that these torture units are not torture units is so outrageous and insulting, it recalls Bush era admonitions that waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, and CIA blacksites in foreign countries weren’t torturous either. It is an absurdity, and a dangerous one.

Mr. Kernan’s dogged assertion that “gangs” and more certainly those of us housed in these SHU torture units are the source of perpetual violence in CDCR ignores the inescapable reality of gross overcrowding, intentional underdevelopment and dependency and the structural conditions they’ve created in California prisons, which is the actual origin of prison violence. And until these structural fallacies are addressed, violence in California prisons will continue no matter how many prisoners are consigned to these torture units, and he KNOWS this.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano leaves the rally to convene his hearing on solitary confinement and related issues raised initially by prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU, whose hunger strike was joined by 12,000 other prisoners simultaneously. – Photo: Wanda Sabir

Mr. Kernan stated the process being considered by “all state law enforcement, CCPOA, police, labor unions, national experts and the legislature itself” would allow prisoners to “earn a way out of the system by behavior and require the department to document when we feel it is not the case.” There are four things wrong with this approach:

1) the determining body developing the policy, outside of the legislature, consists exclusively of proponents of the prison industrial complex. Thus, whatever policy is developed will reflect the same draconian, profit-driven inhumanity that’s subjected us to these torture units thus far for decades without end;

2) most of us have not had any rules violations reports in decades. What do we need to “earn” through our “behavior” that’s not already been earned through a years-long proven record of disciplinary free conduct? Or must we subject ourselves to the behavior modification experiments developed in the Marion federal torture unit?

3) indeterminate SHU confinement cannot be allowed to continue to be based on what this department does or does not “feel is the case.” The primary issue here is the arbitrary nature of gang validation and subsequent indeterminate SHU confinement;

4) what Mr. Kernan is suggesting here is no different than the sham six-year inactive review that’s already in place.

Mr. Kernan stated the CDCR gang validation policy is “intended to protect inmates we are charged with and staff,” yet anyone who’s on this side of the door knows that’s a flat out lie. The CDCR gang policy is intended to maintain their control of prison budgets, silence prisoner critics, preclude prisoner unity and continue to scapegoat indeterminate SHU prisoners who’ve not had a single instance of documented misconduct in decades as a basis for extorting billions of taxpayer dollars through over-exaggerating the threat posed by prisoners housed indefinitely in SHU on the basis of gang validations.

As I’ve stated previously, if prisoners, staff and public safety were truly CDCR’s motive force, they would have developed a prison environment and programs geared toward true rehabilitation and successful reintegration and performance in society upon release. Such an environment runs contrary to their economic and political interests and unfortunately against a significant number of the peoples’ desire for vengeance against perceived offenders.

Now then, a particularly distressing lie Mr. Kernan relayed to the public safety panel was that “all evidence used to validate is corroborated.” Simply put, this is a flat out lie. There is no corroboration via independent sources of information of confidential informants’ statements or confidential informant chronos known as “1030s.” Why he would utter a lie that is so easily debunked is truly beyond me.

A SHU survivor addresses the Aug. 23 rally outside the capitol in Sacramento.

To give you an example of what Mr.Kernan and the IGI deem corroboration, they have little boxes on the 1030 chrono listed a)-f) which state why they consider such a source reliable. In a 2008 1030 used to deny a validated indeterminate SHU prisoner “inactive status,” a debriefer – who was briefly housed with the brother – told IGI the individual spoke of the merits of socialism, the history of political resistance to racism and socio-economic inequality in Amerika, and of the validity of the political and socio-economic views of Frantz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh and George Lester Jackson. The IGI told the debriefer that the prisoner was providing “BGF education,” to which the debriefer quickly agreed and parroted what his IGI handler told him to.

Because the same prisoner wrote an article in California Prison Focus critical of CDCR and expressing some of these same political ideas (CPF Fall 2003), they considered this “more than one source independently provid(ing) the same information,” and “part of the information provided by the source has already proven to be true.” This expression of his political views and social criticism of the department’s practice of arbitrarily targeting and punishing left-wing political ideologies in prison in violation of the First Amendment and their own California Code of Regulations, Title 15, was sufficient to earn him another six years in SHU – though he in truth had no chance of release via inactive review.

Not only is political speech and expression protected by “the supreme laws of the land” – or is supposed to be – but it boggles the mind how an article in a publication CDCR not only allows into institutions, but the state delivers to our cell doors, can possibly be corroboration of a coerced informant’s scripted lies. This is what passes for corroboration in Mr. Kernan’s CDCR. The fact of the matter is there is no corroboration of evidence and no way to verify it if there was. IGI is the only one who gets to see the evidence used to consign men to these torture units forever.

Mr. Kernan went on to state, “These offenders are in the SHU with mountains of documentation of illegal criminal activities both out on the streets in public and in prison.” And it is just these types of irresponsible, intentionally dishonest statements which have cowed courts and legislators alike into turning a blind eye to wholesale psychological torture for decades in the California prison system.

The truth of the matter is most validated indeterminate SHU prisoners haven’t had a single documented instance of misconduct or rules violation report for ANY criminal act in decades. I assure you if such a “mountain of illegal activities” was documented, you’d have an equally high mountain of rules violation reports, district attorney referrals and indictments. This is a lie specifically designed to put forward a non-existent justification for that which, according to “the rule of law,” is unjustifiable: indefinite psychological torture to coerce men into becoming informants, agent provocateurs and advocates for the same heinous practices which broke their minds and subsumed their wills.

To be sure, Mr. Kernan contradicted himself in his next breath by stating, in response to the statistical data showing gang violence has only increased as sensitive needs yards – inhabited exclusively by the debriefers, informants and other protective custody designees Mr. Kernan is singing the praises of – have expanded, that “the state’s gang problem has even increased, but separating those offenders we have in SHU has led to a decrease.”

Upon hearing this absurdity, even the assemblyman had to call him on the contradiction. As the hearing wore on and the objective evidence in front of the legislative oversight committee continued to contradict the lies and distortions Mr. Kernan was offering as authority, he stated, “Let’s not lose focus on the real public safety threat perpetuated by gangs in our system.”

And it is this narrow and intentionally ill-informed perspective on public safety which has produced an 800 percent increase in the California prison population, a dysfunctional correctional and nonexistent rehabilitation system, and led to the state’s use and expansion of domestic human experimentation, torture units on the victims of a socio-economic arrangement that has forced us from the bottom rung of society into the bowels of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.

Mr. Kernan and the rest of the prison industrialists can lay the blame for society’s ills at the feet of “gangs” all they like, and the vicious cycle will only continue ebbing toward the inexorable decline of Western Civilization. Until such time as we all accept the fact that “gangs” are the inevitable outgrowth of capitalist contradictions, of educational and labor underdevelopment in underclass communities and your political and economic leaders’ unwillingness or inability to address the gross disparities between the haves and have nots as the true origin of society’s ills, “gang” violence and systematic criminality will continue to be part of the U.S. social fabric.

Luckily, as consciousness raising efforts like the global Occupy Wall Street Movement continue to sweep across the planet, these “leaders” will be forced to acknowledge the obvious. With a multi-billion dollar budget, Mr. Kernan and his department can make some significant contributions to a new approach. But as the continued intransigence of the department shows, true public safety is a remote concern of those you’ve invested with that responsibility.

The actual public safety threat lies in the underlying socio-economic relationship between poor communities and the prison industry, our society’s indifference to that conflict, and the apparent dogged pursuit of a law enforcement and correctional policy which has been both a dismal inhumane failure and economically unsustainable. The definition of “insanity” is pursuing the same course of action repeatedly and expecting a different result.

I’d like to address one final point Mr. Kernan raised that I believe is pertinent. He stated, “An offender that wants to rehab himself, he can’t because of an inmate telling him to go stab someone or he will be killed.” This is both a misrepresentation of truth and a dangerous exaggeration. There are numerous non-affiliates in the general population of CDCR and Mr. Kernan is well aware of it. Everyone in prison knows lumpen organizations or “gangs” in prison don’t force membership onto non-affiliates, because history has proven such prisoners always become informants, agents or are easily compelled to lie on those they formerly ran with.

But that’s not the core issue here. What is, is Mr. Kernan’s willingness to dispense such tripe as “facts” in hopes of somehow convincing the people that the perpetual torture of over 3,000 human beings is somehow legitimate. This type of thinking and speech MUST be confronted and debunked. Indefinite solitary confinement of humans in California, across the U.S. and throughout the world must be opposed, resisted and abolished.

In the wake of the atrocities of World War II, a document was drafted which stated “The protagonists of this practice of human experimentation justify their views on the basis that such experiments yield results for the good of society that are unprocurable by other methods or means of study. All agree, however, that certain basic principles must be observed in order to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts.” That was an excerpt from the Nuremberg Code.

The most passionate and powerful testimony at the Aug. 23 hearing came from SHU survivors and prisoners’ family members, especially Earl Fears and Glenda Rojas shown here. – Photo: Wanda Sabir

Have we as a society descended so far into the miasma of fear, hatred and dehumanization that we would condone the state-sponsored torture of thousands of humans from our communities, in our name?

I began this discussion with a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate the slippery slope we are on as a society. Maintenance of these torture units is an injustice; a continuation of the current law enforcement and correctional policy in relation to fundamental socio-economic disparities is inhumane. Injustice anywhere, even here in Corcoran SHU’s 4B1L-C-Section, is a threat to justice everywhere. Today it is us; tomorrow if may be someone you love or, God forbid, you yourself.

It was Fyodor Dostoevsky who said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” How civilized is this society? And to answer that question with another: How civilized are you, the people who make it up?

If this second hunger strike effort has taught us anything, it is that the power to transform an intransigent industrial interest such as CDCR must come from the will of the people, from exercising your limitless power. Prison authorities were fully content to let us die this time and even modified their medical responses to maximize the chance of permanent injury or death to hunger strikers, which makes the broader aspects of this struggle so significant.

This is not over. It is a protracted struggle that does not end, yet simply begins, with the abolition of SHU torture units. It is the intent of the NCTT to ensure not another human is done this way, not another soul lost to such greedy and heartless people.

Participating in the first round of the hunger strike, 6,600 prisoners and in the second round 12,000 prisoners joined their comrades in SHU to demand an end to “gang validation” and the torture of solitary confinement.

It is our intent to fight for true rehabilitation and positive empowerment, not merely for current or ex-prisoners, but for the underclass communities we all too often hail from. If we can provide community-based initiatives and programs which address the inherent social inequalities in the class arrangement, this will eliminate the motive for property crimes – which make up 98 percent of all crime in the U.S. – and give us all safer and more prosperous communities, allowing us all to partake of the inalienable rights provided for in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The nature of California state and U.S. corrections must change. But to do that we must change society. Who dares to take up such a challenge? Who dares breathe life into the promise of the Declaration of Independence? Who dares champion the poor, the most disenfranchised and underdeveloped communities, the ghettoes, barrios and trailer parks of Amerika? Who dares champion the most vulnerable and urbanized in our society – the felon, the SHU prisoner, the poor?

Who dares do the right thing when the Scott Kernans of the world swear it’s wrong? Who dares to struggle? Who dares to win? We do, and we hope you do too.

Join us! This power to shape history and the future of the society is in your hands. We have faith you will uphold the highest standards of humanity. Our love and solidarity to all those who love freedom, justice and equality and fear only failure.

This letter was typed by Adrian McKinney.

Reblogged on: Kersplebedeb, 4StruggleMag, Prison Activist Resource Center, Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle, Summary on Radical Criminology