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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Voice from Menard: Chicago’s racist war against Blacks and Latinos continues in Illinois prisons

by Muntu Sun Ra Okito (Percell Hansberry)
The Menard High Security Unit hunger strikers send a message of solidarity to the brothers of the struggle at Pelikan Bay SHU, Ohio Supermax, the Georgia SMU hunger strikers, and all prisoners of consciousness who refuse to bow down to state torture and systemic degradation up in these concentration kamps across Amerikkka. We also send mad love and respect to Bay View for creating a holy space for the most down-pressed voices in society to be expressed and heard.
Although the hunger strike has officially come to an end here – the struggle continues. The drastic and suppressive hand of Illinois prison-crats has had the unintended effect of heightening the consciousness of a new generation of captured colonials into the history of the prison rights movement and “teaching” them about the true nature of the beast.
This “lesson” was accomplished because of the prison-crats’ psychopathic need to totally control and exploit the minds and bodies of its captives. The corrupt state was forced to close down its Supermax (Tamms) torture factory in 2013 of January due to its budget crisis linked with community agitation.
However, the officers’ influential union was vehemently against the closure. The officers launched an aggressive propaganda campaign for public support by using fear to distort reality via the media, while their legal mercenaries filed a petition for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against the governor’s decision – all to no avail.
With the collapse of a mechanism within this system of racial control and exploitation came a backlash encased in the obsessive fear of losing control and the need to find (fabricate) a rationale to re-open Tamms torture kamp. The threat of sending someone to Tamms often yielded the desired results.
To this end, the prison-crats prophesied that the closure would increase violence against prisoners and staff alike. Then they worked to fulfill the prophesy, which is to say they created and promoted violence. As demonstrated by Brother Haazim W. Muntaqim (see the January 2014 Bay View) this is nothing new in this system; it’s the nature of the beast.
Unaware prisoners were fed the names of snitches. Then the exposed snitch, unbeknownst to him, would be left in general population by Internal Affairs, knowing fully what the predictable outcome would be.
Internal Affairs also used the snitch label falsely to discredit those unbent prisoners who refused to cooperate and on those captured colonials who were evolving toward the consciousness level of political prisoners and prisoners of war. The prison-crats prefer the masses to stay deaf, dumb and blind.

With the collapse of a mechanism within this system of racial control and exploitation came a backlash encased in the obsessive fear of losing control and the need to find (fabricate) a rationale to re-open Tamms torture kamp.

Another tactic used by the administration to initiate violence was provocation wrapped in unjustifiable and relentless harassment – not limited to the placement of weapons in prisoner’s cells. Although the mass prison population in the state’s kamps is comprised mostly of New Afrikan Blacks, the primary oppressed group “selected” for racist scapegoat “this time” was Latinos and anybody perceived to be associated with this group.
In the summer of 2013, the unrelenting provocation came to a head in several incidents resulting in physical violence between officers and captives. Those captives “involved” were afterward severely assaulted while in handcuffs, written up and removed to disciplinary segregation.
Shortly thereafter, though, the prison-crats used the violence that they created and arbitrarily snatched up over 40(!) captives who had absolutely no involvement in the provoked confrontation and wrote bogus disciplinary reports, stripped some out of state, and placed a significant number in Administration Detention, long-term (indefinite) solitary confinement with no due process – not knowing why – in conditions that are absolutely deplorable.
Throughout the entire state’s prison system, those who weren’t snatched up of the targeted group, real or imagined, were fired from their slave-wage jobs – no explanation offered. This affected an entire racial group. The Menard High Security Unit is comprised of New Afrikans, Latinos and White captives. The White captives who partook in the hunger strike and/or were “perceived” to be associated with minorities were called (harassed as) race traders by White officers.
Kept in its proper context, it must be over-stood that the closure of Tammas Supermax torture center did not amount to the automatic release of its victims. In all systems of control (oppression) that part of it that dies is reborn into new form, a dynamic that has been termed “preservation through transformation.”
Tamms’ captured hostages were simply transferred – the vast majority – to another kamp, Pontiac, where a section was “transformed,” wherein they are still in indefinite solitary confinement (Administrative Detention) and are still referred to as “Tamms’ inmates by the prison-crats. Menard High Security Unit was also “transformed” into a “mini-Tamms” (indefinite isolation) for the Gestapo-like round-up.
Many are in “mini-Tamms” torture kamps on newly “transformed” segregation wings in several medium security prisons in the state. Although in transition, torture is still preserved through transformation.
The violence created by the prison-crats in Illinois is being used to inflict mental violence now on the public by brainwashing them into believing that they need more money for security and that rounding up the 40 captives, as well as all those who “had” to be fired from their slave-wage jobs and put back into their cages, is justification to re-open Tamms torture center.

Kept in its proper context, it must be over-stood that the closure of Tammas Supermax torture center did not amount to the automatic release of its victims. In all systems of control (oppression) that part of it that dies is reborn into new form, a dynamic that has been termed “preservation through transformation.”

During the 2014 gubernatorial primaries several Republican candidates expressed the “need” to re-open it, such as Illinois Rep. Jill Tracy: “The whole purpose of Tamms was defeated with this cost-saving measure and as a result, we’re seeing 20 percent increase in assaults at the other facilities where these inmates have been put into.” But as stated above, the vast majority of Tamms’ captives are still in indefinite isolation cages, so if this is the case – and it is – what’s really behind the brain-staining propaganda?
It’s the human rights violations, the constitutional rights violations and the Gestapo-like round-ups and environment that’s being resisted in the Illinois concentration kamp system. The oppression here is a continuation of Chicago’s racist war on the New Afrikan (Black) and Latino communities as a whole – that’s the thing that must be over-stood.
I leave you with the words of the Chicago activist group Affordable Power and Justice: “Ain’t no chain – an unbroken circle of prisoner, race and nation unity breaks the chains that are destroying us.”
Send our brother some love and light: Muntu Sun Ra Okito (s/n Percell Hansberry), B34144, P.O. Box 1000, Menard, IL 62259.

Freedom Archives 

The Free Alabama Movement - a prisoner-led human rights movement


Radical Philosophy and the Free Alabama Movement

April 23, 2014
By Lisa Guenther/From Truth Out
Last summer, thousands of prisoners in California launched a 60-day hunger strike to protest and transform oppressive policies in the California Department of Corrections. One member of the organizing team called their strike action a “multi-racial, multi–regional Human Rights Movement to challenge torture.”
This weekend, another prisoner-led human rights movement is gaining momentum in Alabama. The Free Alabama Movement (FAM) seeks to analyze, resist, and transform prison slavery from within the Prison Industrial Complex.
Both of these movements challenge us, as philosophers and as people, to interrogate the meaning of slavery, torture, human rights, and political action. What does it mean to struggle for one’s human rights as an “offender” in the world’s first prison society? What can philosophers and political theorists learn from the example of incarcerated intellectuals and political actors whose everyday lives are situated at the dangerous intersection of racism, economic exploitation, sexual violence, and civil death? What would it mean to respect the specificity of the Free Alabama Movement, and at the same time to recognize that even the freedom of non-incarcerated philosophers may be bound up with the freedom of Alabama? What is freedom, after all? What – and where – and who – is Alabama?
In what follows, I will share what I have learned about the Free Alabama Movement over the last couple of days. But don’t take my word for it! Check out the FAM website, which includes photos and videos of degrading prison conditions, as well as this brilliant spoken word analysis of prison slavery. Follow the movement on Facebook and Twitter. And read the 100-page manifesto written by prisoner-organizers about the situation in Alabama prisons and the movement to end prison slavery.
So: What is the Free Alabama Movement, and how did it begin?
As FAM organizer Melvin Ray explains in an online manifesto, the Free Alabama Movement is a prisoner-led movement calling for a “statewide shutdown on Free Labor in the form of a Non-Violent and Peaceful Protest for Civil and Human Rights” (p. 9).
Earlier this year, FAM organized a non-violent labor strike at St. Clair Correctional Facility. The strike action spread to three prisons across the state, and since then, Melvin Ray has been held in solitary confinement for his role in the strikes (AL.com).
Most prisoners in Alabama are not paid for their work, and all able-bodied prisoners are required to work. Prison labor in Alabama includes food preparation, laundry, and facility maintenance, as well as the production of furniture, license plates, and chemicals (more information here). Since 2012, private corporations have been allowed to set up shop within prisons, and in 2011, there was even talk of replacing the labor power of undocumented workers with prison labor.
Speaking on behalf of the Free Alabama Movement, Ray explains: “they’re running a slave empire” (Salon).
This reference to slavery is not a metaphor; after all, the Thirteenth Amendment does not abolish slavery completely, but rather maintains the possibility of slavery and involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime.”
In response to the material conditions of 21st-century prison slavery, the Free Alabama Movement has declared: “We don’t want to be slaves for this system” (AL.com).
FAM is committed to a non-violent struggle against the institutional violence of prison slavery and the structural violence of racism and poverty. The FAM manifesto states: “Free Alabama Movement knows that non-violence is not only our best strategy, but it is our only strategy capable of producing our desired goals” (manifesto, p. 9).
In an interview with Salon, Ray adds: “Violence is what has drawn most of us into the prisons — and that’s what we’re trying to stop” (Salon).
He continues: “We decided that the only weapon or strategy… that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here… They’re incarcerating people for the free labor” (Salon).
In reaching out to other prisoners who may be reluctant to join a resistance movement within a system that is designed to crush resistance, Ray says: “We have to get them to understand: You’re not giving up anything. You don’t have anything. And you’re going to gain your freedom right here” (Salon).
For an incarcerated person to join in the movement is to engage in a collective project of self-organization and mutual empowerment: “No one is going to do anything… so we have to do it ourselves” (Salon).
I’ll conclude this brief introduction to the Free Alabama Movement with an outline of their platform, which can be read in full in the manifesto.
1. To Put An End To The System Of Free Labor Within The Alabama Department Of Corrections.
2. To put an end to the inhumane living conditions under which Alabama prisoners suffer, including overcrowding and the warehousing of large amounts of people for no purpose.
3. To abolish life without parole sentences and to overhaul Alabama’s current parole system to provide more deserving people with an opportunity to earn their release from prison.
4. To put an end to arbitrary sentencing practices that has resulted in the targeting of specific race groups.
1. We want an end to the system of free labor within the Alabama Department of Corrections.
2. We want to end to the inhumane living conditions under which Alabama prisoners suffer, including overcrowding and the warehousing of large amounts of people for no purpose other than to extract free labor.
3. We want control of our resources and the money our families send to us.
4. Reform in youthful offender law.
5. Repeal of the Habitual Offender Act and other laws.
A spoken word performance on the FAM website ends with these powerful words: “Because freeing Alabama is freeing our lives.”
Let me repeat that.
“Because freeing Alabama is freeing our lives.”
To those of us with a stable location within the academy, it might seem like the struggle to free Alabama is a distant struggle which – however inspiring – does not implicate our own freedom. But we would be wrong.
In a nation that incarcerates more people than any other society in world history – a nation that was born in slavery, and that to this day permits slavery and involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime” – a nation that chronically underfunds public education for the sake of punishing, controlling and incapacitating prisoners – none of us are free until all of us are free.
Philosophers have been talking about freedom for centuries. It’s up to us to grapple with the implications of our own intellectual and political commitments in response to the Free Alabama Movement and to other prisoner-led liberation movements. What is freedom? Where is Alabama? Who could we become, as philosophers, if we followed the lead of radical intellectuals behind bars?
You can donate to the Free Alabama Movement here, and by helping to amplify their voices in your own communities.
Freedom Archives 

Muslim Americans Accuse FBI of Placing Them on "No-Fly" List for Refusin...

http://www.democracynow.org - Naveed Shinwari is one of four American Muslims who filed suit against the government this week for placing them on the U.S. "no-fly list" after they refused to become FBI informants. The plaintiffs say they were barred from flying not because they were accused of any crime, but because they wouldn't spy on their communities. "It's very frustrating, you feel helpless," Shinwari says. "No one will tell you how you can get off of it, how you got on it. It has a profound impact on people's lives." We are also joined by Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has lawsuit to remove the men from the no-fly list, and call for a new legal mechanism to challenge placement on it. "Whenever civil rights abuses are violated or abused, people have to speak out," Shinwari concludes. "If I don't do it, who else will do it?" 

Watch our full interview on Democracy Now!:

"Silenced" Film Explores the Human Toll of Obama's Crackdown on National...

http://www.democracynow.org - How far would you go to tell the truth? That is the question posed by the new documentary "Silenced," which follows three national security whistleblowers who fight to reveal the darkest corners of America's war on terror while enduring the wrath of a government increasingly determined to maintain secrecy. The three are former Justice Department lawyer Jesselyn Radack; former senior National Security Agency official Thomas Drake; and former CIA officer John Kiriakou. On the heels of the film's premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, we speak with director James Spione about the extraordinary lengths the government has gone to in order to wreak havoc on the whistleblowers' personal lives through a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment. 

Watch the full interview on Democracy Now!:

Why my sense of indignation over the case of Davontae Sanford some have asked?

Why my sense of indignation over the case of Davontae Sanford some have asked? Well for starters when I looked at the facts in that case after obtaining documents and recordings provided to me by the prosecutor's office and in particular Smothers' written and audio video recorded confession shock waves went all through me. How can this be I wondered that the prosecutor denies the truth? Why is she doing this to innocence? As both a legal professional and a citizen I felt a call to action to right this wrong. A society that values liberty and justice should not allow this to happen. At a time when America claims to fight for others' freedoms she is denying the most basic fundamental rights of freedom and due process of law right here at home. Davontae's case is not unique or an anomaly. It happens very often. But I said forget the legal court battles--call Kym Worthy out!! She hides behind her desk to do her dirty work and refused to even interview for the case on TV. Oh but she has no problem getting all the news coverage at self-glorification in one on one interviews with Carmen Harlan on WDIV and others but she will not debate anyone about this case because there exist too many questions she cannot answer that bother her. The next time you see her on TV see the face of an innocent fourteen year old boy whom she stole from his mother's embrace.

Roberto Guzman

The arrogance of the privileged who persecute the poor.

A letter a day to number 10. No 721.

Thursday 24 April 2014. The arrogance of the privileged who persecute the poor.

Shares are encouraged and welcomed. If this letter speaks for you and you wish to send your own copy please feel free to copy and paste, and alter for your own needs, the text for your own letter. 

Website updated, letters and replies plus bonus material featuring Mr Suggs, Eeyore and Ribbit.

Also on the website, download the support compilation three album set from Atona. Not to be missed.


Dear Mr Cameron,

I am tired of empty words and lies from the blinkered and bunkered privileged who have the arrogance to presume to tell people what to do whilst peddling lies, spin and deception.

It is beyond satire to read of Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, saying: 'This country has a long history of a strong welfare state, which we can rightly be proud of. As part of the UK, Scottish people benefit from this resilient and unified system.' This is the man who has refused to publish the figures of our dead and who is responsible for the useless Universal Credit and wasting hundreds of millions of pounds in write offs.

As disability groups, campaigners and countless sick and disabled people wait to hear the news from yesterdays tribunal hearing brought by Mike Sivier, the very man responsible for the stress, suffering and even deaths across hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people speaks with all the weight of an intellectual and moral pygmy.

IDS is a walking parody of some Colonel Blimp character, supping champers whilst committing more lives to a failed cause and saying something like, 'Commit more troops, don't worry, we've got lots to spare, they're only poor people anyway, bloody useless eaters!'

In fact that pretty much sums up your entire government. Esther McVey saying, 'In the UK it is right that more people are... going to food banks because as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally which spiralled under Labour, we are all trying to live within our means,' she just reveals her own complete and utter arrogance and stupidity. Living within 'her' means is certainly a chance that the vast majority of us wouldn't mind trying, but haven't a hope in hell of doing so. The hypocrisy of the woman dictating to the poor is staggering!





 — in Peasedown Saint John.

Davontae Sanford: Day Three in The Life of An Innocent Child Wrongfully Convicted of Murder

Davontae Sanford: Day Three in The Life of An Innocent Child Wrongfully Convicted of Murder. Oh what tangled webs we weave! As I promised yesterday I would tell you all about another strange twist in this case in which professional hitman Vincent Smothers and his cohort Nemo Davis' trail of murder led all the way to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and how one officer with Detroit Police was retaliated against for getting too close to the former mayor for his connection with the dynamic duo. This case stinks to high heaven let me tell you! All in the name of making a fourteen year old boy their sacrificial lamb and do violence to INNOCENCE thanks to Detroiters for allowing this to happen! The Manoogian Mansion. Oh yessssss. The wild lewd sex party and physical assault on one of two strip dancers by the former mayors thug trash talking wife. When Smothers and Davis were arrested in Kentucky by Detroit Police who flew down there to bring them back to Detroit they were arrested at the home of one of Davis' family members who it turned out was a known drug dealer in Kentucky and who had close ties to none other than Kwame Kilpatrick-the hip hop gang banging thug mayor of the city. Nice role model for our youth wouldn't you say? Please don't. In the crowd of all these shady crooked politicians; police and the prosecutor (I can't forget her too) was an officer who saw what was happening and decided to investigate further. Officer Ira Todd from Homicide. He knew based on what he learned when he picked Smothers and Davis up in Kentucky that Davis' connection to the former mayor was a problem. He also knew that of the two strip dancers at the Manoogian Mansion party in 2002 one was killed in . . . You named it: Kentucky. The other here in Detroit. Did Davis and Smothers carry out those hits for the mayor or Karlita to silence those two women to keep them from coming out to tell the world the truth about the sexy gang banging party at the mansion and finally dispel former attorney general Mike Cox's claim that rumors of a party at the mansion were an "urban legend?". Prosecutor Worthy is afraid so. But she wants to silence Smothers keep in mind. Did Cox prematurely dismiss claims of a wild party at the mansion as an urban legend because he too was there and had an interest in saving his skin? Maybe. In a city plagued with corruption and coverup nothing would surprise me. I have always said the party was kept as an urban legend because other important officials and members of Detroits Baptist clergy were there but I am not going to start naming names. We will never know of Davis' connections to the former mayor because Officer Todd was silenced. Silence of the lambs. But what we do know is Davis' and Smothers' trail of blood seems to lead all the way to Kentucky and we also know that Smothers was a professional hitman for Detroit Police. The names of others he likely killed for Detroit Police went to the grave of one sergeant who committed suicide after Smothers offed his wife. One thing is for certain. Officer Ira Todd was doing his job for the citizens of Detroit when he began to investigate Smothers and Davis' possible ties to the mayor. He understood the importance that we deserved better. He saw how foul and fury from top leaders in Detroit was taking over a city already plagued with crime. He understood that his job as a cop was difficult enough without the man in the mayor's seat making it more difficult for the men in blue. And for that I admire his courage and determination. Ira Todd has a pending whistleblower lawsuit pending against the city for his unlawful demotion from the Homicide Department as a result of yet another strange twist in the Davontae Sanford case. As one of the three judges at the Michigan Court of Appeals remarked at oral argument in Davontae's case last summer: This is an interesting case with some very strange twists. I second that thought.

Roberto Guzman