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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don’t let the torturer define torture

by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, Oct 23rd, 2012
In: SF Bay View and California Prison Watch

In the Crawford case (In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012)), won by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford), the three-judge appeal panel ruled unanimously that the CDCR cannot confiscate mail and claim that it contains some kind of “coded” message without proving it. It’s an important case not only because it strips the CDCR of an illegal tool that it considered important in burying people in these dungeons.

Equally important is that the judges finally had the courage to actually uphold the law for the sake of upholding the law, and there was no trade-off. There was no “I’ll do this in exchange for that,” which is pretty routine when it comes to the rights of prisoners and criminal defendants.

It really is foul and obviously so. You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people.

Correcting madness only requires courage. We are a nation governed by bullies. The judge in the Crawford decision, like Crawford himself, had courage.

Equally important is that the judges finally had the courage to actually uphold the law for the sake of upholding the law, and there was no trade-off.

You, the Bay View, your husband, the Pelican Bay representatives, the thousands who resist and supporters who have stood up and continue to stand up and really stand up against the state have courage.

We also received a copy of the latest draft – version 7.0 – of the STG (Security Threat Group, or gang) proposal, and it appears as if this will be the policy. I did not think it could get any worse.

You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people.

You can actually be given an additional SHU term for what is being called an “STG handshake.” This is the 21st century and a nation that defines itself as the greatest democracy on earth and we actually penalize citizens, put them/us in isolation for shaking someone’s hand.

This drawing by acclaimed prisoner artist Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is titled “Control Unity Torture.” The term control unit refers to the extremely restrictive solitary confinement called in California a Security Housing Unit (SHU) or Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). U.N. torture czar Juan Mendez classifies as torture confinement in a control unit for more than 15 days. Yet the average stay in the Pelican Bay SHU is 7.5 years, 89 have been there for over 20 years and one, former Black Panther Hugo Pinell, for 42 years.

This is the best proof of how irrational the thinking is: People literally create their own reality, give it a name and then do with it as they please. There is no such thing as an “STG handshake.” There is also a provision that makes it possible for a person to be given a SHU term for “group exercise.” People are actually paid huge salaries to come up with this shit!

The sanity of these people should be called into question. The Pelican Bay representatives and SHU population are absolutely correct: This must be resisted. To not do so, particularly in the face of such disrespect, would be deplorable. It would be weak! And nothing is as pathetic as weakness.

Our hope is that we might be able to come up with something to contribute to the efforts being made by the Bay View, you and others who have been so supportive and so inspiring in the struggle. However it is that we can contribute to any of your endeavors, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

The road is long and hard and rough, but anything worth loving is worth fighting for. Take good care.

Strugglin’ with you – Michael Zaharibu Dorrough

Send our brother some love and light: Michael Dorrough, D-83611, Corcoran SHU, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212. This open letter was written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda, a prisoner human rights advocate whose husband, Robbie Riva, T-49359, is being tortured in segregation at Calipatria State Prison ASU.

In a personal, introductory note, Michael wrote: “Dear Kendra, Hello sis. It is my/our hope that you continue to be of sound health upon receiving this and that you will continue to maintain that magnificent fire that you possess. It is the difference between being committed to changing the inhumanities that confront us all and those who are just paying lip service to it. You could never be confused with the latter group.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update on our Pilot Program Block-Vote Democratic Initiative


With less than 30 days left to the presidential election, and our major fundraising event to benefit the 3 Pilot Programs (“Occupy The Beat”) still being organized, the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative will not be funded and fielded in time to impact this election cycle.

This, however, does not mean aspects of the B.V.D.I. cannot be adopted and implemented by you. There are 34 states that have recently passed these racist, anti-poor, disenfranchisement statutes requiring voters to purchase special ID’s to vote.

It is a blatant gambit by the Republican party to neutralize entire segments of the electorate opposed to their ultra-rightwing authoritarian agenda. We can not allow it. Democracy can not allow it. We urge you to adopt and employ those segments of the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative that you can, where you can.

It is our assessment that churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, college campuses and community centers are all ideal, self-contained institutions where this type of organizing can be carried out. We urge you all to act.

If you simply cannot do the work required to carry forward such an effort but want to support the B.V.D.I. or one of the other Pilot Programs, please go here to our fundraiser site and donate whatever you can to see these vital initiatives are implemented as fast as possible. All that is necessary for evil people to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Please join us in this vital work. 

N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU / Occupy N.C.T.T.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Ideological Persecution and Political Hypocrisy of the CA Department of Corrections (2003)

This was published in 2003, and shines a light on the unchanged and discriminating ways and reasons of "validating"   (= finding reasons for locking people up in solitary confunement without any end in sight) prisoners on the basis of political ideologies. See also this recent article on SolitaryWatch about the "validation-process"

Heshima wrote that this article was used as a pretext to keep him slammed in the solitary confinement torture unit. He asked the webmaster to post the attached "Confidential Information Disclosure Form" that shows the prison took this 2003 article published in California Prison Focus as 'evidence'  of 'gang activity,' precisely what the article was refuting.

Published in: California Prison Focus Nr 18 (2003)

In the confines of the concentration camps which make up California's Department of Corrections, those prisoners who express through word or deed any political belief or ideological standpoint divergent from what prison administrators deem the "norm" are labeled clear and present dangers to the general prison population and treated as such, despite the constitutional and regulatory safeguards against political persecution that the CDoC, as an agency of the state, claims to uphold. This pattern of hypocrisy and persecution  is responsible for the single largest population of purely political prisoners in the U.S.A., in the form of "validated" Afrikan prisoners in the state of California.

The CDoC has fully embraced and become a master of employing Amerikkka's methodology of espousing an ideal on paper or within the confines of their regulations, but exercising a completely opposite pattern of behavior when such regulatory assurances benefit those who they categorize as  enemies such as  activists of revolutionary ideology. The California Code of Regulations, Title 15, Subsection 3004 states in part:

"…employees will not subject other persons to any form of discrimination because of race, religion, nationality … political belief…".

The Constitution of the United States of Amerikkka, arguably one of the most perfectly written "theoretical" documents on socio-political freedom, ensures in the most elegant terms the right of every citizen, free or bond, to exercise whatever political belief he or she so wishes.

These assertions of ideological magnanimity on the part of the CDoC and its mother state are as empty and hollow as the cells here in Corcoran SHU. 

For example, on October 6, 1995 at Pelican Bay State Prison, L.L. Anderson, then a Lieutenant in ISU (now a Captain) stated the following in a validation memorandum on a prisoner whose political ideology was revolutionary in nature:

"Confidential memorandum dated 11/1/93.  
This memorandum clearly outlines subject's affiliation with terrorist organizations (i.e. The New Afrikan Peoples Organization and the Afrikan Socialist Party) and support of a New Afrikan  Revolutionary Nationalism (N.A.R.N.). N.A.R.N. is considered synonymous with the Black  Guerilla Family 'prison gang' and is now accepted as a source for validation purposes."
Incredulously, Mr. Anderson goes on to state:
"Some correspondence connects subject with individuals linked to the Weather Underground and the Nation of Islam. These two terrorist organizations are well noted for their sympathies to overthrow the government."

I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of Afrikans in Amerikkka and abroad who subscribe to the political ideology of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, Maoism-Leninism-Marxism, and Scientific Socialism, as well as the millions of Muslims who adhere to the religious doctrine of the Nation of Islam will and do take offense to L.L. Anderson, and the CDoC relegating their beliefs and faith to "prison gangs" and "terrorist groups", not to mention the total disregard for their own regulations and the guarantees set forth in the Constitution of the United States of Amerikkka. 

This example of hypocrisy is not the exception, but the rule when dealing with progressive elements in the prison population.

I myself was validated as a member of the so-called "Prison Gang/Terrorist Group", the Black Guerilla Family at High Desert State Prison in August of 2001 in perhaps one of the most ridiculous examples of fabrication of evidence and misrepresentation of facts in the history of the validation process.

Nonetheless, the primary content and theme of this ridiculous validation packet was my affiliation with, and belief in, New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, Scientific Socialism, and my assertion of the inherent behavioral obligation to righteousness and egalitarian mores. Not a single document, or piece of paper, even those I.G.I. Correctional Officer D.D. Shaver fabricated, made a single reference or allusion to the BGF or any other organizations in particular-but as L.L. Anderson stated back in 1995, 

"…New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism is considered synonymous now with … prison gang(s)…".
It is my contention that the reality of political freedom and the right to exercise such does not extend to those whose freedom has been abrogated by the legal farces men call "courts of law".

Despite the obvious hypocrisy of the CDoC and its insistence on persecuting New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists, I'm not naïve enough to react emotionally to this phenomena, quite the contrary, I approach virtually everything with cold objectivity and analytical emotional detachment and therefore can understand intellectually why the state fears us so. 

As an ideological system, New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist and Scientific Socialism is in diametric opposition to the actual "penological interests" of the CDoC which is the genocide of Afrikan and Latino males in this state. In order to justify the existence and prevalence of the prison industrial complex as a societal necessity here in California, the state must relegate the proponents of Nationalism/ Socialism/ Egalitarianism within the concentration camp environment to the status of "criminal", "terrorist", or "gang member" in order to neutralize the organizing and psychological liberating effect the proponents of such have on the masses of otherwise uninitiated prisoners who find themselves, more often that not, in the clutches of the Department due primarily to the socio-economic disenfranchisement, behavioral modification, and educational/employment disparities based on race which are systemic built-in mechanisms for the Amerikkkan social infrastructure. The entire so-called criminal justice system and the prison-industrial complex it serves, is not a solution to the ills of society and I  challenge any objective analyst to state its aims are "justice".

This entire machine is nothing more than a mechanism to "legitimately" exterminate a specific portion of this Nation's population, particularly Afrikans and Aztecs, but first creating the social conditions which offer no other viable choice to meet the basic needs save the transgression of countless laws, then ensure the conviction and lengthy incarceration of those who do transgress, ending in the doom of the strongest aspects of the non-white male population, and all in the name of the law.

Allowing the purveyors of revolution in the concentration camp environment, the political freedoms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and the California Code of Regulations, would be in effect allowing the prisons of California to become revolutionary universities.

Men who entered these pits of perdition, instead of becoming more savage and inhumane would be truly rehabilitated in the sense that the former capitalist-criminal ideals, which lead them to prison in the first place would be replaced by egalitarian mores, and the state would be release true democratic idealist and scientific socialists into the uninformed chaos of mainstream society where they will educate and influence the poor, oppressed masses to a truth that would mean an end to the capitalist ideal and the reality of the system of white supremacy.

This is something the current system of power is not prepared to do. One must concede, from a purely intellectual and objective point of view, were I a "Babylonian", I would do whatever necessary to maintain my position of power as well, including crushing the rights of my incarcerated citizens and throwing those who would expose me for the charlatan and fascist that I am in the deepest, darkest, dankest cell I could find.

Here in California, these cells are called Corcoran and Pelican Bay SHU. For this reason, those who embrace the ideology of social change should be aware of the fact that the second you are identified as such you will be persecuted in the California Department of Corrections.

In fact, if you take up the mantle of the revolutionary activist, and you fear or feel you could not withstand the full force of the state brought to bear on you in the most hospitable ways-perhaps you should not embrace revolution. I have stated many times before that the most difficult occupations on the face of the Earth is that of the professional revolutionary. You must be a historian, sociologist, and intelligence officer, detective, psychologist, counselor, military strategist, and warrior.

You must above all love the people, and do all of this while attempting to conceal what you are in plain sight of an enemy who would love nothing more than to throw you in a SHU cell for the rest of your life. George Lester Jackson stated in his sage masterwork, Blood in My Eye, that "…revolution is a war for the minds of the masses", and it is my contention that the only thing that separates the makers of history for those whose histories are made for them, is the power to alter their environments, the power of change. 

That power, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing more or less the power of information. Revolutionaries educate the masses, but it is virtually impossible to do so in the concentration camp environment, while living according to the ethical and behavioral precepts you are espousing, and not eventually be compromised. No matter how progressive the results engendered by revolutionary agent in any particular prison sector, for or against prison administrators; no matter how righteous the aims or outcome of such activism-it will be deemed a threat, and the proponents of change will be attacked and relegated to the harshest, most isolated conditions these "people" can concoct. This is merely the reality of the situation, and must be addressed as such. The political (and all too often actual) survival of revolutionary activists within the concentration camp environment depends solely on one’s ability to remain clandestine.

The CDoC's hypocrisy, and the states support thereof, should be viewed by all revolutionary activists and proponents of human rights, as verification of the righteousness of our cause and should serve as a motivational factor for true commitment.

Oh yes, if you believe in New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, Scientific Socialism, or a plethora of other progressive political beliefs, and you find yourself in a California prison, you will be persecuted for your belief. But this does not negate the fact that it is your human, Constitutional and regulatory right. The level of persecution you sustain for exercising this right will vary from individual to individual, but it will be directly proportional to the effectiveness of your influence on the people and the social conditions you find yourself in.

Nonetheless, in the final analysis no level of persecution or obvious hypocrisy will alter the truth, and the truth of the matter is those who prescribe to such political beliefs as New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, are not members of a "prison gang", nor are they "terrorists", they are fearless men and/or women who call the oppressor an oppressor, and are prepared to do whatever is necessary, including enduring persecution, to alter that reality. I state, without apology, that if we apply the CDoC's description, the BGF are not a "prison gang" or "terrorist group", these brothers are a revolutionary organization no different, or less legitimate than the Afrikan Peoples' Socialist Party, the New Afrikan Peoples' Organization, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and I'm sure they, like all other progressive organizations do not see the future of the world through the prism of Amerikkkan geopolitical interests, and thus by the CDoC's definition, are a threat to those interests.

Yet under the rubric of Amerikkkan psychology, Israel, a state that bombed Palestinians out of their homes to create this nation-state after W.W.II is an ally-Nation, and the Palestinian people who resist with force the apartheid-like conditions, they are forced to live under are "terrorists" and “extremist". In fact, any organization, group, state, or nation opposed to Amerikkka and its interests are labeled "criminals", "gangs" or "terrorists". Namibian foreign minister Theo-Ben Gurirab, a leading office of the Afrikan Union, while at a recent summit of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Coolum, Australia stated: "We think the…definition of terrorism is built only around enemies of the U.S…." [see: http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0320/p09s01-woaf.html], and I must not only agree, but raise my fist in solidarity with every other Afrikan prisoner "validated", and serving and indeterminate SHU term in the state of California in declaring to the world-we are living examples of this reality; that even in the confines of prison, we are hunted down, rounded up, and buried under the penitentiary.

However, what is more important and vital to this discussion, and what I wish to share with every reader of this beautiful publication, is: sacrifice is the basis of all struggle and no level of persecution or hypocrisy will deter the truly committed from serving the people, the party, and the revolution-this is my human right-and yours as well-exercise it…think on these things, they are cause for great meditation.

-          Heshima Denham

Original: http://www.karnataka.prisons.org/documents/cpf18.pdf

In PDF

Click to enlarge: Confidential Information Disclosure Form: see under nr 3.

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