From a letter:
Yesterday – 9 days into fasting – they finally took my and my cellie’s weight and vitals. Because it’s the first weight they’ve taken since this began, they’ll attempt to use it as a ‘baseline’ weight to measure how much weight we’ve lost.
The problem with that is obvious: we’ve already lost an enormous amount of weight in the first 9 days of not eating. I used my weight from the last time I went to nurses line back in May (223 Lbs) to calculate how much I lost (I weighed in at 214 Lbs – 212 Lbs minus the weight of the waist chains [2 Lbs]), so as of yesterday I lost 11 Lbs. Zah went from 178 to 164 – a loss of 14 Lbs.
According to the CCHS mass hunger strike policy (IMSP+P, Vol. 4, Chpt. 22.2) states PCP visits to record vital signs, weight, and BMI should be done 1-3 days after hunger strike participation (see for a summary: http://www.prisons.org/
documents/ HungerStrikeSUMMARY7-13.pdf). With those of us they gaffed up in their version of ‘extraordinary rendition’ and isolated us in this rat block [unit 4A], they waited until the 9th day.
This exposes us to the risk of premature hunger strike complications due to this negligent medical care and deviation from the established hunger strike policy. No one can tell me this is not intentional.
Also included in the policy is the provision that an FTF visit to again assess vitals, weight, height, etc. is to take place at the 4-7 day mark, the 7-14 day mark and then every week thereafter. They’ve obviously not adhered to their own policy, but instead subordinated themselves to custody and the dictates of this warden.
In any event, I.G.I. came by yesterday and returned some of my paperwork and gave me a receipt for over 100 pages of other stuff they’re characterizing as “gang material.” To give you an example of their fundamentally contradictory thought process and the arbitrary/capricious nature of how they characterize info – one document they are now characterizing this way is a document I wrote in 2005, “Cadre Development: Usalama” [Kiswahili for “security’) [C.D.U.], for revolutionary socialist parties like the “Afrikan Socialist Party,” “New Black Panther Party,” etc. to use to protect their political activities, organizations and personnel from counter-intelligence and infiltration operations by hostile capitalist state agencies.
The I.G.I. officer in question stated the reason it was confiscated (mind you I’ve had this document in my possession, in one form of another (typed, handwritten, etc.) since 2005 when I wrote it and this same I.G.I. c/o has reviewed it at least 10 times in subsequent searches of my property and never responded this way) was the use of the term “party,” which they considered synonymous with the “B.G.F.”
When I am faced with such an obvious contradiction, the running commentary in my mind is often: “if it is your assertion that the language, activities, and information you are attaching to a particular group of people is all political in nature, and even you (the I.G.I.) are identifying what you believe this group to be as a “political party,” why then do you continue to disrespect imprisoned political activists by referring to them, their ideas, and work-product as “gangs,” “gang activity,” or “gang material”? The answer is obvious and it is the same reason I wrote the essay in the first place: in order to de-legitimate N.A.R.N. [New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism] / Revolutionary Scientific Socialism, the state must criminalize leftist ideologues, activity, and ideas.
In the 1900s they did it with the Haymarket Massacre; in the ‘40s and ‘50s they did it with the McCarthy Hearings and the Church Committee; in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s they used the Counter-Intelligence Program (CoIntelPro); today they’ve evolved and expanded CoIntelPro and use control units and the “gang” moniker to achieve this end.
Case in point, they also confiscated 43 pages of stuff a N.A.R.N. couple in Baltimore sent me over the course of a year. Virtually all of their communiqués discussed gaining a better scientific understanding of the ideology and economic applications of socialism to the modern world, as well as the challenges their communities were facing in combatting the criminal / gang mentality among some youth and the challenges of transforming that mentality (actually an expression of the dominant oppressor culture and the effects of class/race-based disparities) into a progressive or revolutionary mentality.
As you well know, I.G.I. monitors all my incoming and outgoing mail – and it was no different here – they allowed this political discourse to continue over the course of a year, and I knew why they did so – and told the sister and brother as much in two separate communiqués: this gave law enforcement an opportunity to gather intelligence on the political development and interactions of socialist activists in different parts of the nation.
Now apparently Maryland is also engaged in a peaceful protest action, and suddenly the I.G.I. assigned to monitor my mail is telling me – “I did not see this stuff” - is both ludicrous and insulting – but not unforeseen. He (I.G.I.) told me I would be receiving an 115 for “gang activity” for numerous letters that they reviewed [and] then delivered to my door – not to mention my responses.
Of course none of this political discourse is “gang activity,” but that’s all academic. The state must have its narrative to repress political and socio-economic development along the lines of scientific socialism, N.A.R.N. (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism), or any other leftist tendencies. There are some 2-300 different political parties and organizations who employ N.A.R.N. as their ideological base – but in every instance – be they imprisoned or in the field – the state characterizes them as “gangs” and treats us accordingly. It sets up this automatic ambiguity in the people’s minds with 2 distinct emotional and political reactions: “gangs” are dehumanized, castigated, and treated with political disdain; “revolutionaries” are romanticized, supported and treated with political interest and consideration.
Though there is under the D.O.M. section governing “disruptive groups” a designation for “revolutionary groups,” CDCR instead chooses to characterize N.A.R.N. and Scientific Socialist prisoners as “gangs” and “gang members.” Understanding the motive force behind it does not lessen its incorrectiveness or illegitimacy. But there is always a price for progress – revolution is illegal. The state is a tool to impose the interests of one class over all others and challenges to that status quo – no matter how principled or well intentioned – are viewed as threats, attacked, vilified, and in the case of those imprisoned: confined to sensory deprivation torture units and given 115’s for someone else writing you. Perhaps in the state’s mind – this will prove a deterrent – instead it only motivates me to build even more.
As we speak I am watching an episode of Dr Oz about the profit motivation behind food fraud (false labeling of poorer quality food items: fish, spices, juices, tea, etc., etc.) and the market correlation to lax U.S. enforcement of food standards. This system is so pervasively corrupt on every level of human activity it simply cannot be “reformed.”
When we make A critical analysis of CDCR’s continued opposition to the abolition of long-term sensory deprivation confinement and characterization of our peaceful protest as “gang activity,” what we are looking at is the same antagonistic authoritarian psychosis which not only compelled George Zimmerman to profile, hung, confront, harass, and ultimately murder Trayvon Martin – but more essentially it was behind the American legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that drafted and lobbied to pass the “stand your ground laws” he relied on, and the initial, and later, failings of Sanford law enforcement in first not bringing charges, then later bungling the prosecution.
Zimmerman believed Trayvon was a criminal and a threat because he was a young New Afrikan man, the Sanford police believed he was correctly killed for the same reason, and the jury believed Trayvon did not have a right to fight back against a grown man and a stranger preventing him from going home, but Zimmerman did have a right to murder Trayvon after being on the losing end of a fight he (Zimmerman) started – for the same reason.
Equally, CDCR feels we are “gang members” and a “threat” worthy of indefinite torture, simply because we are in prison with ideals divergent from the dominant theme, the psychosis prompts them to violate their own laws in characterizing- (and issuing 115’s based on this characterization) – this peaceful protest action as a “gang activity.” (the 1st Amendment states clearly: “Congress shall make no law… abridging … the right of the people peacibly to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”) , and to continue to resist making the necessary and humane decisions required by this circumstance, the times, and international law. Both sets of phenomena emerged from that single psychosis prevalent in U.S. white male privilege. Hold on.
Now 2 things happened today which were both positive and shocking:
- This morning at 6AM, the same identical I.G.I. officer responsible for most of the most inane assaults on my artistic expression and politics, went out of his way and tracked down me and my cellie’s lost laundry. He did not have to do that, and whether he was told to or did so out of pure human decency, I can only speculate - but it was commendable and respected in either event. I actually have my thermal bottoms back :-) Unfortunately, over $100 worth of my books are still missing :(
- They just pulled me and Zah out, took our weight and vitals again (I’m down to 210 Lbs now). We were both surprised and pleased and clearly it’s as a result of you all on the outside calling up here and checking on us – thank you.
Please relay what you can of this to my family, the comrades in the struggle across the nation.