Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nobody deserves to be tortured: a response to CDCR’s STG-SDP plan

In: SF BayView, December 20, 2012

by Mutope Dugma

The new “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Strategy” will instigate new and more aggressive attacks against prisoners and their families, friends, associates and communities, who are already being victimized by our institutionalized racist system and the prison industrial complex. It is just one of their many policies to persecute prisoners incarcerated in solitary confinement units. This is comparable to government policies that persecute us poor citizens in ghettos and barrios.

The security threat group strategy in itself is a racist policy that will set a new precedent for attacks against New Afrikans (i.e. Blacks), Mexicans, Latinos, Asians and poor whites to allow CDCR to implement a classification of our people and communities. “Security threat group” means one of us can define all of us, through their validation system.

We are individuals despite all the hype around this gang validation nonsense. We must reject the “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Plan.” It will allow our communities to be further subjugated, persecuted and openly attacked by overzealous public servants or security guards who operate like Gestapo against poor citizens of this nation.

And to those of us held in the prison industrial complex – subjected to physical and psychological torture in long term isolated solitary confinement units – the term “threat group” only means that the validation process is being expanded to where all prisoners based on group validation as a gang can be and will be subjected to what we already suffer as individuals under the validation procedures.

Identification of prisoners will mean what it means now, not only who we are, but who are our family, friends and associates, and this will not stop. The identification process investigates our lives by way of other agencies, such as LAPD, OPD, SFPD, SDPD, Sheriffs etc. This I call profiling of our people and our communities. Identifying the prisoner as part of a STG – a gang member or associate – opens up covert and overt investigations of our family, friends and associates.

This is the purpose for the identification: making our people and community suspects in alleged gang activity, subjecting us to harassment, searches and investigations. It is the pretext used by CDCR to hide their racist intent.

Interdiction [the subheading of the STG strategy is “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Proposed Implementation of the Security Threat Group Identification System and Step Down Program for Gang Interdiction and Management”], meaning to destroy, cut off or damage, or to prohibit by decree or authoritarian implementation, will only further familiarize New Afrikans, Latinos, Mexicans and Asians with what they know all too well: the authoritarian presence of militarized police inside our communities.

They patrol our communities as if we’re terrorists. Yet the prisoner will be the justification for interdiction. Remember, CDCR and Pelican Bay State Prison officials have already cut us off from our family, friends, associates and communities, and when we succeed in connecting with them, they use many scare tactics to destroy, damage or cut these relationships OFF. It’s called interdiction.

Prevention, meaning to keep from happening or existing, to hold back, hinder, stop, means that we prisoners will be suppressed by any means necessary based on flawed intelligence and through crime initiatives and policies to counter crimes that have not occurred. For example, prisoners in solitary confinement units are not allowed “contact visits,” because there is the potential for a crime to be committed. CDCR’s NO contact visits policy speculates and assumes that prisoners’ families, friends and associates will be accomplices to criminal activity. Under CDCR policy, NO kissing, touching etc. is allowed while on a contact visit to a prisoner in general population.

This is what they mean when they say prevention: instituting policies that suppress the growth and development of prisoners and their families, friends, associates and community, by cutting off whatever crimes that can be committed. But to do this is to insinuate that all our people are criminals, which reflects an inherently racist disposition inside the institution of institutionalized racism. Therefore, we all become suspects or are subjected to policies that limit our interaction and movement.

Management means that act or art of control. This is what it’s about: controlling the obsolete “poor class” prisoners, who are only an extension of the obsolete poor class of people out in society. By maintaining control over this class of people, they’re able to utilize intimidating acts or practices against prisoners toward controlling them.

The death penalty, long term solitary confinement, assault weapons, prison violence, prison oppression – all are means of maintaining control. This is how they manage prisoners.

Plan is a method for achieving an objective. Therefore, we all are in danger. The STG is only a new and more aggressive policy that will further subject prisoners to harsh conditions and the current physical and psychological torture we exist under now. I basically just interpreted the title of this new policy, which defines its true purpose and meaning.

We also see that this pilot program is filled with numerous job titles, which is how CDCR fleeces California taxpayers out of their funds. They create unnecessary positions that are irrelevant and serve no purpose. If anyone thinks that those of us held in solitary confinement units need to go through gang management programs at the ages of 40 to 70-plus years, they are only fooling themselves.

There are NO gang members or gang bangers in the “short corridor” at Pelican Bay, only grown men who came into these institutions at very young ages, who have educated themselves, and who in many cases were never gang members from the get go. What you have back here are political prisoners, jail house lawyers, strong minded influential prisoners who understand the games correctional officers and officials play.

Those of us who did come into these prisons with a backward mindset do not adhere to that gang nonsense anymore. It’s crazy to tell us, who’ve been in solitary confinement units from 10 to 40 years, that we’ve got to go through a “step down program,” or SDP, in order to get out, when we’ve been held illegally and subjected to physical and psychological torment throughout our stay in these torture chambers.

The validation system is just that. It does not mean you have committed a crime or broken the law in any way; it only means that you have been profiled or identified as an alleged “something” by the CDCR under their gang validation system. So to place you in solitary confinement units and leave you there for the rest of your natural life on the validation alone is inhumane and criminal against those prisoners subjected to this fate.

The fact that we have been here anywhere from five to 40 years for no criminal offenses, no gang offenses and no violent offenses is based on simply an administrative placement, where we are validated as gang members and associates and locked up indefinitely on flawed intelligence. Some of this so-called intelligence is so ridiculous that one has to wonder, are these intelligent gang officers or a bunch of professional liars who hide behind the veil of institutionalized racism.

There is NO way we prisoners should be held in solitary confinement units, whether Ad-Seg or SHU, on gang validations, when our average age is anywhere from 40 to 70. There are NO GANG MEMBERS back here. This CDCR knows quite well.

The pilot program is described as “a new behavior based system which will serve to enhance the existing intelligence based validation system.” These words are important to understand because they basically speak to the re-enforcement of the existing intelligence-based validation system that places prisoners in these solitary confinement units on non-behavior placement.

To say you’re now going to put prisoners – particularly alleged STG prisoners – in solitary confinement units for their behavior only means that a wider pool of prisoners will be locked up, because now alleged prison gangs, street gangs, disruptive groups etc. all fall under the STG identification, interdiction, prevention and management plan. These are for the most parts groups who could commit an offense and be given a determinate sentence of anywhere from 90 days to five years in solitary confinement, but they would be let out when that time is up.

This is a just system because it deals with individual accountability. And no one should be held in solitary confinement indefinitely even if he wants to be there. Now all these determinate SHU prisoners will fall under this new validation system, where CDCR officials will utilize the SDP to place people under a STG I and STG II validation, holding them inside a program that serves no purpose whatsoever, but to further torment the prisoners. The step down program offers nothing but harassment to those prisoners inside that program.

The STG-SDP Pilot Program is lacking any real commitment to letting us out of the solitary confinement units. There is too much bureaucracy we have to go through, and this is with the same biased, prejudiced and racist prison guards who have held us back here for the 22½ years since Pelican Bay State Prison was built, without adequate clothing, adequate food or educational programs under severe isolation from our families, friends, associates and other prisoners. No natural sunlight, no adequate medical care etc.

So why would CDCR and PBSP do right by us prisoners now? They’re only expanding their “torture chambers,” and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly not reading what CDCR is saying. One thing CDCR is good at is playing psychological games and tormenting prisoners. We all know this first hand because we’ve seen many go crazy or insane or mad or loony or mentally ill or catatonic or delusional or become severely depressed. I’ve seen them all here in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Units.

People have to realize that CDCR and PBSP officials have had a lot of success in torturing prisoners into submitting to their debriefing program that is used to frame and set up prisoners for this mockery of a system. We continue to reject this pilot program. It does nothing toward giving us a gateway out of these torture chambers.

They’re even saying that NO STG I members who are influential are ever getting out. Who determines who gets out and who stays? We say nobody deserves to be tortured in solitary confinement units at the hands of anyone.

One love, one struggle, in solidarity always,

Mutope Dugma

Monday, September 17, 2012

PBSP update: Assessment of meetings with assistant warden

SF BayView, September 17, 2012

Our four principal negotiators/representatives here in the Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor remain steadfast toward achieving our five core demands, which has been an ongoing struggle. There has not been much that we as a collective would lay claim to, but one is aware of the manipulative games that CDCR and wardens are playing to attempt to discourage any future demonstrations on a collective level.

Our four reps have been in an ongoing dialogue with the associate warden, appointed by the warden here at PBSP SHU (Security Housing Unit) to deal with our Core Demand No. 5 exclusively. This is something that started in the month of February and continues to this day.

But sadly, there have not been any substantial programs or privileges authorized by the warden, who chooses to maintain the solitary confinement prisoners in a NON-productive state of programming, while offering small concessions on canteen and packages, which is something that was supposed to have been given to us over 23 years ago. Outside of that, we have not been able to get any cooperation from prison officials.

We have caught them in many lies in respect to these meetings and how they all conspired to mislead our representatives, who saw very quickly through their games but decided to go through the process so that the public can see that the mentality that oversees these procedures will never see us as human beings.

For the last 25-plus years, we have been subjected to these solitary confinement units – Ad Seg, SHU – the result of administrative placement, whereas for the most part we have been model prisoners for those amount of years, while being deprived of any meaningful programming or privileges. Yet in the current meetings, the heartlessness that is shown toward our collective is something that one must see as a personal attack that has nothing to do with prison security or policy.

Providing us a decent meal three times a day should be a human right. Our captors don’t think so.

Holding us in solitary confinement units indefinitely is in violation of our civil and human rights. Our captors don’t think so.

Depriving us of any meaningful – or any – contact with our families, friends and associates is denying us a natural right, as well as a civil and human right. Our captors don’t think so.

Subjecting us to NO programming or privileges whatsoever, when our behavior has been above prison requirements, is unacceptable. Our captors don’t think so.

What they think is that we should remain in the worst mental and physical state imaginable until we rot and die in these hell holes for doing nothing.

But being the kind of human beings they are, they have a history of hating. As Laura Magnani put it during the mediation team meeting in April in Sacramento with George Giurbino [representing CDCR] and legislative aides,

 “(We notice) that you all are making decisions over the lives of New Afrikans and Mexicans, who are more than 85 percent of the prison population and solitary confinement units, in California. Yet there is not one (such) person present in this room who is in the CDCR decision-making process.”

The same can be said for our meetings with the assistant wardens, where there is not one human being who is New Afrikan or Mexican in the decision-making process.

Here at PBSP SHU, it’s impossible to treat people like human beings if you have an inherited history to treat them like animals. This is why we have been made to suffer for 20-plus years here without even being given proper clothing for a very cold climate, until we subjected ourselves to a hunger strike in which three prisoners died. This is HATE – NOT about gang activity or violation of prison policy, rules and regulations. It’s about HATE by those who are in a position of power to do as they please and they subjectively do just that.

The meetings, in my opinion, are only a front so that the administration can come back later and say that they did this and that, when actually they did nothing; you dig? It’s an attempt to manipulate the Amerikan people into thinking that they are not torturing prisoners, because the prison is catering to their every need.

But the truth is in their actions, and there have been NONE in our favor thus far. We have been dealing with Demand No. 4 as well, and there has been nothing substantial on that. Demands No. 1, 2 and 3 are for the policies of the STG (Security Threat Group), and we have all seen what that is. We’re waiting on the revised version now.

As for health and medical issues, we have not even begun to address that, but it is good the federal government didn’t let CDCR get out from under their oversight.

It is also important to know that all reps/negotiators should have been in dialogue with their wardens at CCI (Tehachapi), Corcoran and New Folsom SHUs. I even encourage prisoners in general population to do this as well.

There is also a pattern where all the CDCR officials who have been dealing with overseeing our process – Undersecretary Scott Kernan, retired; Adult Director George Giurbino, soon to retire; Warden G.D. Lewis, soon to retire; and Assistant Warden P.T. Smith, soon to retire – all who have nothing to lose, which is why they are not sincere in their negotiating with our representatives. Instead, they are playing GAMES.

One Love, One Struggle.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A victory in the First Amendment Campaign

SF BayView, August 26, 2012

by Randall “Sondai” Ellis, Mutope Duguma and Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Greetings. The struggle is long and arduous, and sometimes we do etch out significant victories, as in the case of our Brotha Mutope Duguma in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012).

It’s important to emphasize that this victory is a significant step in reaffirming that prisoners are entitled to a measure of First Amendment protection that cannot be ignored simply because the state dislikes the spiel. New Afrikan prisoners have a right to identify with their birthright if they so choose, as does anyone else for that matter – Black, White or Brown.

In fact, more than 40 years ago the United States Supreme Court addressed this very issue in Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817 (1974), stating: “We proceed upon the hypothesis that under some circumstances the right of free speech includes a right to communicate a person’s views to any willing listener, including a willing representative of the press for the purpose of publication by a willing publisher.”

That same year the U.S. Supreme Court also decided Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974), holding that: “Censorship of prisoner mail is justified if the regulation or practice in question furthers an important or substantial governmental interest unrelated to the suppression of expression, and limitation of First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is necessary or essential to the protection of the particular governmental interest involved. Prison officials may not censor prisoners’ mail simply to eliminate unflattering or unwelcome opinions or factually inaccurate statements.”

California has long been a leading opponent of the First Amendment rights of prisoners, spawning both the rulings of Pell and Martinez. However, in the decades to follow, courts would literally fall silent in their enforcement and protection of these very important constitutional rights.

This landmark, precedent-setting decision won by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford) from the Pelican Bay SHU recognizes the First Amendment rights of prisoners – even those condemned to solitary confinement torture.

Thus, today prison officials and the prison intelligence unit have attempted to create a fallacious narrative in order to suppress our creative thought and our ability to collectively develop solutions for the many social ills afflicting our communities, particularly speaking of New Afrikans.

They have gone so far as to boldly proclaim that the term New Afrikan was created by the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) and that those who identify as or use the term are declaring their allegiance to the BGF, which has been declared a prison gang. They have sought to suppress its usage by validating (i.e. designating as a gang member or associate) anyone who uses the term or who dares mention the name George Jackson.

In Harrison v. IGI, 2010 WL 653137 (N.D.Cal., Feb. 22, 2010, they argued, “Black August, New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, The New Afrikan Collective Think Tank (NCTT), George Jackson University (GJU), and the New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101 all promote the BGF.” They offered no proof of their outrageous allegations, and Judge Susan Illston found that defendants take a very expansive view of what might “promote” a prison gang’s illicit activities and apply it with gusto, when the First Amendment requires a more nuanced approach (Harrison, supra, 2010 WL 653137, at p. 6).

Judge Illston further found that it appeared that prison officials had taken a race-based approach and banned all things Afrikan-American under the guise of controlling the BGF.

Even still, the silence as it relates to the First Amendment continued. The prison intelligence unit continued its quest to criminalize ideological thought, and courts continued engaging in fallacious reasoning in order to uphold a blatant perversion of the First Amendment.

Judge Illston further found that it appeared that prison officials had taken a race-based approach and banned all things Afrikan-American under the guise of controlling the BGF.

That is, until the ruling in Brotha Duguma’s case In Re Crawford, filed June 4, 2012, and certified for publication June 13. In a brilliant piece of judicial reasoning, a panel of justices in a 3-0 decision finally reaffirmed a prisoner’s First Amendment right to free speech and expression, stating: “Freedom of speech is first among the rights which form the foundation of our free society. ‘The First Amendment embodies our choice as a nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom – the unfettered interchange of ideas – not whatever the State may view as fair.’ (Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (2011) 131 S.Ct. 2806). ‘The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people … All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance – unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion – have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests.’ (Roth v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 476, 484.”

“Freedom of speech is first among the rights which form the foundation of our free society.”

The programs embodied in the New Afrikan Collective Think Tank, New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101, the George Jackson University and the New Afrikan ideology itself are inclusive programs emphasizing a solution-based approach to carnage in the poverty striken slums from where many of us come. The CDCR Prison Intelligence Units (PIU) have sought to suppress these initiatives simply because they do not like the message. They have marched into court after court with one standard line: New Afrikan means BGF and these initiatives are promoting the BGF.

“As recently noted by Chief Justice Roberts,” the ruling in In re Crawford continues, “’[t]he First Amendment reflects “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” [Citation.] That is because “speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.” [Citation.] Accordingly, “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.”’ (Snyder v. Phelps (2011) 562 U.S. _,_ [131 S.Ct. 1207, 1215].”

The programs embodied in the New Afrikan Collective Think Tank, New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101, the George Jackson University and the New Afrikan ideology itself are inclusive programs emphasizing a solution-based approach to carnage in the poverty striken slums from where many of us come. The CDCR Prison Intelligence Units have marched into court after court with one standard line: New Afrikan means BGF and these initiatives are promoting the BGF.

In re Crawford is a very important ruling because the justices said these protections apply to prisoners as well. Now contrast this with the ruling in Ellis v. Cambra, 2010 U.S.Dist.Ct. Lexis 110956, WL 4137150 (E.Dist.Cal., Oct. 19, 2010). There the court permitted this writer to be punished based on his speech that offended prison officials. They were permitted to use the gang validation procedures to shield their retaliatory conduct, essentially justifying the punishment for legitimate First Amendment activity, even though the case did not challenge a gang validation.

The court there said this writer did not have a right to keep his own thoughts, and that this writer was properly held liable “for writing with admiration about a prison gang founder, George Jackson,” and that any notion of PIU being motivated by their hatred of George Jackson was all in this writer’s head.

It is judges like these who engage in fallacious reasoning and pervert the law, who bend over backwards to make excuses for prison officials who routinely violate the First Amendment. It is judges like these who we must hold accountable by exposing their fallacious rulings and disrespect for constitutional principles to the public, so the people can see the arbitrary nature of their system of justice and perhaps get a glimpse at what makes so many of us believe that the Constitution should have been written on toilet paper.

Because up until the ruling in In Re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012), justice truly had been blind, refusing to recognize the First Amendment rights of prisoners despite Pell and the Martinez Supreme Court rulings. See In re Furnace (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 649, 659.

Here a hostile Fifth Appellate District Court of Appeals permitted Mr. Furnace to be validated because of his listening to audio tapes of George Jackson, which he had been permitted to purchase from his prison cell, approved by prison staff.

The hard and courageous work of jailhouse lawyers like Mutope, Sondai and Sitawa will enable the promise of “Equal justice under the law,” etched into the wall of the U.S. Supreme Court, to break through prison walls.

While the court appointed counsel to represent Mr. Furnace, counsel neglected to employ an expert witness to debunk the fallacious opinion of the PIU and to put forth that the political thought of George Jackson does not promote criminal gang activity.

The PIU have put forth a narrative that George Jackson’s books are “must read” for members of the BGF and members of the BGF often quote from George’s books. This is exactly why prisoners need our professors, intellectuals and historians to step up to stop this assault on legitimate historical content.

People from all walks of life who embark upon a study of history come across many books that are characterized as “must read.” Does this alone qualify as gang activity? In Hawkins v. Russell (E.Dist.Cal. 2011, 2011 WL 1299939), the PIU admitted that there were many legitimate reasons why a prisoner would want to read George Jackson’s books.

Unfortunately for Mr. Furnace, he suffered the same fate as this writer, being in the hostile Fifth Appellate District where the Constitution is as good as a two-ply piece of toilet paper!

The three-judge panel ruled in Mutope’s case: “Indeed, the measure of our resolve as a society to protect free expression must be our willingness to tolerate unpleasant speech by those speaking from the margins of political opinion. As Justice Kennedy has pointed out, ‘[t]he First Amendment is often inconvenient, but that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech’ (International Soc. for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee (1992) 505 U.S. 672, 701 (concurring opinion of Kennedy, J.).) … ‘[T]he government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.’ (Texas v. Johnson (1989) 491 U.S. 397, 414.)”

Contrast that with Hawkins v. Russell (E.Dist.Cal. 2011) 2011 WL 1299939. There the court permitted the confiscation of George Jackson’s book “Blood in My Eye,” again accepting any excuse prison officials could conjure up. Even when their excuses proved to be false, the court simply gave them another bite at the apple to come up with a better excuse.

The three-judge panel ruled in Mutope’s case: “Indeed, the measure of our resolve as a society to protect free expression must be our willingness to tolerate unpleasant speech by those speaking from the margins of political opinion.”

Any information prison officials find objectionable is automatically attributed to the BGF for validation purposes, the Hawkins court ruled. It was alleged that the book “Blood in My Eye” and two other documents were BGF material. The court accepted this at face value. The court asked few questions and didn’t require an answer! And in a twisted opinion, summary judgment was awarded to the state – another fallacious opinion, dooming Brotha Hawkins for his possessing any political thought the state finds objectionable.

Brotha Mutope in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th, 1259 (2012), has broken through the code of silence that was permitting an entire class of New Afrikan Black prisoners to be punished simply for possessing a thought about their/our struggles in this society, country and world and for daring to speak about it. And the courts remained silent refusing to even entertain a First Amendment argument, instead opting to accept the notion put forth by the Prison Intelligence Unit that New Afrikan equals BGF, thereby criminalizing an entire body of history under the guise of gang activity.

George Jackson cannot be removed from the fabric of the people’s struggles in this society any more than Malcolm X can or Medger Evers or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriett Tubman or Sojourner Truth or Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks or Frederick Douglass, or the countless others who’ve fought and struggled for a brighter future for generations to come.

Brotha Mutope in In re Crawford has broken through the code of silence that was permitting an entire class of New Afrikan Black prisoners to be punished simply for possessing a thought about their/our struggles in this society, country and world and for daring to speak about it. And the courts remained silent refusing to even entertain a First Amendment argument.

What CDCR and its Prison Intelligence Unit are trying to do is make an end run around the First Amendment by shielding its suppression activity under the guise of gang activity, just as they tried to do historically, which gave rise to Procunier v. Martinez (1974) 416 U.S. 396, 413.

In In re Crawford, CDCR argued for an exception to the Martinez test for validated gang members. The court declined to make such an exception, holding: “Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail.”

[illustration: Mumia Abu-Jamal, who spent 30 years on Death Row, celebrates – and instructs – jailhouse lawyers in his recent book.]

The fact that they even argued for such an exception shows their mindset, their intentions to suppress that which they believe to be repugnant, offensive and that which they believe a prisoner ought not be thinking! Because we in their minds have no right to think or possess ideas, concepts or vision beyond that which they believe we should possess.

Until In Re Crawford, these highly educated judges were sanctioning this nonsense with twisted, perverted rulings permitting a newspaper article or magazine layout or book to be used against a prisoner for validation purposes. They issued twisted rulings like those in Ellis v. Cambra or Hawkins v. Russell and In Re Furnace, where this writer was told he has no right to his thoughts and the First Amendment only protects a prisoner’s right to file a 602.

These kinds of fallacious rulings ought to be publicized so as to show the skillful manipulation of the law by those sworn to uphold it. In Re Crawford reestablishes that First Amendment protections apply to prisoners and that we too enjoy a measure of free speech and expression and that we ought not be punished with fabricated notions of gang activity for merely a thought!

However, if we are to continue to meet with success, we need our professors, historians and intellectuals to step up and provide declarations that we can use in our litigation, defending our right to read, write and study all aspects of a people’s history, like Professor James T. Campbell did in In Re Crawford. This is the only way a prisoner can challenge the opinion of a prison official.

Until now, the Prison Intelligence Unit (PIU) has been falsely claiming that the term New Afrikan and the ideology New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) was the creation of the BGF and any prisoner or person who uses the term is showing his allegiance to the BGF. This standard line has been their position in every validation involving the usage of these terms.

In Re Crawford reestablishes that First Amendment protections apply to prisoners and that we too enjoy a measure of free speech and expression and that we ought not be punished with fabricated notions of gang activity for merely a thought!

Well, Professor Campbell provided expert testimony in In re Crawford, showing that the terms are ubiquitous in Black urban life and have no particular connections to prison gangs. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

In Harrison v. IGI, at the evidentiary hearing in Del Norte Superior Court, the Prison Intelligence Unit’s correctional specialist Devin Hawks represented to the court that George Jackson University was really a drop box for the BGF but couldn’t produce a single piece of evidence to prove this outrageous claim. That prompted the judge to say how angry he was; it had been represented to him that this was a drop box, he said, and we get here today and there’s no drop box.

These kinds of exaggerations are common and they’re usually able to shield themselves using confidentiality. The PIU have given at least three different excuses to try and place George Jackson in the sphere of being a gang founder, and I’m sure other prisoners have received other excuses. All are relevant and important.
[illustration: Observing Black August and studying Black history is severely punished in California prisons and most prison systems in the U.S. – Drawing: Rashid Johnson]

Their latest narrative, used in Hawkins v. Russell, is that George Jackson founded the BGF in 1966. This information comes from a document written in the 1990s by a SHU prisoner who was preparing to debrief. He was permitted to pass around copies of these deceptive documents in the SHU. I personally spoke to some of the elders about these documents and was told that the information in them was flawed and that the connections it attempted to make simply do not jibe with recorded history. This is all I’ll say about this for now.

But it appears that the PIU has gotten so desperate to now try and put forth a flawed narrative that the court accepted without question in Hawkins, even after CDCR admitted there that George’s books did not pose a security threat to California prisons and that there were many legitimate reasons why a prisoner may want to read those books.

At a minimum, if a court is going to accept an infringement upon First Amendment freedoms it ought to at least do what the court in In re Crawford did and appoint counsel who can secure expert testimony so that a court’s decision can be well informed and not simply some rote process of exclusion because of whatever contempt a court might have for the prisoner.

Mutope’s victory in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th, 1259 (2012), is significant. It reaffirms our right to speak, it gives value to our ideas and opinions and, more importantly, it breaks the code of silence that had swept through the courts about prisoners and the First Amendment. “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable” (Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414; In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012) (“these protections apply to prisoners as well”)).

Much work remains to be done, like stopping the bogus validations based on legitimate First Amendment material. We know that many individuals are falsely validated simply for reading George’s books or a newspaper article, for observing Black August or for simply trying to get in touch with one’s cultural identity.

Mutope’s victory in In re Crawford reaffirms our right to speak, it gives value to our ideas and opinions and, more importantly, it breaks the code of silence that had swept through the courts about prisoners and the First Amendment.

These legitimate expressions should carry no penalty at all. You’re not doing anything wrong, and a lot of brothas who’ve been validated simply shouldn’t be. Nor should folks be frightened away from reading or studying any aspect of history simply because the state doesn’t like its content. And judges who issue fallacious opinions permitting prisoners to be punished for reading a George Jackson book or researching your history should be exposed.

Literary content and cultural and historical materials are not the activities of a gang; they are political and social activities that we have a right to express, according to the unanimous decision in In re Crawford.

The First Amendment campaign continues to forge ahead, although we still don’t have a lawyer. The campaign still exists, and we anticipate even greater successes in the future.

Much work remains to be done, like stopping the bogus validations based on legitimate First Amendment material. We know that many individuals are falsely validated simply for reading George’s books or a newspaper article, for observing Black August or for simply trying to get in touch with one’s cultural identity.

We can’t be intimidated into silence by unfounded accusations of gang activity. We believe the First Amendment ought to live up to what it says it is. We believe it is important to be able to participate fully in the marketplace of ideas, because we agree that “the First Amendment reflects a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open” (Justice Roberts [Roth v. United States] (1957) 354 U.S. 476).

Ellis v. Brandon, et al., C-10-2952-THE (PR), the case reported in our last First Amendment campaign update, was settled in March 2012 for far less than what it was worth. But among other things, the major influence in my decision to settle the case was my inability to secure an expert witness declaration, which is the only way I felt we could be successful in summary judgment, so it cannot be stressed enough about our intellectuals, professors and historians being available to give their expert opinion on historical matters.

Literary content and cultural and historical materials are not the activities of a gang; they are political and social activities that we have a right to express, according to the unanimous decision in In re Crawford.

Many thanks to Professor James T. Campbell for providing his learned, expert opinion and historical analysis as it relates to Afrikan-Amerikan history that the PIU had been successfully criminalizing. And a clenched fist salute to Brotha Mutope Duguma for his fine work in breaking the code of silence. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t thank his legal team for its excellent work.

We’ve cracked one layer of a thick wall. Now all prisoners should take advantage of this brilliant ruling and reassert your rights to study your heritage, Black, White or Brown.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Duguma wins major court victory: Without a fight it can’t be no struggle

In: SF Bay View, August 20, 2012

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.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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 D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How easily we forget

SF Bay View, January 24, 2012
by Mutope Duguma

Written Dec. 29, 2011 – In 1619 when the first 20 slaves out of Africa were brought to the shores of North America and our New Afrikan struggle began, yes, we as a people coming from the African continent, captured by brutal force, speaking many African languages, sharing in many different socio-culture, economic and political systems, were all forced to coalesce under the torturous brutal hand of slavery and learn a new language, socio-culture, economic and political system, structured around the suppression, oppression and exploitation of our New Afrikan nation (NAN). Here we would be slaves – and chattel slaves at that – meaning we were the commodity (something of commercial value), bought and sold to the highest bidder.

We were devalued and stripped of our African heritage. Our lifestyle was stolen away from us and our ideology – all of our social practices, and even our identity. Yes, we lost it all – our names too. Some of us have realized the importance of names. Therefore we have taken steps to re-name ourselves while dropping our slave names inherited many generations ago by our enslaved ancestors, names that can literally be traced to our New Afrikan enslaved ancestors’ slave masters. At the same time we rejected the general names placed on us to dehumanize us as a New Afrikan people, such as the “N” word, Negro, Colored, Black, Afro-American and Afrikan American, because we have always been New Afrikans here in North America.

Our struggle is one of resistance against that which has been forced upon us. Do we easily forget our struggle for freedom? If so, then let’s refresh our memories by reading these books in this order: 

1) “The Destruction of BlackCivilization” by Chancellor Williams; 
3) “Slavery: The African AmericanPsychic Trauma” by Sultan A. Latif and Naimah Latif; and 
4) “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

photo: Mutope writes, “I insist that all New Afrikans in this country read “The Melancholy History of Soledad Prison” by Min S. Yee.”

“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander speaks to how the judicial process toward the New Afrikan people has not changed from 1619 to now. This New Afrikan sister laid out how the whole system conspired against New Afrikans, subjecting many of us to outright torture at the hands of those overseeing the prison industrial complex (PIC).

How easily we forget “... what began to happen in the South, particularly after federal troops were removed in 1877. … (T)he state legislatures of every state passed laws which began to effectively criminalize Black life and to create a situation in which African American men found it almost impossible not to be in violation of some misdemeanor statute at almost all times. And the most broadly applied of those was that it was against the law if you were unable to prove at any given moment that you were employed. So vagrancy statutes were used to arrest thousands of Black men, even though thousands of White men could have been arrested on the same charges but they hardly ever were. And then once arrested, the judicial system had been re-tooled in such a way as to coerce huge numbers of men into commercial enterprises as forced workers through the judicial system,” explained Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name,” in a KPFK interview.

There’s no question that our New Afrikan ancestors were tortured and murdered under the system of chattel slavery, where they suffered every heinous act known to mankind under the sun by the hand of their slave master – enduring a life of misery and terror.

How easily we forget – in California, prisoners being murdered in cold blood at the hand of prison guards. Learn about how your fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and cousins were tortured and murdered at the hands of CDCR prison guards who enjoyed and celebrated the kill, like hunting wild animals. We must not forget there has not been much change since 1619, just a more functional way to cover up neo-chattel slavery.

Do we forget Weusi, who was shot to death with a mini 14 assault rifle by a gun-ho prison guard who openly fired on a melee of defenseless prisoners, shooting nine consecutive rounds. And when he was done, there was two dead and several wounded – at San Quentin in 1987. None of the prisoners seen it coming. This was cold-blooded murder – with impunity.

Do we forget the Corcoran prison guards who set up gladiator-staged fights where 50 prisoners were wounded and seven fatally wounded:

1. William Martinez on April 8, 1989,

2. Randall on June 23, 1989,

3. Andres Cortez Romero on Feb. 6, 1990, one month before his release date,

4. Michael Mullins on April 9, 1993,

5. Henry Noriega on Sept. 11, 1993,

6. Preston Tate on April 2, 1994,

7. Donald Creasy on June 1, 1994.

All 50 shootings happened between the years of 1989 and 1995.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in “Accusations of prison coverup: Agency hidstaged fights at Corcoran, guards say” on Oct. 28, 1996, that Correctional Officer Richard Caruso in 1994 provided documents to the FBI which showed the prison guards were setting up gladiator-staged fights by matching prisoners up against one another. Correctional Lt. Steve Rigg in 1994 says he learned that some prison officers were “stacking the tiers” to stage fights among inmates. “One guard, Pio Cruz, liked to call the fights like a sports announcer – before grabbing a rifle and shooting the brawling inmates with wooden projectiles, officers testified in a disciplinary hearing against Cruz, who was ultimately fired.” Not prosecuted, FIRED – with impunity.

Mark Arax and Mark Gladstone wrote in the July 5, 1998, Los Angeles Times, in an article titled “State Thwarted Brutality Probe at Corcoran Prison, Investigators Say”: “Sacramento knew the level of violence,” said Steve Rigg, a former lieutenant who also cooperated with the FBI. “We assumed that they would read the numbers and say something is terribly wrong here and take appropriate corrective action. Instead, we continued to bait inmates into fights and then shoot them for throwing punches” – with impunity.

“From the day Corcoran opened in 1988, the escalating violence failed to set off any alarms” – not at the local district attorney’s office, not at the State Department of Corrections, not at the Attorney General’s Office or at the Governor’s Office.

I was personally involved in this manufactured violence from 1991 to 1992 and in 1995 in Corcoran SHU. I was transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) in 1992.

• In 1992, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a New Afrikan mentally ill prisoner – with impunity.

• In 1993, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a Mexican prisoner who was to be released soon – with impunity.

• In 1994, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a New Afrikan prisoner – brain matter splattered everywhere – with impunity.

• In 2000, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a Mexican prisoner.

Now I personally grew up where there was many fisticuffs and the loser would grab a 2 by 4 or a knife and not no one trying to break it up, in order to prevent the unarmed opponent from being murdered by using a mini 14 assault rifle to do so.

Many of these cold-blooded murderers come from the general population (GP) gun towers to work in solitary confinement, i.e., SHU and Ad-Seg units, or officers who do not have the nerve to work around prisoners they have a deep hate for where their own paranoia consumes them to the point they can’t work around free prisoners on GP. By working in solitary confinement they’re able to continue to exercise their insidious, malicious, racist and prejudiced attacks on prisoners with impunity.

Mr. Vaughn Dortch, a New Afrikan prisoner who was tortured into insanity after being housed in solitary confinement – yes, mentally ill – was removed from his cell by force and taken to the prison infirmary where Pelican Bay prison guards boiled him in scalding hot water and held him down in this boiling water until he fainted. The skin on his body peeled off his flesh, while at the same time prison guards scrubbed his body with a hard scrub brush. Prison guards were making fun, saying, “We going to have us a white boy before it’s through, because his skin is so dirty and rotten it’s falling off.” This was a sadistic act carried out by racist prison guards.

Now, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, D1-117L, had been in the solitary confinement unit since 1983 and this incident happened in 1990 with Vaughn Dortch, so Sitawa was in eight years and counting. He and two other prisoners was in the infirmary when V. Dortch was brought in, so they witnessed this whole incident and they cursed to the top of their lungs at these savages (i.e., prison guards) and when they realized that all these prisoners just witnessed this horrible act the prison guards went straight into action.

Lt. Brittle walked up to Sitawa and said “Aw fuck, Dewberry, did you see anything?” Dewberry replied, “I seen everything and where did you all take him,” referring to how they rushed V. Dortch out of the infirmary when he fainted. Lt. Brittle then said, “Dewberry, are you still trying to get transferred closer to the Bay Area, near your family?” Reply: “Yes.” Lt. Brittle then said, “Then maybe we can work something out, if you didn’t see anything.” Reply: “Expletive, expletive and more expletives.”

Later Sitawa would be interviewed by federal agents of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department concerning V. Dortch, who would go on to win close to $1 million and all medical expenses paid – a bill taxpayers would once again pay due to the criminal acts of so-called prison guards. As usual there will be no prosecution. And sadly these criminals in this particular case was promoted in many respects for a job well done. Again with impunity!

How easily we forget: During slavery the slaves would be dropped in a black scalding hot kettle being and boiled alive until they were dead. Some were pulled out after they fainted as well and considered amusement for the sick audience.

Here at Pelican Bay State Prison, we have had two prisoners allegedly commit suicide, but how is it suicide if someone is torturing you every day of your life in order to get you to debrief or to reduce you to an emasculated state? This is not suicide; this is the CDCR-PBSP using its power against helpless individuals until their spirit has been broken and their lives are no longer worth living. These men were murdered because they were stripped of everything that makes life worth living.
How easily we forget

We are New Afrikans for three primary reasons:

1. The name gives recognition to our historical heritage.

2. When we use the name, it is a rejection of the attempts by the U.S. government, our colonizers, to Amerikanize us to the rest of the world.

3. When we call ourselves New Afrikans, we identify ourselves as a historically evolved and legitimate nation of people in the community of Afrikan nations.

Generation after generation throughout our history, from 1619 to 2012, when we find ourselves struggling for our New Afrikan survival, it’s not by accident that Amerika as 2.3 million prisoners and 1 million-plus of those prisoners are New Afrikans.

In order for us to survive as a people, we must definitely be free to lead our own lives as a New African Nation.

One love, one struggle!

Mutope Duguma, aka James Crawford, has been reporting to Bay View readers on the hunger strike from the beginning. He is the writer of “The Call,” the formal announcement that alerted the world to this massive hunger strike, “SHU prisoners sentenced to civil death begin hunger strike,” “This hunger strike is far from over,” “Pelican Bay SHU prisoners plan to resume hunger strike Sept. 26,” “Greed drives solitary confinement torture,” “Hip hop community, support our hunger strike!” “Retaliation at Pelican Bay: Letters from the SHU,” “We are willing to sacrifice ourselves to change our conditions” and “They took the 15 of us hunger strikers to ASU-Hell-Row.” Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James D. Crawford, D-05996, PBSP-SHU, D1-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.