Revolutionary Prison Activism: Our Mobilization Has Only Begun

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 22 October 2013

Original Artwork by Jose Villarreal

Editors Note: Jose is one of several power-FUL PNN Plantation prison correspondents who was involved in the Hunger Strike to end all solitary confinement and the in-human treatment of all of our incarcerated brothers and sisters.

This round of strikes has been suspended and prisoners are now able to regain strength in these torture chambers. Our efforts are only just beginning in the realm of prison activism.

            As of 9-15-13, the 2013 hunger/work strikes were suspended. This was done no just to preserve humyn life but also because of the support we received and the efforts of some assembly people who see out struggle against torture as a just struggle and have decided to hold hearings on solitary. These efforts are good but we should know that our real victory will not come from state efforts, rather our victory will ultimately come from our own actions. History tells us that small reforms are possible from the California legislature but how we struggle and how we educate and harness the barrios and ghettos will determine where we really go with this prison movement for humyn rights.

            One of the things that the people should know is that despite state propaganda which paints us as bad people who are rehabilitating ourselves outside of state influence. Our greatest tool in rehabilitating ourselves and our fellow prisoners is in humyn rights activism. Some of us here have discovered that people are transformed once they are participants in class struggle; as humyn beings we cannot commit to a positive and selfless act – and denying one’s body nutrients is pretty selfless – with others in concert by the tens of thousands and not be transformed in some way. The upcoming legislative hearings are good but many remember that back in August of 2011 the California legislators held a hearing on SHU and again back in 2003 he same legislators held a hearing on SHU and validation and again there was no change to our torture. This of course helps to educate some of the public but these meetings will not resolve our oppression.

            As long as all those who are currently participating in the prison humyn rights movement understands that what were face ultimately in these SHUs is national oppression we will not be discouraged or demoralized by any lack of action in the upcoming legislative hearings. By us understanding that the highest levels of power are aware that 30,000+ prisoners went on hunger/work strike and don’t care, we will be determined to find ways to come together to find our own ways forward instead of getting caught in the ballot box trap of bourgeois politics.

            In my opinion the state is a terrorist entity which is not only ok with torturing mostly brown and black folks in these kamps but is attempting to build more of these torture centers, not just in California but throughout the US and around the world. These warehouses work to control first world lumpen which prisoners in the US mostly derive from. Chican@s are a major component of this class, particularly in the states that comprise Aztlan (the southwest).

            The torture being unleashed in California or US prisons for that matter should not be seen as an isolated event but as one portion of oppression that is unleashed by US imperialism globally. In many ways the Palestinians are suffering a brutal occupation by settlers just like chican@s and other internal nations within the US suffer. The SHU is merely a manifestation to the occupation of our land by an oppressor nation. Of course we must struggle against the SHU torture, humyn rights violations throughout the US prisons and lawsuits but our real aim is in obtaining national liberation.

            This down time when the imprisoned people are rejuvenating themselves and nourishing- as best as one can do in a dungeon- our bodies should also be a time when we educate, educate to propel the people! The essence of the beast we are up against should be well grasped by all involved in the humyn rights movement. We should reach a point that when the state slanders us in some way, even the least educated prisoner or people should immediately see this as the vile propaganda that it is! Ultimately we will not make real progress without arriving en mass to the anti-Imperialist front in shackles and all.

            Looking at any phenomenon we commonly know that ones strength is often ones weakness, but when it comes to prisoners we need to look at it the other way and that is that our challenges are also our strength. Our existence as tortured SHU prisoners who are isolated and locked in windowless cells are indeed challenges, these are grave challenges. But our draconian conditions teach us that our “life”, our reality cannot get worse but only ensures that we struggle to improve our conditions by any means. What’s more is those who are armed with political theory and a firm grasp of reality and what it means for the internal semi-colonies to live in Ameri-kkk-a, we have concrete examples to teach the imprisoned masses what national oppression looks like. Settlerism is not an abstract term in Pelican Bay study groups; we have living, breathing examples.

            In order to teach, one must first learn. Our downtime is being used to learn more on all different struggles against oppression around the world. We can learn plenty from other people similarly situated who resisted oppression, in prison and out. We should always attempt to build on our understanding of our reality as an oppressed nation, oppressed class or oppressed gender depending on who we are. Living in a capitalist society we can tie all of these forms of oppression to the relations to production in the society we live in. Poor folks are not expected to ever rise above this poverty because in order for some to be rich there must be a huge segment of poor folks in a society to exploit. These are class contradictions that must remain firmly in place in a capitalist society if this society plans to remain a capitalist society.

            The idea is with our suspended strike is to educate prisoners on who our oppressor is while educating people in society, our friends, family and pen pals as to what is behind our strikes and why their participation in future struggles are essential if we are to advance in our future efforts. Our suspended strike is “suspended” not just to better our health but while doing so bettering our understanding and our peoples understanding of our humyn rights activism in these torture chambers. Resting while studying and educating is what a “protected struggle” looks like in regards to ending SHU torture.

            When our future strikes proceed I hope to get more of my pen pals and outside supporters involved in these efforts. My plan is to get more people starting blogs, creating committees, showing up at marches and contacting their local political representative in support for our efforts to end SHU torture. Each one of us as prisoners have potential to tap our resources (community) on the outside. Some of us have support systems already existing and others must start from scratch, but we al have that potential. It’s important that we realize that each one of our outside supporters in turn has their own community of friends, family and support networks which hopefully with our time and persistence can also be brought to support our future strikes demanding humyn rights.

            I think the biggest lesson that must be learnt from this beautiful struggle is that this is the new normal. We can’t put the baby back in the womb and this is what petrifies the state the most. A new movement has been born in which tens of thousands of oppressed, marginalized and cast off people have been brought to struggle against the World Oppressor. But once more this is a new reality, a reality of struggle between poor prisoners and the arm of the state. Prison activism is a new normal, we have all been bitten by the revolutionary bug and we will never forget these efforts in our lifetime. What we did- both prisoner and outside activist is making history in mobilizing tens of thousands of prisoners in opposition to the super-parasite. Our mobilization has only begun and will continue onward and will spill out into the brown barrios and the black ghettos which will work to put our people’s back on a revolutionary path in our struggle for self-determination.



            Jose H. Villareal PNN Pelican Bay Prison Correspondent


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