Saturday, April 27, 2013


Yes it is.  Yes, it is theoretical weekends at Scission and this week I think we shall go the book review route.  I actually recently read the book reviewed here, so myself will be interested in seeing just what this reviewer had to say about it.By now you all know I am a fan of CLR James and this little book-let I had somehow missed for the past few decades...or, quite possibly, I forgot I read it.  Who knows.  Be all that as it may, I won't bother you with my thoughts, but will merely pass along this from Insurgent Notes.

BOOK REVIEW: C.L.R. James, A History of Pan-African Revolt (1939,1969)

A small and dangerous volume, this republication of C.L.R. James’s A History of Pan-African Revolt is a concise survey of Black freedom struggles in the United States, the Caribbean, and on the African continent from 1739–1969. A product of two periods in his life and work, his first British years (1932–38) where he emerged as the author of The Black Jacobins, the classic history of the Haitian Revolution; and his second American sojourn (1969–79) where he was a mentor to Black Power activists who had been members of SNCC, the Black Panther Party, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; this book documents famous and obscure race and class struggles in two parts written from the vantage of 1939 and 1969 respectively.
While some scholars have misunderstood this slim text as perhaps among James’s least original works for its dependence on his past Haitian Revolution research, comrades in the International African Service Bureau such as George Padmore, Jomo Kenyatta, and Issac Wallace Johnson, and silent reliance on W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction and other’s scholarship; those who repeatedly have commended it as timeless have arguably not assessed properly the innovative power of the book either.
Pioneering in how it depicted intellectual and social movement history among peoples of African descent, it was not without its limitations. However, what makes A History of Pan African Revolt enchanting is the thread of speculative philosophy that holds the assorted anecdotal historical commentaries on labor strikes, anti-racist rebellions, heroic personalities, and anti-colonial events together. A vision of Black autonomy, James depicts peoples of African descent thinking and acting for themselves as they pursue their own emancipation through movements of their own invention. From a contemporary perspective, we must be careful that this is not received by readers as a cheap platitude.
First written at the dawn of modern anti-colonial revolt for Africa and the Caribbean, it is true that this historical work was distinguished by a collection of ideas ahead of its time. The first incarnation not only anticipated his famous speech “A Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the USA” (1948) which inspired the African American autoworker James Boggs, and later led white socialists to identify with Black Nationalists such as Robert Williams and Malcolm X. For those familiar with James’s Notes on Dialectics (1948), and its survey of the Puritan, French, and Russian Revolutions, in an attempt to sum up the spontaneity and organization of the toiling masses in socialist and democratic movements in Europe; A History of Pan-African Revolt, without the abstract discussion of Hegelian categories of cognition, might be re-evaluated as a dynamic kindred work.
Early (and even contemporary) studies of people of color tended to struggle to break away from racial categories of contempt and pity (and preoccupations with what white people were doing and saying—whether nice or not nice—and how Black people were to react). This often led to an impediment—the specifying of autonomous criteria for valuing the beauty in Black cultures and the content of people of color’s self-government was often neglected. That all Black people must do is “stay black and die,” while a common refrain, cannot be the basis for such assessments. Neither that Black people always had their own philosophies and cultures and were thus human. Something else was required.
James, while emphasizing people of African descent, even under the status of slaves, “brought themselves” to the Americas, recognized Black people brought notions of moral philosophy, family forms, languages, and artisan and agricultural skills with them and learned to innovate under adversity in the face of new technological challenges and cultural environments. At its best A History of Pan African Revolt, informed unevenly by his affinity for direct democracy and worker self-management, takes a bigger leap forward than most realize. It traces ruptures not merely with mischaracterizations of Black humanity but also with nation-states, ruling elites, and ordinary party politics.
Repeatedly, James shows political treachery, in the age of white supremacy and empire, was not a monopoly of the white race alone. He anticipated the post-colonial moment where some people of color saw their new role in hierarchal representative government as the culmination of what for them was perceived as otherwise an already satisfactory existence without disturbing the empire of capital. James also saw Black freedom struggles as necessarily making evaluations not just on the terms of Black autonomy but the potential of multi-racial alliances.
A sharp reading of James’s A History of Pan African Revolt reveals that his outlook on direct democracy and national liberation struggles at times intersect. Where they do not, that in its own way is an education in history and politics. James was willing to stretch his categories of radical political thought to accommodate Black mass movements and rebellious expressions that the average Marxist or historical materialist (and even himself) might be uncomfortable with. Still, at his best, James rarely did this without criticism of past historical movements or the political thought of others. By this means he advanced these struggles or their representative power as historical lessons. Yet he did not do this as an innovative “Black Marxist” to break with the limits of European socialism around race matters—for that is to reduce James to a fragment of the man.
James, a dynamic partisan of world revolution, constantly made strategic and philosophical adjustments in how he evaluated Russia, Britain, France, Germany, or the Age of the CIO to point the way forward for American and European workers’ self-emancipation, as distinct from people of color, as well. James was not a narrow expert on what was once called “the Negro Question” but told European socialists when he thought they were wrong about the self-emancipating nature of their own working class and the democratic legacies of their own civilizations (of both of which he was quite fond). Not a hegemony theorist, James never spoke of the false consciousness of toilers—regardless of color. He believed recognizing what he termed mass movements’ “partial mistakes” allowed for the later completion of insurgent historical moments which at times became derailed for a decade or even an epoch. To be sure, he did not advocate these delays, but saw himself as facilitating the overcoming of the next social hurdle. Let us take note of these dynamics as they function in this fine work.
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 of South Carolina, which was ultimately defeated, is an opportunity for James to evaluate a slave revolt where white slave masters were killed (but a kind one was allowed to live), property was burned, a military garrison is seized, and a strategic plan to flee across the international border with Spanish Florida where Angolan ancestral affinity is a potential motivation for an alliance. The Haitian Revolution is recognized as an inspiration to a slave revolt which failed to take place in Louisiana of 1795, where whites were allies from the beginning and disputes over strategy and method made the specter of it memorable. Gabriel’s Revolt, a slave insurrection outside Richmond, Virginia, gathered thousands of slaves who, with clubs and sharpened swords, intended to massacre the whites. But it was decided to exclude Frenchmen and Quakers for their perceived politics and strategic sympathies. Elements of contingency, chance storms which flooded rivers and tore down the bridges impeded events. James always depicted slave revolts as not embarrassing outbreaks of anger and violence but the work of African Americans who had original organizational and strategic capacities and moral philosophies. Importantly, he did not manufacture a cheap heroism to justify future capitalist politicians in their civil rights and welfare policies. For James could see how this suppressed more contemporary visions of Black self-emancipation.
Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner are seen as theologians with different political implications. Vesey is seen as having a prophetic vision that insisted all those who opposed the uprising must be killed and who was betrayed by collaborationist house servants. Turner’s revolt, which massacred women and children, is viewed as having linkages to rebellious poor whites. James sees Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad as a change in tactics which anticipated the success of the Union Army in the Civil War.
James is innovative in highlighting labor strikes in Sierra Leone and South Africa.
He unevenly recognizes, but was far ahead of his time, aspects of religious rebellion in the Congo’s Simon Kimbangu or the John Chilembe led rising in Nyasaland (later Malawi). He seems to minimize aspects of the spirit unnecessarily in a nevertheless intriguing materialist reading of Kenya’s Harry Thuku Revolt of 1921 as a general strike. He shows famous statesmen such as Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta being pushed from behind by the African masses’ self-organization, compelling colonizers to release them from jail to govern, even where the colonizer militarily defeats profound insurgencies such as the Mau Mau rebellion (1952–56) led by Dedan Kimathi. He does not let on that British colonialism also disoriented Nkrumah’s Positive Action campaign of 1950.
We might rethink the notion that the British were forced to release Nkrumah and Kenyatta from jail. Just as the case of Nelson Mandela’s later release from prison and collaboration with F.W. DeKlerk, they lifted the struggle to the moral plane emphasizing they “suffered without bitterness.” But they also propped up Black capitalism each in their own way (in collaboration with multi-nationals) at the expense of insurgent Black workers and farmers. James never highlighted that Mau Mau leaders like Kimathi and Bildad Kaggia, who was a defender of the landless, were betrayed by Kenyatta at the post-colonial moment. Further, that Nkrumah early on in state power purged radical labor leaders such as Pobee Biney of the Sekondi-Takoradi dockworkers, who really pushed Nkrumah from behind into the Positive Action campaign. Biney later inspired the 1961 general strike against Nkrumah’s regime. This labor action, and the mass discontent it represented, should have revealed a reassessment of Nkrumah’s regime, long before the 1966 coup often blamed too narrowly on the CIA, elite Ashanti ethnic leaders, and a military plot alone.
James’s discussion of the period of the great strikes across the Caribbean from 1934–39 is interesting for its highlighting of Adrian Cola Rienzi (Krishna Deodarine), an Indo-Trinidadian, as a major labor leader of the era which should be brought to the attention of Pan-African audiences. His more famous Afro-Trinidadian comrade, whom James was to valorize later in his sojourns in Caribbean party politics, was Uriah Butler.
James’s discussion of the Marcus Garvey movement is profound for his capacity to tease out the kernel of desire for provisional government that this huge Black mass movement represented while discarding the conservative and capitalist tendencies of its leader. He accomplished this in an era where the standard approach of socialist people of color toward Garvey was to viciously denounce the personality allowing for little validity of the independent self-mobilization behind it.
Robin Kelley’s introduction to this volume shows the evolving publication history from A History of Negro Revolt to A History of Pan African Revolt in global social movement context and highlights some interesting dynamics. He restores James’s pioneering leadership as a coordinator of global resistance to the Italian invasion of Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia (1935–41) as a major context for the first crafting of this volume in 1938–39. Yet close readers will observe remarkably that James did not write an Ethiopia section for the part which discussed Africa, with these events seemingly fresh on his mind. What are we to make of this? In a brief instance, in the part on Caribbean revolts, he acknowledged that the plight of Ethiopia heightened the consciousness of militant labor action against empire in Trinidad. James underlined that the majority of peoples of African descent everywhere had the mistaken conviction that Ethiopia was treated badly on account of race. Certainly, James was aware that colonialism had racism and capitalism intertwined as causes for the denial of self-government. But this fragment suggested James held deep beliefs, with complex nuances, on how national liberation struggles were to be understood, that are still not grasped by most scholars and activists who are fond of him.
Kelley’s approach, which seeks to reconcile James, the anti-Stalinist and libertarian socialist, and African American and Caribbean communists affiliated with Moscow through a “Black Marxism” framework around the Ethiopia Question cannot principally highlight James’s ultimate clash with his associates in Pan African activism over the need for “workers’ sanctions” (not League of Nations or later United Nations sanctions). Peace, James insisted, unlike Popular Front communists, could not be genuinely sponsored by imperialists such as Britain or the United States. Dockworkers and maritime workers regardless of race, like his comrades the seamen from Barbados, Chris Jones and Arnold Ward, could implement their own embargo against Italian trade and goods through direct action.
It would be a mistake to assume that “workers’ sanctions” uncritically borrowed from a narrow European Marxism. All over the African world, people of color volunteered, including James, to go to Ethiopia to fight the Italians, as a group of multi-racial volunteers did in the Spanish Civil War. However, Ethiopia was not for James a matter of a thin Black solidarity. James assessed Selassie and his foreign minister, Dr. Martin, as selling out the popular self-mobilization of the Black masses on a world scale for an alliance with the European and American imperialists. It is true the imperialists made a mockery of “collective security,” and degraded the Ethiopian regime as less than their peer, and made them wait to have their rights, as a manager of Black labor, restored.
James unlike most Black communists and Pan Africanists wished to expose and encourage not merely the overthrow of Italian colonizers, but as well Emperor Haile Selassie, who would later be viewed as omnipotent by the Rastafarian movement. James could not stay loyal to a Black-led state power, whatever the insults of white imperialism, where it was not perceived by him as consistently cultivating mass development and unleashing the popular will. James was so disappointed with the Pan African movement’s inability to look for the self-organization of the Ethiopian rank and file, in contrast to the personality of Selassie, he never directly addressed that solidarity movement in this narrative.
Ethiopian solidarity does shadow the conclusion to James’s The Black Jacobins, written the year before, and his sarcastic depiction of Dessalines being crowned emperor, a proxy for Selassie’s coming restoration, with the assistance of the forces of Anglo-American capital in Haiti. As a foreshadowing of a self-emancipating future for Africa in 1938–39, James looked to obscure Africans’ mutinies and general strikes, linking up with Black and white workers abroad, seemingly beyond nation-states and their aspiring rulers.
The Ethiopian context of A History of Pan African Revolt can only be easily incorporated into a unitary framework of “Black Marxism” by willfully ignoring, if documenting at times, James’s political differences with George Padmore, Jomo Kenyatta, and Ras Makonnen within the International African Service Bureau, but also Paul Robeson’s and W.E.B. Du Bois’s Council on African Affairs, on how to approach national liberation struggles in the 1930s through the 1950s. For example, Padmore’s advocacy of class struggle in Ethiopia against Selassie before the Popular Front era and James’s criticism of Padmore after the Popular Front, for changing his view, and looking for “progressive” opinion among the imperialist rulers is documented by Kelley. Yet, this for Kelley, does not make the paradigm of a Black radical tradition, which purportedly never minimized Black rank and file resistance in contrast to European Marxists, implode on itself. Revisionist accounts, while not always bad, can minimize important facts. Of course, James in his elder years was silent on these differences over Selassie’s Ethiopia, partially as a result of his strategy of triangulation between statesmen and radical activists to build the Sixth Pan African Congress in Tanzania, and thus his experience of Ethiopian politics in the 1930s could not even be amplified even from the vantage of 1969 for this study.
At times, Kelley asks challenging questions that the reader should consider carefully. Indeed, James’s valorization of Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere as making the greatest contributions to radical thought on peasants since Lenin is very peculiar on a number of levels. These include, as Kelley points out, ignoring labor revolt and radical dissent suppressed by Nyerere’s regime including the most autonomous Ujamaa village councils, such as the Ruvuma Development Association. But also Nyerere can truly be said to have an affinity for Lenin’s last writings on the peasantry, as James underscores validly. Yet James and Kelley overstate the value of Lenin’s writings and obscures how dictatorial the Russian leaders’ policies actually were toward workers and farmers.
James, as a writer of Caribbean short stories and his novel Minty Alley, published before the first edition of the classic under consideration, highlighted the self-activity of unemployed and low wage single mothers, their theologies and interaction with patriarchal forces. Between the two editions ofPan African Revolt, James did some interesting theorizing which began to see the power of Ghana’s market women and Kenya’s peasant women behind Nkrumah’s and Kenyatta’s shadows. He attempted to present their own terms of being and ways of knowing as self-emancipating processes that audiences of so-called modern politics, in their backwardness, still strain to comprehend. We must note that, except for brief mention of Harriet Tubman, Black women’s role in the process of Black self-emancipation was underrepresented in this particular volume.
James’s brief survey of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Little Rock school desegregation, Greensboro’s first lunch counter sit-ins, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and SNCC, and the Black Panthers places their politics on the world stage of historical significance without offering the type of insight he more silently shared with younger colleagues in that generation. James is at his most bold and transparent when he looks at the meaning of the urban uprisings of 1964–68 culminating in the rebellion in Washington, DC.
After King was assassinated, the US military defended key government buildings but otherwise conceded the burning city to the insurgent Black masses. James concludes that, despite fear of a conservative white backlash against Black Power, the American rulers could not consistently mobilize white racism against the just demands of Black radicals and the white youth and students who were their allies. In 1969, in this text, he does not speak of white workers as allies—it was becoming increasingly unfashionable. James insisted to suppress the Black movement in its totality is to destroy the American nation root and branch. Of course Black freedom struggles were attacked, officially and unofficially, but James’s diagnostic analysis of the mode of rule in the United States of 1969 concluded correctly that soon a more ethnically plural and multi-cultural approach to managing the crisis of race and class struggles would emerge. In the meantime, he marveled at the advance in Black political thought among the masses which rising up against police brutality suggested, while most at the time could only see embarrassing “riots” and “racial disturbances.”
Kelley’s suggestion that James evolved from an emphasis on Black labor revolt in the 1930s to a more heterogeneous emphasis that included Black middle class forces and intellectuals in the Black Power era is prescient on one level. However, the publication date of the revised edition in 1969 by the Center for Black Education and Drum and Spear Collective in Washington, DC, led by Jimmy Garrett and Charlie Cobb, veterans of the Black Panthers and SNCC, predated the emergence of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) in Detroit the same year. We might conclude by placing this work in conversation with that movement and moment.
James was very influential on the LRBW but the terms of how he came to be are still obscure. James’s comrades George Rawick and Martin Glaberman, and his former comrades James Boggs and Grace Lee, did facilitate study groups and mentor the core of who became the leadership of the League. While his vision of workers’ self-management and rejection of vanguard parties are often seen as the basis of James’s influence, prominent LRBW leaders overwhelmingly did not share those politics, despite being against capitalism, managers in industrial workplaces, and white-led trade union hierarchy.
Instead, James influenced more marginal members and secondary leaders of the LRBW to approach his more advanced direct democratic perspectives through their Pan-African cultural nationalism, which in the late 1960s and early 1970s was perceived by many falsely as inherently in conflict with class struggle perspectives. Critiques of European arrogance or ignorance of African ontologies, philosophies, languages, and history need not be a façade of Black capitalist politics whose adherents masquerade as advocates for the welfare of the masses of the Black renters and wage earners. Not incompatible with a vision of workers control, reconfiguring one’s identity and psychology out from under white supremacist degradation is not a small matter for all human beings.
In fact, the LRBW members James influenced toward direct democracy, such as Modibo Kadalie and Kimathi Mohamed, saw in the earlier part of James’sPan African Revolt a vision of independent labor which was “black enough” and spoke to their needs in a way that his uncritical valorization of Huey Newton in this same book did not. James once lectured an LRBW audience in 1971 where Kadalie and Mohamed were present. James was explaining his own unique understanding of dialectic, and how this was the method he used to come up with “the Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem” in 1948.
James pointed out in 1948 the instinctive proclivity of African Americans for independent politics inspired the most radical among the industrial working class. Black folks’ elemental political drive called into question capitalism, imperialism, and the neutrality of the state. James said few back then saw the merit of the perspective he had worked out through proper observation and speculative method. One can say the same thing for this classic on Pan African Revolt under consideration.
James underscored, in his lecture to LRBW cadre, everyone was impressed with his analysis of 1948 in 1971—but this evaluation was a breakthrough decades ago. James told them, they would have to work out their own perspective for their own historical moment. This implied those old categories of thought, even James’s own, could not properly explain the post-civil rights, post-colonial moment which was emerging. If one desired to have dynamic and current political thought, James’s philosophical method for interpreting history, he emphasized, may be of value.
When the meaning of Kadalie’s purging from the staff of the LRBW, and Kimathi Mohamed’s writing in 1974 of the neglected classic Organization and Spontaneity: The Theory of the Vanguard Party and its Application to the Black Movement Today (which was dedicated to Mzee CLR James—Mzee is a Swahili title for revered elders) is properly considered, the intellectual legacies of A History of Pan African Revolt become larger.
This concise classic speculative philosophy and historical narrative placed in the service of Black revolution will charm scholars and activists, despite at times being inconsistent in its post-colonial criticism, and introduce new readers to a worldview that still can disturb authority and inform a new beginning.
Readers though must bring an outlook, which James strived to promote, that starts with the achievements of past freedom movements, the highest standards they set, and inquires about past mistakes made, to understand properly where to begin anew. A History of Pan African Revolt provides a foundation.

Friday, April 26, 2013


It is, of course, Scission's prison friday and we are returning to the state of California.

The California Depaprtment of Corrections (CDCR) has still not met the demands that were agreed upon which ended a peaceful protest at Pelican Bay and elsewhere within the California prison system.  In response, prisoners have informed, actually in February, that another peaceful protest will resume this July.  The protest will again include a hunger strike and work stoppage.

In February in a notice from  the PBSP -SHU Short Corridor Representatives addressed to Governor Jerry Brown, CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, and other interested parties:

Before we began our July 01, 2011 peaceful efforts to bring about the long overdue re- forms to the CDCR system, we presented Governor Brown, CDCR Secretary Cate, and many others, with our “Formal Complaint” spelling out the reasons why we are willing to put our lives on the line in order to bring about the necessary changes. Along with our “Five (5) Core Demands,” wherein we made it clear that we can no longer, complacently, accept the policies and practices that have subjected us, as well as thousands of other pris- oners, and loved ones outside these prison walls, to decades of torture within these solitary confinement SHU/Ad-Seg Units, based on innocent associations and unsubstantiated alle- gations of involvement in illegal activities.

The undisputable fact is that many of us have been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 to 40 years, based on fabricated information provided by prisoners who have been tor- tured to the point where they provide false information to IGI, in order to get out of the SHU/Ad-Seg. Few of us, if any, have ever been formally charged with, or found guilty of a single illegal, gang-related act. (To review our Formal Complaint, go to: For the 5 Core Demands, see:

We have demonstrated our commitment to our cause through our hunger strike actions – from July 01 to July 20, and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 13, 2011. We remain 100% collectively committed today!

We have kept our word, while patiently waiting for the CDCR to keep theirs. However, at this point, it is clear to us that the CDCR has no intention of implementing the substantive policy changes that were agreed to fifteen or sixteen months ago – based on their highly touted “Security Threat Group” proposals [March and June 2012], and the much hyped “STG Pilot Program” [October 11, 2012], the CDCR has clearly demonstrated their bad faith; because their alleged changes to the policies/practices at issue are a sham.

In reality, the proposed changes will greatly expand upon the number of prisoners who will be subjected to long-term isolation in torture cells; all the above is detailed in our written Rejection/Oppositions to the March and June proposals. As well as the October 11, 2012 Pilot Program. (See them at:!Newsletter/Rock2_1 and at:!Newsletter/Rock1_2. The entire Pilot Program is at:’s-Oct.-11-2012-Security-Threat- Group-Pilot-Program.pdf.)

Another recent example of the CDCR’s refusal to honor the agreement is PBSP’s Warden Lewis’ refusal to allow a test run – visiting pilot program for additional visiting time on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18; such additional time was agreed to during negotiations with Undersecretary Kernan [see his August 2011 memo]. Thereby, Warden Lewis has directly violated the agreement on this point too!

There are a number of additional examples that have been, and can be, pointed out to dem- onstrate the CDCR’s non-responsiveness/unwillingness to make meaningful changes to the current policies. Therefore, based on the CDCR’s failure to meaningfully address our Five (5) Core Demands, we presently have no available alternative avenues to obtain the long overdue changes, in a timely manner, other than giving the CDCR until July 08, 2013 – as a deadline – to meet our stated demands.

Failure to come to a legally enforceable agreement will be deemed as just cause for us to resume our indefinite, nonviolent, peaceful protest action(s) until the changes are made, as exemplified below.

You won't believe, but actually you will believe the directive you will read below to Corcoran SHU staff concerning how to respond to the hunger strikes scheduled to begin on July 8.  The first post below is from NCTT-Cor-SHU. 

This isn't it from Pelican Bay.  It seems that issues of the San Francisco Bay View (SFBV) newspaper are being confiscated and kept from prisoners there.  Readers of Scission are familiar with the SFBV.  Many a SFBV article, analysis, editorial has been presented on this web site.  The SFBV is a national black newspaper which has a proud history of standing up not just for prisoners but for all sorts of progressive political actions, not to mention in being a leader in the struggle against white supremacy.  

The second post below deals with this second issue and is from, where else, the San Francisco Bay View.

Alarming: Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to


dispense with California law and state procedures/policy 

regarding mass hunger strikes

On Monday April 8th they ran no yard on 4B facility in Corcoran-SHU. We of course investigated as to why we were, yet again, denied yard access without explanation and discovered staff had all gone to some sort of “training.”

By chance, or design, one of the N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU coordinators was under escort by 2 officers who, by happenstance or design, began discussing the nature of this training that would take another 2 days of additional training to complete:

In preparation for the July 8th peaceful protest action (hunger strike, work stoppage, etc.) Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures/policy regarding mass hunger strikes and instead will institute a policy designed to raise the potential for maximum casualties (deaths) amongst prisoner participants, while negating the existence of input data or any health care services monitoring information.

CDCR staff at Corcoran have been directed that there will be no weigh ins, blood pressure checks, or other medical monitoring of hunger strike participants for the duration of the July 8th peaceful protest. Instead, a single officer will be given a video camera to “monitor” participants every few days or so. The facility will be locked down, a state of emergency enacted and all yard, visits, and medical ducats will be suspended. No one will leave the cells. No medical intervention of any kind, including health care services daily nursing observations and weekly pcp evaluations as mandated by California CorrectionalHealth Care Services Policy Manual 1.m.s.p.&p., vol. 4, chapter 22.2, will be allowed.

Once a participant loses consciousness, if he is discovered by staff before he expires (dies), he will then receive medical intervention in the form of force feeding (physicians order for life sustaining treatment). Once this occurs the participant will be considered no longer on “hunger strike.”

Many of you may see the obvious contradiction in prison staff being trained by warden Gilespie to intentionally violate the law and health care policy, with the complicity of prison doctors, nurses and technicians, to intentionally jeopardize the lives of peaceful protestors – but what’s not obvious, and in our opinion most insidious, by willfully preventing input data to even be collected, eliminating visits, and confining any proof of the hunger strike to correctional officer videography – CDCR can control the narrative completely.

With plausible deniability pre-structured, this approach allows CDCR to under-report actual hunger strike participant numbers, claim those on hunger strike are actually eating by recording on video non-participants who are eating, releasing the video’s to the press characterizing them as hunger strikers who are not actually striking, and do all of this while denying protestors access to mandated health care evaluation and clinical monitoring, ensuring serious injury or death befalls at least some protestors. When it does, just like with Christian Gomez, they can claim the victim was only hunger striking a day or so and instead died of a “pre-existing medical condition unrelated to the hunger strike.”

That this premeditated violation of their own policy is both illegal and immoral is a given, and in fact of secondary concern. That they are doing so to maintain this domestic torture program, with all its inhumane and arbitrary components intact, at the expense of your tax dollars, our minds, bodies, and very souls is what should outrage us all.

Our cause is a righteous cause, our peaceful protest to realize the 5 Core Demands just and fair. We can not allow the state to undermine the purpose and impact of these sacrifices. We are prepared to die to end great injustice, should we not be allowed the dignity of these sacrifices being accorded the state’s policy and our opposition acting within the guidelines of their own law? A criminal is defined not by what he/she is called, but by what they do. Who are the criminals in this case? The answer is as obvious as the question, all that’s left to be decided is if you will stand idly by as this crime is committed.

A Luta Continua

N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU  -  -
April 10, 2013


Hands off the Bay View

April 26, 2013

Statement from the Pelikan Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign

by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Sondai Kamdibe Dumisani, Abasi Ganda, Ifoma Modibo Kambon, Dadisi Yero, Askari Joka, Mutope Duguma, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Baridi Yero, Kijana Tashiri Askari, Yafeu I-Yapo

Preamble: Fascist repression can only flourish when the voices of its victims have been brutally silenced and isolated within the concrete confines of a man-made construct where the scrutiny of the media cannot transcend the walls. Those walls are erected by legislative venality and deprive humanity of an eyewitness account of how captured human minds, spirits and bodies are being disfigured by the instrument of officially sanctioned evil that plagues this vortex of torture they call Pelikan Bay.
'Pelican Bay Censorship' by Michael Russell, web
Drawing by Michael Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
But contrary to the fascist intent, the voices of resistance reverberated within the depths of this concrete hell as New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners since our arrival have refused to remain silent and have waged a continuous campaign to put an end to this racial injustice. And for over 20 years the San Francisco Bay View has played a critical role in allowing our voices to be heard.

As a result they themselves have become a target for the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) agents of repression, such as the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS), Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) and Investigations Services Unit (ISU). The confiscation of the March [and, since this was written on April 5, also the April] issue of the Bay View is a clear indication of the agents of fascist repression escalating their attacks against the Bay View.

It is imperative for all of us to understand that the Bay View is part of us. Mary and Willie Ratcliff is our sista and brotha and they have sacrificed much to help us and serve our communities. We must now go beyond rhetoric and lip service in support for the Bay View.

We now present the following statement: The San Francisco Bay View is a national Black newspaper that serves the interests of the New Afrikan communities inside Amerikkka. Its objective is to always bring attention to the injustice that occurs against New Afrikan people by speaking out against the injustices handed down by the state and federal government, who systematically abuse their authority in order to suppress the voices of the oppressed.

For over 20 years the San Francisco Bay View has played a critical role in allowing our voices to be heard.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect our freedom of speech, but time after time we see that the state officials tend to resort back to the Dred Scott v. Stanford Supreme Court case, where it was said that New Afrikan people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

These are the words that Warden G.D. Lewis, C.D.W. Ducart, A.W. Swift, ISU Capt. Barneburg, IGI Lt. Frisk and their subordinates live by when it comes to New Afrikans’ freedom of speech – even after several court victories in respect to our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, in which the court clearly stipulated in their many rulings that the prison officials were in violation of our First Amendment rights.

Brad Ford, cropped, web
Brad Ford, a prisoner in the federal system, uses his meager earnings to buy subscriptions for younger prisoners he mentors. The Bay View, denied for three of the last four months to subscribers at Pelican Bay State Prison in California, is currently being allowed in to federal and state prisons around the country and throughout California, except for Pelican Bay.
These same officials continue to defy the courts in order to violate our First Amendment rights. These officials have chosen a course of action where they themselves have not only violated our First Amendment rights continuously but have conspired to use their positions as state officials with the power to deprive us prisoners of our procedural due process rights. The March issue, Vol. 38, No. 3, of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper, of which Mary Ratcliff and Willie Ratcliff are editor and publisher, was denied [to subscribers at Pelican Bay] per CCR Title15, Section 3006(c)(3): “Except as authorized by the institution head, inmates shall not possess or have under their control any matter which contains or concerns any of the following: … (3) Plans to disrupt the order or breach the security of any facility” and CCR Title 15, Section 3315(a)(2)(C): A serious disruption of facility operations. Yet the officials chose not to provide us a clear 1819 form per CCR Title 15 3136(a), disapproval of inmate mail per each mail item incoming or outgoing.

The officials’ actions are calculating and malicious because they deliberately withheld the Bay View paper from the prisoners who actually had been consistent in their litigation against the blatant violations of our First Amendment rights. It was each of us who were not provided the CDCR 1819 forms which we have to have in order to file a 602 appeal grievance form for that which is having an adverse effect on us. In this case, it’s our First Amendment violation governing our incoming mail.

By not issuing us our CDCR 1819 form, the CDCR/PBSP (Pelican Bay State Prison) officials are not only denying us our procedural due process but our right to file a civil lawsuit and petition of writ of habeas corpus to the courts for violations of our First Amendment rights. So the CDCR/PBSP official actions are arbitrarily insidious racist attacks on New Afrikan prisoners exclusively and the only New Afrikan newspaper that has chosen to stand up against the CDCR/PBSP’s deliberate threats and power in the interest of the oppressed prison class held in CDCR custody.

We also want to say that CDCR/PBSP officials literally ran a test run when they confiscated the 25 Bay View issues in January 2013 from those lone subscribers while giving everyone else their subscription. Only through progressive litigation can we beat back these arbitrarily insidious racist attacks by prison officials who should have never been given authority to run no prison, let alone human beings.

We will aggressively continue to attack these actions against our freedom of speech! It is worth noting we have over 15 lawsuits pending in the federal court. Brotha Abdul Shakur has a lawsuit pending specifically pertaining to the confiscation of an article he had attempted to send to the Bay View. The judge in this matter recently ordered the defendants, IGI and ISU, via the attorney general to respond to Brotha Abdul’s lawsuit. He also has a similar petition being reviewed by the California Supreme Court, so we are aggressively challenging the CDCR/PBSP campaign of repression.

People, we are all in this battle together. We cannot fight this battle by ourselves, especially from within solitary confinement. We must launch a coordinated effort in our endeavors to protect our First Amendment rights and defend the Bay View against any and all attempts to sabotage its functional capacity and impede their free speech.

We will aggressively continue to attack these actions against our freedom of speech! Your support is imperative to our success.

Our First Amendment campaign is calling on all people, especially the prison rights movement, to do the following:

  1. contact Warden Greg Lewis via email or phone and demand that IGI and ISU put an end to censoring the Bay View and release the March issue [and April issue] of the Bay View to the prisoners housed within the PBSP Security Housing Unit;
  2. contact Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell. Inform her how Pelican Bay State Prison Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI) and Investigative Services Unit (ISU) are attempting to censor the Bay View newspaper because of their reporting on the hunger strikes, the five core demands, end to hostilities, sensory deprivation, torture and long-term solitary confinement;
  3. actively help to organize support for the Bay View. This will discourage the fascist agents of repression in their endeavors to ban and isolate the Bay View. Subscriptions are imperative towards the Bay View’s longevity and stability. Brotha Abdul Shakur suggested that activists should organize a Bay View subscribers’ party where attendants pledge to subscribe to the Bay View in support of our ongoing campaign to defend and protect our free speech;
  4. establish communication with the primary coordinators for our First Amendment campaign. We are all involved in litigation. Brotha Abdul Shakur has seven active cases presently pending, five Section 1983 civil suits in the federal courts, one in the local superior court, and one under review in the California Supreme Court.

Your support is imperative to our success.
Send our brothers some love and light:

  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n J. Harvey) C-48884, D1-119 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (s/n R. Dewberry) C-35671, D1-117 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Mutope Duguma (s/n J. Crawford) D-05996, D1-117 (SHU) , P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Sondai Kamdibe Dumisani (s/n R. Elllis) C-68764, D1-223 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Baridi Yero (s/n J. Williamson) D-34288, D4-107 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Ifoma Modibo Kambon (s/n D. Burnett) B-60892, D4-103 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Kijana Tashiri Askari (s/n M. Harrison) H-54077, D3-123 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Yafeu I-Yapo (s/n L. Alexander) B-72288, D3-119 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Abasi Ganda (s/n E. Jackson) C-33559, D2-107 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532;
  • Dadisi Yero (s/n L. Benton) B-85066, D1-101 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532
  • Askari Joka (s/n J. Franklin) C-08543, D2-207 (SHU), P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532

Response from the Bay View

We are deeply grateful to the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign and will do all in our power to support them in defending the First Amendment rights of us all. “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote the Russian revolutionary Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who served four years hard labor in Siberia. That truth is beginning to manifest to the U.S. public nationwide and especially in California in a recent flood of mainstream news stories critical of prison policy and practice and the politicians responsible for it.

Pelican Bay is on the wrong side of history. Its officials’ fear of the upcoming July 8 hunger strike and work stoppage, a reaction to their refusal to negotiate in good faith over the prisoners’ Five Core Demands issued two years ago, is apparent in their current violations of the laws and regulations that are supposed to govern them.

The Bay View has yet to receive any official notification from Pelican Bay State Prison saying why and from whom the March and April issues were withheld. Numerous subscribers, however, have written to say they did not receive their papers. All but one had not been issued the 1819 mail disapproval form, which is prerequisite to their filing a 602 appeal.

We want to thank those prisoners who did receive their papers for sharing them with those who did not. If any subscriber who was denied his paper is not located where he can share another subscriber’s paper, write to us and we will send a copy with the pages cited by Pelican Bay officials removed. – Willie and Mary Ratcliff

Prisoner cancels subscription for fear of retaliation

The following letter was written April 10 by a prisoner whose name must be withheld:

“I am a subscriber to your publication and have been for approximately eight years and it truly pains me to have to write this correspondence to you at this time to ask that you remove me from your subscriber list and no longer ship your publication to me due to the prison’s view of your publication.

“While I truly enjoy your publication, it would prove to be detrimental to me to continue to receive your publication. It is my hope and sincere prayer that the prison would change its view towards your publication.

“For me, your publication has been very informative and educational and it has helped me become a better person. I truly do not understand the position of the prison.

“I am aging and cannot deal with any potential fallout as a result of my receiving your publication. It is very sad that men are not allowed to educate themselves.

“I suffer from mental health conditions that would be exacerbated by being a target of the prison’s affection as a result of my receiving your publication. I just learned of the potential problem today while reading someone else’s March edition.

“I hope to someday be able to once again enjoy your publication. Just know that it is with great regret that I make this decision. As I have stated above, I am aging and my mental health is not good. I must protect myself from harm.

“I am also a grandfather with a desire to see and hold my grandchild who was born in July of last year. I have not seen her in person and I wish to transfer down south where I can visit, so I am putting my family desires ahead of everything at this time.

“I would like to close by thanking you for educating me and being a source of comfort through many lonely years. May you have continued success. God bless you and your entire staff.”