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Voice from Menard: Chicago’s racist war against Blacks and Latinos continues in Illinois prisons

April 23, 2014

by Muntu Sun Ra Okito (Percell Hansberry)

The Menard High Security Unit hunger strikers send a message of solidarity to the brothers of the struggle at Pelikan Bay SHU, Ohio Supermax, the Georgia SMU hunger strikers, and all prisoners of consciousness who refuse to bow down to state torture and systemic degradation up in these concentration kamps across Amerikkka. We also send mad love and respect to Bay View for creating a holy space for the most down-pressed voices in society to be expressed and heard.

Although the hunger strike has officially come to an end here – the struggle continues. The drastic and suppressive hand of Illinois prison-crats has had the unintended effect of heightening the consciousness of a new generation of captured colonials into the history of the prison rights movement and “teaching” them about the true nature of the beast.

'I am a man' 'Close Tamms' Melvin Haywood, 8 yrs Tamms solitary, 30 yrs prison by Lora Lode, Tamms Year Ten, 2012

Though Tamms was closed after a vigorous grassroots campaign, Illinois prisoners are still being tortured. Melvin Haywood is a survivor of eight years in solitary confinement in Tamms and 30 years in prison. – Photo: Lora Lode, Tamms Year Ten, 2012

This “lesson” was accomplished because of the prison-crats’ psychopathic need to totally control and exploit the minds and bodies of its captives. The corrupt state was forced to close down its Supermax (Tamms) torture factory in 2013 of January due to its budget crisis linked with community agitation.

However, the officers’ influential union was vehemently against the closure. The officers launched an aggressive propaganda campaign for public support by using fear to distort reality via the media, while their legal mercenaries filed a petition for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against the governor’s decision – all to no avail.

With the collapse of a mechanism within this system of racial control and exploitation came a backlash encased in the obsessive fear of losing control and the need to find (fabricate) a rationale to re-open Tamms torture kamp. The threat of sending someone to Tamms often yielded the desired results.

To this end, the prison-crats prophesied that the closure would increase violence against prisoners and staff alike. Then they worked to fulfill the prophesy, which is to say they created and promoted violence. As demonstrated by Brother Haazim W. Muntaqim (see the January 2014 Bay View) this is nothing new in this system; it’s the nature of the beast.

Unaware prisoners were fed the names of snitches. Then the exposed snitch, unbeknownst to him, would be left in general population by Internal Affairs, knowing fully what the predictable outcome would be.

Internal Affairs also used the snitch label falsely to discredit those unbent prisoners who refused to cooperate and on those captured colonials who were evolving toward the consciousness level of political prisoners and prisoners of war. The prison-crats prefer the masses to stay deaf, dumb and blind.

With the collapse of a mechanism within this system of racial control and exploitation came a backlash encased in the obsessive fear of losing control and the need to find (fabricate) a rationale to re-open Tamms torture kamp.

Another tactic used by the administration to initiate violence was provocation wrapped in unjustifiable and relentless harassment – not limited to the placement of weapons in prisoner’s cells. Although the mass prison population in the state’s kamps is comprised mostly of New Afrikan Blacks, the primary oppressed group “selected” for racist scapegoat “this time” was Latinos and anybody perceived to be associated with this group.

In the summer of 2013, the unrelenting provocation came to a head in several incidents resulting in physical violence between officers and captives. Those captives “involved” were afterward severely assaulted while in handcuffs, written up and removed to disciplinary segregation.

Shortly thereafter, though, the prison-crats used the violence that they created and arbitrarily snatched up over 40(!) captives who had absolutely no involvement in the provoked confrontation and wrote bogus disciplinary reports, stripped some out of state, and placed a significant number in Administration Detention, long-term (indefinite) solitary confinement with no due process – not knowing why – in conditions that are absolutely deplorable.

Geneva, Rose, Brenda's sons 9, 8, 14 yrs Tamms solitary protest AFSCME guards union 040412 by Adrianne Dues

Mothers of men in isolation at Tamms supermax protest the guards’ union AFSCME for supporting a prison condemned by international human rights monitors. Their signs are based on the “I am a man” placards first used by striking AFSCME sanitation workers, whom Martin Luther King Jr. supported just before he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. The mothers said that closing Tamms is about human dignity, not jobs, and reiterated King’s message that workers’ rights and human rights are inseparable. Led by Geneva, Rose and Brenda, whose sons spent nine, eight and 14 years respectively in isolation at Tamms, they marched to AFSCME headquarters on April 4, 2012, the 44th anniversary of King’s death, and told the crowd, “Human suffering cannot be the basis of the Southern Illinois economy.” – Photo: Adrianne Dues

Throughout the entire state’s prison system, those who weren’t snatched up of the targeted group, real or imagined, were fired from their slave-wage jobs – no explanation offered. This affected an entire racial group. The Menard High Security Unit is comprised of New Afrikans, Latinos and White captives. The White captives who partook in the hunger strike and/or were “perceived” to be associated with minorities were called (harassed as) race traders by White officers.

Kept in its proper context, it must be over-stood that the closure of Tammas Supermax torture center did not amount to the automatic release of its victims. In all systems of control (oppression) that part of it that dies is reborn into new form, a dynamic that has been termed “preservation through transformation.”

Tamms’ captured hostages were simply transferred – the vast majority – to another kamp, Pontiac, where a section was “transformed,” wherein they are still in indefinite solitary confinement (Administrative Detention) and are still referred to as “Tamms’ inmates by the prison-crats. Menard High Security Unit was also “transformed” into a “mini-Tamms” (indefinite isolation) for the Gestapo-like round-up.

Many are in “mini-Tamms” torture kamps on newly “transformed” segregation wings in several medium security prisons in the state. Although in transition, torture is still preserved through transformation.

The violence created by the prison-crats in Illinois is being used to inflict mental violence now on the public by brainwashing them into believing that they need more money for security and that rounding up the 40 captives, as well as all those who “had” to be fired from their slave-wage jobs and put back into their cages, is justification to re-open Tamms torture center.

Kept in its proper context, it must be over-stood that the closure of Tammas Supermax torture center did not amount to the automatic release of its victims. In all systems of control (oppression) that part of it that dies is reborn into new form, a dynamic that has been termed “preservation through transformation.”

During the 2014 gubernatorial primaries several Republican candidates expressed the “need” to re-open it, such as Illinois Rep. Jill Tracy: “The whole purpose of Tamms was defeated with this cost-saving measure and as a result, we’re seeing 20 percent increase in assaults at the other facilities where these inmates have been put into.” But as stated above, the vast majority of Tamms’ captives are still in indefinite isolation cages, so if this is the case – and it is – what’s really behind the brain-staining propaganda?

It’s the human rights violations, the constitutional rights violations and the Gestapo-like round-ups and environment that’s being resisted in the Illinois concentration kamp system. The oppression here is a continuation of Chicago’s racist war on the New Afrikan (Black) and Latino communities as a whole – that’s the thing that must be over-stood.

I leave you with the words of the Chicago activist group Affordable Power and Justice: “Ain’t no chain – an unbroken circle of prisoner, race and nation unity breaks the chains that are destroying us.”

Send our brother some love and light: Muntu Sun Ra Okito (s/n Percell Hansberry), B34144, P.O. Box 1000, Menard, IL 62259. Read more about the heroic struggle to close Tamms in the story that is the source of the photos shown here: “Tamms Is Torture: The Campaign to Close an Illinois Supermax Prison.”

One thought on “Voice from Menard: Chicago’s racist war against Blacks and Latinos continues in Illinois prisons

  1. Nancy

    Actually, the hunger strike never began, despite your best efforts. It must be wonderful to live in California, where your prisons are like lovely home away from homes.

    Reply

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