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SF Bay View banned inside Indiana prisons: Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls?

June 27, 2016

by Shaka Shakur

In the December 2015 issue of the San Francisco Bay View, I wrote an article entitled “Do Black Lives Matter Behind the Walls” and introduced to the Bay View audience the newly formed New African Liberation Collective (NALC).

“Censorship in Solitary Confinement is Psychological Torture,” dated Nov. 13, 2014 – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, HDSP D3-20, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

“Censorship in Solitary Confinement is Psychological Torture,” dated Nov. 13, 2014 – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, HDSP D3-20, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

While this particular issue was allowed into prisons throughout the state, it was seized at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, where I was being housed, based upon the orders of the Internal Affairs Department as a security risk. Approximately a week later I was moved deeper behind enemy lines to the good ol’ boys neck of the woods and placed in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) in Carlisle, Indiana.

Fast forward to February and the next issue was denied entry pending a security review by Internal Affairs; I assume this was the January issue. Two days later I was informed by Internal Affairs that the Bay View was being “disallowed” as it is “propaganda by and for the Black Panther Party, a known STG group.” (STG stands for security threat group, shorthand for “gang.” – ed.)

Now keep in mind that the Bay View has been coming in for years without a problem or with it being a “security issue,” but only now after asking the question, “Do Black Lives Matter Behind the Walls,” is it a threat to the safety or security of the institution. Only now it becomes propaganda for the Black Panther Party.

Oppressive power always feels threatened by the gaining of knowledge by the oppressed.

We all know that the Bay View pushes not only an African centric cultural expression, but it provides a voice to the voiceless of all progressives regardless of so-called race or ethnicity. We know that those of us held captive do not advocate or condone reactionary violence of any kind, or racial or religious intolerance, and in fact call for unity and an end to such backward conduct. We are against the gang violence that the power structure supports and manipulates to its own devious ends.

So where is the threat? Isn’t the Bay View the type of thing the “state” should support and condone? If you listen to the state propaganda about rehabilitation and all that other bullshit, shouldn’t institutional libraries be flooded with subscriptions?

No, because Black lives don’t matter to them. To awaken the masses of New Afrikan prisoners to start asking the question, “Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls?” is terrifying to the state! While we recognize that all incarcerated lives matter and we support the “convict code” of conduct in the prison context, we are a New Afrikan formation advocating the right of self-determination; and within such a context, we recognize that we have a distinctive relationship to the oppressive state – a distinctive neo-colonial, genocidal relationship.

Oppressive power always feels threatened by the gaining of knowledge by the oppressed.

Some of the same issues within the larger society are reflected on a microscopic level within the prison setting, whether it’s access to jobs or trades that produce skilled labor, whether it’s the ability to be pro New Afrikan and express our culture without fear of repression and attack by the administration, whether it’s access to programs, etc.

We also have to deal with the settler mentality of White inmates who allow themselves to be used and manipulated by the state prisoncrats against the interests of other prisoners and the captive class, who use skin privilege behind the walls to maneuver themselves into the best jobs and strategic positions in the prisons, who unify with racist guards and prisoncrats to suppress any type of unity on progressive prison movement, who collaborate so the state can allow them to unify and develop a base from which to operate and expand.

Same as in society. People sell their soul for privilege and crumbs from the boss’s table while genocide rages all across the land in communities of color, in the neo-colonies of the empire.

Lastly, we know that the Bay View is neither a tool of and not being published by the Black Panther Party and in fact operates on a shoestring budget and the love and support of the community. We are calling for conversation around this question, Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls? to be pushed throughout the empire and behind enemy lines.

We are asking for linkages with outside national and local groups that are not only pushing this particular issue but also the issues of mass incarceration and prison “justice” reform in the prejudicial system. As political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and progressive prisoners in general, we must interject our voices into this conversation taking place across the land.

We are calling for conversation around this question, Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls? to be pushed throughout the empire and behind enemy lines.

We must also demand to know where is the access to jobs and training that give us skills and traits that can be utilized upon release in society? Where is access to meaningful educational programming and real access to mental health intervention – beyond talk therapy – as opposed to just being medicated and turned into zombies?

Where is the counseling and treatment for those of us who suffer from PTSD-type issues from having spent decades inside of these SHU control units under some form of solitary confinement that now all of a sudden the mainstream wants to admit is a form of torture and causes mental deterioration? Can you imagine this battle cry being taken up behind enemy lines throughout the empire?

Can you imagine formations manifesting themselves and linking in order to raise our collective voices, all asking: Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls? It’s concerning that when you are progressive, revolutionary and pro-New Afrikan, you get labeled a security threat, but when you are pro-white, you are patriotic and making Amerika great again!

Any attorneys or legal minds willing to help us litigate the drowning of the Bay View should contact me: Shaka Shakur, 135647, WVCF SHU, P.O. Box 1111, Carlisle IN 47838.

Prisoners’ voices blocked and censorship in U.S. prisons

by Jaan Laaman

The United States is often called the country of prisons because we are 5 percent of the world’s population, but we hold 25 percent of all the prisoners in the world. Recently, we have heard talk from the White House and Congress about the need to reduce this huge prison population, which is costing the taxpayers billions.

“Pelican Bay Censorship” – Art: Michael D. Russell

“Pelican Bay Censorship” – Art: Michael D. Russell

Occasionally, you might hear a prisoner’s voice on some media platform, usually a human rights or community outlet. These present words are written by Jaan Laaman. I am a long held political prisoner presently locked up in the U.S. penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona.

Let me be very clear: Prisoners have a hard time getting our words and thoughts out from behind America’s many, many prison walls. While prisoners do have a legal right to express their thoughts and report on issues and abuses, actually getting your words out is often very hard or impossible.

All incoming and outgoing prisoner communications – postal mail, phone calls and the restricted email services some prison systems allow – are opened and monitored. This is authorized by regulations and law. Further censorship and outright blocking of communications and publications also routinely occurs in prisons throughout this country.

Letters, magazines and books critical of government policies and wars are often not delivered, even if official policy states that prisoners are allowed these materials. Sometimes a prisoner has all his or her phone or email communications arbitrarily shut off for months.

While an official appeal channel is usually available, these are biased at best and could easily be labelled a kangaroo court process. Communications would be shut down for months, even if the prisoner ultimately wins the appeal and has his or her communications restored.

Let me be very clear: Prisoners have a hard time getting our words and thoughts out from behind America’s many, many prison walls. While prisoners do have a legal right to express their thoughts and report on issues and abuses, actually getting your words out is often very hard or impossible.

Censoring, restricting and flat out blocking communications, especially of political prisoners, is a harsh and dangerous reality going on now in prisons all across this country. My own voice, which has previously been heard on radio and in print over many years, has been almost totally cut off since February. No official explanation has been given, other than that prison authorities do not like my commentaries and essays.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression for America’s prisoners is a constant struggle!

Send our brother some love and light: Jaan Laaman, 10372-016, P.O. Box 24550, Tucson AZ 85734.

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6 thoughts on “SF Bay View banned inside Indiana prisons: Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls?

  1. helonwheels

    lets get to the basics here. if you do the crime you do the time. humility becomes your best friend here, meaning you accept the punishment however hard it is. quit whining and start your education. you are placed in solitary confinement so you can figure this out on your own. all the wasted energy used to make claims of your psychological torture is time that can be spent on finding out what you need to do to get yourself out of this situation. stop the entitlement syndrome. acceptance that you have put yourself where you are today will go a million miles in your quest in finding the answer your dilemma.

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