Seeing the problem, being the solution, making the sacrifice (pt VII)

February 2, 2018
Part VII: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018

by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement

Published in: SF Bayview, Feb 2nd, 2018

http://sfbayview.com/2018/02/seeing-the-problem-being-the-solution-making-the-sacrifice/

Last month, on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, millions of people diverted their collective attention to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. At the same time, on the other side of the country in Las Vegas, Nevada, almost 250,000 people congregated for the start of the week long CES presentation (formerly Consumer Electronics Show), the world’s largest tech trade show. On display will be the latest technological innovations that will influence and dictate the future of the world that we live in.

Unfortunately, most of us will be more in tune with the sporting spectacle – which will afford us an emotional discharge and escape from the reality of our problems – than those of us who will be focused on learning what technologies will be available for us to continue to advance our struggle towards a solution in our digital world.

The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls. And just like the consumer show, corrections agencies have their own “tech” convention every year, hosted by the American Correctional Association, where they exchange ideas and shop for products.

Commissioners, wardens, officers’ union representatives etc. shop for locks, new restraint chairs, tasers, body armor, biometric devices, surveillance equipment, new prison architecture and designs, prison movement and population management software, body cameras, cell extraction gear, riot control ammunition, leg monitor systems, all the way down to the toilets, sinks and typewriters related to controlling their lucrative hundreds of billions of dollars’ prison slave industry.

The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls.

Notoriously missing from this equation is us, the very people who are being controlled by these technologies. To a degree, we have been able to make effective use of social media to wage our fight to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.

In several of my articles throughout this series promoting our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 boycott, I proposed that we utilize this year-long bi-monthly February-April-June-Black August-October-December boycott to develop a national organization and put forth a national agenda and plan of action; create a digital storefront so that we can generate revenue from our talents, skill and abilities (think eBay, Amazon-type store); and most importantly, we need to get us an app created so that we can collect, organize and disseminate all of the information that is critical to us building awareness to our struggle and what people can do to join, support and share information about our movement.

Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app. Planned protests at prisons, state DOC headquarters or private companies that profit off of prisons, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Nintendo, Starbucks, CoreCiv, Access Secure, J-Pay, AT&T, Canteen and Verizon, all need to be one click away on our app. Companies that contract with DOCs like the collect phone companies and their revenue and profits need to be one click away. And every product made or service provided at each individual prison needs to be one click away.

Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app.

Right now, all of this data is scattered out all across the internet, in various books and in reports that people have no idea where to start looking for.

According to a research study by the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation at Washington University in St. Louis, in 2016, the true cost of incarceration is estimated to be $1 trillion per year, and the researchers also found that more than half of those costs are being shouldered “directly by prisoners, their families, and their communities.” That’s a lot of information scattered around.

If we, indeed, are shouldering the burden for over half of these costs, which amounts to $500 billion, then isn’t it reasonable to expect that we should do a better job of collecting this information and tracking this money so that we can better organize our movement towards bankrupting prison slavery?

I would surmise that if we contribute over $500 billion in direct financial contributions, then the other half is probably coming directly from our labor. In Nas’ song, “N—–”, he said that in relationship to our problems, we are both the question and the answer. Well, if we are the financial pillars of this system, we are both the problem and the solution. In prison slavery, we are the slave and the master.

In the December 2017 issue of Bay View, our Brother Terrance Amen stated the following: “We all know what the problems are, but very little energy and effort are focused on the solutions. We are not the ones who put ourselves in this situation, but we are the ones who continue to stay in this situation because of the way we spend our money.”

Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.

Talking about a problem is easy. In these prisons, even in the Bay View, we see much talk devoted to the problem. The solutions that are offered – if one can waddle through all of the talk and find one – usually deviate far and wide from any sacrifices being made. The norm usually reveals signs of the “savior complex,” where we are calling for the politicians to fix it.

But Brother Amen also said: “Politics will not solve our problems. Black economics will.” That’s why the most important aspect or feature of the Campaign 2RTP is the incorporation of our family members and others who make financial contributions to us in prison.

Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.

A lot of people in prison simply don’t want to make any sacrifices whatsoever, and have no problem exploiting the people who love them for funds. They don’t dare educate their people about this movement, our boycotts or otherwise. This Campaign 2RTP is designed for us to be able to bypass those negative elements and engage these family members directly. Getting our app created will only make this process that much easier.

Those of us on the inside know that prisons have an economy too, as well as a culture set up to exploit those just entering the system. With prisons across the country being so overcrowded and understaffed, administrators have resorted to alternative methods to control such large populations.

One of the things that wardens and officers do is select collaborators from the population to help them control the masses in much the same way that slave owners used to do. These collaborators are allowed to control the drug, liquor, cigarette, gambling and other markets.

When the youth enter the prison, they are immediately preyed upon. Those youth who have money or financial support are steered towards drugs and other vices. Those who have nothing are recruited to gangs, the “armies” that the dealers use or, lacking these, they are turned out and forced into quasi-prostitution or they become labor slaves.

Those of us who recruit them for education and self-development are targeted by the system. When we try to build our movement and open the eyes of the youth and the people to what is really going on with mass incarceration and prison slavery, we become subject to “hits” like our ancestor Hugo Pinell and so many other warriors.

The collaborators work with the police to stop the movement but they never work with the movement to stop slavery. These are dynamics that people in society don’t know about, but the Campaign 2 RTP 2018 will serve many purposes before it is done.

Once again, I strongly recommend that as many of you as possible reach out to Queen Tahiyrah of Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio and connect your/our families to her. Queen T hosts shows where incarcerated brothers and sisters call in from prison along with family.

Our Warrior God from Free Alabama Movement, Dhati Khalid, and the rest of the F.A.M.ily are also always tuned in. Call her at 513-913-2691 or reach out to F.A.M. and Bro Dhati at P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 and let’s all get connected.

Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources. Those of us on the inside have a duty and obligation to make sure that their sacrifices are worth it and appreciated.

If an incarcerated person does not have a GED, then there is no legitimate reason why they should not be in GED school after six to nine months in prison. Once they complete GED, if they don’t have an employable skill or trade, they should enroll in trade school.

These accomplishments will only help with parole eligibility and other release programs. And more importantly, they will help with self-development and with returning an asset to the community instead of a liability.

Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support. We need to make sure that these important messages are reaching everyone, because we can’t continue to fund the institution of slavery.

Family support should also set a hard budget on how much money they can afford to send into a prison and stick to it. Too many people in prison are young when they enter and, thus, have no real concept of paying bills, child care, emergencies, elderly care, unexpected repairs etc. All they know is their needs. And, the vices in prison are strong, too, and expensive.

Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources.

If an incarcerated loved one can’t stick to their budget and is constantly calling home for money, pay pals and green dots, then this is a red flag and warning sign that something is wrong. Gambling, drug abuse and wasting money in prison trying to portray an image are real problems, and the opioid crisis that is claiming so many lives in America is alive and well in the prison, too.

All of this is being financed by someone or being facilitated by someone. If this someone is you, please stop it now and help us bring everyone home from prison as soon as possible, starting with the defunding effort being spearheaded by our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018.

Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support.

We have talked about the problem ad nauseum. We have cried enough tears to fill up many rivers. Our complaints have been noted and ruled on, and we have held on and endured for many seasons. As my Aunt Mary in Mississippi DOC would say, “Enough is enough.” Now is the time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.

Our Campaign 2 RTP 2018 kicks off on Feb. 1, 2018, to begin Black History Month. It is time to not only celebrate Black history but to also show that we have learned from the lessons of history that is part of our heritage by using those lessons to help solve our problems.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, Free Alabama Movement

Book of the month: “We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement” by Akinyele Omowale Umoja

Literature of the month: “Liberation or Gangsterism” by Russell “Maroon” Shoatz/s

Newspaper of the month: Bay View

Word of the month: Sacrifice

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.

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A Witness to Genocide: Soul-less in Alabama DOC, by S.J.

​”I have witnessed more than my share of young men that have been sucked into the modern-day plantation. Young men that have been abandoned, forgotten, and alienated. Young men that have been discarded like the trash in our every day households.

I’ve witnessed the transformation of these young men from someone’s son, brother, grandson, father, or husband/boyfriend; to an animal!! What was once hope in their eyes turned to hate, and despair.

I’ve watched and witnessed the lives of young men drain from their eyes, and their soul when they were forced to adapt to this cruel, and violent lifestyle of the concrete jungle. I’ve watched and witnessed the lives of these young men be taken from them because the concrete jungle engulfed them and claimed their blood.

I’ve watched and witnessed these young men laugh to keep from crying for way too long.

But one thing I’ve yet to witness is, the mass majority of society see what I have witnessed!

I WAS ONCE A YOUNG MAN!”
Received via a letter from Swift Justice.

EMERGENCY ALERT: ANOTHER VIOLENT DEATH BEING REPORTED BY U.V. AT ELMORE CF


Unfortunately, we are receiving word of yet another stabbing death at Elmore CF. Elmore has already had one stabbing death this month and another in the complex at Staton. As these deaths continue to pile up, ADOC officials focus their attention on dollars over life.

As the death toll continues to rise, there have been no fundamental changes to the culture of ADOC. Efforts to save lives must be expedited because, in the eyes of the ADOC, bodies are replaceable.

 

The Next Step for Free Alabama Movement: Legal Clinic Network

THE NEXT STEP FOR FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (F.A.M)

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
13th Amendment, US Constitution

There are several fronts that F.A.M. is currently working on to continue the fight against mass incarceration and prison slavery. With the growth and continued exposure of F.A.M. also comes the need to organize more soundly on a structural and foundational level. In this respect, we are working to structure our legal department and Legal Clinic Network:

STAFF ATTORNEY

1) We need to recruit a volunteer to serve in the capacity of a staff attorney and to develop a fundraising plan to provide compensation when available. This office will help to advise F.A.M. on legal issues and represent F.A.M. in legal matters.

LEGAL CLINIC NETWORK

2) We would like to structure a F.A.M. Legal Clinic Network.

We already have a commitment from several law students, one attorney, and we are exploring opportunities with a law professor and another attorney that we are already in contact with. We anticipate the Legal Clinic Network to start out working in the following capacity:

ASSISTANCE WITH CRIMINAL CASES

a) Handling at least one criminal conviction and/or civil suit per year. In addition, we would like to build a network of volunteers composed of law students, paralegals and researchers to assist with legal research, editing and typing, copying, and filing and collecting public records.

FIRST AMENDMENT ISSUES

b) Filing litigation concerning First Amendment rights as they relate to the right of people incarcerated to peacefully assembly in protest of ongoing civil and human rights violations, and to establish and declare free speech zones at Alabama prisons for Freeworld supporters without interference from state officials when conducting demonstrations or protesting on prison grounds.

(i) First Amendment peaceful assembly rights will also address state retaliation for non-violent and peaceful activity inside of prison, and establish precedent that will be backed by TRO’s to prevent arbitrary detention in solitary confinement and retaliation by prison officials for the exercise of constitutionally protected rights. In California, several recent decisions were issued stating that people in prison could not be punished for hunger strikes because this activity was not violent and did not pose a threat to security.

(ii) First Amendment free speech zones will declare the rights of the public to access public prison facilities and to communicate with visitors on visitation days at these prisons and pass out information concerning public safety, mass incarceration, and civil and human rights issues taking place in Alabama prisons.

https://t.co/65lbuXcM2K

WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

3) The Legal Clinic Network will address the violations of women’s rights at Tutwiler as outlined in the U.S. Dept of Justice report in January 2014, and seek compensation and assistance for all children who were born as a result of these sex crimes.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-releases-findings-showing-alabama-department-corrections-fails-protect

LABOR RIGHTS

4) The Legal Clinic Network would also like to build a network of labor attorneys and experts to address labor issues within the prisons.

Contact:

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
P.O. BOX 186
New Market, AL 35761
Freealabamamovement@ Gmail.com

Alabama Department of Corrections to be investigated for civil rights violations, by the Department of Justice


Above you see pictures taken by incarcerated men throughout multiple prisons in Alabama.These pictures depict only a few of the many inhumane conditions including but not limited to improper ventilation, smoke infested state buildings, improper plumbing, accessibility to homemade and real weapons, lack of security and in sanitary kitchens.

 These are only a few pictures that have been accumulated over the years. But most shockingly above you will see an inmate in a lockup cell at at Ventress Correctional Facility, that is hanging from a makeshift rope. Notably there is no correctional officer any where around and inmates were able to photograph this horrific scene.Thus giving credence to the claims of “no security”inside the prisons in Alabama. 

 The other alarming sight is the accessibility to obtain dangerous weapons. In a picture above you see knives that are in the possession of an inmate that bought them to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.

You also see urinals that are overflowing with urin on an everyday basis, as well as unsanitary kitchen’s. These are contributing reasons to a high rate if disease within Alabama’s prison system.

You also can see evidence of improper exhaust systems, as well as the illegal act of smoking by inmates and officers…if you look closely in the picture of the officer sitting on the stairwell you’ll see a cigarette in his hand.

Four years civil complaints have been filed with these affirmative allegations and the Alabama Department of Corrections deny that these things occur. 

Now that the Department of Justice is intervening will they themselves ignore the overwhelming evidence? 

                               Unheard voices.

URGENT UPDATE FROM HOLMAN

October 7, 2016

  Holman prison back on lockdown after another violent incident. Reports state that officers refused to enter the dorm and try to stop the stabbings, and then officers refused to open the door to allows the injured to escape.

   FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT urges all to contact Governor Bentley and the Commissioner’s Officer and demand that the media bad public representatives from Mother’s and F.A.M.ilies be allowed immediate entry into this prison along with DOJ investigators. 

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT RESPONDS TO DOJ INVESTIGATION 

​FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (F.A.M.) RESPONDS  TO NEW D.O.J. INVESTIGATION: CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY 
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact info:
Mother’s and F.A.M.ilies 

P.O. BOX 186

New Market, Al 35761
freealabamamovement@gmail.com

  FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (F.A.M.) is pleased with the news that the U.S. Department of Justice (D.O.J.) will be conducting a statewide investigation into the issues of abuse, violence and safe, secure and sanitary conditions in Alabama’s men’s prisons, even though we believe that the women’s prison should also be revisited. We would like to emphasize that we are looking for an open, transparent and inclusive investigation that will keep the public updated, informed and INVOLVED throughout this process. Alabama prisons are unique in that they are the most overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed prisons in America. Therefore, any solutions to the existing problems will need to be unique and require “outside-of-the-box” thinking as well.

We would also like to see accountability result from this investigation. In 2014, the U.S. D.O.J. released a report on its year long investigation at Tutwiler. In this report, D.O.J. investigators found that the civil rights of these women had been violated for over a 20-year period, and that at least one-third of all of the correctional staff at Tutwiler had engaged in some form of sexual misconduct with the women incarcerated there. Yet, despite these conclusive findings, which included child births and unauthorized abortions by complicit medical staff, not a single person was prosecuted for the violation of a single federal crime. 
Some of the questions we have to ask are, what is the purpose of this investigation? Are there federal criminal or civil statutes available where A.D.O.C. officials can be prosecuted and required to pay damages as a result of this investigation if they are found guilty of wrongdoing? Will the D.O.J. prosecute any findings of corruption? Will federal charges be brought against officers who are found to be using excessive force? In instances of death, will negligent D.O.C. officials be prosecuted?
 Other questions that have to be asked are, in the ultimate finding of unsanitary and unsafe conditions, what are the proposed solutions? Will the D.O.J. seek to alleviate overcrowding through release programs or more prisons? Will the people incarcerated have a voice and seat at the table towards fashioning solutions (as was done in California in the Askher settlement)? Will family members be allowed to be part of the investigation? Will there be briefing sessions for the public? Will there be on-site inspections where family members, interested organizations and the media will be allowed to attend? Will the investigation into sanitation include water testing, since officers at most prisons are warned to not drink it under any circumstance? 

When speaking of transparency, will the D.O.J. move for policy changes that will afford the media open access to Alabama prisons? Finally, will public organizations be factored into the role of oversight and implementation of solutions, such as educational and rehab programs?  
We cannot just go into an investigation without some clear understanding of what a solution will look like. We have learned from Tutwiler and all of the frivolous lawsuits filed by Southern Poverty Law Center and Southern Center For Human Rights, that oversight is just as important as the settlement itself, and oversight can not be left to the A.D.O.C. under any circumstance.

  Governor Bentley has stated that he welcomes the investigation and looks forward to working with the D.O.J. Well, why should the federal government have to come in and investigate matters that fall within his responsibility? If Governor Bentley does not have a Commissioner’s Office that is capable of assessing the rising violence, murders, drugs overdoses, etc. and understands that those issues need investigating and solving, then what is the purpose of having investigators on taxpayer payrolls?  
Governor Bentley is looking for a political bailout; he ignored dead bodies and waited for federal intervention so that he can maintain his “tough on crime” stance, while “blaming” the federal government for the needed and costly changes to Alabama’s prison system. But now that the ‘feds’ are here, F.A.M. and the family members of those incarcerated have an opportunity to seek real changes if, indeed, that is what the D.O.J. is here for. 

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Freealabamamovement@ Gmail.com