Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 – Part IV Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt

Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt – Say NO to canteen, incentive packages, collect phone calls and visitation during February, April, June, Black August, October and December in 2018

December 30, 2017
Part VI: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, fka Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement

Published in the January 2018 issue of SF Bayview

Fire burns off the dross of the hidden gem to reveal the precious metal. In struggle, it is the call to action that burns off the negative habit, distorted values and laziness of those who answer that call to reveal the precious jewels of humanity. With 2018 just a few days away, the call to action that is the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is set to kick off Feb. 1, 2018. Let the fire burn bright.

Queen Tahiyrah of the National Freedom and Justice Movement, F.O.M., and Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio has created a flier for the campaign, in addition to our https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com blog, and our redistributethepain@gmail.com email. Queen T can be reached on Facebook in the SignOTheTimes group (https://www.facebook.com/QueenTahiyrah), by email to signothetimes19@gmail.com, or call 513-913-2691. You can also write to her at 1623 Dalton St. #14393, Cincinnati, OH 45250.

As 2018 draws near, over 2.5 million people remain behind bars, walls, steel and cages. The burden of changing our circumstances remains squarely on our shoulders. We have to change our thoughts about how freedom is possible to attain, then change our actions.

Many of us know about completing our sentence as a way to freedom, or an appeal, post-conviction petition or parole. We have to amend this paradigm to include the collective actions that we can take as a unified body to bring about freedom as well.

There is no escaping the fact that we, as a body, constitute a significant sector of the economic pie chart that funds and fuels mass incarceration and prison slavery. For purposes of this call for a nationwide boycott campaign, we have identified four sectors of the Prison Industrialized Complex that serve as some of the main economic drivers for prison budgets, which generate billions of dollars annually to fund prison operations:

  • Collect phone calls
  • Canteen / store / snack line
  • Incentive package purchases

Visitation vending and electronic visitation

The collect phone call industry is, by far, the most exploitive monopoly of the four enterprises. I don’t want to speculate on the amount of money we spend nationwide on phone calls, other than to say that this figure has to be in the billions of dollars.

The prison companies contract with the phone companies to carry out this extortion scheme through legal kickback schemes. We are locked up in these closed environments. If we want to maintain contact with our families, we have to pay a ransom to the phone company.

The prison system charges the phone company a cut (kickback) for being able to set up shop inside of the prison. The prison system’s cut or kickback percentage becomes part of the overall operations budget used to pay salaries, buy equipment, pay for water, electricity etc.

So, not only our slave labor, but also our financial contributions are helping to keep this empire running. Therefore, we have to boycott these ventures to help defund prison operations budgets.

Just as easily as a habeas corpus or appeal can free you, so, too, can you gain your freedom if a DOC has to close down prisons due to insufficient funds in their budgets to fund operations.

The fact that these industries generate billions of dollars each year merely attests to the enormous power that our families have over U.S. prison operations. Every time that they reject a collect call, they empower themselves by sending a message to the phone company that they will no longer assist in funding prison operations costs.

For those of us on the inside, when we stop picking up those phones, we send the message that we are ready to talk to our families at home in the living room and on the porch. These conversations are free and priceless.

The distinctively unique feature about these prison monopolies, as I’ve stated before, is that as incarcerated and enslaved people, we are their only customers. This makes it clear, without any doubt, that as much as organizations and groups grapple and fight with the FCC and the phone companies over prices, the POWER to effect change, immediate change, lies exclusively in our hands alone.

And always keep in mind that while it may cost $5, $10 or $20 to make a call, it don’t cost a penny to boycott for a month.

Casting a wide net!
Many of the owners of these cottage industry companies are former corrections officials. They either own the companies outright or are major investors. Others are family members, business associates or political contributors.

So, boycotting incentive package company Union Supply, for example, has ripple effects on many balance sheets. In addition, the employees of these companies feel the heat from participating in this evil industry. There’s plenty of pain pent up and caged inside these prisons, and we need to #RedistributeThePain in 2018 so that others can feel its intensity.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2018
When the campaign kicks off, I recommend that we invest approximately 25 percent of whatever you/we save into a fund to purchase books, stamps, newspaper subscriptions and office supplies to help print material, all to support the campaign. IWOC has indicated that their main body has donated $4,000 for book purchases.

Free Alabama Movement is contributing $750 to T-shirts, plus $250 to help purchase ink. If you have a submission for a T-shirt design, please send it to: Free Alabama Movement, P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 or email redistributethepain@gmail.com. If we choose your design, you’ll win $50 for books or newspaper subscriptions, tuition payment or other educational need.

Book of the Month – February 2018:
Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration” by Tara Herevil and Paul Wright

Newspaper Subscription of the Month – February 2018:
SF Bay View, one month $2, one year $24

Publication of the Month – February 2018:
Prison Legal News, six months $18, one year $30

These are just a few of the recommended reading materials that you will find on our WordPress blog. I suggest that those who can, make these purchases, and those who can’t, reach out to FAM, IWOC, Queen T or Bay View, and collectively we will try to handle the request or send it to someone who can.

One other request that I would like to put out there personally is the need of assistance in developing an app that helps us to better analyze and break down each state’s prison system, each individual prison, and each prison’s industry and labor force, just to name a few. A person should be able to click on an app and at least get the following information at any time:

  • Population
  • Total jobs worked by incarcerated
  • Each job description
  • Paid jobs / amounts
  • Unpaid jobs
  • Total canteen sales
  • Total collect calls
  • Total incentive packages purchased
  • Total visitation vending
  • All products made by prison labor
  • All services provided by prison labor
    (Other factors may be included)

Creating our own app in aid of our movement is not cost prohibitive. We already have the funds to pay for it, but we are spending it on potato chips, cookies, candy, collect phone calls and processed food instead. For the most part, all of this is public information that is available to us through Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Act requests. In addition, we can use survey questionnaires, civil litigation, and other methods to start culling information out of these prisons and start painting a picture of what the business of prisons is really all about.

Wherever there is unity, there is power. So, let’s utilize 2018 as the year to continue to strengthen our unity, so that we can make 2018 a very powerful year for our movement, while also making it a very painful year for prison profiteers, human traffickers and the institution of slavery.

Our circumstances absolutely will not change until our thoughts and actions change. We have been spending, funding and enriching the system long enough. Now it is time to Boycott, Defund and Bankrupt.

Stop financing our own oppression. It’s time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, Free Alabama Movement

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

The Power of Economics: One Message, One Mind, One Movement

The power of economics: One message, one mind, one movement
June 30, 2017
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun (formerly known as Melvin Ray)
Published in the SF Bayview, June 30, 2017

Photo of Melvin Ray and his daughter Raven Antonia on a visit, 2017

Melvin Ray gets a visit from his daughter, Raven Antonia, and his “grandbaby in the oven.”

Greetings to all of the freedom fighters, warriors and honorable supporters in this struggle to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. Two thousand and seventeen has been a year of incubation for the Free Alabama Movement. Many of us have been subjected to intensified repression, cast deeper into the recesses of solitary confinement, causing us to merge into a new, stronger and more powerful incarnation of the original.

Sometime last year, the ADOC (Alabama Department of Corrections) erected what amounts to a SHU (Special Handling Unit) at Limestone Correctional Facility. Brother Dhati Khalid (“Freedom or Death”) was the first freedom fighter to be transferred there from here at Donaldson Correctional Facility in approximately May 2016. Brother Kinetik Justice, who has now served approximately 40 consecutive months, was sent there late last year. These remain the only two men who have been sent to SHU-Limestone for political reasons.

As for me, I am personally on my 10th month after returning to seg (segregation, or solitary confinement), which makes 36 of the last 41 months. At present, I am being held on “isolation” status – no contact, “Walk Alone,” no phone, visitation, books, magazines etc. supposedly under INVESTIGATION for unspecified reasons. Nevertheless, life moves on.

Many of us are excited about Aug. 19, 2017. There will be an event in Montgomery, Alabama, in addition to the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C. We MUST seize this moment in our movement.

Stokely Charmichael pointed out in his book “Ready for Revolution” the important distinction between mobilizing people versus organizing people. As organizers, it is extremely important that we seize upon the opportunity that #A19 will bring, to organize our supporters.

How do we do this?
First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. In doing so, we have to keep at the forefront of our heart, mind and spirit that slavery – which predominates over mass incarceration – is an economic enterprise system that is mathematically put together and thus capable of being scientifically taken apart.

The basic premise of this deconstructive science is simple: “There can be no slavery without the slave.” As I state in my forthcoming book, even if 1 million people do attend our events on #A19, it won’t do much good if 1 million prison workers – slaves – get right back up and continue to answer that “work call” year in and year out.

People in society are not the ones working these prison slave labor jobs, so we can’t afford to allow them to EVER entertain the impression that they can free us simply by marching. We have to put a plan in place for them to support.

First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery.

The ultimate job of deconstructing slavery remains on us, the slaves. Simply stated, we have got to stop the slave labor, and our movement has to organize our supporters around our plan to launch our next round of massive strikes, whenever that date is set.

Social, political and ECONOMIC education must be ramped up

One thing I have noticed about our writings behind these walls is that, while we have written enough to fill up several universities with social and political content, we have very little material on economics. It is going to be next to impossible to build awareness around the true nature of our movement if we don’t start the process of educating on the economic factor of slavery.

Solitary confinement has its origin on the plantation as the “nigger box.” Our water has always been contaminated. As slaves, we never had health, dental or prenatal care on the plantation. Sabre Red and Cell Buster spray have merely replaced the whip.

These are but the residuals of slave plantation life. As long as there is the economic enterprise of slavery, these residuals will always exist. Furthermore, if we stopped any of them or all of them, so long as we continue to provide slave labor, slavery will remain intact.

It is going to be next to impossible to build awareness around the true nature of our movement if we don’t start the process of educating on the economic factor of slavery.

We have to make a much more concerted effort to put the focus on the economic factors at play. When people understand how $$$ is the driver, we have to then help these same people understand how “their” money or “their” labor is what is keeping this system of slavery alive. In economic terms.

Information needs to be organized so that our loved ones can see just how their money is fueling the system; then we have to help them organize boycotts and the withholding of funds at strategic moments. For example, when our families send us commissary money, they need to know 1) how much money they are sending collectively each month, and 2) how the prison system is using this money to keep the prison system intact.

In Alabama, commissary profits are used to purchase batons, mace, handcuffs etc. When our loved ones and supporters gain awareness of this, they can better see where their power lies and how they can use it effectively.

So long as we continue to provide slave labor, slavery will remain intact.

If a prison profits $20,000 each month, that’s $240,000 each year. If they were to organize, say, rolling boycotts of every other month, that’s six months – January, March, May, June, September, November – and $120,000 that they have removed from a prison’s operating budget. These types of deficits are very disruptive to a prison budget.

When we combine these types of maneuvers with phone boycotts and incentive package boycotts, these types of tactics add up fast. These are the types of methods that we need our family members and supporters organizing year-round, non-stop.

Of course, the Great White Whale remains the workstrikes. Why? Because this is easily a $100,000,000,000 industry that WE control. That is the one thing that has to penetrate through to our consciousness: We actually control a $100 billion industry through our labor. If you don’t think that slave labor has power, just think about all of the wealth that it has created.

These are just some of the companies that we produce products for and provide services for, or who make money off of us: Abbott Laboratories, ALRT, AutoZone, Bayer, Caterpillar, Costco, John Deer, Eddie Bauer, Exxon Mobil, Fruit of the Loom, Gelco, GlaxoSmithKline, Glaxo Wellcome, International Paper, Jan Sport, J-Pay, K-Mart, Koch Industries, Mary Kay, McDonalds, Nintendo, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, Quaker Oats, Sarah Lee, Sprint, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, WalMart, Wendy’s.

Of course, the Great White Whale remains the workstrikes. Why? Because this is easily a $100,000,000,000 industry that WE control.

There are many thousands more, and even more institutional investors. But these are just the products and services. We also have to look at the labor costs. Not including work releases, in Alabama there are approximately 10,000 laborers. This is the math on just one eight-hour workday at minimum wage:

10,000 x $8 per hour = $80,000 per hour
$80,000 per hour x 8 hours = $640,000 per day
$640,000 per day x 20 days each month = $12,800,000

So, just by going to work each day, five days a week, even at a minimum wage rate of $8 per hour, we are giving the state $12,800,00 each month in free slave labor. This is barbers, runners, kitchen, yard, road squads, infirmary workers etc.

Multiply that by 12 months, and the state is getting approximately $163,600,000 in free labor. And remember, this is just the cost of labor. These figures don’t include what that labor is producing. In Alabama, we are producing agricultural goods, tags, furniture, chemicals, beef, fish, recyclings, sand mines, print shop and more.

And these figures are before we ever get money sent by J-Pay, which transacts about $1 billion a year, and before we draw canteen, make medical co-pays, make phone calls etc. These are billion dollar entities, and we are the capital.

We have … got … to … get … these … numbers … before … the … people so that everyone can see our power. No state’s prison budget can withstand the loss of our collective economic might, but we have to put this shit in its proper context. Slavery is ECONOMICS! So the solution must be also.

I will close with this. In 2015, I drafted a document called FAM’s Six-Step Plan of Action 2015. What I consider to be the most important step in that plan is the establishing of one central detention facility jail prison in each state to serve as a “headquarters” for organizing – by our outside, free world support. Just go, set up shop, and start organizing. Collect contact info, pass out newsletters and pamphlets, set up conference calls etc.

These are billion dollar entities, and we are the capital. We have … got … to … get … these … numbers … before … the … people so that everyone can see our power. Slavery is ECONOMICS! So the solution must be also.

Establish shifts around visitation days. It could start out as just one person, but don’t stop until that entire place has the message. Then, set a test date for a phone boycott. Set another for a canteen boycott, and another for a short workstrike. The plan is to organize that one institution, both inside and out. When that one is done, then reach out to the next one.

We can’t be grassroots with no boots on the ground. This is how outside support can help those on the inside organize under any circumstance. But these posts have to become permanent. More details of this plan will be forthcoming, but for now we have to get on to the discussion about economics. There truly is power in numbers, especially when it comes to economics.

Free Alabama Movement (FAM) Economic Challenge

What products are produced at your place of incarceration?

What service industry (e.g., call center) is located at your place of incarceration?

How many people provide labor at your place of incarceration?

How much money do loved ones send to prison accounts each month at your place of incarceration?

Approximately how much money is spent on canteen at your place of incarceration each month?

Approximately how much is spent on collect calls at your place of incarceration each month?

Would you be willing to participate in and/or help organize a bi-monthly phone and canteen boycott for the year 2018?

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Donaldson CF 1-3, 100 Warrior Lane, Bessemer AL 35023. If you are responding to the FAM Economic Challenge at the end, send your response to Unheard Voices OTCJ, P.O. Box 10056, Longview, TX 75604.

Let’s Talk About it!!! Corrections Corp and the GEO Group: Modern Slave Profiteers

Mort T. Care: “Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group owns about 75 percent of the nation private prisons”

LETS TALK ABOUT IT!!

They rely on human beings being incarcerated for their money, and both of them are multi-billion dollars enterprises that exploit free and cheap labor in a new form of slavery, exploitation, and torture to force labor.

They also lobby for touch-on-crime policies and against reforms or change to harsh sentencing practices that currently incarcerated over 1.5 black men, women, and children.

Free Alabama Movement and Free Mississippi Movement are currently protesting against the civil and human rights abuses of the companies from inside of prisons throughout America.

We need support, donations, and skilled organizers to help us organize the men and women on the inside to engage in work strikes/shutdowns so that we can destroy the economic ecosystem of corporations like these, whose existences are based on the continued enslavement of Black and other POC.

An Interview with Melvin Ray of Free Alabama Movement, by Dan Brent

Spokesperson Ray Oct 2014 (2)An Interview with Melvin Ray of Free Alabama Movement, by Dan Brent

From: People’s World

Dec. 1st, 2014

In August of 2013, a young man named Melvin Ray, incarcerated in Alabama’s St. Clair Correctional Facility, began developing and sharing a philosophy and plan for resistance to mass incarceration from within the confines of the prison itself. He penned what some might characterize as a manifesto for what would become the Free Alabama Movement.

Incarcerated individuals who joined this movement since January of 2014 have used several tactics of resistance, including filming the conditions of these facilities with cell phones and posting the videos to YouTube.

The use of this new technology as a subversive tool spurred a media campaign by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) emphasizing the “danger” of cell phones in the hands of prisoners. It was claimed that it might lead to “overseeing drug deals or calling for a hit.” It is incredibly suspicious how the ADOC’s media campaign did not begin with some notable criminal act organized from within prison walls, yet it conveniently coincided with the release of videos and photos damaging to the reputation of the state agency, just as an investigation for abuses in another facility within the state by the U.S. Department of Justice was drawing to a conclusion.

But the tactic that Free Alabama Movement has emphasized most in their struggle is the stoppage of labor – strikes within the prisons. Melvin and the others have consistently decried free, uncompensated labor as the main reason for the persistence of mass incarceration in the U.S., placing prisoner exploitation in the general context of the struggle against capitalism.

I asked Melvin a few questions that I felt were relevant to the general anti-capitalist and black liberation movements, that he might assist those of us in the “free world” in understanding the underlying thought behind Free Alabama Movement’s actions and development, and its relationship to those on the outside. Although I had originally intended to write a paragraph-style article interspersed with quotes from the interview, both the dynamism and cogency of his responses persuaded me instead to offer readers more of his unclad words:

Is there a connection between poverty wages within oppressed communities and free labor in the so-called “justice” system?

Poverty wages are part of the social/economic/political control mechanism of capitalism, and it is very much related to forced prison slavery/free labor. With limited resources due to low wages, you are restricted in many ways, including where your family can afford to live, what they can afford to buy (quality of life), and the most important control is their access to education. When your income only allows you to live in a poor community, then you typically only have access to under-performing schools, due to a lack of investment from state and local government. When confined by wages, the people of these poor communities are then closer in proximity to crime and criminal influences, which are directly related to incarceration, where forced slave labor is introduced. Consequentially, most people who are incarcerated also come from the poor communities where wages are depressed. The cycle then repeats itself because slave labor is forced on the socially and politically impoverished, because we lack traditional economics (no income) and political power due to disenfranchisement.

How would you describe the connection between white supremacy on the streets with police violence and white supremacy in the context of mass incarceration?

The fabric of white supremacy stretches across all threads of America because it is of a cultural and psychological nature, as described by Marimba Ani in her groundbreaking book Yurugu. In order to erect the concept of white supremacy, there has to be a foundation for it to stand on, and that foundation has always been black people. So with a psychology and culture built upon an identity that must destroy the black image and all things black, it’s easy to see the connection between police brutality, mass incarceration, and a host of other elements (poverty, low wages, lack of investment opportunities, discrimination in housing and college admittance, and on and on).

The same mindset that allows a police officer to summarily execute an innocent, unarmed black person in the street is the same mindset that allows an officer to plant evidence, to lie on the witness stand, and for a white juror to find guilt. It allows a judge to appoint a knowingly incompetent defense attorney, and it allows a prosecutor to withhold evidence, use false evidence, to overcharge, and to discriminate against black jurors, all with impunity. The Dred Scott case (1857) captured it best when the U.S. Supreme Court said that “no black man has any rights that a white man is bound to respect.” That applies whether it is an innocent black man or woman like Sean Bellor, Renisha McBride, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mafundi Lake, Move 9, on up to the Scott sisters, Mike Brown and Ezell Ford.

Under the dictates of white supremacy, if you are black in this society, then you can be murdered or raped with little consequence, or you can be subject to murder or rape in prison with the other weapons of mass murder and destruction like the death penalty, life without parole, malnutrition, substandard healthcare, on down to police brutality, forced free labor, long-term solitary isolation and sensory deprivation, and exposure to widespread disease, all subsumed in mass incarceration.

Under white supremacy, this is the lot for black people so that white people can validate their supremacy. In a “democracy” where the resources are controlled by a few and political will is enforced by the vote of white-majority politics, white supremacy will reign for a while longer.

What role does capitalism plays in the mass incarceration of people of color within U.S. society?

Capitalists seek the highest return on their investment, and the best way to increase returns is to find ways to reduce the cost of production. The cheaper the cost to produce, the greater the return. One production cost that any corporation would like to reduce is labor costs. Why? Because labor costs (paying employees’ salaries and raises, sick leave and maternity leave, vacation time, payroll and income tax, Social Security, 401Ks, and compliance with labor laws) are the greatest expense to a business. Corporations have found that the best way to reduce these labor costs is to use free prison labor because when the capitalist uses a prisoner/slave, he doesn’t have any such expenses. He can replace all of these expenses with a campaign contribution to the politicians who can guarantee that he has access to prison labor.

It’s all a matter of bottom line profits. The capitalist doesn’t care where it comes from, and when you have power brokers who deem a certain segment of society ideally suited for that purpose (black, poor, uneducated, no political power), then they pass legislation like the “war on drugs” to create a system of mass incarceration/prison workforce slavery. Global competition within capitalism from producers like China made the decision to mass incarcerate large swaths of young black men for the purpose of exploiting them for prison/slave labor quite easy.

After the laws are passed, the next step is to get the media involved to play their role of demonizing and assassinating the character of black men so thoroughly in movies, TV, radio, and on the evening news (“crack babies,” “drug predators,” “violent gangs,” “monsters,” etc.) to the point that not only does no one care about the mass incarceration/government control that is taking place for over 7 million people, but most people think that when these people are imprisoned, they should be made to work for free as part of their punishment.

At the same time, these corporations fund colleges that begin teaching students in criminal justice curricula that prison labor is a necessary form of punishment for crime.

Before long, everyone is drinking the same Kool-Aid.

With so many restrictions on your own personal freedoms, how do you cope? How do you keep resisting the system of mass incarceration?

I don’t “cope,” that’s why I resist! My freedom was taken away from me in a violent manner by the state. In essence, I was kidnapped. That’s how I define my incarceration at this time, as a kidnapping.

I had a family that I was raising, a business that I was starting, and a future that I was preparing for. The state decided that they would use their legal system to take all of that (and so much more) away from me for a crime that I didn’t commit, and on top of that, I was sentenced to life without parole. So there is no way to cope with that.

I resist because I have no choice. The rules of prison are made to institutionalize you and make you a slave. The state needs for us to accept this way of life that they have chosen for us, so that we aren’t a management problem for them. Well, I have a problem with it. Harriet Tubman spoke about how although she freed hundreds of slaves, she could have freed thousands more if only they knew they were slaves. Well, I know what’s going on here, and I reject it wholeheartedly.

When the innocent, mentally ill, and the guilty are enslaved under the same oppression simply because the system deems you expendable, then I recommend that you better resist too, or else you will suffer the most ignoble fate known to humanity: dying as a slave of old age. It’s far better to die fighting for your liberation, freedom and honor than it is to live a life of service and docility, constantly enduring abuse by your master. You have to at least be a problem for him; make your name taste like shit in his mouth; constantly be in his head; worry that bastard to death! Whatever you do, don’t let him rest at peace at night as long as he holds you captive.

Man fights for justice inside Alabama prisonUSP