[Pnews] CA Prisons - Coordinated offensive on Security Threat Group kickouts
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 27 11:00:11 EDT 2016
Coordinated offensive on STG kickouts
*/by Jose Villarreal - May 25, 2016
/“Just because we have won victory, we must never relax our vigilance
against the frenzied plots for revenge by the imperialists and their
running dogs. Whoever relaxes vigilance will disarm himself politically
and land himself in a passive position.”/ – Mao Zedong in “Address to
the Preparatory Committee of the New Political Consultative Conference,”
delivered June 15, 1949, from “Selected Works, Volume 4”
Having been one of the many who have been let out of the control units
(SHU), I can say that there is some victory in this development, but
there is much work to be done outside the SHU and still a ways to go
before victory is complete. This accomplishment of opening the gates of
SHU for many simply means we face new forms of oppression; it changes in
form but not in essence.
If we relax our vigilance on it all we will be awash in a repressive
environment which leads us back to the SHU torture chambers. The state
has taken this defeat very hard, and as a result it has coordinated an
offensive which is subtle but very pro-active in its harassment,
retaliation and repression that is being unleashed on the Security
Threat Group (STG) kickouts, so an assessment on this repression is
necessary at this time.
*Prisons pre-STG kickout*
Looking at prisons going back decades, as more and more of the older,
wiser, educated or conscious people were being gaffled up and stuffed in
the control units and put on a shelf, the state was simultaneously
tightening their grip on prisons and restricting the environments
within prisons so that the mainlines became super repressive.
When someone drove up who was a legal beagle or was able to organize
forms of resistance to state repression, they would be snatched up and
stuffed in the SHU. This creates a chilling effect on jailhouse lawyers
and prison activism in general.
As a result, the state has been able to initiate all kinds of
dehumanizing methods on the mainlines for years. Here in Pelican Bay’s
mainline, for example, for years when prisoners would exit their cell
blocks to go to yard, everyone was lined up en masse and strip-searched
and even told to turn around squat, cough and spread their cheeks right
there on the yard in broad daylight.
Because we have all endured these “visual inspections” at some point
while imprisoned, it becomes “normal” to some. There is nothing normal
about this and this foulness no longer occurs here.
Many of the methods of dehumanization or repression have been stopped as
more and more people who know better are let out of SHU, but new
repressive shoots are constantly sprouting up that need to be combatted.
Some are not as detectable, but when looked at as a whole, we see them
as part and parcel of a new state offensive. STG kickouts and their kind
seem to be the targets of these repressive actions.
The state, after licking its wounds from the shellacking that produced
our release from SHU, has regrouped and created new tactics to harass
those kicked out of SHU. But they will not announce their offensive with
bold signs, nor will they list it on a 115 as harassment for being
kicked out of SHU.
But they don’t have to say what their actions communicate loud and
clear. At the same time it’s our job to identify the many forms of
repression and see how they tie into new methods of repression
relabeled, repackaged and delivered outside the SHU.
These new methods are designed for our new environment because what was
employed in the control unit theater won’t work on the mainline. New
terrain requires new tactics, right?
The state, after licking its wounds from the shellacking that
produced our release from SHU, has regrouped and created new
tactics to harass those kicked out of SHU.
*Elements of repression*
So far in discussing this with others, we have identified four points of
concern that reveal the different elements of the offensive being
unleashed on STG kickouts. These points are as follows:
* Cell raids
* Repressive visiting
* Excessive petty 115s
* Mail stoppage
These four points need our undivided attention as they are components to
the offensive against all STG kickouts. But this means all prisoners
need to identify how the components are playing out in their facility,
because we suspect what is occurring here on Pelican Bay mainline is
occurring in all facilities statewide as part of the state’s larger
*Cell raids* – A “raid” is when guards run in, either to an entire pod
or to individual cells, screaming “Get down!” while armed with cans of
mace and night sticks.
You are cuffed and taken out to a cage while your cell is trashed as
they dismantle your cell and rifle through everything. I have been out
of SHU eight months and have seen four raids in my pod. In the first, a
couple of cells were raided on my tier. The second was when my whole pod
was raided, including my cell. And on May 3, 2016, my cell and two other
cells were raided again.
In this latest cell raid at 6:00 a.m. on the dot, approximately 10 IGI
(Institutional Gang Investigators) came through the front door, running
upstairs, yelling as my cell and two other cell doors opened and they
ran screaming, “Get down!” as they wielded mace cans and night sticks.
As always, their operation turned out to be fruitless. But my cell
looked like El Nino visited.
So there has been an average JUST IN MY POD of one raid every two
months. Taking into account that IGI and ISU (Investigative Services
Unit) may have quotas for cell searches or that they may need to conduct
live training for new squad, they may be simply employing “raid style”
operations when a basic cell search is all that is required.
The problem with this is that it is not the proper procedure for a cell
search. They could have simply walked up to my cell and told me to step
out, but employing this paramilitary style tactical method creates an
environment which has a potential for violence. The method in which they
run up in our cells invites violence, as it’s highly provoking.
It is clearly meant to provoke someone into reacting in a way that
justifies further oppression and violence. The fact that these
paramilitary tactics are being used on STG kickouts is a clear sign that
we are being harassed and retaliated against for simply being released
from the SHU torture chamber. The state was compelled to release us, but
they will not allow us to forget their distaste in doing so.
Under new STG procedures, if there was a 1030 (confidential
information) on us, we should have received a 115; this further
highlights the harassment. It is one more sign of proof that they are
not living up to their “settlement.” We never really believed that the
state would live up to its part of the bargain. Most simply waited for
the proof to come out so that we can explore our next move.
It does not take a genius to realize that sooner or later someone will
end up getting hurt from such cell raids. This highlights the need more
than ever for a paper trail to be created which addresses these highly
provocative, violence-prone actions.
Those experiencing them should appeal them just like one should appeal
any other injustice. Some have erroneously become accustomed to these
raids as if it’s “just the way it is.” But this is not normal and should
not be tolerated. If there is confidential information that weapons are
involved, they may be able to conduct a cell raid; but for simple cell
searches or harassment, this is unacceptable.
The state was compelled to release us, but they will not allow us
to forget their distaste in doing so.
Because I have experienced this foulness, I am 602ing this and I plan to
also file legal action on it because it violates normal cell search
procedures as well as my constitutional right to equal treatment under
the law as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
I recommend others do the same.
*Repressive visiting* – This prison has also begun to hyper-police the
visiting room, where visits here are being abruptly cancelled simply for
prisoners being accused of touching a visitor’s hand or kneecap. As if
this wasn’t bad enough, when a visit is cancelled, several guards enter
the visiting room and march through in military tactical formation,
surrounding the prisoner and his family – including small children –
once more provoking and creating an environment that has a high
potential for violence as they run up on one’s children like this.
There is no quicker way to ignite violence in a prisoner than to
threaten our children in front of us, and the state knows this.
What’s more is almost all of those who are having this experience are
STG kickouts. One’s family is simply told to go home after they have
driven 10-20 hours. The tactics employed when we were in SHU of
attempting to destroy the family unit or any support system one may have
via one-hour visits behind glass has transformed to walking into the
visiting room stating, “Visit’s over!” Who would want to keep coming up,
driving 10 -20 hours, for that?
Most STG kickouts have been away from their friends and family for years
and decades, so of course they want to hug on their loved ones. But many
folks I have been able to speak to in investigating for this article
state that these allegations are just not true and they never even
touched their visitors in the way that is alleged. It’s for this reason
that we identified REPRESSIVE VISITING as another element in the states
It’s important that the issue of repressive visiting also be combatted
via appeal and legal action. It will not get any better if it is not
*Excessive petty 115s* – Another tactic of harassment being unleashed on
STG kickouts is issuing excessive petty 115s. This facility has begun to
write people up for things like “out of bounds” or walking in areas that
earn you a 115.
What these petty 115s do is not only prevent one from dropping points
and security level, but they also prevent people from transferring and
they get people placed on “C-status,” where they are confined to
quarters and not allowed on the yard. STG kickouts are also being
written up for these petty 115s, and we are told that the administration
has gave the word to “write everything up.”
This is another element of the repression that STG kickouts are
experiencing. I myself was written up for “disobeying an order” because
a guard alleged that upon release for education class, I was seen
“stopping and talking to another prisoner.” This was totally fabricated
and, as I pointed out the many inaccuracies to the write-up, it was
These petty 115s are also part of the harassment that we are facing. And
although many people who are written up do not challenge them via
appeal, this needs to change. Every element of the repression needs to
be combatted; otherwise, we will quickly be encircled in harassment and
stifled in this offensive.
*Mail stoppage* – When we were in the SHU, our mail experienced many
attacks. We often got our mail a month late if at all. Censorship is
very much a part of our lives, as mail is one of the few ways the state
gets to push our buttons.
Most have experienced mail thrown away, returned to sender or held
hostage for a period of time. Many also understand that messing with
people’s mail is a form of psyco-warfare, a way to irritate and harass a
prisoner. It is then no surprise that STG kickouts are experiencing this
Many STG kickouts are experiencing mail stoppage here in this facility.
I am currently receiving my mail about a month late. When it comes, it
has a highlighter mark going over either the stamp or my name. This by
no means is meant to deliver a great blow to those experiencing it, but
when we look at the cumulative effect and take into account all of the
elements of repression, we quickly see that mail stoppage coupled with
everything else works to put the squeeze on those experiencing all of this.
For many, mail is the only lifeline to the outside world. The state
understands this and responds by targeting mail for this sole purpose.
They are basically attacking all areas that allow us to have a bearable
existence. Just as they worked hard to attempt to make our lives
miserable inside the SHU, they now attempt to make our lives miserable
outside the SHU.
They are basically attacking all areas that allow us to have a
bearable existence. Just as they worked hard to attempt to make
our lives miserable inside the SHU, they now attempt to make our
lives miserable outside the SHU.
If it turns out the state is employing a coordinated attack of
harassment on STG kickouts, then it will take a coordinated defense to
counter this. But like any defense, we need to fully understand what is
occurring so we need to do our homework.
The first step is for prisoners to focus on these four points and see if
they exist in their facilities. We do not know if this is a statewide
offensive on STG kickouts, but if it is, prisoners would be wise to use
the appeal process in order to begin a paper trail so that our legal
team can not only raise these issues during their quarterly meetings but
they can have concrete evidence to look for as they investigate this
further. Our legal team should look closely at these four points because
when proven, they will also further reveal how the prisons are violating
the so-called settlement agreement.
Some of the questions that our legal team should ask are:
* What nationalities are being targeted for cell raids?
* What specific sub-groups are being targeted the most?
* In the last year how many cell raids have occurred and how many
discovered material which moved the occupants of said cell to the hole?
* Are cell raids conducted in place of regular cell searches?
* How many cell raids were conducted without staff receiving
confidential information? And how many were STG kickouts?
* How many visits have been cancelled mid-visit? Was there video
evidence of any wrongdoing?
* Can visitors whose visits are cancelled be notified that they can
file a citizen’s complaint against the officer who cancelled their
* Have staff been told to write 115s for issues that should be
warnings? How many STG kickouts have been written up?
* What nationalities are being written up and at what rate?
* What sub-groups are being written up the most?
* Why is ISU holding mail longer than the prescribed limit for
Discovering the answers to these questions will allow us to properly
combat this offensive and to scale back the repression that we are
facing. Appealing some of this in different facilities would also
reveal that IT IS a statewide offensive and that the prisons ARE
violating the settlement agreement – and, as a result, perhaps we will
all get a better deal in the aftermath of it.
It is also very likely that there are even more elements of repression
right under our noses that we haven’t yet discovered. This is the
importance of prisoners studying their environment and writers
expressing it for others to learn from.
I am personally 602ing three of these four points. But it will take
prisoners en masse to combat these forms of repression and to
communicate them to our legal team, whose address I’ve shown at the end
of this writing. Allowing these elements of repression to exist means
allowing a super-policed environment to concentrate.
It may also be the case that what is occurring here in Pelican Bay is
simply a test run for what will be employed in other prisons, as CDCR
likes to use this place as a test kitchen and model for what they employ
in other prisons. In any event, now that we have a legal team who have
the ear of the judge, it would be wise to raise any of the elements of
repression which may show a disregard of the settlement.
Being out on the mainline is a huge step away from control unit
conditions, but this is still a highly repressive environment. Being in
such an environment does not mean we must accept such conditions.
If we understand power, we’ll know that power means having the ability
to transform our environment. STG kickouts should understand power,
because most are powerful people who endured, withstood and overcame the
control unit which is the state’s weapon of choice to destroy us. So we
should ride out this powerful momentum that now is transforming our new
Our legal team for the settlement: Attorney at Law Anne Cappella, Weil,
Gotshal & Manges, 201 Redwood Shores Parkway, fourth floor, Redwood
City, CA 94065
/Send our brother some love and light: Jose H. Villarreal, H-84098, PBSP
B4-210, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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