[Pnews] CA Prisons - Coordinated offensive on Security Threat Group kickouts

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 27 11:00:11 EDT 2016


http://sfbayview.com/2016/05/coordinated-offensive-on-stg-kickouts/


  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”


      *Introduction*

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 
offensive.

*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 
offensive.

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 
challenged.

*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 
soon dropped.

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 
harassment.

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.


      *Coordinated defense*

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
    visit?
  * 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
    processing mail?

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 
environments.

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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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