Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018

A series of articles setting out the Free Alabama Movement's economic analysis of prison labour and strategy for 2018. These articles first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

The power of economics: One message, one mind, one movement

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun looks at the economics of prison labo[u]r. This article first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

That is the one thing that has to penetrate through to our consciousness: We actually control a $100 billion industry through our labor.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

On Dec. 6, 1865, Black bodies were nationalized – and our prison movement was born

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun traces the emergence of contemporary mass incarceration from older forms of chattel slavery. This article first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

As I write this article, I am not sure what day the Civil War began or what day it ended. The facts that I do know about the Civil War are not worth repeating here, as that story already occupies plenty of space in American text. My muse, instead, is about the particular vestige of slavery that the Civil War bequeathed to us on Dec. 6, 1865, that now forms the basis of our struggle to end mass incarceration and prison slavery in 2017.

On Dec. 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. This is the date that the struggle to end slavery repositioned itself, by virtue of the 13th Amendment, to the prison systems of America.

As we all now know or should know, the 13th Amendment did not abolish slavery; it nationalized it. We must keep in mind that the great deception and myth that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery was aided by the fact that in 1865, very few Black people in this country were allowed to see a copy of the Constitution. Textbooks in Black schools post-Civil War either didn’t have the Constitution in them to begin with, or it was removed before the books were passed to Black schools.

The fact that so few people ever actually saw a copy of the Constitution has been instrumental in the perpetuation of the lie about what the 13th Amendment did and didn’t do. When the nationwide Sept. 9, 2016, demonstrations were taking place, I fielded approximately 50-100 media requests for interviews. After about 10-15 interviews in, I noticed that a distinct pattern had emerged; the journalists were always either commenting on the fact of, or asking the question, why do we refer to slavery in our statements?

When I would ask them had they ever read the 13th Amendment or had they read it in the last two years, the answer was predominantly, “No.” At that point, I made it a prerequisite that every journalist I spoke to for an interview had to read the 13th Amendment before I would be willing to be interviewed.

We have a tall order before us in undoing assumptions and mistaken beliefs about this amendment. A deliberate lie that was told for over 150 years takes a lot of effort to correct.

The government, the beneficiary of this lie, has been able to institutionalize concepts about people, prisons and their criminal justice system under the guise of crime and punishment, which has allowed them to maintain the enterprise of slavery without interruption. As I stated above, the 13th Amendment allowed the government to nationalize Black bodies as a natural resource or capital.

Nationalize: 1. to make national in character. 2. to transfer ownership or control of (land, resources, industries, etc.) to the nation’s government.

As we all know, prior to the Civil War and ratification of the 13th Amendment, private citizens were the “owners” of slaves. The slave worked for and enriched the master. The government received very little, if anything, from this arrangement. The 13th Amendment was designed, in part, to remedy that.

Nationalization is something that we all experience and interact with on a daily basis, yet most of us are probably not aware of it. In the Ruby Ridge and Standing Rock standoffs, we saw it in effect. Oil is also a natural resource that is nationalized and controlled by the government. In foreign countries, we see resources like diamonds nationalized. What this means is that in order for private citizens to enter into these industries, they have to get consent from the government. Consent usually comes in the form of a drilling or mining license or a lease.

For example, in attempting to allow ranchers access to “federal” land for cattle grazing, the government has agencies like the Bureau of Land Management. After the 13th Amendment was ratified, state and federal governments established or modified departments of corrections to manage the prison slave industry.

Thus, after Dec. 6, 1865, if a private citizen wanted access to slave labor, he had to pay a fee to the government. This process gave birth to the phrase “convict leasing.” This quickly became a lucrative enterprise for many state and federal governments, with some states funding large portions of their entire budgets off of these leases.

Of course, as with any capitalistic enterprise, profits are stimulated by demand, which, in turn, calls for increasing the supply. In this sense, supply meant more slaves, which gave rise to the first instances of arbitrary laws being passed that helped fuel the first edition of mass incarceration and prison slavery: Black Codes, vagrancy laws etc. What we are experiencing today with the “war on drugs,” mandatory minimums, habitual offender laws etc. are mere modernized versions of the management protocols of the slave enterprise that was moved to the prisons in 1865.

What we must keep in mind is that from its inception, these prison plantations were formulated to maintain the continuance of an economic enterprise, so far as it concerns Black people. Prior to the 13th Amendment, few, in fact, hardly any Black people were even in prison.

Why? Because, for one, the plantation was our prison. Two, we did not have enough freedom to commit any crimes. Attempting to leave the plantation was criminal. A Black person could not just go downtown or stroll in the park. We were banished from society, so our presence had to be explained in a defined way.

After the 13th Amendment was ratified, whole new prisons and departments of corrections were erected as institutions for the control and management of Black labor in this country. The blueprint for these institutions was the plantations. Indeed, some prisons, such as Angola in Louisiana and many in Texas, were built on actual slave plantations.

These were places of enterprise, not reform. There was no health care on the plantation, and there would not be any in prison. Nutritional food: No! Education and rehab: We all know that it was illegal to educate a slave.

These businesses were designed to keep costs down while maximizing profits. These same fundamentals continue on to this day. Prisons will never afford these services because they were never designed for these purposes. And the very states of the Confederacy that fought so hard to maintain slavery are the same ones today that lead the world in incarceration rates.

True reforms are bad for business, and that’s why every prison culture around the country is the same. Negative behavior, drugs, violence, ignorance, etc. are promoted. Why? Because it ensures recidivism, which is good for business. Ask any business owner and they will tell you that the best customer is a repeat customer. Apple wants us to keep buying the iPhone. AT&T wants us to stay on their network. The prison industry wants us to keep coming back. Recidivism rates hover around 60-70%. Shit working like a sewing machine.

When confronting prison slavery, we have to keep everything in the context of economics because that’s what slavery is – an economic system. Our conditions of confinement are merely a by-product of the system that we are in. The beatings, inhumane conditions, solitary confinements, inadequate nutrition and health care are means to an end.

The infamous Willie Lynch letter showed us that they have perfected their method of creating a slave. And while the authenticity of this letter can be debated, its science cannot. A slave is made; we live daily in its process. Our challenge, our struggle is to resist the slave-making process, while implementing a plan to make the enterprise no longer profitable, thereby ending its existence.

The vanguards of our movement, those of us who are conscious of these factors, are deemed the threats. We are threats because we threaten the corporate bottom line where profit margins are reported. Absent our ability to affect the corporate bottom line, we are nothing more than philosophers, talking heads and sympathy-seeking disgruntled slaves. Just chronic complainers who can’t solve our problem.

Our kryptonite to the prison slavery enterprise is and forever remains the labor strikes and boycotts of their in-house prison enterprises. In the words of Dr. King, to strike and boycott is to “redistribute the pain.” Their great fear is that their $80 billion system will stop producing profits for them – the same fear they had in 1860.

In the book “Worse than Slavery” by David M. Oshinsky, we learn that Parchman prison had turned a profit of $185,000 less than one year after it opened. On Page 109, we find proof of the motive behind U.S. prisons:

“The [warden] was not expected to be a professional penologist. The state wanted an ‘experienced farmer’ for this position. The [warden’s] job was to make a good crop. ‘His annual report to the legislature is not of salvaged lives, a newspaper remarked. ‘It is a profit and loss statement, with an accent on profits.’”

Our ability to impact the system and to change our circumstances is unmatched by any other sector of labors. Why? Because in society, the bill collector still visits the striking worker whether they go to work or not. They still have to buy groceries, still have to buy gas, still have to pay the water, gas and electric bill. But with us in prison, this dynamic is different because the state has to provide for all of our needs whether we work and shop with them or not. The problem becomes that they – the state – no longer has the revenue that is collected from our labor and contributions that they use to pay those bills.

Our labor, which produces a wide range of products and provides all sorts of services, plus the money we spend on canteen, incentive packages, phone calls etc. is the backbone of any department of corrections. This is how their bills and salaries are paid.

On the first day of strikes and boycotts, our impact is felt immediately. The DOC starts losing that daily revenue that we spend, and officers immediately shift to overtime because they then have to start cooking the food, pulling trash etc. With each day that passes, we wreak more and more havoc on the corporate financial sheets.

We have to build our movement one step at a time, until we get to that point of critical mass where our sacrifices finally break their backs. That! … is redistributing the pain.

One final point needs expounding on. There is the great myth that prisons are funded to the tune of $80 billion nationwide by taxpayer dollars. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, prisons put profits into the general fund or otherwise save states billions of dollars by using prison labor.

If we intend to be taken seriously in our observations in calling this slavery, then we have to be critical in our analysis. On any plantation, it is the crop in the field that funds the operation, not tax dollars. I showed where Parchman turned a profit in its first year of operations. In 1878, the state of Alabama generated 73 percent of its entire budget from prison labor.

Declines to the early 1870s prison population booms did not occur until convict leasing was banned in the early 1900s. Alabama was the last state to ban the practice, in 1920. Prison populations remained stable because, without the ability to generate revenue from this prison labor, states had no economic incentive to foot the bill for non-productive assets – human bodies. Prison populations were reduced in proportion to the amount of revenue that could be generated from us in order to pay the bills.

This all changed in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. During this time, a lot of manufacturing jobs were being outsourced to places like China, where workers were paid $2 a day or less. What emerged was predictable – with China and other countries being able to produce their products for less because they didn’t have to pay things like minimum wage and vacation time, foreign manufacturers took over manufacturing industries and put a lot of U.S. manufacturers out of business. Our trade deficit exploded, and tariffs, quotas and taxes on imports could not stem the tide. The solution became our problem.

U.S. manufacturers prevailed on Congress to investigate whether these foreign companies were enjoying an unfair advantage through the use of prison labor. When this was confirmed, Congress enacted laws that once again reauthorized U.S. firms’ access to prison labor for convict leasing.

We all know the results. The “war on drugs” was declared. Education funds were removed from prisons. Mandatory minimums, habitual offender laws and the like were passed. Good-time credits were rolled back, and parole became tougher to make.

Then, the factories were built and the prison populations exploded. As I will continue to repeat, we have to analyze mass incarceration and prison slavery in financial terms if we intend to end it. The maxim that “crime don’t pay” is fool’s gold.

So, we must ask – and answer – the question: If we were and are incarcerated and enslaved so that we can be exploited for our labor and financial contributions, then why do we continue to provide them? Why are we funding our own oppression?

The guards get paid, the lights stay on, profits are made, and we suffer daily because we continue to spend on phone calls, canteen, shoe packages etc., and because we continue to go to work, produce a tag, or furniture, or glasses, or uniforms, or chemicals, or night vision goggles, or whatever, which is sold by the department of corrections on the open market for xxx dollars, and these dollars are then used to fund the government, including paying the salaries of prosecutors, judges and police.

We have to organize against these factors with a movement rooted in economics, not emotions. Our pain won’t stop until their profits stop. And the only way that this will happen is if we redistribute the pain – away from us and onto their financial bottom line.

The official launch date to announce our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is Dec. 6, 2017. On this date, we should start promoting a bi-monthly plan to boycott canteen, phone, incentive packages, money transfer companies like J-Pay and any other venue where we are giving financial support to the system.

This plan should be implemented throughout the year 2018, during the months of February, April, June, August, October and December. In the meantime, help with the process of building awareness of the scope of economics as it relates to the finance and operation of prisons and the critical, fundamental role that we play in it.

We cannot ever expect to gain respect for our rights when our actions demonstrate that we are mentally chained to privileges. Before we will ever gain our freedom, we have to sacrifice all privileges. Otherwise, our captors will always have these privileges to control and manipulate us with.

It is time for us to turn up the intensity in our organizing. Our families and our children need those resources far more than the people we are turning them over to. Brothers and Sisters, don’t worry about what the naysayers say, and don’t allow a slave’s actions to dictate your own. One thing you can be sure of is that you are not alone because I, Bennu Hannibal, will be sacrificing with you here in Alabama.

Changing old habits and developing new ones takes time. That’s why this campaign is developed to stretch out for a full year. Get ready, get organized, and take action to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, Free Alabama Movement

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Donaldson CF Seg. Unit Q-8, 100 Warrior Lane, Bessemer AL 35023.

We have to organize with a movement rooted in economics, not emotions. Our pain won’t stop until their profits stop.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

We must affect the bottom line

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun develops a plan to attack the economic basis of unpaid prison labo[u]r, and connects it with the history of economic direct action campaigns like the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This article first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

While the Montgomery (Ala.) Bus Boycott is the most well-known of the economic direct action campaigns of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, in actuality, these boycott campaigns were far more widespread throughout the country during the Jim Crow era, especially in the South in places like Mississippi and Tennessee. In 1963, following the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church by the white terrorist group Ku Klux Klan, Dr. King called for a Boycott of Christmas Holiday to affect the economics of American capitalism as punishment for government inaction in the face of a violent opposition to Black civil and human rights.

By late 1967 and early 1968 just prior to his assassination, Dr. King had become even more engrossed in supporting the use of direct economic action campaigns to gain more rights for Black people. As we all know, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., while making appearances to support striking sanitation workers. A lesser known fact is that also during this time, Dr. King was working to build a Poor People’s Movement and planning a return to Washington, D.C., to demand compensation for the exploitation of Black labor.

Dr. King stated that he was returning to D.C. to “cash the cheque” that America owed Black people and that his new movement philosophy would use boycotts and other economic direct action campaigns to “redistribute the pain” to those who were oppressing Blacks for economic gain.

At the time all of this was going on, people in prison all across the nation were organized and participating in efforts to win civil and human rights. Elder Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin was among a group of former Panthers and other revolutionaries in federal prison who were engaged in boycotts, work strikes, property destruction and straight-up ass kicking against prison authorities whose ranks were filled with KKK and other racists.

Meanwhile Elders Richard “Mafundi” Lake, George Dobbins, Bro. Gamble and many others were organized under Inmates for Action and fighting back against an all-white corrections force that was known for murder and pick-axe killings of the incarcerated. The revolutionary group IFA’s legacy remains strong at its birthplace, Holman Correctional Facility, and multiple prisons were renamed in testament to the fact that IFA’s declaration in their manifesto, that they believed in “an eye for an eye” if one of theirs was killed, was not empty rhetoric.

The foundation of our current movement stands on the shoulders of many great men who sacrificed before us. As early as 1971, Folsom and Attica put out manifestos calling for boycotts and work strikes as fundamental components of our inside struggle. Our struggle from the inside has always been led from the inside.

Back then though, unlike today, we lacked the ability to communicate directly with each other on a national level and plan together in the ways that we can (and do) today across the many social media platforms etc. that technology now allows. Of course, we won’t always have this ability, but life is only experienced and lived in the NOW – and right now we need to seize the moment that opportunity and technology has provided to us.

As I am always known to say, the only true source of power that we have behind these walls is our labor. We must organize this labor – not as a negotiating tool for wages but as a tool for freedom.

Billions of dollars, thousands of companies and all 51 states are dependent upon our labor EVERY DAY! There are literally entire industries that would be put out of business overnight if we stopped working.

Our families’ power, which is also tremendous, derives from the billions in financial transactions that they conduct in our behalf each year. Those canteen, phone, shoe and incentive package companies only have one customer: us. Those billions of dollars go right back into state General Fund accounts, which are then re-used for prison budgets. We … are the ones paying for all of this shit.

The major prison movements of the past hardly ever received support from anyone. Not MLK, Malcolm X, NOI or the NAACPs of the world. There may have been individual support, but never to the mass construct. Then, as now, we have to be the ones who are organized for change, and this organizing MUST be rooted in economics if we are going to force the issue.

I started writing this series and planning this Campaign to Redistribute the Pain with the intention of getting everyone’s understanding up on the importance and power of economics to our struggle. We can’t march and protest our way to freedom. Instead, we have to bankrupt the corporate enterprise that was created by the 13th Amendment by using bankruptcy attorney downey ca to help us out.

I don’t make this statement lightly: The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country. Why? How?

First, there are 3 million of us. Name another single company that has 3 million employees. Google? No. Apple? No. Microsoft? No. I don’t even think that the U.S. military has 3 million soldiers.

Then, what other company makes so many different types of products and provides so many different services? We run agri-farms, fisheries, textile plants, tags, firefighters, ranchers, furniture, clothes, recycling, mining, kitchens, laundries and so much more. Name any other one company that is involved in that many different industries.

Also, name another group of 3 million people whose labor and entire lives are controlled by a single law, the 13th Amendment. Finally, take account of all of the labor that is compelled by the 13th Amendment nationwide, add to that what we spend with our captors, and you see that we are in direct control of over $100 billion annually. There are many international corporations that don’t produce $100 billion each year, yet we produce that from behind prison walls each year.

The firefighter program in California is a billion-dollar service that we provide. JPay transacted $1 billion for us in 2016. I promise you that there is at least $98 billion more out there from us. The scope of our power is immense.

Recently, Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, stated that the only way that NFL players would get the type of salaries that NBA players receive would be if they went on strike. A radio host commented that he doubted that such a move would work long-term because owners are billionaires and players are millionaires.

He said players lived extravagant lifestyles, didn’t save and, therefore, couldn’t hold out long enough to make the owners cave. Again, because we are in prison, this works to our advantage as well. How?

NFL players have to buy groceries, pay property taxes, buy gas, pay utility bills, and have other ordinary expenses each month. For those of us in prisons, we don’t have these problems. The state has to pay our bills no matter what. The prison system currently pays those bills off of our labor and the money we spend with them.

Leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott were targeted, just as leaders of the Free Alabama Movement and the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain have been and will continue to be targeted. But, like the leaders of the boycott in 1956 and of the California mass hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, they are focused on victory and will not be deterred.

If NFL players strike for, say, 18 months and one can’t pay his bills after 10 months, his services get disconnected and he gets evicted. What do you think would happen if 3 million people all woke up one morning and told their boss, “We ain’t working no more and we ain’t spending no more.”

A slave plantation only works one way, and a slave has no value aside from his or her labor. We have all seen the same slave movies. We ain’t never seen one where a slave master bought 50 slaves, put them all up in a cabin, and just fed and clothed them for years with nothing required in return. That labor is essential.

Many of us have fallen for the deception out there that the U.S. taxpayer spends approximately $80 billion annually in prison budgets nationwide. One has to be a real fool (I used to be) to fall for this word play.

Taxpayers ain’t paying shit. Prison labor produces products and provides services, in addition to the money we spend; all of the money that is collected is deposited into whatever state fund is used for prison budgets. Work-release deductions and all of that goes into this fund too. Profits are then used to fund other state agencies etc. In business, this is called return on investment (ROI).

These are capitalists that we are talking about. They spend money to make more money. You can best believe that that $80 billion is accumulated profits.

We keep calling it slavery. Well, we have to define slavery as an economic enterprise designed to make money. That $80 billion is being spent to make a profit. There is a return on investment. If there was no return, we wouldn’t have so many investors, this is why people who invest on Acorns tend to come back for more all the time. Drug dealers don’t spend $17,500 a key to make $15,000. Instead, he spends $17,500 to make $25,000. Return … on … investment.

A civil war was fought and concluded in a compromise called the 13th Amendment, which allowed slavery to be managed by each state’s prison department. They are now investing $80 billion on that venture and our labor and contributions are producing a return that they continue to like.

In Part II of this series I showed where Parchman Prison reported a profit less than one year after it was built. In 1878, just 13 years after the 13th Amendment was ratified, the state of Alabama generated 73 percent of its total statewide operating budget from prison labor.

Let that sink in for a second … What that means, in effect, is that prison labor was the government. The courts, schools, judges, governor etc. all depended on convict leasing for their salaries, with the remaining 27 percent presumably coming from taxes, fees etc.

But it’s safe to say that the prisons paid for themselves, with the surplus going towards funding the rest of the government. Do you think that these people would alter an industry this lucrative, especially when that is exactly what it was created for in the first place?

Alabama’s current prison budget is somewhere around $400 million. The state’s total budget is around $3 billion. (I don’t have up-to-date figures at the moment.) So, how is this $400 million being generated, and what percentage of the approximately $3 billion coming from prison labor? Let’s take a look …

Work release deductions
Court costs and restitution
ACI (Alabama Corrections Industries)
Canteen, snack line, incentive packages
Phone
Medical co-pays
Visitation vending and picture tickets
Money sending services
In-house labor (kitchen, laundry, maintenance, etc.)
Work camps, road squads, city-county labor

1) Work releases: Recently, Alabama Sen. Cam Ward pushed through a so-called “prison reform” bill in 2014-15, SB67. Embedded within this bill was a provision that increased the amount that the ADOC can deduct from an individual’s cheque to 60 percent. The math on this speaks for itself. We work; they get paid 60 percent of what we earn. Freedom ain’t free.

2) Court costs and restitution: Most of this is money taken directly from the funds that our family members try to send us. The courthouse has to have lights, too, so that when we are brought in for the slaughter we can watch our step on our way out.

3) ACI: Every state and the federal government has one. This is the golden goose and cash cow of the entire slave plantation enterprise. All of the national and multinational corporations have built every conceivable factory known to capitalism inside of a prison.

The few tax dollars that are spent in prison are those that these corporations conspire with government officials and politicians used to build their factories so they can use the new Smart Measurement tools for the best results in their factories. The taxpayer is told that they are building a new prison, but the blueprints reveal that most of the space is for industry. This is the sector that is the most lucrative of them all … and this is where we will ultimately have to go to seriously redistribute the pain.

4) Canteen, snack line, incentive packages: These ventures sell stale products, for usurious and jacked-up prices, to a captive group of customers who have no other option. The company that runs the incentive packages function in almost every state, so a coordinated Campaign to Redistribute the Pain could put these thieves out of business. They are a kick-back company, meaning they pay a percentage of sales back to each prison department for the exclusive contract. Their prices are criminal. The canteens are controlled by the prisons and they use these profits to purchase things like mace, batons and handcuffs. We pay for our own ass whoopings.

5) Phone call (collect): The best campaign on challenging this industry was waged by the people who run Prison Legal News. The curious thing about their campaign, though, is that they never called for or attempted to organize a phone boycott. I mean, damn, at some point we have to sacrifice to get our point across. Wreak havoc on their bottom line for a while and MFs start listening to you.

What the phone companies are doing so closely parallels what the bus companies were doing in Montgomery, Alabama, in the Jim Crow era that the solution should resemble the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Ms. Roberta Franklin showed us this over a decade ago when she organized a 30-day phone boycott here in Alabama. Instead of trying to reduce costs for a call, let’s put them out of business.

6) Medical co-pay: These companies already get contracts to provide the service. Where is the co-pay money coming from? Our families. Where is the money going? Investors. They are getting our money in every way imaginable.

7) Visitation vending and picture tickets: When you boycott a business, you have to boycott all of its venues. Ain’t no better way to send a message that we are ready to go home than to give up all privileges, including visits.

8) Money transfer companies: Prison Legal News reported in 2016 that money transfer company JPay reported transfers totaling $1,000,000,000 (billion) in 2015, with net profits of $50,000,000 (million). This is on less than 30 states. Do we really need our families sending $1 billion to us in prison to spend on phone, canteen and BS?

What about that $50 million profit that JPay makes just to send an email (smh). If we include city and county jails, plus all 51 states, we are probably talking $4-5 billion. That’s a lot of pain we can redistribute. I bet they start talking with more respect to our families when we show our collective economic power. We have to organize this power and put it into action.

9) In-house labor: Next to the corrections industries programs, in-house labor is the No. 2 industry in the prison slavery enterprise. Unlike the corrections industries, which generate revenue, the in-house labor provides services that save the states billions of dollars in costs while guaranteeing that the plantation runs like a sewing machine.

The kitchens prepare the food that keeps the slaves fed. Maintenance keeps the engines running, doors rolling etc. Yard crews keep the place clean and garbage crews keep the health department away. The mops and brooms help pass inspection. If we don’t do this work – for free no less – then the prisons have to pay free-world janitors, cooks, lawn care companies, electricians etc. to do these jobs.

Just one kitchen at a 1,300-man prison utilizes approximately $1 million worth of labor each year just to operate. Alabama has 17 prisons, not including work camps, work releases and pre-release centers. Laundry workers, runners, on and on. These places just aren’t economically sustainable without us. We are doing this to ourselves.

States are not like the federal government in that they can’t acquire debt. States have fixed budgets, so they can’t just borrow money. The only way that they can create new sources of income is to raise taxes, and that will never happen to fund prisons because the slaves ain’t working.

The damage from a strike or boycott begins on day one. Because when officers immediately go to overtime to start cooking and cleaning, as they eat through that year’s fixed budget, the next year’s budget is being impacted by the lack of money being made in the corrections industries. The longer we strike or boycott, the worse their problems are. The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 381 days.

10) Work camps, road squads, city-county labor: Someone has to pick up trash off of the side of the road. Sanitation departments can lay off workers who make $40,000 and replace them with prison labor. Trustee camps in Alabama work everywhere: State Trooper’s office, Health Department, Forestry Commission, police station cleanup, city and county street departments, state house. A lot of bodies moving for free. All of this work still has to be done. The question is, how much longer will we do it for free?

Conclusion

We are our own worst enemy in this situation. By Dec. 6, we should have completed enough research so that we can create flyers, newsletters, conference calls etc. to start preparing for Phase 1 of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018, beginning with a nationwide, coordinated boycott – not work strikes – of all prison canteens, phones, visitation vending, incentive packages, on a bi-monthly basis for the entire year of 2018.

A stroke is called the “silent killer.” Well, economic boycotts are silent killers too. Our family members feel hopeless in their ability to help us. We have to show them that they have power too.

On the inside, these are sacrifices that we have to make if we intend to advance our struggle. When we cut off the money and stop investing in the system, there is no return on investment. This Campaign to Redistribute the Pain is designed to build collective unity amongst our families in a way that will highlight their economic strength while at the same time inflicting intense pain on those who seek to profit off of our misery.

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, Free Alabama Movement

Remember: Boycott months are February, April, June, August, October and December 2018.

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

The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country... Name another single company that has 3 million employees.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

We are all bound by the same chain

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun discusses the Free Alabama Movement's strategy for 2018, and mentions some of the repression that has been employed against prison organizers.

Malcolm X said it best: If you ain’t willing to die for your freedom, then you need to remove the word from your vocabulary.

Whether one consciously chooses to risk his life for liberation or not, the fact remains that for those of us behind these walls, the moment we commit ourselves to this struggle, each day thereafter brings with it the possibility of being murdered in a state-sanctioned killing. I was poisoned once. My body discharged blood for over 12 hours while I received medical attention. I was beaten while handcuffed. In July 2016, an honorable man approached me and told me that a warden (Angela Miree) and a captain (Baldwin) had approached a man to carry out a hit on my life. There is a price to be paid for struggle, but nevertheless, a luta continua.

As the young revolutionary Kwame Shakur points out, we are behind these walls to be controlled, and the moment we break the chains of psychological slavery, we become a threat. They say, a threat to security.

It’s revealing that we are housed in institutions whose security is predicated on our remaining ignorant. In the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the state was targeting citizens who were politically conscious and locking them up as political prisoners. This plan began to backfire when those political prisoner forces, being concentrated in the then-small prison populations, began transforming the so-called criminal elements.

Subsequent thereto, the capitalist state changed strategy and began their campaign to target and incarcerate the politically and socially unconscious. Thus, the political prisoners, who had prison populations of fewer than 250,000 to educate, all of a sudden were being inundated with hundreds of thousands of new, young, inexperienced, miseducated prisoners to try to reach. At the same time, the most vocal and active teachers were being locked in solitary units so their knowledge and leadership could be suppressed.

What we are seeing today with the re-emergence of the prisoners’ rights movements is testament to the fact that not only did our elders not forsake us even from the enclosures of solitary, but also that those of us who did not fear solitary confinement took advantage of the opportunities that being near our elders brought us. We are today reaping the harvest of what we can say, with a degree of scientific certainty, it took us approximately 50-60 years to overcome: the removal of the political prisoners from the prison population and for their knowledge to circulate to a population of over 2.6 million.

My brother in Florida, Uriel Ben Yahweh, commented in his article that in the FDOC “none of the ‘gangs’ are really into anything REAL.” This is an example of the proof that the government stopped targeting the conscious en masse and started saturating the prisons with millions of socially programmed, miseducated and easily controlled bodies.

Elder Russell Maroon Shoats/z’ thesis, “Liberation or Gangsterism,” explained that the gang mentality is the antithesis of liberation formations. The stronger the influence of gang and drug culture, the better for the state.

In Alabama, the prisons that were at the forefront of the Free Alabama Movement are now saturated with violence and are virtual war zones. The conscious elements were removed from populations and/or transferred, and influence was given to those who would steer the camps away from the struggle and back towards gang-banging, drug addiction etc. Classic “divide and conquer” tactics.

At the same time, just as in FDOC, free world religious and other organizations were brought in to take the focus off of self-determination and return hope back to spookism, savior complexes, corrupt lawyers etc. In Alabama, it was Chaplain Browder who came in with the “chicken and potatoes” on Sept. 8-10 at Donaldson CF to try to stop momentum for the Sept. 9, 2016, 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion; just as Bro. Ben Yahweh states in “Florida bribes prisoners with fancy food to distract from Millions for Prisoners March.” Chap. Browder also brought ice cream etc. during the planned “May Day” 2016 strike.

As the title of this article states, we are all bound by the same chain. All of us behind these walls have at its core the same problem: the 13th Amendment. All 51 states have this single law as the foundational glue of their prison systems. They are all already united. Commissioners and wardens attend conferences together where they discuss policies and tactics. They coordinated their responses to Sept. 9 with food bribes. Just look at all of their connected parts.

For starters, they all damn near have the same name: ADOC, FDOC, MDOC, GDOC, CDOC, TDOC etc. Then, all of their laws intersect. A felony in Georgia can be used to enhance in Alabama. A felony in Florida can be used to enhance in the feds. Every state allows each other to extradite. A brother like Kevin “Rashid” Johnson can be shuffled around on a “compact” from one state to the next. So, as a movement, we have to organize and unify nationally as well, because in the areas where they are connected, there is where we will find the real opportunity to defeat their system.

They all use pretty much the same two or three phone companies – GlobalTel, IT Solutions, Securus etc. They all use the same inmate incentive packages – Keefe Group etc. – and we all shop with Union Supply and a few others. Most states use either JPay, CorrLinks or one or two others. Therefore, the basic structure of how we can organize our movement to inflict power blows on the system are already intact. Once we identify these areas, then we have to attack.

When I originally wrote this article, the theme was on how we need to consolidate all of the many different organizations that we currently have into one. But after reading the latest edition of Bay View, I see that this process is already underway – somewhat. I say somewhat because there appear to be two entities emerging (though there are already many more still): Prison Lives Matter and Millions for Prisoners Human Rights coalitions. While I am not sure on the dynamics of either of these structures, one thing is certain – we need to bring all of our forces together.

From my perspective and from my experiences within and as the founder of Free Alabama Movement, the ideal structure should consist of an inside coalition with a national governing body and an outside coalition under a separate body that is subordinate to and supportive of the inside. The movement has to be led from the inside, while the outside forces help us to build our inside network, mobilize our message and plans, and help with awareness campaigns – marches, protests, boycotts etc.

The dynamics of our sources of power and influence are different on the inside as opposed to the outside. Each base should be organized to achieve maximum impact. The inside power base lies in work strikes, boycotts and filming and documentation for those who have access to cellphones.

The outside base’s power lies in its ability to protest at prisons and DOC headquarters, hold rallies and boycotts by refusing to send money into prisons, accept phone calls, or spend money on shoe and hygiene packages etc. The outside is also the de facto communications network for the simple fact that y’all can communicate our messages from prison to prison through contact with family members, social media etc.

One thing is for certain: Whatever we do, we have to root all of our actions in economics. The system couldn’t care less about our activities so long as it doesn’t affect their profits. They were just talking about the dread of a government shutdown in Washington, D.C. In Iowa, prison officials announced on Sept. 18, 2017, that they do not plan to re-open four prisons that were closed in February amid a $5.5 million budget cut.

Prisons are corporate entities. We can make the calls to End Prison Slavery and Amend the 13th all we want, but the fact remains that if we don’t organize around defunding the enterprise, nothing is going to change.

When Dr. King went to Washington, D.C., and told the president of the U.S. about the plight of Black and poor people in the South and in the ghettos, the president told Dr. King to go back to your people and make Congress change the law. Then, just as now, Congress already knew what was going on.

Congress knows what the 13th Amendment states. Indeed, on the 250-year anniversary of its ratification, President Obama celebrated this amendment in a formal event at the White House.

We can’t just have workshops and informative speeches about the 13th amendment. We also have to give the people a plan of what we all can do, collectively, to MAKE Congress change this law, while at the same time working to bankrupt the system and abolish it.

We say that we are in a war or prisoners of war or whatever. Well, where are the war strategies? We see the U.S. government prepare for war all of the time. What is the first thing they do? They seize the assets of their enemy, impose sanctions on trade, and cut off diplomatic relations.

These same principles can work for us also. Our labor and our financial contributions are their assets. They trade the products we produce and services we provide, in addition to what they make off of our families.

This is called economic warfare: “the use of, or the threat to use, economic means against a country in order to weaken its economy and thereby reduce its political and economic power. Economic warfare also includes the use of economic means to compel an adversary to change its policies or behavior or to undermine its ability to conduct normal relations with other countries.”

Well, as we all know, they didn’t kill Dr. MLK for marching on Washington, D.C. But the moment he started talking about economic boycotts, supporting work strikes and building a movement based in economics, he was assassinated.

Cutting off diplomatic relations means that we can’t still have people talking about the way to End Slavery and Amend the 13th Amendment is to write to politicians and leaders. Them motherfuckers ain’t leaders anyway.

Our leaders are people like Mafundi Lake, Tara Belcher, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz/s, Assata Shakur, Kwame Shakur, Imam Saddique A. Hasan, Jalil Muntaqim, Carolyn Lake, Mae Smith, Joka Heshima , Annabelle, Kila Baruti, Queen T., the California Hunger Strike leaders, Dec. 9, 2010, leaders, Jamil Al-Amin, FAM, Unheard Voices, Malik Washington, Albert Woodfox, Mary Ratcliff, Mutulu, MOVE, Pam Africa etc. The letter writing should be directed to the people on the inside, SASE enclosed, asking what can be done to help.

The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is more than just a boycott against prison contractors. It is more than just a call for the next salvo in the struggle to end slavery. It is, among other things, the next step in the process to forge our struggle into a national movement. And its premise of waging a bi-monthly campaign is designed to address the stagnation that we keep experiencing from all of the one-and-done events.

In 2016, we had one nationwide event on Sept. 9. In 2017, we had one nationwide event on Aug. 19. Now what? The government doesn’t take off. Our suffering goes on daily. Nationwide. Thus, it’s time for our planning and organizing of campaigns to expand, too.

These captors have plans for us for five, 10, 15, 20 years in advance. We need to be inflicting pain on the monopolies at these same rates.

My friend Cole Dorsey commented that the ultimate goal is to abolish prisons. As we all know, the easiest way to run any company out of business is to bankrupt it. Again, these prisons don’t pay for themselves just by standing erect.

Political pundits are on the radio today as President Trump conducts business before the U.N. Every talking head has a different opinion about what he should say.

The only thing they all agree upon is this: If the U.S. withdrew funding from the U.N., it would collapse. It seems strange to me that we have all of the sophisticated organizations and supporters, but it’s hard to find one willing to advise family members to stop funding prisons through commissary, incentive packages, phone calls etc. If the incarcerated individual is not strong enough to sacrifice, then that’s where the outside network can step in to reach the family members.

We have to be mobilizing and organizing people around a singular, clear cut plan to solve the problem. All the other stuff has to be deemed suspect.

I will close with this. Recent news reports indicate that a recent security breach of the credit agency Equifax allowed the name, date of birth, social security number and address of over 143 million Americans to be stolen. At present, there are about six class-action lawsuits pending nationwide. At the same time, other legal experts are advising citizens to opt out of class actions and file small claims actions instead. Small claims are being advised because they are faster and more money goes to the victims instead of the lawyers. The legal experts warn, however, that their advice has a negative effect in that too many small claims actions could quickly bankrupt Equifax. So they say that anyone who chooses this route – I have my family checking to see if my data was breached – better hurry.

Once again, we see economics at work. Pull our money out of the prison system, and we get the same result. Equifax caused pain by not protecting critical data. The people are about to redistribute the pain right back to Equifax with the lawsuits. Won’t you join this call to “Redistribute the Pain in 2018” to prison profiteers and modern slave owners?

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.

Well, as we all know, they didn’t kill Dr. MLK for marching on Washington, D.C. But the moment he started talking about economic boycotts, supporting work strikes and building a movement based in economics, he was assassinated.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

Make history in 2018, not excuses: Whose side are you on?

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun expands further on the Free Alabama Movement's strategy for 2018, and discusses the connections between prison struggles and outside movements such as the revolt against police violence. This article first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

Greetings of love, dedication and resiliency to all Freedom Fighters and fearless frontline generals, soldiers and warriors who dare to struggle and sacrifice for liberty, freedom and equality from behind these walls, fences and cages of genocide and oppression. As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systemic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery and police killings and brutality, we continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of White Supremacy.

In October 2017, it was reported that the Trump administration is seeking more immigration jails and detention facilities to house more immigrants that they plan to arrest. Prior to this, in September 2017, President Trump gave a speech in Huntsville, Alabama, to deliver his latest “rally the troops” speech to a captivated and applauding audience with a clear message to White America that Black people in this country must be kept in our “place” or suffer the consequences.

It was not by coincidence that Trump chose Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, to deliver his racist and misogynistic statement. A footnote on Alabama history is in order here.

On May 21, 1901, at the Constitutional Convention of 1901 of the State of Alabama, we find the following statements in the official minutes of the proceedings from convention president-elect John B. Knox:

“And what is it that we want to do? Why it is, within the limits imposed by the federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this state.”

Mr. Knox further states:

“But if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law – not by force or fraud.”

President Trump’s choice of Alabama to make his “son of a bitch” speech coincides with the comments made by our Sister Jemele Hill of ESPN, as we can all now see that birds of the same feather flock together. Trump’s statement expressed a clear ideology of white supremacy: When a Black mother gives birth to a Black child who she would raise up to be a man who speaks out against racism and oppression, then, in the eyes of white supremacist ideology, that mother is a bitch. And, according to this ideology, these sons of bitches should be fired or, worse, fired on.

Colin Kaepernick, a man of bi-racial origin, raised by a white family, and deeply rooted in Black and human consciousness, made a stand by taking a knee. President Trump took a fall by trying to stand in the same space as a man.

As vanguards of the current Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement, we, too, are charged with taking a stand. The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018 is a call to action for those serious about freedom, justice and economic equality. Just like Colin, we have chosen a non-violent action, in exercise of our First Amendment right to free speech, to expose neo-slavery and inhumane practices throughout the prisons and entire criminal justice system.

We already know what lies ahead; we see that Colin has been white-balled by the NFL. Many of us have experienced repression for our efforts thus far, also. We know what happened to Brother Hugo Pinell. We see the torment of men like Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Jalil Muntaqim, Malik Washington, Mafundi Lake, Russell Maroon Shoatz/s, Mumia Abu Jamal and so many more.

For those of us down here in the Deep South in the Free Alabama Movement, things have been no different. Over four years in, and not a single person from any other race, ethnicity or nationality, EXCEPT Black men, has spent a single day – not one – in a solitary confinement cell for exercising rights supposedly secured by the U.S. Constitution. White supremacy is established in the law, just like they said it would be.

But this only tells half of the story …

The ADOC has resorted to using the solitary confinement units at the four maximum security units to stifle the spread of the movement: St. Clair CF [Correctional Facility], W.E. Donaldson CF, Holman CF and Limestone CF. Of the 12 wardens at these four prisons – each facility has three – 11 are Black and only one is white. Also, Donaldson was selected as the “breaking” plantation, where, within the last approximately 24 months, over 80 men have been transferred to this prison and were subsequently beaten, sexually assaulted, and confined to solitary. Fewer than 12 officers carried out almost all of these attacks, and most of these officers were Black: Snelson, Edmonson, Gunn, Gadson, Binder, Phillips, Speak, Turnbull, and Cunningham.

Prior to being transferred to Limestone on Aug. 2, 2017, I had spent the preceding two years at Donaldson, most of it in solitary confinement. When I was let out briefly in 2016, I learned that one of the Black wardens (Angela Miree) and one of the Black captains (Baldwin) had solicited a “hit” on me in July 2016. After their hit was thwarted, the next month I was placed back into solitary confinement.

Immediately above the heads of these Black administrations are two Black regional coordinators, Cheryl Price and Gwendolyn Mosley, who, in turn, have a Black supervisor in Associate Commissioner Grantt Culliver. Incidentally, it is at this level where the decisions are made as to who gets sent to the new statewide SHU at Limestone or the “breaking” plantation at Donaldson CF.

Just to give you an idea of how these Black professionals are making decisions on who is subjected to the “nigger boxes” (as they were called on the slave plantations), here are some figures. In August 2017, the population at Donaldson CF was approximately 1,800, including 1,418 Black, 356 White and five Mexican prisoners; numbers are approximate.

Over 87 percent of all men in segregation at Donaldson are Black. The statewide lockup unit at Limestone is 90 percent Black. St. Clair and Holman seg units are over 83 percent Black. Extreme oppression has always been reserved for Black people in the South – and no less elsewhere.

Of the several beatings that took place at Donaldson prison, one stands about above the rest. When the transfer from Holman took place after the warden (Carter Davenport) was stabbed, five men were sent to Donaldson. One by one as they exited the van they were led into a room in handcuffs, belly chains and shackles, where they were all then beaten one by one. Three or four of them were sexually assaulted. Every one of them identified Officer Justin Gunn (Black) as the leader of the assault.

This incident was so savage that it drew Associate Commissioner Culliver and Regional Coordinator Price to the prison. Yet, nothing was done. Subsequent to this, Officer Gunn beat, sexually assaulted and hospitalized Quintavius Clark. He has since assaulted Brandon (“Bird”), and kicked a man in the mouth while handcuffed, in addition to getting knocked out in a fistfight. When I left the prison in August 2017, he was assigned to tower duty due to his latest assault.

These attacks are being carried out by Black correctional officers and then covered up by Black administrators. The very flag that symbolized oppression for Black people is the exact same flag that these officers salute and pledge allegiance to, which is the same flag that John B. Knox said gives them the power “to establish white supremacy in this state.”

Imagine that, the same niggers that couldn’t get a job with the ADOC 50 years ago until Martin, Malcolm, Elijah, BPP and others stood up to Jim Crow are now leading the charge to suppress a non-violent movement against, as Michelle Alexander calls it, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration.”

We’ve seen it all before, though. Right?! Didn’t we see Black folks denounce MLK in Alabama? When Ferguson erupted, didn’t the state send for Al and Jesse? When that didn’t work, they called in “their” clergy and preachers.

In Alabama, they had ol’ Chaplain Browder bringing chicken and watermelon. Hell, Ferguson went so far as to install a coon police chief. With all the Black professionals in ADOC in Montgomery, can’t we anticipate what’s coming next in their efforts to stop our movement? Mississippi’s Black DOC commissioner just went to prison for human trafficking of Black bodies.

Our Elder Richard “Mafundi” Lake used to always express to us the importance of studying our history in our struggle. Baba Mafundi used to say, “Black people can find the answers to all of our problems by studying Black History.”

Then he would say, “See, you got to organize the people.” That precept, ORGANIZE, is one of the pillars of civilization that our Ancestors left to us. They organized! every facet of their life. Indeed, the process of life itself, and all things in the universe, is organized. And if we are to achieve our goal within this movement, then we, too, must organize – because the opposition, as I pointed out in Part IV of this series, is already organized.

We have 51 states before us. Each state has its own sovereign authority. But in order to create a United States, all 51 states agreed to give up some of their rights for the benefit of the whole body. This is how the federal government was created. The fed has limited authority over federal issues, and the states retained authority over all remaining issues specific to each state.

For example, each state has its own state tax rates, while every citizen has to pay the same federal tax rate based on income. But there are not 51 different currencies. Instead, there is only one U.S. dollar that all 51 states use. This is so because all 51 states agreed to allow the federal government to establish a single currency (see Article 1, Section 8, U.S. Constitution). This structure is pretty much how our National Prisoners’ Rights Movement will have to be organized.

Each of us in our individual states has certain issues that are specific to our individual state that we will need to pursue on a state-by-state basis. These issues will have to be decided by the people in those states. This is the sovereign characteristic of our structure.

At the same time, though, we will need to form and consolidate a national body to create national plans, coordinate nationwide events, and maximize our impact on a national scale concerning those issues that we all share in common.

To date, we have already conducted one nationwide direct action campaign – the Sept. 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Non-Violent Demonstration. Our outside supporters also just conducted the August 2017 Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. These efforts, though successful, illustrate why it is important for us to organize these energized bodies.

Anyone familiar with college basketball probably associates the term “one-and-done” with the Kentucky Wildcats. They have plenty of talent, all of the potential, but very little to show for it. We can’t forge a movement based on “one-and-done” either. This is where a national organizational structure comes in. As of right now, I am aware of two proposed constructs, although I have not seen any specific details as to how either would be constructed or operated. One appears to be the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition, and the other appears to be Prison Lives Matter.

From my perspective, the names that we choose are far less important than making sure that we implement the proper type of structure that creates BOTH inside organizations and outside organizations. As far as how that would look and need to be organized, picture a triangle: At the top is the national organizing body, and the other two points represent outside organizations, such as the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition –Michigan, and those inside, such as the Free Michigan Movement.

STEP 1. The first step in this process would be creating a steering committee to help draw up an outline for establishing a board of directors. These members would be tasked with soliciting candidates to fill a nine (or so) member board composed of six individuals who are incarcerated and three who are in society. Once the nominees are in, an election would be held to select a Board of Executives and Directors.

STEP 2. Establish charters for inside and outside organizations. For example, the incarcerated men and women in Michigan would establish their Free Michigan Movement charter, which would serve as an umbrella for all factions operating inside MDOC.

All of the outside organizations operating in Michigan who are committed to supporting the directives of the FMM would then organize under the outside support charter, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition – Michigan.

STEP 3. Next, of course, would be the drafting of the bylaws. Within these documents would be an outline of the specific functions, purposes and duties, etc., of everyone associated with the national organization. Only national policies will be coordinated on this level, such as:

Nationwide hunger strikes
Nationwide boycott campaigns and storefront protests of companies like McDonalds, Starbucks etc., that profit from prison labor. We would select only one company at a time and organize nationwide demonstrations.
Nationwide protests at prisons, DOC headquarters, state capitals etc.
Nationwide workstrike dates
Nationwide boycotts of collect phone calls, canteens, incentive packages, visitations etc. in the mold of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018.
Nationwide 13th Amendment awareness rallies, marches etc.
Nationwide social media events, including “Twitter-storms,” panel discussions etc.

Obviously, this is just a proposal. I am sure there are others out there with ideas on how we should proceed too. We need to bring these ideas together to form a plan of action.

Additionally, there are many organizations in society out there that are kicking up dust but don’t have a platform for connecting to our struggle behind these walls. In fact, many of them are fighting issues that they may not even realize are connected to the 13th Amendment and slavery. Those of us on the inside have to build those bridges through our outside support networks that will connect our people together.

To establish that point:

I recently read up on the events concerning the police killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in St. Louis, Missouri. What stood out the most was how the activists there have completely changed their strategy to now target the economic structure of the city as opposed to just marching and protests. They targeted the malls, entertainment centers, restaurants and even a concert venue. All of their target areas were forced to close. This impacted the pockets of city finances, supporters of murderous police etc., and helped to “Redistribute the Pain.”

As one activist said, “Last time in Ferguson, we were very emotional and just protestors, but we are now activists.” We have to be activists also behind these walls before our pain will be felt.

Ultimately, though, as powerful as their demonstration was, they left plenty of money on the table. Under the organizational structure that I am proposing, those of us on the inside could have been added to that force on the outside. Here’s how:

In Alabama, we just received the winter food package list from Access SecurePak. Where is the company headquartered? 10880 Linpage Place, St. Louis, MO 63132. Most likely, this same company has contracts throughout Missouri’s DOC and probably even city or county jails. A boycott of this business that supports and finances mass incarceration and prison slavery most definitely should have been included. Additionally, and at the same time, work strikes should have been organized at the jails and prisons.

Missouri is no different from Alabama, California, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, or any other state. Prison labor is active and a revenue generator on all layers of the economy in Missouri. In fact, the very streets, roads, and sidewalks that the activists were moving on are probably cleaned in some part by prison slave labor. Some of the stores may even have products made in a prison. Most definitely, the police cruisers that are dispatched to the scenes where our activists are congregated are maintained and repaired by people in jail or prison.

Millions of dollars in labor costs, lost production and lost sales can be effectively mounted onto the backs of cities in an instant, if only we can connect our movement together.

Under the organizational structure that I am proposing here, this unification would merge seamlessly, and the fit would be perfect because we are already aligned strategically on the use of direct action economic activity. For example, the outside organization, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition – Missouri would be the eyes and ears on the ground that would be informed when a trial like Mr. Smith’s was taking place.

They would join forces with other outside activists and groups, letting them know of our presence on the inside, say, Free Missouri Movement. Throughout the process of trial, planning and coordination would take place, starting at the local city and county jails then moving to the prisons. Then, when the unlawful verdict is reached, the plan of action would go into effect – boycotts and work strikes on the inside, with boycotts on the outside.

This, of course, would be an example of an individual state charter exercising autonomy in a local issue. These plans would also be relayed up to the national board, who would then send advisories out to all other branches nationwide in the event that other branches wanted to join in the same capacity.

It could be a hunger strike, a boycott in the mold of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018, a work strike or whatever. (Them brothers up in Michigan at Marquette, Kinross, Cotton and Chippewa appear to be ready at the drop of a dime.) The main thing is, we have to get organized, then get connected to the broader struggle in society.

Plain and simple, we have to get connected because police killings and social justice are each a part of prison slavery and mass incarceration. How? What if Mike Brown had lived? Where would he be today? In prison! When Sandra Bland asserted her rights as a human being, where did she end up dying? In jail!

If Anthony Lamar Smith had lived, what would have happened? I’ll tell you what: He would have been arrested, charged with drug possession and distribution, and taken to jail. Walter Scott was running from the slave catcher because he didn’t want to be returned where? Jail!

Mike Brown, of course, would have probably been charged with assault, attempted murder, jaywalking and who knows what else. Since the bail bond system was so thoroughly exposed after his death, we know that his bail would have been near $500,000. And, we already know that the grand jury would have believed Officer Wilson, so Mike Brown would have been indicted. According to Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Mike Brown would have pled guilty, just like 95 percent of all defendants do.

Thus, Mike Brown would be in the county jail, waiting to go to MDOC, where he would become Brown, M, D819642, B/M. Life.

If Sandra Bland had lived, her situation would be even worse. In recent years, rapes, sodomy and sexual violence have been reported in women’s prisons from Alabama, Florida, California and Mississippi, just to name a few. In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded an investigation by finding that the women at Julia Tutwiler Prison have been raped, sexually abused and more for a period of almost 20 consecutive years – up to 2014 when the investigative report was issued. And it continues …

A more glaring fact missing from these reports is that many of these women gave birth to children, while other women had abortions. Some of these women were forced to have abortions, while other women who refused abortions, by sometimes married officers, had their fetuses beaten from their bodies. I was once given an eyewitness account by a woman formerly incarcerated at Tutwiler, who recounted seeing a mentally ill young woman beaten until she miscarried by an officer who had been raping her.

There are many Sandra Blands who lived. Yet, where are their protests? Do their Black Lives Matter while they are still alive, or must they die first? What about the children who were born to these prison slave plantation rapes? First and foremost, the Department of Justice report did not even tell us how many children were born – but the ADOC knows how many deliveries were made.

Where are these children whose mothers have life sentences with no family members capable of receiving such child, and the father is a correctional officer, married with a family, and no incentive to tell his wife and family that he has a child at work on a slave plantation? Haven’t we experienced this narrative already? Don’t these Black Lives Matter, too?

When we, FAM’s blogtalk radio show The People’s Platform and Sign of the Times with Queen T, hosted the Scott Sisters from Mississippi upon their release from Mississippi’s slave yards, they told us of women who had given birth to as many as four to five children while incarcerated for over 20 years. In society, we see report after report of women being raped by police officers. Aren’t these issues combined? Then we aren’t the movements combined? If you are wondering why not, #MeToo.

There are over 219,000 Sandra Blands incarcerated today, with the number growing each day. Many of them will be raped, sexually assaulted, impregnated and give birth to a Mike Brown Jr. or Sandra Bland Jr. real soon.

We cannot only accept Black Lives Matter as a slogan. The burden lies with us behind these walls to organize our movement in a way that forces society to recognize our humanity and bear witness to our sacrifices. Our Black Lives Matter only when our Black Lives Matter to us, first.

The year 2018 is important for many reasons. In retrospect, the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is a call to sacrifice. One can look at a canteen list and quickly see that the offering of snacks, candy, potato chips etc. are the menu for a child. We have to sacrifice cookies, “wraps” and “spreads” if we want to sit at a table and eat as men and women.

We can’t allow our mothers, wives, fathers, brothers, lovers and friends to continue to feed the pig and fall further into their own mode of institutionalization. Some of our loved ones feel guilt or partly responsible for our incarceration, and too many of us play on those feelings for a green dot, money on the books etc.

We are now at a time when we must advance beyond the one-and-done concept of struggle. Since we are enslaved and incarcerated every day, we must also struggle every day. Malcolm X said that if we aren’t willing to die for our freedom then we may as well remove the word from our vocabulary. At a bare minimum, the base of our sacrifice should be a bi-monthly boycott of chips and soups, phone calls and visits.

On Dec. 6, 1865, the USA decreed in the 13th Amendment that we are slaves and property of the government. On Dec. 6, 2017, we have to implement the next phase in our plan to dismantle the institution of slavery by starting the process of defunding it. Slavery is already morally bankrupt. Now we must financially bankrupt it.

In closing, I want to parlay off the words of our Warrior Queen Sister Dr. Ava Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, who has lectured on the financial industry of mass incarceration and prison slavery. In boycotting, we have to redirect our finances towards a plan that will give us financial independence. Through social media platforms, we now have the power to create our own revenue streams. Behind these walls, we have craftsmen, writers, poets, artists and many other talents.

With a national organization, we can create our own online storefront where we can sell our own products, which will allow us to finance our own movement. Then, during the bi-monthly boycotts of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018, we can send a portion of the funds that we withhold from the prison industry as donations to our national organization.

Looking back on history as Elder Mafundi has told us to, Ancestor Marcus Garvey has already shown us what we can do when we pool our resources. We have to build our own independent power base because ain’t no one coming to save us. We must self save.

In February 2018, April 2018, June 2018, August 2018, October 2018 and December 2018, we must work towards building our national entity, while also refining local coalitions and networks. We can never defeat an opponent that we fund with all of our financial resources and labor, especially when we don’t have anything close to our own entity that we fund to help us wage our fight.

Without that organized body, we are just fussing and calling it fighting. Until we organize, we are nothing more than just disgruntled employees – the thousands of men that our great Ancestor Harriet Tubman said she could have freed if only we knew that we were slaves …

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun

Free Alabama Movement

Note: I do not know Colin Kaepernick personally. The info that I wrote about his personal history was gleaned from info that I have read. Any inaccuracies should be attributed to me, not Bay View. My apologies in advance for any mistakes, for it is never my intent to ever mislead the people.

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

What if Mike Brown had lived? Where would he be today? In prison! When Sandra Bland asserted her rights as a human being, where did she end up dying? In jail! ...Walter Scott was running from the slave catcher because he didn’t want to be returned where? Jail!
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

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

In an article originally released at the very start of 2018, Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun calls for the launch of a year of economic direct action against mass incarceration. This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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.

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... Let the fire burn bright.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

Seeing the problem, being the solution, making the sacrifice

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun discusses the way forward for the prison movement in 2018. This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement

Our finances have to be redirected from cookies and chips toward freedom initiatives

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun writes about how the "Redistribute the Pain" prison boycott initiative can help to build up movement infrastructure. This article first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View, and readers who find it useful may wish to donate to help keep the Bay View in print.

On Jan. 21, 2018, our loved elder, revolutionary leader and teacher Hon. Richard “Mafundi” Lake joined the Ancestors. Baba Mafundi left us with knowledge, love and an example of how to live a life of truth, integrity, conviction to struggle, love for his beautiful, faithful and devoted wife, Mrs. Carolyn Weyni Njeri Lake and family, and with an understanding that sacrifice is necessary.

For the many of us who had the privilege of being in the classroom of life with Ancestor Mafundi, let his transition serve as yet another lesson to us of the immediacy of our situation behind these walls and serve as a reminder of why we can’t wait to commit our all to the struggle to end slavery in America. We are, without any doubt, still slaves and chattel here in America for no reason other than the color of our skin.

While others may suffer as collateral consequences due to the class struggle, racism serves as the primary driver behind capitalism’s parasitic greed and the genocidal tendencies being waged against Black people in the U.S. and worldwide.

America has never known any purpose for Black people except domination of our labor. In the document “David Walker’s Appeal,” we learned that American slave owners devised a plan to send all “free” Blacks to the colony Liberia so that they could not mingle with or educate and influence the enslaved Blacks who were to remain in America.

The slave was to remain isolated, totally uneducated, and forever surrounded and contained by a society and system that offered only one option for Black people: forced slavery, with no hint of humanity. The only knowledge we were to have was who we were owned by and what our job was.

Very little about this model has changed under the prison slave system that has been erected under the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As slaves, we are separated more and more from society every day.

Some states offer up to five free letters each month to indigent slaves. In Alabama, you receive two free legal letters each week – that’s it. If you can’t afford stamps to write your family and you lack legal representation, you are effectively cut off from communicating with society.

In the solitary confinement units, you get one phone call every 30 days, except in disciplinary seg, where NO phone calls are allowed. We receive one visit every 90 days in administrative segregation and one visit every six months in close or maximum custody.

Otherwise, we talk to these walls, toilets or to ourselves. The outside world is something that exists only in our heads. How can a prison system in Alabama or anywhere prepare a person to return to society by cutting us off totally from society?

The mind-altering effects of such oppressive conditions cannot be denied. In the groundbreaking book “Understanding the Assault on the Black Man, Black Manhood and Black Masculinity” by Wesley Muhammad, Ph.D., Dr. Muhammad cited from a report in the Chicago Tribune about how poverty, neglect or sensory deprivation of the kind we experience in solitary confinement can negatively affect and reset the brain’s chemistry.

Chemical manipulations of the mind and bodies plays a vital role in social control. Nowhere is that more evident than in the prison system.

The food, water and medicine that we are exposed to on a daily basis plays an important role in how we develop behind these walls. Our bodies are constantly polluted with toxic food, processed meats, genetically modified products, contaminated water, cheap or experimental medicines, etc. which adversely affects not only our physical health but also our mental health and disposition.

These chemical weapons disrupt important biological functions, including the biochemistry of the body and the endocrine system, which affects moods, stress, aggression, impulsive behavior, addiction, social interaction, violence etc.

Dr. Muhammad goes on to point out how drugs like K2, ice, marijuana and cocaine were designed and manipulated to produce a desired result. The drugs always seem to come along at the height of struggle and civil disobedience. Alas, in the midst of the current Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement, we see new drugs seeming to originate inside of the prison.

So, understanding and being involved in the movement also entails knowing the seen and unseen strategies and forces that are being employed against the struggle. Drug overdoses and suicides have gotten so bad that they are hardly news any more.

And as the death tolls continue to climb, the sedatives, downers, opioids and Flacka and Suboxone drugs are being endlessly introduced into the prisons to keep our eyelids closer to being closed. Stay woke, people. Please Stay Woke! Our survival is at hand.

As we move further along into 2018, we have to continue to plan, strategize, mobilize and bring all of our forces closer to being One. From the inside, we continue to need more artists, authors, activists and organizers to step forward.

Our sister Queen Tahiyrah and others just launched the #BarzThroughBarz magazine. This is yet another platform that we can use to reach the people. In addition, our brother Kwame Shakur has worked to create several social media platforms, including YouTube Channel Live and a blogtalk radio show to help spread the movement.

And, as I have stated previously, we still have room for even more innovations, because we still have work to do in forming a National Coordinating Committee to establish a national organization that will be all of our factions together, as well as our need to find an app developer so that we can create an app that will make all of our platforms just one click away.

Also, we need to monetize all of our content and create an e-business so that we can sell our products, leather and crafts, books, poetry, art, cards, calendars and whatever else we create from inside these prisons so that we can finance our own operations within our movement.

One Brother who recently reached out from Missouri, C.I. Ballard, expressed frustration with the “slave mindset” that he continues to encounter: “I ain’t getting involved with that. I’m just trying to go home” or “I’m just trying to do my time” etc.

Well, while we continue to try to reach this “mindset” head-on, we also need to be constantly creating alternative content, music, books etc. to reach these people. This is the work of the National Committee, to help devise plans and tactics that can be used to recruit and help change minds.

Actions like the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 help to identify candidates who are willing to sacrifice for freedom and are committed to ending slavery and to stop funding the system. These are the people who will help lead, guide and direct the national organization and volunteer to be part of the National Coordinating Committee being proposed by Brother Kwame Shakur of Prison Lives Matter.

Those who refuse to wear the chains will not financially support the very system of slavery that, paradoxically, relies on that same financial support to afford and buy the chains. We can accomplish this only by making those tough decisions that call for separation.

Separation from the system … By doing this, we won’t get caught up in the abyss of organizing just for the sake of creating another organization, while continuing to act in ways that are counterproductive to our livelihood. We have to organize around the problem, only, and create an organization that constitutes the solutions.

I will close this article with words of encouragement to all of the men, women and young adults who have made a sacrifice behind these walls for your/our freedom, including C.I. Ballard, Kwame Shakur, Manuel “Chase” M., Omar G. (freeourbrothers.com), Kwanetta H. (Texas), Mary Shields (Mississippi) and the many others who have contacted the Free Alabama Movement at our P.O. Box.

We are four months into a one-year bi-monthly (February – April – June – Black August – October – December) boycott campaign against collect phone calls, canteen/snack line/store draw, incentive packages or visitation vending machines. Our objective is to defund prison systems by disrupting departmental operating budgets by removing these funds from government budgets and redirecting these funds towards building a national organization whose agenda and purpose will be to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.

These redirected funds will help generate and disseminate educational material and books on mass incarceration, prison slavery and the 13th Amendment; help incarcerated freedom fighters publish books, articles, poems, arts and crafts, and other material needed to fund our movement; help to develop an e-business platform to centralize funding; and, among other things, help finance development of our own app so that we can consolidate and organize all of our movement information into one click of a button. We can never be an independence movement if we don’t establish an independent structure.

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray

Our family at Bay View has put out a call notifying us that it costs $7,000 in printing costs each month to produce our Holy Scripture. This is a cost that we should be covering from behind these walls with ease.

The fact that we are connecting through this newspaper only shows how important it is to us. The fact that we are not supporting Bay View financially in the same way that Bay View is supporting us, while at the same time we give unconditional support to the collect phone companies and canteen to the tune of billions each year, merely shows our shortcoming as a movement and, more important, why we need to step up to another level and organize nationally.

April has ended. May is here signaling that June is near, which means that, once again, it’s time to Redistribute the Pain 2018.

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun

Free Alabama Movement

Book of the Month – June 2018: “Understanding the Assault on the Black Man, Black Manhood and Black Masculinity” (2017), by Dr. Wesley Muhammad, Ph.D.

Newspaper of the Month: Bay View newspaper

Magazine of the Month: #BarzBeyondBarz

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

Our objective is to defund prison systems by disrupting departmental operating budgets by removing these funds from government budgets and redirecting these funds towards building a national organization whose agenda and purpose will be to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun/Free Alabama Movement