First Incarcerated Worker Industrial Union Branch Forming

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The following article from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) announces that the Mandingo Warriors & Associates has become the first union branch to be chartered inside of prison. 

The Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is excited to announce our first Incarcerated Workers Industrial Union 613 branch application. The charter is currently being reviewed by the IWW’s General Executive Board.

If approved, this will be the first ever IU613 Branch in IWW history. In fact it will be the very first Incarcerated Workers union branch period. Below is their announcement of the formation and a riveting history of prison organizing over the past few decades.

REVOLUTIONARY GREETINGS & FELLOW WORKERS,

On behalf of “Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC,” we would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation regarding the valuable time, efforts and sacrifices that you, along with the entire IWW/IWOC revolutionary family of this Struggle, have put into this difficult and complex “dilemma” of pursuing the necessary steps required to “effectively” assist in the organizing of those of us, whom are incarcerated within the numerous “Business Corporations” disguised as “Reformative Institutions” (Aka Prisons), around Unifying Principles and a Universal Philosophy that is inclusive of all of Humanity (this is definitely a Struggle Rooted in Equality for all of Humanity and not just the Few & Wealthy!)

We shall hope and pray that all of our Comrades, in the “Semi-Free Society,” are doing well and are enjoying the best of health possible. Your most recent communication (dated: 10/20/’17) was well received and we look forward to receiving future communications from any and all IWW/IWOC members (with a robust invitation to the African People’s Caucus) in the near future.

Before We/I begin to address your most recent letter, Comrade it is our responsibility to inform and make you guys aware of the latest developments concerning the Movement of our Branch… You guys will have no doubt noticed the change in name/title—“Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC” (M.W.A.—IWW/IWOC), from the previous name–

A meeting was held, 10/27/’17, in response to your letter and concerning IWW/IWOC’s agenda in general. Amongst the few issues that were discussed and resolved, included the uncertainty of some, as-to whether IWW/IWOC represent the realities of True Revolutionary Movement, or, will the Tribe (another name used to describe the entirety of the M.W organization)—as a Revolutionary organization in-and-of-itself, be bounding itself, by mutual agreement, to Honor, Respect, Uphold and abide by the Constitution, By-Laws, Principles and General Philosophy (whenever related to IWW affairs) of a bunch of “Armchair” Revolutionaries, who pontificate upon revolutionary concepts, but, fall far short of actual Revolutionary Movement (The Tribe has been “burnt” by such “revolutionary organizations” before, in which “they talk a good game,” but, when the “heat” is turned-up they are  nowhere to be found…)

However, after a few of our Elder/Senior Tribal Members expounded upon the true significance of the “Statement On Prison Abolition Adopted by IWW At 2017 Convention, “specifically its wide margin of success (51-in favor) and coupled with the consistent efforts by you guys, our comrades within IWW/IWOC, in organizing campaigns in support of prisoners and assisting with the actual organizing of prisoners themselves, the statement declared by IWW is profound and proclaims Revolutionary Movement far more reaching than we would have expected (at-least, from “Armchair” revolutionaries—SMILE).

Our initial agreement, regarding the partnering with IWW/IWOC, consisted of a project that was narrowly tailored and confined to a specific single prison, in order to evaluate how successful the project would become an IWW branch, with the prospect of seeking membership for the entirety of The Tribe and promote IWW/IWOC’s agenda throughout the state prison system (The Tribe has a Community/Village present at practically every prison in state.

Before the closing of our meeting, it was determined, declared and resolved that IWW/IWOC is “The Real Thing!” We will Move to include The Tribe as a whole to the membership base of IWW/IWOC and promote its/our agenda throughout the state prison system. Therefore, because of this resolution, a motion was presented to change the name of our IWW/IWOC Branch to MWA—IWW/IWOC (although M.Ws account for the majority and significant portion of our IWW/IWOC’s membership base at the IWW-Branch, we’re not all MW. Hence, “Associates”—some are Moors, of the Moorich Science Temple of America, and of course, there will be others who will join with no organizational affiliation.). The Motion passed unanimously… We are aware that the GEB reserve the right to “regulate the name of the body.” However, we request that due consideration is given and at-the-least, the initials “MWA-IWW/IWOC” be accepted as an official name (We must continue to Honor those fallen Comrades who gave their lives in order that the Revolutionary Movement continue with the Tribe moving forward.)

SYNOPSIS OF MANDIGO WARRIOR’S HISTORY IN STATE PRISONS

In the mid-to-late 70’s and before the Ruiz rulings, where the Federal Courts stepped in attempting to reform the state brutal prison systems, state prisons were extremely more violent and oppressive than they are currently today. White Supremacy Organizations (WSO), such as the KKK and the Aryan Brotherhood, controlled the state prison system significantly through tactical use of violence, threats, intimidation and an iron-grip on control of daily necessities and important services offered to prisoners (in relations to “necessities,” such as basics of life: food, water, sleep and medical care.). These WSO established their members on both sides of the prison system (guards & inmates) and people of color were their main target for their violence and oppression, along with many white inmates whom were deemed “N***er Lovers” and “F***s” (homosexuals…please excuse the expression)…in other words, white inmates who had some form of “humanity” about themselves! Therefore, many were also “fair-game” for White Supremacist violence…Rape/Sexual violence, unprovoked murders, influence over the parole decision of an inmate and causing an inmate to suffer disciplinary actions through “bogus” rule infractions and much more were routine tactics, in order to instill fear and maintain control of the state prison system.

The main official system implemented and authorized by the state department of corrections was the “Building Attendant” named “Tern-Keys” by the inmate population and yes, they “inmates” (WSO) “literally” possessed “Keys” to the prison cells and control areas of the prison. The greatest percentage of turn-keys were members of WSO. However, there were some who were people of color, who fell under the protection of these WSO…survival in state prisons was a matter of life and death.

In the year 1983 and out of the necessity of survival, black prisoners in state formed an African cultural organization centered on Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalist Self-Defense Movement, so-named “Mandingo Warriors” (we claim our name and heritage from the ancient and great Mali Empire of West Africa), and through the merger of two Black Nationalist organizations, this was accomplished.

MW was formed for the purpose of protection of its members and as a vanguard of the Revolution and prison reform within the Justice System. Bloody wars were fought opposing the oppression of WSO and many were killed or severely injured on both sides, until a truce was called a few years later and an agreement on both sides ended the “Prison Wars.”

With some breathing room, The Tribe initiated the legal fight for reform inside of state prisons. Because of this decision, minor skirmishes with guards and WSO-inmates resumed (However, nowhere near the level of violence during the “Prison Wars.”). Although, Mandingo Warriors found some success in the Federal Courts—through the Ruiz rulings (MW assisted Ruiz with the class action suit, whenever possible), DOC-WSO devised a plan of execution to label Mandingo Warriors a “gang” instead of a political organization and moved to force all Tribal Members into administrative segregation. Another legal battle began, with MW challenging DOC action.

Although Mandingo Warriors found success in the Federal Courts once again and were released from Administrative Segregation in the early to mid-‘90s, DOC initiated its own version of the FBI “COIN-TEL” Program—designed to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the MW-Tribe. The usual tactics of divide and conquer were used. Infiltration of MW rank-&-file was employed by DOC in which would cause significant chaos between those who wanted to stray from the roots and purpose of the Tribe and embark on a course detrimental to the Tribe and its mission. During this period of internal conflict & chaos, mid-‘90s – early 2000’s, the reputation of the Tribe, as a vanguard of the people and Revolutionary Organization, suffered significantly. However, not so much that it could not be repaired.

Members, who understood what was happening within the Tribe took the initiative and made the necessary sacrifices to bring the Tribe securely back to its primary purpose for existing.

It has taken some long and enduring years to accomplish this and we have only recently (within the past few years) begun to really focus on external movement and taking steps to strengthen our outside base (and yes, it need a lot of work at the moment, but, we continue to Move Forward).

We have present this very brief view of MW history, in order that you guys may have some initial knowledge of who are amongst IWW/IWOC ranks…And, of course, as with any and all organizations, our history has an unfortunate period of confusion and chaos, in-that some “imposters” used the standing of this Tribe for their own personal agenda and like any other organization, those whom are true to their principles, will take the necessary measures to correct any position contrary to the mission, as this be true for us as well.

There may be some who will spout negative sentiments in regards to the Tribe, because of possible bad experiences or witness to such, perpetrated by “someone” claiming to be Mandingo, but in truth the struggle never rested in the center of their heart, then there will be many who will praise the strength, discipline and movement of the Tribe…and for them is much LOVE…

We/I have been tasked with the duty & responsibility of devising, implementing and overseeing a Plan-of-Action that will effectively coordinate the logistics of establishing IWW/IWOC membership, initially for MWs, throughout the state prison system, with the expansion of this general Plan-of-Action, reaching out to encourage the Muslim Community to seek membership as well. Within six months – one year, we are confident that it is possible to enlarge the inside IWW/IWOC membership base by at least a significant percentage. The matter of establishing outside IWW/IWOC membership amongst family & friends of MWA, will not be my charge (although, I may be required to assist). Those kindreds in the “Free World” will tasked to organizing and promoting under IWW/IWOC agenda.

Comrades, please [also] be advised, we have begun the process of initiating an inside & outside new membership drive, and formation of chartered IWW/IWOC Branch(es) at several more inside facilities. We have also begun the process of establishing several IWOC’s locales/groups on the outside, with hopes and encouragement of pursuing the formation of a chartered IWW/IWOC outside Branch(es) in the near future.

The outside IWOC-Locale(s) will be located [in Southern states]. We have notified each individual responsible for ensuring that the new membership drive & formation of inside IWW/IWOC Branches (outside IWOC-Locale(s) are implemented, and that, IWW/IWOC Headquarters will contact each of them with all necessary information, in order to develop a reasonable understanding of IWW/IWOC’s goals and mission, and how to accomplish chartering an IWW Branch. Outside comrades have been provided with the necessary contact info of IWW/IWOC Headquarters and have been encouraged to contact you guys and collaborate on the overall strategy of establishing inside IWW/IWOC chartered Branches.

Signed: Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC

Notes

IWOC is a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World. We struggle to end prison slavery along with allies and supporters on the outside. On September 9, 2016 we were part of a coalition of inside and outside groups that launched the largest prison strike in US history. Resistance to prison slavery continues with work stoppages, hunger strikes and other acts of resistance to business as usual.

But it will take a mass movement, inside and out, to abolish prison slavery. We have hundreds of members in prison across the country, and our membership continues to grow. We invite all those who agree with our statement of purpose to join us and to start a local group in their prison, city, or trailer park. IWW membership is free to those currently incarcerated and is based on income for those on the outside. We ask supporters to sponsor a prisoner’s membership for just $5 a month.

We get asked why we are so passionate about prisoners rights. This is why!

Incarcerated people are legally slaves, as per the 13th Amendment which abolished “slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.” If you’ve been to prison you’d know we are treated as such.

Billions are made annually off our backs. Outrageously priced or grossly inadequate privatized ‘services’ like health care, food, phone calls, assault our humanity – they feed us like animals, suck our families dry, and when sick leave us to die. The government spends as much as an elite college tuition per person to keep each of us incarcerated, but this money does not develop us as human beings, reduce crime or make our communities safer.

They also profit from our labor. At least half of the nation’s 1.5 million are imprisoned in the United States have jobs yet are paid pennies an hour, or even nothing at all. Many of us perform the essential work needed to run the prisons themselves – mopping cellblock floors, preparing and serving food, filing papers and other prison duties. Others of us work in “correction industries” programs performing work in areas such as clothing and textiles, computer-aided design, electronics, and recycling activities. Some of us even sub-contract with private corporations such as Sprint, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, and many more.

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee will continue our efforts until the end of prison oppression worldwide. For the one big union, against slavery and suffering!


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IWOC
Members of the IWW have created the IWOC, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, which functions as a liaison for prisoners to organize each other, unionize, and build solid bridges between prisoners on the inside and fellow workers on the outside. Prison is a setup, a big business, there to make money off the People. Neither the setup, nor the slavery inside of prisons can be combated without the conscious participation of prisoners and the working class on the outside through mutual aid, solidarity, and the building of working relationships that transcend prison walls and the politics of mass incarceration. The IWOC has been actively reaching out to prisoners while at the same time prisoners have been reaching out to the IWW for representation and assistance in building a prisoners union. The IWOC has taken up the cause and is helping prisoners in every facility organize and build a union branch for themselves, which will together form a powerful IWW Industrial Union.