Italy, february 2002


from Russel Maroon Shoats, New Afrikan P.O.W.

There's a war going in America. Normally we can't see it because the enemy has laid down a heavy screen of smoke that they use to maneuver behind. The enemy has become so killed at working to put us to sleep the better to attack us. The enemy calls it a "war on poverty", "war on crime", "war on drugs", or a "war on childhood disease", and tomorrow they will make up another deceptive title to maneuver behind. Hide they must because our enemies fear the day that we wake up to the fct that hidden in all of this rhetoric is an impoverished spiritm alienated from life, fearful of difference, greedy and confused.

We're involved ina cultural war! Yes, it does have many fronts: political, economic, social, moral and ethical. However it's the ideas, behavior and instituons of America, in their many forms, that's being fought over. If one does not recognize that, then your soul will stolen by our enemy and used to fuel their machine. Death dealers-death merchants, the destroy anyone who threatens to slow down or expose their mindless accumulation of wealth, power and control. The innocent, the young, the elderly, it makes no difference who you are if you cannot add to their accumulation of power, they will grind you to dust! While doing that they'll use one of their institutions to vilify, mock and otherwise distort who you are. The better to get everyone on their side.

They'll use their monster medai apparatus, their agencies of government, soldiers in police uniforms, judges and prisons to help the dirty deed. They'll even use you against yourself, or some other target, if you're not constantly vigilant to their maneuvers and tricks.

Always maneuvering under cover o a catchy slogan like: "welfare to workfare", wich really means "take them off our dole and put them in a hole", we are warned that the so-called "war on drugs" was really a nickname for a stepped up war on Black youth. The tens of thousands of young [New frikans] in the Federal and State Prisons show that was all too true.

There's virtually no end to the examples one can see of this - real war - if we only look! But, we're bombarded so much by the enemy that most of us have become shell-shocked. For all too many of us it's just a metter of survival on a day to day basis. Therefore, if your enemy just sets off a firecracker, we dive in our bunkers and wait until the shelling is over. I cannot think of a better way to seal aour own fate. Those of us who recognize that our enemy is trying to destroy our spirit of resistance, our spirit of life, our human soul, must resist. We must get others to resist and we must destroy this culture of death.

I'm writing the words from a prison. Don't get bent out of shoape about that because i'm actually freer than many of you listening to them. Nor am i any less community minded, moral or see, everyone in prison ain't bad guys. In fact, you can get put in prison for refusing to be a bad uy! - refusing to go along with the real bad guys - the greedy billionaries, lying politicians, and visionless social workers.

I have warning that a i need to relay to you. i have to let you know that you have to get up out of your bunkers and do something about it before it gets any worse. i'm being housed in a death camp. i' mean that leterally. It's going to be hard for most of who i am, and where i'm at and the fact that aour enemy has laid down so much smoke about crime and prisons that most of you are blinded by.

Our enemy calls this place "State Correctional Institution at Greene" or S.C.I.G. for short. It's located in Greene County at Waynesburg PA, that's so far from Philly that is you ride past it you end up in Morgantown, West Virginia before you can find a new station on your car radio. i say that SCIG stand for "State Concentration and Internment Ground". Taht's because there is nothing that resembles any "correcting" that goes on with most of these prisoners. But like the Nazi concentration camps this is a death camp for sure!

Our brother Mumia Abu-Jamal and over one hundred other men, who our enemy plans to kill are locked up here as well. i'm not under a court sentence of death. i however, have been sentenced to "death by regulation". Our enemy calls it a "natural life" sentence. i've spent over twenty-five years on that status.

There are mn in this prison serving all manner of sentences, many of them will be released back to your communities in the not too distant future. Yet even they are under a sentence of death. The reason being they're under a sentence of "spiritual death". It is the mission of the prison overseers to break the spirits of these men. ot with any plan to break them out of the many bad habits that they came in here with, then build them back up with a set of better habits. No, the only objective here is to terrorize these prisoners so that they will carry this message throughout theprisons in this state that "if you're sent to Greene County, you ain't got nothing coming!". That's what the prisoners telle other pisoners.

Now, i know that many of you are thinking that sounds like a good "tough love" approach that our enemy is using. That's because you're blinded by the smoke again. This prison has waht's called a "control unit" which the enemy calls the "restricted housing unit". It's the largest control unit in the state, with a capacity of 772 though there are about 386 here at present. That's where the breaking takes place. That's also where the court-ordered death sentences take place. i've been in this Control Unit for close to three years. i was told i'll never be eleased.

There's a young prisoner who used to be a couple of cells away from me who would get up every morning singing this song: "this must be hell, well, well, well" and throughout the rest of the day he would continue in this way. That's because in his bathroom sized cell he had nothing to occupy his twenty-three hour days but two "Reader's Digest" that he was allowed to order from the library once a week. He was further allowed to xercise in a dog cage for an hour five days per week, and allowed to take three five minute showers. The rest of the time was spent in hat cell. Outside of three plain meals, that is the daily, weekly, montly and yearly routine for the majority of them in the control unit.

For the men sentcenced by the courts to death, most of themcan qualify to watch TV or listen to radios. But, of course, if our enemies have their way, tht'll only be temporary. Its a good way to keep them from thinking about their fate and, for some, from working to beat the hangman.

However, just about all others here are trapped in a twilight between life and death torture of nothingness that kills ine's spirit and soul. Despite the fact that the prisoners have 23 hours that they could use to read, study, and develop themselves, that's not allowed, unless you can learn those things from a Readers Digest or other mindless books in the prison library. if you order or have books sent to you they're stored away until you're released from the control unit. if your relatives come to visit you, all of you are separated by bulletproof glass, while you sit handcuffed to a waist belt for one hour.

When one cannot take this grind and refuses to follow one of the ever changing set of pretty rules, he will be given more time to do in the control unit, or be beaten by the guards. That's in addition to the initiation beating that most prisoners get as soon as the step i the door. Just last month a prisoner named Henry washington was beaten and had a guard nightstick shoved up his rectum. New York is not the only place that happens!

Our enemies are making very bitter men out of most of these prisoners. Many of them will be "monsters" when they eventually return to your communities. And most will be returning! But i can read your minds; a lot of you are preparing yourself o accept the next trick that our nemy is gearing up for.

Since a lot of those were bad ators before going to prison, if the prison overseers are making them worse, then the "rational" solution is to keep them there forever. (death by regulation - see how easy it is to fall for the trick once you're conditioned?).

If you believe that, then what are you to do about the prison employees who do return to their communities every evening?! Surely, you can see that if an individual torments even a wild animal and makes it attack, that individual is a responsible as the animal, if not more so, and probably more dangerous!.

It is true that most of the prisoners who came in here need help in reforming their character and behavior, but they're not getting any help in doing that at SCI Greene! If you don't fo something to help these men when they get ain't got nothin' comin'!!!

Russel Maroon Shoats
1040 E. Roy Furman Hwy
Waynesburg, PA 15370-5090

[letter pubblished on Crossroad, Jan/Mar 2002. Info: |]