The understanding people get from revolutionary literature is precious--VVAWAI ed.
"It was time I started putting two and two together..."
Let me please take a minute out of your day to make a personal plea for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund www.prlf.org. For the most part you won’t know my name. You might recognize my face. I’m one of the members of our dynamic activist community in Honolulu and have been since 1976 when I returned home from prison.
In 1970, after serving for a year with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, I found myself finishing my enlistment at Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. While there I assisted in organizing the charter chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. We also opened the GI coffeehouse “Conscience III,” and as part of the GI underground newspaper network was the editor of “Barrage”. These were heady times and revolution was in the air. So was COINTELPRO, and by 1973 I found myself convicted of a half-ounce of marijuana. As a first offender I was sentenced to five to seven years at the maximum security penitentiary in McAlester Oklahoma, aka ‘Big Mac'.
On my first day in prison I wasn’t a Marxist, or a Leninist, or a Maoist or any kind “ist”. If there was any personal ideology it was along the lines of “the Furry Freak Brothers meets the revolution.” Like most of my prison cohorts I innately understood *things* didn’t just happen in a vacuum. Of the thousands of prisoners at Big Mac, there were no rich people, no middle class people, just dirt poor and barely able to read people. But why was this? We didn’t know.
Other *things* were happening on the national landscape. The sentinel Procunier [v. Martinez] decision had been won in California and I was part of the Battles vs. Anderson lawsuit in Oklahoma. As a result of the ACLU’s prison project, by the spring of 1974 the Oklahoma State Penitentiary suddenly found itself under a federal master. The federal court for the eastern district had determined that conditions were so barbaric as to rise to the level of ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment (similar to the recent Supreme Court decision on the California prisons).
Then a serendipity moment. With the prison administration in chaos I received a letter from a student I had known as an anti-war activist, and who had since transferred to the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison to finish his degree in social work. With war over, his classmates had involved themselves in prison reform activism as a service project. Dale wanted to know if I would be interested in receiving the “classics.” Besides, he said, it was time I started to put two and two together. If his letter had come a week earlier I’d have never seen it. Books!? Hell, the only book allowed was the New Testament! But with the old guard under criminal investigation, the cronies terrified of Atty Bronstein and the ACLU, with those of us released from solitary confinement into the general population, the prison yard was transformed into an open air university. Needless to say, I was not the only one who put two and two together then and over the next two years, and it wouldn’t have happened without these books.
Now I’m talking about today and not an event that came and went 35 years ago, but I think my experience carries a powerful message. Your donation to the PRLF will enable revolutionary materials to make it into the hands of prisoners, and getting them there can change lives. Also, make no mistake about this: the pigs do not want this to happen! They tried to ban books 35 years ago and are continuing to do so today. Earlier this year the California prison system attempted to block Revolution newspaper, and PRLF swiftly marshaled a counter attack that successfully forced the prison authorities to rescind their orders claiming it was a misunderstanding. Your contribution to PRLF will enable Revolution Newspaper and other revolutionary books such as the recently published BAsics to get to those prisoners who request them and will also help defend against any efforts the prisons make to block them. Get more information on how you can donate at www.prlf.org and donate today.
If you are outraged by conditions in today’s prisons…the overcrowding, abominable medical treatment, the lack of food…the incarceration of 2.4 million people in overcrowded facilities lacking basic medical, mental health and nutritional needs…if you want to see fundamental change in this country, here is a concrete step you can take. Send your donation in now.
In the spirit of Standing Deer,
Scott Cade, formerly prisoner 87218
Read Prisoner Letters: “…Instead of rescue [in Vietnam] I was part of the killing machine, and not a happy camper since…”
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund www.prlf.org 773.960.6952
PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity, exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code.