Makandal reports from behind enemy lines, free ‘em all!

The Drum and Spear, equivalent to our “Letters to the Editor” column, is dedicated to publishing opinion pieces submitted by the people. The articles published here may not reflect the views of The Burning Spear newspaper or the African People’s Socialist Party. Readers are encouraged to submit responses to any articles that appear under this section.


This is a letter penned by a revolutionary comrade who is languishing in Lawton, Oklahoma state prison. Our comrade explicitly details the day-to-day deaths that exist in every concentration camp called prison in the U.S. All African inmates held captive in U.S. prisons live through this terror under the colonial mode of production, aka “Hell Hole Prisons”!

– Sayero

Friday, October 27, 2023 – Since the beginning of this month, prisoners have been getting transferred from this prison and being sent to other prisons throughout Oklahoma. This is just the latest round of mass transfers that the DOC has made. The last time it made these transfers, I ended up being sent to this prison; that was nearly two years ago, and I have been here ever since.

These mass transfers just move loads of prisoners across the state. It doesn’t matter whether or not prisoners want to leave the prisons we are living in and go to other prisons; we have to go anyway. We have no choice in the matter. We are slaves of the state and state property, so we must go to whatever prison the state that holds us in penal servitude wants to send us, and that is that.

When this new round of mass transfers started, it was said that all prisoners at this prison who weren’t gang members were going to be sent to different prisons, and all prisoners who were validated gang members were going to be sent here. It was said that this prison was going to house all prisoners in the state who belong to gangs that are designated as Security Threat Groups, but it is already filled with gang members, and many of them are already on (STG) status and confined in houses where they are isolated from the rest of the prisoners here.

I think the purpose of these transfers is to shuffle prisoners throughout the Oklahoma prison system to cause more conflicts, chaos, disturbances, and violence so that the DOC can ask the state for more money for “security” and “safety.” The politicos who run the DOC and the good ole boys who run the prison can steal a good portion of that money through jobbery, embezzlement, and misappropriation, and create high-salaried jobs for their cronies as they have long been doing. After all, this state’s prison system has been in serious crisis for years. Its prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, and they are cesspools of crime and corruption, and are the very breeding grounds for brutality and violence.

For the most part, prisoners are being warehoused in prisons that are bereft of any real programs of rehabilitation. Despite any of the billions of dollars that have been poured down the drain of the Oklahoma prison system over the years, absolutely nothing has improved at its prisons; things have only gone from bad to worse. Prisoners are being beaten, raped, stabbed, and killed in these prisons just as others are going insane, committing suicide, and dying from medical neglect, and yet politicians and prison officials just go on benefiting and profiting from its failing system of imprisonment.

Imprisonment isn’t just modern-day slavery that is rooted in colonialism and corporate capitalism; it is also a giant protection racket.

I didn’t get transferred during this latest round of mass transfers as I thought I might, and neither did Zulu. So we remain at this prison, and we figure that we will be here until the DOC decides to move us to another prison.

As for the killing that I told you about this morning, it happened two days ago. An African was stabbed to death in his cell. His killers cut off his head as they also attempted to dismember his body to dispose of it. They then dumped his body in the trash. Even though he was dead, and his body was in the trash, the guards who counted the inmates on his pod actually counted him as if he was in his cell during count time all during the night. It wasn’t until the next day that the guards on the morning shift noticed that he was missing. Several hours after he was killed, his body was discovered in the trash.

This grisly murder is the latest killing that has happened at this prison. It is a horrendous example of the sort of mayhem, murder, and madness that occurs here. If you google stabbings, killings, and deaths at the Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, you will see a slew of murders. Just over the past few years alone, the Google research will show you the depths of brutality and violence at this private prison that the GED group, Inc owns and operates for profit, profits which Oklahoma pays it hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to house some of its prisoners. This brutality and violence are part and parcel of crime and corruption at this prison.

“We were thrown into these colonial prisons as outcasts of the colonizing society, and outlaws of colonialism.”

Listen comrade, I have spent 33 of my 52 years of life in this world inside Oklahoma’s prison system. I have clocked in a total of 22 years in Supermax at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, and 8 years in solitary confinement in the SHU, “Special Housing Unit,” behind its walls, locked in a cell 23 hours a day throughout all of these years. I’ve done 18 years on H-Unit, an underground unit that is that prison’s notorious “Dungeon,” where I was confined to a windowless cell that I never left without being handcuffed and shackled. All in all, I have spent over half of my life behind bars in this state.

During my tour of duty in the Oklahoma prison system, I have served time at the State of Oklahoma’s worst prisons, and the prison I am in now is one of them.

I say all of this to say, I have seen it all, and been through it all during my time in prison in Oklahoma. I have absolutely no illusions about anything concerning this state’s prison system or America’s prison system as a whole. I have absolutely no illusions about justice, mercy, decency, or compassion under colonialism in Oklahoma or anywhere else in America.

Convict leasing African children. PHOTO: JOHN L. SPIVAK, PUBLIC
DOMAIN, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

So, I know that the colonizers who rule this country and run its prison system don’t give a damn about the millions of prisoners who are locked within its hellish confines and could care less about what happens to them in prisons. I know that they especially give a damn about those of us who are African. I know this just as surely as I know that they didn’t give a damn about us during slavery, Convict-Leasing or Jim Crow, or any of the dictatorship, tyranny, oppression, brutality, violent torture, and terror we have been subjected to under their rule throughout the history of our enslavement and colonization in this alien land.

I don’t expect our colonial masters to give a damn about us at all as colonial subjects whether we are in or out of their prison system, but we should care about our people in these colonial prisons and be very concerned about what happens to us in them because we are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, and cousins who come from the same African colony.

Being in these prisons is the closest we get to experiencing the slavery and captivity that our ancestors endured in this day and and age.

As slaves of the state, we are just as nameless, faceless, and voiceless in prison as they were as slaves on the plantation, and we hardly have any rights today that our colonial masters are bound to respect than Africans had yesterday. When we die or get murdered in these prisons, other Africans just take our place, new bodies in our old cells as life goes on, and it’s business as usual in this era of the prison industrial complex and mass imprisonment.

We were thrown into these colonial prisons as outcasts of the colonizing society, and outlaws of colonialism. We were sent here to be punished for crimes by a colonial state that has committed the greatest crimes against our people without any consequences or punishment. Our colonial masters put us here to contain and control us, and we have to literally physically fight without any prison guard being on post providing any safety for us to survive while we are in the yards of these prisons just as we had to do on the streets of the ghetto in the inner city. Many of us have been left to rot and die in their prisons while many more just become lost in the dark labyrinth of the colonial prison system and can never find their way out of it, “We Die”!

The African who was just murdered and beheaded at this prison had been in for nearly 20 years. He was close to getting out of here, but he didn’t make it. He was killed behind bars before he could make it home. I just wanted to write you and tell you about this latest killing at this prison. It is a tragedy that is all too common in colonial prisons. When you go to Washington DC next week for the Black People’s March On The White House, speak out against the imprisonment of our people under colonialism and the colonizing nation’s prison system in which over a million of us are held captive. Protest the prison industrial complex and mass imprisonment right along with colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and the FBI’s attack on the party and the Uhuru Movement.

I will end this letter by saying that America’s prisons are modern-day slave plantations just as surely as prisoners are modern-day slaves. These state-of-the-art, high-tech slave plantations with razor wire fences around them are testaments to the punitiveness, cruelty, and monstrosity of colonialism, and the greed of corporate capitalism.

As I leave you, “I raise a clenched fist,” to you comrade! Zulu salutes you as well and sends you his revolutionary regards.

In Struggle, Makandal

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