The housing crisis, a shelter in place order and the National Guard: It’s not just coronavirus and disaster capitalism that we need to resist in these unsure times but the increased criminalization of people simply trying to survive.
From housing instability to economic hardship and the intergenerational trauma of mass incarceration, the impact of criminalization is dire.
Unhoused residents of Berkeley who live in RVs and vans on the occupied streets of Berkeley (called Huchuin Lisjan by the Ohlone, the first people) wrote their stories in POOR Magazine’s Street-Writing Workshop held weekly on the corner of Eighth and Harrison streets. This powerful community, who call themselves Berkeley Friends on Wheels have dealt with harassment, politricksters and ongoing criminalization for doing nothing but living humbly and cleanly in their RVs.
“We are surrounded by Black cops,” said Leroy Moore, with POOR Magazine and Krip Hop Nation, about the 15 Black cops who surrounded us houseless and formerly houseless mamas, uncles, children and elders from the Poor People’s March when we walked humbly into the Washington, D.C., office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to demand our housing back. “We are here to meet with Ben Carson,” we all said.
Historically, Black children have been exposed to a racist system, which not only exposes them to unspeakable violence, but also criminalization. In 2018, Black children still need protection. Through the life of Trayvon Martin and others, community members and organizers are standing up for the basic rights of Black children to ensure they make it through each phase of their childhood – and exercise their right to be children.
Cherie Williams, a 35-year-old African-American woman in the Bronx, just wanted to protect herself from her abusive boyfriend. So she called the cops. But although New York requires police to make an arrest when responding to domestic violence calls, the officers did not leave their car. When Williams demanded their badge numbers, the police handcuffed her, drove her to a deserted parking lot and beat her, breaking her nose and jaw and rupturing her spleen. They then left her on the ground.
Following the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department retweet of white supremacist Richard Spencer, which was a video of a press conference Spencer held defending the acts of terrorism in Charlottesville, we call on the sheriff to end their collaboration with ICE, stop profiting off of the incarceration of people of color, stop hosting militarized law enforcement trainings, and accurately account for what was saved as a result of Proposition 47.
Ava DuVernay undertook the documentary “13th” in order to explore and bring attention to the Prison Industrial Complex. The film’s title refers to the 1865 amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in which slavery was abolished “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The story told by “13th” thus goes back to the early chain-gangs of Black prisoners – men arrested for petty offenses under the post-Civil War Black Codes who were then contracted out to perform labor that they had previously performed as privately-owned slaves.
With President Agent Orange sitting in the White House surrounded by his harem of small-handed Klansmen, we must understand that this homogenous group of fascists is intent on wreaking havoc on intellectual strength. We cannot sink into the depths of mental despair and spiritual neglect. This is exactly what they want. The tyranny of a totalitarian regime and the suffering and oppression that ensues is nothing new to the Black psyche.
We are freedom fighters incarcerated at Angola State Prison and are moving to build our organization Decarcerate Louisiana. We’re advocating for community reinvestment. We believe in sustainable economies and strong local communities. Decarcerate Louisiana is organizing to redress injustice and to battle against systemic racism, classism, inequality, oppression, repression, criminalization and mass incarceration in our communities.
The snow shined against the afternoon sun. The multicolored flags bearing the images of our ancestors rippled and flapped in the afternoon breeze as the “Po’ Folx Delegation” from POOR Magazine and Decolonize Academy rode in on a rented four-wheel drive car. After a long, harrowing journey from Huchuin, Ohlone (Oakland, California), in two planes and a rental car we finally arrived to find an avenue of flags from hundreds of nations across Mama Earth, including our favorite, where we piled out of the car to take our first picture, the RBG flag of Black liberation.
Donald Trump is the consequence of an America in which a white man with money is automatically bestowed with power and political freedom. Despite his blatant stupidity, repulsiveness and toxic influence, he remains a presidential candidate – to me this is ridiculous. An imposed hierarchy means that my voice as a Black woman is the last to be heard. Cue Solange Knowles and Michelle Obama to deliver me from this angst.
Development of the concept and strategy for the “amend the 13th: abolish “legal” slavery in Amerika movement” began in November 2013 following the close of the third hunger strike here in California, after holding discussions and issuing statements with other think tank coordinators on the next logical step for our anti-prison industrial slave complex (PISC) struggle.
A group of civil rights era activists have passed the torch to a younger generation, so to speak. One week after the Movement for Black Lives released a wide-ranging, and long-awaited, policy platform, the activists’ vision for change has also earned an endorsement from delegates of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a famed student organizing group that formed in the 1960s.
The No New SF Jail Coalition has been selected to receive the prestigious Hero Award by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and its Equity Advisory Committee. The coalition celebrated a monumental victory last December, when, after years of community organizing and advocacy, they persuaded the Board of Supervisors to reject plans for a new jail in San Francisco.
For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.
Although the courts said we lost, we all know our fight for justice has just begun. Realize the issues of racism, gentrification, poverty and houselessness are all linked and so are we all. So as we continue to fight for the crumbs and bang on the systems that oppress us, we also need to build our own – for Mario, for Sandra, for Alex, for Amilcar, for O’Shaine, for Kenny, for Josiah – for so many more and for all of us.
Yesterday at the opening of the so-named “Grim Sleeper” trial, prosecutor Beth Silverman laid out what seemed like a strong case against the suspect. But in her opening statement, Silverman painted the victims as “prostitutes” and “crack addicts,” racist and sexist stereotypes that the Black Coalition has had to continuously object to when the police and media used them to dismiss the fact that human beings were being murdered.
Often, women’s experiences are less present in the stories of how violence has decimated lives, families and communities. From these women writing from inside, we learn of remarkable efforts by families to resist police violence and terror, confront criminalization, and refuse state efforts to turn communities against each other. These stories are critical to the histories emerging from Compton and other sites of ongoing struggle.
Urgency to end mass incarceration and the criminalization of poor people and people of color is growing. The general public’s awareness that it simply does not make sense to lock up people with substance abuse or mental health issues is setting the stage for important reforms to our justice system. With this understanding, California voters passed Proposition 47 “The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.”
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