Across our four chapters, Critical Resistance members have been leading strong campaigns against imprisonment and policing in 2018. Take a look at our end of year updates below and join us to strengthen our work for abolition in 2019.
CR Los Angeles
CRLA continues to contribute to the fight against jailing in Los Angeles by participating in the leadership committee of the Justice LA (JLA) coalition. Our work in JLA is focused on opposing jail construction, which may be voted on next by the Board of Supervisors as soon as January 2019. In order to oppose jail construction we are working to engage mental health and social service workers. In October, CRLA and Californian’s United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) led a team of graduate student researchers from Antioch University in researching jail construction in Los Angeles and the history and ethical standards of mental health jailing as LA County is attempting to build a new Mental Health Jail.Check out the flyerto learn more about why the notion of a mental health jail is unethical. CRLA also produced a comprehensive information packet about the LA County jail fight.Take a look and get involved. In December CRLA held a banner and art making party to prepare for a strong action with Justice LA aimed at targeting Sheila Kuehl, District 3 Supervisor.
Supervisor Kuehl has indicated concern with building a new Women’s Jail on the toxic Mira Loma site which is prone to Valley Fever. This action highlighted the impacts of jailing on people with mental health needs, queer people, women, and people of color. If Sheila Kuehl wants to support District 3 residents, she must agree to “Care Not Cages”! As we approach January, we are preparing for amobilization to the Board of Supervisors with Justice LA on January 8thwhen the Supervisors will be renewing discussion on the Women’s Jail plan. We have an opening again to stop this planned jail expansion and have been putting pressure on new Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, to publicly state his opposition to the plan and move to roll back construction. Join us on January 8th!
CR New York City
In 2018, through our Jail Free NYC campaign, CR New York City helped lay the groundwork for a growing movement against jail construction as Mayor De Blasio continues attempting to push forward his plan forfour new borough-based jailsas a necessary step towards the closure of Rikers. In October of this year, the City held the first of four public scoping sessions as part of a CEQR, or City Environmental Quality Review, for the proposed four new jails. In the lead up to those mobilizations, a strong alliance of forces called No New Jails NYC started coalescing and building power to oppose the plan. Through sharing ideas, discussing strategy, and building relationships, we became much stronger. Residents adjacent to jails, community groups, organizers, and artists came together under a unified voice to say: jails dehumanize people and new jails should not be built.
Together with No New Jails NYC Coalition, CR New York City’s Jail Free NYC campaign mobilized for the four hearings, with a press conference and strong presence at the final scoping session in the Bronx. The coalition’s demands were loud and clear: shut down Rikers now, and do it without building any new jails. Not in Brooklyn, not in Queens, not in Chinatown, and not in the Bronx. CRNYC continues to be a strong and steadfast presence within No New Jails NYC through contributions to strategy, media, outreach, and research. Together with No New Jails NYC we are currently preparing for mobilizing and taking direct action in early 2019. Stay tuned for updates. More than ever, we are ready to fight jail construction in New York City and, with your involvement, we are ready to win.
CR Oakland is a strong leader in the Stop Urban Shield coalition. In 2018 this coalition was able to secure a groundbreaking victory where theBoard of Supervisors voted to end the Urban Shieldweapons expo and war games competition. While the Supervisors made this commitment, they left the details vague and it continues to be up to the Stop Urban Shield coalition to ensure that neither Urban Shield nor any similar program by another name goes forward. A representative of the SUS coalition is participating in an ad-hoc committee to advise the Board of Supervisors on how to structure emergency preparedness training activities when Urban Shield no longer occurs. CR Oakland is working to support that coalition representative with political guidance and organizing strategy. As the Sheriff organizes behind the scenes to weasel Urban Shield back into the 2019 county plans, we anticipate that we will once again need to mobilize and exert pressure on the Supervisors – be ready to take action!
In the lead up to the spring of 2019, when the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will be faced with implementing their decision to end Urban Shield, CR Oakland will continue to organize events and activities with the coalition to engage and build our base of opposition. In the first such event, Public Health Justice Collective and CR are hosting a workshop on Tuesday, January 29, 6-8pm breaking down PHJC’s momentous win to get the American Public Health Association to pass their statement that policing is a public health hazard (more info TBA).
Across the Bay in San Francisco, CR Oakland remains a leader in the No New SF Jail coalition demanding the immediate closure of the jail at 850 Bryant. October 2018 marked the end of a two year period where various county departments attempted to implement policy and programmatic investments to reduce the jail population. Within the No New SF Jail coalition, CR Oakland organized in anticipation of this hearing, holding arally to demand “No New Cops and No New Jails”and coordinating advocacy visits with County Supervisors to share the coalition’sJail Closure Planas well as proposals for proactive use of the land of 850 Bryant and policies that would help mitigate the impacts of harmful bail reform on a state level. Although many departments reported at the hearing that they have implemented policies that should reduce jail numbers, the overall jail population has remained stagnant and on some days event increased. The coalition continues to assert that this increase is due to increased policing in San Francisco, classification of people imprisoned in the jails, and lack of political will for releasing prisoners.
Sheriff Vicki Hennessy has threatened the Supervisors that she must renovate and reopen the closed jail in San Bruno, rebuild 850 Bryant, or will be forced to lease jail space at Santa Rita jail in Oakland. Thecoalition is steadfastly fighting each of these proposalsand working to advance policy that will reduce jail population numbers to allow for the immediate closure of 850 Bryant.
CR Portland (CRPDX) is the anchor organization for Care Not Cops (CNC), a campaign that has successfully moved public attention and political will toreduce proposed increases in the policing budget. Responding to the Department of Justice, Portland city officials have for years been under pressure to take action to address the policing of people with mental health needs, and they have responded with increased policing rather than working to limit or end the city’s policing. The campaign started by pushing back against the idea of policing people with mental health needs but rather asserting that policing is by design a violent and repressive tool of social control.
The solution for Portland must be to reduce and ultimately eliminate the police budget and in turn invest in voluntary, user-led, and self-determined care in communities. As such, the Care Not Cops campaign is currently building a report planned for release in January that features local groups who do work to organize and strengthen communities so that people can have their needs met, rely on each other, and ultimately thrive. We will use this report for advocacy to decision makers leading up to the 2019 budget process and for building a stronger alliance with other organizations working on issues related to racial justice, economic justice, houselessness, and migration in in Portland. While working on this report, CNC and CRPDX are also further investigating how we can fight policing practices such as gang enforcement, Trimet policing, and racially motivated traffic stops that weaponized the displacement of Black, brown, and houseless people in Portland. In 2019 we plan to take on additional work with our partners to address strategic interventions that we can make to continue to chip away at the violence of policing in Portland.