It feels like just weeks ago we were sharing with you some of the gains Critical Resistance made as 2011 came to a close. And now, we are more than half way through 2012. At mid-year, we stand on a wide and exciting path cut by the wake of tremendous uprisings and organizing across the planet last year. However complicated, Arab Spring, Occupy, and the heroic prisoner hunger strikes of 2011 gave new life and hope to flagging movements and created momentum to help us move strongly into 2012. At the same time on the horizon we see election cycles during which inconceivable amounts of money will be spent on electoral campaigns for politicians who speak less and less to the actual interests, needs, and wants of everyday people.
Critical Resistance has been proud to work with community members and organizations around the US and the world to make gains against the prison industrial complex. In a time that can be despairing, we feel it is important and necessary to identify, lift up, and celebrate the victories we have achieved even halfway through the year.
Together we have:
- Cut AB900 funds in half
- Mobilized steady opposition to expansion of the Los Angeles County Jail system
- Eliminated gang injunctions as a viable policing tool in Oakland
- Supported the organizing and leadership of thousands of prisoners across the US
Through focused effort and disciplined organizing, we’re able to make change with limited resources. Thanks to you, we show no signs of slowing down! We are excited to share this update with you and as we push forward into the second half of 2012. We hope you will join us in racking up even more victories.
California is definitely in crisis. Unemployment is high. Education and healthcare access is receding. Budget cuts on city, county and state levels are severe, especially for the working and poor communities of color that bear the brunt of them. And in the background, lurking behind lost jobs, closed schools, and foreclosed homes remains one of the world’s largest and most infamous prison systems. But like no other time, Californians are fighting back—and making gains.
Since 2007 Critical Resistance has been fighting against the notorious Assembly Bill 900 created to provide funding for the largest prison construction project in human history. Working within the Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) Alliance, Critical Resistance has focused on stopping all prison and jail construction in California. CR has acted as the press office for CURB’s media team, has facilitated grassroots spokesperson trainings for community members across the state, and has coordinated strategic planning with the coalition. The positive effects of this work can already be seen in the past six months.
During 2011 Critical Resistance helped mobilize dozens of community organizations and hundreds of individuals to fight tooth and nail against the imposition of civil gang injunctions. Through our work in the Stop the Injunctions Coalition we were able to stop the spread of gang injunctions and their destructive toll on communities of color in the city. CR threw down strong media work, strategic planning, spokesperson training, outreach and mass mobilization to the effort.
We know that sharing ideas and sharpening analysis as is important to fighting for abolition as taking to the streets. 2012 saw the launch of CR’s Abolitionist Educators Campaign—an effort by and for educators to join forces to leverage educators’ individual, institutional, financial, analytical, and labor resources in support of Critical Resistance. The campaign not only creates a stronger network of educators working for liberation from the PIC, but also amplifies the connections between struggles for quality education and against imprisonment and policing. At the chapter level, CR New Orleans is embarking on a new project to provide popular education workshops on the prison industrial complex and PIC abolition to community groups across the city. And, as CR begins to rebuild its work in New York City, members there are developing a class on PIC abolition for organizers in other sectors.
Whether talking about civil gang injunctions, imprisonment, or community alternatives to either, CR members are taking every opportunity to speak publically about the impacts of the prison industrial complex and resistance to those impacts. Just this year, we’ve jumped on the mic on the radio, in schools, on television, at conferences, or at rallies at least 50 times—nearly twice a week .
Members in the Lead
All of this work is led by our volunteer members, who overwhelmingly are working people who dedicate their spare time and energy to moving our work forward. Whether they are orienting new members, writing to prisoners, training to be a spokesperson, strategizing a campaign, outreaching in their neighborhoods, planning and throwing events, or talking to the media, we are constantly inspired by their unrelenting creativity and dedication to building an abolitionist movement. We celebrate the work and accomplishment of our members and are excited to use that energy, hope, and dynamism to make even more gains in the months to come.
Ending the Year Strong
Imagine what the next six months will bring! Critical Resistance knows that none of the victories we’ve been able to achieve so far this year would be possible without the efforts of our supporters and allies. CR can’t go it alone and need your help to keep up our winning pace. To end 2012 strong, we need to raise $75,000. Becoming a monthly sustainer at $25 a month, and donations of $50, $100, $500 or more help us move closer to ensuring the victories we’ve won so far this year will continue. As we look forward to the next six months, we are energized and optimistic that we will continue to win victories and continue to build the world we want and need.
P.S. We couldn’t have made it through 2011 without hundreds of donors just like you. Your help is essential to our continued success and will allow us to keep up the fight for a future free of the PIC.