Year End Fundraiser: Abolition is Essential in 2021

December 2021

Dear Critical Resistance friends and supporters,

This year Critical Resistance has been humbled and inspired to organize with a broad range of dedicated movement partners and thousands of supporters— new and old— to bring abolitionist visions and goals to life. Through campaigns and projects, we’ve continued to demonstrate that abolition is relevant and essential. Bringing an end to policing and imprisonment not only means freedom for our communities, but also allows us to materially address intersecting crises that affect all of us— such as climate change, lack of affordable and safe housing, compromised healthcare, food insecurity and economic disenfranchisement. Without cages and cops, more is possible.

Thank you for supporting CR in enlivening this essential organizing vision and strategy. Your involvement is essential to CR’s campaigns, projects, and movement building. With your support this year, CR has:

  • Collaborated with movement partners across California to close a prison in Tracy, CA!
  • Increased resistance to immigrant detention and deportation in New York and New Jersey.
  • Helped shift $18 million from the Oakland Police Department budget to community resources.
  • Shared political education, mutual aid and organizing resources with over 19,000 imprisoned people through our phone lines, prison mail programs, and The Abolitionist newspaper.

Grassroots gifts are essential to CR’s strength and stability. It is our goal to raise $50,000 for Critical Resistance by December 31, 2021. We invite you to join the over 8,000 people who have donated to CR in the past 3 years (over 6,000 in 2020 alone!).  No amount is too small, and no amount too large, for this essential organizing. Can you help us get there by donating today? You can give online here or by check (and other options) listed below.

Love things in layout? Check out the mailer version of 2021 Year End Fundraising Letter. Read on for the same content.

Resisting Policing

In Oakland, CA, where over 50% of the city’s general fund goes to the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Defund Police coalition and CR Oakland are campaigning to shift power out of OPD and back into community. The Defund Police coalition includes: CR Oakland, Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP), Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), PolicyLink, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Bay Resistance, Urban Peace Movement and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC).

CR Oakland has contributed to Defund Police coalition planning, Defund OPD campaign strategy, media, youth education, and outreach efforts. We co-hosted 2 lively socially-distanced Community Forums (Akoma Market and 4400 Telegraph Freedom Fridays), made numerous presentations to decision-makers, the media, and community organizations. With the Defund Police Coalition, we successfully passed a number of anti-policing recommendations through a special city task force and the city council in the spring. In June 2021, the coalition helped Oaklanders achieve another campaign win: Oakland City Council voted to reallocate $18 million dollars away from OPD to community programs.  

Your support is essential to keep this organizing moving ahead! Thank you for donating to CR.

Fighting Imprisonment

Following successful multi-year campaigns and 2019-2020 victories with coalitions against local jail expansion, CR Oakland and Los Angeles chapters have eagerly joined the campaign to close ten prisons in CA by 2025 with our statewide movement partners in Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) coalition. CR has supported this effort through strategic media and communications, legislative planning, grassroots outreach, bringing our imprisoned comrades into the campaign, and overall campaign strategy. As a result of years of anti-imprisonment organizing building momentum in California, Governor Newsom deactivated Deuel Vocational Institution this year, with no one being held there as of September 30, 2021. Another prison, California Correctional Institution, is also slated for closure. The closure of DVI marks a strong start to the campaign! Please help us keep up the pressure and compel more prison closures in California! Every gift helps CR grow this essential campaign.

Our CR New York City chapter is increasing the local, regional and national resistance to detention and deportation with the Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition. This year CR members supported strategic media communications, and participatory defense for people locked up in ICE-contracted jails (mostly in NJ). Together we are demanding that both New Jersey and New York Governors use their emergency power to stop transfers of people from local law enforcement agencies into ICE custody, end ICE-jail contracts, and that ICE release people locally instead of transferring them to distant ICE facilities.

We are fighting for real essential resources, as we dismantle cages. Your support will help strengthen and grow these anti-imprisonment campaigns.

Prisoner solidarity organizing

Through the Covid-19 pandemic, CR steadfastly continues to build connections across cages and walls. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been rerouting all our office’s collect calls from imprisoned people into a robust and creative volunteer-staffed system. Experienced with prisoner calls or ready to get trained up? Contact to get involved. Your donations maintain this essential connection.

The Abolitionist newspaper editorial collective produced and sent two issues of the paper in the past year to over 4,500 subscribers in prisons, jails, detention centers and re-entry, completely for free. We engaged over 150 volunteers this year to individually look up thousands of people’s current addresses to ensure prisoners get their papers. Issue topics include: “Defund Policing” and “Pathways Toward Freedom,” which focuses on strategies for getting people out of cages. Volunteer people power and non-prisoner subscribers are essential to staying in touch with people inside. Subscribe today!

In 2021, Critical Resistance Portland (CR PDX) achieved the goal of their Write Them All (WTA) campaign (initiated in 2020). With over 1,2000 volunteers in 10 months time, we individually contacted all 14,000 people currently imprisoned in Oregon with handwritten letters and a mailing kit offering resources, information on abolition, and community connections. Over 1,000 imprisoned people have engaged back directly, highlighting issues that we are investigating and we continue to build politically. Relatedly, CR PDX has joined the Oregon Prisoner Coalition to build our statewide prisoner solidarity partnerships. Your support keeps this essential organizing growing.

Movement Building

In the past year, we have made over 150 presentations to supporters, decision-makers, media and movement partners, including workshops for public health allies, formerly imprisoned and systems-impacted youth, the AbolitionNOW network, and more. Additionally, we training 73 new members and volunteers through 6 cohorts of Intro to the Prison Industrial Complex and Abolition workshops in 2021.

From December 2020 to present, we co-hosted Freedom Fridays series at our 4400 Telegraph building in North Oakland and strengthened essential organizing relationships and campaigns. Over 700 people have joined calls to action to defund OPD, close California prisons, release prisoners, drop Life Without Parole sentencing and grant clemency, and more.

New Tools and Materials for our Movement

2021 has been busy! Here are a few highlights of tools made this year for campaigns, projects and movement-building. Please visit to explore more. We released:

On the Road to Freedom: An Abolitionist Assessment of Pretrial and Bail Reform, from CR and Community Justice Exchange. The primary purpose of this toolkit is to provide organizers who seek to challenge pretrial detention with examples, challenges, and best practices for moving forward an abolitionist campaign –ideally resulting in more wins! 

Lessons in Liberation: An Abolitionist Toolkit for Educators, co-edited by CR K12 Abolitionist Educators and the Education for Liberation Network. Designed for educators, parents, and young people, this toolkit shines a light on innovative abolitionist projects, particularly in Pre-K–12 learning contexts. Order your copy from CR’s website or from AK Press:

Resource Guide for Teaching and Learning Abolition, from CR post-secondary Abolitionist Educators. This new guide is for people interested in learning and teaching abolition across post-secondary schools, community organizations and study groups. We’ve also updated our “Picturing the Prison Industrial Complex” tool to make it available for virtual use and download. See all tools and more here.

Our ask

Abolition is essential. It allows us the room to dream wildly, effect real change, and fundamentally shift conditions on the ground for millions of people. Will you celebrate our gains and make a gift to support CR this month? We invite you to donate generously, at whatever level you are able. You can give online here or by check (and other options) listed below.

We are majority grassroots-funded, and gifts of $15, $25, $50 and $500 keep us thriving. We are also looking for major donor gifts of $5,000-$50k+!  Every size donation keeps us thriving on the daily; monthly sustainers and major gifts allow us to invest in the longevity of our campaigns and organization. You can…

Every gift helps us advance PIC abolition. Thank you! Toward liberation,

Jess Heaney, Mohamed Shehk and Woods Ervin, CR National Co-Directors

Shirley Leslie, Development Coordinator, and CR National Fundraisers

P.S. We’ve moved! Please note that we are no longer at 1904 Franklin St, #504. *Send mail to our new P.O. Box: Critical Resistance, P.O. Box. 22780, Oakland, CA 94609-2301.