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The ground is shifting beneath us. The harm and violence of the prison industrial complex (PIC) – including policing, imprisonment, and surveillance – have been pushed to the fore of people’s consciousness. Yet we are not mere spectators to this shift; on the contrary, we know very well that this is the cumulative effect of collective struggle on many fronts. For instance, without the dedication and sacrifice of the California hunger strikers in 2011 and 2013, particularly those in Pelican Bay’s solitary units and their supporters on the outside, we would not be witnessing an unprecedented denunciation of solitary confinement coming from virtually all layers of society. Similarly, without combative and sustained outrage by people in Ferguson in response to the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, we are doubtful that today’s increased attention and resistance to policing would be as far-reaching. We are deeply inspired by this shift, and are energized by the potential to challenge the PIC in significant and lasting ways.
For PIC abolitionists, the question is, what is the most strategic way to build and escalate the struggle during this time of increased calls to reform policing and prisons? What kinds of demands and strategies should we pursue that don’t simply adjust the operations of the PIC, but disempower it? Ultimately, how do we expand the radical potential of our moment to realize what we want – a world free of policing, imprisonment, surveillance, and all the forms of political, social, and economic violence that they maintain?
It is precisely a future beyond the PIC that we are fighting to achieve. Our vision is abolition, and we humbly join all those who seek to find every opportunity to make our movement flourish.