2023 has been a busy year for Critical Resistance Oakland. Below we share some updates on the work we’ve accomplished so far this year towards abolishing the PIC; work made possible by our network of supporters, volunteers and accomplices.
On May 5th, Critical Resistance nationally hosted a beautiful event commemorating 25 years since Critical Resistance’s first conference in Berkeley in 1998, this time at San Francisco State University. CR Oakland members welcomed members from chapters around the country, as we hosted over 350 attendees at SFSU’s McKenna Theater for a night of performances, reflection, celebration. Highlighting the night was a panel discussion with Angela Davis, Andrea Ritchie, and Ny Nourn.
Read up more on the event here.
Prisoner Solidarity & Mail
Our Inside/Outside workgroup formally partnered with CR Oakland’s Prisoner Mail Program in order to boost our capacity to respond to letters sent from comrades inside prisons across the region. With a tight crew of dedicated volunteers, chapter members, and our Prisoner Correspondence Fellow, Anastasia, we’ve been able to make major headway in our backlog of letters. Additionally, this crew has worked closely alongside the CA Prison Closure campaign to process important incoming and outgoing strategic communications with our inside organizers in prisons across California.
To get involved with our Mail Program and other volunteer opportunities, sign up for our email list here.
Close CA Prisons NOW!
This year, the CR Oakland chapter, together with our Los Angeles chapter, has continued to work on the statewide campaign for California prison closures and is making significant gains. The Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) coalition has an ambitious and visionary goal of shutting down 10 state prisons by 2025, and CR members are supporting this goal by advancing and leading legislative advocacy, media and communications, in-reach to people in prisons, and community outreach for the campaign. Over the last year, we have:
- Supported the closure of two state prisons: Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy has closed, and CA Correctional Center in Susanville is being vacated and will close no later than June 2023.
- Confirmed two more prisons for closure.
- Successfully launched a statewide roadmap for prison closure!
- Created a set of labor workshops and info sessions for workers to learn about our shared interest to close prisons.
- Advocated for prison closure in-person at the state capitol alongside various coalition partners
Building People Power & Solidarity – Locally & Internationally
Although we stopped holding Freedom Fridays –a monthly, in-person event series in the back lot of our building at 4400 Telegraph – CR Oakland is thrilled to be entering the next phase of our building project. Through the “4400 Committee”, CR Oakland chapter members have been working alongside other stakeholders to begin the design development phase of a major renovation at the site. We’re looking forward to breaking ground some time in 2024 on what will be a social justice movement space, community center, and Critical Resistance’s permanent national headquarters.
As we made the decision to sunset Freedom Fridays last year, CR Oakland renewed our commitment to stay involved in local work to support our movement partners across the Bay Area. From speaking at Stop Cop City events making connections to Stop Urban Shield; to providing media support for Alameda County’s Care First Community Coalition; to taking up strategic planning roles in a burgeoning campaign in response to the killing of Banko Brown, CR Oakland members continue to listen to our allies and seek opportunities where we are best suited to move the struggle forward.
In the past month, as the Israeli apartheid state has escalated genocidal war on Gaza, CR Oakland has joined Bay Area based solidarity actions with Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area, and others to mobilize tens of thousands for almost weekly rallies and protests demanding an immediate ceasefire in San Francisco. CR members have regularly supported action safety and security, and some press work.
Moving into the final two months of 2023, CR Oakland has a lot ahead of us. As always, a great way to support our work is by donating. Be sure to sure to select “Oakland” as your designation, and check out our upcoming events below. We look forward to forging lasting connections and systems of care and comradery that will make the prison industrial complex obsolete in the Bay Area and beyond!
- November 1: Abolition Means No More War – Free Palestine NOW! Join us for a webinar with Angela Davis, Lara Kiswani from AROC, Stefanie Fox from Jewish Voice for Peace and Nadine Naber from INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence National for a conversation on the ongoing war on Palestine, and practical abolitionist strategies to fight back against war and militarism, the prison industrial complex, and settler colonialism. This event is a fundraiser for Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), who is on the ground in Gaza distributing humanitarian aid.
- November 6, 6pm PST: American Purgatory Book Launch with Freedom Archives & Bandung Books at Eastside Cultural Center in East Oakland!
- November 11-12: No to APEC – Join the Peoples’ Counter Summit and Mass Mobilization Against the APEC Heads of State and CEO’s Summits. Wherever APEC goes, the people fight back!
- November 18: Building Worker Power to Close Prisons! Join CR Oakland and CURB from 1-3pm at 518 Valencia St in San Francisco where we’ll go over the overlapping histories of prison industrial complex abolition and labor resistance, why and how these struggles are deeply linked, and imagine what future investments for workers and for community can look like.