Whether it was celebrating 25 years of Critical Resistance (CR) with a large fundraiser and panel in May, propelling our prison industrial complex (PIC) abolitionist campaign and project work forward, or gathering to strategize with our movement partners, Critical Resistance (CR) has done lots of organizing this year.
As we enter into Fall 2023, check out the following campaign and project updates on CR’s work below, including some resources we’ve created, and consider how you can plug into CR’s ongoing work building an international movement to abolish the PIC.
#CloseCAPrisons: CR Oakland & CR Los Angeles with the CURB coalition
Amidst highlights of current and future California prison closures, and challenges such as Newsom’s proposal to fund expansions of San Quentin State Prison, CR and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) are still resisting imprisonment and advocating for life-affirming resources in our statewide campaign to #CloseCAPrisons.
CR Oakland and Los Angeles members continue to take on leadership in doing grassroots outreach to community members and workers, creating media, connecting with imprisoned people, and crafting legislative strategy to close California prisons now! This June, CR and other CURB organizations mobilized to the CA State Capitol and met with state legislators about closing state prisons, reducing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCr) budget, and rejecting the governor’s proposal for $360 million to “rehabilitate” San Quentin State Prison. (See more spring campaign updates here).
In addition to the statewide legislative strategy focused on Sacramento, CR and CURB are also working to build local power to close specific prisons in different site fights. This summer, CRLA has started to host regular parking lot outreach days outside California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, CA, working to connect with family members of prisoners and other visitors with the benefits of prison closure and necessary community investments.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending an upcoming outreach day!
Dignity Not Detention: CR New York City (CRNYC) and the Abolish ICE New York New Jersey Coalition!
CR New York City and our Abolish ICE NY NY coalition partners continue to advance the New York Dignity Not Detention (DND) campaign‘s goal of ending New York state collaboration and contracts with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). CRNYC chapter members have continued outreach and media efforts to bolster support for the campaign, as well as inside-outside organizing to advocate for releases not transfers. Throughout the Summer, CRNYC helped drive weekly phone and email zaps to state legislators to urge them to pass the DND legislation, and the chapter helped raise and distribute $1,700 to people currently or recently in immigrant detention.
In May, CR NYC traveled upstate and mobilized with 30 coalition partner organizations to the NY state capitol in Albany to meet with state representatives in support of passing the Dignity Not Detention Act, resulting in 4 legislators naming their support for the bill. Additionally, we joined our comrades from Troy, NY, at the Rensselaer County Jail, where we rallied against the county’s contract and the jail’s history of abuse and retaliation. Learn more about CR NYC’s work against immigrant detention here.
Resisting Policing: Cop City will never be built!
CR is supporting organizing to Stop Cop City in Atlanta, Georgia. Cop City would be a $90 million, 350-acre police training & militarization facility. These actions of support include issuing a statement of solidarity, circulating fundraising calls, and sending CR members to Atlanta to support with canvassing to gain necessary signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot for the people of Atlanta to vote on the Cop City project.
Project & Other Chapter Updates
Support Mutual Aid for Abolition!
A community fund of CR Oakland to support community members in need, The Zachary Project distributed over $11,000 to community members in need over the past year, providing survival support like health and living expenses, resources for people returning home from prison, and more.
This next year, we hope to grow our resources for The Zachary Project, to increase our ability to help more community members. Help us sustain this project for years to come by donating TODAY and selecting “Zachary Project” as the Designation.
Across Walls: Solidarity with Imprisoned People
Mail Programs & Phone Lines
With new and improved correspondence tools being rolled out throughout the organization, CR continues to correspond with thousands of people inside prisons, jails, and detention centers through our chapter mail programs. This allows us to maintain and strengthen our campaign organizing so we can strategize with our comrades inside and uplift the demands of imprisoned organizers. Aiding us in maintaining the volunteer power and infrastructural support for these prisoner correspondence programs (and much more) is our new Office Administrative Assistant, Jay Steinberg – welcome, Jay!
The Abolitionist Newspaper–Issue 39 on Reproductive Justice
In June, a year after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, CR printed issue 39 of our cross-wall bilingual newspaper The Abolitionist focused on reproductive justice and PIC abolition. Throughout the summer, CR hustled to distribute every printed copy, circulating over 6,000 copies inside and outside of cages. In September, we celebrated with contributing authors of the issue discussing the content and intersections of reproductive justice and PIC abolition more broadly on a webinar – “Our Bodies, Our Freedom: Abolishing the PIC Post-Roe.”
Also this month, CR and The Abolitionist Editorial Collective launched a new collaboration with Beyond Prisons Podcast, a special episode series on each forthcoming issue of The Abolitionist called “Over the Wall: The Abolitionist Hour with Critical Resistance.” Listen to our first episode “Beyond Abortion: Reproductive Justice & Abolitionist Struggle” on issue 39 here, and stay tuned for our next episode on Issue 40 covering control units and abolition, which will air in November.
Like what you see & hear? Support the project and subscribe today. All paid subscriptions for allies outside of cages sponsor free subscriptions for imprisoned people. If you know someone locked up who would like a free subscription, sign them up here.
More Movement Building Events & Resources
Campaign Training & Tools
At the start of September, Critical Resistance travelled to Chicago to attend the Socialism 2023 Conference hosted by Haymarket Books. CR spent a week networking and connecting with movement partners old and new. At the conference, we also facilitated CR’s “Our Communities, Our Solutions” training on developing winning abolitionist campaigns against policing, based on an extensive toolkit we released in 2020.
Check out the toolkit here, and request this training from CR on our request form on our website, if you’d like CR to come and support your organization develop an effective anti-policing campaign.
Earlier in the summer, CR hosted a Building and Winning Abolitionist Campaigns webinar in June that brought speakers to discuss the importance and impact of campaigns against prisons, jails, and policing across the country. Our speakers shared powerful and invaluable insights into their successful campaign organizing again the prison industrial complex.
For those who weren’t able to make the event, we’ve posted the recording online.
CURB’s #CloseCAPrisons campaign is working to mobilize CA labor organizations for prison closure. Help us organize by sharing this digital flyer, forward this email, and directly talk with your friends, families, coworkers, communities, and networks to join the fight.
In the Bay Area and want to do CR’s new labor workshop with your union or worker organization? Request it here.
In Oakland, Los Angeles, New York or Portland? Join CR!
Lastly, this month CR Portland and CRNYC both organized community events in attempt to bring in more new members. If you’re in the Portland or New York areas and would like to join Critical Resistance, contact your local chapter now!