Sharpening Our Theory and Practice

Thirty members and staff of Critical Resistance (CR) gathered recently outside of Portland for an engaging weekend of shared study and political analysis. The “Abolitionist Training School” brought together members from across the country, with Portland, Los Angeles, Oakland, and New York City chapters, as well as other national members.

Together, we investigated, learned, struggled, and sharpened our understanding of topics such as the function of imprisonment in racial capitalism, imperialism and settler-colonialism, positioning enemies and opponents, movement lineages, organizational structures, and transformative justice and accountability. Drawing from both foundational as well as contemporary works, CR members discussed each of these topics as related to our abolitionist vision and the core beliefs of the organization.

While we regularly engage in national work as an organization, this was a unique opportunity for CR members from across the country to dedicate a weekend together to strengthen working relationships with one another, learn about each other’s campaigns in different chapters, develop more clear political alignment, and struggle together over abolitionist praxis.

The importance of political study

Taking this time to study together enables us to think more clearly and strategically about our campaigns, projects, and culture shifting work. This internal membership gathering was organized to be the first of a multi-phase Abolitionist Training School where we engage this year in organizing trainings, workshops, and partnerships with key movement organizations in different cities, leading to an abolitionist organizing gathering in early 2020.

The significance of having an Abolitionist Training School in 2019

The movement to abolish the prison industrial complex is growing momentum. Yet simultaneously, people of color, working class people, trans and gender non-conforming people, and others targeted by the state are facing increasing attack. There is no better time to strengthen ourselves internally while also building more steadfast alliances.

As we continue along this journey, it is with gratitude to the organizations and individuals who have helped us to shape this program through conversations and to all those with and from which we continue to learn.

In Struggle,
Critical Resistance