Revolution #262, March 11, 2012

Carl Dix:

Urgently Needed: A Real Fight Against Mass Incarceration

Editors’ note: The following is an excerpt from a talk Carl Dix recently gave in New York City and Berkeley, California. In this excerpt, he speaks to the importance of the April 19 National Day of Resistance to Mass Incarceration.

We need to stand together and build determined resistance to the horror of mass incarceration. I’ve already laid out where things are headed. We need to build this kind of resistance because people shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of social control because they're Black or Latino. And no one should want to live in a society where people are denied rights because of the color of their skin. We need to wage fierce resistance to mass incarceration because that's crucial to wrenching society off the trajectory toward slow genocide. If we fail to do this, if we meet this horrific situation with silence, then people will be beat down so far that we would never be able to do anything about all the hell they inflict on us. And we need to build this resistance because it would be impossible to ever have a revolution and get rid of all the hell this system brings down on people here and around the world without a movement of resistance to a horrific injustice like mass incarceration. We can't respond to all this with silence—that would be deadly.

There has already been a lot of good and important things done. A lot of exposure of the reality of this problem has been done. Over 10,000 prisoners in California went on hunger strikes last year, putting their lives on the line to declare that they refused to submit in silence any longer to the torturous conditions being inflicted on them. A lot of people, including many prominent people, supported them. And the civil disobedience aimed at stopping Stop & Frisk launched last fall in New York City helped, along with the prisoners' strike, to add a missing ingredient—dramatic mass resistance. All this amounts to a good beginning, one that has to be built on.

The resistance to mass incarceration has to be taken to a higher level. It has to be spread nationwide, drawing in people from different sections of society to stand together against this outrage. Inspiring people from the bottom of society, who in their millions are enmeshed in the criminal justice system, to stand up and fight back. And rallying people from other sections of society who don't face these conditions to join in the resistance. We need to build the kind of resistance that exposes the lies the system uses to justify mass incarceration.

We have to make a big leap in building this resistance right now. The presidential elections are heating up, and none of the candidates are saying anything about mass incarceration or the hell this system brings down on people in the inner cities, except to call for increasing the clamp-down. We need to puncture this silence with dramatic resistance. We need a day of bold activity—a day when college and high school students hold rallies and teach-ins on their campuses, when religious institutions open their doors and invite their congregants and others to speak bitterness about abusive policing, when youth take to the streets determined to no longer accept being criminalized in silence and others from many different walks of life join them. A day when people in the prisons find ways to be part of the resistance, when cultural events targeting mass incarceration are held and statements saying no to this genocide signed by a broad array of prominent people are published as ads in newspapers. All of this involving all kinds of people, from different walks of life and points of view, all saying NO to Mass Incarceration. And thru this beginning to change the way people in society look at mass incarceration and winning many of them to stand against it....

This can contribute to building a real fight against mass incarceration. To transforming the way people look at this, confronting people who don't experience this with the reality of the injustice being inflicted on so many. And to opening up space for those who do suffer this injustice to stand up, speak out and fight back.

OK, you’ve heard me talk about all the hell this system rains down on the masses of people here in this country and all around the world. And I’ve laid out the need for revolution to get rid of it once and for all, and what kind of revolution we need. I know that all that is a lot to digest, and it gives you a lot to think about and grapple with. I want you to dig deeper into this analysis, but even as you do that and decide what you think of it all, and even before you figure all that out, there's something you urgently need to do. That's get involved in the fight to beat back the genocidal monster of mass incarceration. You have to take up the fight to stop Stop & Frisk and to stop the way people in prison are treated as less than full human beings and former prisoners are forced to wear badges of dishonor and shame after they’ve already been punished. You have to tell everybody you know about the horrors this system is bringing down on people and that they have to get involved in fighting that too. This is urgently necessary. We have to join together to build the kind of determined mass resistance that can beat back some of these attacks. As I said before, I'm not engaging in idle rhetoric here. This is no joke—it is high stakes, and it is real. It is up to us, all of us, to not only stop all this from going down but to reverse what has already gone down. And if you want to change all of society, you have to really throw in and join the fight against mass incarceration.

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