Revolution #263, March 25, 2012
Call Issued for National Day of Action April 19
Raise the Fight to Stop Mass Incarceration to a New Level!
A significant statement has recently been issued titled: Raising the Fight to Stop Mass Incarceration to a New Level. Issued by an impressive group of initial signers, it is calling for a National Day of Action on April 19, 2012.
The statement points to the fact that in the past several months, important advances have been made in developing resistance to mass incarceration and exposing the horrific, many, and deep ways this afflicts so many people in society. Many new organizations have come into being to join the fight; already existing ones have grown and developed; students have become involved. And the statement points out as “especially important, the several hunger strikes by prisoners in California’s Special Housing Units (and the statements of support for the strikers issued by prominent voices of conscience) and the civil disobedience campaign in New York aimed at stopping ‘stop & frisk.’”
But, the statement goes on to say, much more needs to be done. And it points to how the reality of mass incarceration in the United States remains horrific. It points out “ More than 2.4 million people, most of them Black or Latino, remain warehoused in prisons across the country; Black and Latino youth are treated like criminals by the police and the criminal justice system, guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive their encounters with police to prove their innocence; former prisoners wear badges of shame and dishonor even after they serve their sentences—discriminated against when applying for jobs, denied access to government assistance, not allowed in public housing, denied the right to vote.”
This is an outrageous and totally unacceptable situation that must be met with uncompromising resistance. But part of the problem is that, as the statement points out, “many people in the country still don’t know about this ugly reality and most of those who do know about it feel it is the result of criminal activity by those in prison and that it helps to keep them safe from crime.”
One of the purposes of the National Day of Action will be to address this problem, to take the message out broadly in society that, as the statement says:
“THIS IS NOT TRUE! MASS INCARCERATION RESULTS FROM THE SYSTEM HAVING CRIMINALIZED GENERATIONS OF YOUTH! WE HAVE THE FACTS TO MAKE THE CASE ON THIS. AND WE MUST STEP UP OUR EFFORTS TO DO THAT!”
The statement also points out that there is great urgency to all this, especially with the presidential elections coming up and how mass incarceration isn’t being mentioned as a problem by either Obama or any of the major Republican candidates.
“On the contrary, we are getting the kind of ugly racism that goes with and reinforces the whole program of mass incarceration... and conciliation with that racism. This must be transformed. Mass incarceration, what leads to it and its consequences have to become something that people across the country are aware of and feel compelled to take a stand against. And many more of them need to join the resistance to it. Only our efforts can make that happen!”
The statement proposes four things:
1. A day of national action in April. On this day, demonstrations, rallies, teach-ins, and other actions would be held focusing on bringing out the reality of mass incarceration and calling on people to join the resistance to it in cities across the U.S. These actions need to draw in many different institutions—especially schools and churches—and different sections of people in society. A special focus of this activity should be college campuses and high schools.
2. A national conference drawing together the forces working to build resistance to mass incarceration. Such a conference could bring together organizations and individuals working on different fronts of this battle; discuss and debate the cause of and solution to this outrage; develop a comprehensive approach to this battle and a plan of action going into the fall. THIS CONFERENCE SHOULD AIM AT NOTHING LESS THAN RADICALLY CHANGING THE NATIONAL TERMS OF DISCUSSION ON THIS.
3. A statement of conscience that sharply and concisely lays out the harsh and unjust reality that mass incarceration inflicts on millions. This statement would be circulated for signature among prominent voices of conscience, published in various significant publications and publicized nationwide.
4. A major concert or other cultural event opposing mass incarceration, featuring a broad spectrum of artists.
The statement ends by urging people to respond to this proposal, including with additional ideas for how to advance this fight.
The signees (in formation) are:
Gbenga Akinnagbe, Actor
Rafael Angulo, Professor of Social Work, USC
Nellie Bailey, Occupy Harlem
Kendra Castaneda, Prisoner Human Rights Activist with a family member in CA State Prison Segregation Unit
Solomon Comissiong, Executive Director, Your World News Media Collective (www.yourworldnews.org)
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist, co-initiator of Campaign to Stop “Stop & Frisk”
Kelley Lytle Hernandez, Professor of History, UCLA
Robin DG Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA
Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA, Co-Founder
Sarah Kunstler, Esq., National Lawyers Guild NYC*
Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen (United Methodist Clergy), President, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Cal-Pac
Mary Ratcliff, Editor, San Francisco BayView, National Black Newspaper
Cornel West, author and educator, co-initiator of Campaign to Stop “Stop & Frisk”
Clyde Young, Revolutionary Communist, and former prisoner
March 12, 2012
*For identification purposes only
To download the letter go to "RAISING THE FIGHT TO STOP MASS INCARCERATION TO A NEW LEVEL".
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 941 Knickerbocker Station,
New York, New York 10002
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