Call for Special Blog Submissions on the Global Pandemic

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Abolition in a Time of Global Pandemic

We have entered an unprecedented era of global crisis. As we endure the glacial movement of this disaster, the Abolition Collective recognizes this suspended crisis to be a potential time for political study and planning, for the sharing of life-giving, death-defying art and ideas–and for mourning the unjust losses we now sustain. 

Abolitionist praxis, entwined with antiracist, antifascist, feminist, anticolonial, anticapitalist, and queer and trans dissidence, teaches us that the most vulnerable communities suffer the most and also offer the most insight in their critiques and proclamations, their resistance and visions for a balanced distribution of resources, protection of our planet, and potential for security and well-being for all people. 

We are here to provide a platform that can foreground the voices, demands, and needs of the incarcerated, of laborers, those without homes or without freedom from violence in their homes, those on reservations with minimal health facilities, those without access to healthcare or to communities of care, those in impoverished zones diminished by racism, policing and subjection to debility and death by design.

In the spirit of an abolitionist movement that has dreamed and struggled towards futures free from violence and oppression for centuries, the Abolition blog puts forth this call for letters, communiques, art, missives, poetry, manifestos, statistics, infographics, political plans, and inspirational ideas to counter the devastations that many of us and our communities have endured from conquest and enslavement to abuse, exploitation, and consumption. We ask you to join us and share your analyses, your work, and your resistance to the disposability of our lives across all borders.

The Abolition Collective is bearing witness, alongside many of you, to the continually worsening conditions of prisons, jails, detention centers, and other spaces of confinement plagued by COVID-19, especially spaces like Cook County Jail which, according to the NY times, is at present the “largest-known source” of U.S. Coronavirus infections, and Rikers, an overcrowded cage that has long been a space of torture and murder by design, where hundreds of staff and inmates have now tested positive for coronavirus. We know that all spaces of carceral confinement are deadly and that our world would be a safer place if no person was caged.

We are here to support and to report on the wave of campaigns underway to free people right now, many of them expressed through the liberatory hashtag #FreeThemAll. These include phone zaps and social media organizing, clemency campaigns, and protest actions at sites of confinement and government offices. But we also want to emphasize that we believe that we will continue to see, in the coming days and weeks, escapes, uprisings and unrests in jails, prisons, and detention centers  – the most urgent fights of direct and often violent confrontations with carceral spaces from those currently inside. See, for instance, this recent unrest in Washington State, where 100 inmates rioted in refusal of compliance, protesting conditions of confinement and exposure to contagion–and this rebellion in Portland, where inmates protested against a lack of sanitary supplies, forcing guards to lock themselves into offices; see this hunger strike in California, taken up by hundreds of ICE detainees. We see such insurgencies as modes of resistance against structures of domination, and as abolitionists, we hope our efforts to insist upon their realization reaches beyond our current pleas for decarceration from politicians and formal organizations. We want to report on, read, hear, understand, and contribute to these rebellions. We know that the violence of the oppressed is never equivalent to the violence of the oppressor. We also know that forms of care, solidarity, and mutual aid among oppressed people often go unrecognized, and we are here to acknowledge and strengthen the many ways that people in struggle are, against all odds, supporting each other and making common cause in this moment of crisis.

We stand with the overt and covert ways many are already showing up for the autonomous and antagonistic demands from those most directly oppressed by systems of abuse and confinement, and recognize that much of this activity cannot always be circulated publicly. We are here to spread the news and amplify the voices of rebels taking action on small and large scales, despite structural momentum to continue and to intensify the violence of oppression in the midst of a global pandemic. We ask you to write to us–even anonymously or under pseudonym if necessary–so that we can share your struggle with all the comrades and accomplices our media can reach. 

The wars we are seeking to end are not restricted to Covid-19 or the inevitable crises to follow. We are not facing a new crisis; only a moment unique for giving the injustice of this world widespread exposure. We hope to share in your struggle and to share with you strategies that address not only our medical, employment and housing needs, but also our grief and rage at the ineptitude of governance that polices our lives but fails to protect them. 

We are here, with you and for you. 

-The Abolition Collective

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