activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: critical resistance

on the birthday of angela davis, the new york times promotes more profiling and police

In 1970, the FBI put known radical Angela Davis on its Ten Most Wanted list, because a kidnapping intended to free three inmates turned into a fatal shootout and involved a gun registered in her name. She went underground for approximately two months, was captured, and was incarcerated for 16 months while awaiting trial. An all-white jury in San Jose, California, acquitted her of all charges in June 1972.

Davis subsequently helped start Critical Resistance (CR), an organization dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex, which CR defines as the “overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.” As today’s New York Times article by John Tierney points out, “the United States has the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration.” Tierney’s article supports hiring more police officers and focusing on ‘high-crime’ areas to prevent crime from occurring, as a way to reduce the number of people sent to prison.

Yet that approach would result in even more intense police surveillance, further controlling people through the fear of violence or punishment. Davis, in contrast, supports drug treatment and mental health programs, demilitarized schools, a living wage, and decriminalization of specific populations (e.g., undocumented immigrants). According to Generation FIVE, we can “organize and expand community-based models of justice that move beyond restoration of ‘normal’ conditions and instead seek to transform the conditions that perpetuate … forms of violence.”

three members of russian punk collective potentially face years in prison for anti-putin performance in a moscow cathedral

After five months of incarceration since their arrests in March, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot will learn their fate next week when Judge Marina Syrova issues her verdict on August 17. The women were charged with hooliganism, which is essentially defined as “disrespect for society,” for lip-syncing to an anti-Putin song in a church for 40 seconds. In addition to being blatant political repression, the charges highlight too-often unseen female defendants in criminal legal systems around the world:

Prison and police accountability activists have generally organized around and conceptualized men of color as the primary victims of state violence. Women prisoners and victims of police brutality have been made invisible by a focus on the war on our brothers and sons. It has failed to consider how women are affected as severely by state violence as men.

This passage is excerpted from a 2001 statement by Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence on gender violence and the prison industrial complex.