February 2009 Victories!

Dear Friends,

One thing we want to do better this year is to share good news when we have it.  Just this month, CR helped lead the way to four significant victories against the prison industrial complex that we want to make sure you know about, and know how to support.

From prison construction to youth curfews, we know that we have to continue squeezing the PIC from every direction we can.  If you have an hour, a dollar, an idea, or a question, please share it with us!

With hope,

Critical Resistance


real safetyCR's work to stop new prison construction helps compel historic prisoner release order!
For nearly a decade, Critical Resistance has prioritized stopping new prison construction. We know that if you build them; you fill them.  
In early February, a federal court ruled that overcrowding was the primary cause of unconstitutional medical and mental health care for people in California prisons, causing needless deaths every week.   The Court ordered what we have been arguing for years is the only real solution:  reducing the number of people in prison.
Our role in stopping new prison construction helped lead the court to reject the state's position that it would build its way out of overcrowding, declaring that "there is no relief other than a prisoner-release order that will remedy the unconstitutional prison conditions." Noting that no new beds had been built, instead of building, the Court's order could reduce the number of people in prison by up to 56,000.
That's not to say this fight is over.  We need to work harder than ever in the coming weeks and months to make sure that the state sends our people home, doesn't drag its feet, waste time with endless appeals, or, worst of all, proceed with prison construction to try to avoid sending people home or sending fewer people home.

It is more important than ever that we stop AB 900, California's massive prison construction plan.  This is a huge win and a huge opportunity, and we can't miss it.



oscar grantCR Oakland helps defeat proposed youth curfew following the police execution of Oscar Grant.
On February 10, CR Oakland helped mobilize over 100 people to defeat a frightening proposal for a youth curfew in Oakland. The proposal came on the heels of mass arrests during the protests of the videotaped execution of Oscar Grant by police.
The ordinance would also make it a misdemeanor for a parent to allow a young person to violate the ordinance, and even expose business owners to prosecution if they knowingly allow youth on their premises during curfew hours. 
"After what happened to Oscar Grant and many other youth killed by the police, how could we consider giving police yet another opportunity for racial profiling. Who will Oakland police stop at 10 p.m.? What neighborhoods will see a lockdown from 10 p.m. to 5 a. m.?," said CR member Ritika Aggarwal, 24.



 Drop the Charges
Since Oscar Grant's murder, CR has also worked hard to make sure that our ability to protest and organize out of this tragedy isn't shut down by the police and city officials. Since early January, we have worked to defend every single one of the more than 130 people arrested protesting Oscar Grant's murder; to make sure that youth of color aren't further criminalized protesting police violence, and to make sure that the focus stays where it should be: on the real effects of policing, whether they're caught on tape or not.

Working with the National Lawyers Guild and the Oakland 100 Committee, we have organized a call-in campaign and court solidarity for every arraignment.  From more than 130, there are now only 4 people facing charges.  Over the next few weeks, we'll be back to stay with those final defendants until every case is dismissed.



 No Jail in the Bronx or in Brooklyn
Finally, this month saw the Brooklyn House of Detention Coalition (BHOD) block plans to expand the Brooklyn House of Detention.  CR-NYC played a big support role in this victory, sharing the strategies we used to stop jail construction in the Bronx with our neighbors.   This marks the second victory in two years for the City's plan to build a new jail in every borough, and shows just how far we have come in the fight against endless cage building.



THIS WORK IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN 2009.  Please, take a moment to help us - and yourself - in two important ways:

1. Get Involved! There is nothing more important to CR than our volunteer power. No matter where you live or what you like to do, we need your help.  Find us at 510 444 0484, or email today.

2. Donate!  Not in spite of but because of how bad the economy is, we need to pull our resources together more than ever. Please click here to give a gift that doesn't hurt your bank account, but does help us all - including you!