Last regular meeting of the year, some thoughts on what we do, and wonderful news from Marissa Alexander

This Monday, 12/9, will be our last regular meeting of 2013. As we look forward to working against youth incarceration, destructive family courts, and gentrification in 2014, we’re also looking back on what we’ve been a part of over the last months.

A few weeks ago, we were visited by Cindy Milstein, an anarchist writer and participant in numerous collective struggles (you can read more about Cindy here.) After our meeting, she wrote the piece below:

“More & more, in the face of macro-needs that seem unmeetable, like the Philippines, I’m noticing how simply engaging in meeting micro-needs—seeing & acting on the deprivation & hurt right in front of us—is part of knowing we can meet each others’ needs (& desires) in ways that strive to not replicate hierarchy & oppression. Those micro-moments of making a difference while modeling new social relations often go so unseen. They not only give us practice for those “bigger” moments but also are, in many ways, just as big.

Last night, after a phenomenal weekend of collectively practicing the creation of social spaces of caring in Unceded Coast Salish Territories (in so-called Vancouver), I got to listen in on a meeting of folks in Seattle (Duwamish lands) fighting the construction of a new juvenile jail (the Washington Incarceration Stops Here [WISH] group) in a huge old hall filled with organizing history & living struggles. One person there had a friend who’d just been dragged a few days ago by the cops to the old juvenile jail a block or two away & was visibly upset by it. So we grabbed 3 spoons and 1 pot from the meeting space, walked to the jail, and did a 9:30 pm, 6-person noise demo. Youths inside held their fingers and hands up to the milky-glass windows, and we could see their shadows, signaling recognition and acknowledgement to us. Then we heard some of the youths calling out to us, so walked up as close as we could to those high windows, and spent about 10 minutes trading names, thanks, and solidarity with each other. A passerby on the quiet street stopped to ask us for directions, then thanked us for being there, for doing what we were doing. And the person from the meeting shared their sorrow with us about their friend inside, but also lit up with the sense of the WISH group having their back in this moment.

It was all just a tiny, “meaningless” not-so-loud noise demo outside a jail, with no one but us and a few youths inside to experience it. Yet somehow we all felt more fully human afterward.”

It feels good to remember, as Cindy so eloquently articulates, that each moment, each day, is rife with opportunities to reach out and embrace others, to refuse the logics of exile and incarceration, to share wealth or empathy—to build, sliver by tiny sliver, the sort of world we want to inhabit.

You can read more of Cindy’s work on her blog, http://cbmilstein.wordpress.com/
(this piece on gentrification in San Francisco is a good place to start)

——–

Last month WISH collectively decided to endorse efforts to free Marissa Alexander, a survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for defending herself from violence. Though our part in this struggle has been small, we are thrilled to share the following press release from the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign:

Statement to the Press
Victory! Marissa Alexander home for Thanksgiving
November 28, 2013

Words cannot express the relief and joy of everyone in the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign that Marissa Alexander is home with her family this Thanksgiving Day. Ms. Alexander has been released on bond until a verdict is reached in her new trial that begins March 31, 2014.We hope the decision means that the Florida justice system has relented in its vindictive, hostile and racist legal assault on this African American mother of three. Ms. Alexander has been victimized twice — once by her abusive ex-husband and again by the state of Florida, which has stolen nearly three years from her life for an act of self-defense that injured no one.

We are thrilled that Ms. Alexander will be able to prepare for her new trial amid the support and love of her children and family from whom she has been separated far too long.

But the battle is not over. It is well documented that black women and other marginalized people are likely to be criminalized, prosecuted, and incarcerated while trying to navigate and survive the conditions of violence in their lives. This is especially true for black women who are subjected to racist stereotypes that paint them as overly aggressive and unworthy. The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign will keep organizing, educating and keeping the pressure on to make sure that Marissa’s new trial is fair, sensitive to her situation as a black woman experiencing domestic abuse, and successful!

The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is more determined than ever to win complete exoneration for Marissa Alexander. We have launched the Marissa Alexander Freedom Fund campaign to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to help pay for legal costs of the new trial. Donors can give at tiny.cc/freedomfundraiser.

Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is a grassroots campaign led by a core of organizers representing the African American/Black Women’s Cultural Alliance, New Jim Crow Movement – Jacksonville, Radical Women, INCITE!, and the Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.

Knowing that Marissa was able to spend Thanksgiving with her family is concrete evidence of the value of the work so many folks are doing. This success is motivation to keep going.

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