There are hugely varying perspectives about what community organising is. At its most simple community organising is working collectively to bring about social change. There are multiple areas we will need to organise around. These include:
- Developing community based responses to violence (state and interpersonal)
- Supporting people to stay out of prison
- Autonomously meeting our needs for food, water, shelter and energy
- Developing popular education practices that can build literacy around abolition
Developing Community Based Responses to Violence
We need to develop community-based responses to violence that do not rely on the criminal justice system.
With this we need to have mechanisms that ensure safety and accountability for survivors of sexual, domestic or other interpersonal violence.
Who could you trust in your life to support your safety if something happened, which didn’t involve calling the police and subjecting someone to the criminal justice system?
Rejecting interaction with the police however, is not a personal responsibility, it is a community responsibility and necessity if we are dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex.
There are already some examples of radical accountability processes, however this is an area of work those engaged in prison abolition work need to massively invest time and energy into.
“We seek to build movements that not only end violence, but that create a society based on radical freedom, mutual accountability, and passionate reciprocity. In this society, safety and security will not be premised on violence or the threat of violence; it will be based on a collective commitment to guaranteeing the survival and care of all peoples.”
– Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
Supporting people to stay out of prison
If we are to genuinely decarcerate our communities, we will need to support people to stay out of prison in the meantime. We can only do our best to resist the state’s relentless targeted criminalisation of communities.
However it is very clear that the the majority of prisoners have unmet needs e.g. adequate housing, access to land or food, access to support to come off drugs or alcohol, access to healthcare, healing support to recover from abuse (interpersonal and the state), access to livelihoods, immigration controls and so forth. Therefore organising around these areas is necessary to support people from getting out and staying out of a state sanctioned cage.
Community organising to autonomously meet our needs
Creating a world without prisons is not just the work of the prison abolition movement. Its the work of everyone! There are thousands of us working for community needs in different ways, and together we can be allies in making the prison system redundant. As abolitionists we can make a commitment to meeting basic needs of our community, beyond institutions based on power and control, such as the NHS, state schools and so forth.
Below is just a snapshot of the multitude of ways how organising together to autonomously meet our needs is an important part of dismantling the prison industrial complex.
Please note these pages are still being written and welcome your contributions.
Finally to achieve all of the above, we will need a strong literacy around what abolition means to us.
Popular education is a methodology first introduced by Brazilian educator and writer Paulo Freire, “a process which aims to empower people who feel marginalized socially and politically to take control of their own learning and to effect social change.” Everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.
In working for abolition, community education where people together can help each other understand the impact of the prison system and oppression on their lives, as well as how to dismantle it, is essential.
By supporting more holistic political education we can start to see how we reproduce the the colonial, racist, capitalist, heterosexist, speciesist and patriarchal society we live in as well as how state violence produces interpersonal violence within communities.
For more information, questions, links on these areas of struggle, see our resources section: http://www.prisonabolition.org/why-abolition/resources/