Member Statements on PCR5: Select Abolition as a Priority Campaign for 2024

Statements from chapter members in favor and against PCR5: Select Abolition as a Priority Campaign for 2024 will be posted in this thread.

IN FAVOR by Kathryn D.

I am writing to state my strong support for the abolition priority campaign. Criminalization is one of the key mechanisms of repression under racial capitalism. We have seen repeatedly in recent years how criminalization and policing have been deployed to undermine racial justice, migrant justice, and reproductive justice, as well as all forms of mass protest and leftist organizing. As fascist tendencies accelerate within our country and government, curbing the resources, power, and influence of police within our localities is one of the most crucial interventions we can make toward improving the material conditions of our organizing while moving in the direction of a more just abolitionist future. The Abolition priority campaign has been planned to include the work of both new and existing groups in DC, NoVA, and Montgomery County. The campaign’s approach serves, in my view, as a model for intentional and thoughtful cross-regional collaboration within the chapter. The campaign’s plans for the coming year reflect a continued investment in the local basis needed to do this work effectively (including familiarity with local power holders, municipal budgets, and coalition partners) while practicing solidarity, sharing resources, and articulating goals across these boundaries. In my experience as a co-steward of the NoVA Migrant Justice Working Group, I have found the NoVA Abolition folks to be generous collaborators in our shared work in support of the ICE Out of Arlington campaign. I also deeply admire the NoVA group’s work over the past few years to build capacity and bring in a growing and active group of engaged members. As policing and criminalization continue to be urgent issues at the intersection of multiple leftist priorities, abolition has brought many newcomers into organizing and DSA membership for the first time. The abolition priority campaign will be well positioned to build on past successes in engaging and empowering these new members in the coming year.

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IN FAVOR by Catherine D.

As an active member of the MDC/Nova Abolition working groups, I am writing in favor of PCR5: Abolition. I have seen firsthand the dedication and work done by my comrades in organizing, outreach and political education regarding the abolishment of police and prisons. I think this year, there were many internal changes that affected our ability to organize, especially the sort of deep engagement type that was a critique aimed at us, but despite those hurdles, we still have accomplished quite a bit with member and broader community engagement. Our free brake light clinics have led to conversations with people in the community about the importance of removing police from traffic; NoVa’s Riotsville, USA screening drew on the connections between US police and the IDF. With the priority budget funds, we could increase our capacity to hold such events and take on new ones, such as cross-collaborations between us and other MDCDSA working groups. Gaining public support for defunding/abolishing the police is still an ongoing task, but with the lessons learned from the past year, we look forward to applying them in 2024.

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IN FAVOR by Wanya H.

I think that we could do much more in-person events during the weekend days because trying to do it on weeknights means low turnout because people worked during the day and want to rest for the next day. I believe this change will increase turnout and forge more connections. When I went to an event on a Saturday, i made significant connections with other folks from other groups. You cannot get that on a weeknight!

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IN FAVOR by Nell G.

The Abolition Working Group holds down critical work within the chapter connecting us with abolitionist campaigns and organizations across the region. We are working through targeted internal organizing and focused campaigns to improve our base building and deepen our coalition work, with the ultimate goals of building abolitionist political power. The integration across branches described in our resolution are already strengthening our work by sharing more perspectives and building a deeper bench for cross-region mobilization. Please vote to continue prioritizing abolition work in our chapter.

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IN FAVOR by Rachel N.

I am writing in support of the abolition group being assigned priority for this upcoming cycle. The abolition group’s goals could not be more important for DCs citizens right now, considering Councilmember Pinto’s campaign to increase law enforcement powers and legislating for government actions and tactics that will only lead to more people incarcerated in the District. More citizens need to learn about the negative effects of more police and more police funding and that those things don’t actually decrease crime or increase public safety, and that those resources and funds would do more for the city being directed to other programs and departments, and the abolition group receiving priority status is critical for us to cultivate and perform that outreach!

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IN FAVOR by Ben M.

I am writing to urge all comrades to vote in favor of making Abolition a priority campaign in 2024. It is no secret that we have struggled to win abolitionist demands in the past couple years due to relentless reactionary copaganda in the wake of the 2020 uprising, and this is precisely why we must redouble our efforts now. We spent much of the past year not only in transition — supporting and carrying on campaigns to remove police from transportation and to decriminalize poverty after the dissolution of the city-wide Defund MPD Coalition in which they were first incubated — but also on the defensive. The mayor and DC council have been attempting all year to beef up the carceral state, and we’ve been there to fight them. Together with partner orgs, we’ve organized teach-ins and mobilized testimony, and while not exactly a quantifiable “win”, we have so far prevented the passage of a permanent “crime” bill, even while the mayor and council have tried and failed to confuse and exhaust us with a dizzying array of individual bills and hearings. We expect them to bring all of these shameful bills together in early 2024 into a single omnibus crime bill that would, among other things, bring back police chokeholds as officially-sanctioned practice, vastly expand stop-and-frisk, and expand pre-trial detention. It goes without saying that this would be immensely harmful to Black, brown, poor, and working class communities across the district. As a priority campaign, we’ll be there to fight like hell against it and prevent our city from further retreating into a fascist police state. We can’t let them win, and we won’t. As a core organizer in this working group since its inception, I can attest to our struggles in keeping up this fight in the midst of waning collective energy. But I have been hugely encouraged by the energy I have seen from newer organizers, especially in the past few months, and I’m excited about their plans for the next year. I am also confident that the structural changes we’ve made as a working group to bring defund folks together from across branches and open up our leadership model will expand our capacity and open the door to more collaborations with other working groups in the new year. I want to end by reiterating just how vital it is as a socialist organization that we prioritize organizing against the police state. Police and prisons, by design, are the violent tip of the spear of capitalism. They are the state institutions most directly responsible for maintaining and reproducing the vastly unequal, racialized social order on which capitalism depends, and they stand in the way of every fight we wage as a chapter. The inherent violence of policing is ever-present in the DMV, especially across Black and brown communities, and egregious acts of police brutality are radicalizing events as they make plain the orientation of the state toward marginalized peoples. Abolishing these institutions of capitalist state violence is not only a necessary precondition for socialist victory and development, it is also (and perhaps most importantly in the near term) a radical demand that can resonate and help us build the mass, multi-racial movement that the DSA promises.

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I wholeheartedly believe that Metro DC DSA should choose Abolition as a priority campaign because I believe that as we build socialism, we must do so while centering collective liberation and offering active resistance to all forms of oppression. If we are to build a truly multi-racial working class mass movement, we must first ensure that members of the multi-racial working class aren’t murdered at the hands of the state, disappeared en masse from their communities into prisons, or otherwise silenced from political participation in myriad other acts of institutional violence. Providing, supporting and amplifying this work ensures we can continue to build a space where people can feel safe and supported in their own struggles against oppression. Therefore, it is a little disingenuous to purely measure the work of Abolition under the metrics of purely tangible legislative wins. It is also important to acknowledge that these legislative battles are hard fought and with resistance from deeply entrenched institutions. Ultimately what we are up against is a culturally indoctrinated belief system that professes the inevitability of a carceral state, and accordingly many people simply can’t imagine the alternatives. While we are always working on strategies for those tangible wins, and we welcome all ideas to push our work forward on this front, there is an aspect of this work that is also concerned with expanding public imagination for alternative modes of harm reduction. Events like wheatpasting, participatory budgeting, political education and brake light clinics are a way of connecting with the public, and challenging their notions about how things should be, and we have had many well attended and successful events in this vein. Further, the framework of abolition is not only about the negation of harmful institutions, but also asks us to grow alternatives to replace them. This allows pathways for intersectional collaboration and ultimately can help bolster and grow the other important campaigns also happening in our chapter, which can and should be explored more in the future. This is why I hope you will join me and vote for Abolition as a priority campaign.

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IN FAVOR by Keeli M.

Hello I am Keeli (she/her) and I am the chair for Abolition (formerly defund) working group writing in support of making the all-encompassing, DC, NoVA and MoCo Abolition working groups a priority campaign Our working group has gone through a fair bit of transformation in its 3 years, and this year was no exception. In this statement of support, I want to highlight that this year we really took the time to evaluate our value and capacity as a priority campaign and also our space in the city. We recognize that the popularity of our cause has fallen out of public view, and therefore we struggle for wins, especially in legislative battles. Although we are still deeply engaged in fighting, even if it might not be successful, we had to be realistic about our capacity as a group considering the lack of public attention. We spent the year turning inward and figuring out how to get our base strong in the chapter. We went back to basics WHILE still doing work in the streets. We talked about our concerns across working groups and realized we could find power in the chapter by using the defund branches and our years-long partnerships. With that in mind and conversations flowing with what could be possible with greater capacity, we realized we had enough ideas and support to apply for priority status. With three branch working groups pulling from these resources for these great ideas - we knew we needed that extra priority support. I’ve seen the working group find a renewed energy from these conversations that were only just finalized in November, and am hopeful for what we could accomplish in 2024 with this. We’ve seen firsthand recently with our fights against the slurry of crime bills - we don’t have the numbers in those hearings - people are rightfully confused by the number of bills and what’s in them, and it’s a barrier for our community to be able to fight back. We have to then zoom back and teach people how to do this first step of fighting back in hearings. If we have the resources to go back to these basics and dig in on making it easier to actually show up - we will find success and quantifiable wins. Our WG and chapter have proven successful with this in the past, and this is just one example of what we plan to do with priority resources know that this is a great way for us to use cross-wg collabs in order to get our numbers up with deep engagement in other issue areas.

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IN FAVOR by John P.

My name is John Payne and I am a member of the Abolition working group and I strongly support abolition being named as a priority campaign for the coming year. The reactionary backlash against abolition and movements coming out of the 2020 uprising are pushing back hard across the country and in the DMV against even the smallest gains won in the past few years. Even as crime falls throughout the country, the narrative we are hearing again and again is that if police aren’t given more power and if the country doesn’t double down on failed tactics that target people of color and the working class then our country will slip into a violent nightmarescape. On top of this, the Defund MPD coalition dissolved earlier this year. While the groups that made up the coalition still exist, the coalition itself is gone. Given these realities, the abolitionist working group has spent part of this year, reorganizing itself and figuring out how we can best fit into this new landscape. This fall, the abolition working group worked with other groups from throughout the city to research, create, and put on a teach-in to educate the city on this issue and help them write testimony to the DC Council. Hundreds of people attended the event and enough testimony was submitted to prevent a vote on this permanent legislation. We are helping put on another teach-in this very evening (12/11) on another of these bills. Over the next year, the working group intends to work with other partners throughout the city and build our own power to help fight and keep track of these types of bills in our city. With the dissolution of the MPD coalition, there is a need to focus on the work being done by the mayor and the city council. This will be a larger lift and we will need funding to help make sure we can keep teach-ins like this going and continue to support the work of partners. But we will need funding to ensure that teach-ins, political education events like Defund/Refunk DC, and running brake light clinics with our comrades in the Police Out of Transportation Coalition can continue to happen on a regular basis. Alongside these projects, the abolitionist working group will continue to focus on the importance of research. We will continue to be involved in submitting questions to the MPD Oversight hearing this year, one of the best tools we have to force MPD to answer questions and provide data that they usually prefer to hide. We are also working on a new project to help keep track of police misconduct and abolitionist victories in the DMV area. Earlier this year, DCist published a story on police that earn more through overtime than even the Mayor of DC. This story was prompted by work from our research group that reached out to reporters. While we have had to spend more time on defense and reorganizing than we’d like this year, we have learned a lot about and are ready to push hard for a region free from police and prisons.

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IN FAVOR by Imara C

My name is Imara C. and I’d like to take a moment to reiterate my support for MetroDC DSA’s Abolition efforts as a priority campaign in the year ahead. When I first came to socialist organizing and struggled to find my space within the chapter, the Defund MPD campaign made clear to me that DSA is an organization that lives by its values even when those values are politically difficult.

During the historic protests and public uprising of 2020 DSA stood beside countless Americans in rising up against police brutality. As public attention faltered, political backlash ensured that institutions continue to uplift cops as heroes, endlessly justifying their state sponsored terrorism particularly against minority communities. Throughout all of this DSA has remained steadfast in speaking against this state sponsored violence. MetroDC DSA’s abolition campaign does real work, difficult work, from provision of direct assistance to people, preventing police intervention in their lives, to political struggle around where local government invests public resources. It is essential that we continue to support this work.

I view the fight to Defund the Police and dismantle the carceral state as one of the great fights of our time. One of the things that makes me proud to be a DSA member is that on so many issues DSA takes the morally and politically correct stance even when it is inconvenient to do so. I urge you to continue in that tradition by supporting the chapter’s Abolition working group as they continue to present an alternative vision of our future in which we invest in the public rather than the overseers who brutalize us.

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IN FAVOR by Gary Z.

Working towards Abolition in the DMV will be a consistent effort. Unravelling the tethers the carceral state has on our society is a long effort that requires consistent analysis and quick political repositioning. This WG is sticking together to make sure we can respond rapidly to legislative openings in the region, or to quickly rally defense against carceral offensives conducted by the police and the organized capital that backs them. While the larger movement in the DMV has frayed, this WG has been a critical anchor in holding together abolitionists and anti-carceral activists in the regions we operate, bringing a vital socialist-labor analysis to this larger movement. This WG has turned from being solely focused on the DEFUND movement in DC into a wider hub of engagement for anti-carceral work happening in Virginia and Maryland. This has expanded our ranks and renewed morale to our efforts. Priority campaign status will make sure we can marshal chapter resources in the face of spontaneous protest, deeper political education and base-building in the next year.

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IN FAVOR by Claire M.

Although I understand concerns raised about the Abolition Working Group’s need for a more strategic plan in their application, I believe abolition is a core tenant to building a socialist world, particularly for communities of color, and therefore must continue to be a chapter priority. Some demands can be won quickly, through strategic campaigns launched at the right time with the right folks on board. Other demands take time to build – but these are often the campaigns which can win the most transformational change. This working group has done good re-thinking amid a changing organizing environment in 2023, and is piloting how branches can collaborate more closely in external organizing. I believe our chapter has the capacity to continue the good work of comrades in the working group, and should prioritize Abolition in 2024.

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IN FAVOR by Elisabeth S.

I’m writing to support the Abolition Working Group’s application for Priority Campaign funding for 2024, jointly proposed by the DC, NoVA, and newly-formed MoCo Abolition Working Groups. I am a member and current co-steward of the NoVA Abolition Working Group. 2023 had a lot of challenges for everyone, and abolition both as a cause in general and as work to be done in our region was no exception. The authoritarian backlash to the 2020 uprisings came out in a big way this year, as part of the full package of ruling-class anger towards those they consider beneath them. Many of those grand pledges to listen, to change, and to meaningfully support the physical, mental, and emotional health and safety of our communities, especially our children, were off the table as soon as the “pandemic was over” and we were “back to normal.” In 2023 we all had to spend some time figuring out how to address the lessened public interest and the aggressive pushback. In NoVA, we started trying different ways to engage people, like lower-key social events with abolition poli-ed components. We looked for sustainable ways we could link up with DC Abolition, while maintaining or strengthening our commitments to our local partners. Earlier this year and before, we have been among those essential second sets of hands and bodies standing behind our partners like La ColectiVA as we pressured the Arlington County government to end all voluntary collaboration with ICE, winning a number of valuable concessions from both the government and the Sheriff’s office to date (come out to the Arlington County Board meeting at 8am on December 16th!). We are extremely excited to be establishing such an early and clear line of communication with MoCo Abolition, to learn about their local situation and how we can coordinate. Being a priority campaign will give us a clear path to fund purchases for DC Abolition’s Little Free Library literature distribution (and possibly expand that initiative beyond DC!), fund Abolition’s known perennial public-favorite mutual aid/poli ed events like brake light clinics, and pay for interpreters for more events (ASL, Spanish, or other local commonly-spoken languages as the event dictates). In November, DC Abolition teamed up with NoVA and our coalition partners to support the Stop Cop City/Aid for Palestine fundraiser and screening of “Riotsville, USA.” By the numbers, this event drew 40 attendees from across various organizations and the community, and raised $630 directly to the aid/relief organizations. Better still, it provided an opportunity to show and have conversations about the links between US policing and the genocide in Palestine. DC and NoVA had a joint brake light clinic day where we got to materially help our communities out of a tiresome chore and talk about why police are even involved in traffic issues. As a priority campaign, we have been able to use Chapter funds to accomplish real things, and we want to be able to keep that up as we continue to link up efforts across the region. Please consider using your vote to support this application and help us continue this critical work in a difficult time.

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IN FAVOR by Bakari W.

As the Federal City Council and the cops push imminently for the return to stop-and-frisk and an escalation of mass incarceration in DC, our chapter’s efforts to defeat the ACT bill (among others) and build abolitionist public sentiment will be especially needed in the coming year. We have to do what it takes to create real public safety. I encourage you to vote in favor of this priority resolution.

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IN FAVOR by Shawn V.

Hi I’d like to support in favor of this resolution. I think the Brake Light Clinic is one of the only mutual aid projects DSA we do and that feels like it should be our #1 priority as a leftist org that believes in materialism. So all mutual aid projects should be fully supported. Abolition is growing in many ways and I think quantity shouldn’t be a measurement for priority status because this adheres to a capital gains model when abolition itself is an issue deep to the metro d.c areas core. In short, let us cook and material change will keep on happening.

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ignore the clunky statements here, I rushed this a little but the main idea is that we cant back down from any mutual aid we do because thats our only path forward as it was for all leftist movements like the Black Panthers. It’s also a cultural statement if we back down from abolition when we need to be in tune with the problems that metro d.c residents face