To be abolitionist is to be antiwar

Peace everyone,

My name is Maya Jenkins, and I am an organizer with No New Jails in NYC. For the last year, No New Jails has been organizing to stop Mayor de Blasio’s jail expansion plan, close all jails on Rikers Island, and ensure that the $11 billion budgeted for new jails are funding what our communities really need to be safe. 

I’m writing today because WRL is an important partner in our work; they connect our abolitionist organizing against prisons and police with their near-century long struggle against militarism and offer analysis that strengthens all of our work. Can you donate today to support?

I got connected with WRL earlier this spring, after Decolonize This Place launched a 9-week escalation campaign to pressure Warren Kanders, the CEO of teargas manufacturer Safariland and now-former board member of the Whitney Museum, to resign from the Whitney’s board of trustees. But, WRL’s work to end the use of tear gas began years ago. During their Facing Teargas campaign WRL collected testimonies from incarcerated people who were tear-gassed while in prison. In May, my comrades and I with No New Jails read the testimonies WRL collected outside the Whitney Museum, standing next to life-sized tear gas canisters filled with dry ice and our friends at WRL, About Face, and Nodutdol. The next week, we parked these canisters and raised our voices outside Kanders’ lavish home in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Before July was up, Kanders officially resigned. 

Wins like these reverberate through society to shift norms on what we find acceptable, and are part of the path towards a demilitarized world. Together, we are working towards a demilitarized, decarcerated city. Can you donate today to make sure this work keeps going?

Winning is more than Warren Kander’s resigning; it’s also about amplifying the voices of our comrades inside prisons and ensuring their experiences, analysis, and leadership are prioritized. This new jail expansion plan, which city council recently voted to move forward, is about deepening the criminalization and displacement of our people. The expansion plan is part of a larger system of classwarfare on poor folks: Skyscraper jails, remote prisons upstate, amped-up subway fare evasion policies, and the abuse reported inside of prisons and on the streets are all indications of the war being waged by the ruling class at home -- war against Black and brown people, against queer and trans people, against houseless and poor people, against sex workers, and our communities. 

These jails will not be built. These cops will not remain in our subways on our streets. These war profiteers will not go unscathed. 

To be abolitionist is to be antiwar; to be antiwar is to be abolitionist. That is why WRL and No New Jails have and will continue to fight together -- our stakes are intertwined. Can you donate to support this important work today?

in love & power, 
maya jenkins