Congratulations to Decolonize This Place and partners, whose campaign calling for the resignation of Safariland CEO and Vice Chairman of the Whitney Museum of Art's Board of Trustees, culminated in a successful win last Thursday with Warren Kanders' announcement that he is resigning from the Whitney's board. A result of cross-movement organizing, Decolonize This Place's nine weeks of action at the Whitney included anti-gentrification groups, antimilitarist groups like WRL highlighting the impact of teargas made by Kanders' company Safariland, artists, and community members joining together to demand that our museums are responsive to the communities they claim to serve.
With protests in Puerto Rico, growing calls to dismantle the Department of Homeland Security, and organizing around the country to #ClosetheCamps, resistance is alive. As we celebrate today's win, we're reminded that organizing takes time. Over 6 years ago WRL launched our Facing Teargas campaign targetting Safariland; today that work helped to ground the victory won by Decolonize This Place and others.That's why we continue to create spaces that bring activists together across movements, oppose war profiteers from New York to Phoenix, and set our sights on liberation.
Continue reading to learn more about WRL's movement building work in Phoenix, Philly, and NYC so far this summer, and please consider supporting our work in this critical moment by making a donation. The road is long, but when we fight, we win!
NATIONAL HOMELAND SECURITY CONFERENCE: ACTION WITH PUENTE ARIZONA // PHOENIX
This June, WRL collaborated with Puente Human Rights Movement to take action against the National Homeland Security Conference in Phoenix, AZ as part of our continued #NoSWATZone work. The NHSC is the largest annual gathering of DHS professionals in the country, bringing together 1,200+ people in law enforcement and emergency response units to talk new tactics in policing and surveillance. Puente is leading campaigns against the city police department’s collaborations with ICE, and their members have been ready to target DHS as a whole. Together we built and shared a digital teach-in on how and why #DHSKills and disrupted the conference by deploying a rotating art installation outside the entrances to the conference’s networking social. While in Phoenix, WRL also designed and facilitated a power-mapping workshop for Puente youth members as part of their campaign training to get police out of schools in the Phoenix Union High School district. We’re excited to continue building relationships with communities organizing against police and border militarization in Arizona!
ROOTS IRL: ABOLITION, GLOBAL SOLIDARITY, AND THE FUTURE // PHILADELPHIA
Earlier this month WRL hosted Roots IRL: Abolition, Global Solidarity, and the Future at the Friends Center in Philadelphia. We held five workshops along with a plenary lead by Mike Africa Jr., Marc Lamont Hill, and Kempis “Ghani” Songster. Workshops included Breaking Borders: Diaspora Internationalist and Indigenous Organizing, Disseminating a Decarceration Narrative: Electing a Progressive DA and Moving Towards Abolition, Not Your Grandad’s Union: Labor Organizing in the Gig Economy, People Power Per Million: Environmental Justice and the Fight to Save Our Future, and Cultural Organizing: Decolonial Formations in Our Cities. WRL along with Dream Defenders, AFSC, Adalah Justice Project, and US Campaign for Palestinian Rights were glad to host over 50 participants and lead discussions rooted in abolitionist visions for our collective future. Many thanks to all the folks who made this gathering possible.
THE BAN AND THE BOMB: TRANS ANTIMILITARISM IN 2019 // NEW YORK CITY
How do abolitionists and anti-imperialists approach an issue like the Trans Ban, and keep the focus on the queer and trans folk in the crosshairs of the Pentagon in the Global South? On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, WRL hosted a teach-in on antimilitarist approaches to the Trans Ban centering the voices of trans veterans who recognize the threat of institutionalized legal discrimination like the Trans Ban, but also see the need for a movement that addresses the factors that drive trans recruitment into the military. Thanks to our friends at QueerTransWarBan and the People’s Forum for making this event possible.
If you weren’t able to make it out to the panel you can watch the livestream here. To learn more about the themes of the panel, be sure to check out WRL member Skanda Kadirgamar’s TruthOut article, LGBTQ Activists Demand an End to the Pinkwashing of Militarism, linked here.