BrownTown invites Bettina Johnson, organizer with Liberation Library and Chicago's AfroSocialists & Socialists of Color Caucus, to talk all things #DefundCPD campaign, nuances and strategies for abolitionist organizing, non-hierarchal structures, building responsive institutions, and training the newly politicized.
Bettina Johnson is a Chicago born and raised abolitionist organizer, Co-founder and current Steering Committee member of Liberation Library and on the Steering Committee for the AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). She is also on the Steering Committee of Chicago DSA’s #DefundCPD Campaign, and Co-lead for the Training Committee of the Black Abolitionist Network-steered #DefundCPD Campaign
BrownTown invites Bettina Johnson to talk all things #DefundCPD campaign, nuances and strategies for abolitionist organizing, non-hierarchal structures, building responsive institutions, and training the newly politicized.
Bettina begins by sharing her journey growing up in Chicago and finding her movement home in various organizations. The gang compares and contrasts their work and thoughts on abolition and broader "defund police" campaigns pre- and post-George Floyd uprisings before digging into the momentum theory of organizing--turning the energy and politicization of highly visible moments into sustainable movements.
As Bettina notes, "we need as many people and as many entry points to start that [politicization] process that feels good for people." BrownTown and Bettina discuss various entry points into grassroots work and the non-hierarchal structures and autonomous actions that folks are encouraged to take within more current and common decentralized movements. Near the end of the conversation, the gang gets in the weeds about #DefundCPD in Chicago and other defund campaigns nation-wide naming the specific campaign goals as abolitionist steps and not a reformist reforms. However, they center nuanced inter-movement discussions about the role of "refunding" and what responsive institutions should and could like that that do not re-ify the harm of the prison-industrial complex under a different name.
#DefundCPD educated, organized, and mobilized thousands of Chicagoans around the abolitionist demand to defund the Chicago Police Department on the heels of a global uprisings against state violence and white supremacy and for Black lives. Now, a campaign coming out of hibernation in April 2021, what lessons have we learned from 2020? Why is hibernation necessary for movement work? Building upon years, decades, centuries of work, what types of organizing strategies and tactics need we build on or alter in terms of autonomous coalition-building, trust in camaraderie, and exhausting all of our skills in our work towards liberation? Here's their take.
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Watch SoapBox's coverage of the 2020 uprisings in Chicago here!
CREDITS: Intro/outro song Fuck Tha Police by NWA. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro with assistance from Kiera Battles. Episode photo by Love and Struggle Photos.
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