Demands Toward Dismantling Mass Incarceration and White Supremacy
By Incarcerated Activists of One Hood United
This message is long overdue and has been hampered by the restrictions on our ability to communicate with the outside world. However, no amount of barriers or barbed wire will prevent us from having our voices heard within the movement at the frontlines of fighting white supremacist governing and policing. One year before Eric Garner was choked to death by a white police officer, murdered on the streets of NYC while peacefully protesting his arrest, John J-Rock Carter was murdered in a prison cell at the State Correctional Institute at Rockview in Central Pennsylvania for peacefully protesting the abuse of prisoners in the Restrictive Housing Unit (aka the Hole).
John J-Rock Carter was sentence to life without parole for a crime he was convicted of as a juvenile offender. He was 29 years old at the time of his murder. He was murdered by correctional officers who pumped canisters of pepper spray and tear gas into his barricaded cell, suffocating him to death. J-Rock’s death – like the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Sandra Bland – was ruled justifiable by the state. No one on the outside heard J-Rock’s cries of “I can’t breathe” as the guards pumped canister after canister of pepper spray in his cell. We are sending this message out to ensure his cries are heard along with the cries and demands of the prisoners buried within the Prison Industrial Complex.
Towards this end, we present a list of demands for dismantling mass incarceration and for building Black empowerment and independence. This list of demands is not rooted in reforming mass incarceration or white supremacy, but rather in uprooting and destroying white supremacy and mass incarceration. We are requesting that our demands supplement the demands put forth by the Black Lives Matter movement so that our voices are heard.
We stand on human rights and not civil rights. Mass incarceration is the momentum behind police brutality, as police brutality is justified through the politics of mass incarceration which has criminalized all Black/Brown people. The two cannot be separated. Therefore, we cannot confront police brutality without confronting mass incarceration. And we cannot confront mass incarceration without confronting the Wars on Drugs and Gangs, which are white supremacist legislative assaults on Black/Brown communities.
We believe that the only way a minority population can roll back a legislative assault on its communities is through proportional political representation. Proportional representation for Black people is the most radical demand that can be made on the system of white supremacist governing that is the United States. It is the means by which we as a people can dismantle, not reform, the legislative arms of white supremacy and structural discrimination. Therefore, we ask the Black Lives Matter movement to place Black proportional representation in governing at the top of its demands. Police body cameras, police review boards, and more Black police – while needed – will not uproot police brutality, only structural change to governing will.
In closing, we also state that we are not interested in changing the hearts and minds of white people. Racism is a disease white people must themselves of and get over. We are not their therapists or doctors; we’ve diagnosed the problem. We are only concerned with racism in its structural manifestations, in the form of governing white supremacy and its ability to harm our people and communities. Therefore, not only do we stand in solidarity and support of the demand “Black Lives Matter,” we stand in solidarity with the demand for “Black Power” because it is through Black Power that we will ensure Black Lives Matter. We therefore request the Black Lives Matter Movement to incorporate the following demands into their platforms and programs.
One Hood United Platform for Dismantling Mass Incarceration:
- Repeal the 1994 Federal Crime Bill, 1996 Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act, and the 1997 Prison Litigation Reform Act. All of these “acts” of Congress, which were duplicated on the state level, were based on a false narrative and premise that gave rise to mass incarceration which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. If the authors and supporters of these acts were not driven by racial animus, the consequences of these acts demonstrate a racial animus, whether deliberate or unintentional.
- Demand the immediate resignation of every African American legislator on both the state and federal level that voted in support of the above “acts.” There was due warning about the grave consequences these acts would have on communities of color, especially on youth of color and women. Therefore, there was no justification for supporting these acts. Esteemed U.S. Congressmen like John Lewis are not exempt from these demands. If anything, Rep. Lewis should have been at the forefront of opposing these racially motivated and driven “acts” that are reminiscent of the “Black Codes.” Any African American legislator that voted for these “acts” failed in their most fundamental duty: to defend the interests of their constituents!
- Repeal the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution which authorizes “involuntary slavery” for persons convicted of a crime. Slavery, under any circumstances, must have no place within the United States Constitution that African Americans must live under, and have fought and died under. The continued inclusion of the justification for slavery in the United States Constitution is an affront to all African Americans and is also one of the main pillars of mass incarceration and police brutality. It justifies the state in dehumanizing prisoners, warehousing them like cargo, and depriving them of basic human rights.
- Demand political autonomy for minority communities/populations in the United States This entails constitutional and/or legislative recognition of the group’s existence, history, and customs. This entails proportional political representation. Political and judicial representation should be in proportion to the number of African American who live in your city, state and throughout the United States. To learn more about proportional representation visit www.ihraam.org.
- Demand that the government must obtain consent from minority populations about matters affecting them; this demand includes veto power for minority populations over criminal justice, health care, and other legislative acts that would impact them. This veto would only apply to minority populations. If white people want to lock their own people and youth up at disproportionate rates with harsh and unjust sentences, they are free to do so. But their historical racial animus towards African American people must no longer be allowed to impact African Americans anymore!
- Demand guaranteed seats in legislatures and other political organs, including intra-governmental bodies, along with the appointment of officials chosen by our people to either specific positions or to a fixed minimum percentage of posts in legislatures and/or other pertinent governing bodies/agencies.
- Demand real community control of the police. Not through Civilian Review Boards but rather Civilian Control Boards that possess teeth and allow for the immediate termination of police officers, investigative powers, and final review and authority in police department contracts. For more visit www.operationghettostrom.org.
- Demand the elimination of police unions. Police unions have operated like strong arm outfits, intimidating communities of color and politicians that oppose their agenda. Police unions should be dissolved and incorporated into state, city, and municipal unions.
- Create Cop Watch programs/chapters in every city, state, and region that coordinate and share information, video, and statistics with each other. For more on Cop Watch Programs visit www.mxgm.org/copwatch-msgm-3-on-brooklyn-review. See also the Referendum on Community Control of the Oakland Police Department on mxgm.org.
- Demand control of all Educational/School Boards within African American communities, including the ability to draft our own educational curriculums that narrate real African American history and our unique cultural and political experience in the United States. This requires African American parents and activists to take over or create new Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in cities where African Americans are the majority populations. In cities/regions where African Americans are minority populations, then proportional representation should govern.
- Demand the elimination of public school privatization. Demand the elimination of the state’s, governor’s or legislature’s control over the school boards/districts of predominantly African American cities, such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. African Americans do not constitute the majority population in any state, therefore no state, governor, or legislature should seize control over school districts in predominantly African American cities. This also applies to other minority populations (Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, etc.).
- Repeal and abolish the Death Penalty, Life Without Parole and Terminal sentences, and all other mandatory sentencing schemes. Demand Restorative Justice as the model for African American communities and other minority populations (should they consent). Restorative Justice is more aligned to the history of African American populations, which place a greater emphasis on healing within the community and personal redemption and salvation. These features are embedded in our cultural traits and history, in contrast to the puritan model of punishment that has predominated the white settler population’s history in the United States.
- Repeal and abolish the sentencing of juvenile/child offenders as adults within the criminal justice system. This practice is a violation of international human rights law under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also disproportionately impacts children of color and contributes to the criminalization of Black/Latino youth. All offenders sentences as adults for crimes they committed as juveniles should be immediately re-sentenced appropriate to their age at the time the offense was committed. All offenders serving Life Without Parole or excessive sentences imposed on them for crimes they committed as juveniles should immediately have their sentences vacated and be re-sentenced to sentences of no more than twenty years.
- Demand the appointment of prisoner rights advocates, community activists, and restorative justice advocates to all parole and commutation boards so that the African American community can have input and the final decision on the release of offenders back into our communities. Right wing victim rights advocates that serve a conservative and racist agenda should no longer be permitted to determine or prevent the release of offenders back into our communities. The advocates and activists appointed to these boards shall determine whether or not an offender continues to constitute a danger to the community.
- Enfranchise all ex-offenders, formerly incarcerated person, and presently incarcerated people. The right to vote should not be terminated upon conviction or incarceration. The right to participate in the choosing of one’s government is a fundamental human right that should not be extinguished by the state. Depriving prisoners of the right to vote is based upon the doctrine that prisoners are slaves of the state enshrined in the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution which permits slavery and involuntary servitude of those convicted of a crime.
- Demand the release of ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN THE UNITED STATES. For more on political prisoners in the United States visit www.thejerichomovement.com
- We must submit a petition to the United Nations charging the U.S. Criminal Justice System’s legislative laws enacted by white majority legislative bodies as being deliberately racially disproportionate as applied to African Americans and other people of color. The failure of white majority legislatures and appointed judicial bodes to remedy these injustices demonstrates continued racial animus and a violation of international human rights; therefore, the United Nations is the only forum African Americans can petition to remedy the injustice, a reality that further supports the need for African American political autonomy under jurisdiction of international law.
Robert Saleem Holbrook
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall
David Dawud Lee
John Mandalek Hall
Derrick Ajamu Hampton
The authors of this document are imprisoned members of One Hood United, a movement devoted to community empowerment and youth development. They are also members of the Human Rights Coalition Comments or questions can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.