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The LA county board of supervisors may have given them the cold shoulder, but this coalition of activists are still going to fight for what’s right.
By Patrisse Cullors
Politicians Betrayed Us – The LA County Board of Supervisors may have given them the cold shoulder, but this coalition of activists are still going to fight for what’s right.
Politicians Betrayed Us
Transcript provided by YouTube:
Can’t do much now. Just gotta get there.
Today, some of the Justice LA team
is meeting with supervisor Hilda Solis
to try to convince her to draft a motion
against the 3.5 billion dollar jail plan.
Out of the five supervisors, four of them are aligned
Would they say they’re abolitionists? No.
Would they say there’s a need
for alternatives to incarceration? Yes.
Will any of them say that we need to stop the jail plan?
I’m trying to just be easy. Like…
I’m just trying to be like, this is gonna be
exactly what it needs to.
– Can you get there earlier, like 12:15?
Yeah, it’s gonna be me, you, and Ivette.
Everyone else is gonna meet us there.
This in one of our last ditch efforts
in the County Board of Supervisors.
This is the body that has the power to decide
that this jail plan can stop.
Nobody wants to be the first supervisor
to put their neck out there, but if we can get Solis,
we can Hahn, and we can possibly get Ridley-Thomas,
and open up the whole conversation.
It’s really important that we…
walk out of here with a concrete “yes” from Solis.
– Hi, I’m here for the Hilda Solis meeting.
– Okay, your name? – Patrisse.
– Patrisse. Last name? – Cullors.
– I hope that they decide
that we don’t need these two new jails.
I’m praying that happens, but…
Only God knows what’s gonna happen.
– Justice LA created a motion. We actually drafted
a document ourselves that says what we want.
It says we want this county to create
a working group that will coordinate
all the activities happening
around alternatives to incarceration,
that will actually investigate all the investments
that have happened in housing,
and addressing homelessness, and mental health,
and actually look at how will that reduce
jail bed usage in Los Angeles County.
And that rigorous assessment will be used
to stop and reduce the jail population in LA.
(Patrisse): I’m (bleep) pissed.
Supervisor Solis said she wouldn’t present a motion
to put a moratorium on building the jails.
These five people are literally allowing
death chambers to be built.
Their only response is “my hands are tied”.
And I think it’s shameful,
it’s embarrassing, and it’s infuriating.
At this point, the jail plan is a political plan.
They’re too afraid to change policy,
because it may impact their own political careers,
and their own political aspirations.
And that has been such a huge challenge for our movement.
What I’m most clear of today
is that none of these supervisors
are gonna stop the jail plan.
She said, “I looked at your motion,
“I’m not gonna stop a jail. I can’t do it.”
My organizer mind wants to be like,
“I’m okay, we got this!
“We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna fight it.”
And it’s sometimes in these moments as an organizer
– I didn’t say anything, because I was really confused.
I was… I don’t know. She threw me for a loop today.
– It’s always interesting to meet with an elected official
especially because it often lands flat.
We just have to eat that, you know?
I wouldn’t be an organizer if I didn’t have hope,
if I didn’t know that there is a way out of this.
Mark-Anthony, have you heard back from Hilda Solis’ office?
– Haven’t heard back from them yet.
– She did get kind of defensive when she was like,
“I did try to stop it at first.”
You know, which is true. She did,
but she didn’t continue.
For us, this isn’t over.
They might have decided that they’re gonna break ground,
but we know that we’re going to fight back.
I think we can build the fire up again.
It’s just gonna take a lot of work.
This is like, a different type of campaign
We’ve gotta figure out some other ways.
The next phase of this is taking it
to the state of California.
Only way they can really and truly build this jail
is if they have money from the state.
So we have to take this to the state of California,
and to our state legislators.
We also wanna take this to voters.
We wanna really move on our next steps
and bring this to LA County for voters to vote on it.
– I like the more aggressive approach.
You know, just getting in their face,
you know, like actually, I want you to walk outside,
and I want there to be a jail bed
Because that’s what you’re doing to our houses,
you’re putting jail beds in our backyards.
– It’s hard to be optimistic
about the County Board of Supervisors.
I’m optimistic about what we’re gonna be doing
We have plenty more up our sleeves.
For me, it’s a call to action.
We’re not gonna stop this fight.
This setback is just the reason
to build the movement even bigger.
This is a little graph of how many people
are locked up in the United States.
1.3 million are in state prisons for drugs,
burglaries, awaiting trial.
Almost half a million people are just in jail
An organization is only a group of people
with one goal, one mission.
it was three of us getting together at a coffee shop.
Organizing is a natural response
to an unnatural situation.
we talk about Malcolm X, Assata…
And the best kind of organizing comes from the streets.
– To organize people, it’s a lot of hard work.
But despite all of those different challenges,
people do still come together.
We have the power to make a difference in our country,
This starts with one person, and another person,
working together until the momentum builds
– The jail fight took so much out of us,
That just made me that much stronger.
We operate off of three pillars:
abolition, transformative justice
I did six years in prison,
I joined the organization as a volunteer,
and then a member, then staff, then director.
So I like to say that I’m the perfect model
of transformative justice. (all laughing)
There were so many barriers placed up against me.
I wanna set a strong foundation
for the next group of organizers who are coming in
(crowd chanting): UTLA! UTLA!
(cheering, chanting continues)
– Hi, I’m a student with “Student Deserve”
and there are some things I am confused about.
I wanna know why there are at least three police officers
a day on my campus, but only one nurse that comes
I wanna know why California spends seven times
more per prisoners a year than per student?
Tell me why LA is tearing down the biggest jail in America
for a budget of 3.5 billion dollars?
Yet our after school programs,
teachers, and benefits for teachers
continue to be under attack.
Fighting takes a lot of forms, and…
this is like, a very therapeutic form of that.
‘Cause it’s a way to stand together with everybody and say:
“Yeah, we’re right, we’re here,
“and we’re gonna keep fighting.”
(woman): No justice, no peace!
(crowd): No justice, no peace!
– I’m not just here for John Horton my son,
I’m not just here for everybody else that lost their babies,
I’m here for y’all, the generations after these,
’cause if we don’t stop it now, it’s gonna keep going,
I’m just a mother that grew up in Watts…
and had a tragedy happen to me,
had my son murdered by the Sheriff’s Department.
And out of his death, it made me an activist.
And I’ll be an activist for the rest of my life
to help other people’s kids.
– I’m never gonna give up. I can’t give up.
I can’t give up because I’ve been there.
I’ve been to prison, I know what it’s like,
I know what’s happening with people.
And I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, because…
I have to be the voice for the voiceless.
– If it really means something to you,
if you’re impacted by it,
you’re not gonna give up.
And that’s who we need in this fight.
People that are not going to give up
so we can have the next generation of people
like, read it in a history book and say,
“Oh my God, that was so awful, I’m so glad we’re out of that.”
That’s what I wanna see.
– Those of us who believe in social justice,
it’s important to continue
to hold our elected officials accountable
to really invest in what people need.
– Tune in to your communities, and tune in to your neighbors,
and listen to their stories. Everybody has a story.
Educate yourself about what’s going on around you
– The system’s foundation is corrupt,
And the only way to deal with something that’s rotten
And you start all over again.
You plant new seeds. That’s what Justice LA is doing.
We are literally uprooting what is rotten,
and we’re planting new seeds.
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
(crowd): It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
– It is our duty to win! – It is our duty to win!
– We must love and respect one another!
– We must love and respect one another!
– We have nothing to lose but our chains.
– We have nothing to lose but our chains.
– This is not a moment to give up,
this is a moment to clarify our goal
and to say, “We will figure this out.”
We will put our bodies on the line
if they try to build that jail. We will show up,
in front of the jail, we will show up
in front of the crane, and we will make sure
that that shit doesn’t get built.
This post was previously published on YouTube.
Photo credit: Screenshot from video