Prisons are the antithesis of all we stand for as anarchists. While we seek a society built around peace and bodily autonomy, prisons are violent institutions that trap inmates at gunpoint and make them vulnerable to rape and murder. Where we seek justice through restitution, reconciliation, and self-defense, prisons are based on punitive vengeance. While we seek a society free from oppression based on race, gender, class, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation, prisons systematically brutalize the most marginalized among us.
As anarchists, we admire those who resist oppression. The state, on the other hand, uses prisons to confine and brutalize those who resist. Heroic whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are locked up, while the war criminals and corrupt rulers they exposed keep their positions of power and privilege. The state locked up CeCe McDonald, the New Jersey 4, and other queer and trans people in a notoriously transphobic and homophobic prison system, simply as punishment for defending themselves from aggressors. Black liberation revolutionaries are confined in cages and often tortured in solitary confinement, while cops who murder people of color keep their jobs and their power.
One way to mitigate the violence and harm inflicted by the prison state is to support its most immediate victims: prisoners themselves. Since the early 20th century, the Anarchist Black Cross has been doing just that. Their members write letters to political prisoners and prisoners of war. This builds social relationships and community across the divides the state seeks to maintain, it lets prisoners know they’re not alone, and it helps undermine the dehumanization that is core to imprisonment. Anarchist Black Cross groups also raise money for political prisoners and their legal defense funds.
Rather than requesting reforms from the state, Anarchist Black Cross members directly make the world a better place for those the state has brutalized. Their approach is fundamentally entrepreneurial, as it involves using the resources at one’s disposal to directly serve people’s needs. Yet it is fundamentally revolutionary, using this entrepreneurship to support those who have lost their liberty in the struggle against capitalist domination. It’s thus quite fitting that the Center for a Stateless Society’s Entrepreneurial Anti-Capitalism Project has sent funds to two active chapters of the Anarchist Black Cross: the Denver Anarchist Black Cross and the Mexico City Anarchist Black Cross.
We urge you to support their work too. You can donate to the Denver ABC here and you can contact the Mexico City ABC here to find out how to help. You can also help support prisoners by writing to some of the various prisoners these organizations support. Around the world, the Anarchist Black Cross is engaging in vital work to support prisoners, resist violent repression of social movements, and build up mutual aid. Until all are free from the state’s brutal prison system, the work of these Anarchist Black Cross groups and others like them will remain a vital part of the anarchist movement.