Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) Oakland
Bio: We are organizers from the Oakland chapter of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. We come from various backgrounds including families of formerly incarcerated folks, labor unionists, and academics. By working together to facilitate the creation of a prisoners union and support prisoners taking their own power, we on the outside seek mutual political development. We hope to develop and evolve by participating in this forum.
Description: This will be a presentation and facilitated discussion that will frame the fight against prisons as directly fighting white supremacy and colonialism. We will present historical examples and analyze through the lens of the trajectory of the abolitionist project since the largest prison strike in US history that began on September 9, 2016.
We will focus on this in a historical context of the history of the creation and propagation of prisons and police in the so-called United States. From slave-catching in the northern states and convict leasing, as well as criminalizing Black skin in Oregon and other people of color (Filipino and Japanese) in Alaska and California, we will provide an overview of the way prisons have worked in various iterations in the broad white supremacist, colonial, capitalist project that warehouses challengers of white dominance.
We will also highlight examples from recent prison uprisings and the broader reform prison movements to discuss the trajectory of abolition. We will identify strengths for mass organizing in the Millions For Prisoners/Amend the 13th movements. We will discuss shortcomings of various reforms, including bail reform and re-entry policy. We will seek to synthesize themes and tactics of various abolitionist projects, including the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement, Cooperation Jackson, and how we have applied elements of those projects in the Bay Area.
Throughout the presentation, we will be real about the effects of white supremacy on our work. We will provide examples of how local white supremacist attacks in the Bay Area have affected our work in various ways, including loss of capacity and targeted repression. We will talk about how the project of building for prisoners to take their own power is paramount to defense of our own communities.