Carl Dix on the Month of Resistance:

This Must Be the Beginning to the End of Mass Incarceration

July 28, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following excerpt is from a recent interview Revolution did with Carl Dix about the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation:

When Cornel West and I got together and came up with the idea of issuing a call for this Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration we were seeing a couple of things. One, is we were seeing that there was beginning stirring, that that was happening and that was important and needed to be built on because it was no where near commensurate to where it needed to be in relation to the way in which the genocidal program was being brought down on people. At the same time there was the beginnings of some of the expressions from Obama, from Holder about “here are some programs to address this” which went along with calls for people to get behind them. So we saw the possibility of things being derailed.

At a press conference opposing the NYPD raids in Harlem, June 2014. Photo: Special to Revolution

We came up with a calendar, kicking off the month with sermons in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, all kinds of religious institutions, targeted at bringing out the horrors of mass incarceration—but also urging the congregations in those religious institutions to participate in the entire month which is going to be a month of activities on campuses, panels, symposiums, teach-ins, cultural events happening all across the country, coordinated demonstrations on October 22. These protests are an especially important part of the month because the youth who are being criminalized need to have the room and space to stand up and say no fucking more to this shit and they need to be able to do it in a way that they can see both their power in doing it and that there are others standing with them. That’s been an important thing about the October 22 demonstrations historically, that they have brought together those who have lived their lives under the guns and billy clubs of brutal, murdering police together with people from other sections of society who stand with them and have their backs. These October 22 demonstrations are very important because that’s a way to put a stamp of defiance on the activity of the whole month ,but they too, have to take a leap of massive proportions this year if we’re really gonna impact all of society—which we ARE.

We’re aiming for a Month of Resistance that can mark the beginning of the end of mass incarceration in this country. And in laying that out we were saying that OK, it’s not the case that everybody in the country is going to act in this month, but tens of thousands need to act during this month. They need to act in a determined and defiant way and in ways that impact millions of people in society and move them, impact the way they think about mass incarceration, have them looking at,—“well, ok, I used to think that these people in jail are in there for a reason.” Or, “I used to think the police targeted these communities, I kind of knew that was happening but I bought their justifications for it.”

We have to get people rethinking their acceptance of those justifications and actually breaking with their acceptance and beginning to see that people are not a bunch of criminals, but that they have been criminalized. And resistance is gonna be very, very important for that to happen. Because some people pose that we do need to do a lot of education. Well, we do need to do a lot of education. But education without resistance is not going to impact people in the same way, it’s not going to lay the basis to challenge people to look deeply into this and to change their thinking. That’s what has to happen on a very significant scale throughout the country with this Month of Resistance.

One thing that we’re doing right now are kick-off meetings in a number of different cities. Oakland has its scheduled for July 26, LA and New York the next weekend and Chicago the middle of August. There have already been kick-off meetings in Dallas and Dayton. The point of these kick-off meetings is to look at who needs to be involved to make October happen—actually getting to the forces, the organizations and individuals and forces in society, everybody who sees mass incarceration as a horror or who could be won to see that, looking at that and then saying how do we get the people to the kick-off meetings that can reach out to and mobilize those people.

The approach is a combination of going very, very broadly in the cities where the kick-off meetings are going to happen. But also very strategically looking at who are the people we need in order to be able to have a movement of sermons in this particular area. Who are the people we need to have so we can have campus events in the areas where the meetings are happening? Who do we need to have in the room to really have significant cultural events? Who do we need to have there so there are powerful demonstrations on October 22 that involve the youth who are being criminalized, that involve people who have been victimized by the criminal injustice system, who have had their loved ones murdered, or their loved ones warehoused in prison? Something emanating from the West Coast but that I think needs to be taken up nationally—Columbus Day—might be a day of “not one more deportation” demonstrations happening in different parts of the country.

So this is what we’re putting together for October, this is our vision and plan for October and the kick-off meetings have to bring into being the kind of cores that can do the work on both the local and regional but also national level to realize this vision and to carry out this plan and to bring into being the kind of October which both through the variety of activities, the numbers of people involved, and the defiant stamp that’s put on it, can not only involve tens of thousand of people but be the kind of resistance that impacts millions; challenges them to change their thinking on this and brings many of them into joining in the movement of resistance and through that can really be the game changer around this where the trajectory gets changed; where things start breaking out differently; where people are no longer accepting what’s being done to them because they think there’s no way they can do anything about it; where people are no longer standing by and saying that’s bad but it’s not happening to me, and people are no longer buying the justifications. All of that’s gotta be challenged and transformed. And that’s what October’s got to be, a time when people start to look at this differently and act on it differently—and not just a few people, but very broadly and where we can concretely begin to reverse this whole genocidal program and direction.


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