Report on Stop Mass Incarceration Network Conference in Atlanta


February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From Carl Dix & Travis Morales

Early this month, more than 170 people gathered in Atlanta to set forth a bold proposal: disrupting business as usual—“shutting it down”—throughout society on April 14, demanding that police murder of Black and brown people STOP!

Even with the massive protests of last fall, the police are still murdering our people with impunity and this must stop!!! Just last week, police in Pasco, Washington, chased down Mexican immigrant Antonio Zambrano-Montes, and after he stopped and turned to face them with his hands up, they started firing, another person of color shot down by murdering police. Time after time, after time, after time, after time, the police murder our people and get away with it. This is intolerable—and this must STOP, and it will not stop without even bolder and broader action.

We are confronted with both a huge need and a huge opportunity. We are at a crossroads. The genocidal program of mass incarceration, the New Jim Crow of demonization and criminalization of Black and brown people, the wanton police murder of people of color with impunity, is accelerating. Either we are pushed back, forced to accept this genocidal program, the system giving a green light to kill our people, convincing many that there is nothing they can do, or we re-seize the initiative, build off the beautiful uprising of the last part of 2014 that shook this country to its core, opening the eyes of millions to the reality of the police murder of Black and brown people, a time all too short in which Black Lives did Matter to millions for the first time and go forward to bring people back out into the streets and actually very quickly begin to bring forth a determined movement of mass resistance that will not stop until the police murder of Black and brown people stops!

People came from all across the country: from Ferguson; from Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Stockton, California, on the West Coast; from Dayton and Cleveland in Ohio; from Chicago; from Houston; New York City; several cities in North and South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Washington, DC; and of course Atlanta. There were many students in the house, along with family members of police murder victims, religious leaders, formerly incarcerated people and family members of people currently in prison, immigrants and immigrants’ rights activists, attorneys, and activists. More than half the participants were African-Americans, and there were many white people as well, along with Latinos and some Asians too.


Over two days of deliberation, the conference came to a view that the movement to STOP police murder of Black people was at a crossroads; that if people failed to break thru the authorities’ attempts to suppress the resistance to murder by police, then the normal routine of this society, with police repeatedly murdering Black and Latino people and getting away with it, and with people accepting it in silence, will continue. There was a strong sentiment that the movement needed to go way beyond what it had done before.

“The resistance people mobilized last year to the ugly reality of police murdering people and getting away with it had the system hemorrhaging. And it needs to hemorrhage some more, so that everybody can see the reality of what’s being done and join us to stop it.” This quote from Uncle Bobby, the uncle of Oscar Grant who was murdered by police in Oakland, California, on New Year’s Day 2009, concentrated the spirit people brought to this conference.

And it united that the way to break thru those attempts at suppression was by mobilizing for April 14 to be a day of: NO SCHOOL, NO WORK—STOPPING BUSINESS AS USUAL; to say NO MORE to the system giving a green light to killer cops. April 14 was set as a day for thousands and thousands of students to walk out of school, take over buildings, and act in other ways on their campuses; for people to gather in cities across the country and SHUT IT DOWN!

We issued a Call for April 14 (A14), and we began work on a plan to spread the Call for this day of disrupting business as usual everywhere and for mobilizing resistance around key battles as we build up to A14. Two things that we set to do right away were to unleash massive outreach to students on campuses all across the country and reaching out to all the groups and individuals who have been active in this movement and struggling with them to take up A14.


We left the conference determined to get on a mission to make A14 happen. Doing this will include:

  1. Spread the Call for April 14 (available here) and #ShutDownA14 and enlist people everywhere to build for A14, in your schools, faith communities, neighborhoods, unions, on the Internet and Twitter. Take the Call to every student group on campus and every organization and group that has been out in the streets and all those that should be and enlist them in this effort.
  2. Make hundreds of thousands of copies of the Call, posters and stickers (these materials will be available at
  3. Take up the call for a national day of action for justice for Tamir Rice and other very young people killed by police on February 22.
  4. Take the Call for A14 to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, Alabama, and bring all of the people who are there into this.
  5. Mobilize for a day of Blowing the Whistle on brutal, murdering cops on March 14. Grass-roots groups in the communities should take this up. Students from elite universities and community colleges should be gathered to join in taking whistles into the communities that are targets of police murder to distribute whistles and organize people to blow the whistle when the police abuse people, giving a way for people to act and get organized.
  6. Mobilize immigrants and others to make April 1 a day of targeting the attacks on immigrants as part of building up to #ShutDownA14.

None of this can happen on the scale that it needs to without massive funds. We need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for materials—palm cards, fliers, posters, whistles, print and Internet ads, etc., and for organizing expenses—dispatching teams of student organizers to campuses and sending speakers to outbreaks of resistance and to communities and campuses. Everyone from people facing this hell every day to professors and other professionals, sympathetic business people and philanthropists, and more can participate through donating (and raising) funds. Fundraising not only will enable this to happen; it spreads the word and enables more people to participate.

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