For those of you who only have a cursory awareness of Black Panther Party history and the story of George Jackson (if any at all), Angela Davis is more than a legendary-black-militant-turned-
I'd encourage anyone interested in the issue of criminal justice to read Davis' work and catch a lecture or two on Youtube. Her message this evening was consistent with her written words and strong on principles of abolitionism; Google it if you want more, though. Something more awesome happened in Tempe, AZ tonight than Angela Davis' talk that I need to write about. It's been unfolding all along, really....
I showed up at NEEB Hall early today - somewhere around noon, I think, to scope it out and chalk the walk. There's a great canvas out in front of the place - it was a great spread, though my camcorder photos are all grainy and I didn't pull out my 35mm...in that respect my work was lost. There was hardly any traffic until the event, too, so I didn't have much chance to interact with curious on-lookers, as I usually do. I killed a lot of time in the heat, and started to get bummed.
But as the hour approached and more people began to arrive, I found myself surrounded by friends, old and new. Anarchists, former prisoners, loved ones of those passed, ASU students, members of the immigrant rights' community, and even a few Wobblies (yep - the IWW folks) have all been showing support for prisoner rights' actions of late, organizing and standing in solidarity where our paths overlap - I seem to be in the middle of many of those intersections right now.
Anyway, as a result of all my comrades' assistance, I had a ton of t-shirts with prisoner mug shots floating among the standing-room-only crowd this evening: at least 15 victims of prison suicide, neglect or violence were represented. Again, I was slow on the draw with my camera, but at one point after the lecture everyone was milling around the AZ Prison Watch banner out front: God, I hope someone out there had the presence of mind to take pictures of them. I was just kind of stunned, really - seeing these folks gather from a distance in all those shirts, I realized how much power we actually have among us, within us, and behind us...
So, I have no doubt that what we have together far exceeds the power against which we fight. I'm not just talking about pushing through some feel-good legislation or coercing the ADC to make a few reforms. Prison abolition is not a losing battle, not even in this forsaken place. That's going to help me sleep a little better tonight. Thanks all.
And thanks, Professor Davis, for coming to town today.