Filed under: Community Organizing, Incarceration, Northeast, Police, White Supremacy
On Monday August 15th, Abolition Square launched a new outreach program aimed at providing jail support to recently released arrestees from Manhattan Central Booking at 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.
Abolitionists campaigned outside the courthouse targeting those freshly released from being arraigned. The majority of people who pass through the New York City court system are charged with minor offenses, such as turnstile jumping, open container, or for simply being Black. These are the people affected by Broken Windows that Abolition Square needed to reach. Nicknamed “The Tombs,” Manhattan Central Booking has a notorious reputation for Kafkaesque bureaucracy, negligence, and abuse with judges readily sending people to Riker’s Island simply for not being able to post bail.
Since 8:00 am, campaigners said they talked to nearly 100 people who had just gotten out of jail. In the early morning, a large crowd of approximately 40 people had gathered around the activists to learn about jail support, their legal rights regarding interaction with law enforcement and the courts, and the larger Abolition Square project.
“We’re willing to stay connected with the people who are both affected and who want to get involved,” protesters explained. “We are there for our community, we don’t leave our people locked up in there.”
Abolition activists gave court victims directions to the square. Many people were relieved and even enthusiastic about the support they received outside the courthouse. Many were very receptive of the abolition and reparations demands showing a growing sentiment of NYPD rejection among New Yorkers. Some explained their charges and circumstances in great detail, with activists providing legal advice, while others angrily denounced the bureaucratic nightmare of the Central Booking process.
In a city where nearly 1.2 million people have open warrants, the courthouses are where the real material violence of the carceral state begins. Even if someone survives their arrest by an officer, they are then introduced to an entirely new level of oppression upon their booking. Abolition Square participants agreed it was time to assist those who face this immediate violence. Some organizers plan on reaching out to the Outer Boroughs to further organize black and brown working class communities.
In addition to providing legal and social support to court victims, protesters also chanted “Fuck the Police!” and “Abolish the NYPD!” to much fanfare.