Tuesday, February 23, 2010


 The Cleveland Anarchist Black Cross is dedicated to the abolition of
the prison system and to the struggle for justice for all people and
against oppression of all forms. We support political prisoners, but
also want to understand issues related to prisons and other violent
tools of control in our society. We aim to educate about the flaws of
the prison industrial complex whether it be the mass imprisonment of
blacks and latinos, and youth, or the paramilitary policing of these
communities, the drug war aka chemical warfare by the government done
onto communities of color in the US and abroad in Colombia, Nicaragua

As a group that takes a stand against domination in our society, we
join the calls for the end to the prison system. The system of
prisons in this country as we know them was created as a means of
controlling and criminalizing freed black men and women and co-opting
their labor for the service of wealthy whites. The very roots of
prisons were to normalize poor people and women as workers for
industry. The movement to eliminate this system and to address the
real sources of violence in our society, supported by people ranging
from Christians to anarchists, is widespread and ever growing.

Why talk about domestic violence? To ignore a facet of the violence
and oppression in our society as pervasive and wide-reaching as men's
violence against women and men in the home would be impossible for us.
None of us escape the effects of this violence. Furthermore,
understanding the mentality and drive behind male domination of people
they profess to love provides insight and understanding into the
domination of indigenous and other people of color by white people,
into the violence and devastation of other living creatures and
ecosystems by humans, into the obsession with control and the master
race phenomenon in our society. So domestic violence, while itself a
horrific and critical pattern of atrocities, also gives us a lens to
look at other aspects of our society.

Upon examination, the prison system bears more than superficial
resemblance to the individual prisons men create through domestic
violence. The abuser/abusive system cannot rely on physical force
alone to control their prisoners, so psychological manipulation and
violence is employed as well. The specific techniques of isolation,
monopolizing perception, inducing debility and exhaustion, threats,
demonstrations of power and "omnipotence," making trivial demands, and
degrading prisoners (described in Biderman's Chart of Coercion) are
used extensively in prisons to break down incarcerated people and
enforce compliance. These abhorrent techniques, coupled with the high
incarceration rates of latino and black people, and the jailing of
people for political dissent, reveal another aspect of a system that
is bent on social control by any means.

Further, it's important to recognize how the prison system supports
the violence of abusers. As the film Defending Our Lives portrays,
police trivializing of domestic violence reports often enables abusers
by sending a message that the victims are alone and that the violence
they're experiencing is unimportant. The extensive penalization of
self-defense, where women are convicted for killing their abusers,
sends a clear message that victims of domestic violence must not stand
up for themselves. Many victims, disempowered and psychologically
traumatized from abusive relationships, end up criminalized for drug
crimes, sex work, or other non-violent crimes, and their abuse is
replicated by prisons. Instead of seeking to end cycles and patterns
of abuse, the prison system reinforces this violence.

Looking for solutions to violence from the police or the prison
system, it is essential to recognize the marginalization of the
primary victims of this violence politically, economically and
socially, and to be aware of the way that people experience this
violence differently depending on whether they're male, female or
transgendered; white or of color; straight or gay; rich or poor.
Likewise, marginalization and other forms of oppression must be taken
into account when considering domestic violence. Approaches that
ignore these differences of power have consistently left out or even
negatively impacted poor people, people of color, people who deviate
from gender norms, and so on.

As a group looking for solutions to state violence, we think it's
essential to also focus on the pervasive violence in our communities.
We must understand and address the underlying dynamics of sexism,
racism, economic violence and classism, homophobia, speciesism, and
other forms of domination that create and perpetuate this violence.
These systems cannot be looked at in isolation, as they all influence
and support each other and must be considered as a whole. While
reforms to any of these systems may have some benefits, we must always
keep in sight that these systems are inherently violent.

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