If abolition is what we are working towards, then direct material support is necessary and urgent to build solidarity. Jail and court support are vital mutual aid projects that abolitionists across the country have been working on for many years now, but the uprising that began over this past summer showed many communities the absolute necessity of supporting those who are entwined with the so-called “justice” system.
We look to Charlotte Uprising and their work holding down 24/7 jail support outside of Mecklenburg County Detention Center as a model for what a community can accomplish when the goal is abolition and the practice is community care and mutual aid. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff Department’s vicious repression of Charlotte Uprising’s jail support was a testament to its power and effectiveness as a method for disrupting the violent and dehumanizing processes of the criminal “justice” system. In solidarity with their tireless work, we encourage abolitionists everywhere to work towards building jail and court support infrastructure in their local communities.
We look to community bail funds and bailout days across the county as examples of what community care and mutual aid can look like in our own communities.
In our own communities we have experienced the violence of Wake County Sheriff Department repression of community solidarity when they line up and clear jail support off of the empty lawn outside of the jail. They do this because they are scared of whathappens when those who they kidnap and detain build solidarity and community with each other and with their communities. The violence of courts and jails is protected when those facing it are isolated. As Ruth Wilson Gilmore says, “Abolition is presence.” so we face down isolation with presence to confront the violence as it manifests itself in the so-called “justice” system. When the state attacks our communities, we attack back. Solidarity means attack.
In the work of HEDS Up! this goal has taken the form of eviction court support. That means showing up when there is eviction court and creating a presence outside of the courthouse with information related to eviction, resources to help with utilities and rent, the CDC Declaration (which stop the eviction process until Jan 1st), coffee, and friendly faces. We go inside of the courts to check the eviction docket and see who is doing the evicting and provide further opportunities to provide people with the CDC Declaration and have resources ready that are useful and easy to understand. Through this process we meet others in our community who are facing the violence of the police and the state and begin the process of building solidarity with the goal of leading to long-term community defense against the state and racial capitalism. Often what we experience at court and jail support can be dire and scary, weather it is people talking about their landlord trying to throw them out for being a week late on rent or checking in on comrades and those who we meet in the streets when they are kidnapped by the pigs. Having community present in these frightening and dire situations can take away some of the power that the court system wields over us to keep us isolated and afraid.