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WHO WE ARE

The Houston Abolitionist Collective is a group of organizers committed to building power and a movement around abolition in Houston and Harris County through political education, mutual aid, transformative justice, and community organizing to end policing, punitive justice, and harm. HAC formed in response to the murder of George Floyd and the Uprising of June 2020. 

Abolitionist Community Organizing & Education

Houston Abolition Collective Newsletter

Monday, April 18, 2022

 

Happy April & Happy Holidays everyone!
 

Welcome to our fourth 2022 issue of the Houston Abolition Collective Newsletter! Thank you for reading and we are happy to have seen y'all at our April's general meeting! We hope to see y'all again at our next meeting May 9th. We meet every second Monday of the month. If you'd like to be apart of our emailing list to be notified to join with the virtual meeting link please email us at liberatehtx@protonmail.com. In this newsletter issue, we'll be politically educating about the budget system around K-12th grade schools and the lack of mental health resources in schools. Enjoy your reading and Happy Holy Month of celebrations occurring for Passover-Seder, Ramadan, and Easter.

Contents

  • Lack of Mental Health resources in Schools
  • City News
  • County News
  • Local Actions
  • Local Events
  • Closing

Lack of Mental Health resources in Schools

Houston ISD, the largest school district in the state, is currently developing its budget for the 2022-2023 school year. Texas schools are notoriously underfunded, and a recent Houston Chronicle series focuses on how that has left students without the mental health resources they need to thrive. This also means that more students are experiencing the worst effects of the school-to-prison nexus. Unlike other large cities like New York and Chicago, Houston-area school districts are controlled by boards of education rather than by the mayor, which means their budgets are completely separate from the city budget. Budget workshops for HISD (and other local school districts) are taking place now and vital decisions about staffing and pay for personnel such as teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses are all being made now. If you live in Texas and you’re not sure which school district’s boundaries you’re in, you can find out here to search for upcoming board meetings. 

Resources:

Artist by Micah Bazant
Houston City News
Houston City Council News

On April 13, City Council voted unanimously to pass Council Member At-Large Plummer's proposal to expand MCOT teams. A Mobile Crisis Outreach Team of experts and licensed mental health professionals that tends to mental health crises in communities than sending police officers from 911 calls. This is a huge win which the issue has been long advocated by constituents, advocacy groups, and incarcerated community members to help end criminalization and further death from mental health crises by the hands of armed police. This is only the beginning. Read Council Member Plummer's statement below.

City Council Meeting April, 13, 2022

Houston we did it! In 2020, I proposed that non- violent mental health related calls should not be handled by police officers It puts the victim and the police officer in a volatile situation and very often leads to fatalities. My proposal received overwhelming support from the public and was recommended by the Mayors’s Task Force on Police Reform.

In 2021, I asked the Mayor to increase the teams to 20, thereby ensuring that we kept both the community and officers safe.

Today, we voted unanimously for the full 20 teams. This is a huge win for the hundreds of constituents, the advocacy groups and the Harris County inmates who reached out to me over the last couple of years stressing the importance of this measure in saving lives.
Houston BDS Campaign

WHAT IS BDS?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) aims to dismantle israel's systemic oppression of the Palestinian people by boycotting and divesting from institutions that are complicit in Israeli apartheid and campaigning for sanctions against israel until it complies with international law and meets the following three demands:
1) An end to the illegal occupation and colonization
2) Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of israel
3) The right of return for Palestinian refugees as stipulated by UN General Assembly Resolution 194

The BDS National Committee (BNC) is currently encouraging consumer boycotts of the following products and brands:
  • Israeli fruit, vegetables, and wines
  • HP
  • Puma
  • SodaStream
  • Sabra
  • Pillsbury
  • AXA
  • Ahava
HPD is among the departments that have sent delegates to Israel. Charles A. McClelland, Jr. served as Chief of Houston Police Department between 2010 and 2016. Chief McClelland attended a training in Israel with JINSA as a delegate of the Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) program in June 2011. Charles McClelland was replaced with Art Acevedo who has been serving as the Chief of HPD since 2016. Chief Acevedo attended a training in Israel with JINSA as a delegate of a “Hispanic Leadership Trip” when he was Chief of the Police Department of Austin, Texas. Read more here.
Deadly Exchange Virtual Rally: This Is How We Win - March 21, 2022- from Haymarket Books/Jewish Voices for Peace National
UH Divest Campaign

The UH Divest Campaign is a coalition of 12+ student orgs pushing UH to divest from companies profiting off of militarization at home & abroad. On Monday, March 23rd @uhsga voted YES on a resolution to divest from Israeli apartheid, militarized US police + border patrol, and US imperialism globally by divesting from 5 of the largest arms manufacturers in the world! To support their efforts, sign on their petition to demand that the University of Houston adopt a budget that centers students and the school’s communities over the university’s profit. If we do not accept the militarization of U.S. police, Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, or the endless bombing of Yemen, then we cannot justify University of Houston profiting from it. Plug in to their page for upcoming events and actions.

At the University of Houston, UH Divest Coalition protest on campus.
Harris County News
Judicial Elections

Before elections, District Attorney Kim Ogg has been steadily working alongside groups like Crime Stoppers (which receives a cut of court fees) and policing agencies to undermine constitutional bail reform, which seeks to reduce the number of people locked up in jail because they can’t afford to pay bail. She uses residents’ fears about public safety to cast doubts about local judges. As a result, during the March 1 primary election in Harris County several local Democratic judges that have helped on bail reform and other efforts lost to challengers from the District Attorney’s office.  The prison industrial complex and it's white supremacist institutions will find ways to continue to oppress by policing & surveilling to criminalize our vulnerable and marginalized communities. See more info below on how DA Kim Ogg and her office continues to uphold white supremacy in Harris County.

Call To Action:

Graphic from @txabolitionists

4/18 — Melissa Lucio Letter Campaign:

Please take a few minutes to ask for clemency for Melissa Lucio
TODAY, a mother who's been on death row for 14 years after being coerced into a confession related to the death of her daughter. This will result in the state-sanctioned murder of Melissa on April 27th if clemency is denied. Please mail letters on her behalf, (takes less than 5 minutes!!) and encourage your organizations to do the same, prior to April 18. Details and templates to write to ask for clemency are available. Please document that you have mailed your letters in the spreadsheet linked. If you're unable to mail, please email your letters to Roshni Ahmed at Texas Prison Project to take care of logistics: rahmed3696@gmail.com.


Shotspotter "Neighbors Against Spying" Campaign: 

We are a coalition of community organizations and individuals calling on the City of Houston and Harris County to cancel their contracts with ShotSpotter to install surveillance listening devices and cameras that increase policing and surveillance in Black, brown, and poor neighborhoods.

We urge the City and County to reinvest the $3.5 million ShotSpotter fund into existing and new gun violence prevention programs as well as funds for direct financial assistance, housing and rent assistance, and educational supports that can help address the root causes of gun violence. We also urge the City and County to invest in higher wages and more support for operations of nonviolent 911 response to ensure that people facing crises can receive more options for immediate, unarmed, nonpolicing support.


SIGN OUR PETITION & SHARE: bit.ly/stopshotspotterhtx 

If you'd like to join our meetings, the next #StopShotSpotter meeting is happening this Thursday, April 21 at 7pm on Zoom. RSVP here
Save + share our social media posts to learn more background and demands.
(For Spanish posts to share click here / publicaciones en español aqui)

Campaign to Stop the LaSalle Transfers & Depopulate Harris County Jail:  

Our next planning meetings for Cancel the LaSalle Contract campaign are on Thursdays from 4-5pm. Please email Sophie (kupetz.sophie@gmail.com) or Gabriela (gabriela.barahona@texasjailproject.org) if you'd like to be in the emailing list to join meeting calls & volunteer to help.

Refer to the Digital Media Tool Kit on upcoming actions to sign onto, register to speak - with talking points, social media content of events, and send letters to your local representatives to cancel the La Salle contract to outsource pretrial jail defendants to Louisiana and address the overpopulation crisis in Harris County jails by Kim Ogg DA. We dream and fight for a world with accountability & care without the plague by punishment, police, and poverty. We keep each other safe, not jails, as every intention & action is a step closer to a liberated world

CW photo below: mentions transferred community member Billie Davis's death and murder by Harris County Jail

Latest action was the coalition sending a demand letter to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Harris County Commissioner Judges for a custody death report for Billie Davis. Boost on your social media on Twitter and Instagram.

Budget Working Group:

This is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to advocate to invest in communities for Harris County Commissioner Court budget. We cover what the budget cycle is, interim budget happenings, and departments/goals with abolitionist priorities. If you would like to be included to attend future meetings email Christopher (christopher@texascivilrightsproject.org)


4/25 — ARPA Survey Working Group Hour:

On 4/25, Monday @ 6:30 CST virtually, HAC will host a working hour to work on the ARPA survey by submitting our responses for budget usage the city and county uses funds towards investing to our communities and not in criminalization. If you would like to participate email us for zoom link  (liberatehtx@protonmail.com)

For those that are unaware, Congress passed ARPA - American Rescue Plan Act that provides additional relief to address the continued impacts of COVID-19. The City of Houston survey seeks input regarding the City’s plan to prioritize and spend $607.8 million in American Rescue Plan funds. Here is a chance to make our voices heard to advocate to prioritize to spend on non-policing methods and invest in other decarceral programs. There is also the Harris County survey, where the county will receive $915 million. Join us in the working space hour to get it done! 


Council Member Alcorn's Budget Survey:

Share all of your bold and ambitious abolitionist ideas here.


UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS:

4/19 — Derecka Purnell at UH-Graduate College of Social Work

On 4/19, Tuesday @ 6:30 CST at the University of Houston Student Center Theatre:
Derecka Purnell, author of Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and The Pursuit of Freedom will be at the University of Houston for the Graduate College of Social Work’s (GCSW) Social Justice Solutions series. Purnell’s work invites readers to envision new systems that work to address the root causes of violence and elaborate on the belief that abolition is not solely about getting rid of the police, but a commitment to create and support different answers to the problem of harm in society.

As part of the GCSW’s ongoing exploration of abolition as a critical framework to help realize our vision of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice, all GCSW students received a copy of Becoming Abolitionists, Purnell’s widely anticipated and acclaimed memoir. GCSW is thrilled to present their students and the public the opportunity to hear from the author whose work has served to deepen their understanding of abolition as part of their social work education.

RSVP: In person

RSVP: Livestream

4/21 #Medicare4All Political Education Community Event in TX-29 

On 4/21, Thursday @ 6-7:30pm CST at Park Place Regional Library, 8145 Park Place Boulevard, Houston, TX, 77017. See for Spanish details / Haga clic aquí para leer más información en español. 

The congressional district held by Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29) has the highest uninsured rate in the country. Let’s talk about it. We are inviting community members to an in-person event to learn about Medicare For All and the state of health care in Texas.

This event is open to the public and will be held Food and drinks will be provided!

We work to make our meetings as accessible as possible to everyone. Email info@houstondsa.org if you have any needs we can work to accommodate and would like to join the working group.


4/30 Data to Dream #HouBudget 2022 Kickoff

On Saturday, 4/30 @ 11:00am - 12:30pm CST Zoom.

This series of online workshops will include opportunities for people to explore, interpret, and share information about the city and abolition in preparation for the City of Houston's budget adoption for 2022-2023. Join us to help make sense of what's currently happening in Houston so we can make the changes our city needs.

In the first workshop, we will come together to discuss the priorities and successful outcomes that we want for Houston. In later sessions, we will develop proposals for the FY23 city budget that begins on July 1, 2022, and form teams to help come up with ways to present that data to the city and community members in order to improve the budget. Thank you and congratulations to everyone who worked with Council Member Letitia Plummer on the MCOT expansion discussed above!

 

RSVP: datatodream.eventbrite.com


Photo by Quia Brown
Signing Off

Thank you for reading this issue of the Houston Abolition Collective newsletter! Let's create a world with community care without prisons, policing, and surveillance.

In solidarity,

Houston Abolition Collective
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April 2022 Newsletter

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Houston Abolitionist Collective · 2202 Alabama St · Houston, TX 77004-4314 · USA

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