Copy
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, February 14, 2022

 

Happy Valentines Day & Happy Black History Month everyone!

 

Welcome to our second 2022 issue of the Houston Abolition Collective Newsletter! Thank you for reading. Today on Monday (2/14) we are having a February General Meeting at 6pm! If you'd like to join please email us at liberatehtx@protonmail.com or DM us on twitter / IG @LiberateHTX for the virtual meeting link. In addition to our ongoing working groups and campaign updates, we'll be discussing about BUDGETS as the season is upon us, continuing the conversation of #StopShotSpotter, the overpopulation of our jails regarding the LaSalle Transport contract, and more. We hope you can join us this evening!

Contents

 
  • What is Loving Justice?
  • Local News: BUDGETS! & more
  • Calls to Action  from Our Working Groups
  • Where to Plug-In
  • Local Events
  • Book Features
  • Closing

What is Loving Justice? An Embodied Conflict Resolution & Transformative Justice

We wanted to share this incredible political education on conflict resolution & transformative justice by Kai Cheng Thom hosted by Project Nia as love is in the air today and how we can see about alternatives of accountability from policing. Here's a brief recap what it's about: 

"Transformative Justice and abolition are important values for many of us in social justice and anti-racist movements. But wanting Transformative Justice in theory and staying true to those values in moments of crisis and high emotion can be an enormous challenge." To view the recording of this webinar you can watch here.



Below are ways to learn more about Loving Justice as an organizing tool and long term vision:
Credit goes to Laura Chow Reeve of Radical Roadmaps

Local News: BUDGETS! 

Budget season for proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 is upon us in Harris County, the time is ripe to organize and advocate to invest in our communities. As abolitionists of community members, advocates, and organizers we are stake holders in providing care and divesting from harm as we continue to seek betterment for each other. Even under further oppression in TX under the new defund police law, as we felt a call to action in 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd and Uprising across the nation we are still here focused to continue the fight for an investment on us Houstonians from our City and Harris County budgets to be used to empower and uplift our neighbors. 

Below are resources on learning about the general movement nation-wide around budgets:

The status of budgets in Houston:

Since the pandemic began there has been a decrease in public safety. Our community members have struggled with housing instability, loss of employment, and the loss of health care. We need to reimagine what public safety is. The county is investing 60% of the budget to maintain a previous notion of public safety. Which include mass incarceration, over-policing, and a racially biased justice system. Instead of asking what the root cause of crime is? What we need is an investment in proactive programs that situates the community’s safety as first priority. When people have access to affordable/permanent housing, they are less likely to be in dire situations that force them into crimes of survival like theft, robbery, trespassing, loitering, and prostitution. In order to reimagine public safety, Harris County can invest and support programs like The Way Home Continuum of Care which has provided housing for over 20,000 people experiencing homelessness. The County can fund programs like Emergency Rental Assistance which is on pace to serve 34,000 households that are in jeopardy of losing stable housing. This is what public safety looks like. Housing, running water, electricity, a warm home for the family to shelter during a global pandemic.

Our demands:

  • A freeze on the Sheriff, Constable, and District Attorney Budget.
  • More funding for departments that support the community like Economic Equity & Opportunity, Pollution Control, Public Health, Public Library, Community Service, The Harris Center for Mental Health, and Public Defender.

A reimagining of public safety where the county provides more services for permanent housing, universal healthcare, and better public education opportunities. We need to invest less in over-policing, mass incarceration, and a racialized criminal system. 

We want increased funding for…

  • Housing and Economic Opportunity Departments will only receive 3% of the budget. These departments provide affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and increase access to quality jobs with a living wage and benefits. Harris County has 2,893 people experiencing homelessness. The homeless rate is 4.8 times the homicide rate. We need more funding to make sure people have permanent housing. 
  • Environment & Health Departments will only receive 4% of the budget. These departments work to make our county safer and healthier by reducing our exposure to hazardous chemicals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the spread of COVID-19, and increasing access to preventable care. During a global pandemic, our community needs health care and programs that reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Library and Community Service Departments combined will only receive 2.6% of the budget. These departments provide services like Home Repair Programs, Legal Service Assistance, Disaster Recovery, Healthy Food, and Mobile Libraries which offer access to communities that don’t have a library near them. The County should invest in the community by funding more of these programs, not increasing the sheriff’s, constable’s, and DA’s budget.  
  • Harris County should not fund the Sheriff’s department request to increase the CIRT teams capacity. Instead, the county should fund the Harris Center’s MCOT team and increase their capacity to provide twenty four hours a day coverage, seven days a week. We do not need one more Houstonian to die (Cases of Marcelo Garcia & Nicolas Chavez TW: video of murder, police brutality, death), or even experience trauma, at the hands of an armed responder. Having a mental health crisis should not lead to dangerous events with having armed officers to our vulnerable community members in crisis that needs de-escalation with informed techniques of proper care with health care and providing professionals on scene.

    We must act upon principle of loving our neighbors by investing in the care we need to empower our communities, NOT in criminalization & policing. In 2021 Houston City Council approved a $5.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2021-22, then last week Commissioner Court Judges tried with a proposed plan to cut 1,000 employees to hire MORE law 
    enforcement. As of now county passed two budgets, for $1.3 billion and $2.2 billion, because it is switching to a new fiscal year calendar beginning in October instead of March, and we're ready to continue to organize for our communities. Because it's critical for people to be involved because according to the BBC it only takes 3.5% of the population to bring change. So the more people involved, the more likely we can pressure the commissioners to pass a budget that services the people, not incarcerate them. 

    Reminder that when it comes to funding in other departments, such as HPD, it's always at a cost of what funding could take place in better uplifting ways. We don't need to continue our historic backlog by the DA. NOW is the time for bold caring ways for our communities. Like Maddy Perez said in previous Sunday episode on Euphoria, "bitch you've gotta be kidding me". We can do way better Houston.


Local News (cont.)
  • Bad news for District G: Mary Nan Huffman, an attorney for the Houston Police Officers’ Union and former prosecutor in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office, won the January 24 special election to replace Greg Travis (who resigned to run for the Texas House of Representatives). Huffman finished with 54 percent of the vote, defeating a field of challengers, including community organizer and volunteer Piper Madland (30 percent). Huffman intends to do harm in both roles, as a council member, and continuing to work with the police union, saying the city needs to cut spending and potentially eliminate other city departments to boost police funding and staffing. Madland had called for expanding the department’s mental health response teams, which she said would free up patrol officers to look for and respond to crimes. Huffman was sworn in at the February 2 council meeting.
  • Council Member Pollard went on a rant at the February 2 meeting about the “crime wave”, what he believes causes crime (lack of discipline, lack of respect for authority, and unemployment- OK boomer), crime deterrents (the fear of going to jail), and spoke about an Anti-Crime press conference with Mayor Turner later that day.
  • Lastly, Mayor Turner, HPD Chief Troy Finner, and others held a press event to introduce a 17 page initiative called One Safe Houston, to combat violent crime. The plan outlines a commitment to put more officers on the streets through overtime and cadet classes and creates a $1 million gun buyback program. It also provides $1.5 million in additional funding to the Houston Forensic Science Center to address backlogs and funds domestic violence programs with an additional $3 million to provide more services for survivors and prevention efforts.
(Source from Emily Hynds notes - Follow on IG @embaleez for her notes on Houston City Council meetings! Thank you ~) 

Early Election Primaries Info:
As early election begins today, here's information from Harris County Election Division to check out for your polling location and your sample ballots. 2022 Primary Election Hours of Operation in English, Spanish, Chinese, & Vietnamese here

Call To Action:

Shotspotter "Neighbors Against Spying" Campaign:

Houston DSA’s Abolition Working Group is working with the Houston Abolitionist Collective to build a coalition of organizations and individuals working to oppose ShotSpotter presence in Houston and Harris County. This campaign is part of Houston DSA’s Neighbors Against Spying campaign. 


The next #StopShotSpotter meeting is happening this Thursday, February 17th at 7pm on Zoom. RSVP here


Campaign to Stop the La Salle Transfers & Depopulate Harris County Jail:  

Our next planning meetings for Cancel the LaSalle Contract campaign are on Thursday, February 17 at 4pm, and Thursday, February 24, at 4 pm. Please email liberatehtx@protonmail.com to get connected to the lead organizer!

Advocates have learned that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards does not have jurisdiction over incarcerated persons transferred from Harris County to LaSalle. There's been persons transferred and not provided their medications. Look forward to a promotion of a Rally on Saturday morning March 5. The Rally is to fight for both a community vision of safety and to minimize pre-trial detention. We will also provide a space for grieving for families of persons affected by incarceration; the proposed Rally will begin at the Harris County Jail and conclude with a vigil at the Commissioners Court. Organizers and family members will then speak about the Rally at the next Commisioners Court meeting on Tuesday March 8. 

Check out 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. 

On Jan. 4th Harris County Commissioner Court Meeting of public speakers from community members, client advocates, physicians, and family members of incarcerated folks speaking for a cancellation on the contract to transport approximately 500 people incarcerated in Harris County jail to LaSalle Corrections facilities in Louisiana. La Salle is a notoriously abusive and deadly private prison company where advocates demand a decarceral, dignified, and safety approach instead that addresses the overpopulation crisis in Harris County Jails.
 

Budget Working Group This is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to advocate to invest in communities for Harris County Commissioner Court budget. Next meeting will be Monday, February 28th, at 5 pm. We will focus on which departments we would like to fund and which programs we could promote when speaking to commissioners. Scheduling a planning session for writing our demands and scheduling outreach to commissioners to distribute our plan. If you would like to be included email one of our lead organizers here.
 


Justice for Ashtian: (TW: mentions death, police brutality, murder)
A community gathering centered on bringing justice for Ashtian Barnes. Ashtian was killed by a Harris County Constable during a traffic stop for a toll violation, in a rental car that he did not own! We are a network of organizations, groups, and advocates to advance policies in Harris County that will curve traffic deaths at the hands of the police. The policies we are advocating for include:

  • Disarming traffic police
  • Eliminating the “odor of marijuana” and marijuana possession as lawful bases for police intervention
  • Eliminating traffic fines, fees, and warrants for minor issues such as broken tail light, an expired driver's license, etc.
Our next meeting will be on Friday, February 25 at 5pm (contact Christopher@texascivilrightsproject.org to be involved)

Harris County #Medicare4All Coalition This is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to advocate to invest fight for a universal, single-payer health care system at a local level in Harris County. Our next meeting will be an update of our meeting with Congressmember Garcia about #M4A, read more on our recent article about Garcia’s standpoint on not believing in abolishing private insurances. We must abolish the MIC (Medical Industrial Complex). Plug in and organize for universal healthcare by joining the GroupMe, follow on our brand new Twitter account, and save the dates below.

  • On February 22, Tues, from 7 to 8:30 PM, M4A Steering Committee's national event: "Medicare for All, not Medicare for Wall Street!"
  • The first official Houston DSA M4A working group (WG) meeting is on Wednesday, February 23 from 6 to 7 PM. RSVP here.
  • The next Harris County M4A Coalition general meeting will be on Wednesday, February 23rd from 7 to 8 PM. The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance (THRA) will be leading a FREE "Introduction to Harm Reduction" training, providing care of harm reduction to our communities is critical, make sure to RSVP.

Plug In to Our Local Partnerships:

Tune into current local organizing below! Be sure to check out Texas Mutual Aid Directory under Houston to find more.
  1. Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement (HCEDD)
  2. DSA Neighbors Against Spying
  3. HarmReduxHTX
  4. HTX Community Fridge
  5. Houseless Organizing Coalition 
  6. Texas Jail Project
  7. Stop Texas Department of Transportation i-45 (Stop TXDOTi45)
  8. West Street Recovery
  9. Air Alliance Houston
  10. Medicare for All Resolution by Harris County Health Justice Group

Local Events:

From Rodney Ellis, our Harris County Commissioner, Precinct One Judge:  "Join us on Feb 19 for Harris County Precinct One RideONE 20-mile Black Historic Landmarks Bike Ride. Celebrate Black History Month by cycling Precinct One's bikeways.  #BlackHistoryMonth"

For more details and to reserve a bike and helmet for the event visit the event website.

Houston Community College Central Celebrates Black History Month on February 25.

Remembering that Black History IS American History. Houston’s Black History IS Texas History! Check out HCC's Central two free zoom webinars. 1.) About "The History of Sunnyside" with historians and community leaders give detailed insight into Sunnyside's unique past, present, and future. And 2.) About "The History of Third Ward" as educators and historians review the rich history of Third Ward and its future under the thread of gentrification. Register here.

Texas Prison Project is hosting a screening of the “13th” documentary, which explores the prison-industrial complex and how the 13th amendment in combination with racist and classist policing has legalized slavery as punishment for socially-constructed crimes. The screening will happen Tuesday, February 22nd at 5:30pm at University of Houston, Fred J. Heyne Building - Room 43. Register here.

Book Features:

#HoustonReads is back! Houston Reads is a yearly book club hosted with Project Row Houses, Kindred Stories, and Emerson Zora Hamsa as they're excited to continue their commitment to reading works from the Black Literary Tradition. This year they chose the novels of ancestor Gloria Naylor (1950-2016) because Naylor’s body of work offers a historically fresh and necessary perspective on black life/living. Her novels, screenplays, essays, and other works reveal a deep love for black people, as well as a serious consideration for the ways black people often navigate hardship while seeking joy and practicing community care.

This gathering will be held on the online video conferencing platform Zoom. Please join them by registering for this month only or the entire meet-up series here.
We love sweet deals, Haymarket Books is having 40% sale on all Haymarket Books on the Struggle for Black Liberation list in celebration of Black History Month. Including a Angela Davis x Abolition Starter Kit: Three indispensable books on the global, intersectional struggle for abolition and liberation – for less than $40.
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
Get Involved
Twitter
Link
Website
Copyright © 2021 Houston Abolition Collective, All rights reserved.
December 2021 Newsletter

You are receiving this email because you have provided your contact info to Houston Abolition Collective.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Houston Abolitionist Collective · 2202 Alabama St · Houston, TX 77004-4314 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp