Freedom Fridays 2021: A Look Back
While the work for Freedom continues into the new year, let us take a moment to reflect on what we were able to accomplish together in 2021. From December 2020 to December 2021, we hosted the Freedom Fridays series at 4400 Telegraph in North Oakland.
Freedom Fridays came to life out of political commitments and questions of necessity:
- How might we encourage abolitionist efforts through our new North Oakland home-base? What does it mean to be a good neighbor?
- How might we safely work around the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic to inspire people into action?
- And how might we center and strengthen prisoner solidarity through this all?
While the pandemic threatened to fray our connections, we knew it was necessary to keep organizing for abolition, act in solidarity with people in cages and to stay present in the neighborhood. With the people power of over 25 movement partners, local artists and educators, hundreds of neighbors, and comrades on the inside, we successfully built a community space that hosted 12 Freedom Fridays! Thanks to our collective efforts, we engaged upwards of 1,000 community members over 12 months.
Through each Freedom Friday, we supported concrete steps to advance campaigns, build and distribute mutual aid, engage with art, and share political education.
Thank you for building with us. For imagining and actualizing abolitionist movements that center joy, unity, art, and love… Without YOU none of this would have been possible.
Much appreciation to:
- Our resident DJ’s @hellabreezy @chulitavinulclub
- @TownFridge for the mutual aid fridge and food pantry
- @Bandungbooks for sharing the knowledge
- @hastamuertecafe for keeping us warm with hot cocoa and tea
- @peopleskitchencollective @mamalamees @understoryoakland for keeping us nourished
And our photographers:
- Glenn Mercado
- Lara Aburamadan
- Nick DeRenzi
- Steven Flynn
And CR members!
Freedom Friday 2021: Monthly Summaries
For a full year, we activated 4400 Telegraph into a community organizing site where we took collective action, shared political knowledge, and increased connection against the odds.Our solidarity efforts included these creative calls to engagement, below. The road to Freedom for all of these efforts is long, but we find hope and strength in reflecting on these humble milestones. Thank you to everyone who continues to work on these campaigns and we give deep respect to the organizations carrying the work forward into 2022.
December 2020 – CR’s annual prisoner solidarity postcard mailing – In December 2020 we supported Critical Resistance’s annual end of year prisoner solidarity mailing by getting handwritten notes onto 400 postcards for people in prisons throughout California. This was part of CR’s national effort to send cards to 4,500+ people inside prisoners during a time of year when extra contact is significant. The 2020 year’s design featured beautiful “Our Strength is in Our Connection” art by Shannon Knox of Justseeds.
January 2021 – California Coalition For Women Prisoners – We boosted the urgent call to action of California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) to end the COVID-19 Outbreak at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). Dozens of community members picked up “Action Packs” and made phone calls boosting prisoner demands, as guided by CCWP.
February 2021- With No Justice Under Capitalism, we activated over 100 people to send postcards to California Governor Newsom’s home and flood the phone lines demanding mass release of prisoners to save lives from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. Multiple generations came together on the street, in virtual space, through music and action to demand justice for our comrades locked in prisons Supported by Critical Resistance Oakland, No Justice Under Capitalism and Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice.
March 2021 For the first time in over a year, Critical Resistance was able to host socially-distanced political education in our back lot space: the first of two youth-centered abolitionist workshops with CURYJ participants and formerly incarcerated youth! This empowering day, beginning with community portraits in front of the sculpture and culminating with the workshop for 25 CURYJ youth, was a day of monumental significance as we continue to build people power at 4400..
April 2021 – Decarcerate Alameda County (DAC) Coalition activated community engagement support for the “Care First” resolution – a policy for behavioral health care and alternatives to incarceration. In the following weeks, the community support and pressure for the resolution led to its passage through the county decision-makers. DAC continues to fight for decarceration steps at Santa Rita jail.
May 2021 – Leading up to the summer budget forums, CR Oakland and the Defund Police Coalition hosted a socially-distanced community forum with speakers and art making.
July 2021 – CR Oakland hosted a political education teach-in on the the California prison boom and the opportunities we have today to tear these prisons down in this decade with the #CloseCAPrisons campaign with the CURB coalition.
August 2021 – Palestinian Youth Movement uplifted their Summer of Resistance and help raise the call to fight against militarization, imperialism, and the prison industrial complex. Activities included a political education teach-in and a delicious community meal from Mama Lamees’ restaurant.
September 2021 – Quetzal Education hosted a Freedom Dreaming session for educators, organizers and community, in connection to the Fall 2021 book release of “Lessons in Liberation: An Abolitionist Toolkit for Educators,”co-edited by CR K12 Abolitionist Educators and the Education for Liberation Network.
October 2021 –
In collaboration with Join the Movement Coalition, Oakland International Film Festival, and The Freedom Archives, we hosted a Community Film Night at 4400 Telegraph Ave. with a line-up of 10 short films to educate, inspire, and ground us in creative possibilities.
December 2021 – We hosted two Freedom Fridays to close the year and bring together Oakland community: On December 3rd, a Holiday Night Market featuring local artists, craftspeople, book publishers, and political organizations; and on December 17th, we closed the year in connection with people inside with a note-writing day for CR’s annual prisoner solidarity postcard mailing.