It’s somehow been almost one year since my now-comrades Leilani Maxera and Laurel Mei-Singh and I wrote a collaborative article calling for abolition of the prison industrial complex here in Hawaiʻi. Back then, Leilani and I had just met in person and Laurel was added to our mix by way of Leilani’s mutual friendship and I couldn’t be more appreciative of both of them. I couldn’t have imagined that nearly one year since our article’s publishing, we’d have founded an abolitionist organization and put time and effort into establishing ourselves in the community. We’re nowhere near where I’d personally like us to be in terms of abolitionist organizing, but I want to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how much we’ve done since we wrote this small piece in Love and Rage Media. The Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective is still in its early stages of life, but I think we’re on our way to building toward real change and a future without policing, prisons, or the military in Hawaiʻi! Please check out the following paragraph from the original post where I shared our published article and before I knew where we’d be one year since then:
For the past year or so, I’ve wanted to join a local organization to advocate for Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) abolition, but I couldn’t find anyone currently working toward any progress other than reform. After consulting the likes of my Twitter pals for information about current orgs or organizers doing the hard work, it seemed like no one was aware of any already existing struggles for abolition in Hawaiʻi. Especially as we’ve quickly and suddenly entered a realm of societal consciousness where defunding and abolition are becoming more popular (or at least more well known, though mostly misunderstood and inaccurately defined) because of mass police violence, it seemed like there’s no better time than now to begin organizing toward abolition. Several weeks ago I contacted a new mutual on Twitter, Leilani, who I learned had previously organized with Critical Resistance—a national abolitionist organization started by the infamous Angela Y. Davis and Ruthie Wilson Gilmore—because I thought we would get along well and could possibly start an abolitionist org here in Hawaiʻi together! After a fantastic meetup, Leilani told me that her friend and fellow abolitionist, Laurel, had wanted the three of us to write and pitch a collaborative article calling for abolition here in the islands. A quick Zoom introduction and meeting later, the three of us became fast friends and began brainstorming and outlining our collaborative piece that we would pitch to the Honolulu Civil Beat as an Op-Ed. After multiple edits, at least a dozen links to websites and articles, and an excited pitch later, our collaborative essay was rejected by the news site’s editors. We were frustrated and disappointed as their reasoning was they had already received enough police reform Op-Eds, though ours heavily criticizes reform in favor of abolition. A week or so later, the website published a horrific pro-cop Op-Ed written by a white man with connections to federal and state law enforcement. Incredibly pissed off and feeding off of our friends’ anger at the bootlicker article, Leilani asked the editor to reconsider his rejection so we might add a balancing argument to the white privileged piece. Unfortunately, the editors didn’t go for ours, but an editor at Love and Rage Media in Utica, New York reached out and asked us to submit our article to the site. The next day, this past Saturday, our collaborative argument was up and running on the radical news collective! It was quite difficult trying to fit most of our abolition opinions within 800 or so words, but I’m so proud of what we wrote and the site that eventually became its home! I hope you’ll all read our words, click on the links, and accept that abolishing policing, prisons, militarization, surveillance, capitalism, and imperialism is the only way to find true justice for every victim and survivor or state sanctioned violence. Thank you to Leilani and Laurel for the amazing work, and to Love and Rage Media for publishing our piece!