A project of the Alliance for Global Justice and closely allied with the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) seeks to build a movement of “nonviolent civil disobedience” designed to “stop the injustice of mass incarceration and police brutality” that allegedly targets nonwhites across the United States; end “the racially biased policies and practices of the police, the courts and the U.S. legal system”; and “support the rights of prisoners and the formerly incarcerated.”
SMIN originally grew out of a September 2011 Statement in which professor Cornel West and RCP founder Carl Dix accused police forces nationwide—most notably in New York City—of routinely subjecting blacks and Latinos, merely because of the color of their skin, to violations of “the part of the [C]onstitution protecting people from unreasonable search and seizure.” In an impassioned call to action, West and Dix solicited the support of all those who were “sick and tired of being harassed and jacked up by the cops” and of having their “humanity … routinely violated” for racial reasons. Most notably, the pair objected to the use of “stop-and-frisk” policing practices, which they described as “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”
SMIN cites the “outrage” of “racially targeted mass incarceration” as the reason why black people throughout the U.S. are jailed “at many times the rate of white people despite similar rates for committing offenses.” Among the antecedents of this racist practice, SMIN explains, are “whole generations of inner-city youth being criminalized”; “poor communities being saddled with substandard schools that fail to educate our youth”; and “the disappearance of employment opportunities in inner cities and rural areas.”
Lamenting also that the disproportionately large numbers of nonwhite minorities in prison “are often subjected to conditions that amount to torture,” SMIN objects to the fact that even “after people serve their sentences, our society stamps them with a badge of dishonor and shame, discriminating against them when they seek employment, denying them access to public housing and government loans and even the right to vote!” “Mass incarceration,” the organization elaborates, “is a system of social control targeting especially Black and Latino youth that has been aptly called ‘the New Jim Crow.’”
SMIN uses the Internet as a powerful organizing tool to keep likeminded activists informed about where and when various protests, demonstrations, and rallies are scheduled to be held.
In 2014, SMIN was particularly active in the nationwide demonstrations that followed two high-profile events: (a) a July 17th incident where a 43-year-old black New Yorker named Eric Garner died in the aftermath of a violent physical confrontation with police officers who were trying to arrest him; and (b) the fatal August 9th police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black Missourian who assaulted the officer who ultimately shot him in self-defense. For details of both these cases, click here.
As 2014 drew to a close, SMIN’s website stated that “because business as usual in Amerikkka includes wanton police murder of Black people,” “the powerful, beautiful and necessary outpourings that have disrupted this society’s normal routine” in the wake of the Garner and Brown shootings “must continue and escalate on New Years Eve and into the New Year.”