Collective Freedom Project Launches: Shows How Communities are Fighting Criminalization

The Collective Freedom Project launched today, an effort of more than 24 organizations and coalitions throughout the country committed to waging campaigns that bring together both citizens and noncitizens in efforts to fight against criminalization in pursuit of collective freedom. The project tells the stories of how local communities in Atlanta, California, Chicago, and Texas have successfully protected people from police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violence, ended the use of a racist gang database, closed jails and immigrant detention centers, and pursued a groundbreaking state legislative agenda. 

The Collective Freedom Project hosts engaging videos from each campaign in the hopes of inspiring others to launch similar work that leads to true liberation for all impacted communities. The project also provides tools such as sample policies, talking points, social media graphics, and other resources, that can help communities run similar campaigns to create opportunities to build relationships across divides; build real power in impacted communities; and work toward a world without incarceration or deportation.

The project highlights the work of communities in Atlanta, California, Chicago, and Texas.

In Atlanta, community organizers were successful in pressuring the city to end its contract with ICE in 2018, as part of its “community over cages” campaign. Organizers won legislation in 2019 to close and repurpose the Atlanta City Detention Center. Efforts continue to have the facility repurposed as a Center for Wellness & Freedom.

In California, organizations and coalitions worked to provide a roadmap for what can happen when organizers gain the power, access, and momentum to pass state laws to win a decriminalization agenda. Some examples of this work are passing laws that expand access to criminal record clearance relief for citizens and noncitizens; demand prosecutorial accountability, and; advance investment/divestment policies for a state budget that prioritizes communities and care.

In Chicago, local organizations have worked to abolish the city’s gang database, which have long been used to track and criminalize Black and Brown communities. A study found that 95 percent of people on the city’s gang database were Black and Latinx.

In Texas, organizations and coalitions have created some of the most effective local cross movement organizing in the country. People who had been impacted by the criminal legal system and the immigration deportation system came together to begin planning ways to protect all of our communities to fight back against criminalization.

Here is a list of the organizations and coalitions that are part of the Collective Freedom Project: Immigrant Legal Resource Center; DetentionWatch Network; Immigrant Defense Project; Latino Justice; SEARAC; National Immigrant Justice Center; Immigrant Justice Network; California Immigrant Youth; ACLU Northern California; Human Impact Partnership;

Youth Justice Coalition; RAICES; MOVE; Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative; Justice LA; La Defensa; Dignity Power Now; Drug Policy Alliance; Organized Communities Against Deportations; SA Stands; National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; Dignity Not Detention; California Alliance - Youth & Community Justice; Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice; Women on the Rise; Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition; Women on the Rise; BYP 100; For the People; DeBug; Asian Prisoner Support Committee; Just Futures Law.