Portland August 19th Millions for Prisoners Reportback
August 19th was the international day of solidarity for prisoners’ rights. Throughout the country, prison abolition groups planned events and worked in solidarity with the main march on Washington D.C. Portland IWOC planned an action that day in conjunction with the main events, designed to provide education for people who would otherwise not be aware of the racist policies that still drive the United States prison system. PDX IWOC’s primary goal for this event was to provide a platform for speakers to address the issues endemic to the prison system, and how we might reach our eventual goal of complete abolition.
Portland IWOC rented the Social Justice Action Center from 1 PM to 6 PM, Saturday, August 19th. We split duties between three members of IWOC. Duties were as follows:
- Logistics. One IWOC member was delegated to secure the space, reach out to other groups, and organize food and picnic utensils for the potluck.
- Education. One IWOC member was delegated to reach out on social media and spread the word about the event to drum up attendance and support.
- Main Events. One IWOC member was delegated to secure speakers and ensure their attendance.
Portland IWOC did manage to secure SJAC for the event, spending $65 out of the budget for events and event planning. Utensils, plates, cups, etc. were also acquired for a total cost of $44.19.
PDX IWOC reached out to Rose City Redneck Revolt (RCRR – also known as the John Brown Gun Club) and the Portland IWW General Defense Committee for assistance in community defense due to credible threats of violence from right-wing, white nationalist/neo-Nazi groups, as reported by IWOC National. RCRR maintained a secure perimeter around the building,
There were initially some concerns over potential issues between RCRR and the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) due to ideological differences between the two organizations. After discussing this with both RCRR and the ABC, we came to a point of compromise due to the issues deriving primarily from ABC and Redneck Revolt on a national level rather than a decentralized local level.
Social media outreach was ultimately successful, with a good number of people indicating they would come. We had multiple organizations sharing our event post. We did not reach out on a physical capacity (no flyers or wheatpasting done).
Not applicable, our speakers didn’t show up, or weren’t necessarily confirmed.
In the future, we will need to have cross-coverage on each of our delegations. We should have started advertising for this earlier, and we should have done more physical marketing like making flyers and putting up posters throughout town alongside social media marketing.
We put a lot of emphasis on people who indicated they would come on Facebook. We should trust this less and focus more on word-of-mouth organizing. This was also our first event in a very long time, and our first social event.
Potentially the most negative aspect of the event was our speakers not showing up. We did manage to bring it back around and speak to the collected people (about 30~ folks) about what IWOC is and how to get involved. We took questions and gave information on how to work with us in the future. Redneck Revolt also managed to connect with members of the General Defense Committee, allowing better diplomacy between the IWW, ABC, and RCRR. In the future, RCRR indicated that their membership would be interested in working in coalition with IWOC, which will be a great win for community defense.
The event, while not entirely successful, still assisted in providing outreach and discussion, with people interested in getting involved with what we are doing. We made $50 in donations, and several members of Rose City Redneck Revolt expressed interest in potentially joining the branch, or IWOC at the very least.
$50, however, is only a small amount by comparison to the cost of this event ($65 from the IWOC events budget, and $47~ spent by FW Ryan E for utensils and other accoutrements, then $30~ spent by FW Melanie for food).
In the future, we will work in coalition with other groups like the ABC unless we have made sure to publicize an event for at least 3-4 weeks prior to the event, unless it’s an emergency rally.