Abolitionist Struggles

Haringey Anti-Raids
Below are some archival selections we made for the Abolitionist Struggles and Archives event which took place last month with Abolitionist Futures. We want to share with you some of our initial archival findings and let you know that we will be soon developing and archival reading list for Abolitionist Futures based on material from past and present struggles and based on discussions for the workshop. The material below covers a range of prison uprisings and prisoner self-organisations, anti-racist struggles against the police and the campaigns for justice and the right to self-defence. Every archival clipping is linked to the full document.

The collection so far can be viewed: https://archive.leftove.rs/

Peter Linebaugh, 'The Delivery of Newgate' Midnight Notes, No.8, August 1985 - 'Outlaw Notes' ,

Provides an account of an attack in 1780 by an unruly multiracial London mob on Newgate Prison, emptying it of prisoners then burning it to the ground.
Early efforts (c.1966/66)
Libertarian movements in the mid-60s reanimated the surrealist slogan:
'Open the prisons, disband the army' in the context of the rapidly expansion of the US prison population with the onset of the 1964 to 1973 Vietnam war.

Anarchy No.87 (Vol.8 No.5) May 1968
Surrealism & Revolution Ztangi / Solidarity Bookshop, (1966).

English translations of classic surrealist texts - Artaud, Breton, Calas, Crevel, Ernst, Mabille, Peret, et. al., and the Trotsky/Breton "Manifesto: For A Revolutionary Art" - with a Preface by Franklin Rosemont. Issued as Rebel Worker Pamphlet No.4.

Anarchy Vol.01 No.11

UK prison struggles were animated from the early 1970s by two organisations, PROP (Preservation of the Rights of Prisoners), the first national organisation for Prisoners and ex-Prisoners established in 1972, and RAP (Radical Alternatives to Prison, set up in 1970 by a group of ex-prisoners and people connected with the prison service.

RAP, a pressure and information group, called for the abolition of prison and aimed to research and propose alternatives to prison. It included a number of active local groups. RAP was supported by the charity Christian Action for a number of years from 1971. By 1987 RAP supported an end to prison building, the decriminalisation of certain offences, legislation to cut maximum offences and an end to imprisonment for minor offences. See: https://mrc-catalogue.warwick.ac.uk/records/RAP

PROP was formed on May 11th 1972, by a group [who had] served time inside UK jails, to campaign and organise for improvements in legal rights and better conditions within British nicks. PROP had emerged during a wave of protests by both remand and convicted prisoners across a number of British penal institutions; the group’s formation and the publicity that accompanied its founding was to contribute and help escalate this movement. See: https://pasttenseblog.wordpress.com/tag/prisoners/

Abolitionist Prison Riots and Uprisings in the UK

Hull 1976 and Strangeways 1990
MayDay's collections contain many pamphlets, books, articles on prison revolts in the UK, these we will be scanning and adding to the collection, but for now we have bookended this log with two key revolts at Hull in 1976 and Strangeways 1990.

Strangeways 1990

Attica Uprising 1971

A Report From Inside Attica

The Black Panther Party
SEPT 1970

New England Prisoner Association News

NEPA featured articles, art work, poems, photography and letters by prisoners.
Here a spread from an early issue by noted poet and Black Panther Erika Huggins
NEPA News - an offshoot of the New England Prisoners Association was organised to provide News by prisoners, ex-prisoners and prisoners supporters for Prisoners

Between 1973 and 1975 the newspaper covered the situation of women prisoners, reported on prisoner conferences and kept abreast of such notorious cases as the Attica Brothers. The eighteen copies of NEPA News held by MayDay Rooms mark a little known history of the prisoners’ movement in the US. The intent of NEPA can be read in their May Day Proposal of 1975: “(1) Fight Racism/Fascism: Mass Struggle for Mass Victory! (2) Equal support for All the System’s Prisoners (3) United Front to abolish Incarceration of the Oppressed!” MayDay Rooms would like to thank an ex-member of the editorial collective, Peter Linebaugh, for entrusting these materials to MayDay Rooms. Peter and his collaborator Monty Neill went on to form Midnight Notes, a US autonomist journal of which MayDay Rooms holds significant paper and digital archives.
Struggles against prison and police documented in Race Today
Race Today was a monthly (later bimonthly) British political magazine. Launched in 1969 by the Institute of Race Relations, it was from 1973 published by the Race Today Collective, which included figures such as Darcus Howe, Farrukh Dhondy, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Leila Hassan. The magazine was a leading organ of Black politics in 1970s Britain; publication ended in 1988. Mayday has recently digitised a near complete run.

Race Today Vol.8 No.11, November 1976
Protests around the trial of the Brockwell 3, March 1973 in Race Today Vol 6 Issue 6, June 1974
Monitoring the methods and forms of organisation of the police in Race Today Vol.8 No.7-8, July/August, 1976
Race Today Collective, Asian Workers Struggles in Britain, Race Today Publications, 1983)

Brings together the struggles of the Indian Workers Movement 1950-1970s with the struggle of Asian Youth Movements (including the Bradford 12 trial) against police and racist violence

Bradford 12

Don't Mark His Face: :The Account of the Hull Prison Riot (1976) and its Brutal Aftermath by the Prisoners Themselves, Published by the National Prisoners' Movement (PROP)

Attica Material: https://archive.leftove.rs/documents/grid/created/Attica