The Justice Project
Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex and Reimagining Safety
The Justice Project supports grassroots movements in communities of color that challenge racial criminalization and attack all aspects of the criminal legal system, forefronting police. We help local campaigns seeking not simply to reform, but to wholly dismantle systems that criminalize and incarcerate people of color in the name of “law and order.” We support racial justice grassroots organizers through research, policy advocacy, litigation, political education, and strategic communications in cities across the country. We aim to help impacted communities define the terms and control the means by which safety is realized in their streets and neighborhoods and to re-imagine for themselves how “safety” is pursued. We also work to shift narratives around safety through strategic communications in an effort to create new models for safety, while dismantling existing structures of white supremacy.
History of Justice Project Work
Advancement Project’s national office has long collaborated with organizers and activists to combat the systemic racism of the criminal legal system. After the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, however, we intensified our efforts, working with local organizers and activists to to provide training, litigation, and communications during the protests. We built on those efforts and supported movements in Baton Rouge, Charlotte, NC and Baltimore following police killings there.
These pivotal moments generated a new wave of movement resistance against racist policing practices as well as the entire criminal legal system. While systemic reform has gained mainstream support in the wake of high profile police killings like that of Mike Brown in Ferguson, these efforts did not go far enough. Reforms lacked an authentic connection to organizing, forcing communities to rely on system actors to implement the changes. As a result, the criminal legal system simply recalibrated to reproduce the same results. Further, whereas Obama administration’s Department of Justice actively pursued police reform through consent decrees, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice has publicly disavowed them, turning back the clock and fortifying the police state in communities of color. In response, Advancement Project’s national office has expanded this critical work in St. Louis and Ferguson, Richmond, Detroit, Washington, DC, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and San Juan.
In addition to our work on police brutality, we have responded to and supported NFL players’ #TakeAKnee protest and launched a campaign to support the two Black men arrested at Starbucks which highlighted the risks Black and Brown people public spaces. We are also collecting testimonials about personal experiences with police interaction and misconduct from celelbrities and influencers around the country.
Our national work has included responding to police brutality around the country, which includes responding and supporting NFL players’ #TakeAKnee protest, in addition to launching a campaign that protects Black and Brown bodies when challenged in White spaces. We are also collecting stories of police interactions from influencers around the country.
The goals of this work include:
Freedom from Harm—Challenge laws, policies and practices that feed the carceral state.
- Police Brutality
- The criminalization of poverty
- Fines and fees
- Debtors prisons
- Cash bail
- Private probation
Reimagine Public Safety
- Highlight the costs of the criminal legal system through budget analysis; and
- Call for the diversion of money currently spent on police, courts, and jails to address needs identified by the community to create genuine public safety.
Freedom to Dissent
- Protect the freedom of impacted communities to protest police violence
- Combat misleading “law and order” agenda that includes the criminalization and surveillance of dissent. (e.g. Anti-protest laws, mass arrests, Blue Lives Matter, Black Identity Extremism)
- Redefine the narrative on safety and subvert narratives of criminalization on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics of impacted communities.
- Supporting partners with communications to make the voice of key campaign spokespeople heard, helping to place op-eds, and develop rapid response plans in crisis moments.