On July 31st, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak announced plans for an “Abolition on Every Block Party,” and a handful of collaborators with both ABOLISHmke and the MKE Lit Supply put one together for 2pm-10pm on the 3000 block of Buffum street in Harambee, Milwaukee.
In preparation for #ShutEmDown2021, we’ve been working for a couple months on building coalitions throughout the city to see what kind of support we can pull together. In addition to spreading the SED2021 message with our community, this block party was also a good opportunity to continue the ongoing conversations and planning for August 21st — September 9th.
In preparation of the event, we made flyers to invite the whole neighborhood, ordered a bouncy house for the kids, asked DJ Guillotine to provide the music, set up a space with chairs and shade for ABOLISHmke to host abolition and #ShutEmDown2021 discussions, and got a table for the MKE Lit Supply to table zines, stickers and SED2021 specific information, for example this flyer:
Beginning around 2pm, people filtered through the yard. The kids in the neighborhood couldn’t get enough of the bouncy house, and much of the afternoon was spent enjoying the weather; preparing, giving out and eating food, catching up with friends and making new connections as well.
Around 6pm, the abolition discussion group started with a quick read of a poem by an ABOLISHmke collaborator—their reflection on the earliest days of the George Floyd uprising in Milwaukee and the year that followed.
We were also joined by a formerly incarcerated organizer and discussed a lot of the issues that often confront organizing efforts, both locally and across the country— most notably, co-optation and repression.
As the sun set we set up a screen on the side of the house, and once it was dark enough we showed the movie Summer of Soul, or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised.
At the end of the night, it was clear that the day’s goals were met: bring people together, raise awareness about the upcoming Shut Em Down events, and center abolition in the conversation about prisons.