Critical Resistance is a national, member-based grassroots organization that works to build a mass movement to dismantle the prison-industrial complex. Critical Resistance's office is in Oakland, and has three chapters in Oakland, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Critical Resistance popularized the idea of the prison industrial complex after their first conference in 1998, which drew thousands of former prisoners, family members, activists, academics and community members, and by many accounts re-invigorated anti-prison activism in the United States.
Critical Resistance was founded by Angela Davis, Rose Braz, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and others. The organization is primarily volunteer member-based, with three staff members based in Oakland.
Each chapter determines its own work independently. Projects included:
- contributing to stopping California's prison building boom
- coalition-building and participation in the Community in Unity Coalition to stop construction of a 2,000 bed jail in the South Bronx.
- facilitating education within prisons and the creation of political media by, for and with prisoners and former prisoners
- political education and leadership development
- building a mass movement for genuine safety that doesn't rely on caging and control to address social, economic and political problems
Critical Resistance's mission statement is:
- Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope.
- 1998 - "Critical Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex" conference in Berkeley, California.
- 1998 - formation of Critical Resistance Youth Force, a coalition of bay area youth organizations that united to fight the criminalization & detention of youth of color. The coalition was co-directed by Anita Miralle De Asis & Rory Caygill, and at its height had 40 plus organizations in membership. The coalition was able to mobilize thousands of youth to organize against the infamous Prop 21 legislation and to run the Books Not Bars campaign. It mobilized 100s of bay area youth to protest the democratic national conventions in Los Angeles and the world trade organization meeting in DC.
- 2001 - Conference in New York City.
- 2003 - Southern Regional Conference in Tremé, New Orleans.
- 2005 - Helped bring about the end of California's prison building boom; featured in Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, and others. Launched amnesty campaign for people accused of looting post-Katrina. Campaigns across country.
- 2008 - In September, Critical Resistance held its 10th Anniversary "conference" in Oakland, CA.
- '"One day there were no prisons. That day will come again"'