Ready for the Next Round - Our 2023 Primary Statement
As Mariame Kaba says: Hope is a discipline.
We are deeply grateful to be part of a growing and vibrant people's movement in Philly that has made massive strides in the past six years. From winning key victories such as fair work week legislation and ‘Driving Equality’ to electing state reps, city council members, state senators and a district attorney that either come out of movements for justice and equality or were allies to such movements; we are building something profound and durable here in Philly.
While we fell short of electing a progressive mayor and did not elect some of the city council candidates we had hoped to elect, we are grateful for the gains that we've made over the years.
On the evening of May 16th, even in defeat, we were shoulder to shoulder with people in elected office -from city council to the PA general assembly- who are committed to justice and liberation and who our movements elected. We have built a beautiful movement and it continues to grow and we are committed to nurturing it and taking big steps to help it advance.
We are overjoyed that our endorsed candidates Isaiah Thomas, Rue Landau and Jamie Gauthier won their elections.
Isaiah made substantial change through his Driving Equality legislation that limits the Philadelphia police’s ability to pull people over for minor traffic infractions. Jamie has been a champion for affordable housing who has helped win permanent affordable housing in a number of fights and she has stood solidly against mass incarceration. Rue Landau will join them both and we can expect her to bring sharp progressive policy in equal measure. We are so glad they will be there to fight for us in City Hall.
We also celebrate a number of judges our movement family recommended winning their elections: Caroline Turner, Samantha Williams, Jessica Brown, Natasha Taylor-Smith, Tamika Washington, Kay Yu and John Padova. We believe that compared to their opponents that these candidates will reduce the amount of harm our overly punitive criminal legal system does to our communities and we are grateful for that. It is also notable that two of those candidates, Caroline Turner and Jessica Brown, were not endorsed by the Democratic City Committee which holds a heavy influence over these elections. It’s a testament to their campaigns and our movements that they were able to best the machine. We must celebrate our victories.
There are many lessons to learn from this past election. As an organization that primarily organizes family members of incarcerated people in the Black, Brown and poor white neighborhoods of the city we must deepen our organizing work. While our movement family of groups Straight Ahead, Free The Ballot and Amistad Movement Power organized a powerful town hall, put up billboards and knocked over 20,000 doors to mobilize voters, we need to challenge ourselves to expand our impact and go deeper with our members if we want to win the changes our communities need. The progressive movement has grown in many ways over the past six years, but we must push it to expand further and for its leadership to reflect the communities most impacted by mass incarceration, racism and the rule of elite classes over the rest of us.
In Philly in the coming months, we will absolutely refuse a return to the dangerous and failed era of stop and frisk policing, we will continue to campaign for mobile crisis teams and we will stand by the Chinatown community -where our office is located- in the fight against an arena that would displace and harm many. Importantly, we will prepare for the struggle this fall when Philly has the opportunity to elect three Black progressives who we have endorsed -Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke for City Council-At-Large and Jarrett Smith for City Commissioner- and take seats currently held by Republicans.
We must grow Black progressive leadership and we are ready for it. In our movement we will regroup, learn lessons and keep building to win what our communities need. In the words of Assata: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.
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