Nottingham Anarchist Black Cross is a prisoner support group which aims to show solidarity with prisoners through letter writing and awareness-raising. We believe that supporting imprisoned people plays a valuable and essential role in building strong cultures of resistance against the current order.
Why prisoner solidarity?
As the rich and powerful attempt to exploit various crises to tighten their control and protect their wealth, more and more of the marginalised, poor, vulnerable, and excluded are getting caught in their net of repression. As much as the capitalist press and politicians would like us to think otherwise, the prison system is a brutal institution which forcibly removes and isolates people from their communities, friends, and families, using violence to deny people their freedom and dignity. The justification for this violence is the prevention of ‘crime’, the vast majority of which involves acts against property by individuals struggling for a life of dignity and survival in a society of deep inequality, misery and suffering.
We don’t believe that prison is a solution to anything. We don’t believe we have to rely on the state to deal with our problems. Where anti-social violence does occur between individuals or groups, we want to find ways of dealing with these ourselves, without calling on the police, courts or prisons. Whilst working towards this, we feel it is vitally important to support those who do get caught up in these institutions, to do what we can to help reduce the isolation and disempowerment of being incarcerated.
We are anarchist because we recognise that the root causes of violence and oppression are the state and capitalism, systems of power and authority that aim to isolate us and foster competition, inequality and alienation. We also recognise that the prison system is one of the main ways in which the rich and powerful keep these systems in place, using violence to control and repress us, to deny us our freedom and dignity, and to instil fear into us to keep us compliant.
We aim to encourage and support acts of resistance against these systems of oppression, to promote co-operation, mutual aid, and non-hierarchy, and to work towards a free society.
What is the Anarchist Black Cross?
The Anarchist Black Cross has a long history of supporting prisoners. It has its roots in the Anarchist Red Cross, an organization set up in Czarist Russia in the early 1900’s to aid political prisoners, with groups eventually spreading to the U.S. and England where exiles had settled and started to organise. In Britain in the 1960’s the Anarchist Black Cross was reformed in order to support anarchist prisoners in Franco’s Spain. The organisation continued to grow with groups spreading across Europe and North America, and now groups are found in many countries around the world.
Whilst traditionally Anarchist Black Cross groups have focused on supporting anarchist and political prisoners, we recognise that all prisoners are victims of state repression, and are therefore deserving of our support and solidarity.
What do we do?
We organise a weekly letter writing session on Sundays at 1pm at the Sumac Centre (245 Gladstone St, Forest Fields, Nottingham, NG7 6HX). At these sessions we provide a list of political prisoners from the UK and abroad along with contact details, materials for writing including envelopes and stamps, as well as advice and tips for writing to prisoners.
We also organise events such as film screenings and benefit gigs to raise awareness and to fund-raise.
If you would like to get involved we would very much welcome your support. Anyone is welcome to attend the letter writing sessions, or you can contact us at nottsanarchistblackcross[at]riseup[dot]net.