May 28, 2021

Communities Over Cages: Close the jail in Atlanta

What does it look like to move millions of public funds away from incarceration and instead invest in the communities most harmed by prisons? And how do we get there? Black organizers in the South are leading these efforts and winning.

The Communities Over Cages: Close the Jail Atlanta Campaign has been a long struggle fought by grassroots organizations, including Women on the Rise and the Racial Justice Action Center. Two years ago, a community-based task force developed a recommendation to replace the jail with a Center for Wellness, Equity and Freedom offering housing resources, behavioral health services, office space for progressive organizations, a rooftop garden, and other resources needed to keep impacted communities safe. 

Too often, white communities actively oppose the visionary demands and campaigns led by Black organizers and directly impacted people, and Atlanta is no exception. For this reason, SURJ Atlanta and SURJ National are working together to make sure that white communities show up in favor of closing the jail.

Get involved:

Communities Over Cages: Close the jail in Atlanta Read More »

Defeating a Plan for a Jail in Los Angeles

In March of 2020, Yes on Measure R (ReformLA) in Los Angeles won in a landslide and has put into motion the largest reallocation of dollars out of criminalization and into community based alternatives in US history. The coalition was led by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and other people of color-led organizations that have been leading the fight against mass incarceration for decades in Los Angeles. 

SURJ’s Los Angeles affiliate, White People for Black Lives worked tirelessly to ensure white voters voted for the ballot measure. This piece of the strategy was critically important because of the outsized power and influence white voters have in the county. While non-Latinx white people only make up 27% of the County’s population, they are 55% of registered voters.  

SURJ’s contribution to the campaign was talking to white people who didn’t already support the Measure or who we knew were conflicted about closing jails. We used deep canvassing on thousands of doors and had extended, vulnerable conversations on the doors with white voters — and we changed their minds. We mobilized over 600 volunteers to knock over 30,000 doors and had 10,000 conversations with voters. White silence is one of the greatest barriers to winning a racial justice agenda – and so we worked hard to get more white people into action in this critical fight. 

Defeating a Plan for a Jail in Los Angeles Read More »

Winning the Hamilton Co. Sheriff Race in Ohio

In the 2020 election cycle, Operation Change Cincy and SURJ Ohio helped elect progressive candidate Charmaine McGuffey as the new Hamilton County Sheriff beating Republican candidate Hoffbauer.

Hoffbauer had been found guilty of using excessive force to kill an unarmed Black man. If he had won, he would have been the first person in this country in 50 years to have been found guilty of this charge towards  an unarmed Black man and then be elected as Sheriff. 

Over 250 members committed to phone banking for the progressive challenger. SURJ Ohio’s voter phone banks targeted poor and working class voters— the types of folks who make up the majority of people in the criminal justice system— by engaging them around their mutual stake in electing a progressive sheriff. 

Not only did they help win the election, but SURJ Ohio cultivated successful phone banking scripts about mutual interest, developed dozens of new leaders in the program, and built up the membership base of SURJ Ohio. This is what we mean by “transformative electoral work.” We work to get progressive candidates elected by centering issues— the things people need to live with dignity— to build our base of support for the necessary long-haul work. 

Winning the Hamilton Co. Sheriff Race in Ohio Read More »

2020 Election Defenders

Election defenders gathered outside of the local post office to show their support for the postal workers delivering ballots safely and legally.
Our team assists in voting in the general elections where online casino players make a massive move. On our bulletin board, you can look at the defenders of the 2020 elections and find out about James Reimer of the Sharks opts out of wearing Pride Night jersey and sitting out warmups against Islanders.. We partner with many other progressive organizations around the country and work to protect the selections that online casino players participate in.

In the vortex of lies Trump kicked up about voting in the 2020 general election, we knew we needed a mass movement protecting democracy, ensuring all votes are counted, and insisting on accountability. In this election, over 400 SURJ members committed to build Election Defender teams in 38 states, including 133 teams in 11 swing states.  We partnered with other progressive organizations across the country working to defend the election such as The Frontline and the Fight Back Table. 

With SURJ training and support, Election Defender teams organized their communities to take actions before, during and following election day to guarantee that county election officials committed to and had the support needed to count all of the votes, even if Trump and his activists were pressuring them to stop.

In addition to the 400+ leaders organizing Election Defender Teams, more than 600 additional Election Defender volunteers led key support roles running phone banks, coaching, data and communications teams. 

“I’ve said for many years that I wish I could be more involved but I didn’t know where to start. The Election Defenders campaign gives thousands of people like me a clear way to take an active role in strengthening democracy. Working with the network of SURJ volunteers gives me encouragement that we really can achieve racial justice.”   – Madison, SURJ Volunteer, New Orleans, LA

2020 Election Defenders Read More »

Swing GA Left- defeating Trump in Georgia

The people of this country – led by communities of color – voted out Donald Trump. And SURJ was proud to do our part to contribute towards that defeat.

Swing GA Left members on one of our many phone banks.

We engaged in the work in Georgia – a place the Democratic Party had written off and where Black women organizers have been leading the way for decades. We joined partners on the ground, including the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight, Working Families Party, and so many other groups that had already laid the foundation to flip Georgia because of their tremendous ongoing work to expand the electorate with more people of color voters, while keeping real solutions to working people’s problems front and center.

SURJ made over a million calls to white voters who we knew were suffering under this administration and who are infrequent voters. Over 3,800 SURJ members had 36,000 conversations with voters and secured 21,200 commitments to vote.

And it worked. The New York Times reported that Biden made major gains in majority-white counties among white people who didn’t attend college. That’s who we called! This is what it looks like to organize our own – and to do it at scale and in service of a vision set by Black movement leaders. When we build multi-racial coalitions and invest in long-haul organizing, we win. 

We know the road ahead will not be easy. Our movement is going to have to fight hard against a Biden administration – and we’re up against an emboldened Right. More white people voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016 and the Right will continue to work to build their base of supporters. We’ve got our work to do to continue to organize more of our people away from white supremacy and towards justice.  

Swing GA Left- defeating Trump in Georgia Read More »

Scroll to Top