Defeating a Plan for a Jail in Los Angeles

In March of 2019, 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. 

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