THE COLLECTIVE FREEDOM PROJECT
This episode is Part Two in the Collective Freedom Project four-part series with Bourbon 'n BrownTown. The Collective Freedom Project (CFP) is a movement media and resource hub that tells the stories of the local and regional efforts where people — both U.S. citizens and non U.S. citizens — are coming together to fight unique campaigns against criminalization in their communities. From Chicago to California, Atlanta to Texas, activists, organizers, and communities are rising up to fight against criminalization and violence in varied yet connected forms.
Denise Ruben is a lead organizer with Women on the Rise - Georgia. Women on the Rise is a grassroots organization led by women of color who are targeted and/or impacted by the legal system. Women on the Rise works to educate, heal, and empower themselves, one another and our communities to demand justice, dignity, and liberation for all.
BrownTown chops it up with Denise Ruben as they discuss the #CloseTheJailATL campaign and coalition. The Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC) was built in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics as the "extra jail" in Atlanta and previously was divided into two sides — the "city side" and the ICE side. The campaign won legislation in May 2019 to close and repurpose the jail through a community-led taskforce but is still fighting to repurpose the facility into a Center for Wellness & Freedom, reallocate $32.5 million back into the community, and decriminalize the "broken windows" offenses that populated the jail.
Denise shares her experience being system-impacted and starting her work with Women on the Rise. Her and BrownTown discuss coalition-building across identities and the importance of investing in communities on the front-end of social issues versus on the back-end with incarceration, punishment, and criminalization. Now summer 2021, Denise updates BrownTown on the current struggles with the campaign as Mayor Lance Bottoms of Atlanta who initially championed #CloseTheJailATL is not running for re-election this fall and the County makes plans to utilize the jail as an overflow facility.
Through the CFP, Qii Films created a micro-doc on the #CloseTheJailATL coalition and campaign, which you can find among other cities/regions' videos, podcast episodes, and a plethora of resources on CollectiveFreedomProject.org/Multimedia.