Yesterday I wrote about the Quakers for Abolition Network I am a member of. We will be meeting this afternoon, so I’m thinking of what I hope our network might do. There is so much that needs to be done.
My friend Jake Grobe, from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) was at our Des Moines Mutual Aid food distribution this morning. He doesn’t get to attend too often because of his organizing work. He told me about an upcoming action at MidAmerican Energy to demand that they shut down all their coal plants. Here is the story about a previous action.
Protesters gathered outside the MidAmerican Energy headquarters in downtown Des Moines today to demand Iowa’s largest energy company retire all of its coal plants in nine years. They were part of two groups: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and the Iowa Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
They also want MidAmerican to invest in retrofitting homes for energy efficiency with a focus on families of color and low-income individuals.
Jake Grobe stood on a ledge wearing a bucket hat and a blue T-shirt with “REVOLUTION NOW” printed in all capital letters. He held a megaphone to his mouth, which was covered by a black and white bandana. (All the protesters wore masks.) Grobe asked the crowd who is most hurt by the effects of climate change.
“It’s Black, Indigenous, it’s poor working families that are unable to recover from flash floods, from droughts from wildfires. Climate crisis increases all inequalities,” he answered himself.Environmental Activists Urge Iowa Energy Company To Retire Coal Energy By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio, August 18, 2021
One of the things I love about Mutual Aid is how we network about each other’s work. I hadn’t known about the MidAmerican actions, but now I hope to attend the next one. He said it would be good if I could take photos there. This networking lets us know who has skills, like photography, which can help each other’s work.
Speaking of photos prompted me to share about a recent action at Chase Bank in support of the Wet’suwet’en peoples fighting against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. He hadn’t been aware of that.
Support for Wet’suwet’en at Chase bank
That also reminded me of going to SUMMIT headquarters in Ames, Iowa, recently. SUMMIT is one of the companies proposing to build carbon pipelines in the Midwest. My friends Sikowis Nobiss and Mahmud Fitil know of my photography and asked me to attend the gathering there.
Jake and ICCI are also working to stop CO2 pipelines.
We talked about how bad the Iowa legislature is. He said we need our own socialist party. I told him about the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists of America’s prison letter writing project.
He asked what I had been doing. I described the Quakers for Abolition Network, which interested him. He had been arrested three times last year at direct actions and said you don’t really know how bad prison is until you experience it yourself.
The call for the abolishment of police, policing and the police state is not a new call. For centuries, Black and Indigenous people have called for the end of violence enacted on their bodies and communities by police. They have been calling for other possibilities that move us from the appearance of safety to truly safe and whole communities. In the wake of continued high profile police shootings across the United States, many people in the church pushed for an Anabaptist-oriented response and resources that helped us to move as a church into solidarity with the pain and brutality being felt and witnessed on Black, brown and Indigenous people. This curriculum is our response and invitation that we allow the Spirit to awaken our imagination to build a world where we can all be safe(r) and flourish without threats of violence.Defund the Police? An Abolition Curriculum