Building Your Abolitionist Toolbox

Everyday Resources for a Punishment-Free World
Graphic Notes by Laura Chow Reeve / Radical Roadmaps

Whose Security Is It Anyway?

with Mariame Kaba & Lara Brooks

This resource explores a neglected area of focus in the marginalization and criminalization of young people: the non-profit industrial complex. Heightened racialized surveillance and increasing state violence, particularly against BIPOC individuals, has also led to increased collusion and reliance on law enforcement within these spaces.

Young people in institutions like schools, clinics and hospitals, homeless shelters, faith-based settings, homeless drop-in and outreach programs, and recreational facilities are finding highly controlled spaces that are quick to punish and expel them.

In collaboration with youth workers from across Chicago, Brooks and Kaba created a toolkit to share strategies of resistance to the increased securitization of non-profit spaces and illuminate the need for organizations and individuals working within them to interrogate policies and procedures with an intersectional lens, develop and learn community accountability practices, and question program values and structures. We hope the strategies outlined in this session inspire, energize, and awaken possibilities towards creating more supportive, healthy, and transformative spaces for young people.

"As organization leaders and workers, we must understand the impact and roots of institutional violence before we can fully acknowledge the ways our programs knowingly and unknowingly, passively and actively, deny help and—on some occasions—forcefully push young people closer to engagement with law enforcement."

Lara Brooks(she/they) has worked with young people experiencing homelessness, survivors of violence, and queer and trans communities since 200. Lara is the current Chief Program Officer at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the former director of the Broadway Youth Center (BYC) in Chicago where they worked for nearly a decade. At BYC, Lara supported drop-in services, facilitated support groups for youth experiencing homelessness, and expanded programming to help link thousands of young people each year with services and opportunities like resource advocacy, counseling, medical care, GED tutoring, basic needs, and youth-led leadership programs. Lara specializes in the fields of harm reduction, trauma-informed systems of care, organizational program design and development, community accountability, and intimate partner violence.

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator and curator who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots abolitionist organization with a vision to end youth incarceration, and has co-founded multiple organizations and projects over the years, including Survived and Punished, the Just Practice Collaborative, and Interrupting Criminalization. Mariame co-authored the guidebook “Lifting As They Climbed” in 2017, and in 2019 she published her first children’s book, “Missing Daddy.”


Whose Security Is It Anyway? Toolkit

Graphic Notes