These are the ideas that inform our work and how we view the world.
Dream Defenders are Abolitionists:
We are fighting for a world without prisons, policing, surveillance and punishment. We know that prisons aren’t about safety or accountability but about control and domination over large segments of the population, especially Black people, in order to make a profit. We are different from prison reformers because reformers often create situations where incarceration becomes even more entrenched in our society. Instead, we are fighting for solutions that will produce decarceration, fewer people behind bars and a future world without prisons. This is why Dream Defenders will never fight for the conviction of a police officer: prisons are not about safety, accountability, or justice.
In order to get us closer to this vision, we must begin to build community alternatives to dealing with harm and violence. Dream Defenders practices transformative justice, an abolitionist way of dealing with conflict and holding people accountable in opposition to the punitive nature of the prison system that treats people as disposable, locks them up and throws away the key.
Dream Defenders are Feminists:
Black feminism at its core is about fighting against hierarchy, violence, disposability and domination and for a world in which all humans – men, women and gender nonconforming people – are seen and valued.
Today, the leading cause of death for Black women ages 18-34 is death at the hands of her partner. 1 in 3 women are raped. On top of this, Black women are the fastest growing prison population. Women face violence not only at the hands of the state but also in our communities.
If we are serious about fighting for a world without prisons and police, then we must be serious about fighting against the violence women experience within our communities. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about getting rid of societal oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls. Black feminism is the new world we are fighting for.
Dream Defenders are Socialists:
The Freedom Papers is Dream Defenders liberatory socialist vision for Florida and the world. Currently, we live in a capitalist police state, where the 1 percent uses systems of domination and control to make more and more money for themselves at the expense of the rest of us. But we can live in a world where we all take care each, where everyone has what they need to live a full life, and the needs of the common good are prioritized over the selfish desires of a few. Dream Defenders itself is building an organization with socialist ideals and principles. That means, we are fighting for this world and we are actively experimenting with these concepts inside our organization in how we relate to one another.
Socialism is different from capitalism mainly because of two basic ideas. First, Socialism is about cooperation instead of competition. Under Socialism, instead of everyone fighting for a bigger and bigger share all the time, we would all be working together to see that everyone has enough. Trust, there is enough to go around.
Secondly, under Socialism, the basic human needs of all people would come first. Right now, the richest eight people in the world own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion combined. This is half of the Earth’s population! Our current economic and political system puts the property of the wealthy few, and the profits of their corporations, first. These people are encouraged to accumulate even more wealth, while 300 million children in the world go to bed hungry every night.
We are against Black capitalism because we believe that Black people as a whole will not be freed even if some of us have more money.
In a Socialist world, everyone would have a decent place to live, enough food to eat, clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, medical attention when they need it, warm clothes for the cold weather, a good education, and the ability to develop to their fullest potential. Under Socialism, everyone would be free and equal regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion. Everyone would be safe from oppression (being kept down or treated unfairly), exploitation (being taken advantage of) and war. This is the Socialist ideal.
Like many revolutionary organizations, we believe that it is not enough to simply oppose capitalism or to fight for freedom within it, but that we must be actively fighting for a new alternative. We believe that socialism is this alternative.
Dream Defenders are Internationalists:
We believe in the solidarity of oppressed groups around the world. No one can be free until we’re all free. We stand with oppressed peoples internationally and fight against all forms of racism and hate – anti-semitism, islamophobia, transphobia and sexism.
At our very first march from Daytona to the Sanford Police Department, our co-founders waved a Palestinian flag. This is because we know that although our oppression might not look the same, we are being exploited by the same systems and that in order to tear them down, we must come together. The same corporations that are building walls between Mexico and the US, are building walls in the West Bank. The same tear gas used in Ferguson is also used at the Mexico Border in Standing Rock and in Palestine. Our fight is one.
As US Americans, we live in the belly of the beast. America is an empire that uses war to expand territory and power. American wars are unjust, destructive to communities globally and do not keep our people safe locally. The military industrial complex offers massive profits to private corporations from the money we pay in taxes. They hand out massive government contracts to expand US military presence across the globe, while resources for social programs to meet the needs of working class communities in the US are crumbling.
US wars account for over 50 percent of our federal budget. We spend 9 more times on war than education and 20 more times on war than we do on social security and unemployment. Killing working people all around the world does not keep us safe. Shelter, healthcare, education, food and housing do.
We are internationalists, fighting in solidarity with the struggle of other working people around the world who make up the backbone of the global economy. We fight so that we can rid the world of poverty, war and oppression — once and for all.