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Transcript: Season 2, Episode 7, Abolition Addresses Gun Violence

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Crystal: [00:00:00]

Abolition is for Everybody is a podcast of tackles the sometimes-difficult conversations around prison abolition. I’m Crystal,

Ra:

I’m Ra

Adam:

and I’m Adam.

Ra:

And this season of Abolition is for Everybody, we talk about harm,

Adam:

what creates it, what recycles it and how we can find our way to meaningful means of repair.

Ra: [00:00:35]

Just a reminder friends in this episode and every episode we dive into very sensitive issues. This season is frameworked around violence and though the title of this episode may give you some warning, remember that harm itself tends to create situations of alternate harms.  There will probably be other painful topics brought up, too. Take care of you.

Adam: [00:01:04]

The following recording is one of Initiate Justice’s incarcerated members, sharing their story.

Ra:
Their name, and the location where they are incarcerated, have been removed to maintain their safety.

Recording: [00:01:16]
I have been down for nine going on, ten years. And I’ve done my base term of eight years, and I’m working on my 10-year gun enhancement time now. I came back from Afghanistan in 2011. I was 23 years old. It was my second deployment overseas. I came back in 2011 and I had a lot of issues coming back. I was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. There was just a lot of contending with it at the time and within 24 hours of coming back, I started using drugs to try to self medicate myself. I started hanging around with the wrong people and, you know, a combination of the drug use and my just terrible self-destructive behaviors and habits, and ways of thinking, I started robbing people to support my habit.

I got arrested in September of 2011 for two different robberies. I got sentenced to 18 years in prison. And as I mentioned, I’m working on enhancement time now, but in a time, since I’ve been down, I’ve been I’ve been clean for eight years. I have completely changed as a person. It’s hard for me to look back. And it’s hard for me to look back  and actually accept that it was me that did the terrible things that I did it. It seems like a dream. It seems like a different lifetime almost and I know there’s no amount of remorse that could ever change what I did, I can never go back and fix things, but in

(This call and your telephone number will be monitored and recorded.)

In the meantime, since I’ve been down I’ve been working really hard. I’ve been going to just about every single self help group you can think of, probably something that you haven’t even heard of. I have educated myself. I’ve earned two associates degrees, I’m working on a third. I’m halfway done with my paralegal certificate and I’m working on my certificate to become a drug and alcohol counselor. I’ve been engaged in the civic process through Initiate Justice. I’ve been a member of Underground Scholars through UC Berkeley and in 2020, I was accepted into UC Berkeley. I deferred my enrollment until 2022. I hope to be out by then.

If I were able to get re-sentenced, and not have to do this gun enhancement time, I would be able to immediately parole to UC Berkeley and get my bachelor’s degree in social welfare and, armed with that education, I could return to my community and build where I once destroyed. Which is, all that I’ve wanted to do ever since I ever since I got arrested and ended up in prison and looked around me and you saw what I bought with my life. There’s, there’s no way to fully express the remorse. 

I look around right now at where I’m at. And it’s this same theme that I have seen for the last 10 years. And it’s sad, and it’s heartbreaking, and I want to be a part of the solution and I want more than anything to be a good citizen and to get out and try to change everything that leads up to all this. I look around me and it’s sad to see the kids that are coming in that were my age when I got busted and they’re doing the same thing, but they haven’t woken up yet. They haven’t realized the path that they’re on. It’s become my passion and my purpose in life, to try to do something about this problem that I was once a part of.  And I think I’m in a unique situation where I was able to come out of it, I’m able to use the experiential knowledge as

(This call and your telephone number will be monitored and recorded.)

I’m able to use the experiential knowledge I’ve gained. walking on this path and prison and seeing it from this side. I’ll be able to use it with my formal education at Berkeley. And with those two things, I know I can do a lot of good. Not just individually, but I know I can bring a lot to communities everywhere, not just where I’m from, and I could contribute a lot to organizations like Initiate Justice, Underground Scholars, Success Stories. I can help and that’s all that I want to do.  And I’m doing the best I can while I’m still in here, I keep taking it a day at a time, and working on myself a day at a time. And working towards getting out a day at a time. One day I will get out and I’ll do all of these things, whether I get re-sentenced or not, whether my gun enhancement gets removed or not. It’s not a matter of me not doing it because I will, it’s just a matter of when. I sincerely hope that is sooner rather than later.

Crystal: [00:07:41]
I don’t know how you all feel right now, but there is a collective silence and I can feel and hear my heart pounding in my ears right now because there’s just so much emotion to that. You can hear it in his voice and, you know, as someone who has a brother who is incarcerated and gets those phone calls, I’m like, I’m feeling so many emotions right now. What are you both feeling?

Adam: [00:08:10]
Yeah, I definitely agree. I too feel feel a lot. A lot of feelings. A lot of emotions is coming up. Just hearing his story and hearing him talk about what he’s been through, you know, coming out of the service and being diagnosed with PTSD and a lack of help, right, that led up to him doing drugs, right? And then committing robberies, and making this transition, And as a person that is formerly incarcerated, as a person that has been been through the hardships of transitioning, right, working on AAs and going to different self-help groups. It was just a lot of emotion that came up for me and something that stuck out the most, that I love, is what he said. Whether they let him out early or not, he’s still going to continue to do the work and that just was like, that was just like, that was like the rose, you know, so flowers flowers to him for sharing.

Ra: [00:09:01]
I think like everyone else, I think I was just kind of listening in silence, and processing it all. There are so many, you know, this is an episode, another episode about harm. This one focuses on gun violence, but I thought it was interesting to see the trajectory of how easy the escalation into violence is, and how difficult and and so — he has to self-lead the de-escalation in his own life. And how much effort has gone into that for him, despite prison.

Adam:
Right.

Crystal:
And not to mention that he was 23 when he came back from Afghanistan and dealing with PTSD and depression.

Ra:
Right? None of that stuff is also treated inside. In fact, very often the medical, like, drugs that you’re able to have out here that might mitigate some of the symptoms aren’t even available inside because they’re either narcotics or like sisters to them. And so they eliminate all those things. There’s also an overlay of like, as someone who’s dealt with an addiction, whether or not you want to seek help from these pills, you know.

Crystal:
But to take us back a little bit, Ra, you know, you’re talking and saying how none of that is available inside– none of that was available outside either. He talks about coming back and having depression and PTSD and, you know, substance abuse, and trying to figure out life as a 20 year old, 23 year old, you know, who you just came back, and I’m sure the things he experienced in Afghanistan and as a service member coming back and not having anywhere to turn

Adam:

Right.

Crystal:
Because he mentions that he knew that something was wrong and that he needed help, yet he had nowhere to turn to.

Ra:
Sometimes people don’t understand how brave it is to go back into the situations, or being willing to go back into the situations, that caused you so much harm. Because as much as, like, in his storytelling he was talking about the harm he caused, that was a lot of failure on the part of systems that should have backed him up at every stage. We have programs. Yeah, we have programs for vets. We have programs for people struggling with addiction and they aren’t serving the needs because, often times, it’s because they’re underfunded, which is frustrating when we think about it in this like context of him, being a vet, which is obviously overfunded

Adam:
and that’s that’s where I was going to, that’s where I want to chime in– right there– is with him coming out of the service, right? Giving his all to a country that have the resources but somehow don’t provide the right resources, especially to someone that is young, coming out of and, I’m sure, witnessing, and being introduced to a whole nother level of violence in itself, right? Fighting for our country,

Ra: [00:12:05]
Specifically, gun violence, right? It’s no surprise that a country that puts so much money into military and general imperialism, has such, as a problem managing gun violence.  And right now, our systems in place– and please define these better for me, Crystal or Adam– but he talked very briefly about, he said, “serving his base sentence and still having more time to do.”  And I know both of you are better versed on sentence enhancement. So if y’all want to take it and explain, because I’m not sure if every listener would really understand what that means.

Crystal:
Right, so a base term is the term for the sentence that you are given for your original crime. Whereas an enhancement, it’s something that gets added to your base term. So for this member, for example, said that they’re almost done with their base term. They’re on nine years, going on under 10, and then they got added a gun enhancement. So once he’s done with his, you know, base term, he starts, year one of that 10-year gun enhancement.

Adam: 
Right .That’s exactly what it is, Crystal. You explained it perfectly, and that’s the same situation that happened with me. I was charged for manslaughter, accessory to manslaughter, and I had to serve 10 years. And after that 10 years, I would have had to serve an additional 11 years for the gang enhancement. Scuse me. I had to serve 11 years for the manslaughter and 10 years for the gang enhancement.

Ra:
Wild. That’s almost double.  Did you know about enhancements before going in?

Adam: [00:13:37]
I didn’t know nothing about enhancements, right? The attorney that I had, he never explained to me, you know, it was, it was it wasn’t anything because before I had went to trial, right? And when I went to trial, I got a deadlock. Meaning, they couldn’t come up with a decision, stating if I was guilty or not guilty, it was just kind of like a split decision. So that’s later on that’s when they offered me a plea bargain, which was 21 years.  And you know, they made it sound so good and I’m like, well, I don’t want to get life. So I took the deal and later on I understood like oh, so I got to do my 11 years first and then I have to do, you know my additional 10 years for being a gang members, former gang member.

Ra: [00:14:17]
Thank you for explaining that because I think there’s, like, lots of gaps for people when they hear about this. So my question was, to me, kind of like a trick question. I know nobody knew about enhancements before coming in. When I was down, I consistently ran into people who didn’t know what those were, and myself while helping them through their paperwork, I had no understanding of what that was either and it wasn’t super accessible information at that point in my prison journey. My husband was still alive and still very active in my life so I was able to call him and get information from like the internet, but I remember that he even had trouble with that because it’s really not, it’s not super available information that explains the dynamics of it and–  I’m bringing up all of this because enhancements are often sold as a preventative measure, and if no one even knows they exist: How does that, how does that work? 

Crystal:
You know, you know, and the thing, Ra, that as I’m hearing this individual talk, the unfortunate thing, and the thing that always hurts my heart is that it’s a very common story. You know, in California alone, there are 30,000 people who are incarcerated, who have a gun enhancement, and 90% of those people are people of color. And you know, most of those people don’t know that these enhancements existed, so often times, and gun enhancements are just one type of enhancement that exist and oftentimes they are sold as something that keeps us safe.

Adam: [00:15:46]
They they do and it’s it’s very very troubling to see how many people have gotten so many different type of gun enhancements. I’ve seen other people that have had gang enhancements, I mean, excuse me, gun enhancements, similar to our initiate Justice member that we just heard, where was from 10 years, some have got five years, some even have gotten 25 to life– and gun enhancements doesn’t stop gun violence. So it’s a deeper problem that we have to address.

Ra: [00:16:19]
Yeah, we talk about that a lot with all the carceral issues. How does removing someone from this scenario stop this in communities? Stop the things that created it to begin with? Yeah, it really doesn’t and silence isn’t an apology which is why he’s so active in this work to to rectify it in different ways because, what is a meaningful apology, is learning the skills that would have helped you and then being so brave or generous as to go backwards and offer those communities where you came from. And that’s to me strikes me as a very real and reasonable level of accountability that we could implement if we weren’t just locking people up.

Adam: [00:16:59]
Yeah, for sure. It’s accountability and and the ability to, to help others, right? Because of his experience and what he has learned. I’m just so so amazed to know that he has been accepted to Berkeley, but decided to, you know, say hey, I need to finish what I’m doing right now and be able to attend Berkeley, UC Berkeley, when he come home and going for a bachelor’s art and social welfare. It really helps the problem, right? People say, well, we have to find a solution, and that helps, to me that helps, you know, because he has personal experience in what was lacking and what needs to be done and even more, he’s taken an initiative to to learn more, to be able to give back to returning citizens that’s coming back from services that so many times, get overlooked but yet is diagnosed with PTSD and there’s no help being provided.

Crystal: [00:17:53]
You know. I want to touch on something that Ra mentioned earlier and you know, the systems of desperation that we have now.  Part of my role here is reading hundreds, if not thousands of letters, that come from incarcerated individuals and there’s this one letter that I read almost a year ago, I would say, and I still think about it sometimes as I’m doing the work.  And that is of an individual who was sharing his experience with gun enhancements, and he mentioned how he was homeless and had, you know, substance abuse problems and how he was feeling hungry so he went to the store to grab something to eat, and he was high at that time, and as he was leaving, he noticed that a cop car started following him, so he started to panic and he started walking faster down the alley, and that walk turned into a run,  and the police started, you know, following him, and he he he panicked. He pulled out a gun and shot into the air. And with that, he got a 25 to life sentence. Enhancements can go that high. And I read the desperation, and I felt the desperation. I felt the pain as he was writing that. And he says, after being incarcerated for many, many years such as, you know what we just heard. The remorse? One thing that he mentioned often was like the remorse, and that he needed help. And one thing that we often don’t talk about is as long as, you know, as long as we have these systems where people are desperate for survival, desperate because they don’t have the resources that we need, instances like this one will keep happening and you know, our member and you know, the person who wrote to me, you know, had all of these thoughts and emotions  And you know, this member is going to Berkeley and that wasn’t because the prison, you know, we’re spending I believe it’s a hundred thousand dollars a year, 1 million dollars for that ten year enhancements, where he can be out here, going to Berkeley, one of the top universities in the world. So I often think about that story whenever gun enhancements come up. I always remember that letter that I read.

Adam: [00:20:18]
It’s very, very — not welcome– but it’s for sure welcoming to the empathy that that we have to others, right? Knowing that I have a couple friends of mine that are doing time from a gun, off a gun enhancement. That’s doing time off of gang enhancement, but specifically speaking about gun enhancements and gun violence, and how how– It’s usually something that leads up to that, right? And in this case, we definitely see that he came from the service, right? So he was used to to being around artillery, right? Have PTSD. And now he started using drugs and he has access to guns and he’s now acting under impulse because of being under the influence, right? Making sporadic decisions, but let’s just say, if he would had the help, and had the resources and had somebody to reach out to, then that one sporadic night of using drugs and going out to commit a robbery, right? Promoting gun violence, right? Then that wouldn’t be that when it happened. You know.

Ra: [00:21:27]

Yeah, it absolutely is one of the biggest enhancements, and I was really struck by the use of the word access. You said, like, he had access to guns. And I think that’s such an important thing. Because a lot of what we talked about here is stuff that we do not have access to, you know– he didn’t have access to PTSD medication. He didn’t have access to mental health care, and that million dollars, that I think Crystal mentioned, you know, 10 years of incarceration for him, costs us a million dollars. And how much treatment could we be providing to the communities he came from for that dollar amount, you know? And another thing I wanted to briefly highlight, but Adam, you might have more thoughts on this particularly, is that, you know, Crystal said that Berkeley was happening despite prison, and I know that learning inside is a struggle so, out here when you say like, oh someone got an AA, that’s cool, and that’s a lot of work and I totally commend everybody who, every one of those achievements is incredible, but when you’re inside and you have to continually fight to even be allowed outside your cell to access the library, and the computers locked down and you were constantly fighting for that education. It’s a different experience. It’s a lot of work and it really indicates, when you think about it being the most common enhancement, how many people are in there for gun violence because they had access to that when they didn’t have access to other things. And then on top of that, how strongly they fight for their own rehabilitation when we don’t.

Adam: [00:22:57]
Right, right.  And to really broaden the picture, right? I’ma use something that I learned when I was when I was in college was the second shift, pertaining to women that actually go out and work, and then having to come home and take care of the household cooking, cleaning taking care of the kids, right? And still have to deal with the distractions and different things. So a person that’s inside, going to get the AA right, going to self-help group, staying away from the gang violence, staying away from the drugs, right, things that we have been used to. We step away from that and we take on the role of the second shift because you have so much to do at hand.  And and that’s one of, that’s like to me, that’s so amazing that he is able to say, “hey, I’m going to step away from all this, and I’m gonna be able to have all these responsibilities”, right? And be able to be successful. That’s going to be the key things to help change and move to going away with gun enhancements, right? And understanding how gun violence is happening from similar situations to people that’s coming home, from whether it’s from from the Army, from the service, or coming home from being incarcerated before, or having, you know, different growing up, in it, in a environment where this is okay, where this is accepted and being able to go back into those communities and say, Hey, you know, we do have help and I can help you. Now I’m not just going to point you to someone that that has no experience, but being able to say, hey we can get help from people that actually have experience.

Ra: [00:24:36]
Yeah, I agree. That’s 100% true in like education in these communities, in regards to what they need, like our education, in regards to what those communities need, what can we provide access to, in a significant enough supply that it, it overwhelms, the accessibility of guns. You know, I’m half South Asian American, half Mexican, fully both andI think I would feel I would feel away if I left this gun conversation without mentioning what’s been happening in the United States over the last few years, which is a rise in hate crimes. And often times, these cases are used as an argument for these enhancements, but I want to just really drill home everything we’ve said here which is that– enhancements do not keep us safe.  Enhancements cannot prevent crime,  and it’s important to remember that we have this model of gun violence in this country that we have to address particularly. And right now, I know there’s probably not many, but I am talking to, you know, the four South Asian listeners. We here, you know, we are of people who have come from, people who have seen what gun violence  and military violence can do to a country.  And if there are no consequences for cops, if there are no consequences for military, if they are, some of the biggest perpetrators of gun violence in this country– and they are– then why are we going after the young men.  It’s very often young men who are being, you know, kind of thrown under the bus,  under the banner of this,  and it really falls on us to find some kind of equity that keeps us safe and it is NOT this.


Crystal:

And we’re always looking at, you know, the individual.  The media has such a way of making these stories out to be really, really big, you know, and gun enhancements have been around since the 1990s. So that more than 20 years of these gun enhancements existing and just like, locking people up, you know, a contributing, a large contributor to the mass incarceration here in California, and we never talk about the systemic issues that are in place. We never talked about getting these guns off the streets. We never talk about helping black and brown communities that are always experiencing this. And, you know, most of the folks that are locked up because of this are people of color and oftentimes, young like our member. 23 years old, you know.

Ra:
So young!

Crystal:
He’s so so young. One thing that I often think about is the systemic issues that are happening, you know, before– and that’s not to mention everything that he is going through while incarcerated and all of his beautiful achievements, despite prison, despite the trauma that he has being incarcerated– is like looking even before that happened, and just imagining the folks since the 90s that had to do this time because of the gun enhancement and, you know, the gun violence that we experience from cops. Yeah, that is something that, you know, Ra mentioned earlier in the season, that in 2021, there is only 15 days where the police didn’t kill somebody. And I’m not saying that, you know, all of those days were from a gun. But that is something that we never talk about. We see in the news, often how guns are used in black and brown communities, and we talk about, you know, the lack of resources and desperation, but we never talk about the violence that comes from the police. I know, one of the first experiences that I had was, when my older brother was first incarcerated back when I was in high school, and I remember the big guns they were carrying and they’re they were pointed at us as they were coming through the alley, you know, dressed in like normal clothing, and my younger sister was actually the first one who saw them coming because she was in the kitchen, and over a decade ago, this happened in 2008 or so. So, you know, a long time ago, and sometimes the door in our backyard slams and I still see my whole family, just like, you know, have a reaction to it because it takes them back to the time where the police officers were pointing their guns at us. And, you know, they came in threatening us. And I remember, they had us all in the living room for like hours with , you know, my dad and my brother handcuffed and some I point my mom moved from one couch to the other because she has some health issues, and she needed some air, and right away, the cop was like, you know, he put his hand on his gun. And he’s like, don’t do that, accidents happen. And my brother was like, ah, she’s sick. She just wanted to sit in front of the AC, And he said, well, he’s like, that’s how accidents happen. Don’t do that again. So I think that was my first experience with guns and gun violence that came from the cops.

Adam: [00:29:41]
Yeah. That’s unfortunate and it’s just so saddening to hear. You know, that he had the nerve to say, not once but several times, accidents happen. So basically you’re already justifying what you’re getting ready to do because you have intentions on doing that, and I agree, you know, one of my first first times witnessing, you know, gun violence was coming out of a community where it was, it was gang induced, right? But it was, it came specifically from an officer himself, and we was young, you know, I was young and couple of guys, you know, we shooting dice, shooting craps, in high school, and everybody started running. So I don’t know what’s going on, right? Because I’m so involved in this dice game. And when I turn around, I see a barrels pointed at the back of my head and I was so scared and he kept telling me don’t move, don’t move, and all I could remember was like, okay what’s going on and that really like haunted me for years to come and that kind of that made me want to stay away from getting the help from you know from officers, right? And even years later, going into prison in like saying, “Hey, I don’t, yeah, I’m cool” because it’s still that image that we see. So I feel like if we’re living in times, where we all can change the narrative. And if I may, I want to go back to the scenario with the the second shift, right? I feel like we are living in times now where the second shift shouldn’t just be solely on women. We all can help out.  In my household, I can help out and fold clothes and help clean. And I feel like that’s the same with what’s taking taking place in today’s society, especially with, with our loved one being inside, and is helping out with what he’s doing to better himself. So we can continue to change the narrative based on the times that we’re living in because we have that voice and we actually and actually can create the resources or can be able to have connections to get the resources.

Ra: [00:31:38]
Yeah. Absolutely. The narrative is super important when it comes to carceral issues like this. There’s an organization called Culture Shift, and they like to say that a story is a star and a narrative is the constellation, and it’s super important that we keep producing these stars, you know, sharing our stories, so that we can shift the storytelling elements behind these.  Because guns are so glorified in our culture and I think it’s so important to remember that. We all contribute a little bit to these violences, you know, we contribute by watching these movies, sanctioning them, all the heroes have guns, and there are scenarios in movies and TV shows where guns come out– and people just kind of function normally, but having been in spaces that are heavy in guns, that’s not really how things work. Guns are violent, violent structures, and none of these things are solved by the negative storytelling we’re telling, or making it cool, or because even mentally giving it access is a thing. Like even if you make a service available, you have to make the people who the service is available for understand as we talked about, you know, we talk about this all the time because that’s part of the work too. It’s giving them the opportunities to actually access these things. And with guns, we meet those needs, we make the product accessible, and we make the mentality accessible, and we even have state-sanctioned versions of it that we can see examples of in they’re exemplified, you know, in every scenario. So that’s super important like this is, you know, we talk a lot about what are the tiny things we can do is like: change how you see these things. Change how you talk about these things.  Don’t be like, oh, 

Adam: [00:33:13]
Change the narrative.

Ra:
Yeah, change the narrative, put your story up there in the sky. You know.

Crystal:
I’m curious with both of you, what is your experience with, you know, gun violence and being formally incarcerated. I know as someone who goes to the jails and prisons to visit my brother, that is something that I really, really don’t like, like walking through the metal detector and all the CEOs and seeing the guns that they have like super quickly available if anything were to happen. What do you all experience when it when it comes to that, and being in prison?

Adam:
Whoo.  I mean, it would take a whole another season, right? To sum up some of the things that Ra and I have saw. I think, for me personally being on a high security, right, I was on a high security level. I was on a level 4 starting off, and so, to put it in terms of level four is like maximum security. You don’t have too much movement. You only have a certain amount of time out of your cell,  right, at that time, it was like an hour and a half, and every other, every two days, it was I we would get day room, but the gun violence that I have witnessed there.  I have seen people actually get shot. I have seen people that have gotten shot and have been in wheelchairs, right? I have seen gun violence on a whole nother level to the point where okay, we’re not going to use real guns and real ammunition, only if they have a weapon, but we still going to use something that is a gun, which is called a block gun, which is pieces of wood that they shoot to stop people from fighting, right? And if that don’t work, then we have another type of gun that shoots out rubber bullets. So I have actually seen it like first hand out how, I’ve actually had to lay flat on the yard because it’s a riot that’s taking place and you know, you can see you can see stuff ricocheting and you trying to roll, and kind of get out of the way because you don’t want to be a casualty as they say. So I have seen, I have seen it from the from the worst of the worst because I started off at a level 4. However, when I went down from Level 4 to level 3 to level 1 because of good behavior and in the way I was conducting myself as a person I was incarcerated. I wasn’t around as much gun violence.

Ra:

Mine is going to sound super naive, but in those same experiences, like couple things: my thought when I walked in to jail and saw all the guns everywhere was that expression like if the only tool you have is a hammer, you know, or if the only tool you have that becomes your hammer that type of thing.  And it’s the only tool they have, you know.  So that was something I was like immediately aware of, you know, they didn’t have– there’s no timeout corner or things like that. Like the the only thing they can do is escalate it to restricting what little freedom you have, locking you back in, and using their gun. Those are pretty much the only two things. And that’s that’s a scenario that can lead to a lot of escalated and continuous trauma, which is the root cause of PTSD. So it’s particularly rough on people who came in with PTSD.  But for myself, I remember, one of the first things being told was that if they shot me with the rubber bullet, I would be charged for the rubber bullet and because that was an expense to the State.

Adam:
I forgot about that.

Ra:
Yeah

Crystal:
Charged like financially it?

Ra:
Yes, like, financially charged. So, not only would I be shot with this bullet, but that it would go on my books, which was just

Crystal:
I’m gonna shoot you and make you pay for it.

Ra:
Yeah, and then there was a small fight on our yard, it sounds ridiculous, but it was literally two women fighting about sheets, like, for the bed type of thing. So, it was tiny but it escalated into a really loud volume fight and they shut it entirely down. It was night time. We were outside. I was face down on grass. One of the women, I was incarcerated with was, fundamentally stronger than me as a human being, and she kind of like, push me up against the wall and sat in front of me so I would be safe. And there were just like shots everywhere, and you could just see the like the light. It honestly felt like being in battle and that felt like ridiculous thought because I’m like, I’m, you know, I’m a programmer at that time to my life. Like, but it really felt like felt like wartime, you know, even as just like huddled in the corner, waiting for it to pass and hoping we weren’t a casualty.

Crystal:
And you’re saying wartime, and thinking of our member, he literally just came back from being in the war and then getting into prison and to, you know, an environment like this and not to mention that, society has created this illusion for young men, that, you know, guns are somehow like, you know, like, you know, takes you to adulthood and you maturely feeding into our patriarchy and toxic masculinity and, you know, having to change the attitudes around guns, you know, and, you know, changing gun violence. And I know that this was probably a heavy episode for our listeners. I know my heart still feels heavy with the recording that we listened to. So I know a lot of folks out there are experiencing the same thing. So, you know to to end this with a little bit of hope, what do you all want to say to our listeners?

Ra:
I guess, my, my thing, my tiny tangible thing, you could do today is just really pay attention to the stories you hear about guns and the stories you’re not hearing about guns. About people whose lives were just erased from our social spectrum, as if that solved anything for anybody. I honestly think just watching these like TV shows and using our language carefully and just engaging carefully with this information will significantly change what we’re doing.

Crystal:
Well, I like your tiny tangible action because that was my tiny tangible action as well.  Paying ay attention to the experiences of folks, directly impacted, you know, there’s 40,000 people inside right now with gun enhancements.

Adam:
Wow.

Crystal:
This has been around since the 1990s and like our member shared, all of the different circumstances that led to the situation where he was in and, in that moment, 10 years of his life are going to be in prison because he got enhancements.

Adam: [00:39:44]
Yeah, that’s unfortunate. That’s unfortunate. I would all probably would, I would, I would say being able to have the, being able to have the courage to change the narrative is very, very important and, and it helps out. And once again, our member is doing that, right? He he is been able, he’s in a situation where he’s having to manage a lot, but he’s still giving his all to help change what’s taking place in changing narrative and doing it.  And I think that’s a little bit of hope that I can share with share with our listeners, you know, utilize your voice, you know, be able to be able to help out if you can be able to bring awareness because it’s people out there that would support you on that and take the initiative and it’s okay to feel that, you know, should I be speaking up on this or should I be addressing this? No, addressing gun violence is something that we all need to address because at any given time it can be one of our loved ones. That’s what I would say.

Crystal: [00:40:43]
Let’s have more students walking around Berkeley then being inside those walls.

Adam:
Well said.

Ra: [00:40:54]
This isn’t the full story of the full humans involved in these experiences, or every complete community or person who has gone through experiences that parallel. We have walked this gently so as not to diminish the story, but to highlight and amplify the hearts involved.

Adam: [00:41:10]
Thank you for listening to Abolition is for Everybody. If you want to continue supporting this podcast and our work overall, you can donate to support Initiate Justice, at InitiateJustice.org/donate