Ep. 73 - The Collective Freedom Project, Pt. 3: Texas & #ShutDownHutto ft. Rebecca Sanchez & David Johnson

Bourbon 'n BrownTown

08-07-2021 • 2 hrs 2 mins

BrownTown links up with Rebecca Sanchez & David Johnson of Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas. In Part Three of the Collective Freedom Project series, they discuss the the socio-political climate in Austin, the #DefundAPD campaign(s); #ShutDownHutto and other campaigns to close or halt construction of new jails; and the intersections of technology, surveillance, and gentrification.

BrownTown and guests cover several interrelated topics throughout the course of their time together. After Rebecca and David (or "DJ") share more about their backgrounds, they quickly debunk the myth of Austin as the liberal blue bubble in a sea of red Texas, explaining the history, the municipal political system (weak Mayor vs. strong Mayor), and the social facade. DJ likens the 1-35 interstate in Texas with the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago explaining how they were both built intentionally to subjugate Black people. The team continues to sift through various topics including the affect of the George Floyd uprisings on specifically budget campaigns, #NoCopAcademy (1, 2), academic institutions and private companies' relationship with police, and the role of technology in surveillance and furthering social control. BrownTown, Rebecca, and DJ close out the an introspective note that abolishing police is more than just the defunding and dismantling the local PD but abolishing the police in our heads, in our hearts, and creating new relationships between people and our natural environment.

Rebecca Sanchez is the daughter of Jose and Rosalia Sanchez, the youngest of 8 and a tia to 17; from a tiny town in East Texas. Rebecca is an artist, educator, and the organizing manager with Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit working to end prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization. She is also a member of Communities of Color United; an intergenerational grassroots group pushing for racial equity in Austin. All of this work is guided by the lens of artivism, personal/familial struggles, and her experience as a former art teacher in a commitment to center intergenerational creativity, healing, and autonomy.

David Johnson is an organizer and policy and research analyst who draws upon his personal experience with white supremacist culture to work towards a collective divestment from harmful and violent practices, policies, and systems, while expanding investment in people-centered responses to community needs. In addition to his role at Grassroots Leadership, he is a member of Texas Advocates for Justice, the Community Strategy Team for the University of Texas' Dell Medical School Department of Population Health, the Reimagine Public Safety Task Force for the City of Austin, the Mayor's Gun Violence Task Force for the City of Austin, and the board of BRAVE Communities. He is also a community ambassador for Solstice Recovery Foundation, and the co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery - Texas (CAST).

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.


Mentioned in the episode:

Follow the Collective Freedom Project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Follow Grassroots Leadership on their site, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow Communities of Color United on their site, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


CREDITS: Intro/outro music by Genta Tamashiro with excerpts from the Texas CFP video; outro song Crooked Officer by Z-Ro. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro and Kiera Battles.

This series is sponsored by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and the Four Freedoms Fund (FFF).


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