Free The People WNY

Mission Statement

Free The People WNY is a coalition of formerly incarcerated people, directly affected people, activists, organizers, and attorneys that envision a world free from the violence and death of mass incarceration. We act together to dismantle a justice system built on white supremacy and oppression, one that dehumanizes people, and we work to create in its place anti-racist systems with the values of collective liberation and true justice at their core.

Coalition Principles

We believe that all people are inherently valuable and deserving of respect, dignity and love.

We believe in the value of collective liberation: that none of us are free until all of us are free.​

We believe that all people deserve to be seen as the complex and dynamic beings they are, that people change, and that no one should be judged only by their mistakes.

We believe in the value of collective liberation: that none of us are free until all of us are free.

We believe in reducing harm, and that the lifelong trauma of incarceration hurts more than it helps. We believe that restorative and rehabilitative approaches to accountability are more effective and helpful than solely punitive ones.

We believe that communities are safe when people have their needs met and that the prison-industrial complex extracts bodies and wealth from Black and brown communities, undermining community safety and economic stability.

We believe that the current American justice system is rife with systemic racism, and that the abusive policing and mass incarceration of Black Americans and immigrants is the modern iteration of state-sponsored racist violence. We believe colorblind approaches to dismantling this system will never succeed and therefore all efforts must be anti-racist.

We believe in decarceration and a world without prisons.

How we make change matters. We work within ourselves and with each other in love and healing, recognizing the many intersectional identities and experiences that each of us brings to this work. We utilize popular education methods to tell our stories and change our worldviews.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is Free the People WNY?

Free the People WNY is a coalition of organizers and organizations working to end mass incarceration. We prioritize the work of organizers based in Erie County, especially young organizers of color, and we operate from a worldview of prison and police abolition. See our mission statement and principles for more information.

What does the coalition do?

The coalition supports the work of organizers by collaborating in city, county and state level working groups focused on policy goals at those levels. We also support each other by sharing information and resources, collaborating on events, building shared policy platforms, conducting workshops and trainings, amplifying the voices of local organizers, and more.

How can I get involved?

Please join us at one of our monthly meetings, the first Thursday of the month at 3 pm. Contact us by emailing info@freethepeoplewny.com to receive the meeting info. If you are interested in becoming a coalition member, please contact us for a membership form.

Who can be part of the coalition?

Coalition members are primarily organizations and some individual organizers who are working on a campaign or providing services for those impacted by any aspect of the criminal justice system, and aligns with the coalition mission and principles. Others who align with our principles but don’t fall into one of these categories are welcome to work with the coalition in various capacities, but can’t be listed as official members.

How does the coalition decide what issues are prioritized?

The campaigns of our member organizations are our coalition priorities, and we intentionally uplift the work of local (Erie County based) organizers who may have fewer resources or supports. In addition, we allow our working groups, which are composed of organizers working on individual campaigns, to set the priorities for their level of government, with feedback and support provided by the whole coalition. Priorities may be adjusted by the needs and opportunities of the political moment and are fluid and flexible, one agenda is not made for the whole year. The coalition is flexible to the needs of member organizations as they arise.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is Free the People WNY?

Free the People WNY is a coalition of organizers and organizations working to end mass incarceration. We prioritize the work of organizers based in Erie County, especially young organizers of color, and we operate from a worldview of prison and police abolition. See our mission statement and principles for more information.

What does the coalition do?

The coalition supports the work of organizers by collaborating in city, county and state level working groups focused on policy goals at those levels. We also support each other by sharing information and resources, collaborating on events, building shared policy platforms, conducting workshops and trainings, amplifying the voices of local organizers, and more.

How can I get involved?

Please join us at one of our monthly meetings, the first Thursday of the month at 3 pm. Contact us by emailing info@freethepeoplewny.com to receive the meeting info. If you are interested in becoming a coalition member, please contact us for a membership form.

Who can be part of the coalition?

Coalition members are primarily organizations and some individual organizers who are working on a campaign or providing services for those impacted by any aspect of the criminal justice system, and aligns with the coalition mission and principles. Others who align with our principles but don’t fall into one of these categories are welcome to work with the coalition in various capacities, but can’t be listed as official members.

How does the coalition decide what issues are prioritized?

The campaigns of our member organizations are our coalition priorities, and we intentionally uplift the work of local (Erie County based) organizers who may have fewer resources or supports. In addition, we allow our working groups, which are composed of organizers working on individual campaigns, to set the priorities for their level of government, with feedback and support provided by the whole coalition. Priorities may be adjusted by the needs and opportunities of the political moment and are fluid and flexible, one agenda is not made for the whole year. The coalition is flexible to the needs of member organizations as they arise.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is Free the People WNY?

Free the People WNY is a coalition of organizers and organizations working to end mass incarceration. We prioritize the work of organizers based in Erie County, especially young organizers of color, and we operate from a worldview of prison and police abolition. See our mission statement and principles for more information.

What does the coalition do?

The coalition supports the work of organizers by collaborating in city, county and state level working groups focused on policy goals at those levels. We also support each other by sharing information and resources, collaborating on events, building shared policy platforms, conducting workshops and trainings, amplifying the voices of local organizers, and more.

How can I get involved?

Please join us at one of our monthly meetings, the first Thursday of the month at 3 pm. Contact us by emailing info@freethepeoplewny.com to receive the meeting info. If you are interested in becoming a coalition member, please contact us for a membership form.

Who can be part of the coalition?

Coalition members are primarily organizations and some individual organizers who are working on a campaign or providing services for those impacted by any aspect of the criminal justice system, and aligns with the coalition mission and principles. Others who align with our principles but don’t fall into one of these categories are welcome to work with the coalition in various capacities, but can’t be listed as official members.

How does the coalition decide what issues are prioritized?

The campaigns of our member organizations are our coalition priorities, and we intentionally uplift the work of local (Erie County based) organizers who may have fewer resources or supports. In addition, we allow our working groups, which are composed of organizers working on individual campaigns, to set the priorities for their level of government, with feedback and support provided by the whole coalition. Priorities may be adjusted by the needs and opportunities of the political moment and are fluid and flexible, one agenda is not made for the whole year. The coalition is flexible to the needs of member organizations as they arise.