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Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.

Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.
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Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.




Dispatches from Zapatista Territory

In this episode, “Dispatches from Zapatista Territory,” we speak with two of our fellow co-producers about their recent trip to autonomous Zapatista communities in the highlands of the Mexican southeast. For more than 24 years, the Zapatistas have inspired countless struggles across the globe to build “a world in which many worlds fit.” While the Zapatistas are not explicitly penal abolitionists, we reflect on how the Zapatista construction of autonomy may help us re-imagine the challenges...


Ep 13 - Carceral Ableism and Disability Justice

In this episode: Carceral Ableism and Disability Justice, we explore the ways in which the framework of “carceral ableism” redraws our map of racial capitalism’s archipelago of confinement, and how the liberatory praxis of disability justice works to extend and deepen the abolitionist horizon. Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, co-editor of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, explains how ableism - the violent material and discursive ordering of bodily...


Ep 12 - Settler-colonialism and the Struggle for Abolition

This episode grapples with the relation between incarceration and settler colonialism. Kelly Lytle Hernández, abolitionist writer and professor of History and African American studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, discusses her latest book, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles. Hernández reveals the underlying logic of elimination and conquest that is foundational to our settler colonial society by interrogating the construction...


EP 11 - State Repression and Movement Defense

This episode turns to questions of political repression, movement defense, and solidarity with political prisoners - questions which have been accentuated in the wake of the massive legal attacks visited upon protesters who participated in the #J20 demonstration in Washington D.C. on the day of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration. Ashanti Alston, a former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army who spent 14 years incarcerated due to his activity in the revolutionary...


Ep 9 - Reports from the Prisoner Resistance Movement

In Reports from the Prisoner Resistance Movement, released on the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison rebellion, we reflect on the intensifying political struggles behind bars by examining two extraordinary flashpoints: Amerika’s nationwide September 9, 2016, prisoner strike, and the August 19, 2017, Millions for Prisoners march. Ben Turk of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World and Firehawk of Unstoppable discuss strategies developing...


Ep8 - Schools, Prisons, and Abolitionist Futures

In today’s episode, “Schools, prisons and Abolitionist futures”, we explore the parallels by which the institutions of prisons and schools work to reproduce our current society, and how they illuminate challenges in the rocky passageways toward abolition. We speak with imprisoned intellectual Harold “HH” Gonzales about the history of school segregation and the construction of the so-called school to prison pipeline. We also hear from Erica Meiners, who discusses how schools are embedded in...


Ep7 - Beyond Punishment: The Movement for Transformative Justice

Abolitionists are committed to creating a world without police and prisons, but what alternative visions and practices of addressing intimate harm might point the way toward such a world? In this episode we explore efforts to re-imagine the politics of violence, harm, safety, and redress, spearheading practices of accountability and healing that move beyond the punitive logic of the carceral state. Mia Mingus from the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective discusses alternatives to...


Ep 6 - Queering Abolition

In this episode we examine the relationships between carcerality, gendered and sexual violence on the one hand, and on the other: queer and trans liberation and the abolitionist horizon. Josue Saldivar and Karolina Lopez from the Arizona-based organization Mariposas Sin Fronteras discuss the ways that migrants fleeing heteropatriarchal and transphobic oppression in their home countries are re-subjected to this abuse through the gendered and sexual operations of the U.S. carceral state and...


To Make Our World Anew: May Day special ft. Robin D.G. Kelley

In this special May Day segment of Rustbelt Abolition Radio, we speak with acclaimed scholar Robin D.G. Kelley to explore the critique of racial capitalism, the history of class struggle across the color line, and the abolitionist horizon. We release this episode on May Day, or International Workers Day, celebrated annually by millions across the world in commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Square massacre and the ongoing global struggle for a world without capitalist exploitation and...


Ep 4 - Survival and Resistance: Women Organizing towards Abolition

In this episode we focus on the ways women are organizing against gendered violence and mass criminalization -- and for a world free of domination. We speak with Mariame Kaba, long-time abolitionist organizer and writer, about her work with groups like Survived and Punished and Project NIA, and the criminalization of women under capitalist heteropatriarchy. We also talk to Adrienne Skye-Roberts from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), on specific challenges faced by women...


Bonus: From Attica to Kinross - An extended interview with Heather Ann Thompson

In this special bonus segment of Rustbelt Abolition Radio, we return to renowned historian Heather Ann Thompson as she elaborates on the multifaceted origins of the historic 1971 Attica Uprising, drawing out their resonances with other prison rebellions across history and geography, as well as their telling implications for our present historical moment.


Ep 3 -The Riots Will Continue

In this episode we examine the expansion of the carceral state as a response to anti-racist movements and urban rebellions of the 1960s, the political economic underpinnings of these social transformations, and the ways in which historic instances of prisoner rebellion are continuous with present-day resistance behind bars and point toward upheavals yet to come. We speak with historian Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy,...


Ep 2 - No walls, no cages: From migrant justice to prison abolition

What kind of society becomes possible when we stop maintaining nations --and neighborhoods-- in which specific populations are structurally criminalized? In this episode of Rustbelt Abolition Radio we feature migrant justice and abolitionist organizers Aly Wayne and Abraham Paulos, and discuss the tensions between demanding citizenship and fighting for freedom.


Ep 1 - What do we Mean by Abolition?

In this episode we turn to recent news of the deepening impacts of the biggest prison strike in U.S. History, as we look at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We also speak with Professor Liat Ben-Moshé on our carceral society and the political imaginary of abolition. We wrap with a phone interview with Chaz, an imprisoned trans organizer in Michigan who is fighting for queer and trans prisoners’ liberation.