Featured photo: Activist Brittany Battle speaks at a Triad Abolition Project and Unity Coalition event. (photo by Michaela Ratliff)
Brittany Battles parents still laugh about the time she led a walk-out in her eighth grade class.
I felt like my teacher was being unjust, so I inspired my classmates to walk out of this mans class, Battle says in an interview.
She has had an eye towards social justice for as long as she can remember, aligning herself with Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem shortly after moving there last year. Her involvement with the activist group recently drew her to John Nevilles case.
I cant breathe, inmate John Neville repeatedly told Forsyth County detention officers as they placed him in a prone restraint. He would later die from a brain injury caused by the restraint. Many people were outraged that the Dec. 4, 2019 death was not made public until July 8, 2020, when Forsyth County District Attorney Jim ONeill announced five detention officers and a nurse were being charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Neville in a press conference.
Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem called an emergency meeting and then gathered outside of the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center that same day to protest the lack of timely communication to the public and the case of police brutality. The crowd of protesters erupted into cries of, Let them go! as five protesters were arrested for leaving the sidewalk and walking into the street. Battle was one of them.
She expressed that law enforcement held positive attitudes during the local protests for the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, saying that they rode bikes alongside them and blocked off streets for their safety.
Oh, those are bad cops in Louisville, those are bad cops in Minneapolis, she predicted the police said then. But when we start talking about bad cops in Winston-Salem and Forsyth county, the light is shone in their own house. They didnt like that.
They came out there with zip ties, she recalls. They came out there with an LRAD, which is a long-range acoustic device. Its frequently used against protesters. It can make them deaf or hard of hearing. Its supposed to be inconspicuous because people think its a speaker. They admitted it was an LRAD in the paperwork of one of my comrades who was arrested. They said they warned us via LRAD not to be in the street..
And yet, Battle remained fearless.
Theres no way in hell Im gonna let them intimidate me, she says.
Battle felt her arrest was intentional, saying police targeted those they recognized from being organizers of protests in the city. The drive to continue fighting even harder for social justice after her arrest wasnt the only thing she left the protest with. She now flaunts a black splint on her right wrist as a result of the recent arrest as she waits for her follow up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to examine the extent of her injury.
After I got released, I went to the ER first for the wrist injury they did to me, she said, and then I went right to an organizing meeting after that. There was no stopping.
In addition to amplifying the actions of Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem, Battle is affiliated with the Triad Abolition Project, a newly-formed grassroots collective of people interested in sharing ideas and resources about abolishing the carceral system, as well as educating others about the meaning of abolition. The Triad Abolition Project, in partnership with the Unity Coalition, another newly formed group in Winston-Salem with similar objectives, organized Occupy the Block Winston-Salem, an ongoing peaceful resistance in Bailey Park which started on July 15. The group intends to hold a protest every day until the four main demands of the Triad Abolition Project are met which include: responding to all questions posed by the Triad Abolition Project and the Unity Coalition, banning the use of prone restraint on any civilian, incarcerated or not, sick or not, notifying the public of any death involving an officer or deputy immediately, and dismissing all charges against protestors from July 8th and 9th arrests.
An activist on the streets and in the classroom, Battle is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Wake Forest University. She earned her masters in African-American studies from Temple University in 2012, and her PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University New Brunswick in 2019. She finds it difficult to balance her time between teaching and fighting racial injustice as her activism tends to infiltrate her classroom.
In spring I taught a class, Social Justice in the Social Sciences, she said. We talked about how social justice shows up in social theories, social research methods, and actual activist movements. I teach from a Black feminist perspective. I create syllabi that highlights the voices of Black women and Black queer folks.
She says she values elevating the voices of minorities as she was also a member of the NAACP and the Black Student Union during her undergraduate years.
Outside of activism and teaching, she can be found creating keepsake baby quilts for her friends who are new moms. She also loves to sew and create jewelry. When social-justice work gets to be overwhelming, she escapes to what she calls her happy place the beach. She also values relaxation exercises like meditation and sage burning to stay grounded, activities she incorporated into Occupy the Block.
We have people who will be coming out to lead a yoga session, she says. Every evening we have a vigil. Were out here burning sage and incense and stuff so were really taking the spiritual part of it seriously as well because this is a lot to be out here twelve hours a day. Weve gotta make sure people are taking care of themselves spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Battle is okay with the fact that her ultimate vision abolishing the carceral state will likely not happen in her lifetime, but that doesnt mean her efforts towards it will stop.
My real motivation is that my freedom and liberation is tied up in everybody elses, she says. If there are some of us out there that arent free, none of us are. Thats what inspires me to keep doing this type of work.
Learn more about the Triad Abolition Project by visiting their website at triadabolitionproject.org.
Read more here:
- Op-Ed | Join the May 3 Day of Refusal - The Stanford Daily - May 3rd, 2021
- Making the case for abolition of the police state - Los Angeles Loyolan - May 3rd, 2021
- Police reform is not enough. We need to abolish the institution. The Kenyon Collegian - Kenyon Collegian - May 3rd, 2021
- Health and safety at work is extremely important in the corona period | GOV.SI - Gov.si - May 3rd, 2021
- OPINION: Reclaiming the History of May Day - southseattleemerald.com - May 3rd, 2021
- 'We believe that we can win in this lifetime:' Activist discusses 'reimagining policing' in lecture series - Observer Online - May 3rd, 2021
- Landry accused of 'cheering on' cuts that affect women - Morning Bulletin - May 3rd, 2021
- Conversion Narratives, and Beyond, Part II: Adam Silvera's Infinity Cycle and the Superhero Quandary - lareviewofbooks - May 3rd, 2021
- Anti-abuse center gets upgrade, sensing both progress and frustration - Crux Now - May 3rd, 2021
- Wings over Scotland: The steady growth of Glasgow Airport since the mid-sixties - HeraldScotland - May 3rd, 2021
- A review of the spring semester's mental health advocacy - Campus Times - May 3rd, 2021
- There's one month left in the session. Here's where the Legislature is on taxes, the death penalty and more. - The Nevada Independent - May 3rd, 2021
- Portland cops, FBI investigate video of masked anarchist who issued threat to Wheeler: report - Fox News - May 3rd, 2021
- The NHS is being privatised by stealth under the cover of a pandemic - The Guardian - May 3rd, 2021
- Tributes to former head of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society - Chichester Observer - April 29th, 2021
- The Global History of Labor and Race: Foundations and Key Concepts - JSTOR Daily - April 29th, 2021
- Hate-Crime Laws Are Not the Answer to Anti-Asian Violence, Abolition Is - Teen Vogue - April 29th, 2021
- What abolishing the police really means The GW Hatchet - GW Hatchet - April 29th, 2021
- Divest/Invest UCLA Faculty Collective talks abolition in Q&A with editorial board - Daily Bruin - April 29th, 2021
- Abolitionist Struggles Are Also Matters of Global Justice - Truthout - April 29th, 2021
- Righteous end to long, lonely fight would bring peace to a state hero - Las Vegas Sun - April 29th, 2021
- Independent media recognized at 13th annual Izzy Awards - Ithaca College The Ithacan - April 29th, 2021
- Cities around the globe following Edinburgh's lead reviewing statues with slavery links - Edinburgh News - April 29th, 2021
- The Chauvin guilty verdict wont stop police misconduct but transformative justice could - Vox.com - April 29th, 2021
- Ramadan in UAE: Prophets teachings work as a candle for humanity - Khaleej Times - April 29th, 2021
- Religious sisters seek to fight the pandemic, and look towards post-COVID world - Angelus News - April 29th, 2021
- Spains Matadors Fight Back After COVID-19 Nearly Kills Their Art - Voice of America - April 29th, 2021
- The 4th Annual Chattanooga Festival Of Black Arts And Ideas: Juneteenth Independence Day To Be Held In East Chattanooga - The Chattanoogan - April 29th, 2021
- Scrapping of UPSR gets mixed reaction | Free Malaysia Today - Free Malaysia Today - April 29th, 2021
- Opinion: Social Democracy is still a valid cause but not the end goal - The Yorker - April 29th, 2021
- Police Convictions Are Not the Goal. Abolitionists Have Bigger Dreams. - Truthout - April 29th, 2021
- What Indianapolis leaders, organizations are saying about the Derek Chauvin verdict - IndyStar - April 23rd, 2021
- How Minneapolis Gets from Here to Abolition - Macalester College The Mac Weekly - April 23rd, 2021
- Groups host festival in support of divesting from police - GazetteNET - April 23rd, 2021
- Activist, scholar Angela Davis discusses the U.S. prison system with Penn State's Restorative Justice Initiative - The Daily Collegian Online - April 23rd, 2021
- Black Visions Collective: We Need to Abolish the Police & End Militarized Occupations of Our Cities - Democracy Now! - April 23rd, 2021
- A World Where George Floyd And MaKhia Bryant Would Still Be Here Is A World Without Police - NewsOne - April 23rd, 2021
- Wellington health bosses react to overhaul that will see DHBs abolished - New Zealand Herald - April 23rd, 2021
- Op-Ed | Tell Stanford: End the collective bargaining agreement with the Deputy Sheriffs' Association - The Stanford Daily - April 23rd, 2021
- Bonded labour - The Express Tribune - April 23rd, 2021
- CoalitionNU members emphasize collective action and existing demands - Daily Northwestern - April 23rd, 2021
- Jane Austen charity dismisses claims it will re-evaluate the author's colonial roots - Third Sector - April 23rd, 2021
- Today's verdict on the murder of George Floyd - Yale News - April 23rd, 2021
- Pulling Down the Worlds Walls: A Conversation With Harsha Walia - The Nation - April 23rd, 2021
- Review: Platitudes are not enough. We need to see criminal justice reform in action. - America Magazine - April 23rd, 2021
- For Minneapolis Jews, Derek Chauvin's conviction is just the beginning J. - The Jewish News of Northern California - April 23rd, 2021
- Restorative Justice, Part 2: N.H. adult court diversion can save lives, but is offered inconsistently and not tracked - Monadnock Ledger Transcript - April 23rd, 2021
- 'The pandemic behind bars:' Panelists discuss effects of COVID-19 in prisons - The Massachusetts Daily Collegian - April 23rd, 2021
- Live updates, April 21: Confirmed Airport worker infected with Covid-19 after cleaning plane - The Spinoff - April 23rd, 2021
- 'Justice is George Floyd not being dead:' Members of Windsor-Essex BIPOC community reflect on verdict - CBC.ca - April 23rd, 2021
- Long-awaited work begins on Abolition Row Park in New Bedford - SouthCoastToday.com - April 11th, 2021
- Reject UMWA sellout! Spread the Warrior Met strike! - WSWS - April 11th, 2021
- Abolition of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal: The last resort - The New Indian Express - April 11th, 2021
- Busting the myths around mass incarceration and its impact on women - Dazed - April 11th, 2021
- I dont know the rationale behind abolition of FCAT: Sharmila Tagore - Hindustan Times - April 11th, 2021
- Want to improve the economy? Lower the corporate tax rate. - Bangor Daily News - April 11th, 2021
- Teachers call for abolition of Ofsted and league tables - Morning Star Online - April 11th, 2021
- The James Berry Poetry Prize for emerging poets of colour - India Education Diary - April 11th, 2021
- Whats happening in the arts world - The Boston Globe - April 11th, 2021
- The misguided plan to 'retain and explain' statues - Spectator.co.uk - April 11th, 2021
- Musicians deserve a raise too, and they're right to organize against Spotify's exploitative practices - Business Insider - April 11th, 2021
- What They Mean When They Say Defund the Police - Fullerton Observer - April 11th, 2021
- UA Faculty Shifts to Online Education in Innovative Ways due to COVID-19 - The Buchtelite - April 11th, 2021
- Far Too Many Educators Aren't Prepared to Teach Black and Brown Students (Opinion) - Education Week - April 11th, 2021
- Q & A with Sr. Eileen Reilly, advocating against the death penalty in the US - Global Sisters Report - March 31st, 2021
- Who will keep us safe in a world without police? We will - Salon - March 31st, 2021
- New Books | Freedom and the politics of speech - newframe.com - March 31st, 2021
- Why it is utter maddess to think of abolishing the Senedd - Wales Online - March 31st, 2021
- Australian inquiry reveals disastrous working conditions of public school teachers - WSWS - March 31st, 2021
- A Bid To End The Death Penalty Goes Beyond Partisan Lines - KUNR Public Radio - March 31st, 2021
- Faith Communities Must Stop Funding Programs That Reinforce Mass... - Truthout - March 31st, 2021
- White supremacy in Colombia | Part 3: the negroes multiply by themselves - Colombia Reports - March 31st, 2021
- Collaborating to Break the Cycle of Modern Slavery - Council on Foreign Relations - March 31st, 2021
- Chiaravalloti officially announces reelection bid - The Hudson Reporter - March 31st, 2021
- Batwoman Recap: Wildmoore and Abolition Are Jordan's Plans in "Rule #1" - Autostraddle - March 31st, 2021
- This Election Could Transform Policing in Omaha - The Appeal - March 31st, 2021
- Affordable housing investment results in net growth of social housing in Scotland, finds UKHR - Scottish Housing News - March 31st, 2021
- Mariame Kaba, Abolitionist and Author, on We Do This Til We Free Us - Teen Vogue - March 26th, 2021
- Springfield's connection to John Brown, Abolitionist and Accomplice - SC Student Media - March 26th, 2021
- How the crucial work of civil society organisations in Northern Ireland is being put at risk by COVID-19 and Brexit - British Politics and Policy at... - March 26th, 2021