The last 12 months have been a year of transformation for Emancipate NC and for the state, nation, and world as we all grappled with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and endemic racism in the U.S. policing and legal system.

This month, we pause to remember all those we have lost to police and carceral violence and COVID-19, and to commemorate the victories that have helped us keep our eyes on the ultimate prize of human liberation.

These last 12 months, we:

  • Adopted the Freedom Fighter Bail Fund and created the Protest Defense Network in June 2020, recruiting dozens of pro bono lawyers and matching them with over 100 individuals arrested in the course of protest, with the help of volunteer Amelia O’Rourke-Owens
  • Welcomed Kerwin Pittman as an organizer in July 2020; he was named as the justice-impacted member of the Governor’s Task Force on Racial Equity in the Criminal Justice System 
  • Launched the inaugural Justice League in August 2020 giving stipends to over 20 individuals personally impacted by the carceral state to learn organizing and advocacy skills
  • Put up Black Lives Matter billboards in Summer and Fall 2020 in rural and urban areas in cooperation with local activists
  • Welcomed Cierra Cobb as an advocate; she helped launch the Prison Stimulus Hotline in October 2020, helping hundreds of incarcerated folks get access to their stimulus money
  • Intervened in Election 2020, making thousands of GOTV text messages and conducting COVID-safe poll events in multiple counties
  • Welcomed Ian Mance as an attorney in January 2021; he has filed racial justice amicus briefs to the North Carolina Supreme Court and sued the Salisbury Police for excessive force
  • Worked with coalition partners to settle the prison COVID lawsuit, NAACP v. Cooper,  in exchange for the release of 3,500 people in state prison, the largest prison release in the nation; our associate director Elizabeth Simpson caught COVID-19 while conducting prison inspections during the course of the lawsuit
  • Executive Director Dawn Blagrove over 100 public appearances, showing up consistently for the People in the streets, at the jails, at press conferences, and on Zoom, including at a Georgetown University panel on “White Supremacy: Monuments, Myths, and Terror” and a Vera Institute panel on “Demystifying Defunding.” She was quoted scores of times in the press, becoming the state’s leading voice on defunding the police and transforming the criminal legal system

These are literally just a few of the year’s top events. 

Please check out a new page on our website highlighting our favorite press coverage here and a beautiful essay by our law student fellow, J Hallen, about Emancipate NC’s support for Elizabeth City in the wake of the police murder of Andrew Brown here.

Finally, as we head into the upcoming season, we are thrilled to announce that we have joined the national Community Change collective of Black-led organizations.