TCAC Guiding Document
TCAC Mission and Vision: What We Do and Why We Do It
What is TCAC (Tallahassee Community Action Committee)?
We are a local, grassroots organization committed to fighting for peace, justice, and equality through direct action.
We recognize that we live under a capitalist system fueled by imperialism and white supremacy that upholds itself via systemic oppression. We are dedicated to fighting this system in order to improve the lives and material conditions of all who suffer underneath it. While our focus is local, our struggle is connected to that of oppressed people everywhere.
All people have the right to food, shelter, safety, security, healthcare, education, and a healthy environment. We strive to build communities and social services that uphold these rights, with a focus on the most disadvantaged in our society.
Rights: Everyone has the right to food that is fresh, healthy, and accessible
Barriers: Food deserts affect poor, working class people, and predominantly people of color
Solutions: We encourage the addition of affordable food options to food deserts, including grocery stores and community gardens; increased meal programs for people in need; increased free school meals, after-school meals, and summertime meals for children
Rights: Everyone has the right to safe, comfortable housing that affords individuals with enough privacy and control over their space to preserve dignity. As shelter is a fundamental need necessary to our survival, it should be provided and allocated accordingly.
Barriers: There is a high population of homeless, housing insecure, and transient people in Tallahassee and Leon County. There are not enough assistance services to satisfy the needs of this population. Additionally, many people live in substandard housing that is hazardous to their health.
Solutions: We support initiatives to provide free housing to those in need. This is not only the right thing to do in a moral sense; it has proven to be more cost-effective for local governments than leaving people on the streets in a number of U.S. cities. We emphasize the importance of public housing over private, and emphasize the rights of tenants over developers and property managers. To this end, we support rent control and strong tenants’ unions.
Rights: Everyone has the right to a safe community for themselves, their loved ones, and the personal belongings they need to live full and happy lives.
Property crime occurs primarily because people are economically disadvantaged.
Hate crimes occur because of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and cultural/religious prejudices such as islamophobia and antisemitism. These things often intersect with class and economic conditions.
Rape culture and domestic violence occur because of a patriarchal and misogynist culture that rewards a violent masculinity.
Solutions: We fight against systems of oppression by holding people accountable, recognizing that these issues are systemic, and recognizing and addressing the role of class structure in systems of oppression.
Rights: Everyone has the right to a community that protects their security when it is threatened.
Barriers: Law enforcement officers in the United States shoot and kill at least a thousand people every year. That number is gathered by watchdog groups, as these statistics are not collected by the federal government. The number killed could very well be higher; many deaths in police custody are reported as “suicides”. It is not known how many people are brutalized by the police every year, but it is known that many cities and counties throughout the country pay tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits to victims of police violence, often while keeping the guilty officers employed. Policies like the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEBOR) protects police officers who commit these crimes and prevents them from facing consequences.
Police brutality affects predominantly people of color, first and foremost black people. Queer and trans people, especially trans women, are also frequently targeted by the police, especially if they are also black. Any conversations about police brutality must center around these members of our community.
Modern American policing grew out of slave patrols and crowd control of urban areas, namely in the context of striking or protesting working class people asking for better working conditions. Any conversations about police brutality must take this history into account.
Solutions: We need community control of police and a citizen oversight process independent of police control that has the power to discipline officer misconduct, up to and including dismissal. We support a Community Police Accountability Council, such as the ones that have been proposed by activists in Chicago and Jacksonville.
Rights: Everyone has the right to free, accessible healthcare.
Barriers: At market rates, health insurance often costs more than monthly rent. Access to affordable health insurance is often tied to an individual’s job, their spouse’s job, or their parent’s job. A loss of full-time, benefited employment also means a loss of health insurance. Any medical services provided in an absence of health insurance often leaves an individual with a huge amount of medical debt.
Solutions: We support publicly funded healthcare for all. We support the establishment of free clinics and community health initiatives.
Women, trans people, and people of color have the right to have their pain believed by medical professionals and their needs taken seriously.
All people who can get pregnant have the right to a safe, legal, and accessible abortion.
Everyone has the right to birth control.
Trans people have the right to hormones and sex reassignment surgery.
Rights: Everyone has the right to a free, quality, and accessible education, from pre-K through the post-graduate level, in a healthy and safe learning environment.
Barriers: The quality of a child’s education is often decided by where their parents or caretakers can afford to live, as public schools are funded by local property taxes. How well a school does on standardized tests, which are both historically and currently classist and racist, determines whether a school receives additional funding. Schools in low-income areas often perform poorly on standardized tests, which further reduces opportunities for students. While wealthy parents can send their children to private schools or charter schools, or can at least afford to live in an area with a “better” public school, poor, working-class parents do not have the same options. At the college level, ever-increasing tuition costs make education inaccessible.
Solutions: We are in favor of reducing education costs at all levels, disincentivizing charter schools, removing standardized test requirements for public school funding and admission to colleges and universities, and providing equal funding to schools via alternate revenue options at the state and federal level, especially via increased income, gains, and asset taxes for the wealthiest people in the country.
Students have the right to learn history that fairly and accurately represents people of color, queer people, and women. Students have the right to learn the history of colonialism, imperialism, and systems of oppression in a way that is accurate and not whitewashed.
Students have the right to comprehensive sex education that is queer and trans inclusive.
Rights: Everyone has the right to live in an environment that promotes wellbeing and is not harmful to people’s physical and mental health.
Barriers: Environmental health affects people in their homes at the individual and family level, people at the community level, and people at the global level.
People in poverty cannot afford to live in a healthy environment. Many low-income people are forced to live in housing with mold, pests, and other health hazards. Predatory landlords and leasing companies take advantage of a lack of legal protections for tenants, or use their position of power to discourage tenants from demanding better conditions.
Environmental hazards like waste treatment plants and polluting factories are more common in low-income areas, where people can neither afford to fight nor move away from these conditions. The term environmental racism refers to how this disproportionately affects people of color. In cases such as in Flint, Michigan, the conditions themselves prevent people from leaving: those who own their homes are trapped in a mortgage and cannot sell them.
The mining and burning of fossil fuels pollutes our air, water, and soil and is causing climate change that is rapidly leading us towards a global environmental catastrophe. While the main perpetrators are a small number of companies that burn the vast majority of fossil fuels, it will be poor people and people of color who will suffer the most as a result of the environmental disasters caused by climate change.
Solutions: Tenants need increased protections in the form of new laws, free legal counsel, and tenants’ unions. We support protests and movements against hazards such as destructive mining and polluting factories in low-income areas. Laws and sanctions designed to curb pollution and the consumption of fossil fuels by large companies are necessary measures against climate change, as any consumption on the individual level is miniscule by comparison. However, we also support “green” initiatives on the local, municipal level, especially if they are implemented with the aim of making energy more affordable and accessible.
VIII. Social Services
Rights: Everyone has the right to a community in which they can move freely and easily accomplish tasks necessary for their wellbeing.
Barriers: The most economically disadvantaged in our community often cannot afford a car, a home computer, or an internet connection. This greatly impacts an individual’s ability to go attend school, either in person or online, apply for jobs, and get to work. Factoring in transportation time on the city bus can add hours to a simple task.
Solutions: We support public services such as free and comprehensive public transportation, parks, and libraries. We support services such as municipal broadband.
IX. Working Class Justice
Rights: The rights to shelter, safety, security, healthcare, and education as outlined in this document should not depend on an individual’s ability to work.
Barriers: An individual’s well-being overwhelmingly depends on their ability to work, or that of the person or people supporting them, or the availability of jobs. For those that depend on wage labor, a long period of unemployment can result in the loss of all assets, from which it is very difficult to recover. A decrease in real wages over the past several decades means that many people with full time jobs cannot afford their living expenses, and some work two or three jobs to make ends meet. This system also traps people in abusive relationships, as an increasing number of people cannot afford to live alone, whether they are working or not, and must share a living space with another person.
Solutions: We support publicly funded housing, food, healthcare, and education. We are in favor of rent ceilings and a minimum wage that is a living wage. We are in favor of job assistance and placement programs for those struggling with unemployment.
Unions: The decline in real wages has coincided with a decline in union membership since the 1980s. One of the causes of this was Reaganomics and continuing oppressive economic policies that break up unions, reduce job opportunities, and lower wages. We support organized labor and worker-owned businesses.
X. Legal Justice
Rights: The legal system should reflect the needs of the people, with a focus on the most disadvantaged in our society. Laws should be just and enforced equitably. The goals of the justice system should not be punitive, but rather should focus on rehabilitation and restorative justice.
Barriers: Class, race, gender, queerness, disability and immigration status unjustly impact how people are treated by law enforcement, charged with crimes, and prosecuted in court. Prison labor is exploited by both the government and the capitalist system, in which prisoners can be forced to work, punished if they refuse, and paid well below the minimum wage. This leads to practices like school-to-prison pipelines and the criminalization of entire communities, usually economically disadvantaged black and brown communities, in order to fulfill prison quotas that benefit the capitalist class.
Race: Black and brown people, especially black people, are routinely brutalized and murdered by police more than white people, and go to jail longer for the same crimes. They are also falsely charged more often than white people.
Class: Poverty is criminalized under the capitalist system. Someone who cannot pay a fine may be sent to jail. Someone who is arrested and cannot post bail may lose their homes and their livelihood while awaiting trial, and are pressured into taking plea deals. Many plead guilty to spend less time in jail, even if they are innocent. As a result, poverty leads to a criminal record that gives people even fewer opportunities when they are released.
Queerness: People who are visibly queer, especially those who are black and brown, are more likely to suffer police harassment and brutality. Trans people are usually misgendered and placed in the wrong institution: trans men are placed in women’s prisons, and trans women are placed in men’s prisons. This denies them their rights and puts them in danger. Sometimes, the “solution” to this is placing the endangered individuals in solitary confinement, which is extremely detrimental to their mental and physical health. Trans people, and in particular trans women, are often unjustly sent to jail for killing someone in self-defense.
Gender: Women who kill their romantic partners in self-defense are also often unjustly sent to jail and handed long sentences. They are on average given longer sentences than men who kill their wives and girlfriends out of anger or jealousy. The way sex work is criminalized leads to the arrest and imprisonment of people, primarily women and girls, trying to escape sex trafficking.
Immigration: Borders are regulated unevenly across the world. In practice, borders with physical barriers such as fences or walls and practical barriers such as checkpoints, border patrols, and prohibitively restrictive immigration processes exist to restrict access to former colonial and present imperial powers. They are designed to protect resources from the people in the countries from which these resources were stolen. Many undocumented immigrants or people who cross the border and seek refugee status are fleeing dangerous situations in countries that have only become dangerous as a result of colonization and exploitation. The United States, for instance, has a long history of interfering in and destabilizing Latin American countries, and also of treating immigrants from these countries as criminals. The way this practice is enforced depends heavily on racism.
Disability and Mental Illness: Disabled people and people with mental illness are overrepresented in interactions with all elements of the criminal justice system from police, courts, prisons and jails. Courts and jails frequently fail to provide adequate accommodations and health care, and disabled people frequently face isolation and abuse in prison.
Solutions: We support comprehensive prison reform and immigration reform. Wherever possible, we believe in rehabilitation over incarceration, such as in cases of drug abuse. The capitalist exploitation of the prison system and prison labor needs to end. We support community oversight of law enforcement (see Section IV: Security) to combat police brutality. We support stronger legal protections for women and queer people, and the decriminalization of sex work. We stand against the human rights abuses of immigrants occurring in detention centers across the country, and affirm the rights of immigrants, regardless of immigration status, to humane treatment. We call for legalization for all undocumented, an end to deportations, and an end to the militarization of the border. No human being is illegal.