Minneapolis city-funded trans speaker says police and prisons should be abolished

A city-funded speaker called for the abolition of "the entire carceral system, including prisons, policing, criminalization and surveillance," and suggested that hospitals need to go as well.

Erica Woodland speaks at the annual Minneapolis
Erica Woodland speaks at the annual Minneapolis "Trans Equity Summit." (YouTube/City of Minneapolis)

The keynote speaker at Minneapolis’s recent “Trans Equity Summit” praised the use of illegal measures to attain a future without any police, prisons or “criminalization.”

Minneapolis has hosted a transgender conference every year since 2014. This year, the event’s keynote speaker was Erica Woodland, a “black queer/genderqueer facilitator, consultant and healing practitioner,” according to Woodland’s website. Woodland is also a female-to-male transgender person, licensed therapist and the founding director of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. Woodland spoke to the city of Minneapolis about “healing justice,” which apparently involves the abolition of both the justice and medical systems.

Woodland began the presentation by praising past activist groups like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, a violent Marxist street gang whose logo consists of a fist clutching a rifle. Woodland noted that the legacy of these groups “shapes our work today.”

“What stands out to me in these examples is that each of them are a direct confrontation of structural violence, colonization, attempted genocide and enslavement,” Woodland said. “Their strategies include engaging in activities deemed quote-unquote ‘illegal’ by the state, and highlight the importance of the risks we must take for our collective liberation and survival.”

“We must not shy away from abolition as the end goal,” Woodland continued. “When I speak of abolition I am referring to the entire carceral system, including prisons, policing, criminalization and surveillance.” Woodland then told attendees that “this carceral system is the foundation of the medical industrial complex, our health care system,” implying that this should be abolished too.

According to Woodland, America’s health care system seeks to “surveil, control and coerce us into accepting conditions of violence under the guise of care.”

Woodland took questions from the virtual audience after the talk concluded. One audience member asked how they can start their own activist group. “There is so much radical work happening in Minneapolis right now,” Woodland responded, urging the listener to simply join an existing “radical” group.

Before Woodland spoke, conference attendees enjoyed performances by a pair of dancing drag queens and a transgender child, who sang Hymn by Kesha.

The event was emceed by Quinn Villagomez, a local LGBTQ media icon and drag queen.