How Can I Help? (Preview)

Mutual Aid as a Response to Harmful Systems

 

Shanti and Stephanie discuss mutual aid’s historical and current purpose: to support communities when other systems fail.

Illustration by Myahn Walker

By Shanti Mathew and Stephanie Yim

Anatomy of an Arrest

In New York City, when an individual is arrested, they are stripped of their belongings and thrown into a black box, disconnected and isolated from their families, friends, and communities. Sometimes they’re allowed to make a call on a dial-pad phone to a number that they must have memorized. They must hope that someone picks up a ringing phone—no matter the time of day—and comes to their aid.

Once arrested, the individual is shuffled between police precincts and then eventually transported to the arresting borough’s central- booking facility. They will wait between 24 and 48 hours in a squalid cell crowded with other arrestees and one metal toilet littered with feces and urine. Without information and sustenance except for a slice of cheese between two slices of bread, they wait for their arraignment hearing, at which time a judge will determine if they remain in jail, can be released on bail, or return home for a later court date…

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From Design Museum Magazine Issue 018