Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Anarchist Black Cross?
The Anarchist Red Cross was started in Tsarist Russia to organize aid for political prisoners captured by the police, and to organize self-defense against political raids by the Cossack Army. During the Russian civil war, they changed the name to the Black Cross in order to avoid confusion with the Red Cross who were organizing relief in the country.
These days, the Anarchist Black Cross has sought to bring attention to the plight of all prisoners, with an emphasis on Anarchist and class war prisoners; and, through contact with and information about prisoners, inspire an Anarchist resistance and support movement on the outside. We fund-raise on behalf of prisoners or defense committees in need of funds for legal cases or otherwise, and organize demonstrations of solidarity with imprisoned Anarchists and other prisoners
What is Hell Gate Anarchist Black Cross?
Hell Gate Anarchist Black Cross (HG-ABC) is a collective committed to prison abolition and political prisoner support in the tradition of the Anarchist Black Cross Network and the General Defense Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World. It is our aim to provide relief and support to members of the working class who are being persecuted for their actions in the class struggle as well as be a part of building a movement toward the abolition of prisons and the creation of a free world.
Why “Hell Gate?”
Hell Gate is a narrow tidal strait in the East River in New York City between Astoria, Queens (a neighborhood in western Queens, NY), and Randall’s Island (which is part of Manhattan). The bridge in our logo is the Hell Gate Bridge.
Is HG-ABC part of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation?
While supportive of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation, HG-ABC is currently an autonomous collective and not affiliated with any larger organization.
Why prisoners and prisons?
We believe, as most Anarchists do, that prisons serve no useful function (except for the benefit of the ruling classes) and should be abolished along with the State. We differ from liberal prison reformists and groups like Amnesty International in two main ways: firstly, we believe in the abolition of both the prison system and the society which creates it, and we initiate all our actions with that in mind; secondly, we believe in direct resistance to achieve a stateless and classless society. Groups like Amnesty International balk at supporting anyone accused of so-called violent acts, thus insinuating that anyone who resists oppression and takes up arms in self-defense, or during a revolutionary insurrection, is not worthy of support. The message is clear: do not resist. Our message is exactly the opposite, and this is what we work to support. We share a commitment to revolutionary Anarchism as opposed to liberalism and individualism or legalism.

Capitalism and its sidekick liberal democracy give us the vote, constitutional rights, consumer buying power, and a trunkful of goodies. Why aren’t we free? Because though some of us have toys, we still don’t have power in this society; that privilege is reserved for capitalists and the state. Why does this tiny class of society have all that power, while the majority has so little? Why don’t we just take power from the rich and “vote the bastards out”? Because the ruling class have developed other ways to control the population, so that our political power is much weaker than we are led to believe. Prisons are the linchpin to this social control; they guarantee our submission to the powers that be by opposing “citizens” to “criminals.”

The way to fight this is for those of us on the outside to align ourselves with those on the inside. Together, we can dispel the popular notion that crime and prison automatically go together. Together, we can expose prisons for their true nature. This can’t be done outside the context of fighting capitalism, patriarchy, and a white supremacist society. As capitalism and imprisonment go together, so must they fall together.

Do you only care about prisons?
Outside of prison work, ABC groups are committed to the wider resistance in which many of these prisoners are engaged. We see a real need for Anarchists to be militantly organized if we are to effectively meet the organized repression of the State and avoid defeat. What is also needed is commitment to revolutionary politics. We see the setting up of Anarchist defense organizations, such as the ABC, as a necessary part of the growth and development of an Anarchist resistance movement, not divorcing ourselves from the revolutionary struggle and then just fighting for prison reform.As Anarchists we believe in the promotion of direct action and collective organization in the workplace, the schools, the community and the streets, as a means of regaining power over our own lives and creating a society based on mutual aid and cooperation.