Protest + Police ≠ Peace

It sucks when people with good intentions say something that I find problematic. It is unfortunate when folks fighting for others do something that I think is ignorant. I want to say something not to insult them or discourage them, but to share new thoughts with them so that in the future, they can be even more supportive. With all the hate boiling over in the US right now, I am beyond grateful for everyone who is taking action to combat it. I wish intention and action were enough; I truly do. I think that listening to others, creating space for marginalized voices and educating ourselves on history and systems of oppression are ongoing challenges for us all. I hope my soapbox posts can be a resource for you and I look forward to ways in which y'all will challenge me.

In a Facebook event page for an anti-Trump rally scheduled for February 20, the organizers publicly thanked the Chicago Police Department (CPD), stating that they are "exceptionally grateful" to them and "anticipate a peaceful rally."

Immediately, a handful or two of folks replied with confusion, anger and questions. Just as quickly, these comments were removed.

I was so shocked and as others shared their initial shock, I screenshot to text to a friend later.

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Others chimed in (and their comments remained the whole time) about how they're happy to hear it's going to be peaceful.

The notion that people NEED police presence to feel safe enraged me.

That's a "Make America Great Again" hat in that police car.

Originally, I was stating that police presence actually causes a lot of marginalized folks to feel unsafe. In working with trans and gender non-conforming folks, if I need to call 911 for suicide, it's often something that will make them less safe and put them more in harms way. 

Betti Jones, a black woman, was killed by CPD when her neighbor called the police for help with someone else. Quintonio LeGrier, a black young man with mental illness, was also murdered. They called for help and ended up with two people murdered by those expected to help.

In terms of this protest event page, all comments questioning the police partnership were gone and I was concerned. Almost 20,000 people are going/interested on Facebook.

Community organizers often have different strategies and different frameworks. This is okay by me and I am glad because we need more than one way to fight this hatred and pure maelstrom [previously was "insanity" but was edited due to the stigmatizing nature of the word] happening in the USA. But censoring the strategy discussion and curiosity screamed at me very loudly, "warning!"

What? I immediately responded that

Advocating for folks who experience violence from CPD, or worse, are murdered, is a fight for peace. I’m truly disheartened to see that is something you’re banning.

Censoring discussion about systems of oppression is the antithesis of peaceful.

Delete me if you must. You’re just contradicting exactly what this event is about.

Confusion on both ends continued. Others chimed in some. 

But we all seemed to agree not to let the people in power divide and conquer, because after my comment about that, the conversation started to feel productive.

My feelings were all too familiar. It reminded me deeply of Alicia Crosby's article on Why You Won’t See Me At A Women’s March Today. With all the protests, actions and meetings happening around our 45th president, why go to a place that never considered you in the first place?

This caused a lot of different reactions and arguments. But are people actually listening to the voices of those of us who are directly impacted?

Matt reiterated the issue simply and concisely, yet again.

They said they're just being polite. I challenged politeness. Respectability politics are inherently racist and "politeness" is a facet of white supremacy.

It's generally defined as what happens when minority and/or marginalized groups are told (or teach themselves) that in order to receive better treatment from the group in power, they must behave better. 

They didn't answer that. 

Someone called me tiresome without offering other alternatives to addressing police brutality and systems of oppression.

They turned comments off for this post. 

They went back and edited a lot of their comments. Their comments got lots of likes and mine barely got any. 

I am terrified that folks fighting for us and claiming to be our allies think that police = peace.

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As I am about to click post, 4 Water Protectors are being held by CPD. They PEACEFULLY protested DAPL and were arrested.

Call the Chicago Police Department at 312-745-4290. Demand that all four Water Protectors arrested at Citibank be released with no charges.


Updates: 9:55pm

1) Around 8:30pm, the 4 Water Protectors were released.

2) There is an upcoming training and discussion on Sunday, February 19 about alternatives to calling the police for helping professionals.

3) These two comments from Andy and Nickolas about BLM's inception & CPD endorsing Trump summarize this whole issue in a few sentences.

Update: 6:40am on 9 Feb 2017

Black Lives Matter Chicago shared an opinion via Twitter:

BLM