Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Know Justice. Know Peace. No Racist Police.

The latest police brutality incident that happened in Springfield involving Officer Asher is one of my greatest mama-fears manifested. Officer Asher has been involved in multiple (4 reported) police brutality incidents while on duty for the Springfield police department. His role in these incidents represents a legacy of abuse by police officers towards civilians and is not isolated but a repetitive historic pattern that perpetuates centuries of violence against all people and in greatest proportions against poor people, people of color, women, queer and transfolks. This means that the very populations whose access to resources are systematically limited are placed in disenfranchised and powerless positions. Further more, they are left to deal with institutionally protected violence perpetuated by the police and other agents of power, and then blamed for the violence that occurs in their own communities.

Just as we see the impact of patriarchy and misogyny as harmful to both males and females, and as we see racism's impact on both people of color and white folks, we must recognize the historical impact of police brutality on both systemic and individual levels.

In Springfield (and in our nation at large), the legacy and impact of systemically perpetuated violence is well known. In Springfield, the lack of response by the Springfield police department to Asher’s (and other officers) continued acts of violence, has sent the message that police brutality is permissible, accepted and (frequently) rewarded. See this Masslive article for more information.

With this in mind, it is time for the Springfield city council, police department, DA’s office and larger government to join us in demanding an immediate end to police brutality. This latest attack is one much larger than Officer Asher, it is an issue of a police force that must begin to re-assess it’s own values as demonstrated through its actions. If steps are not taken to shift the entire policing culture of Springfield they will surely continue down the generational path of perpetuated violence on which they have been walking. Excusing the blatant dangerous and life-threatening actions of Officer Asher by accusing the victim of this incident of his own wrongdoing is simply an excuse to remove accountability from the police force. Firing Asher is a necessary FIRST (immediate) step. However, it is time for the force re-examine its ongoing pattern of violence and implement re-training of officers and stricter, tougher rules that speak to a “no-tolerance” anti-police brutality rule.

As the mother I have many fears about what my children will have to confront in this society. We deserve safe streets and healthy communities for our children. As organizers, community members, mamaz, healthcare providers, we work to create healthier communities. We cannot condone violence in our communities. It is in direct opposition to our stated values of creating healthier and safer communities. What good does community mobilization around ANY topic do when we are constant targets of power-hungry, violent police forces? We must demand that police brutality be STOPPED immediately. This pattern must cease in order for us to take any steps forward. This is not the first incident of its kind and, unfortunately, it won't be the last. What forms of accountability will we set in place to ensure that we no longer live under this blatantly brutal stronghold that the Springfield police department and other police departments throught the nation maintain?

As an ally from a neighboring community I believe that the Springfield organizers who have been organizing around issues of incarceration, police brutality and other important equity-based topics will have a lot of direction to offer in addressing how to proceed.

Food for Thought Books Collective will be supporting these organizing efforts. Please join us for a STAND OUT AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY this Saturday January 16, 2010. 11am-12pm @ the Mason Square Common in Springfield MA.

It is imperative that we continue to build solidarity between our communities and recognize that our well-being is intrinsically connected to the well-being of others. We much reach out to our neighboring "urban" communities not only when we need or want something from them but also when they need support from us. ESPECIALLY in response to a call to create healthier and safer communities for all.

Hope to see you in the near future.

- tk


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