Peoples' Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability
Statement in Solidarity with (Un)Occupy Together Protestors in Oakland, NYC and Around the World
Peoples' Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability (Peoples' Justice or PJ) stands in solidarity with (Un)Occupy protests in New York City, Oakland, throughout the country and around the world, and with all others who struggle against capitalism, the severe economic inequality it causes, and the unjust systems of oppression (e.g. white-supremacy/racism, patriarchy/sexism, heterosexism/homo- and trans-phobia, xenophobia etc.) that co-arise with it. Furthermore, we stand for the rights of protestors to make their voices heard without fear of repression by police departments that use our tax dollars to protect and defend the wealthy elite (the 1%). These departments do not serve our communities and never have.
In recent weeks, in cities across the US, the police have been deployed to silence and violently suppress protestors and evict encampments. The tear gas, "non-lethal rifles", and concussion grenades used against Oakland protestors last week were perhaps the worst attack so far, but sadly, not the first and probably not the last. Here in New York City, over the past forty-plus days, we have repeatedly witnessed the New York Police Department (NYPD) attacking people exercising their right to assemble. They have used pepper spray, batons, fists and unjust arrests against protestors since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, most recently severly beating several protestors who were marching in solidarity with Oakland. Through these actions the police in Oakland and New York have only demonstrated that they do not serve the people.
Unfortunately, police attacks are all too familiar for the low-income communities of color in which PJ organizations work. In NYC, members of our communities have long been targeted by the NYPD, whether they are protesting injustices or simply walking down the street, studying in class, driving a car, standing in front of their homes, visiting family or sitting in public parks. It is for this reason that we can stand so firmly in solidarity and feel empathy for the protestors who have recently become victims of police violence. The widespread rage inspired by the injustice of these attacks is a rage we have known for a long time.
At recent OWS protests, PJ representatives have noticed a lack of unity among demonstrators around the question of whether or not the police are part of the 99%. As a grassroots coalition, working to address systemic police violence since 2007, Peoples' Justice offers these reflections for consideration:
We understand the primary role of the police to be protecting the very structures of inequity from which the 1% benefits, that oppress our communities daily, and that the (Un)Occupy protests denounce. Looking specifically at New York; as one of the first formal police departments of the United States (founded 1845), the NYPD's original responsibilities included protecting the property and interests of a white elite class in the context of an emerging "free" working and poor class of color in the wake of the Civil War. From attacking immigrant protesters in Tompkins Square in 1874, to raiding LGBT bars, such as the Stonewall Inn in 1969, to the torture of Abnr Louima in 1997, and the murder of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and countless other New Yorkers throughout the 2000s, the NYPD has and continues to support the marginalization of certain communities and the advancement of others. Today, the NYPD enforces the gentrification of low-income neighborhoods, practices and supports racism and the criminalization of people of color (particularly youth), sweeps up and illegally charges the homeless, feeds the Prison Industrial Complex, targets immigrants, LGBT communities and voices of dissent, and plays an important role in promoting a culture of fear. Such policing is reinforced by a criminal (in)justice system that sees no benefit to holding individual officers or the Department accountable for their actions, a broken Civilian Complaint Review Board, and "enforcement goals" (read quotas) that push individual officers to keep the NYPD playing its role in the system.
The question is not one of good or bad cops, or police officers as individuals. It is a question of what the police force as an institution plays within our social, political and economic structure. It's true that many cops come from working class backgrounds. Their families may be facing the same struggles of other workers (living check to check, the fear of foreclosure, debt etc.) Like most of the rest of us, these officers would stand to benefit from just and equitable systemic transformation. However, police forces are repressive state institutions that function to maintain an unjust system. This is their role. It always has been. By becoming police officers, whether they intend to or not, individuals become a part of the apparatus. The state (and the 1%) arms police departments and charges and pushes them to protest the interests and property of the elite and keep everyone else in their place. For this reason, it is not possible for the police to be part of the 99%.
Peoples' Justice invites interested folks to come to one of our open trainings (see below for details on the next one). We also invite people and communities outraged at the ongoing police violence in NYC to join us at actions and stand in solidarity with the people of color, immigrant and LGBTQ communities that have risen up in resistance to this brutality on an ongoing basis.
Peoples' Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability is a citywide grassroots coalition organizing to end police violence. Our member organizations include: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Justice Committee, Make the Road New York, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Nodutdol for Korean Community Development. For more information visitwww.peoplesjustice.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peoples' Justice Know Your Rights Training Series
Wed. 11/9, 6:30-9pm: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Practical information on your rights when dealing with the NYPD and how to exercise them safely. This training is open to anyone.
Wed. 11/16, 6:30-9pm: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS TRAINING 4 TRAINERS
How to facilitate PJ Know Your Rights Trainings for your community. This training is open to those who have attended the 11/9 training or any other PJ Know Your Rights Training.
Location for both trainings: 105 East 22nd St., NYC rm 4A. (6 or N/R to 23rd St.)
**To rsvp for either email email@example.com and specify which training(s) you wish to attend.**
These trainings are geared to those combating police violence in their neighborhoods (esp. poc, youth, immigrants and LGBTQ folks.) Law enforcement officers are not welcomed.
 Un)occupy Albuquerque Connects Corporate Greed to Fight for Native Land: http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/10/unoccupy_albuquerque_in_respect_to_indigenous_new_mexicans.html
 Here is another version of the answer that question: http://pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/are-police-part-99-percent-ows.html
 Recent press release by the New York Civil Liberties Union on NYPD "enforcement goals": http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-new-nypd-'enforcement-goals'-seem-quotas
 Other relevant articles: http://www.prospect.org/article/occupy-wall-streets-race-problem, http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/10/a_brief_history_of_georgias_1--or_why_you_cant_occupy_atlanta_without_facing_race.html, http://infrontandcenter.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/occupations-wall-street-and-strategies/, http://www.ggjalliance.org/octoberoffensive