Originally posted at Prison Abolitionist, this piece talks about the role of law enforcement in dividing communities, and Occupy Wall Street activists’ need to look objectively at the police. It’s part of a weekend series on cops and the Occupy movement, after this week’s police riot in Oakland, Calif.
“I strongly feel as if Occupy PHX gets our way on occupying space (which it sounds like we have) or dismissing charges from Saturday (which I doubt will happen), then we should collectively demand that the exception to trespassing and anti-camping laws be extended to the thousands of homeless peoplein Phoenix who aren’t just fighting for their freedom of expression, but for their very lives out here and being arrested for it. Elizabeth Venable, in the cc here, can provide you with the report they prepared for the city council on their experiences of being criminalized and harassed. When I read it, I wept. Seriously. Maybe she and the homeless campers who have been organizing around this issue will be willing to do a workshop at the Plaza sometime about it all.
Along those lines, Occupy Phoenix – if it’s truly inclusive of all liberation movements – needs to work harder to do outreach to those communities most subject to state violence and police brutality, so you can include our voices in the General Assemblies before working so hard to get the cops to join. We don’t feel safe with the police like newly disaffected middle class white folks do – which is what this movement is beginning to look and sound like, not like the whole 99%. If you truly want to embrace the rest of the 99%, reach out to the victims of state violence (like my roommate) not the perpetrators first.
If you just want to represent the middle class’s interests, though, then go love the police. They may be part of the 99%, too, but do not be mistaken that they are the part that makes it possible for the other 1% to screw us all – and they aren’t about to all walk off the job: most believe they’re doing the “right” thing, even “helping” homeless addicts and mentally ill people by taking them to jail, where they’ll theoretically be “safe”, have a place to sleep, and get food (if you went to jail last weekend, you know that it’s neither comfortable or safe there)…Cops are already undercover among us I assure you, and if more cops were on board and pushing their agendas – or have us enthusiatically embracing them, the most oppressed – like thehomeless campers so many PHX cops harass – will pull out or stay away.
Also, the decision by the GA to not just ignore the action around the corner at the 4th Ave Jail on Saturday at 10am (International Day Against Police Brutality) but to then schedule and publicize a competing event is really an insult to people who have been organizing with oppressed communities for a long time. That was profoundly disappointing, though it’s symptomatic of the lack of a real critical analysis of how corporate and government power really work. I myself, will be putting my energy into the action at the jail that morning, not at the Plaza…so would Cesar Chavez, if he were here. At the very least you should askPhoenix Copwatch (here’s their facebook, too) to put on a workshop or something at the Plaza that day and acknowledge police brutality, racial profiling, neglect and abuse of prisoners, etc. as issues affecting real people as part of the formal line-up of activities.”