Calling the Cops Is NOT a Safety Move
Like many others after November 8th, 2016, I have been actively seeking out opportunities to protest and vent out my anger towards the systematic oppressions that continue to exist in our country. Donald Trump being our president-elect only proves the disgusting and oppressive ways of thinking about non-united majorities by over 59 million people. This fact makes me upset, angry, and want to join my community in unity against all of this hatred, so when I hear that the University I am attending is holding a protest as a space for us to express our frustration, you bet I’ll be showing up.
The excitement of being surrounded by hundreds of people who feel as upset as I do about the current state of this country is always an exhilarating experience for me, and although confrontation from the “opposing team” sounds like a hassle, it only fuels my purpose; to be resistant against their hate. However, this is definitely not the case when I see cops at a protest.
On November 15, 2016, during the protest at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) we were told by the organizers that they had contacted the police of our protest in order to “keep us safe in the streets”. At that very moment the statement sounded like a joke, and it still is. Although there are too many people who still do not see the systematic oppression in the police force, it is very much existent, and very much unafraid of us when we are not united. Long before #BlackLivesMatter, non-united majorities have been struggling with their mere existence around police, which means that we have never felt protected by cops, and instead we’ve felt personally attacked.
What does that mean for us when we’re told that cops were called for assistance, when all they’ve done is reinforce years and years of systematic oppressions created specifically to keep us oppressed? How can we be expected to feel listened to, or given our own space when we are being infiltrated by one of the oppressors themselves?
“What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable” — Audre Lorde
Less than “allowable”, our presence at a protest where the cops have been cordially invited to feels like a trap door. When Audre Lorde writes about the lack of inclusivity in “feminist” spaces, she explains that there cannot be genuine change when we’re trying to shut down systematic oppressions by oppressing non-united majorities. If the Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) community speaks up on what would make us feel comfortable, or how uncomfortable we are with the presence of our abusers it is important for people to listen and try to accommodate. Unfortunately this was not the case at the protest held at UCR, and instead there were cishet men of color who were joining the cops in policing how we chose to exercise our rights. Non-united majorities do not attend protest to quietly walk around a neighborhood without making an impact, the point of us holding and attending protests are to make our voices be heard and be in a space where we aren’t being regulated by the police.
When white people stand in line to shake hands with the ones who abuse us it does not feel like they are on our side. Most than anything, what breaks my heart is when I see my “qtpoc femmes, ppl w/ disabilities, undocumented” being silenced and policed by, not only your typical misogynistic cishet men of color, but also the police. A protest like this did not feel inclusive. This was #NotMyProtest.