At this juncture in 2022, our communities are continuing to generate strong demands for structural change, including strategies to defund police and cancel contracts or entire police programs and initiatives, FCCAN has been organizing the School Justice PSD campaign to support these local demands by BIPOC and LGTBQ students in Poudre School District. Years ago holding a sign that read “Abolish Police’’ at a protest garnered blank stares or even hostility. Now abolition is becoming a household term.
Our stories emerge from our own lived experiences as people of color living in the community, and discussions with communities across the country and the globe who are resisting policing in this moment: confronting city governments with calls to divest from policing and invest in life-affirming infrastructure and building countless collective resources of community based care, mutual aid and political education.
Due to tireless movement work over the decades, it is finally becoming common sense that policing, imprisonment and punishment do not keep us safe or secure. Further, activist communities are recognizing that police executions are not isolated events but the tip of the iceberg of the violence caused and used by policing. Death by policing is not about “one bad cop,” but rather a result of the system of policing itself. Our organizing throughout the years has popularized the understanding that policing, imprisonment and racial capitalism work exactly as they are designed to–the system is not broken. Our communities, not the prison industrial complex (PIC), have the solutions we need to resolve harm and end state and interpersonal violence.
This is a reminder that police violence has real impacts in our community everyday. I had a moment of reality check the other day when I was pulled over because my tags were expired. I had known that was an issue, had the right documentation needed and was just waiting for my tags to be mailed. I was pulling out of a coffee shop when I saw the red and blue lights flashing, I pulled to the side to let the vehicle past me unaware it was me who was getting pulled over. I completely pulled over to the side and sat in place waiting for the officer to walk up. I could feel my breathing slowly stop and my mind zeroed in on the lump stuck in my throat. I knew not to reach for anything unless asked to and even then slowly describe your movements. With both hands on the wheel, I was getting ready to greet the officer with “hello, I am good, how about you”. But instead I was greeted with a rough and loud “do you know why I pulled you over today?”. Quietly I said “no officer, I’m sorry”, hands still on the wheel, not remembering my tags were expired. I was met with a loud “your tags are expired so give me your license, insurance and registration”.. At that moment I realized that she may not possess the knowledge needed to interact with me safely. As a person who shuts down when getting yelled at or avoids confrontation because of past trauma, there are a few things I don’t react well to. Loud and aggressive behavior is one of them. I had an event that I needed to get to and after I gave the officer my documents I started typing on my phone to tell my coworker what was happening. When they walked back up she yelled at me to put my phone down. I tried explaining to her that I would like to let someone where I am and that I would be late. Immediately without hesitation she raised her voice and told me to put my phone down so I did. Fear struck me harder
As an organization, FCCAN recognizes that policing often has these traumatic impacts on our community, and that every act of policing is inherently violent- from stops and interrogations to patrols, arrests, surveillance and searches. Even acts of playing nice as “good cop” or cops playing with children and attending community events are strategies to overlook and legitimize the brutal harm policing causes. Instances of severe harm like murder, sexual abuse and beatings are not exceptions to the norm of policing, but the “tip of the iceberg.” Severe instances are brutal, and they are not uncommon, irregular or exceptional. If you would like to share your experience with police violence please email email@example.com to share your story with others and stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon as we continue our education and conversation with, Our Community, Our Solution.