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Message from Jason (October 2014)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. I am excited to begin getting surveys from you all. The wisdom you share with us and the information you give will help us strengthen our work. It will also help us tell the truth about what it is like for LGBTQ people in prison. Thank you for your willingness to share with us.

As October begins I am focusing my attention towards the end of the month, October 22nd is National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, and Repression. This is a day that has been organized every year by grassroots movement activists since 1996. The purpose is to act as a reminder that the police cause great harm to many communities across the country. In particular, it is becoming common knowledge that police or other security officers kill a Black person in the US every 28 hours. According to their mission statement, the” National Day of Protest aims to bring forward a powerful, visible, national protest against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. It aims to expose the state’s repressive program. It aims to bring forward those most directly under the gun of Police Brutality AND to also reach into all parts of the society–bringing forward others to stand in the fight against this official brutality. And the National Day of Protest aims to strengthen the peoples’ organized capacity for resistance.” Do you remember your first interaction with the police when you were on the street? Do you remember the police who arrested you before you got locked away from the people you care about? Can you imagine what it would look like if there was real justice rather than trigger happy cops on the street?

The reality of police brutality has gotten more attention lately. Since the police shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO there has been more open conversation about police violence. Yet, as we wrote in last month’s newspaper, Michael Brown is sadly one of many, many names. Did you know that today’s police are the descendants of “Slave Patrols”? The original police in the United States existed for the purpose of making sure that anyone who escaped slavery was caught and returned to the white slave owners. Over time these bands of men were given more power and eventually deputized by the government. It is no surprise, then, that police today continue this legacy of racism. These same groups of men that rounded up people who escaped slavery also targeted white indentured servants who similarly fled their masters. The role of these early police was to keep poor white people and enslaved Black people under the thumb of white land owning men. Really, things have not changed all that much.

I think about this history a lot when I see organizations like G.O.A.L (Gay Officers Action League). Kuwasi Balagoon, a political prisoner who died of AIDS related illness in December 1986 wrote,” When a gay group protests lack of police protection, by making an alliance with police to form a gay taskforce, they ain’t making a stand against the system they are joining it. Putting more power in the hands of those who attack them for being what they are in the first place.” This is why it is so important that Black and Pink continues our work. Not only so that we can support LGBTQ prisoners but so that we can remind LGBTQ communities in the “free world” focused on real liberation. We keep this fight going knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,

Jason

 

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