‘Your silence will not protect you’: #RiseUpOctober and Solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and POC Women and Femmes

Statement: ‘Your silence will not protect you’: #RiseUpOctober and Solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and POC Women and Femmes

October 23, 2015

Statement: ‘Your silence will not protect you’: #RiseUpOctober and Solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and POC Women and Femmes

 

On October 2, 2011, Yvonne McNeil was shot to death by NYPD in front of New Providence Women’s Shelter in Manhattan. Yvonne’s story is resurfacing because her sister and daughter are still seeking truth and justice. Four years after their mother and sister’s murder they have yet to receive a death certificate or official cause of death and still do not know how many times Yvonne was shot.  Laura Yvette McNeil describes her mother as a “57-year-old, Black, lesbian, homeless woman…she loved Garfield, she liked to smile, she loved music.” We as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color of The Safe Outside the System (SOS) Collective an organizing program of the Audre Lorde Project stand in solidarity with the McNeil family who are currently seeking truth and justice for their beloved. We also stand with all LGBTSTGNC People of Color that are currently homeless, experiencing poverty, and engaging in survival economies while living in a culture of constant surveillance, policing, mass incarceration, and murder for being who we are and living in our truths.

 

INFO ABOUT MARCH

Please join us on Saturday, October 24, from 11am to 3pm in the LGBTSTGNC POC contingent of the #RiseUpOctober action in Washington Square Park as we honor the life of Yvonne McNeil and all those that we have lost to state violence. For more information, please check out the facebook page or contact Tasha Amezcua at tamezcuaatalp [dot] org.

 

HISTORY

In October of 2011, Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), a community organization in Manhattan that organized and advocated around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) poverty, homelessness, and economic survival, released a statement condemning the killing of their member Yvonne McNeil. This statement highlighted the reality that poor and working class trans and queer folks experience violence when calling or interacting with the police, and advocating for police reform as a priority for the survival of LGBTQ poor and homeless communities. In December of 2013 QEJ had to close their doors due to lack of funds.

 

The closing of QEJ and McNeil’s murder are two different events that represent the same cruel reality: our Trans and Queer communities of color are facing erasure and the brunt of state violence every day.

 

We see the murder of Yvonne McNeil as directly related to the more than 20 Trans women of color that have been murdered in 2015, more than three-fourths of whom are Black, and inextricably linked to the police murders of over 900 people nationally in 2015, aproximately 227 of whom are Black. We see this tragedy as directly related to the murder of Melvin from Detroit, a Black gender non-conforming person, and other gender non-conforming and non-binary femme-presenting people of color that experience police violence and murder in their lives and are misgendered during and after their deaths. We see her violent death as a result of the enforcement of “Quality of Life” laws that make living nearly impossible for Trans and queer youth of color and homeless folks, many of whom are engaging in survival economies. We see Yvonne’s murder as directly related to Indigenous girls disproportionately entering the juvenile justice system due to criminalization of their survival or running away from home and abuse. We see Yvonne’s murder as directly related to Black women being the fastest growing prison population. These stories of homelessness, poverty, profiling, criminalization, incarceration, and murder are a continuation of this country’s histories of slavery, genocide, population control, gender policing, and settler colonialism, and our deliberate mobilization against these brutalities are actions that seek a complete transformation of the violence that founded and sustain this state.

 

With these numbers, and with women and feminine people of color living under constant fear of harassment, violence, rape, and murder from people on the street and state officials, it is clear that Black and Indigenous women, and women and femmes of color are in a state of emergency. The Safe Outside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project calls on our communities and allies to mobilize and fight back!

 

We know that in order to rise up against police brutality, we must be in solidarity with all economic, racial, and gender justice movements. Black and Indigenous women and femmes, and women and feminine people of color will not be safe until all of these oppressions are transformed, until we divest from violent systems and reinvest in our communities.

 

In the midst of all this violence, we return to Audre Lorde’s true and powerful words: “Your silence will not protect you.” Echoing this truth, we as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color refuse to stay silent while our communities are under attack.

  • Through fear, anger, hopelessness, and rage we speak the names of Yvonne McNeil, Papi Edwards, Kindra Chapman, Penny Proud, Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, Mya Hall, Sandra Bland, India Clarke, Jessie Hernandez, Melvin from Detroit, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Zella Ziona, and all other women and femmes of color, namely Black and Indigenous women and femmes, that have been hurt and killed by police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex, and the deportation machine.
  • We demand justice for each of these individuals that have been named, those that have not, and those that are systemically silenced and cannot be heard.
  • We insist on accountability from the NYPD and other government officials for the survivors of state violence and for the families of those we have lost to the state.
  • We support divestment from prisons, police forces, military forces, ICE, border patrol, and any government occupying and terrorizing Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, including Israel and the wars occurring in the Middle East. We demand investment in local communities because we believe that communities know what they need to grow and thrive, and because community members can keep themselves and each other safe without the police or the state.

 

 

Please join us on Saturday, October 24, from 11am to 3pm in the LGBTSTGNC POC contingent of the #RiseUpOctober action in Washington Square Park as we honor the life of Yvonne McNeil and all those that we have lost to state violence. For more information, please check out the facebook page or contact Tasha Amezcua at tamezcuaatalp [dot] org.

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1511425469178728/

 

The Safe Outside the System Collective

The Audre Lorde Project