Safety Begins & Ends with Us: A Collective Response to Violence

Safety Begins & Ends with Us: A Collective Response to Violence

                                                                                                Friday, July 12, 2013

Dear New York City,

As pride month ends we want to remember and mourn the recent waves of hate violence and police violence across New York City, from the West Village to the 79th precinct in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. With history as a guide, we expect hate violence against our communities to increase in response to the recent LGBT victories. The hate violence and police violence that has occurred raises the question: How are we creating mechanisms of response, safety, and accountability, within our communities that do not further criminalize or police our collective bodies? Increased policing does not create safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Transgender, Gender Non Conforming, and Queer (LGBTSTGNCQ) people, especially when Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people, Youth, and People of Color (POC) are among the communities often targeted and harassed by police.

The Audre-Lorde Project, FIERCE, and Streetwise & Safe commend the work of New York City’s LGBT Council members who have centered our community needs when assessing and creating strategies to address violence against LGBTSTGNCQ people. They have understood the political importance of choosing strategies that align with racial and economic justice work of LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color and our allies in New York City who have been, and are still, working for the collective safety of all people.

We call on our city officials to support campaigns and programs that lift up healing and resiliency of LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color and our allies, and that seek to transform hate violence and end abusive policing practices such as Stop and Frisk. Community-led programs like Cop Watch need support from our city officials! We need more public spaces honoring and memorializing LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color history in New York City. Equally important is the need to respond to the grief and trauma experienced by communities impacted by violence targeting LGBTSTGNC People of Color. The “solution” of increased policing as a response to violence dismisses the leadership and legacy of LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color who have been building collective safety and dignity for all. We need more elected officials to meet and engage in dialogue with our communities to find strategic solutions for safety.

We call for justice for survivors of police violence. We also demand changes to the homophobic and transphobic police system including public acknowledgement and accountability for the acts of violence against our community, by the NYPD, which routinely targets our communities under the guise of 'our safety'. We want an end to profiling on the basis of race, sexuality, age, gender identity and expression, housing status, immigration status, and disability, and HIV status. We want a thorough investigation into the recent 79th Precinct assaults on Josh Williams, Ben Collins, and Antonio Maenza. From the Stonewall Riots in 1969 to the 5 million stops under the Bloomberg Administration, our safety has never depended on deploying mass numbers of NYPD officers into communities where LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color live, survive, and thrive!

We are a community of fierce warriors and we need to continue to lift up our spirits and support one another. We, as LGBTSTGNCQ People of Color have and can continue to create methods of safety for ourselves. We’re calling out to the community to create methods that do not further criminalize each other but stand on the foundation of accountability and transformation. Since the Voting Rights Act has been gutted and focus on the Defense Of Marriage Act, has created a false myth that marriage is the end goal of our movement, now is the time more than ever for us to organize! Join the work we have laid out on the ground for years to ensure our collective safety, dignity, and liberation!