Wake Up, Rise Up
To those we have lost to police brutality: Eleanor Bumpurs, Tyisha Miller, LaTanya Haggerty, Tanesha Anderson, Aura Rosser, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin . . .
And those we have lost to the communal violence justified by the policing of our bodies: Sakia
Gunn, Tiffany Edwards, Zoraida Reyes, Mia Henderson, Kandy Hall, Yaz’Min, Shancez, Terrell Anderson, Islan Nettles. Miriam Carey…
To the Falsely Accused, Detained and Abused: Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill and Patreese
Johnson (The Jersey Four), Marichuy, CeCe McDonald and for all the names we do not know.
In the telling of our names, what is most apparent is that our lives are seen as disposable and undervalued.
We are clear as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color that our safety
is contingent on the preservation of all Black and People of Color bodies. We have been righteous in fighting against
anti-Black racism & anti-immigrant oppression, that allows for state controlled white supremacy to exist and justify
the murder of our people. The murders of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and Eric Garner prove that Black lives
are seen as dangerous and expendable. For those of us that are Queer, Trans, Black and People of Color, our bodies,
our gender expression and who we love puts us further away from the "norms" and has falsely perceived us as the most
threatening, less than human, and even more dangerous of all bodies.
In New York City, where our organizations live and organize, we have seen the impact of racist, classist and capitalist
policing on our communities for decades. In the early 1990’s, former Mayor Guiliani promoted the now infamous
“Quality of life” policing practices based on broken windows policing. There are camps on both sides arguing for
and against the effectiveness of such policing practices. As organizations that work with Queer and Trans people of
color communities, we know these policies disproportionately impact our communities through racist/gender
policing. Our communities are the most targeted by discriminatory practices of policing and Stop & Frisk that lead to
Black and Latino men being incarcerated and Black women being the fastest growing prison population. The United
States is a country built on white supremacy, colonialism, slavery and genocide, it has attained wealth, power and
privilege from the massive removal and displacement of our communities through deportation, criminalization, and
The fact that Eric Garner was killed due to suspicion that he was selling “loosies” (single cigarettes) is an atrocity in
itself. Based on broken windows policing theory and practice, Eric became a target due to the irrational fear that
communities of color, that Black people will only continue to break the law, to escalate, and be out of
control. Whether or not he was selling “loosies” is irrelevant when we compare these quality of life crimes to more
heinous crimes that are constantly overlooked or justified. This includes: when banks are allowed to engage in
predatory practices that target communities of color and force groups to remain in poverty; when Detroit can declare
bankruptcy on a city of mostly black communities and then take away basic rights such as water; when corporations are
allowed to abuse other countries and depress US economies; when the US Military continues to back and support
Israel's oppression of Palestinian people and land.
While our work is important and has made critical change, it’s not enough. We need to wake up, we need to rise
up. In the words of Audre Lorde - “We were never meant to survive.” We need to be prepared for this hyper level of
policing; we need to develop safety strategies for ourselves and our communities that uplift’s our survival and existence.
We’ve been resilient in our movement strategies & in our organizing traditions. We’ve been at the center of this work
for decades. It’s the legacy of our ancestors, the legacy of the civil rights movement, the legacy of the uprising of
Stonewall, the legacy of the migrant farmworkers movement and many others. We have been here and we will continue
to be here. In this moment, what are we willing to do to be free? ~Written by Cara Page, Executive Director of The Audre Lorde Project & Krystal Portalatin, Co-Director of FIERCE
The Audre Lorde Project
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Streetwise & Safe
Sylvia Rivera Law Project