Love & Protect’s #NoCopAcademy Statement
When we learned of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to devote $95 million to building a new Police and Fire Training Academy in West Garfield Park, we were dismayed, outraged, and eager to join with fierce organizers across the city to fight against this dangerous plan.
As members of Love & Protect, we support survivors of violence who identify as women, trans, and gender non-binary persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence.
Issues of police violence and gendered violence are intricately connected. We know that pumping $95 million into police training will not benefit survivors. In fact, doing so will increase the isolation and marginalization that so many survivors of sexual and domestic violence already experience.
Throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, people will encounter sobering stories and statistics about domestic violence that show its prevalence and clear gendered patterns. What is less discussed is how the police exacerbate gendered violence.
Policing provides neither safety nor protection to women of color, trans, and non-binary folks. Sexual misconduct is the second most common form of reported police misconduct. Women of color are at heightened risk of physical violence and even death when police respond to calls for help in dealing with domestic violence in the home. Calling the police often results in further violence.
The direct violence that women of color, trans, and non-binary folks experience at the hands of police officers is coupled with a general lack of recognition of their need for protection. As Survived and Punished has documented, women of color, trans, and non-binary folks, are routinely criminalized for defending themselves from interpersonal and community violence.
This criminalization and lack of protection is especially evident with sex workers. The National LGBTQ Taskforce reports that “12 trans women and gender nonconforming individuals who engaged in sex work were murdered in the U.S. in 2015, 10 of whom were black and one of whom was Latina.” Racial profiling coupled with the criminalization of sex work means that sex workers are more vulnerable to sexual and racialized violence at the hands of the police, as we saw with the Daniel Holtzclaw case.
Police responses to domestic violence are complicated by evidence that a number of police officers themselves are domestic abusers. Domestic violence is two to four times more prevalent amongst police families. The increased danger and surveillance victims face when their partners are police officers — with access to information, weapons, and a network of supportive law enforcement personnel — is staggering. Furthermore, officers accused of domestic violence rarely are held accountable for their behavior.
Certain groups of women experience higher rates and intensified impacts of domestic and state violence. Black cisgender and trans women are at higher risk for both partner based violence and murder and at higher risk of being harmed by those from whom they seek intervention. Black women are killed at a rate twice that of white women, and the second leading cause of death for Black women ages 15 to 25 in domestic violence murders. Yet, reliance on policing and criminalization has not made those who are most vulnerable any safer.
Chicago already spends $4 million each day on policing. Those funds do not protect the countless women, trans, and non-binary folks who live at the intersections of so many systems of violence and oppression. Rather than invest in further criminalization and surveillance, we demand that Rahm Emanuel and the City Council fund resources – like public schools, community mental health clinics, job training, after-school programs, and affordable housing – that will provide actual support to communities and contribute to ending violence.
We invite you to tell Rahm Emanuel to commit to communities, not cops. Will you take action with us? A quick, immediate action is to call your alderperson to demand #NoCopAcademy. For a script and info on how to find your alderperson, check out Assata’s Daughters’ Facebook event. To stay connected and updated with the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.wordpress.com/.