Love & Protect’s #NoCopAcademy Statement

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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/.

 

Tondalo Hall: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Tondalo Hall: A Statement from Love & Protect
28 September 2015

Love & Protect condemns the denial of Tondalo Hall’s petition for clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. We call on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to pardon and release Tondalo Hall, and to issue a statement denouncing the parole board’s unmerciful decision. With the opening of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month today, we call on the Oklahoma justice system to reform its understanding of domestic violence, and we call on the Oklahoma legislature to reform the “failure to protect” laws that too frequently punish and incarcerate victims.

In 2004, Tondalo Hall took her baby son to the hospital for care, where doctors found he had internal injuries, as did her toddler daughter. Hall said that she and her children had suffered violent verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Robert Braxton, Jr, which he admitted. Braxton was sentenced to only two years, and has been free since 2006. Hall, in contrast, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “failure to protect” her children from Braxton’s violence. Last Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the Oklahoma Prison Parole Board denied her petition for clemency by a vote of 5-0, giving no explanation and leaving Hall to remain in prison until she can seek parole in 2030.

Tondalo Hall was criminalized for her partner’s violence against her and her children. She has spent years behind bars while suffering the continued trauma of separation from her children and family, while the abuser himself walks free. Hall committed no violence against her children, and sought medical help to save them. At her hearing this week, the parole board shamed her for her inability to protect her children from her abuser, overlooking the shame and fear that haunted Hall as a victim of violence. We contend that the continued separation of Hall from her children is violence by the state against her and her children.

The day after Hall’s petition was denied, the state of Wisconsin opted not to pursue charges against Cierra Finkley for fighting back against her ex-boyfriend in defense of herself and her child, which resulted in his death. This announcement came in part due to public pressure led by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, and the increasing national attention to the many cases of Black women caught between the violence of their abusers and the violence of the state. We encourage the state of Oklahoma to take Wisconsin’s decision as an example of justice for their future conduct.

We stand in solidarity with Tondalo Hall and her family. We ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board: when will compassion, mercy, and respect for the selfhood of Black women guide your actions? Whose lives are made better by Hall’s continued incarceration?  

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect

Cierra Finkley: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Cierra Finkley: A Statement from Love & Protect (formerly the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander)
22 August 2015

Defending oneself from abuse and violence should never be criminalized. Love & Protect condemns the arrest of Cierra Finkley and calls for all charges against her to be dropped.

On August 18, 2015, in Madison Wisconsin, 24-year-old Cierra and her 5-year-old daughter were almost killed by her abusive boyfriend, Terrence Woods. Although he had been court ordered to stay away from Cierra, he showed up at her home, and after trying to run her and their daughter over with his car, he kicked in the door to her home and lunged at her. Fearing for her and her daughter’s life, Cierra stabbed him in self-defense.

Like Marissa Alexander, Cherelle Baldwin, Paris Knox, Tewkunzi Green and too many other Black women, Cierra is being criminalized for defending herself against life-threatening violence. Cierra was arrested, and finally released on bond with GPS monitoring on August 21.

Next Thursday, August 27, in a court hearing, the District Attorney will introduce charges against her. Instead of receiving support to heal from not only the trauma of having to defend herself, but also from past abuse, Cierra is being further victimized by the criminal punishment system. We ask the state: What option did Cierra truly have? Had she been unable to protect her daughter, she may have met the same fate as Tondalo Hall or Arlena Lindley; being imprisoned for failure to protect their children from abusive boyfriends.

Love & Protect calls for all charges against Cierra Finkley to be dropped. Through love, we resist this act of state violence. The state yet again refuses to properly identify victims and abusers in situations of domestic violence, and fails to protect the lives of the victims.

We stand in solidarity with Cierra, her family, and the Young Gifted and Black organization. We urge everyone to sign this petition, telling District Attorney Ismael Ozanne not to bring charges against Cierra Finkley.

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect