8/17/13 – Flagstaff, AZ — 30 community members marched from Bushmaster park down Rt. 66 to a police substation in the east side of Flagstaff to protest state violence and racism in Flagstaff.
The group rallied before the march with those in attendance sharing their stories of abuse at the hands of Flagstaff police.
The following is an excerpt of a statement read at the rally:
We are gathered together today to say NO MORE to police violence and racial profiling! We cannot ignore the historical context of racism and police violence on the stolen Indigenous lands of Arizona. But we don’t need a history lesson today, we are here so that we don’t keep repeating this history of oppression.
But that’s not what racist laws like SB1070 do. SB1070 worsens the conditions that undocumented migrants – our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors – face. Children in our community live in fear that ICE law enforcement agents will knock down their doors and kidnap their parents.
The cops and politicians fail to learn any of these lessons, so it’s up to us, as a community, to stand together, to work together and end police violence and racial profiling.
Lets talk about border issues. Flagstaff is a border town where it’s a crime to be Indigenous.
Currently the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff for its enforcement of the so-called “anti-begging law”.
According to Mik Jordahl, a local lawyer working on the case, “…in local police records over a recent eleven month period, 133 arrests were made under the ‘loitering to beg’ law. Of those arrests 70% were of Native Americans.”
On the national level, law enforcement agents arrest Indigenous Peoples at twice the rate of the greater U.S. population for violent and property crimes. On average, American Indians receive longer sentences than non-Indians for crimes.
According to the US Commission on Civil Rights, the incarceration rate of Native Americans is 38% higher than the national rate. This is attributed to differential treatment by the criminal “justice” system, lack of access to adequate counsel and racial profiling.
We don’t need to look at statistics when you see the jails filled with brown brothers and sisters.
Yes, its a crime to be Native in Flagstaff, its a crime to be poor in Flagstaff, & its is a crime to be homeless.
Nationwide, arrests of women for domestic violence assault have increased since mandatory arrest laws have been enacted. Many women acted in self-defense, were wrongly arrested and then encouraged by prosecutors as well as their defense attorneys to accept a plea.
According to the group called Correctional Association, “The overwhelming majority of women in prison are survivors of domestic violence. Three-quarters have histories of severe physical abuse by an intimate partner during adulthood, and 82% suffered serious physical or sexual abuse as children. But whereas efforts to recognize and address domestic violence in the community have made some progress, public support too often stops when survivors defend themselves or their children from an abuser’s violence.”
“Transgender survivors of domestic violence are particularly poorly treated by responding police, and are frequently arrested or detained for mental health evaluations. Advocates and survivors alike report that once a transgender woman’s gender identity is discovered by law enforcement officers or disclosed to them by an abuser, she is treated as if she has deceived the police, and often subjected to verbal abuse, arrest, and violence by law enforcement officers. ” – INCITE Women of Color Against Violence
Anyone remember the Kerry 3? Flagstaff’s finest brutalized and arrested 3 members of our community for shouting; “Hooray for the lesser of two evils” while John Kerry campaigned for election.
The struggle in the environmental movement is connected to the struggle in the neighborhood. Right here in our community dozens have been arrested for living their convictions. Protesters standing for religious freedom & protection of the San Francisco Peaks tackled on sidewalks and beaten by police.
The Joel Olsen community memorial procession was also attacked by police.
In 2009, Food Not Bombs, which is currently part of the ACLU lawsuit, along with a previous incarnation of Copwatch were both criminalized and politically attacked here in Flagstaff. City Council woman Coral Evans and the Murdoch Community Center board kicked out starving homeless people in the middle of a winter storm. Today the Murdoch Community Center is police substation.
Who do we stand with in our demand for justice? Who cannot be here today because they are incarcerated or who have had their lives ended at the brutal hands of police?
How can we depend on the police to protect us when the laws they enforce are against our very beings? When they are responsible for committing acts of violence and perpetuating racism in our community. Today, by standing together, by grieving together, by sharing together, by chanting together and supporting each other, we as a community, have power to end police violence and racial profiling! We have the power together to end acts of violence and sexual assault in our community. When we march today, think about the community that you want because right now, we demonstrate that we live in a community where people are not afraid to stand up to state violence and racism!