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Petitioning SOSea Organizers and the Broader Seattle LGBT community

Queers United for Ending Violence: Sign to Support Ending Violence

Dear Social Outreach Seattle and Broader LGBT Community:

We acknowledge that responding to violence in our community is important and working together to create solutions for our collective safety is critical.  It is with compassion and holding space for those harmed that we speak out against the call for an increased police presence on Capitol Hill. 

The Capitol Hill Anti-Crime/Violence March & Rally held on March 22, 2013  suggests that recent violence on Capitol Hill is being perpetrated by neighborhood outsiders and “criminals” who are attacking “members of our community.” This framing of the violence fails to acknowledge the many of forms of violence experienced by LGBTQ people - most critically, the violence perpetrated by the police department and the criminal justice system.

It is dangerous to ask to remove “criminals” from Capitol Hill because many LGBTQ people are seen by police as those very same “criminals.” Let’s be clear:  this event was a call to action - co-signed by the police department - that is now being used by the City as a community mandate” for increased police presence (e.g. the Mayor’s immediate announcement of the “Park Ranger” program for Cal Anderson one day following the March & Rally, which reroutes public funds from Parks and Recreation programming to this expansion of the SPD’s Anti-Crime Team).  The police have demonstrated that they will enforce this community mandate with disparate results towards queer people of color, trans* people, queer youth, sex workers, those without proper papers or identification, homeless queer people, people with disabilities, people with mental health challenges, people under the influence of drugs/alcohol, and the poor. This will result in many queer people facing even more violence, harassment, surveillance, arrest and imprisonment.

The Seattle Police Department has been found in violation of the civil rights of people of color through violence, excessive force, profiling, and retaliation. In its July 27, 2012 decree, the Department of Justice found that Seattle Police Department “has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law.” (http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/seattlepd.php) In addition, the report, signed by the Department of Justice, President Obama and the City of Seattle, emphasized that their findings “raised serious concerns that some SPD policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in discriminatory policing.” It is with this report in mind, as well as the many personal stories and experiences of members of our community, that we know that more police presence will lead to more of these pedestrian encounters, and therefore more discriminatory force and violence directed at our community by the Seattle Police Department.

In many of Seattle’s queer and trans* communities, police are widely known to engage in arbitrary profiling, intimidation, and unchecked violence - including physical and sexual assault - particularly of trans women, queer youth, sex workers, people who are homeless and other marginalized LGBT people. This has resulted in many queer and trans* people fearing simply walking on the streets where police are known to patrol.

Nearly one in six transgender people (16%) (including  21% of transgender women) have been incarcerated  at some point in their lives—far higher than the rate  for the general population. Among Black transgender  people, nearly half (47%) have been incarcerated at some point.  We believe asking for more police presence will only lead many queer and trans* community members - particularly people of color and poor people - to face even more violence, harassment, and arrest.

We demand a change in tactics, imaging, and direction to respond to the recent and ongoing forms of violence experienced by our communities, friends, and loved ones.

We object to the false LGBT “branding” of the rainbow and “safe space” stickers with the Seattle Police Department emblems.  This is indeed extending the reach of the Prison Industrial Complex in our city, in our community, in our neighborhoods.  This is not the liberation the rainbow once meant to us.  

Signed,

Queers United for Ending Violence

_______

Definitions and Resources

THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX as defined by Critical Resistance: The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Through its reach and impact, the PIC helps and maintains the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other privileges. There are many ways this power is collected and maintained through the PIC, including creating mass media images that keep alive stereotypes of people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, and other oppressed communities as criminal, delinquent, or deviant. This power is also maintained by earning huge profits for private companies that deal with prisons and police forces; helping earn political gains for “tough on crime” politicians; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; and eliminating social and political dissent by oppressed communities that make demands for self-determination and reorganization of power in the US.(6).

Department of Justice Investigation of the Seattle Police Department

Injustice at Every Turn: Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (page 163)

NYCLU Stop and Frisk Report

LGBTQ Detainees Chief Targets for Sexual Abuse in Prison by Just Detention International

Stonewalled: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US by Amnesty International

Prison Industrial Complex primer by blanckandpink.org

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