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We Will Not Forget
Attached you will find Decolonize PDX's Jan. 1, 2012 Statement 'We Will Not Forget' in solidarity with the Justice for Oscar Grant call out from the Bay.
DC PDX Jan. 1, 2012 Statement
We Will Not Forget
We take this day to remember Oscar Grant, executed by Oakland police in the early morning of New Year’s Day, face down, hands cuffed behind his back, while dozens of people filmed. We remember this horrific manifestation of state violence. We remember the arrogance of the system to think it could murder with impunity. From Oscar, we learn it is not just a few bad apples – it is an entire system that needs to be overhauled. This is the system working exactly as it was intended; to exploit and oppress those cast as less than human.
We take this day to remember Aaron Campbell, shot in the back a few days after Oscar Grant by Portland police. Called in supposedly to stop Aaron from killing himself, the police saw this young Black man as nothing but a threat. Not as a son, a brother, a human whose brother had died earlier that day, a human who needed support and care. From Aaron, we learn we must create community resources and institutions to address the scars caused by this system, and they must exist outside of the system. Any movement that relies on this system for change is a movement that will ultimately reproduce the oppression they seek to eradicate.
We take this day to remember Keaton Otis, pulled over by Portland police for “looking like a gangster.” We remember he was tazed and then shot while in the driver’s seat of his car. However the police tried to spin it later, Keaton was not pulled over for any mental health issues; he was pulled over because of his race and gender. Whether or not Keaton had a gun, whether or not he fired back at police in self-protection, he was stopped for who he was. He was murdered because of who he was. From Keaton, we learn at the core, this system will attack and murder us for existing as people of color; it doesn’t matter what we do. People of color have been on the frontlines of the 99%, here and globally, for centuries.
We take this day to remember the countless names we don’t know of those who have suffered and continue to suffer from police violence. Too often these are people of color, youth, sex workers, women, queer and trans folks, undocumented folks and immigrants/refugees, poor and houseless people and those who live at these categories’ crossroads. The intersections of these identities mean people live in the place where nightstick meets flesh. From all these brave survivors, we learn we are always at risk, we are always vulnerable – we exist in the crosshairs.
We see all of these murders by police, and the use of police violence as a whole, as a continuation of colonization. We are clear we are already on land that has been occupied for centuries. These tactics of repression, containment and subordination are the same used against indigenous peoples before there was a United States, and they are the same tactics being used against indigenous peoples in this country and around the world today. Police and the military, prisons and borders, neocolonialism and neoliberalism - they are the same tools used by the same system for the same aim.
We take this day to remember as well the incredible organizing communities of resistance have engaged in response to state violence. We honor the uprisings in Oakland that began Jan. 7th in outrage at the execution of Oscar Grant, the protests in Portland after Aaron was killed, the monthly vigil Keaton’s father has been holding every month since his son was murdered 20 months ago. We honor the large scale acts of rebellion, and we honor the every day acts of resistance oppressed peoples employ.
From all of this, we learn the police are the enforcement arm of this system. As long as they wear a badge and carry a gun, they will never be on the side of the oppressed. At the same time white activists at Wall Street debated whether or not to call police part of the 99%, the NYPD shot and killed a houseless Black woman outside of a shelter. We learn oppressed peoples, people of color especially, have never had the luxury of seeing the police as anything but what they are: hired thugs of capital.
We remember, we learn, we honor and we recommit ourselves, in Oscar’s name, in Aaron’s and Keaton’s and all the names we do not know but feel in our hearts. We recommit to tearing down the foundations of an oppressive system built on the bodies of our loved ones; to decolonizing our communities, our minds and ourselves; to breathing out a new world where each of us will be safe in our own skin.