A Case for Police Abolition

written by aga


CW: discussion of racist police brutality and murder

Police as part of kyriarchal oppression

The justice system in democratic capitalist countries – and with it the police and the prison industrial complex – are inherently white supremacist institutions enabling kyriarchy. Abolishing the police would mean chipping away a very potent piece of this imperialist and racist system that makes deviant bodies (non-white but also non-male, non-heterosexual, non-property-owning, non-human etc.) imperceptible and non-existent.

Kyriarchy makes sure to symbolically erase black production of meaning – in media and everyday conversations, in school curriculums, through marketing and consumer products, etc. The extent of this becomes obvious every time racist murders occur, globally or locally: The only way white allies seem to know how to express their outrage in these cases is by sharing footage of the acts, including the brutalised and dead bodies of black people. In doing so however, we only help kyriarchy perpetuate the image of the removed or dead black body. Further, by sharing these images, as white people, we traumatise communities of colour and so inflict additional pain (head over to Aphro-ism to delve deeper into this subject).

The police and prison system, as part of the white supremacist structure that is kyriarchy, is then responsible for upholding the prohibition of black expression and production of knowledge and meaning in this world through practically and literally removing and murdering black bodies merely for their existence in a white-dominated world, such as most recently Alton Sterling and the countless others who were killed by US police (click here for a video visualisation of names of the victims and the things they were doing when shot, indicating that white production of meaning constructs the black body as inherently suspicious and dangerous as well as worthless).

Abolish the police because Black Lives Matter

Amongst most white activists the fear of and hatred towards police begins with showing up to a demo or an action and ends by leaving it and returning to the safety of our homes. Yes, the cops terrorise some of us in our homes and they try to ruin our lives by criminalising us, but generally speaking they don’t brutalise us nor do they kill us and get away with it.

And yes, most of the police in the UK do not carry fire arms which statistically lowers the rate of murder victims killed by UK cops but this does not mean that the police here don’t discriminate against and brutalise black people (the MacPherson enquiry comes to mind, deeming the Metropolitan Police as ‘institutionally racist’).

So the fact remains that the police is an inherently racist institution established to protect the white rich status quo. To practice anti-racism then, as a logical consequence, we have to start rejecting and abolishing the police.

So instead of derailing the conversation from ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘All Lives Matter’ or comparing your white activist arrest to what is happening to the Baton Rouge protestors for example, white activists, including me, should shut up and listen. Inform yourself, get involved and remember that it is your job to dismantle white supremacy.

Police abolition – but how?

If you are new to the topic of prison/police abolition, a good start would be to read ‘Are Prisons Obsolete’ by Angela Davis, where she sketches a history of the prison industrial complex that shows exactly how prisons have been established as a means to remove black bodies from the city and uphold the white status quo. Davis takes her knowledge about the history and applies it to today’s white supremacist politics. By doing so she automatically invites the reader to question and reject the perceived connection between prisons and  protection, safety and justice.

As a next step head over to Imagine Alternatives where you can access one of the most thought provoking essays including a set of exercises that will help you navigate life with as little reliance on police as possible.

Googling ‘police abolition’, ‘restorative justice’, ‘community accountability’ will give you an additional flood of ideas on how to stop relying on police and how to start actively dismantling this dangerous, racist and classist arm of kyriarchy.

 

7 Ways to Combat the Hostile Post-Brexit Atmosphere in Your Community

~ by aga


Only two days after Brexit I was greeted by a flood of outraged friends in my facebook feed, sharing horrible examples of xenophobia, racism and islamophobia happening in their communities. Of course these events aren’t new but it really seems like Brexit gave racists the validation they needed to become more active in their hateful ways.

Outrage is good but solidarity is better

The overwhelming amount of personal stories being shared on social networks in which people describe the hateful things happening to them and their friends since the British people decided to leave Europe is only contributing to my worries and fears. What will happen when I return to the UK after the summer, should I even bother coming back or would I be better off leaving my friends and my life behind and starting over elsewhere?

Of course  I am happy that the people on my facebook feed despise the hate and bigotry popping up across the country, yet their posts make me feel shit inside because they give a platform to – and thereby amplify – what a minority of British people have to say. Despite the Brexit result, I still believe that most people in Britain are not all horrible racists. I know that all my friends miss me and would love for me to come back. Yet seeing all these examples of hate makes me as an immigrant, feel unwelcome and sad.

So I started wondering what people, not just in the UK, can do to make refugees, immigrants, muslims and people of colour feel welcome and safe(r).

Here are five suggestions that anybody can go for right now.

1. Spread messages of solidarity

Write a message to a person who could be affected by anti-immigrant hate speech, ask them how they feel and let them know that despite what they are hearing in the media and on the streets, they are indeed welcome, valued and important.

Get some chalk and leave messages on the side walk and the street:

‘Refugees Welcome’, ‘I love my Eastern European friends’, ‘People of Colour are loved’, ‘Racists fuck off’, ‘My muslim friends rock’ etc.

Or write your messages on paper and stick them to trees, bus stops, lamp posts, leave them on public transport, around your school or university, etc. Here is an example of some signs our very own Casey made:

casey picture solidarity

 

You can also head over to the Active Distribution Shop and get some solidarity stickers to leave anywhere and everywhere you go.

2. Show your solidarity with tokens

Get some cookies, sweets, sandwiches or any other vegan snacks and put them on a stool or little table on the side walk near your house. Next to it, on a piece of cardboard, let people know who this is for and why:

‘For my Polish (or Rumanian, muslim, Asian, etc.) neighbours. We say no to Brexit (or racism, xenophobia, etc). Solidarity and Love to all of you. Enjoy’.

You can do this with anything, a thermos with tea/coffee and a few mugs, a bunch of books you won’t read ever again, board games, plush toys, or roses, such as a vendor in Bristol did (image shared by Best of Bristol):

bristol flowers for immigrants

A bucket of roses with a note that reads: If you are an immigrant to the UK please take a rose! And remember 62% of Bristolians voted to stay in the EU!

3. Organise a demo

This act of solidarity with the victims of a hate crime against a Polish community center in London is an amazing example of people coming together in protest agains xenophobic attacks bringing gifts and messages of solidarity. It probably didn’t need much organising and came about rather spontaneously as a direct response to hateful graffiti sprayed onto the community center’s walls.

Organising a protest or demo for the first time might sound like a huge endeavour and might be quite intimidating. It also is a very empowering experience that actually doesn’t need much prep work and can often work very well if it’s even just a spontaneous stunt. In England you don’t even need to register a static demonstration with the council or the police. If you are planning a moving march or parade you will have to get a permit first.

There is nothing stopping you from grabbing a few friends and/or creating a facebook event page for a static demo in a well visited public place. You can meet beforehand and paint some banners (recycle old cardboard, sheets or the back of advertising banners from shops) with messages of solidarity on them. You can stand there with your banners and chant (with or without a megaphone). Some of you could give out tokens of solidarity, such as flowers or fruit from vendors who would throw these items away at the end of the day. You can ‘leaflet’ by giving little notes of solidarity to member of the public. One of you could bring a guitar/a drum/ a tambourine for some noise. You can sing songs and celebrate your international friends. Anything goes and it will bring a smile to people passing by.

4. Use social media to spread the love

Use your social media accounts to share pictures of acts of kindness like the above. Write a status update reminding your friends that they are welcome in Britain and that they are important to you. Take a profile picture with yourself holding a sign with a solidarity message on it. These little things might seem like a cheap excuse for activism but they actually go a long way. I had my facebook account deactivated for a couple of months until the day of Brexit. I received so many emails from my concerned friends in the UK that day and yet I felt a bit alone, sitting in my room in far away in Sweden, staring at my inbox. I felt the need to log into facebook to be closer to my friends and to experience this shock together. This was vital for my well being as it reminded me that not everyone in the UK felt hateful towards immigrants. So, if reflecting your solidarity online is something you can do, go for it!

5. Volunteer for refugees

If you live near Calais, consider travelling there for a day or two over the weekend. Friendly faces and a lot of help are always needed down there. You can find many local action groups on facebook by searching facebook for these (or similar) key words: ‘calais refugee cambridge’ for example. There is also a map on google showing where refugee aid is needed the most (but it’s only updated during winter).

No matter how you decide to help, always listen to the refugees and be there to empower them not to patronise or decide for them. Show your support and don’t act without consent.

6. Wear a safety pin

You’ve probably seen this campaign on social media: To show your solidarity and to make yourself approachable by people who are suffering from the horrendous hate crimes you can simply wear a safety pin on your top. You can get a pack of 50 very cheap in Boots or Superdrug or any stationary shop. This way you will have enough pins to give out to your friends or to pin to every item of clothing you have.

Additionally, pin a little rainbow flag to your DIY brooch (you can even just draw one on a piece of paper and pin it to your clothes). This way MOGAI/ LGBTQAI+ refugees, muslims, European immgrants and people of colour who suffer from multiple hateful attacks will know they can turn to you.

7. Don’t be a bystander

If you bear witness to a hate crime, be it the smallest act of hate, do something. Make sure you are safe, but don’t be afraid to be the first one to speak out. It is very easy to succumb to the so called bystander effect. So when we find ourselves in a large group of people and someone needs our help, it is very easy for us to not feel responsible for providing help. This is because psychologically we tend to justify to ourselves that in the mass of people, there must at least one person who is faster or more qualified to help than we are. On the other hand, if we then see somebody providing help, it is easier for us to join in and take action ourselves. So chances are high if you’re in a mass of people, everybody will wait for someone else to take action and at the same time if they see you take action they might find it easier to join in.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to speak out against a xenophobic slur for example, a simple: ‘Shut your mouth!’ or ‘You’re not speaking for anybody else here’ could do the job. You don’t necessarily need to turn to the attacker. To disrupt the violence, you could simply engage the victim in a conversation. Take their attention away from the bigot. Smile at them. Ask them to talk to you. Ask them where they are headed, talk about the weather or what they had for lunch yesterday.

________________________________________________

Send us pics and videos of the examples of solidarity you have seen (we have a brand new instagram and twitter account). We want to spread the love to balance the few but dominant messages of hate out.

Double Issue Zine Made Accessible

We have uploaded the pages from our double issue Zine onto the blog. Feel free to have a look at what interests you, share your favourite pieces or read the whole thing all together.

You can also view both complete zines by clicking here Double Issue (Still under our old name Anti-Speciesist Women): 1 Feminism + Speciesism: Making the Connection / 2 Human Impacts.

Click on the content below the image to reach the parts of the zine you want to look at.

double issue cover

Double Issue Cover

Support the Blackmail 3

Feminism and Speciesism: Making the Connection Zine 1

Definitions

Untitled – lex

The Exploited Women – kaya

Respect’, ‘Womxn are not Your Objects’ and ‘The World that Changed the Quotes’- casey

Quotes

5 Womxn Who (Don’t) Give a Shit – aga

Lessons from a Society that Is… – elecia

Pro-Choice – amy

The interconnectedness of all – andy

Human Impacts: Zine 2

The ‘Human’: More than White Able Masculinity? – aga

Human Impacts Film – noreen

Cut the Crap – amy

Liberate your Language – elecia

‘War in Vietnam’ and ‘One Rat’s Tale’ – lex

Thoughts on Human Impacts – caitlin

‘Porkies’ – sammi

Almeria, Spain – esther

Human Milk for Human Babies – kaya

Poison – casey

Mother Earth – Net Worth? – andy

Acknowledgements

 

DIY: Copy, Assemble, Spread our Double Issue Zine

You can Find both issues of our zine (still under the name anti-speciesist women – not collective) here:

anti speciesist women zine 1 and 2 double issue feminism and speciesim making the connection and human impacts (anti speciesist collective)

Send it to people, print it out and assemble it, share it as a present or just leave it somewhere in public, on a bus, on a bench or in someone’s post box. Have fun with it!

This is how it looks once it is printed and stapled together:

zine printed

 

 

5 Womxn Who (don’t) Give a Shit

This is a spread from our first zine putting 5 womxn into the spotlight who are doing extraordinary animal work (a content warning that is not given in the spread, the ‘Friends on four legs’ story on the last page includes mention of violence towards women’):

5 womxn 15 womxn 2

 

Page 1:

A hand in front of an ALF Banner (Animal Liberation Front) showing the world the middle finger.

Page 2:

Title: 5 Womxn who (don’t) give a shit.

Text: 5 womxn who, just by being, tell kyriarchy’s animal oppressors to fuck off.

In solidarity with all animals and the ALF.

in small letters curated by aga.

Left bottom side: A picture of Maddie, the dog.

On the right side next to Maddie’s picture, text reads:

‘Defeating Stereotypes with Every Lick.

Maddie is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Boxer mix, the kind of dog who is either seen as a status symbol or someone to be scared of. That’s why shelters are full of her brothers and sisters. Agata, the human whole lives with her, says that many people are interested in Maddie asa fashionable dog. Everybody who spends one minute with her, realises what a unique person she really is. So long breed discrimination!’

Page 3:

The top left shows a picture of Miss Lady, the pig and her human, Emily. On the right side next ti the picture a text reads:

‘Fatshaming, a cross-species issue:

Miss Lady and Emily (from the left) et on a meat farm. Miss Lady, as the pet pic, was not destined to be killed. She’s seen hundreds of piglets being born, who she built friendships and a family with, only to endure the pain of watching them being abducted by humans. Considered ugly by most of them, due to her size, Miss Lady endured much hateful neglect. Until she met EMily! Who is now giving her and the other pigs she rescued all the love and dignity they deserve.

facebook.com/thefellashipsanctuary

Under the picture of Miss Lady and Emily, there is the ALF logo. Underneath that we find a picture of Natalie, the human, behind the rooks Rocky and Mario. The text next to their picture reads:

‘Of Birds and Vets:

Natalie met Rocky and Mario as the two rooks fell out of their tree whilst strengthening their wings. Natalie, superwoman of wildlife, nurtured them, but Mario’s state didn’t improve. Whilst at the vet’s Natalie explained to another patient’s humans how easily young rooks perish, to which  the receptionist butted in: “well it’s not such a bad thing, they are vermin”/ It tok the receptionist one conversation with Natalie to change. She stroked Mario during his examination, whispering “aren’t you a beautiful bird” to him. A little less speciesism in her heart.’

Page 4:

The top left shows the facebook URL for the ‘Friends on 4 Legs Sanctuary’: facebook.com/friends.on.4.legs and underneath it is a picture of two sheep cuddling under a tree.

The text next to the picture on the right reads as follows:

‘Violence is Violence

Showing love and compassion in a violent world will inevitably be met by aggression and hate. Vera, who rescued these two kind souls (referring to the sheep in the picture), survived being severely beaten by a butcher and his neighbour, who criminalised the sheep for grazing on the wrong side of their sanctuary’s fence. As Vera says: Everything that happens at the sanctuary is all that the butcher is not.’

Under the picture of the sheep bold letters read: ’empty cages, NOW!’

Then the left bottom left side shows a picture of the human Sophie giving Brenda, the chicken, a wing massage. The text on the right next to it reads:

‘Nobody Should Be Referred to as a Good Meal

Sophie is giving Brenda her daily wing massage. They met when Brenda and her sisters were rescued from a farm, where she’d lived in crowded sheds with 250.00 others, orphaned and lost. Brenda was discriminated against for laying too few eggs as well as her weight. On the farm, Brenda would have gone unnoticed until the day of her murder. Through Sophie, Brenda was considered and loved. Affectionate, charming and defiant, as Sophie says, Brenda was a real friend.’

 

until all are free.

 

~aga

 

 

 

 

What They Said

Here are some quotes we collected by vegan feminist authors for our first zine:

Quotes page

 

Emily Gaarder: ‘When women make the choice to become animal rights activists, they should be considered, in the words of bell hooks, “political thinkers making political choices” (1989, 95). Only within this framework can we begin to understand the social and political relevancy of women’s narratives of activism, and the majority status they hold in the movement for animal rights. Such a framework might also inspire women activists to reimagine the significance of their extraordinary political choices’.

Patricia MacCormack: ‘”of course animals enjoy interactions with humans” or “we can help as much as hurt”, “animal systems can teach us how to be posthuman”, or the most basic question: “we need to think differently about animals”. No. We need to think about the undoing of us, whatever that means.’

Melissa Santosa: Veganism cultivates an attention to minute details of food ingredients, clothing labels, and how the things you consume are produced. This mindfulness leads to the deeper investigation of all the things you consume, not only as to their material content, but also the conditions in which the products are manufactured, and the standard of living they create for all those on the chain of raw material, manufacturing, selling, buying, and disposing.’

Lisa Kemmerer: ‘Marriage grants a man “legal license to his wife’s sexual and reproductive services, [while] the model of animal husbandry grants agribusiness and wildlife managers access to the bodies and reproductive services of other-than-human animals” (Kheel, Nature, 231). Women and nonhuman animals are exploited for their reproductive abilities, and both are devalued as they age and wear out – when they are no longer to reproduce’.

Joan Dunayer: ‘Even the word nonhuman divides all animals into two, seemingly opposed categories: Humans and everyone else. With equal validity we could categorise all animals as robins and nonrobins’.

Breeze Harper: ‘The British who sipped their sugary teas considered themselves civilized, despite the torture and slavery it took to get that white sugar into their tea cups, along with the cotton and tobacco they used. Collectively, maybe we in the U.S. are too addicted to see clearly, to see past the next fix. This addictive behaviour has occurred for centuries. Sadly, those who were originally enslaved to harvest sugar cane (Africans and indigenous Americans) are now enslaved in multiple ways: as consumers of sucrose, hormone-injected processed meat and dairy products, and junk food’.

Pattrice Jones: ‘Women make most food purchases and preparation decisions. If women are going to both go vegan and withstand the demands of male family members for meat, women must be emboldened to resist their own subordination and at the same time reject the oppression of nonhuman individuals’.

 

 

 

 

Art: 3 Pieces by Casey

Content Warning: Mention of Sexism and Speciesism

 

This is from our first zine: Three pieces created by Casey (formally known as Lauren):

lauren art

Respect

(description coming soon)

Womxn are not Your Objects

This piece reads Women (spelled with an x where we would usually find an e) are not your objects. Under the text we find pencil drawings of different non-humans: A clam, a bird, a winged insect, a lobster, a sheep, a pig, a cow, a fish and a goat.

The World that Changed the Quotes

This is a piece that spells out famous feminist quotes and adds an anti-speciesist twist to them. (detailed description coming soon)

Thank you, Casey, for your contribution ❤

~aga

Art: The Exploited Women by Kaya

Content warning: mention of sexual violence.
Here is another piece of art from our first zine dealing with the connection between misogyny and speciesism. ‘The Exploited Womxn’ by Kaya.
Share it, print it, hang it on walls and lamp posts.
sophie one.jpg
The drawing shows to separate images of humans cuddling and sharing affection with cows. Surrounding these two images in writing are the following words:
The Exploited Women:
*stolen children
*fear
*brutality
*violence
*sexual abuse
*violation
In all capitals at the bottom it reads: TOTAL LIBERATION.
Thank you Kaya for your contribution to this zine ❤
~ aga

Good To know: Anti-Speciesist Definitions

Another extract from our zine double issue: This is our ‘Good to Know’ page with some definitions. The images below can be shared, printed out and distributed anywhere and everywhere.

good to know first pagegood to know pages

The images read:

ALF: Animal Liberation Front; anybody can be the ALF by liberating animals and sabotaging or destroying animal exploitation facilities; the ALF does not cause harm to humans nor animals.

Ally: Someone who stands in solidarity with you in a struggle that they are not directly affected by; for example: a man who shares our values but will never experience sexism.

Carnism: belief system underlying the choice to consume animal flesh; implies meat-eating as a choice, not a necessity; subset of speciesism; opposite of veganism.

Feminsim: ideology advocating social, political and economic justice for womxn; different versions of feminism advocate also for MOGAI folk, animals and the environment.

Intersectionality: describes the circumstances of working class women of colour who experience threefold oppression.

Kyriarchy: the social structure that keeps systems of oppressions in place; includes all forms of inequality; derived from the Ancient Greek word for master or lord, kyrios; the ideology that dismantles kyriarchy is anarchism.

MOGAI: Marginalised Orientations, Gender Alignments and Intersex.

Privilege: unearned societal power of a dominant group, at the expense of the disadvantaged group; for example: white privilege is the advantage white people hold over people of colour.

Speciesism: discrimination based on species; ideology upholding human superiority over other species and allowing some animals moral consideration over others; Anti-Speciesism is then the resistance towards this system of oppression.

swe(r)f: sex worker exclusionary (radical) feminist; is opposed to sex workers’ rights, and is dismissive of their views; if you’re one of them the same applies to you as for the terfs.

te(r)f: trans exclusionary (radical) feminist; fucked up bigots who we hate because they only recognise cis womxn as womxn; if you’re one of them, leave right now.

Veganism: belief system underlying the choice not to eat animal flesh nor secretions; ethical version of a plant-based diet.

Womxn: alternative spelling of women, implying that we don’t need men to be complete; rejecting the terf term womyn.

Support the Blackmail 3

We are in the process of uploading digital versions of our zine double issue (including an overhaul of the first issue on ‘Feminism and Speciesism’ and an additional second issue on ‘Human Impacts’. Before we post the whole zine that you are invited to read, print and distribute, we are first uploading some select pieces from both zines to make sure they are as accessible as possible. So here we go. The first entry is an info sheet on the black mail three.

Share the image, make it your profile picture, print it out, use it as a poster or as leaflets and make sure everyone shows their solidarity with Debbie, Natasha and Sven! Most importantly, write to them or draw them something.

blackmail 3 support

The above image is from our double issue zine and it has the ‘Support the Blackmail 3’ logo with a beagle behind bars on it. The text reads:

Natasha and Sven are accused of ‘conspiracy to blackmail’ in relation to Huntingdon Life Sciences (now Envigo). In April 2014, Debbie Vincent was sentenced to six years in prison for the same charge. Natasha and Sven are awaiting extradition   to the UK for their trial and face up to 14 years   in prison.

Messages of support, as well as letters about yourself, your day, your job, your hobbies, the weather, etc. can be sent this way:

info@freesvenandnatasha.org

Free Sven and Natasha

c/o Kebele

14 Robertson Road

Easton

Bristol

BS5 6JZ

 

Debbie Vincent #A5819DE

HMP Send

Ripley Road

Woking, Surrey GU23 7LJ

UNITED KINGDOM

 

Repression  is very isolating. Please consider writing to criminalised activists. Their addresses can be found here:

http://www.directaction.info/prisoners.htm

http://www.alfsg.org.uk/current_prisoners.html