The abduction of protestors that’s happened in Portland OR is now in Columbus OH. I assume it’s possible in Louisville now, or will be soon.
The unidentified Federal staff with the unmarked vans are maybe BORTAC, Customs’ border tactical units under the command of DHS Special Operations Group. There also are Department of Homeland Security “rapid deployment teams” made up of officers from Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (who back up the Federal Protective Service).
I have strong feelings about what this means for organizing right now. Trying to hold a particular space – Injustice Square or any particular park or sidewalk – attracts people who are vulnerable, makes people easy to snatch up, and makes it difficult if not impossible to provide jail support for anyone abducted.
Because people come and go from these spaces on barely a first name basis, organizers often don’t have the info they will need to arrange jail support (whatever kinds of jail support will even be possible in this scenario). “They drug that guy off… don’t know who he was.” is not an enviable position from which to try to provide support to someone you’ve just seen abducted.
I also don’t think we can generalize from the stories and outcomes of recent protestor arrests to imagine what will happen in the case of these Federal arrests and detentions, when people are getting snatched up as domestic terrorists. The laws aren’t the same, and the charges and conditions of detention certainly won’t be.
More than the heightened risk to individual activists, holding a space also shifts the conversation from Black lives & the urgent need for justice, to a convo about what is the appropriate reach and role of government vs. overreach… in other words, white people talking about themselves and how they feel about white authority and what they want that white authority to do for them. In this conversation, M4BL activists are placed in the role of troublesome disruptors and why we disrupt drops out entirely; it’s irrelevant to the conversation the Trumpies want us all to stay busy having. (Trumpies are really, really good at hijacking the important moments and conversations about justice.)
As someone in this to improve resources, opportunities and outcomes across the board for Black people particularly in Louisville, I am not interested in the conversation about government power or organizing against it per se. It’s a potent distraction. The actual conversation here is addressed very well by ACLU Kentucky.
Let’s not be all distracted and horrified about what Trump, federal and state authority can and can’t do! Let’s not. Organize to defeat him in the next election. Protest action must stay focused on justice for Black lives.
#M4BLorganizing #BLMLouisville #BreonnaTaylor
Meet Talesha Wilson if you don’t know her already. She is a Louisville organizer (and influencer). See and listen to her epitomize wisdom and patience and spell out how NOT to get some basic and important things really, really wrong wrt antiracist organizing. She explains with great skill in a way that is or should be important for Buddhists who have taken (or taken to heart) precepts about right speech, not splitting the sangha, and probably others I haven’t thought of yet. Let’s see if I can clarify.
Talesha took extraordinary care not to minimize or disrespect the work that people do; she wanted to offer up support and suggestions and build movement capacity. It’s no good to be “right” if you run people off and bring us all no closer to liberation. She clearly wasn’t upset at the organizers, just upset and transparently so about what was not handled well or efficiently.
When I saw how the celebrity event she discusses here was taking shape in my beloved mess of a city, and that the local organizers I look to for leadership had not been involved in the planning… I could tell they hadn’t been involved, actually, because they would never sign on for an event planned like this. Anyway, I ground my teeth so hard I thought I might bust a crown.
So she offers some free and important schooling about how not to get things very very wrong if you want to come into a new space and throw an event. Here she discusses out of town people coming in and organizing events… but there is just as much wisdom if you and your people decide you want to go into a new space in your city, and have an event around an issue, and the issue or the space or the people already doing that work are new to you.
The only thing I can think of that she didn’t get to, because it would be a whole nother video and probably require talking out of school, is that if you organize in the ways she critiques? Your event will be co-opted in about 5 seconds. Your event was probably built broke and you didn’t even know it. The opposition and the hijacks are real.
Thank you Talesha for your grace!
#M4BLorganizing #BLMLouisville #BreonnaTaylor