WASHINGTON — Beginning in the heart of D.C.’s bustling Chinatown, local organizers marched through the streets to “remember those who have been lost, and vow to continue the fight to put an end to racist police terror, harassment, and mass incarceration.”
Video by Ford Fischer
Story by Alejandro Alvarez and Ford Fischer
Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
According to the Stop Police Terror Project, the D.C.-based organizer behind Monday’s march, Oct. 22 has seen nationwide marches highlighting policy brutality and officer-involved violence against minority communities since 1996. This year’s march comes about one month after the death of Botham Jean, shot by a Dallas police officer whom, she claims, thought him as an intruder in an apartment she mistook as hers.
The group first stopped at a bar called Penn Social where Mayor Muriel Bowser was holding an event. The group chanted to confront her for “law and order” and “mass incarceration” policies despite the appearance of progressivism.
The group then marched to the new Law Enforcement Museum where local activist Natacia Knapper spoke out. She had an early tour of as part of a story for Al Jazeera. Her conclusion? It’s “copaganda” that paints police as reformed, minimizes militarization and erases Black Lives Matter.
In a news release, the Stop Police Terror Project listed victims they said were victims of recent aggression at the hands of the Metropolitan Police Department, Metro Transit Police and other regional law enforcement agencies. Among them were 22-year-old Jeffrey Price and 24-year-old D’Quan, both killed by D.C. in the last year — the latter, D’Quan, shot to death near a recreation center.
The Stop Police Terror Project describes itself as an organization “committed to changing the system of racist, militarized policing in DC and beyond.” The group originally organized under the name DCFerguson, in response to a national outcry following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Having since rebranded themselves with a more specific focus on police violence in D.C., they now seek to tie national police issues into a set of local proposals. Their list of demands as an organization include:
Militarized Policing must end immediately.
Communities should be empowered to secure themselves.
As long as the police are an institution, there must be clear accountability mechanisms in the hands of the people.
The issue of militarized policing and mass incarceration are military solutions to the social problems in oppressed communities, which is a form of social control. As such critiquing capitalism is a necessary part of our movement.
We are opposed to patriarchy and all racism, bigotry, homophobia and transphobia.
Our movement is broad and unity is important. We believe in exploring with all who wish to partner the issue of limited unity around police terror but our basic point of unity with all forces is a forthright recognition of the importance of LGBTQ and Women freedom fighters to at all times be respected and safe.
Monday night’s protest specifically condemned police violence, but also added that “violent imagery and logos and ongoing attempts to hide data on clearly racist police practices” exacerbated the problems being focused on, according to the group’s press release.