activism by Rinoa Wong July 30, 2020
In a recent virtual town hall meeting, Justice League NYC called upon the victims of police brutality, to elevate their stories. The organization also featured the voices of various activists to help demystify the #Defundthepolice movement.
The Justice League of NYC emphasized the trauma of the victims of police brutality in hopes to further encourage others to recognize the abuse of power that many officers hold.
Although taking place online, this meeting did not lose any of the impacts it sought to create.
Brea Baker, a member of the Justice League NYC & Inspire Justice, began the meeting with the history of the police.
She reminded viewers that the police were originally created as slave patrollers. The institution of the police force did not intend to protect their citizens, but rather they enforced inhumane ways of treating those that they deemed “criminal.” The police were a way to enforce laws on and out of plantations. After the Civil War, the police became a way to reinforce Jim Crow Laws.
“Crime is a social construct”
Legislatures created crimes with the intention to give law enforcement an excuse to incarcerate. As a result, these social constructs became a way to control the general public, especially those they deemed as “extremists”.
“Extremists” are those the law considers having an opposing view or views against the government. During the 1960s and 1970s, the establishment and government institutions considered hippies and civil rights activists ‘extremists’. Now in 2020, anyone who is against police brutality is supposedly an ‘extremist’ –when we know that is not an accurate description.
Institutions can also inflict abuse by the way of involuntary labor. The US would not be where it is today without free labor. Time after time, no matter how far you look, there have always been instances where those in power exploited others for their labor. The most recognizable form of unpaid labor was slavery. And even now, in 2020, people are still being used for unpaid labor. While in the past they may have been slaves now they’re prisoners or inmates.
The citizens of the USA must understand the similarities between two large minority groups when it comes to prison systems: Hispanics/Latinos and Black people. Both are incarcerated at alarming rates, with the understanding that incarceration equals rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation through exploitative labor is pervasive in our culture as many of us consider it the only way to stop ‘crimes’ from happening.
That said it is important for the Hispanic/Latino community and the Black community to set aside their differences and internalized racism to work together and defeat police brutality with ideas that actually work.
The siblings and family members of the police brutality victims shared their stories and the horrors of what had transpired and continues to transpire.
“Be afraid that the families are unified, the families know what changes are needed” – Yul-san Liem
It is important for families to advocate for the decertification of the police. Especially after losing a family member due to police abusing their power.
“They treat us like the worst kind of criminals. I think about the white man who killed 9 people and got a calm ride to jail with a stop at Burger King. I’m a well-known guy in my neighborhood, and over a traffic stop, I was beaten like I didn’t matter.”#JusticeForAkbarRogers pic.twitter.com/I9uAUmwRv6
— AWKWORD (@AWKWORDrap) July 30, 2020
Allisa Findley states “These deaths cannot be worthless… they cannot have died without it meaning something in the face of police brutality”
Ashley Monterrosa, sister of Sean Moterrosa, believes they must turn their pain into power. Ashley and her sister, Michelle Monterrosa, recounted the story of finding out what happened to their brother with tears. They also exposed the disgusting traditions the Vallejo police have.
“They handcuffed him even after he was lifeless”
The Bay Area community knows the Vallejo police force has police officers that have not gone through training. The VPD also has the horrifying tradition of murdering someone in cold blood, as an initiation. After each murder, the cops would then bend a part of their badge as though it is a trophy.
Sean Monterrosa’s case then had its evidence tampered with and destroyed.
The justice system led each family who experienced the abuse of power at the hands of the police on a wild goose chase in the family’s attempt to learn about their family member’s death.
We cannot let the abuse of power go any further. Countless lives have been taken and yet the murderers have not suffered the consequences.
We must vote with integrity, education, and know what we are supporting.
Watch the full broadcast of the virtual town hall meeting here.
Listen below to the first episode our joint podcast with The Gathering for Justice: Advocate Daily. In this episode, we speak with community activist, The Gathering for Justice CEO and President Carmen Perez-Jordan.