Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why do I keep calling the Decepticons "Destructocons"?

In light of this upcoming event...

Because This Isn't a Utopia
Unless your idea of a Utopia is one where LGBT folks, POC (people of color), female-assigned and/or identified people, and other groups are treated as less than human.

Triggers for mentions as well as a couple accounts of rape, assaults, etc.
Here is Amnesty Internationale's (AI) Stonewalled, a pdf report of police brutality against LGBT folk. (And FIERCE is named in the report a few times!)
It includes everything from police raping, beating, profiling, allowing others to rape and/or assault LGBT folks, policing morals, targeting LGBT activists/demonstrators, forcibly supporting gentrification, and how police officers are trained to deal with GLBT people (or rather, how they aren't trained).
(No, I don't blame every police officer)

A few of the many stories:
Montgomery, Alabama: Marissa, a white transgender lesbian woman, reports that in 2001 she was abused in jail. She told AI, “Two jailers and a state trooper made me strip in front of them while they looked on … I was made to dance around in front of them, shouting ‘I’ve got a penis, I’ve got a penis!’ Then they made me hold my penis in front of them and show them I could masturbate. I was then cavity searched; the anal search was excruciatingly painful, much more than any physician-directed rectal exam I ever had. I was then told to shower while one guy watched. By this time I was very, very weak, and collapsed, injuring my arm, shoulder and back …. I pleaded to see a doctor but was ignored and forced to walk to a cell carrying a mattress. The police officers and jailers constantly referred to me as ‘that dick’ …. Apart from the fact that I was repeatedly forced to admit I was a man, I was called ‘faggot,’ ‘sir’ and ‘fucking pansy.’”

"Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Finesse Kelly, an African American transgender woman, and a friend were attempting to hail a cab in the early morning hours of 4 February 2002 in Philadelphia. A police officer reportedly hurled slurs at Finesse, including “retard” and “animal,” and then arrested her."

"Cincinnati, Ohio: Spears, a 26-year-old gay man, was allegedly arrested after he was the victim of a homophobic crime. Spears alleges that while handcuffed and placed in the police car, he asked why he was being arrested. The officers stopped the car and reportedly maced him in the face and poked him with a nightstick when he squirmed to get away from the mace.""

"Athens, Georgia: In 2004, a lesbian from Athens filed a civil lawsuit alleging that a former Gwinnett County Georgia deputy raped her because she is a lesbian. The officer is accused of forcing her into her apartment at gunpoint and raping her. The woman said the officer vowed to “teach her a lesson” and said “the world needed at least one less dyke and he was going to make sure that happened.” He was charged with rape, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with intent to rape, and violating his oath of office. According to the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s office, while acquitted on a number of charges, the officer was found guilty of violating his oath of office. The officer agreed to a deal whereby he received two years probation where he was to have no contact with the victim, he was banned from Athens-Clarke County, and promised not to appeal the decision."

Here is an AI magazine article titled Brutality in Blue:
(Here is a portion of the article)
"When officers police by prejudice, permitting gender stereotypes to dictate decisions, punishment often falls on victims rather than criminals. In one Amnesty International (AI) account of a domestic dispute between lesbians, the officers arrested the woman who looked more masculine, even though she had placed the 911 call; in another, officers advised the woman who looked more feminine, "You need a real man." Although statistics are scarce, most experts agree that, as with anti-gay bias crimes in general, reported cases of police LGBT mistreatment are only the tip of the iceberg.

Confrontations sparked by an officer's homophobic slur can escalate into outright physical or sexual violence. After being attacked on the street, a young gay man told AI, he flagged down two officers on patrol; they responded with taunts, then handcuffed him, pushed him into their car and sprayed Mace in his face when he demanded to know why he was being arrested. And the violence comes in different forms. A Native-American transgender woman told AI, "The police are not here to serve; they are here to get served. Every night I'm taken into an alley and given the choice between having sex or going to jail."

That transgender individuals, particularly women and young people, bear the disproportionate brunt of police brutality against LGBT people is among the AI report's key conclusions. The AI report also found that within the LGBT community, people of color, youth, the homeless and immigrants are at greater risk of police abuse. AIUSA Executive Director Dr. William F. Schulz commented at the Sept. 22 Stonewalled press conference in New York City, "Transgender individuals, people of color and the young suffer disproportionately, especially when poverty leaves them vulnerable to homelessness and exploitation and less likely to draw public outcry or official scrutiny. It is a sorry state of affairs when the police misuse their power to inflict suffering rather than prevent it.""

(bolding mine)

Mariah Lopez, a transgendered woman of color, made a statement to AI regarding her experiences with the NYC police.

"My name is Mariah Lopez. I am a young, transgender person of color. I also am an activist who does street-based outreach in the West Village, where I also socialize.

Let me tell you how the police often respond to this.

With verbal abuse.

Sexual harassment.

Unwarranted arrests.

Withholding food, water and medication in detention.

Humiliating and inappropriate strip searches.

Physical assaults.

This is what I have endured at the hands of police and corrections officers - and not just once. What occurs is a systemic abuse of power, one that is seemingly inflicted on whim. For my friends and me, it seems that something as inconsequential as an officer's mood can dictate whether we spend time in jail.

I have been arrested a number of times in the West Village - including as recently as three months ago - always for solicitation, or loitering with intent to solicit. Most of the time I plead "guilty." When you're young, aren't told your full legal options, have no bail money and face abuse, what do you do? You plead "guilty," just to get everything over with as quickly as possible.

Sometimes that's not fast enough.

Here's an example. In April of last year, I was walking in the West Village with friends. Several undercover detectives approached us and told me to leave the vicinity immediately or I would be subject to arrest and prosecution. I refused to comply, as I had the right to be there. Less than two hours later I was arrested and charged with "loitering with the intent" of prostitution.

At the 6th precinct, I was verbally abused and forced to disclose my "real" gender, though my ID clearly states that I am female. I requested that officers refer to me with female pronouns, which is my legal right under the New York City Human Rights Law. They continued to abuse, harass and degrade me, referring to me as "it," "he/she" and calling me by male names rather than my own.

Later I was arraigned; I pled "guilty" and was sentenced to ten days (of which I served seven). Upon intake at Rikers Island, I was told that I couldn't get alternative housing based on my gender identity, which would have provided safety from other inmates (all of whom were male). I had to undergo an embarrassing and degrading strip search and was badgered about the size of my genitalia and for having breasts. Next a nurse examined me in an open, clinic-based setting with no regard for patient confidentiality, where she surmised out loud that I must be HIV positive or have AIDS.

I was placed in a cell for several hours with no food, water or access to a bathroom. I brought this to the attention of the corrections officer; in exchange, the officer assaulted me, leaving me with severe bruising and abrasions. His justification? Claiming that I was being disruptive, all because I demanded my basic rights.

I was then transferred into a dorm with other inmates, which led to a week of physical and emotional abuse, as well as sexual harassment, at the hands of inmates and corrections officers alike. The inmates ordered me not to use the open showers when they did; to avoid trouble and for privacy reasons I requested to shower early in the morning or late at night. Corrections officers denied this request. They also refused to intervene when the inmates repeatedly threw hard objects at me - even after an object slammed into my face while I was reporting the incident.

Finally a more responsible area captain took note of my bruises, and I was moved to alternative housing - just one day before my release, too late to offer relief from what I had been through. According to her, this housing had been available all along."

Now it is illegal for you to walk down the street-- if you are a trans*woman that is.
Because not only is prostitution proof that one is a criminal and a horrible person, but trans*women are obviously incapable of having or holding any other job.

Just the other night, two members of the Silvia Rivera Law project were arrested as others in the group were sprayed with pepper spray. Here is the live-blogging of Jack, of, “East village. Mostly queers, lots of trans folks, lots of people of color. Peaceful celebration of a right on organization. Police called. Violent arrests of two peaceful people. Mace in many people’s eyes and throats, including mine.. At the precinct now. More soon.”

Here is the press release from

ETA: They have been freed! All charges were dropped. Silvia Rivera Law Project has more.

To "Protect and Serve", huh? Maybe the Decepticons' motto from the new movie is more descriptive--"To Punish and Enslave."

In Newark NJ, a group of seven black lesbians were attacked by a straight black man. Who went to jail? Four of the Lesbians of course.
(Daisy, and Brownfemipower have done a great job already on writing and collecting links)
Isn't defending yourself from violence a human right? They don't even know if Johnson, the woman accused of stabbing Buckle, actually stabbed the guy as no forensics were done on her knife and there were two (still unidentified) men also involved (one of them could hae stabbed the guy). In fact, at first Buckle was saying that he was attacked by men, not women.
The women were tried by an all-white and all-female jury (it is not known what the sexual orientations or trans*/cis* identifications of the jury are, but I can make an educated guess that most of them, if not all of them, are straight and cissexed).

Aren't the intersections of race, gender identity/assigned-sex, and sexual orientation just fascinating?

Urbane areas, the North, NYC, etc. are not immune from bigotry. We have racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, etc. galore here. Here at my NY uni there have been all sorts of anti-semitic graffiti in multiple bathrooms.
Every time you are silent when someone makes a bigoted remark; each friend or relative you don't call on their bigotry; every time you ignore a person as they starve in front of you—you are supporting bigotry. Almost everyone is guilty. We don't want to rock the boat; we don't want to lose a friend; we don't know if that person is going to just go and buy drugs or booze. Well, you can change the subject in ways that make it obvious you don't want to hear that sort of talk; you can call someone out and if they can't deal with it you can make new friends or spend less time with that relative; you can give out granola bars or scarfs.

But there is Hope; nothing is Static.