STATEMENT: Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition on the movement for Black lives and an end to imperialism
August 21, 2020
It’s been several months since George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor were murdered, sparking an ongoing uprising against racist state violence. The Durham2Palestine coalition remains in full solidarity with the abolition movement and is working to divest our society from sources of violence—not only the police, but also prisons, border enforcement, and the military—and instead invest in real solutions. By funding the police, cities make the choice not to put that money towards robust social services, living wages for city workers, more green spaces, free public transportation, affordable housing, quality education for all, and so many more of the things that truly make a community safe and well.
As the uprising continues around the world, it is crucial to understand how policing is embedded in international systems of exploitation and oppression. Fundamentally, the ruling class of this country values private property over Black lives, particularly those of trans, poor, and working class Black people living in under-resourced, over-policed neighborhoods. This system is called racial capitalism. We witness its effects clearly as COVID-19 kills disproportionately more Black and brown people due to the convergence of an inadequate public health response with existing racist inequalities in wealth, housing, healthcare, safe jobs, and other factors causing high exposure risk and comorbidities. Consistent with this devaluation of non-white life domestically, the US exports violence around the world through military invasions, sponsorship of right-wing coups and death squads, and economic strangulation. This global empire ultimately serves the interests of US-based multinational corporations who profit from war and instability through the sale of military technology, hyper-exploitation of labor, and privatization of public resources, all at the expense of the people. Invariably, the violence of this global empire turns back inwards, as military weapons, techniques, and ideologies are transferred to the police, who then further occupy and terrorize poor, Black, brown, and immigrant communities at home. And as we’ve observed recently in Portland, these tactics are even being used in majority-white communities, where unmarked vehicles are kidnapping people off the street, and heavily armed federal officers join militarized local police to tear gas, beat, and even blind protestors.
As an example of this violent cycle, US police target marginalized communities with strategies like Broken Windows policing, which assumes cracking down on minor offenses will improve public safety, using tactics like stop-and-frisk and racial profiling. These tactics have been exported to US allies like Israel, where they are used to brutalize and suppress the indigenous Palestinian people, as well as African migrants and residents. In return, Israel offers trainings to US police departments that promote “worst practices” developed for a militarized, counterterror framing of policing. This framing defines all Palestinian resistance against occupation as a form of terrorism, rather than occupation itself. Who in our communities do we expect the police to criminalize and target upon their return?
In 2018, our coalition successfully campaigned to end these police exchanges between the Durham Police Department and the Israeli Defense Forces and Israel Police. Our campaign, Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine, refused ideas of “safety” modeled on occupation and apartheid practiced by the Israeli state in Palestine: we know our community is safer when our police are not participating in military-style or “counterterrorism” training. However, while this win was a step towards community safety in Durham, ending police exchanges is not enough.
Early in the wave of actions, Durham was hailed as an example of progressive policing. But showing enough restraint not to tear gas peaceful protestors at specific protests does not change the fundamental role of Durham’s police: to criminalize poor, Black, and brown Durham residents; to raid houses and enforce evictions; and to incarcerate our neighbors. In fact, on Saturday, July 18, we saw Durham’s police arrest 23 protesters en masse and charge all but one with blanket felony charges. When push comes to shove, the Durham PD is capable and willing to use violent measures to suppress public dissent. Organizing by visionary groups including the FADE Coalition, SpiritHouse, BYP100, and Durham Beyond Policing makes Durham safer—not our “model” police department. Our city council took the right step in ending police exchanges with foreign militaries, including Israel in 2018. Now, we fully support calls by Durham Beyond Policing and BYP100 for our city to defund the police and fund social services. Our community should have more of a say in how our money is spent so we can shift resources away from practices that harm us and communities around the world. We will continue to fight to make this better world a reality.
STATEMENT: Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition on Antisemitism and White Supremacy
October 30, 2018
The Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine is a multi-faith and interracial coalition dedicated to peace and justice from Durham to Palestine. Along with our Jewish community members and loved ones, we are grieving and angry after last weekend’s attack at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as the murder of two African American elders in Louisville after their killer attempted to attack a Black church.
We see this weekend’s antisemitic attack as part of a long legacy of white supremacist violence in the US—from the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI in 2012, to the murder of Black Christians at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, SC in 2015, to the everyday interpersonal and structural violence experienced by Black, Indigenous, Arab, immigrant, queer, and trans people. As people of diverse faiths and racial backgrounds, we believe it is necessary to situate antisemitism in the context of white supremacy, and we know that further militarization is not the answer to racist violence.
Since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, we’ve witnessed rising anti-Jewish hate across the US. Members of our coalition were present to resist a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in August of 2017. This May, a white nationalist neo-Nazi group claimed credit for pasting antisemitic posters in downtown Durham, and there were more white nationalist antisemitic flyers just last week in Cary. These racists and white supremacists are invigorated and validated by proximity to power and national media platforms.
At the same time, we’ve seen Trump and his supporters proliferate antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power, from fantasies that white Jews control global finance and immigration policy—which rests on the racist characterization of all Brown immigrants as criminal “invaders”—to the myth that white Jews secretly lead Black Lives Matter—which promotes the profoundly racist idea that people of color aren’t capable of leading our own movements. These dangerous ideas have long been useful to the Right to divide our communities from each other and mask how capitalism and white supremacist power are actually responsible for our crises.
Rather than acknowledge his role and that of his supporters in rising antisemitic hatred and violence, Trump offered the dangerous and unrealistic notion that more armed guards in faith communities will lead to our safety. We reject the notion that inviting police and military-style weapons into houses of worship will make our people safer. We know that the racialized US policing and prison system endangers the safety of Black, Brown, Muslim, disabled, and queer members of our communities every day. More militarization and security can’t possibly be a solution to violence.
Instead, we need to block fascists and racists from organizing. We need to take away their power from the halls of government and from media and social media platforms that promote and normalize racist ideas and expressions. This tragedy would not have happened if a white supremacist man had not been armed and empowered.
We want to be clear that challenging the roots of antisemitism requires a commitment to collective liberation. Our vision of safety divests from police militarization and invests in initiatives that keep our people safe and help them thrive, especially marginalized and overpoliced communities of color—such as affordable housing and health care, a living wage, and excellent public education. And we believe that we can keep each other safe by showing up to accompany and protect those who are most vulnerable—the way we have seen Muslim communities show up for Jewish people this past week.
Our coalition is a diverse united group of people committed to safety and liberation for all. Fighting for racial justice—in conjunction with the interlocking oppressions of social, gender, and economic discrimination—is at the core of our work.
In solidarity, from the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Campaign Coalition:
AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East)
Black Youth Project 100 - Durham Chapter
Coalition for Peace with Justice
Durham for All
Inside Outside Alliance
Jewish Voice for Peace - Triangle NC
Muslim American Public Affairs Council
Muslims for Social Justice
Students for Justice in Palestine - Duke
Students for Justice in Palestine - UNC-CH
PRESS RELEASE: Durham, N.C. Becomes First City in the US to Enact Policy Ending Police Exchanges with Israel
April 17, 2018
STATEMENT: Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition
April 16, 2018
PRESS RELEASE: Community coalition advocates abolishing police exchanges between Durham and Israel
April 5, 2018