Women. Power. Peace.

Gaza, Ferguson and ICE: Standing in solidarity against a militarized state in the Middle East and the United States

From August 21, 2014

“It may be Ferguson today but tomorrow it could be somewhere else. We have to get police officers and local elected officials to respect the dignity and worth of every human being.”

Congressman John Lewis (Meet the Press Sunday, August 17)

Georgia WAND stands in solidarity with the people of Gaza, Palestine, and Ferguson, Missouri -- particularly the women and youth who are active in protesting the many layers of vigorous oppression, including racism and militarism. WAND, founded in 1984, was originally Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament – roots to our vision of a world free of excessive weaponry. At issue in Gaza and Ferguson, among other places, are an increasingly armed state and the abuse of power of racist institutions without accountability.

On July 8th, 2014, the latest escalation of war broke out between Israel and Gaza. Israel’s deplorable occupation of the West Bank has grown exponentially repressive over the last couple of months. And the situation in Gaza, has deteriorated over the last few years, largely because of the Israeli blockade on Gaza's travel and trade. After several retaliatory murderous and criminal acts committed against Israelis and Arabs in Israel, Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” along the Gazan border and inside populated Palestinian areas. Despite escalating levels of civilian casualties, Israel continued for several weeks with their offensive on buildings, tunnels, and more.

A month later, on August 9th, unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. In the hours and days that followed, St. Louis County took charge of policing Ferguson and has employed military-style equipment and tactics. Those tactics include shooting tear gas, smoke bombs, bean bag rounds, and flash grenades, and include police in riot gear, armored tanks, and helicopters. Very recently, Missouri governor invited the U.S. National Guard to Ferguson.

Both places have a history of militarism, racial profiling, and racialized violence.

Even the Israel-friendly United States Department of State took note of the “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens” in a 2005 human rights report. Additionally, Israel continues to militarily occupy and confiscate Palestinian land inside the West Bank. According to Btselem, an Israeli human rights organization, some two-thirds of the deaths in Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” have been civilians, and one-third of those non-combatants were women and children.

We, as US residents, are complicit in this destruction and terror. The US has provided more bilateral aid to Israel over the last seventy years than any other country. Most of that is military aid, totaling more than $3 billion per year under a ten-year deal signed in 2007. And over half of this year’s US discretionary budget goes to the Pentagon. Locally, though everyone pays for the police force, not everyone gets the same voice or treatment.

Both the United States and Israel have a history of minority groups and women lacking adequate political power, which matters for the overall social environment. According to Freedom House, Arabs in Israel comprise more than 20% of the population but only 10% of the members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset). According to Project Vote, low-income and minority Americans are less likely to be registered and voting in elections. The US political system leaves gaping holes in voter protection and ensuring that every day people are adequately represented in government.

Georgia WAND raises questions about the nature of power, especially how abuses are manifested in Georgia and the South. Local law enforcement departments have agreements with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain people based on their appearance. In a recent article, the ACLU of Georgia quoted that “from 2007 to 2013, ICE’s practice of requesting the extended incarceration of an individual because of suspicion about their immigration status — known as ICE detainers — rose from 75 in 2007 to 12,952 in 2013 (through June 2013) — an increase of 17,169 percent.”

Targeting individuals based on skin color disproportionately affects Black males, men of Middle Eastern descent, women of color, especially transgender women, and Latino immigrants. In fact, 96 percent of the people targeted in 2013, under federal “Secure Communities” partnership per Georgia’s HB 87, are of “dark or medium complexion,” (link to report). The phenomenon of police racially targeting people in the US South is not just happening by the police and institutional law enforcement. This also plays out in vigilante form – all deep South states have “Stand Your Ground” laws (link), and more than 50% of all the US Stand Your Ground laws are in the South.

At Georgia WAND, we understand that political and economic power serves the interests of a corporatized and militarized elite. We continuously ask how access to this power is limited and protected by the use of force. The police state exists largely in partnership with armed white people; white, male supremacy is protected by the state through the police force, reinforcing elite power.

“The problem over many decades … was a near-total lack of accountability for wrongdoing; and if police on duty believe that can get away with anything, they will act accordingly… Our citizens need protection from undue force, here in our own country, and now.”

Michael Bell, father of Michael Bell Jr., who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin police (link)

To take action, please read, use, and distribute the Police Brutality Action Toolkit, created by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), with help from Georgia WAND, a SURJ affiliate.

Attend events this coming week, including Wednesday’s Hands Up, Don’t Shoot rally and march at West End Park at 7p; Friday’s Stand for Peace 12 Year Anniversary at Colony Square; and Friday eventing rallies to End Violence in Palestine Friday at 6p outside the Israeli Consluate; the Southern Movement Assembly this Friday and Saturday; and the Moral March on Georgia from Troy Davis/Woodruff Park to the Capitol this Saturday at 10am.

Donate to the Georgia WAND to support our efforts, working in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Gaza and Black and Brown communities targeted by violence throughout Georgia and the South, to end racist, systemic, militarized violence. Thank you.

Contact Us

Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.

250 Georgia Avenue SE
Suite 202
Atlanta, GA 30312

404-524-5999 - phone

info@georgiawand.org

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