I-93 demonstrators issue statements
Protesters who blocked traffic on Interstate 93 north and south of Boston Thursday morning have released the following statements:
Press release 1:
Today, we place our bodies in the street for four and a half hours, the same amount of time Mike Brown lay dying in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. We are a diverse group of LGBTQA, white, pan-Asian and Latin@ people acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, both locally and nationally. We stand behind the demands released by organizers in Ferguson, which can be found at http://fergusonaction.com/demands/
We are participating in this action in response to a national call for non-Black people to turn up for two central reasons. As non-Black people acting in solidarity, it is necessary to disrupt a capitalist structure that has been built on the physical and economic exploitation of Black bodies since our country’s inception. We also recognize our unique position in the struggle for economic, political, gender and racial liberation: though many of us do identify as people of color, we are able to participate in such an action with significantly lower risk of physical harm and brutalization by the State specifically because we are NOT identified as Black.
We maintain that the U.S. is and has always been a state founded on the exploitation, enslavement and oppression of people of color worldwide. The political and economic system we struggle under today would not exist without the centuries of exploitation of Black and brown people. It is crucial to recognize that capitalism is a system that is upheld by white supremacy. We cannot end capitalism without ending white supremacy. There is no such thing as total liberation without ending the exploitation of Black and brown bodies.
Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick have both condemned the current anti-racist movement and its participants as “disruptive” to the city of Boston. But Boston is a city that stops, on average, 152 Black and brown people a day on their ways to work, to their homes, to school and to their families. Is that not “disruptive”? Boston is the third most policed city per capita in the country. Is it not disruptive for Black and brown residents to live under this extensive surveillance, under police intimidation and brutality? How can elected leaders of our city and state support the violent disruption of Black lives, but not the people resisting that very violence? A delay in traffic or on the MBTA is not comparable to the constant state of fear and anxiety created by police in Black and brown communities.
Governor Patrick has also complained that the peaceful protests are “expensive,” citing $2 million in police overtime pay during the last three major protests. Unnecessary deployment of both state and local forces, outfitted in full riot gear and with military-grade weaponry on reserve, is bound to be “expensive.” The $120 million used by our state government annually to incarcerate drug offenders is “expensive,” as is the proposed $2 billion budget to construct new detention facilities in Massachusetts in the next 7 years. Clearly, the State incurs immense expense criminalizing and surveilling Black and brown bodies. But who pays the highest price? Black and brown individuals and families who must try to rebuild, post-incarceration, in a city with no living-wage legislation, rapid gentrification and one of the highest costs of living in the country.
And so, for four and a half hours, we disrupt access from the predominantly white, wealthy suburbs to Boston’s city center. “Why do we do it this way? We do it this way because it is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.” – Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
Press release 2
Somerville/Milton/Boston Massachusetts — Activists have shut down Interstate 93 Southbound and Northbound during morning rush hour commute into Boston to “disrupt business as usual” and protest police and state violence against Black people.
Two different groups of activists linked their bodies together across the highway in coordinated actions north and south of Boston. This action was in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. This diverse non-Black group of Pan-Asians, Latinos, and white people, some of whom are queer and transgender, took this action to confront white complacency in the systemic oppression of Black people in Boston.
“Today, our nonviolent direct action is meant to expose the reality that Boston is a city where white commuters and students use the city and leave, while Black and Brown communities are targeted by police, exploited, and displaced,” said Korean-American activist Katie Seitz.
In the past 15 years, law enforcement officers in Boston have killed Remis M. Andrews, Darryl Dookhran, Denis Reynoso, Ross Baptista, Burrell “Bo” Ramsey-White, Mark Joseph McMullen, Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga, Marquis Barker, Stanley Seney, Luis Gonzalez, Bert W. Bowen, Eveline Barros-Cepeda, Daniel Furtado, LaVeta Jackson, Nelson Santiago, Willie L. Murray Jr., Rene Romain, Jose Pineda, Ricky Bodden, Carlos M. Garcia, and many more people of color. We mourn and honor all these lives.
“We must remember, Ferguson is not a faraway Southern city. Black men, women, and gender-nonconforming people face disproportionately higher risk of profiling, unjust incarceration, and death. Police violence is everywhere in the United States,” said another protester Nguyen Thi Minh Thu.
The two groups of activists organized these actions to use their collective voices to resist and disrupt the overarching system that oppresses Black people and to expressly accept the responsibility of white and non-Black people of color to organize and act to end racial profiling, unjust incarceration, and murder of Black people in the United States and beyond. Black lives matter, today and always.
***See below for more quotes from organizers and participants in the action.***
Quotes from Participants in the Action
“As an Afro-Indigenous woman I feel the affects of white supremacy on my people. Being involved in this action has shown me where the participant’s hearts are at in the movement. Without collaboration of all people, no one can be free.” - Camille
“As Pan-Asian people in the United States, we refuse to perpetuate anti-Black racism. We will not allow our communities to serve as a wedge to divide us and jeopardize our struggle to end racism and achieve our collective liberation,” said Nguyen Thi Minh Thu.
“As non-Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people in the United States, we refuse to allow increasing acceptance of our sexuality and several marriage equality victories to end our commitment to advancing social justice. We recognize that this movement has been spearheaded by Black queer women and gender-nonconforming people.” said Monica Majewski.
“As white people in the United States, we refuse to align ourselves with a state that carries out violence against Black people. We are taking direct action to challenge white complicity and amplify the demands for an end to the war on Black communities,” said Katie Martin Selcraig.
“As a white person, my only options are to act against white supremacy or to be complicit in it. I’m here today because I refuse to be complicit” said Emily O.
“As a white man, I know I benefit and am protected by a racist society. I am participating today because it is necessary for those who are the least vulnerable to step up and put our bodies on the line if we ever want to build a just world,” said Eli C.
”As a white feminist, I take part in this action because anyone who claims commitment to equality must take action to dismantle intersectional oppression. Idling is a privilege afforded only to those who genuinely do not care,” said Nelli.
“As non-Black undocumented immigrants in the United States, we refuse to perpetuate the erroneous idea of earned citizenship. We honor the path set before us by Harriet Tubman by advancing civil and human rights for everyone regardless of legal status,” said a protester involved in the action.
“As non-Black women, including transgender and gender-nonconforming folks in the United States, we refuse to allow our commitment to gender justice to distract us from racial justice. We understand that gender and racial justice are intertwined,” said one of the organizers of the action.