We are witnessing the start of a rebellion sparked by the public execution of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25th, 2020. For those of us who see our own faces, our families, and our friends’ faces in the video depicting the brutal arrest and ultimate death, we know the trauma, grief, and psychological pain feels overwhelming. The weight of white supremacy feels crushing. The rage in our bodies and on our streets is real.
This week starts on a somber note following days of protests in over 100 cities where peaceful demonstrations gave way to violence that resulted in destroyed communities and thousands of activists, journalists, legal observers, and community medics arrested and injured. We understand in this moment, now more than ever, our communities are risking their lives to demand justice and change. We also understand that the protests will not end until there is justice for the brutal killing of George Floyd and others before him, like Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Police Department and Tony McDade by the Tallahassee Police Department.
We feel heartbreak, anger, fear, sadness, and growing unrest as we live through yet another distressing moment that reminds us why we fight for racial justice. For those of us who have been on the streets during Oscar Grant, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, or at Standing Rock, this moment feels different and bigger. We’re seeing fractures in the blue line while also seeing an increase in unabashed, un-instigated use of force from the police. We’re seeing renewed alliances between American Indian Movements (AIM) and Black-led movements in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We see hope amidst chaos.
GSA Network is a Black and Indigenous-led organization staffed by trans and queer people of color and white allies. We are feeling all of the impacts of everything that is happening right alongside you and trying to make sense of the senseless images of police brutality in Black communities. It is because of our collective experience that we know trans and queer youth of color are the right leaders for this moment. Trans and queer youth of color can’t and shouldn’t be shielded from this moment. They are already leading conversations about institutionalized racism and white supremacy, and how they can disrupt it now. They are seizing their power to bolster online activism, uplift narratives that center their needs, and denounce police presence in their communities.
We will follow their lead and provide them with the historical context for this moment in time. We will uplift the work of our ancestors and the history of trans and queer people of color through time. We will shine a light on the origins of the police as an institution of slave catching, the Tulsa Massacre of Black Wall Street 99 years ago, and the long-standing solidarity of Black and Indigenous organizing. We will honor Pride month by first remembering the “Riots” – led by trans women of color- that gave birth to Stonewall and our own LGBTQ+ movement for rights and liberation.
Our work is guided by the leadership of the National Trans Youth (TRUTH) Council’s Nine Point Platform released in 2018. Fittingly, this year’s focus is on Point #2, “We call for the abolition of the police, ICE, borders, and the judicial system.” And we will work alongside them to ensure that the larger LGBTQ+ movement understands the importance of the call to #defundpolice as a matter of trans and queer survival.