By: BOP Staff writers, Desiree McSwain and Alex Azzar
(Image Description: Patrick Lyoya holding up a photo of his son, the victim, Patrick Lyoya. Image Source: Anna Nichols, AP)
Heartbreaking, infuriating… The list of emotions we are feeling in response to the cold blooded murder of Patrick Lyoya is exhaustive. There is absolutely no justification for an officer shooting an unarmed citizen in the head. There just isn’t. Right now- these systems and system puppets (politicians, biased and racist “journalists”, etc) will attempt to drain our energy by perpetuating the argument around what is justified but WE know what this all comes down to. The line between life and death following police interactions for Black and Brown folks is paper thin and until we no longer have the foot soldiers of American racism (known as police) patrolling our streets we will continue to walk on eggshells for our lives in this country.
The police murder of Patrick Lyoya is especially hurtful because he was brought to this country by his father Peter, with hopes for freedom from violence and war back home in Congo–only to later have to witness his son become a casualty in the invisiblized war on Black people (and most specifically Black men). The term war in this sense is not a metaphor… It is the exact description of the climate that Black folks are forced to try to survive in. Every day countless Black men, women and even our poor babies are taken from our families and communities– by the hands of police violence, incarceration, childcare/foster systems and so on. “Policing” is nothing more than an extension of this corrupt society that thrives and profits off of the oppression and subjugation of Black bodies. Police are nothing more than an organized armed defense that this country overfunds to terrorize and destroy communities of color. Policing must be dismantled NOW. You cannot defund, reform or restructure a system that’s foundation is predicated on violence, racism and oppression. And we cannot wait and watch more innocent lives being taken while we sit around and look for a time when policing in this country “worked” in the interest of the people or provided actual safety (for ALL).
Black people aren’t safe in this country and there is no time to prolong the abolition of systems that continue to perpetuate the threats on our lives and our children. There is the notion of progressive inclusion of Black people into this society as citizens but we see that this is only in words and not in actions. If there were to be real safety for Black people, that would mean getting rid of systems that are killing us! Instead- the Biden administration recently proposed a $32 billion dollar budget to add MORE officers on the street, creating an even more unsafe environment for Black folks to live in. Can you imagine what it feels like to run down the street ( Ahmed Arbery ) ,walk home from the store ( Trayvon Martin, Elijah McClain) , to drive while Black (Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Daunte Wright ), to be asleep in your home ( Breyonna Taylor ) , to be watching tv in your home (Atatiana Jefferson), to be in or around school ( Anthony Thompson, Raheim Brown), to be pregnant and call for help (Charleena Lyles), or in Patricks case, to experience car troubles and have that incident result in the loss of your life. These lists are longer than who was named but it’s important to remember the names and the stories so that we can remind ourselves and the world that this did not happen in a silo. They should all be alive today. This was not an unfortunate mistake. This was intentional and this encapsulates the way in which policing functions for Black folks.
There is, however, a way for freedom and that is to create a world that is rid of anti-Black racism, rid of dominant patriarchal white “supremacy” that is fearful of anything darker, stronger, smarter than them. A world that is rid of police as we know it. We CAN have safe communities and we CAN have systems of accountability for wrongdoings but it requires a cultural shift. It requires a shift away from punitive policies that are tied to racist ideology and that feed a “for profit” prison industrial complex. It requires a shift in culture that would focus on rebuilding the community and allowing us to hold each other accountable, keep each other safe, and look at our community as our family. It requires investments into the lives of people so that we can live healthy, full lives with the necessities needed to do so. It requires us to break the chains of both racism and capitalism. It can happen. It will happen. In the meantime, while we keep pushing forward and organizing towards this future– we send our deepest condolences to Patrick, his family, and every other Black person in the world who has been re-triggered by this event.
Our message to you all is to remember all the reasons you keep living and keep fighting. Hold those things close to your heart and let those be the things that remind you to keep moving forward by any means necessary. So when the world tries to convince you that this treatment is inevitable or these circumstances are unchangeable, you can keep fighting just as your ancestors did because we are fighting for infinite freedom, freedom that spans far past our generation.
“The words ‘bad timing’ came to be ghosts haunting our every move in Birmingham. Yet people who used this argument were ignorant of the background of our planning…
They did not realize that it was ridiculous to speak of timing when the clock of history showed that the Negro had already suffered one hundred years of delay.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr