I stopped to copwatch today as four chicanx folks were being taken by police, supposedly for drug dealing. I didn’t have a camera but checked in as best I could with those being taken about standing as a witness, though it seemed they couldn’t speak English. The first thing out of the cop’s mouth when I got there was “I think this communist bitch is here to watch us”, at which his posse all laughed. For half an hour I stood silent as they threw insults at me. It is “obvious you aren’t from the Bay Area”, one of them said. “Go back where you come from”. One of them got up in my face to tell me I was responsible for drug addiction in San Francisco. They mocked the Spanish speakers they were arresting, saying they came from “El Diablo” while miming devil’s horns over their heads. As I stood silently multiple white men who I instantly read as techies thanked the cops for “finally dealing with these crackheads”.
Literally less than a week after a chicano man was shot and killed by SFPD for failing to follow directions in a language he couldn’t understand these cops are upset with me for merely standing by to watch as they invasively search and handcuff people before shipping them off to jail or worse. How could I not stop to bear witness? The injustice and violence that targets poor and homeless people of color is everywhere. How could I just look away?
As the cops screamed in my face I took comfort in the fact that I don’t feel this defensive when I know in my heart that what I am doing is right. These cops are killing people and they know it. We all know it. Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez, Mario Woods, Jose Luis Gongora. We don’t need any more names on gravestones to instruct us. We all know.
Pretending otherwise is an act of violence.