We Need Community Defense Now

Stand, Speak and Listen’s Rhythmic Unrest protest on July 4th was another amazing event put on by our community of activists. Sadly, the speeches brought painful reminders of how much work there is to do. The moment I woke up to yesterday was a young woman saying she hasn’t been able to stay in her home for days. The presence of Proud Boys in her neighborhood poses an ongoing threat to her safety that keeps her from her home. I’ll spare you my outrage and go straight to

THIS HAS TO CHANGE NOW!

Most of my life I would have believed that this was a situation to take up with the city council and the police. In this case, it already has been. When Right Wing Extremists were standing around on Holly street with AR-15s, people called the police. The chief of police said they could not and would not do anything to stop them. This is what the law says:

RCW 9.41.270 provides that it is unlawful for a person to carry, exhibit, display or draw any firearm in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons. A violation is a gross misdemeanor.

Several members of the city council see the law the same way I do: that a group of people with AR-15s at the Ice Cream shop are there to intimidate people of color, LGBT+ community and anyone that’s not a conservative white christian. It’s somehow obvious to everyone what’s happening except the police. File under “things that make you go hmmmm” I guess.

So city council discussed the events and did nothing. They complained. They said the police chief was wrong and he should look at it again. Check out the video yourself. There was no mention of addressing the issue in other ways or forming a task force. Nada. ZERO. Nothing.

It’s the year 2020. Right wing extremists are intimidating marginalized people in supposedly progressive Bellingham and the city council and the chief of police are doing nothing about it. Are you OK with that? I am not.

I am involved in efforts to develop community defense in Bellingham and I’d like you to join me. First, I’m not down to form a militia. We don’t need more guns or violence. What myself and others want to form is a network to help protect our most vulnerable citizens with the presence of other citizens.

While some people in this network will bring the physical skills to restrain violent people, the idea is that raising the visibility of those opposed to racial intimidation will make racial intimidation more difficult. Imagine if 50 people showed up with cell phones recording the next time right wing extremists want to parade around with guns. They cannot intimidate marginalized people very effectively with a crowd watching.

What if we could give a ride or walk with the young people of color in our community that do not feel safe moving around our community? What if all the people in Bellingham willing to show up for those in need were networked to respond? With eyes and ears all over the city/county? And what if when this network responds, they do so with skills to deescalate situations and help the people in crisis resolve their situation instead of threatening to arrest people?

To me, replacing most of the police with a community network of volunteers and professionals is necessary because the police are not responding to many of the needs the community and are ill prepared when they do respond. In fact, the right wing extremists justify their need for guns to defend themselves from the police. So the police are the root cause of the right wing extremist parades in the first place.

Many of us are not waiting for the city or the police to change because they won’t change until they are defunded. Watching the city council members haplessly plead with the chief of police to follow the will of the citizens was a brilliant example of the many ways government is failing us. The only way we are going to make this a truly inclusive community is if many of us stand up and take the power back into our own hands. I know its scary- there is a concerted effort on the part of the state to scare you into believing that you are not capable of being a responsible adult. Yet they hire young men without college degrees and a cap on their IQ to walk the streets with firearms and enforce laws they barely understand. It’s insanity.

The White Supremacy is driving us all to madness because that is the only state where people will tolerate this injustice. This darkness will only end when we realize that big brother is lying to us about needing his protection and we rise up to build the world we want. That starts with basic security for everyone in our community, not just those with privilege.

Stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved. Join the site to join the discussion of this issue in the forum.

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