Occupy Oakland’s fourth Community BBQ & Speak-Out event will take place this Saturday, April 7th at Defemery Park in West Oakland, commemorating Fallen Comrades on Lil’ Bobby Hutton Day and calling for justice for all of the countless racist murders that are directly caused by, or systematically ignored by, the racist “criminal justice” system. This call includes justice for Oscar Grant, who was murdered by BART police based on racially motivated suspicion; as well as justice for Trayvon Martin, who was murdered by a neighborhood watch volunteer also based on racist suspicion, and whose racist attacker the Florida police refused to arrest despite the man’s clear guilt. The connections are obvious—in its hypocrisy, the racist police state and its citizen proxies will conflate criminality with colour and use this as a basis for murder, even while protecting and defending perpetrators of murder crimes, as long as these crimes uphold the racist dimensions of power and repression. To expand these connections and our conversation around endemic, epidemic forms of racist violence in our society— to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, and also for the countless others who suffer this violence daily—we add the call for justice for Shaima Alawadi. Following the BBQ, there will be a “Hoodies and Hijab” march from the park to Oscar Grant Plaza.
Shaima Alawadi was an immigrant from Iraq, a resident of US for almost 20 years, a mother of five children, a devout Muslim, a woman who wore hijab, and a person like any other. She was brutally beaten and bludgeoned by an unknown attacker inside her own home, left for dead, bloody and unconscious on her living room floor. She was found by her daughter, with a note on her body that read “go back to your country, you terrorist.” According to a recent Huffington Post article, “Investigators said they believe the assault is an isolated incident… ‘A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,’ Lt. Mark Coit said. ‘We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.’”
In furthering the connection and our commentary on the hypocrisy of the racist police state, its perpetration of racist violence, and its perpetuation of systemic violence in society, it is particularly relevant to reflect on this reluctance of police to declare the case a hate crime. Considering that police don’t hesitate to use the hate crime classification arbitrarily in order to criminalize and repress political dissent, as in the case of the Ice Cream 3 of Occupy Oakland, it becomes obvious that the state’s infrastructures for “safety” and “justice” are only utilized in order to stabilize the racist, sexist capitalist order. They don’t give a fuck about women, people of color, immigrants, fags, dykes, queers or trans people UNLESS one of these people happens to be rich or powerful, or useful in the preservation of the status quo of rich and powerful.
The police commonly report hate crimes and racist violence as “isolated events” in order to make it harder for people to identify this violence as a structural issue within our society, rather than a few racist individuals. When, for instance, cops kill black people in Oakland, it is not because there are a few bad cops in the system; it is because cops and the system itself are the protectors of white supremacy. Shaima’s case is also particularly relevant considering that the national discourse on terrorism, alongside that on immigration, has been an overwhelming source of the resurgence of racist ideology in the U.S. over the past decade.
Shaima’s murder should make us reflect on how the imperialist U.S. government only cares to address gendered violence when it can be racialized in service of white supremacy and used to justify the state’s acts of invasion and colonization. When the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, one of its central justifications was the patronizing, racist claim of “protecting Muslim women,” meanwhile at home the domestic dissemination of an anti-terrorist rhetoric fostered racist anti-Muslim sentiments that violated and harmed women and Muslims all over the country. In other words, the government only ever addresses gendered violence when it can use it as a means of demonizing men of color at home and abroad, and thus to use this as an argument for repression, invasion, and imperialism.
In extending these calls for justice to include a Muslim immigrant woman whose violent murder was explicitly racialized by her attacker, we develop our understanding and rejection of the racist police state, even as we remember its victims, drawing connections across race/ethnicity, nationality, religion, and gender. We acknowledge that the violence of the system runs broad and deep; that it is structural, fundamental. Fuck the system. All power to the people. Justice for Trayvon Martin & Shaima Alawadi! Justice for Oscar Grant. Justice for Anna Brown… Justice for Rekia Boyd… Justice for JaParker Jones… Justice for Raheim Brown… Justice for Kenneth Harding… Justice for Aiyana Jones…