APTP

The Anti Police-Terror Project began as a project of the ONYX Organizing Committee. We are a Black-led, multi-racial, intergenerational coalition that seeks to build a replicable and sustainable model to eradicate police terror in communities of color. Founding coalition members include the Black Power Network, Community Ready Corps, Workers World and the Idriss Stelley Foundation. APTP is not a non-profit organization.

 

Cover image by Brooke Anderson Photography

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APTP Denounces City of Berkeley Decision to Allow Police Use of Pepper Spray

The Anti Police-Terror project denounces the decision of Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council to place more aggressive policing tools in the hands of the historically racist and violent Berkeley police department. On September 10th, at the Berkeley City Council meeting, a 1997 ban that prevents police from using pepper spray at protests, was modified to give police limited power to do so.

According to law enforcement, pepper spray is safer and more contained than tear gas and they need something because they are at a loss for how to respond to the protests that have been in the streets of the City since February.

Pepper spray carries on the air in the same manner as tear gas and has just as much potential to impact people beyond the intended target. Additionally, no warning is required before the police use pepper spray - as there is for tear gas - nor is there any requirement on the part of police for justification of why, when and on whom they use it.

According to the resolution, police are not allowed to use it on crowds but they can target individuals in crowds whom they deem “violent”. If both recent and past history teaches us anything - it is that those of us who pose the most risk to the State and its agenda that get categorized as violent. And there is nothing in the history of the BPD that should give the people any faith that they will operate inside of the rules. One only has to remember the murder of Kayla Moore, or look at the fact that they still refuse to release the full findings of their internal audit on racial profiling, let alone commit themselves to a plan for addressing the myriad of race problems that plague their department.

Each time the right-wing white supremacists have come to the Bay Area under the pretense of “free speech” - violent acts directed at Black, Brown, LGBTQIA persons and progressive businesses with Black Lives Matter signs in their windows have been committed. People have been called racial slurs, spit on and had their windows broken. Activists have been doxxed, had their personal information spread across social media platforms - including where they live and work, received death threats, have had to move into safe houses and bring security to meetings and court dates. Yet - none of these egregious acts of violence prompted Mayor Jesse Arreguin to attempt to classify these groups as gangs (as he is with Antifa) or inspire him to call for increased police aggression. Instead, the Mayor, has called for increased police violence against those community members who stand up and refuse to let hate flourish in the Bay. Even the Mayor himself admittedly received thousands of death threats from these same groups he is rushing to now defend.

This most recent move is little more than the continuation of an agenda that criminalizes dissent, upholds the tenets of white supremacy and empowers the frontline enforcers of white supremacy (law enforcement) to repress the masses. Jesse Arreguin - who ran on a progressive platform - has once again betrayed the very people, and values, that got him elected in the first place.

At the special city council meeting, held at 3pm on a Tuesday after only being announced the previous Friday, the police gave a completely absurd fabrication of the events that took place on August 27. They claimed that the organizers on the sound truck that was at the march were handing out shields and weapons to participants in the march. Organizers did have shields to give to people who were fearful about the all-too-common violence from white supremacists, who have maimed and murdered people very recently, including the death-by-vehicle murder of Heather Heyer in August 2017 and the multiple stabbings of people in Sacramento in 2016. There were absolutely no weapons distributed during the rally and it is deeply problematic for the police to be claiming anything else. Even Mayor Arreguin acknowledged later in the council meeting that the police narrative was “incorrect”, as he was present on August 27.

Emeryville Police with AR-15s: Are We Safer?

On February 2nd a Black mother of two was gunned down by the Emeryville Police Department after being confronted by a security guard at Home Depot for alleged shoplifting. Yuvette Henderson was murdered in a hail of gunfire by police armed with AR-15 military-grade machine guns.

Since that day, many in our community have asked - why does a police department with a small number of officers, patrolling a community of less than 11,000, need military-grade assault weapons? Are the people of Emeryville any safer because of it?

On Sunday December 13th the Anti Police-Terror Project will host a public forum to examine the militarization of local police departments and the implications for public safety. Where do these weapons come from? Who pays the bill for expensive toys like this armored personnel carrier purchased by a police department in Florida? And who benefits?

We’ll also explore the ways that agencies like the Pentagon have played a role in accelerating the militarization of local police departments, as well as the direct connection between the Oakland Police Department and the Israeli Defense Force. Policy experts and local activists will examine the impact of coordination between police and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Latino communities.

The day will also feature spoken word and music performances highlighting the damage done by police violence. This forum is the launch of a broader campaign to end militarization of the Emeryville Police Department, and will include opportunities to get involved.

Speakers and performers include:

Cat Brooks - Anti Police-Terror Project
Ras Ceylon
Yuvette's brother, Jamison
John Lindsay-Poland - American Friends Service Committee
Omar Ali - Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Opium Sabbah
Sagniche Salazar - Stop Urban Shield Coalition
Alia Sharrief
Maddy Taylor - Standing Up for Racial Justice

 

WHEN: Sunday, 12/13 from 2:30 - 5:00 pm

WHERE: NUHW Hall, 5801 Christie Ave # 525, Emeryville

Venue is wheelchair accessible.

Conversation: 'Tasha, A Monologue About Police-Terror Victim Natasha McKenna to Premiere In Oakland is Written and Performed by Cat Brooks

I had a chance to catch up with Anti Police-Terror Project co-founder Cat Brooks to talk to her about a play she's developing about Natasha McKenna. Natasha was killed by sheriff's in Fairfax County Virginia in January of this year. Brooks will be premiering her Natasha monologue titled "'Tasha" at an event this Saturday and Sunday at Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, CA. 

Who is Natasha McKenna?

Natasha McKenna was the mother of a seven-year old. She suffered from schizophrenia. She was 37 years old [when she was murdered]. In January, just days before Yuvette Henderson was killed [by Emeryville Police] she called the police because she had been assaulted. When the police got to her - because of her mental state - they took her to the hospital and somewhere in the interaction they say that she assaulted a police officer and so they arrested her. This is important because it was clear they were dealing with mental health issues which is why they took her to the hospital to begin with.

"She was a real person with real feelings who experienced this horrific horrific crime. She was a person, right? She’s not just a name on a placard or a hashtag, she’s a human being."

They took her to the Fairfax County Jail and put her in a cell by herself and she lost it and so they decided to extract her from the cell and they were going to take her to a hospital and so six guys, five whom were in [hazmat] suits violently assaulted her for 45 minutes in an attempt to get her handcuffed and onto a gurney. She repeatedly said that she thought they were coming to kill her. In the process of that, they ended up tasing her 4 times. She died as a result of the tasing. Even though the coroner said she died because of how many times they tased her and they went against every [protocol of how to use the taser], even from the company who makes the taser, no charges are being brought against the police officers.

Natasha McKenna.

As we have seen in the recent past, media and social media focus on male victims of police brutality and that’s now changing due to efforts such as #SayHerName. Before it was almost as if cisgendered males were believed to be the most relatable subjects.  However, in your activism and in this current work you are presenting you are choosing to focus on somebody who is suffering from mental health challenges and who is a Black Woman . . . Why is this topic important to you and why do you think this is a problem that affects us all?

Well I’m a Black Woman and I’m a Black Woman who has bad days. I really think it started with Yuvette’s murder honestly. I’ve been doing this work for a long time and a vast majority of that work has been centered around holding up the lives of Black Men. When Yuvette was murdered, I don’t know if it’s because we’re close in age or if it’s because we’re both mothers or it was right around the corner from my house or all those things combined and just synergistically -  because I think of the Black Lives Matter movement being led by women and unapologetically so - some space opened up to really fit in the fact that we are being murdered by police at a godawful rate too and somewhere I knew that and always knew that and I’ve had my own experiences with police-terror but there just wasn’t the space. It had yet to be opened up. All of those things combined hit me in a particular way. That’s been the primary focus of my work.

My recent decision to leave my full-time regular job and really focus on being an artist and activist and merging those two worlds together, I’ve chosen to focus specifically on telling the stories of those [people] whose stories don’t get told.

What the Black community does not need is for it to be Black Men against Black Women. Like who suffers the most? I’m not interested in that and that’s a very dangerous conversation. I think the conversation is about - if we’re going to get liberated - it’s got to be all of us. In order for real liberation to happen we have to tell the whole story and so that means talking about women, transgender and queer people too.

Tell us about this weekend’s Monologue? How did you choose the topic and what did the process of writing the piece entail?

Again, I made this decision to shift my life in major ways and to really focus on my art. I’m a poet. Initially the idea I had was to tell a bunch of the women's stories, a series of monologues, Rekia, Natasha, Yuvette, Sandra. I didn’t know who I was going to write first and I was literally in bed, it was three o’clock in the morning and Natasha - this is going to sound crazy. If you’re an artist this doesn’t sound crazy but it might sound crazy to other people. Natasha just

 ". . .if we’re going to get liberated - it’s got to be all of us. In order for real liberation to happen we have to tell the whole story and so that means talking about women, transgender and queer people too."

started talking - in my head - really loudly, to the point where I had to get up and write what she was saying. It was just sort of free form. I just typed and I didn’t edit and I just let it all come out. Next I watched the video in pieces. I could never watch it all the way through in one shot. It’s incredibly painful, the video that the sheriff’s put out about her murder. I watched that repeatedly. I watched a lot of videos of people who [suffer from] schizophrenia. And I cried a lot. Then it became clear to me that it’s not going to be a story of all these different woman, I wanted to tell Natasha’s story so I made the commitment to do that. Once I made the commitment out loud to do that the community has really responded with extreme support. That’s how this weekend came about.

This weekend are “artists response to police violence” put on by NAKA dance company who are the same folks who brought us the The Anastasio Project, which is an incredibly powerful piece around police-terror. There are several other artists participating. I think it should be a pretty incredible night at Eastside Arts Alliance.

Is this the premiere of the monologue?

It’s the first time performing it publicly. I’ve been working pretty intensely with a director and coach and we’ll see what happens.

Will you develop this into a full play in the future?

Yes, that’s the end goal. I want to have the first draft of the play completed in February of 2016 and we’ll have our first public reading in February as well.

Many people know you as a co-founder of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project and you’re a seasoned grassroots activist. How important is creating art when it comes to the struggle for liberation?

Art is central to my life. Period. I’ve been on the stage since I was eight years old. It’s what I got my degree in. It’s what I thought I was going to be doing for the rest of my life and then two things occurred. I had my daughter and Oscar Grant got killed. Those two things consumed me so I sacrificed my art and now I’m back to it. Artist’s are the conscience of the community. We just are. I’ve always believed that my entire life. I’ve always felt that I’m supposed to use my talent or my gifts or this calling to make the world a better place, to say things that can’t be said in other places, to challenge the status quo, to force people to think and to take risks. To be an unapologetic truth teller. To me it goes hand-in-hand, particularly in the Bay Area every single major movement that we have has this beautiful cultural parallel path that happens:  Murals  and music and poetry and dance. It’s one of the things that I love about being here.

Cat Brooks addressing protestors at a rally to demand the release of Yuvette Henderson surveillance footage.

I know you’re very busy rushing to a panel right now. Just one more quick question. If people could take just one thing from this weekend’s monologue, what do you wish it to be?


I hope they walk away with Natasha’s humanity. She was a real person with real feelings who experienced this horrific horrific crime. She was a person, right? She’s not just a name on a placard or a hashtag, she’s a human being.

Interview by Frank Sosa @sosanista

Additional sources about Natasha McKenna:

The Washington PostBy withholding jail video, Fairfax County sends a message that it opposes accountability.

Think Progress. No Criminal Charges For Deputies Who Tased Shackled Woman With Four 50,000 Volt Shocks.

APTP announces Federal Lawsuit on behalf of Yuvette Henderson's Family

On February 2, 2015 members of the Emeryville Police Department gunned down and killed Yuvette Henderson, a mother of four and a grandmother. On Thursday, October 29, 2015 APTP, along with members of Yuvette's family and their attorney Dan Siegel held a press conference to announce that they filed a Federal Civil Suit against the Emeryville Police Department as well as the two officers involved. Here is the Full video of the press conference.