Filed under: Critique, Queer, The State, White Supremacy
A statement from Outlive Them NYC on the recent rebellion and a call to reject collaboration with the police and the State.
The below was written by members of Outlive Them NYC in response to what we ourselves have seen in the streets and heard from our networks across the city. As Jewish abolitionists fighting for liberation, we support the George Floyd rebellion against anti-Blackness and the police. And as an antiracist, antifascist organization, we stand with the Black Jews and JOC in our own ranks, as we stand with Black people and oppressed people all over the world.
We are issuing an urgent call to other radical Jews and all those committed to this struggle to unequivocally reject collaboration, coordination, and cooperation with the police. Jews who collaborate with the police not only put non-Jews of Color in danger: they also endanger the lives, the health, and the freedom of Black Jews and JOC. We will not allow our siblings of color to be sacrificed, snitched on, or surrendered to a state which seeks their extermination.
What does this mean? Do not talk to cops, feds, or other agents of the state directly. Do not share evidence with them indirectly via social media (which is heavily monitored by police). Do not renounce others’ militant action (which legitimizes divide-and-conquer strategies of state repression). Any of the above puts not only yourself at risk, but also your crew, and countless others who you do not know.
As has been amply shown by the NYPD and by law enforcement all over the country, police will attack protestors regardless of our tactics and will use every resource available to repress this rebellion.
Throughout our history of surviving under oppressive regimes, Jews have long understood the dangers of informing on our community and cooperating with our oppressors. Jewish law forbids mesirah (a Jew informing on/reporting on another Jew to a secular state) because it puts fellow Jews in mortal danger. To report a fellow Jew to a government that is oppressing Jews is tantamount to violently pursuing them yourself. While mesirah is a contested topic within contemporary Jewish communities, this concept can help us understand non-cooperation with the police as a wise act of self-defense for communities targeted by state violence and repression.
For people, especially non-Black people, to hand the police evidence or make agreements that prevent others from fighting back against the police is suicidal saviorism.
To have any chance at eliminating police violence, we must be able to access a diverse set of tactics. Each time we hit the streets together, we are learning how to fight back, out-maneuver the vast forces rallied against us, escalate against the cops while keeping each other safe, and diminish the power of the police while increasing our courage and capacity for strategic action citywide. Respectability politics, narratives that set up false binaries labeling protestors either “peaceful” or “violent,” and the insistence on tranquilized street tactics will only divide and weaken us. We see through the “progressive” politicians who show up at Black Lives Matter events to take photos for social media while voting to build new jails and expand the NYPD, and we reject self-styled “leaders” who demobilize and demoralize the people of NYC with symbolic marches to nowhere. They cannot be trusted to guide us nor allowed to coopt our bodies for their own ends.
Inviting cops to control our maneuvers and dictate our tactics will result in a defanged, suppressed uprising. This is what politicians, corporations, and other enemies of the movement want. They cannot withstand or monetize a sustained rebellion. Collaborators who deem themselves peaceful are working to sever popular support from the righteous anger of the Black proletarian youth who lit the fires that ignited nationwide protests.
The state has already taken many steps to stop the masses gathering in the streets to demand justice: CS gas, curfews, kettles, and weak tea reforms. But state violence is a fear-based reaction that seeks to contain centuries of resistance by brutalizing us in the moment. State panic does not have staying power; we will outlive and outlast it.
Our prophets did not prophesy privately or peacefully. During the Babylonian Captivity, it’s said that Hashem commanded the prophet Ezekiel to be completely repugnant to civil society: to live on the outskirts of town and lie on his side while using his own shit as fuel for fires. To be part of a prophetic movement in Babylon today is to be against the values of Babylon, against white supremacist domination, against this anti-Black world—and for the world to come. In a society where it is acceptable for Black people to be murdered with impunity, we cannot expect those who revolt to do so in ways that are approved by that same violent and racist society.
If you find yourself struggling to understand how to put these values into practice, talk to us. If you would like recommendations for books, zines, films, or historical examples of counter-insurgency tactics being used to pacify movements in different times and places, hit us up. If you want to march with us in this time of crisis, meet us in the streets. If you want to build together, we are here for that!
Love and solidarity!