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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Home Featured Stop calling the police on us

Stop calling the police on us

Think before you pick up the phone to bring the cops down on people of color and unhoused people. Too often, it ends in death.

A rally for Alex Nieto, killed by SFPD after someone called 911.

Stop Calling

Stop Stalling 

Stop Talking while more Black Sons are fallen 

No I mean Stop enabling and Colonizing 

a system that kills 

more than it does anything else

with roots in the original lie of discovery and theft 

Meant to confuse our already confused mindsets

Got us all believing that numbers like 911 mean housed people are safe from us houseless — that Whites are safe in their own embedded desire for wealth-hoarding White-ness 

that continuing to buy and evict, foreclose, sweep, and kick makes anyone safe from myths 

About how to be safe and what is the way to handle fear and danger everyday

In a place already stolen

A land already rife with murderous lies that keep getting told and told

That was set up to shoot Kill every Black, Brown or poor person in their way

Was locked in to support fear

so more protected classes could steal 

And more of us could end up in their jail cells 

These are the legacies of the stealing fathers And the Kop-callers 

And the way to unlink the shooting from police 

Is for you to stop and think

Why am I calling- 

And how did I begin to believe safety ever meant dialing 


leading to the death of more Black, Brown and poor daughters and sons.


“I do this every day… please let me go,” said Mali Watkins, a 44-year-old martial artist. “I was just dancing.”

A rally for Alex Nieto, killed by SFPD after someone called 911.

As the body camera footage of the Alameda police was released yet another example of racist cop callers and racist cops literally terrorizing  an unarmed Black man for the sole act of  “dancing while Black in this stolen land.”

As disgusting as Mali Watkins story of police terror is, the silent perpetrators, who as usual are not being named, were the people who “reported it” — and to be clear it must noted that although more than one person “called” it in, multiple witnesses testified that not only did Mali live in that neighborhood, but did the same dance routine in the street every day for exercise.

Now if you think, oh that’s terrible, that should never have happened, guess what, most of the police calls which sadly lead to this kind of abuse every day, are rooted in people calling 911 and reporting it.

The death of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat was caused by a call to 311 (the social service line). The death of Stephon Clark was “someone” calling about a “suspicious” black man entering the house (his grandma’s house, who he often entered that way).

Steven Taylor was having a mental health crisis in Walmart and cops were called.

People called the fire department who then called the police on Demouria Hogg, 30 for peacefully sleeping while black in his car in Oakland.

And in this nightmare called police terror and murder the tragic call on Alex Nieto must not be forgotten. Again a person calling on a Brown man eating a burritoin his long-time neighborhood of the Mission that so many of us long-time residents can’t even afford to live in anymore, because of the influx of the people who happily call the cops on us if we “look out of place.”

There are literally hundreds of folks killed by these calls that then lead to the military armies who were “called” out to “solve” the fear of the caller, killing us, cause no matter how many “trainings,” reform measures, or body cameras will always continue to operate that way.

Could any of these people have minded their own business? Did they think they were “helping”?  Have they been told somewhere along the way that calling police is being a good “citizen” And do people ever examine their own racist, classist point of view about Black, Brown and houseless people before they make these calls? To get the roots of this systemic confusion, we have to look at the herstory of 911 and the police in this stolen land

The genocidal roots of police

From the beginning of this theft of this land, police and police-like agencies were used to enforce, brutalize, incarcerate and control poor people, indigenous people, and enslaved people. In different parts of this stolen land there were different needs. In the South it was “slave patrols” to keep chattel slavery able to do its evil. In the plains and western states it was to incarcerate, kill, and harass first peoples of this land so colonial land theft was possible.

Subsequently, it was to guard the stolen land from the people who it was stolen from daring to take it back, live on it or even walk near it, in the very ancestral land their peoples were born. Because stealing mama Earth, buying and selling and hoarding her, was also taught as the way to “make it” in this wealth-hoarding society, these laws only increased and got more entrenched and dangerous. The police became the ones who literally were there to “protect” private property.”

Workers were  threatened and shot by police in many workers rebellions, anti-poor, anti-disabled-people laws or “ugly laws” and pauper laws were used to incarcerate, harass and move unhoused people and for non-stop harassment and ongoing jailing and deportation of indigenous children and babies. Poor youth of color have always suffered from police harassment, and jailing and terrorizing  continues today, so many times leading to the profiling and murder of young people of color in our own barrios and hoods like Eric Salgado, just shot in his car in deep East Oakland this week, Alex Nieto in the Mission, and more.

And then there is that looming question that people asked after the insane story of Mali Watkins, what else should they have done?

Maybe, as we teach at our How to Not Call the PoLice Ever sessions, there needs to be another emergency number instituted that is not connected ever to the police.

How did 311 (mental health crisis, Fire Department, Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services) get connected, linked to the police? These are separate moves, they are serious but not EVER something that should include a person with a gun, taser, chokehold or stick, to beat, maim, and kill.

How do you unlink the Po from the Lice 

It is a never-ending battle for all of us to stop calling these murderers, when we do the How to Not Call Police trainings we are constantly asked, what else can I do? Even by fellow poverty skolaz, and truth be told, rape and child molestation and murder and violence are real, and that’s where the rest of us ComeUnity leaders comes in. Leaders like POOR Magazine’s Elephant Council, which we convene with our elders and prayer-bringers and manifestos of change, when we hurt each other, which we do often as houseless, very low-income, indigenous, traumatized folks. Community Ready Corp has worked for years to create a Black-led community response team to crisis. Folks like Critical Resistance who continue to teach the roots of policing, and others like or brother Joey Villarreal from POOR who is working with other leaders to create a Xicano led first-response crisis team.

But it’s also important for folks to begin by questioning the reasons they are afraid of houseless bodies, disabled Black and Brown bodies in our and your neighborhoods, how you automatically and unwarrantedly decide that we are not your neighbors, that we are not just eating a burrito, or recycling or exercising and instead decided that our mere presence is a threat to your “safety.”

And how did any of us become so convinced that people with weapons that cause death make us safe? And how did your safety become linked with poor and POC peoples absence?

And how did safety get defined by a capitalist model of violence and military and death even when we face these very serious and terrifying situations?

Finally, consider the demand we houseless people made again (the millionth time) To Disband the PoLice as some powerful warriors are doing in now in Minneapolis or the Black New Deal created by Anti-Police Terror Project.

But in the meantime, keep protesting, keep resisting, keep saying no to racist police and/or if you do nothing else, please stop calling the police on us.

You can reach tiny at www.lisatinygraygarcia.com or @povertyskola on Twitter. You can register for the workshop by emailing poormag@gmail.com