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Maintaining Social Control: When Police React to Black Youth Fighting Back

This isn’t the first time. This will not be the last.

When people of color

Speak out, stand up, fight back,

Their uproar is often. Repressed.

By police and the institution

Who use their authority to silence

Voices. Which are screaming for a justification.

Screaming for Justice.

It makes me angry to know that this past week the University of Chicago Police unjustly arrested members of fly working to get a trauma center on the south side of Chicago. Tonight as I heard one of the fly protestors speak, it became obvious that there is a difference between knowing your rights, and people (particularly police trying to maintain social control) not caring about what ever rights you thought you had as a citizen.

I said it before, and I feel inclined to say it again. We must support the youth that still have the strength to scream out to systems that don’t acknowledge their existence. There is still a remnant of young people organizing their communities for social change in this country. I was introduced to one of these organizations a year ago, when I went to a teach-in that educated me about my university’s fiscal priority and social abandonment. FLY (Fearless Leading by the Youth) is an emerging youth group that is fighting to make the lives of people in their community better.

On their Facebook page they give background information on this issue:

“We lost one of our founders, Damian Turner [last year]. It was not just the stray bullet that killed him. Damian, a youth leader in the struggle for human rights, was a victim of the system he was fighting against. U of C Medical Center closed their trauma center in 1988 because it was losing them $1.5million/year. They get close to $60 million year in tax breaks and are building a new $700+ million research building. We intend to make sure that the UCMC, as the most well-resourced hospital on the south side [and in the country], gives back to our community and fills the gap in trauma care.” (For more information on this visit their Facebook page)

This past spring was the first time I attended a meeting for FLY (fearless leading by the youth). Fly continues their campaign for a Trauma Cent. The lack of a trauma center on the south side is a symbol of how many communities of color are continually ignored and pushed into the margins. It is a tangible and measurable representation of how poor communities are deliberately silenced or at least unconsciously forgotten. As the trauma center campaign continues, I believe it is an opportunity to discuss the larger issues of in black communities.

When entering into the conversation about marginalized communities one must take into consideration the idea of “intersectionality,” a term first used by Kimberle Crenshaw. Leslie McCall in her article on “The Complexity of Intersectionality” defines intersectionality as “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations.”

To make sense of police who unjustly profile and brutalize poor communities and communities of color, to make sense of how black and brown bodies perpetually become victims of social control, to make sense of why poor communities around the world continue to be forgotten, to make sense of why the queer communities of color continue to be disenfranchised, to make sense of all the injustice in a world that forsakes human rights, we must first, seeks to understand how various levels are marginalization impact communities simultaneously. The event at University of Chicago last week was not the first time that police have stepped outside their bounds, and it will not be the last, the only question is, who will do something about it? Who will speak, stand, scream and fight? You?


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