Here in the Slag Glass City we are devoted to nonfiction literature and art that speaks to the ways we stay alive in cities. To be alive in any terrain one must first have the freedom to keep living. The murderous, anti-Black and anti-trans practices of policing in America have taken too many lives, in cities large and small. White supremacy and cis supremacy are embedded into the culture of American law enforcement, city management, and urban planning, and must be dismantled.
LAQUAN MCDONALD and REKIA BOYD in Chicago. GEORGE FLOYD and PHILANDO CASTILE in Minneapolis/St. Paul. TONY MCDADE in Tallahassee. KAYLA MOORE in Berkeley. DEBORAH DANNER in New York City. Countless others. Say their names; look them up; know their stories.
Artist Mari Hernandez painted a roster of some of these names onto Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, a block from the site of George Floyd’s murder. JAMAR, TAMIR, SANDRA, BREONNA. The names take up most of a city block, and the list keeps growing. All of the names on this list, and on all the lists, are attached to a body, a person, a life story stolen, never able to pursue another step, another dream. If we all think, for a moment, of our own desire to keep living perhaps we can grasp what it means for these lives to have been taken away. If we all think, from this moment forward, of who loses and who benefits when police brutality prevails, we might begin to understand what needs to change.
As a former longtime South Minneapolis community member and a current Chicagoan, and in tandem with so many others, when viewing the videos, I clutch with grief watching George Floyd’s last breath, and I am gutted by the sound of shot after shot after shot, sixteen in all, pummeling into Laquan McDonald’s back. The steadfastness and bravery of the protesters—who began the current wave of resistance on the Minneapolis streets where I spent thirty years of my life—give me hope. At the same time, I mourn the devastation of small immigrant, queer, and people-of-color-run businesses and arts organizations caught in the crossfire. I don’t know if all the devastation was necessary, but surely some of it was, as now we stand at a new precipice. Out of uncertainty comes space for creation. I grieve, but am also cautiously excited, because I believe we have a chance, this time, to rewrite the narrative of what it means to be an American.
As editor of Slag Glass City, and as an urban American, I support the Minneapolis City Council in their revolutionary efforts to reimagine policing in the city where cops murdered George Floyd. I embrace protesters in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and all the cities and towns nationwide and worldwide where the people are saying No More.
In his book The End of Policing author Alex S. Vitale writes: “Policing will never be a just or effective tool for community empowerment, much less racial justice. We don’t need empty police reforms; we need a robust democracy that gives people the capacity to demand, of their government and themselves, real, nonpunitive solutions to their problems.”
Here in the Slag Glass City we hope that cities everywhere inhabit this moment with new brilliance. Let’s work together to confront oppressive infrastructures. Let’s take risks that lead to a better way. In the coming year, Slag Glass City will be in search of work that directly addresses and bears witness to these stories and themes.
—Barrie Jean Borich, Slag Glass City founder and editor.
If you are looking for ways to help now, we suggest supporting the following national and midwestern organizations.
Based in Chicago’s Washington Park, Assata’s Daughters was founded to address the gap in programming that builds power and influence among young Black women, femmes and gender non-conforming people. Responding to the COVID-19 crisis and the protests following the murder of George Floyd, Assata’s Daughters has been coordinating supply drives, and check-ins with community members.
Funds donated to Campaign Zero support the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns, and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.
The Chicago Freedom School was sent a cease-and-desist by the city after Chicago police noticed youth center members serving pizza to protesters on May 30th in the Loop, after public transportation was shut down and people were unable to get out of downtown. CFS is modeled after Mississippi Freedom Schools of the 1960s and serves as a safe space for young people, ages 14-21. Financial contributions help CFS implement youth leadership and social justice education programs including essentials like food, supplies, transit passes, youth stipends, and more.
The Brave Space Alliance out of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood is a Black and Trans-led LGBTQ center dedicated to providing resources and programming to queer people on the South and West Sides of the city. The group is currently organizing rapid-response support for people impacted by COVID-19, police violence, and the protests.
Founded in 2013, BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) is a member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Last year, the Chicago Chapter took over city hall along with organizations such as Assata’s Daughters and the People’s Response Team to protest against the police academy and the Fraternal Order of Police. BYP100 Chicago also engaged in multiple actions and demonstrations for Laquan McDonald who was murdered by CPD’s Jason Van Dyke.
My Block, My Hood, My City is an exposure-based education program for teens and a network of volunteer initiatives that serve Chicago communities. Their mission is to help teenagers overcome poverty and isolation, boosting educational attainment and opening them to opportunities that make a difference in their lives. Their Small Business Relief Fund helps small business owners in Chicago who have been looted and vandalized.
Reclaim the Block organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. They organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments.
Thanks to Slag Glass City Contributing Editor Jen Soriano for their assistance.
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women
and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie
SLAG GLASS CITY · Volume 6 · June 2020
Header image by Lorie Shaull