SEATTLE – US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) issued the following statement regarding the ongoing use of the National Guard, curfews, and military tactics in response to peaceful protests:
“I oppose the continued use of curfews, National Guard troops, and militarized law enforcement to respond to peaceful protests here at home and across the country. The reality is that this kind of constant reliance on a militarized response – a response of domination over protestors – is, in part, why thousands are uniting to take to the streets in the first place. Rather than this unnecessary show of force, we must insist that we respond differently, focusing instead on concrete policies that take on institutionalized racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness.
“I would urge our state and local leaders to listen to this call for multiple reasons.
“First, curfews are incursions on civil liberties and the constitutional rights of people to protest and assemble peaceably. They should never be used unnecessarily. I have not seen evidence that curfews continue to be necessary in the city of Seattle. We also know that curfews increase the chances of police interaction and the very police violence that people are urgently protesting.
“Second, I believe we have more than sufficient law enforcement without hundreds of National Guard troops. Even as we prioritize safety, we must be extremely careful about a response that puts enormous amounts of law enforcement [personnel] on the streets at a time when it is this kind of militarized response that protestors are rightfully protesting.
“Third, we must oppose the continued use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and flash bangs on our neighbors who are powerfully speaking out and standing up against police brutality, racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness. Nor should these be used to disperse peaceful protestors. That is as true in Washington, DC’s Lafayette Park as it is in Cal Anderson Park. Continued displays of force are part of the problem, not the solution. Efforts to suppress free speech and civil liberties as protesters raise legitimate, long-standing concerns take our march for justice backward, not forward.
“Ultimately, extending curfews day after day, arresting peaceful protestors night after night, and militarizing local police only reaffirms why we must protest against racism, anti-Blackness, and injustice in the first place: Black people in our communities can’t kneel, walk, speak, breathe, exist without being watched, feared, policed, targeted, attacked, or killed.
“This moment in history requires a transformative approach, not one that takes us backward to the exact tactics and culture that has led us to where we are today. Let’s end the curfews and the military tactics in our streets. Let’s be the community that shows how to respond in this moment by listening to our neighbors, taking meaningful action and making real, institutional reforms.”
Courtesy of Rep. Pramila Jayapal