How Can White People in Switzerland Demand a Stop of Racist Police Violence?
Sunday, 01. May 2022
Imagine you are on your way home on a tram and police officers approach you alone and begin questioning you. You ask the police why you are being controlled and the officers command you to exit the tram. You are scared and you inform the officers that you recently had a heart surgery. Instead of letting you go home, they pepper spray you in the eyes, hit you in the chest. They then put you in a chokehold for minutes. You can barely breathe. When the police realize that you are almost dying, they take you to a hospital in handcuffs. You have bruises on the neck and jaw and the doctor tells you that you have a broken lumbar vertebra, bleeding in the eyes, a pulled thigh. You are taken to surgery for the meniscus injury. You go home with a police report that mentioned no injuries. You go from court to court for 12 years to seek justice and the public prosecutor tries to drop your case twice. The courts acquit the police officers. You are living with the pain and trauma and you know any time the police can stop you again, because you are a Black person. You survived. Like Wilson A.
Imagine you are being regularly stopped by police officers so you decide to wear a handbag because you want to look like a tourist to avoid your existence being questioned every time you go out. You are born here but the people see you as a stranger and worse, the police see you as suspicious. You are not feeling well, like many people. You have mental issues, like so many people in Switzerland. You are in a train station walking on a platform. Police officers arrive and shot you dead with three bullets. Like R. Nzoy. Police spread news that you had a knife. Your family is aware of how the police officers also told the same story when they shot dead Hervé Mandundu and Subramaniam H. with multiple bullets and got away with the murders. Imagine a life of one of your family ends up this way.
Imagine police officers beating you and press a knee on your neck so that you can no longer breathe. You lose consciousness and you are thrown motionless into a police van. You are deported with a broken arm and a broken finger. You still survived, like Mehdi. Imagine a life of one of your family get shackled and a mouth taped shut until they suffocate to death, like Khaled Abuzarifa. Or get suffocated to death with hands tied behind their back, like Samson Chukwu. Or get suffocated to death in full shackling and with a spit shield and helmet over their head, like Joseph Ndukaku Chiakwa. Or get chased by police and then have the police say that they killed themselves, like Mariame Souaré and Andy Bestman. Or one of your family is locked up in a cell and you receive a message from the police saying they killed themselves, like Ousman Sow, Alhusein Douto Kora, Abdi Daud, Medina Yassin Suleyman, Oleg N., Ilhan O., Lamin Fatty, Salah Tebbouche.
Imagine that you are escorted by a police officer to a police station in a twisted armlock. You are locked in a cell, alone. Another police officer comes in the cell and threatened you by saying that you will see what will happen to you. You start thinking that the police officer wants to harm you like Mike Ben Peter and then spread news that you died while resisting arrest. You see there is a camera in the cell. This happened to me during this corona time.
Imagine whenever police departments announce for example Xs resisted the arrests, Ys jumped out the balconies, Zs hanged themselves, and then the courts repeat these same words. This is happening to Wilson A., R. Nzoy, Hervé Mandundu, Subramaniam H., Khaled Abuzarifa, Samson Chukwu, Joseph Ndukaku Chiakwa, Mariame Souaré, Andy Bestman, Ousman Sow, Alhusein Douto Kora, Abdi Daud, Medina Yassin Suleyman, Oleg N., Ilhan O., Lamin Fatty, Salah Tebbouche, Mike Ben Peter, I, and to all Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who have experienced racist police violence.
Switzerland played a large role creating a Black collective identity and built a whiteness ideological system, with a plan to rob and harm Black people, as well as to give white people privileges of being perceived as good individuals. The police departments and the criminal justice systems are mainly made out of white people in order to represent the ideology of whiteness for the interest of white people. In a nutshell, the police department and the criminal justice systems is doing the dirty work of most of the white people. This is why it is only the same few white people who are anti-racist and hence in a country of 8 million people it is impossible to have a demonstration or a protest with at least 8 thousand white people to demand a stop of racist police controls and racist police violence.
Since seven years I have refuse to show my identity card to police officers because I realize they keep on stopping me for being Black. Since three years I have refused to give interviews to journalists because I realize that they are possessed to creating single stories or heroes. Now, since my last podium at Tour de Loraine on the screening of “Les Coups de leurs privileges”, I realized that I no longer want to participate in podium discussions because people prefer attending podiums than organizing direct actions. Never have changes come on podium discussions. I’m done talking when it is not connected to planning direct actions.
We live in a time where panel discussions, workshops and performances on topics of antiracism attract large numbers of people. People who are antiracism know each other across Switzerland and are in one way or another connected. There are different chat groups of people working on questions of race, gender, sexuality, religion, class, caste, disability. We are more connected than ever. This is why it is possible to keep my case going for over seven years now without worrying about court and lawyer bills. My case is totally funded by the people, among whom I even don’t know. This case is the case of the people, no longer mine. We need to take more advantage of this era to stop racist police controls and racist police violence through funding more cases and to organize direct actions. Podium discussions are good only if the right people are invited to the podium. Newspaper articles are not necessarily ineffective if voices of the oppressed are taken seriously. Demonstrations are good as well if enough white people come to the streets. Direct actions are important, but are missing in Switzerland.
Here are examples of direct actions which, if organized well, in a collective spirit, might pressure the courts as well as the police departments to at least speak about racist policing. In many workshops which I have attended, one of the questions which is always being raised is: what can one do to fight racial profiling? Here are three important things which you can do:
build solidarity groups to support court cases on racist policing to the end There are many BIPOCs who experience racist police controls or/and violence but for financial reasons they do not take their cases to courts. Others are forced to pay fines after being abused by police because they cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. Solidarity groups might help people who want to take the police to the courts. The more we take police to courts the better for the fight against racist and violent policing. This would mean documenting racist policing as well as racism in courts.
build Prozessbeobachtungsgruppe to document racism in courts When cases dealing with BIPOCs and Police officers are taken to courts, it is important to mobilize as many people as possible to attend court sessions in solidarity with BIPOCs and to pressure the judiciary system. Groups of people should be formed and be present to document court hearings. Institutional racism does not only occur within the police, but also in the judiciary. There is a group by the name “research-collective racism in court” that does this work for the case of Wilson A. and my case. More groups should be built to document as much cases as possible that are dealing with racist policing.
organize direct actions to pressure police, courts and parliaments Working groups should be formed across Switzerland to specifically pressure the police department, the judiciary and the government through direct actions to at least acknowledge the systemic practice of controlling BIPOCs. Create tension such as supporting lawsuits and organizing protests to demand all previous deaths as a result of police operations, at police stations or in police custodies be investigated by an independent commission. Direct action groups can mobilize people to pressure the parliament by occupying the Bundesplatz for as many days as possible to create an independent civil society institution to systematically record racist controls and cases of police violence. One of my favorite ideas is forming different groups of over 50 people each in different cities that meet once a week locally to police the police by observing controls and documenting them. Another idea is organizing groups of over 100 people to cross over the Swiss borders with lawyers and researchers but without passports and IDs.
Imagine forming a solidarity group to bring Mehdi back to Switzerland to take the police officers to court for putting their knees on his neck. Imagine forming a solidarity group to support the family of R. Nzoy in court. Imagine forming a solidarity group to support the family of Mariame Souaré to take the police to court. Imagine building a Prozessbeobachtungsgruppe that documents all court hearings as well as the situation of Brian K. who is being locked for years in solitary confinement with torture and without access to family visits and education. Imagine building a direct-action group to protest regularly for as long as it takes in front of the prison where Brian K. is locked in to create awareness nationally and internally until he is freed from the solitary confinement. Imagine that we send the case Mahdi, of R. Nzoy, of Mariame Souaré, of Brian K. and many others that involve police violence to the European Court.
Dear white people, support antiracist fights in an organized manner by mobilizing as many white people as possible to demand a stop of racist violence policing and to demand biased judges and public prosecutors ignoring racist violence policing to be fired. Organize a community outreach to boycott the media that repeat the same police and court scriptures of Xs resisted the arrests, Ys jumped out the balconies, Zs hanged themselves. Use your privilege to fight racist violence policing by organizing direct actions (besides attending podium discussions, workshops, demonstrations, writing articles, giving interviews). Unless you want to preserve the status quo of police-court game. Inaction against racist violence policing, means allowing the horrors of whiteness to Wilson A., R. Nzoy, Hervé Mandundu, Subramaniam H., Khaled Abuzarifa, Samson Chukwu, Joseph Ndukaku Chiakwa, Mariame Souaré, Andy Bestman, Ousman Sow, Alhusein Douto Kora, Abdi Daud, Medina Yassin Suleyman, Oleg N., Ilhan O., Lamin Fatty, Salah Tebbouche, Mike Ben Peter, and many BIPOC, to continue. Please mobilize your friends, your families and beyond your friends and families in every city to build Prozessbeobachtungsgruppe, Solidarity Fundraising groups, Direct Action groups, to demand a stop of racist police controls and violence. Disrupt racism now. Remember: a 500-person demonstration against violent racist policing is laughably small for police departments. We need at least 8 thousand people in solidarity of Wilson A. in the coming court hearing. This is our George Floyd who survived a pressure on his neck in Zürich.