Category Archives: Government

Men Say We’ll Show Up Later. It’s Fucking Later.

Hell of a day to be writing this. Look, women don’t need a dude to be telling them what to do in the wake of Roe v. Wade being struck down by the Supreme Court. But men? We need to fight like it’s our fight. Is it because gender is a complex concept and some men can get pregnant? Yeah, that’s part of it. Is it because we’re such good allies to women? That’d be good, but why is that the equation in the first place?

How about because it’s our damn fight. Not ours to lead or any of that bullshit, but because women’s rights are human rights. Oh no, I just quoted Hillary Clinton, I can feel some people I know fuming – get over it. Do you disagree? Do you disagree with the reality that women’s rights are human rights?

If you know women’s rights are human rights, then fight like it. Do the activist work that gets people elected who can change this shit, do the protest work that shifts norms and encourages growing numbers to raise their voices and vote. Shouldn’t matter if you’re a man or not, shouldn’t matter if you think this is a women’s rights issue or not. It should matter if you’re a human because you’re fighting for a human right.

As men, we’re taught to feel disconnected from whether people have the right to an abortion. We’re taught to think it’s some other person’s fight. If that right is a human right, why the hell don’t we as men – in the numbers we can bring in to support – why don’t we act like it’s a human right? I’m tired of the bullshit norms that excuse men from this work. I’m tired of the privileged concepts that teach us that armchair quarterbacking those who are doing the work equates to effort instead of self-important fantasy football for activism.

As men, we can help normalize and expand the right to an abortion. As men, we can provide the numbers that enable ongoing efforts to turn the tide. We like to pretend the choice to get involved isn’t a conscious one, that doing nothing or little is a promise of involvement later. How much later, because it’s pretty fucking late. Being involved or not, doing the work of activism or not, those are conscious choices. Failing to work for a human right isn’t a norm. It’s not a promise to get involved at some point when we feel like. Failing to do that work is a failure, and men are failing.

That’s not anti-man or any of that bullshit. If it’s a human right, and we don’t fight for it, then we are failing. As men, we all know that men will work harder to justify our failure to show up than we will on actually getting involved. We’ll put more work into criticizing those who are doing work than we will on actually getting involved. Human rights are not secondary to our comfort, and I’m sick of the expense our comfort extorts. We talk about masculinity as a sacrifice of body, as a worship of personal gain. We don’t talk about it as a sacrifice of time, effort, energy, alliance, empathy, presence. We talk about it in terms of showing off, not showing up. How is that worth a single fuck? How does that change anyone’s life but yours? What do you want others to call that but sociopathic?

As men, we fail again and again and again, and move the goalposts further back to legitimize that our continued failures to help are just norms that have always existed. We gaslight on a social scale so we don’t need to lift a finger. What a pathetic bunch. What a non-value we’ve become. What a worship of meaninglessness and nonexistence we’ve sold ourselves.

It’s not that hard to call officials, to march or lend support, to offer a skill that’s useful, to find out where an organization needs you and be there. As men, we have no impact or footprint beyond what we fail to do, beyond the responsibility we prolong, beyond those we call allies who never see us arrive in meaningful numbers. Our laziness makes the world a desolation, while we message back and forth a play-act about how others failed.

I’m done with men being a failure, but it doesn’t make a fucking difference if we as men aren’t done with it. I’m not sure we’ll get there, but can we at least god damn try? Can we try for a bit as if it’s our responsibility, too? Can we act like that on some level of scale?

We can say not all men, whatever, but not nearly the fuck enough, and we know it. Show up, get other men to show up, normalize why showing up is our responsibility and matters. Change what we are, because what we are…we know it doesn’t work. We know it doesn’t help. We know we can do more to support others and build community than we’ve done.

Call your representative. Call your senators. Call your governor. Search how to call your congresspeople in your state house and senate. Maybe they’ll listen, maybe they won’t, but we spend more time worrying about that than the time it takes to call, and calling Republicans in numbers still applies pressure and saps them of political capital. Volunteer with Planned Parenthood. Search for abortion rights marches in your area. Take an action. Let’s be men and help.

A Coup by Any Other Name…

A coup is not about what someone’s motives are for having it. A coup is about what happens, what can be measured. A coup doesn’t stop being a coup because someone is doing it for profit, and start being a coup because someone is doing it for power. Plenty of coups for profit have succeeded in seizing governments; plenty of coups for power have failed.

Neither are we psychic enough to know for sure any motives that Trump has behind his actions. We know his whim is unpredictable, dangerous, and can change by mood, yet then we act as if we can predict his future actions perfectly. We can’t. The only thing he’s demonstrated is that whatever is most chaotic is what he knows how to exploit best.

A coup is measured in what is happening. Last week, Trump replaced three of the four most powerful people at the Pentagon: the Secretary of Defense and two under-secretaries. We’re told Secretary Mark Esper’s removal was expected, and this makes us feel safer without our asking why it was expected – because he opposed the invocation of the Insurrection Act to use active duty military against protesters.

Richard Pilger, the director of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch was forced out on Nov. 9 because he opposed Trump’s Attorney General William Barr attempting to interfere with election results. Now Christopher Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has been fired for refuting the Trump-Pence Administration’s conspiracy theories. All this in a week and a day.

Meanwhile, Trump is denying the results of the election along with the majority of the Republican Party. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week told us he expected a “smooth transition to a second Trump Administration”.

These are all steps that are component to a coup. That it hasn’t fully formed is not an excuse to pretend it won’t matter. The only reason it’s not fully formed is because it’s still advancing bit by bit every day. It doesn’t need to be clear, highlighted, and complete with a “We’re having a coup here!” sign if it can still get stronger every day by being murky and ill-defined.

Trump, Barr, Miller, and their cohorts may not even know how far they’ll follow through on it. The answer is: however far we allow them.

Do I think Biden will be seated as president on time? I think it’s likely. But if we face even a 30% or 20% chance of a coup that goes much further than it already has, that’s far too high to risk.

I get that we recognize a full-fledged coup isn’t taking place. But that’s not the same as recognizing no coup whatsoever is taking place. As in many things, the Trump-Pence administration is pushing the norms further and further out to see just what they can get away with. If it’s some no-bid contracts and arms sales that make them money, that’s what it will be. If it’s a second Trump Administration ignoring the election, that’s what it will be.

The defining factor isn’t what they intend or what they want, because they’ve always wanted as much as they can take. The defining factor is where we stop them from taking any more. That means the work of active opposition and resistance to this administration isn’t done. However much it sucks, however much we don’t like it, that is the reality.

The thing is, we know how to beat this stuff; we’ve been doing it for four years. That is also the reality. We’re good at it by now. Sometimes even extraordinary. So go be really fucking good at organizing and calling and – if organizers decide it’s needed, marching. Go be really fucking good at stopping their greed and destruction one more time. Don’t let them leave on any victory, and certainly don’t risk them staying on one. Make them slink away into the night with their tails between their legs like the caught out con-men they are.

Gabriel Valdez has served as a campaign manager, PAC manager, legislative aide, and reporter. If what you read on this site is useful to you, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

Avoid the Media Circus. Focus on Policy and Voting.

If Trump succumbs to COVID-19, his administration can still win the election. His ideas may still pervade and damage this country, impact and cost real people, real rights, real safety.

If Trump loses the election, it really won’t matter what the disease does or doesn’t do to him. It will matter that he lost, and we can start putting things back together again, start making real progress on reversing damages and protecting the future.

I don’t care if the announcement was timed or not. I don’t care if Trump’s on a drug cocktail that makes him loopy or not. I don’t care how serious his case is or isn’t.

All of those are plot developments, twists, and cliffhangers on the reality show he wants us to buy into, and the information we’re provided isn’t always reliable or consistent from one day to the next. I’m supposed to believe people who lie all the time that he’s on this or that drug, so I can conjecture that he’s doing this badly or that well, and then analyze how we feel, our response, how we think this month will go…based off of that? What a god damn waste of our time and energy.

None of those changes the real things that are before us that we can impact: the calls we make, the votes we re-enable, the civil rights we remind people are maintained by their votes. Trump can be severely ill for the rest of the month or flying through the air on a pony tomorrow; it should not change our work.

Resist the temptation to allow your feelings to exist in the circus of chaos they want to make of this. Like in everything else, the reality they present will change day by day, and so will our reactions. If they dictate the reality every day, then they dictate the reality the election takes place within. How are we supposed to win an election where the reality of what even matters…stops mattering?

Trump will be the picture of health and a miracle cure one day, on his last legs and needing prayer in the form of donations the next, refusing drugs because he prays it away one minute, then “surprisingly cogent” despite all the drugs a minute later. COVID will be like the common cold one minute, and then a terrible disease only a warrior like him could beat the next. Get too deep into that mountain of bullshit and you’ll be looking at the election, wondering where all that time went, and going, “Why am I so deep in all this shit and sputtering even more of it?” as they dictate the day’s message every morning.

This is an election about civil rights. Keep it about that. Remind people of that, of their role in keeping those rights. What’s the day’s message? Policy. Civil rights. Our message.

The message doesn’t change day by day if you wake up every day in the same reality, with the same set of provable truths, and the verifiable effort and impact you can make before you.

I don’t care what happens to Trump. I care that he loses this election, and that we do what we can together to ensure it. That’s it. There’s not a lot of drama to it. There aren’t constant updates about it. There’s just continuing step by step, keeping the work in front of us that we know makes a difference.

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Why Would We Give a Supreme Court Seat Away without a Fight?

I am not exhausted by Republicans. I am exhausted by our thinkpiece cowardice.

I am exhausted by the idea that instead of thinking we can beat Republicans head up, we twist ourselves in knots figuring out how to give away the current fight, like this Supreme Court seat, to win the next one. How many fights is that given up for the next one, a next one that turns out to be so much harder because we gave away the last? Republicans use that last fight as a building block, as foundations that we lack because we said we’d build them later.

Let’s just ram ourselves into their political process. Make them spend their political capital on us. You want to appoint a Supreme Court justice, then it will take you every ounce of political capital you’ve got left. Spend that shit on us. Fucking earn it. You want to act like the next fight will be easier if they waltz through this one, build political capital off it, change polls off an October victory? You call that political calculus, instead of the one thing that could risk this election more than anything else right now?

Gifting an October Victory

Winning this confirmation fight without a real political cost will let Trump and Congressional Republicans produce advantage and raise mountains of cash. It will let an administration that has been anything-but declare itself competent, and allow a Republican nominee who campaigns only on the idea of winning – who hasn’t produced a win for his party in a year-plus – turn around and refresh that image on the basis of a brand new, shiny victory, easily won because we thinkpieced ourselves into deciding that tarnishing it wasn’t worth it.

Can we please take a fight head-up for once? Since 2016, we more often argue ourselves out of the next fight, and why we should give up on it for the one after – I am so sick and tired of reading people’s god damn think pieces on why we should let Republicans win every other battle.

What fucking resistance so often talked themselves into the notion of, “Yeah, let’s not resist so often, you guys. They’ll win it anyway, so why make it hard for them?” The fuck is that? Do you realize how much that erases the effort that activists have put into everything else – how much it allows Republicans to drag norms rightward in those moments when we pretend as if the fight doesn’t effect those norms?

Then we have the gall to act like we’re bad at fighting these battles when we never fucking bothered in the first place. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of, “Well, we’ll lose this battle anyway cause we’re not good at them, so let’s not focus on it,” which only gives you more evidence that you’re bad the next time you want to justify not bothering.

We’re going to have the fight over this nomination. Senators and the Democratic Party are going to take up this fight. If the rest of us pass it up, they won’t have the foundation on which to press it.

But Our Resources!

The notion that we don’t have the resources to spend is nonsense. We have more people. We have significantly outraised Republicans on nearly every front. We are the stronger.

What happens when we do take on these impossible fights we convince ourselves we’re destined to lose? What happens when we convince ourselves that Mitch McConnell is secretly baiting us into the fight as if he can magically predict its outcome and what we think he thinks we think is assured?

Trump and McConnell wanted to have a fight over the 2017 ACA repeal – we handed them their asses. They wanted that fight for years, were champing at the bit for it, had years to plan how to enact repeal at their perfect moment, and we put that repeal the fuck to bed. That was a fight they wanted, and we shut it down cause we didn’t ask, “Should we be having this fight?” We just fucking fought.

They tried to escalate into a war with Iran earlier this year. They wanted a scalable war they could half-fight so they could obsess the media over it and argue it would damage a war effort to support anyone but Trump. They had been trying to maneuver into justifying a war for years. And we shut it down in a week. We didn’t argue whether we should fight that fight, we just told them, “Fuck this”. We just fought.

We have more people than them; we have outraised them; we have more support than them; we have better polling than them; we finally have them backed into more of a political corner than ever before; and now we want to ask whether we should press the fight or not – when failing to do so relents and give them a Supreme Court seat?

We imagine that Republicans will somehow magically outspend us despite lacking the resources to do so. That’s because we’ve sold ourselves on the narrative they always will. It does not reflect the reality before us.

The notion that we have to save it up is nonsense. If we don’t spend it in the next month, what we’ve saved will be significantly devalued under a second Trump term that rips apart election integrity. There’s a month left. What are we saving it for?

An Open Seat will Turn Out Republicans?

Oh, but Republicans will use an open seat to campaign? Yeah, and they’ll use a successful Supreme Court appointment to campaign, too. They’ll use people’s willingness to normalize that appointment to campaign. They’ll use Trump coming fresh off a win to campaign. They’ll use that win to convince a base that’s partially abandoned Trump to come back home. They’ll use that win to revitalize voters who rarely came out but chose Trump in 2016 to come out once more. At the very least, that win must come with great difficulty, and it must have every asterisk we can pin to it in plain view.

You want to argue that not having this fight is politically smart, and instead hand them a massive, uncontested political win right before the election? That’s what we’re calling political savvy now?

This is the most important part: even if we lose, that fight itself anchors norms that people will vote on in the election. People aren’t voting on whether they think Trump is guilty – everyone already knows that and has decided whether they’ll care in their vote. We fear Republican turnout when a Supreme Court confirmation is on the line, as if the same doesn’t hold true for us – even as we trumpet how many small donations were made in the wake of Justice Ginsburg’s death. You marvel and treasure at the mobilization in her name, for her seat, and then you forget that mobilization holds true for voting as well, acting like it only somehow magically turns out Republicans.

What people are voting on is whether we can ensure they hold to civil rights norms enough that they still hold them sufficiently valuable in the voting booth to make the right decision. And you’re looking at a fight over civil rights norms taking place 5 weeks before the election, and arguing maybe we shouldn’t participate in it?

I have no words for that level of abdicating our responsibility, for evidencing to voters that level of wild inconsistency on the norms we need them to be consistent about come November. What a horrific example we set if we don’t pick this fight up. What a fucking fire sale of our norms that is. What a fugue state of looking at the finish line and going I’ll take the second and third step, sure, but not the next one, and imagining that somehow makes us finish.

I’m tired of fights over civil rights being turned into anything-but, and then witnessing our utter shock when elections decided on civil rights norms don’t go our way. If we’re telling voters to vote as if civil rights are on the line, yet we fail to clarify how this puts civil rights on the line or even fight to defend them…what cue do voters take when they don’t even see us taking that fight seriously, insisting to them that they should?

If you’re working in another lane, on election work, calling, fundraising, textbanking, or anything like that, keep it up. That is valuable. We can’t relent on that. That adds to the pressure on this front.

Yet if you’re figuring out what to do next, this needs to be on your plate. This adds to the pressure on the election fight. They’re not separate fights; they’re the exact same one.

Let’s not one more time thinkpiece our way out of lifting a finger for a fight that needs to be had.

Why are We Shocked Mitt Romney is Still Mitt Romney?

Sen. Mitt Romney just agreed to push forward a Supreme Court nominee from Donald Trump in the last days before a presidential election. Keep in mind that earlier this very year – just seven months ago – Romney voted to convict Trump on an article of impeachment relating to Abuse of Power.

Said Romney about this vote, “The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’ Yes, he did.”

Somehow, Romney can vote that Trump should be removed from the presidency, yet at the same time insist Trump should be able to put forth a Supreme Court nominee as president.


Let’s go over a brief selection of the heroes who would save the day so we didn’t have to:

  • Hamilton electors in 2016 would buck the Electoral College in an unprecedented move.
  • Jill Stein’s recount would save the election instead of simply giving us access to more information.
  • Obama’s press conference toward the end of his presidency would change everything when there’s no possible way a press conference can undo an election.
  • The Steele Dossier would topple Trump.
  • John McCain would lead the charge despite being a moral Slip ‘N Slide throughout his career.
  • Lindsey Graham would help him do this instead of becoming Trump’s bestest golf buddy ever.
  • Susan Collins would stand up for what’s right instead of doing whatever kept her from facing a primary challenger.
  • Jeff Flake would fight for more than two seconds instead of enjoying his half-retirement.
  • Bob Corker would become reliable when allowing Trump to gut regulations was helping him make millions.
  • Bob Mueller would embarrass Republicans with a dramatic show of anger instead of simply fulfilling his role as an investigator.
  • Mitt Romney would be the voice of moderation instead of folding like a lawn chair the very same way he has throughout his entire career.

Again and again, we find ourselves shocked that our hero of the moment doesn’t fix everything. Why? Because they surprise us by continuing to be exactly who they’ve always been, instead of having an inexplicable third act character reversal. We volunteer to excuse ourselves from the process in the hope that one of our heroes, or a “moderate” Republican, or a senator who’s retiring and has one good speech, will fix everything despite having failed to after countless chances.

There are useful efforts that have been productive in this list, but we too often consider those efforts complete jobs from people we assume will take a next step they never said they would take. Viewing them that way, or waiting and hoping for that person to take that next step delays us from using the step they’ve already taken as a foundation to build from.

The people we make heroes of will – at the very best – do their jobs well. That’s it. At their worst, their stances are marketing points that have been copied 50 times over and mean nothing.

If they do their jobs well, it’s up to us as an activist coalition to take full advantage of it. If they’re just ambulatory blogvertising with a smile toggle like Romney, it’s up to us as an activist coalition to mitigate the damage and turn it around as much as possible.

The power to change what is happening still rests with us. Every time we’re disappointed a hero didn’t save us, we’re just disappointed with the inconvenience and reminder that we’ve got to do that work instead. And you know what? It is a shitty inconvenience. It sucks, but complicity is bred from the dangerous idea that someone else will do the work, so we can justify excusing ourselves from it.

I get it. It’s fucking hard. We shouldn’t have to do this, but we talk about how this is a marathon. A general election is coming up. Trump can be replaced. The final stage of any run, even marathons, is where you push yourself hardest – it’s when you’re most exhausted and it’s easiest to give up and coast. It’s when you’ve got to sprint out that last stretch after your energy’s already expended, after it’s been gone for some time. There are either two choices – you do it, or you let someone else win.

The worst results won’t come if we’re disappointed by people in power. The worst results that can happen come if we end up disappointing ourselves. We still control whatever process we get enough people to make noise over, and that volume influences public opinion that shifts even more voices to our side.

“Defund the Police” is a Mission Statement, not a Slogan

To those who think “defund the police” is too strong or controversial a slogan, try considering it as a mission statement instead.

People have allowed police violence to continue unabated. A catchy slogan that’s soft enough to feel unchallenging to opposing voices isn’t going to shift a norm. Remember, conservatives wanted to play at civil war over one man who knelt through an anthem.

Mission statements shift norms. Communicating clear criticisms and expectations shifts norms.

So many allies who have issues with “defund the police” seem to grasp the concepts of shock doctrine and disaster capitalism, and how they’re used against us on socioeconomic fronts. We understand when there’s a sea change and a moment of unpredictability, politics can be changed against us in fundamental ways. We’ve fought that forever.

Why is the idea of using social protest to quickly shift norms to achieve the goal of that protest still such a foreign concept to so many? It’s the same concept of using unanticipated, shocking moments to shift norms quickly, except instead of dismantling a society for profit, it’s utilizing the voice of a society to rebuild a broken part and keep people safe.

We completely understand how these moments of shock are used against us. We understand it to the point where the shock and disaster capitalism itself threaten to become constant norms. It’s used so often against us that the first step of fighting against it is to fight the weariness that tempts us to shrug our shoulders and accept it.

Despite shock doctrine being such a constant in our lives, despite recognizing that it’s something we live with every day, we still don’t understand how protest inverts the same mechanisms to help people; we still don’t imagine we’re capable of it ourselves – even when millions are protesting. We imagine we have to soft sell it – and not even our own fights. We convince ourselves it’s our job to soft sell someone else’s fight because we’re so afraid we can’t take hold of the mechanisms once that Trump uses day after day.

How fucked up is it that we fight against this administration’s normalization and shifting of social anchors every day, but when that shift is asked of us, we hem and haw and ask if we can pre-concede it on behalf of someone else’s protest, against their wishes, in order to play to the very people who fuck up our norms and social anchors daily?

That is a brutalization of our consistency and resolve. It’s a misunderstanding of our capability, and it’s an absolute failure to understand the needs, priorities, and capabilities of those we’d say we’re allied to. Slogans do not shift norms. They advertise something that a customer is already seeking to buy – they’re just deciding between brands at this point. Slogans are “come identify with this brand” so you impulse buy from us instead of them.

We’re not dealing with impulse buying. We’re dealing with picking up the largest vestige of one of the most brutal social norms our country was founded upon and shifting that anchor out from under people so it can be placed somewhere healthier. Our first act cannot be deciding that shifting the norm is too difficult. The job is to convince and expect people to move that norm, not to repaint the one that already exists without shifting it one jot.

How much have George W. Bush, Trump, and their cohorts absolutely ruined our ability to gauge our responsibilities and capabilities in protest? How much has a generation-plus of this nonsense gotten into our heads?

Branding is not reality. Doing shit is reality. “Branding is reality” is what Trump sells you because it’s the only thing he and Republicans are good at. It’s the only way they can still win anything. We will not beat them in “branding is reality” because they are better at it than we are and they believe in it, where we stop when it goes too far off the rails.

We’re the “doing shit is reality” side, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to be. And if we’ve lost that so soundly, we’re already screwed and we every one of us know it deep down. I don’t think most of us are that lost, but we absolutely know the draw and temptation of being that lost; we all understand something tugging at us that says, “just take the easy route” because we’re all so tired.

We all know what that lurking element within us feels like, and we all know that the Trump administration is relying on our giving into it. Hell, it was Stephen Bannon’s entire strategy starting Day One of the Trump administration: Tire us out. Tire us until we were willing to mistake the easy for the needed, and call a change in advertising a change in reality. That is their entire plot. It is all they’re good at, but holy shit are they good at it.

We will never out-sell Trump on perception. We can beat him on reality, and we can easily outwork him. Figure that out fast.

So let’s be good at doing shit. Let’s be good at resting when needed and then being tireless. Let’s be good at the hard things. Let’s be good at taking that lurking piece of ourselves that says, “justify what’s easy instead of doing what’s needed” and setting it to the side. We don’t do what’s easy when it comes to civil rights. We do what civil rights organizations tell us is needed.

Black Lives Matter is looking to haul up and replace a social anchor that’s been used to suppress Black people since before the Civil War, that’s been so effective at it that this country has used that same social anchor to suppress every other community they can think of: Latinxs, Asians and Pacific Islanders, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, the disabled, the list goes on.

Trump used secret police in Washington, D.C. with no identifiers, working for lord knows what agencies, with no trail of accountability for crimes they commit, and we’re wondering if de-funding that happy ass bullshit is too strong a stance?

New murders, beatings, and sexual assaults committed by police are revealed daily and we’re wondering if de-funding that crap should be toned down? To what? Funding murders, beatings, and sexual assaults by police at the same level they are now?

You’re not a salesperson on commission looking for the best angle. The slogan doesn’t need work because it’s not a slogan. It’s the job: You’re an activist working against the risk of people losing their lives. Act like it.

Imagine being a protester who actually believes the act of protest can achieve the goal of that protest. Then imagine the opposite. Ask which one gets shit done.

On “Defund the Police” and the Job of Alliance

Nobody cares if you think Black Lives Matter has branded correctly, or is using a slogan you don’t like. Black protesters tried a lot of other branding: “Please don’t kill us,” “I can’t breathe,” “Black Lives Matter.” The same thing you’re saying now has been said about all of it.

Imagine if allies stopped thinking it was our job to assess the messaging, and started thinking it was our job as allies to carry those messages forward regardless. The job of an ally in these situations isn’t to tell whoever we’re allied to how to run their own protests. It’s to aid in making the protests more effective and safer, however the marginalized group in question decides to run it.

It is not an ally’s job to assess or judge, or think ourselves qualified to rate or grade. Starting from the standpoint of thinking that we can do the job better than they can is an inherently supremacist argument. It’s soft, polite supremacy, sure, but it is supremacy nonetheless.

It normalizes the idea that ultimately, we’re the arbiter of what is appropriate or not in terms of how Black Lives Matter brands, takes action, communicates. It pretends that the idea of rating them and discussing that assessment with friends is some helpful, activist action, when all it does is play fantasy football with other people’s risk.

If Black Lives Matter wants the police de-funded because it saves their lives, are we really going to quibble over branding for the priorities of the people whose lives are at risk, whose shoes we’ve never walked in a day in our lives? Are we going to pretend we can communicate the needs they live every day of their lives in a way that’s inherently superior to the way they’ve decided to do it? Or are we going to show up for the job we’ve been asked to do and ensure that police are de-funded because it saves lives?

Imagine Black people pleading for their lives and telling us what the solution is, and then sitting back and discussing whether doing that in blunt terms is too inept or simple for our tastes. Putting it that way might help you realize how fucking baldly racist it comes off.

Our job isn’t to assess whether BLM’s messages work or not. Our job is to make those messages work the way Black activists have decided through their extensive knowledge, experience, and generations of sacrifice that have determined what these messages need to be.

Think that you know better than movements that have endured things you can’t imagine for generations? We do not know more than BLM. We do not know more than Black protesters about how Black protest needs to be shaped and conveyed. Ease off the ego trip. Recognize that as allies it’s our work that is needed. Our judgment is not work; it treats other people’s sacrifice as a sandbox. Judgment is not an effort; it does no work. Listen to what needs doing and then do it. That is effort, that is work, that is real alliance.

Actions to Take: Sacramento Incident of Police Violence

Sacramento DA office, Community Policing:
(916) 874-6218
(wait for first sentence of message to complete, then hit 8. On next menu, hit 1)

Sacramento Mayor’s office:
(916) 808-5300
(press 0 at menu, then press 1 on next menu)

Reporting that evidences this incident of police violence is right here.

Demand that the officer who committed these crimes is charged and prosecuted. They disobeyed their training by shooting a teenager in the face with a rubber bullet. That training exists because shooting someone in the face with rubber bullets can cause severe injury or death. Having that training yet using these weapons in that fashion regardless is attempted murder.

Given that Sacramento has multiple incidents of police violence and misuse of weapons, demand that commanding officers are investigated for whether assault on peaceful protesters and bystanders was ordered, either formally or informally. Demand investigation of whether commanding officers gave orders to disregard training by aiming rubber bullets at people’s faces. Charge and prosecute commanding officers as necessary.

The DA’s office cannot rely on the police to investigate a crime the police themselves committed. They must make an independent decision to charge and prosecute. They have photographic evidence, witnesses, and a victim.

This is not asking the DA’s office to do anything special. This is expecting them to do their job. I want to stress that the Sacramento DA’s office will treat you like shit. Don’t let this deter you. Communicate your expectations, call back if they hang up on you, repeat yourself if they transfer you. They act like bullies; show them that acting this way holds no power.

Additional video of the aftermath:

Actions to Take: New York City Incident of Police Violence

Manhattan DA’s office:
(212) 335-9000
(lodge your complaint, they’ll put you through to Community Management)

NYC Mayor’s Office:
(212) 639-9675
(just keep telling the automated system “operator” until you get connected to one)

Reporting that evidences this incident of police violence is right here.

Demand that the officer who committed these crimes is charged and prosecuted. He is clearly walking beside a superior who ignores the action. Demand that this superior is investigated. Further demand that the officer’s commanding officer is investigated for whether assault on peaceful protesters was ordered, either formally or informally.

There is an independent review, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The DA’s office cannot rely on the police to investigate a crime the police themselves committed. They must make an independent decision to charge and prosecute. They have video evidence, witnesses, and a victim.

This is not asking the DA’s office to do anything special. This is expecting them to do their job.

Article contains video of incident from multiple angles.

Actions to Take: Buffalo Incident of Police Violence

Erie County District Attorney’s office:

(716) 858-2400

Reporting that evidences this incident of police violence is right here.

Demand that the officers who committed these crimes are charged and prosecuted. Demand that their commanding officer is investigated for whether assault on peaceful protesters was ordered, either formally or informally.

The DA’s office cannot rely on the police to investigate a crime the police themselves committed. They must make an independent decision to charge and prosecute. They have video evidence, witnesses, and a victim.

This is not asking the DA’s office to do anything special. This is expecting them to do their job.