Sins Invalid Statement on Police Violence, republished in memory of Charleena Lyles, Rest in Power

We are horrified and heartbroken by the death of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant Black mother with a mental health disability, who was killed by Seattle police in her own home on Sunday, June 18, 2017, after calling to report a burglary. Charleena was murdered in front of her children, one of whom has Down Syndrome.In outrage and solidarity, we offer the Sins Invalid Statement on Police Violence, originally released on Thursday, September 4th, 2014, and republished in the Disability Justice Primer, October 2016.[Image description: Black and white pencil drawing of a Black woman with long hair, looking directly at the viewer. Text at the top says "Charleena Lyles" in bold black letters. Text at the bottom says: "#SayHerName, Black Disabled Lives Matter, Black Mothers Matter"] Sins Invalid is a disability justice-based performance project centering disabled artists of color and queer / gender non-conforming disabled artists. Our work celebrates the embodied humanity of disabled people, and we understand all bodies live in a multitude of very real social, political, economic and cultural contexts.As an organization led by disabled people of color and queer / gender non-conforming people with disabilities, we live with high rates of state violence, from forced institutionalization, to ongoing police brutality and the murder of Black and brown disabled people.We witness the horror of a deadly chokehold placed on Eric Garner, a Black man with multiple disabilities, by the NYPD. Our hearts break for Kayla Moore, a fat black schizophrenic trans woman suffocated by police in her home in Berkeley, after her friends called the police for help. Similar to Eric Garner, Kayla’s killers tried to blame her death on “obesity.” We hear the cries of Ezell Ford’s mother when she realized that her son with mental health disability was shot by LAPD while walking home.  We stand with Lashonn White, a Deaf queer Black woman who was running toward police for safety, and instead tased by police and jailed for three days without access to an interpreter.  We embrace the memory of Victoria Arellano, an under-documented transwoman living with AIDS, who died in an ICE facility in Los Angeles as a result of being denied medical care. We feel rage with the family of Kajieme Powell, a Black man with a mental health impairment, who was shot by St. Louis police within seconds of their arrival, for stealing two sodas and a package of pastries.We know that modern day police forces are direct descendants of the “slave patrols” employed to police and control the bodies and labor of enslaved African people and violently repress their resistance to slavery. We recognize that Black and brown people with disabilities are pipelined from “special education” to incarceration of one form or another.We acknowledge that disabled people who are Autistic, who are Deaf, who live with mental health impairments, or cognitive impairments, epilepsy or movement disorders, are at highest risk of being assaulted by police, and that this is deeply compounded when we are further marginalized by homelessness, transphobia, and white supremacy.We do not see training as a viable solution, since it leaves intact the fundamental belief of the police that their purpose is to “control the situation.”  As people with disabilities, our bodies and minds are not controllable and cannot always comply — this must be understood.  Our bodies and minds are not criminal.  We are unique and we celebrate our complexities.We strongly oppose Urban Shield and all programs that seek to militarize police departments through paramilitary training and military equipment, as they serve to further dehumanize communities of color and poor and working class communities as “domestic enemies.” Increased militarization of the police leads directly to increased police violence, particularly against disabled people of color.We grieve that people with disabilities have largely been ignored and dismissed as key leaders in resistance to state violence by the US Left, perpetuating the silencing of our stories and maintaining barriers to a united front.It is within the context of disability justice that WE SUPPORT JUSTICE FOR CHARLEENA LYLES of Seattle, Washington.  It is within the context of disability justice that we hold true that ALL COMMUNITIES ARE VALUABLE, and that BLACK LIVES MATTER.[Image description: Black and white pencil drawing of a Black woman with long hair, looking directly at the viewer. Text at the top says "Charleena Lyles" in bold black letters. Text at the bottom says: "#SayHerName, Black Disabled Lives Matter, Black Mothers Matter"]Download the portrait of Charleena Lyles, created by Micah Bazant with Vilissa K. Thompson and Cyree Jarelle Johnson of Harriet Tubman CollectiveFor more information about Black disability justice, please read:Disability Solidarity: Completing the "Vision for Black Lives" a Black Disabled Woman Is An Act of Defiance: Remembering #KorrynGaines Cripples Are Your Comrades, Not Your Counterpoint America is Hurting & Tired. White America, Do You Even Care? Arnaldo Rios-Soto & Charles Kinsey: Achieving Liberation Through Disability Solidarity #BlackDisabledLivesMatter#BlackMothersMatter #BlackDisabledParentsMatter #BlackDisabledWomenMatter #BlackLivesMatter Image taken by Lisa Ganser at a vigil for Charleena Lyles, in Seattle, WA, 6/18/17. Image description: a sidewalk at night with multiple votive candles and tall candles illuminating warm light in the darkness. Signs and flowers are spread throughout the sidewalk. A chalk drawing of a heart with 'Charleena Lyles' in the center. One white poster says: "Black Lives Matter/People with Mental Illness Matter"