FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2021
ATLANTA — With Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ call on Wednesday for an increase of 250 police officers two weeks after the murder of eight people in the spa shootings, local community groups and activists that center racial and Reproductive Justice are disturbed by the mayor’s proposal to increase the police force, including the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, inc., Access Reproductive Care-Southeast (ARC-Southeast), Feminist Women’s Health Center (FWHC), and AMPLIFY Georgia.
As the recent shooting and rise in violence has been connected with anti-Asian sentiment, Mayors in Chicago and New York City have also been calling for increased police presence and working with law enforcement as a solution. After the spa shootings, the Asian American community has made it clear that increasing police presence harms our communities, and has put out calls to action for elected officials to center the needs of the communities on the ground and tackle the systemic racism, sexism, and white supremacy that continues to plague our nation.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Georgia Organizing Manager Bianca Jyotishi issued the following statement:
“We are outraged that the City of Atlanta is responding to the spa shootings with increased law enforcement, the very thing our community has been working against. There can be no solution to violence and racism that comes at the expense of Black and Brown lives. The root cause of the murders of eight people, six of them Asian American women, is structural white supremacy. Mayor Bottoms’ announcement to hire 250 cops only serves to uphold an institution harming the very people she should be working to protect. This is blatant disregard for and a direct assault on communities of color, including Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian American people, whose bodies have repeatedly been targeted and murdered at the hands of police officers. It is clear that a militarized police system is not the answer to gun violence, but the cause of increased violence, hate, and crime.”
NAPAWF GA Chapter member and leader Nesa Aunty issued the following statement:
“I am a Muslim woman who wears a hijab and works at a resturant. Because of this, I experience racism and Islamophobia on a daily basis. I have been told by people that they do not want me touching their food because I am wearing a hijab. I have been accused of stealing by customers because they did not agree with our prices. On many of those occasions, they have threatened to call the police on me and my family members over small misunderstandings. I am constantly distrusted because of the color of my skin, my accent, what I wear, and my religion. Because of this, I fear what will happen when the police actually show up. Will they listen to me? Will they want to listen to me? Will they be willing to trust me?”
Anti-Asian harassment and violence disproportionately impacts women. New polling commissioned by NAPAWF reveals that 78% of AAPI women had been affected by anti-Asian racism in the past two years and that more than half had personally encountered specific incidences of racism (55%).
Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE) GA State Organizer Emily Cuarenta issued the following statement:
“The ability to live and thrive in communities that are safe from interpersonal and state violence, including freedom from coercion, police terror, and violence, is an inherent pillar of Reproductive Justice. Law enforcement that is vested in models of harm, punishment, and legal repression jeopardizes the safety, health, and livelihood of Black, Latinx, and AAPI communities.
“Police violence necessitates us to reimagine safety for everyone in our communities, even when we experience patriarchal violence. To feel safe, communities need less police presence and more unbiased healthcare, including mental health and the full range of reproductive healthcare, housing for unhoused people, employment for people who are unemployed or underemployed, and food for people who need nutritional assistance.
“Elected officials like Mayor Bottoms are accountable to their constituents in their city. Folks in the AAPI community have voiced their needs and concerns. The people who know what is best for their community’s safety are the people from the AAPI community, especially folks directly impacted by the recent shootings. Increasing police presence does not effectively reduce the symptoms of white supremacy and gun violence. The AAPI community deserves to be heard and included in decision-making that affects their safety, their daily lives, and their families.”
SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, inc. issued the following statement:
“As a Reproductive Justice organization that centers Black Women, Women of Color, and Queer & Trans Youth of Color in Georgia and the South, we are committed to a complete vision of Reproductive Justice where our base does not have to live in fear of state violence, oppression, and criminalization. We demand that Mayor Bottoms and the City of Atlanta recognize that the city’s police force is a tool of systemic racism that directly causes violence against People of Color in Atlanta. In the wake of the recent shootings, we need our elected officials to focus on providing the resources that will help our communities heal, grow, and thrive. Instead, they have responded to racially motivated violence by diverting resources to a violent law enforcement system that has repeatedly targeted and harmed Black, Latinx, and AAPI communities.”
Access Reproductive Care-Southeast (ARC-Southeast) Co-Director Quita Tinsley Peterson issued the following statement:
“Community members in Atlanta have repeatedly demanded the defunding and decreasing of police in our communities. Instead of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms listening to our needs and wants, in response to the violence our AAPI community members are facing she shows a commitment to increasing policing. We know from firsthand experience that the police do not make our communities safer, but often enact state violence against us! As a Reproductive Justice organization, we are committed to and led by the needs, wants, and demands of our community members and we invite the Mayor and her administration to do so as well. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and AAPI Atlantans deserve investments in our communities through resources and infrastructure with the trust that we can keep each other safe.”
Feminist Women’s Health Center (FWHC) Community Outreach Manager Naomi Desta-Bell issued the following statement:
“Our foundation as Reproductive Justice advocates lies in honoring and protecting our members who belong to Black, Latinx, and AAPI communities. We recognize that an increased police presence in communities where People of Color reside in Atlanta is not the solution our community members need. Instead, our elected officials must work to create consistent and longstanding solutions that speak to the root of the problem that is systemic white supremacy. This is the same system that created the conditions for the horrific spa shootings and the same system from which law enforcement that is rooted in stigmatizing, shaming, and harming our communities comes from. We insist that Mayor Bottoms and the City of Atlanta provide resources instead of an increased police presence to address the root causes of violence against People of Color in Atlanta.”
AMPLIFY Georgia Director Allison Coffman issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed to see Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s call to increase the police force by 250 officers. AAPI, Black, and Latinx Atlantans have made it clear that police do not keep our communities safe. They have demanded that the City of Atlanta divest from police, invest in much-needed community services, and put in the hard work to address the racism, misogyny, and white supremacy that fuel this violence.
“As a collaborative of seven Reproductive Justice organizations centering the needs of women, nonbinary people, queer and trans people, immigrants, and Black and Brown Georgians, we see daily how the current system is not designed to serve our communities. We demand that the City of Atlanta reverse its plan to hire more officers and instead partner with us to build an Atlanta where ALL people can live and parent in safe and sustainable communities free from fear of white supremacist violence. To meaningfully protect us and strengthen our resilience, Atlanta’s elected officials should invest this energy and funding into meeting the basic needs of community members, including housing, health care, food security, living wages, and culturally-specific support services, including mental health and trauma recovery support.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.