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Report Back: #15YearsLater Action in DC

photo credit IG @themauricio

PC: IG @themauricio

Did you see us in DC last week? Along with KhushDC, NQAPIA organized a protest on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Dozens of #15YearsLater protesters blocked traffic for hours and demanded that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson end the legalized profiling of our communities: queer and trans Muslims, South Asians, and APIs.

Person holds sign "Jeh Johnson, 1,000s have spoken: will you listen? #RedefineSecurity #15YearsLater" standing behind a tower of boxes that read "Jeh Johnson, can you hear us NOW?"

Photo credit: Marzena Zukowska

In the morning, we created mock checkpoints all around DC – in Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, U St., and Dupont Circle. We replicated the experience of profiling for wealthy, white brunch-goers, stopping people in the street and interrogating them about their language, religious affiliation, clothing, etc.

Four people stand near an orange-striped checkpoint, and one person holds the sign "CHECKPOINT AHEAD"

Photo credit: Khadija Mehter


You can read our reflections in this piece over at RaceFiles, as well as on NQAPIA’s blog. We also got great coverage from local and national news media, including the Washington PostWashington Blade, and NBC News!

If you weren’t able to make it, please sign our petition here: bit.ly/NQAPIAracialprofilingpetition

A huge THANK YOU to all of our co-sponsors and co-conspirators: GetEQUAL, Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum, National Coalition To Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), SAALT- South Asian Americans Leading Together, API Resistance, Queer South Asian National Network (QSANN), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Black Lives Matter DC, ONE DC: Organizing Neighborhood Equity, UndocuBlack Network, AQUA, SALGA NYC, NAKASEC, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), AAPCHO, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Southerners On New Ground, and the Washington Peace Center. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Showing Up in Solidarity #15YearsLater: Reflections from our Accomplices & Family

This past Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, over 60 people created mock checkpoints across Washington, D.C. and shut down the intersection of 14th St and U St NW for two hours. As queer and trans Muslims and South Asians, we demanded an end to the legalized profiling of our people, especially by Secretary Jeh Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security.

Our partners, accomplices, and political family showed up in solidarity. They recognized that our movements for freedom are deeply connected. They recognized themselves in our struggles, and showed up in deep solidarity for our collective liberation. Here, in their own words, they explain why they took part in our #15YearsLater action, and their vision for our shared liberation.

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#15YearsLater Black Muslim Lives Matter PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL – PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL:

We cannot commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001 without also addressing the devastating violence and harm that stemmed from racist profiling and criminalization of our communities, all in the name of “safety” and “national security.” LGBTQ people of color feel the impact of this culture of fear, Islamophobia and anti immigrant sentiment every day. We will continue to stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander family to reject this violence and demand an end to all institutions and systems that criminalize our existence.

API Resistance:

Right now Muslim majority countries in West Asia are going through the series of exploitative, Orientalist wars that plagued East and Southeast Asia in the 20th century. When one quarter of Muslims in America are black or of African-descent and when the countries with the top four largest Muslim populations are in Southeast and South Asia we need to realize that we can no longer divide our identities by race or religion. We must forget the borders that have been imposed on our lands and on our bodies. We must stand up against injustice everywhere. We will not be free until each one of us is free.

Darakshan Raja, Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum:

This was one of few multiracial, people of color led actions that centered Islamophobia. At a moment when Muslim women, femmes, trans, queer and gender non-conforming folks are being specifically targeted, it is important to build solidarity. And we need to be real that we have so much more work to do.

photo credit IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT – PC: IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT):

It was important for SAALT to support this weekend’s action to go beyond words and help people get a snapshot of the kind of profiling and surveillance our communities have experienced in the last 15 years to illustrate the largely untold story of the victims of post 9/11 government policies. It was powerful to be on the streets to educate white people and also share common experiences with other people of color and people who identify as queer and transgender who experience this impact on a daily basis.

Maha Hilal, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms:

As we work towards ending the destructive policies of the post 9/11 era, we recognize the role of simultaneously empowering our communities to take action against these policies. We hope this will bring us one step closer to getting justice for ALL those who have been impacted by the policies of the War on Terror.

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We are part of movements larger than ourselves. We are part of fights for queer people of color liberation, Black liberation, immigrant rights, justice for Muslims, API liberation, and more. Only through movement building across our communities will we be able to achieve freedom for all our people.

The participants in #15YearsLater demonstrated that building such movements is not just necessary, but possible. We can – and we will – take the streets together, build political family, and have each others’ backs. We will achieve our liberation, together.

Thank you, again, to everyone who showed up for our collective liberation this Sunday. We will be in struggle with you, side by side, until we all get free.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ AAPI groups, develop leadership, invigorate grassroots organizing, and challenge queerphobia and racism.

LGBTQ South Asian, Muslim and Black Communities Protest 15 Years of Profiling on 9/11

MEDIA RELEASE for September 11, 2016
Contact: Sasha W., NQAPIA Organizing Director, 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org

**#15YearsLater #RedefineSecurity #BlackLivesMatter**

LGBTQ South Asian, Muslim and Black Communities Protest 15 Years of Profiling on 9/11

WHO: NQAPIA, KhushDC, and dozens of supporting organizations
WHAT: #15YearsLater: Performative Action to End Profiling of LGBTQ South Asian & Muslim communities
WHERE: Washington DC
WHEN: Sunday, 9/11/16

10:30am-12:30pm – performing “checkpoints” across DC in Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Verizon
Center (Chinatown), and other locations
1-2pm – Rally at 14th and U St., NW

On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, organizers with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and KhushDC will take part in a performative action to end Islamophobia and the legalized profiling of LGBTQ South Asian, Muslim and Black communities, which has intensified in the 15 years since 9/11. We are creating “checkpoints” in high-traffic areas of DC that replicate the various “checkpoints” South Asian, Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Black people experience every day – being stopped when passing through TSA, being denied service because of religious markers, being called terrorists, being kicked off of flights, etc. Black Muslims experience this profiling at an even higher frequency, leading to brutality or death at the hands of law enforcement.

Almas Haider, NQAPIA board member, said, “9/11 changed my life. Overnight I went from a carefree 11-year-old to being on the receiving end of verbal and physical harassment. 15 years have changed nothing. The harassment continues and government policies have strengthened, targeting my community simply for how we look or how we pray. We are guilty simply for existing.”

Sasha W., NQAPIA’s Organizing Director, added, “I feel the aftershocks of 9/11 every day. From profiling at the airport, to verbal harassment on the street, to surveillance outside my apartment, the policies enacted in the wake of 9/11 have legalized the profiling and surveillance of my people. I cannot feel ‘safe’ until the legalized profiling, surveillance, and harassment end.”

Our daily experiences of profiling are connected to a larger system that targets Muslims and those perceived as Muslims. Policies mark us as potential threats, which enables government agencies, law enforcement and the general public to treat us accordingly. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) – has no legal protections against profiling. The Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) detains and deports people profiled as a danger to national security. The FBI’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program profiles Muslim youth. The FBI’s Terror Watchlist disproportionately targets Muslims, South Asians, Black people, immigrants, and people of color, without explanation.

Numerous studies have documented the impact of Islamophobia. A Gallup poll found that nearly half of all Muslims – 48 percent – reported that they, personally, had experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year. In a Columbia University survey, 28 percent of Muslim high school students in New York reported being stopped by police as a result of racial profiling. A labor market study found a 10 percent decrease in earnings for Muslim and Arab men immediately after 9/11, with the effects greater in areas with a higher incidence of hate crimes.

Haider added, “There has been no acknowledgement of the violence being wrought on my community. And we cannot stand idly by, waiting for that to change.” We will set up “checkpoints” across DC on 9/11 to demonstrate how our communities have suffered in the past 15 years, and to continue our campaign to pressure the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into ending this legalized profiling.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ AAPI groups, develop leadership, invigorate grassroots organizing, and challenge homophobia and racism.

15 Years Later: Rally Against Post-9/11 Violence

On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, organizers in DC will take part in a performative action. Our demands are to end the legalized profiling of LGBTQ South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Black communities, which has intensified in the 15 years since 9/11.

This is part of a series of events designed to bring us together to heal, fortify, unite, and continue the fight against injustice. They will culminate in a Rally for Justice on 9/11 on 14th and U St. Full list of events and details are below:

+ Healing Circle + Mon 9/5 @ 7:00 p.m.

Gathering for survivors of post-9/11 violence, in all its forms
Snacks and beverages will be served
RSVP to sasha [at] nqapia [dot] org for address

+ Performance Activism Training + Sat 9/10 @ 6:00-8:00 p.m

Those attending will receive training for the 9/11 action, including know your rights and de-escalation tactics segments
Snacks and beverages will be served
RSVP to sasha [at] nqapia [dot] org for address

+ Performance Action + Sun 9/11 @ 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Must attend training on Saturday, 9/10 for details

+ Rally for Justice + Sun 9/11 @ 1:00 p.m.

Gather at 14th & U St to demand an end to the continued surveillance and profiling of South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Black Muslims and those perceived as Muslims

+ Eid Rooftop Cookout + Sun 9/11 @ 4:00-7:00 p.m. CANCELLED

The islamic calendar is based on a lunar calendar, unlike the calendar we use day-to-day which is based on a solar calendar. As such, each year an Islamic date falls on a different solar calendar date. This year, Eid, one of the holiest Islamic celebrations, falls on 9/11.
We are hosting a cookout for all community members to gather to celebrate this occasion
RSVP to sasha [at] nqapia [dot] org for address.

RSVP

RSVP for locations and to request more info by emailing sasha [at] nqapia [dot] org

Co-Sponsors

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
KhushDC
Black Lives Matter DC
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
Queer South Asian National Network (QSANN)
ONE DC, Organizing Neighborhood Equity
AQUA
Salga Nyc
SAALT- South Asian Americans Leading Together
NAKASEC
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
AAPCHO

Join & Share

Join the event on Facebook

Read the Media Release: LGBTQ South Asian, Muslim and Black Communities Protest 15 Years of Profiling on 9/11

Read 15 Years Later

Find photos from our action on Facebook and across Twitter @nqapia.

Read news about the action published on Rewire, the Washington Blade (9/7 and 9/11), and the Washington Post (article and video).

Indian Supreme Court: Desi LGBT Organizing in the Diaspora

This week, the Indian Supreme Court issued a ruling that allowed for the creation of a “third gender” to broaden the country’s gender classification systems. Many of NQAPIA’s partner groups, especially those focusing on serving South Asian LGBT communities, have been following events unfolding in India with respect to the LGBT communities there. As Indians and South Asians in diaspora, activists here in the U.S. and across the world remain connected in ways large and small.

KhushDC, Washington, DC’s local South Asian LGBT organization issued a statement in response to the Indian Supreme Court decision. “We hope the Indian government will make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India’s transgender communities not just on paper, but in all spheres of life,” said Sapna Pandya, KhushDC President. 

The statement also made the connection to the Indian Supreme Court’s previous decision last fall to revisit “Section 377” that in effect, re-criminalized homosexual behavior. South Asian LGBT organizations around the country and indeed, around the world, reacted immediately and urgently to this decision, calling for an end to homophobia and transphobia. Many organizations and activists came together to set up “377 No Going Back,” through IDEX (International Development Exchange) that connects U.S. based philanthropy to local, grassroots organizations in India directly working for LGBT communities in response to the Section 377 decision.

NQAPIA is pleased to support  KhushDC, including through fiscal sponsorship of their 20th anniversary this year and stands in solidarity with the organizers of the 377 No Going Back campaign.

NQAPIA Statement: Gaurav Gopalan and South Asian LGBT Communities in Washington, DC

For Immediate Release: September 25, 2011

Contact:

Ben de Guzman

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs

Phone: 202-422-4909

E-mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is saddened to hear about the death of Gaurav Gopalan in Washington, DC. Gaurav died on September 10, 2011 and his death was pronounced a homicide ten days later. As a federation of Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian/ gay/ bisexual/ transgender/ queer (LGBTQ) organizations around the country, NQAPIA reaches out to its local member organization, KhushDC, the local DC based South Asian LGBT group that counted Gaurav as one of its members.

We strongly support and stand in solidarity with KhushDC’s work not only to wrap its arms around Gaurav’s chosen family in DC, but to hold authorities accountable and to demand safety for all our communities. Gaurav was a charming personality and a vibrant part of the family and community KhushDC has built in DC with its partners and his death diminishes us all.

NQAPIA and KhushDC have been working with an emerging coalition of DC Queer People of Color (QPOC) organizations and activists in response to Guarav’s murder, which is just the most recent example of a tragic and unconscionable string of violence against the LGBTQ community, the unfortunate majority of which have hit people of color and transgender people. Response to Gaurav’s murder was hampered as accurate details struggled to emerge, including conflicting initial accounts of his death, and then the autopsy to determine his death as a homicide. This confusion is an unfortunate residue of the lack of visibility and understanding our communities have with law enforcement, with the media and too many other institutions.

Gaurav’s murder has struck a nerve with South Asian, AAPI, and LGBT communities around the country. Rakesh Modi from Oakland, CA, NQAPIA’s Co-Chair, made the following statement:

“Many of us did not know Gaurav, never even heard of him. But his untimely death under mysterious circumstances brings to light not just the uncertainty of life, but also concerns of danger lurking just around the corner. As we mourn and grieve Gaurav’s passing, we also strengthen our support to one another. Let the death of this young, bright life bring us closer, in healing and in compassion and in the warmth of the thought that we are there for each other.”

NQAPIA has compiled resources and information about what is happening and how to support local communities in response to Gaurav’s death:

  • Organizations that serve South Asian, AAPI, and LGBT communities and which can and should be strong partners in providing support to Gaurav’s community and advocacy in response to his death:

Local

National

 

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a federation of Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander lesbian/ gay/ bisexual/ transgender organizations and is a project of the Tides Center. For more information, e-mail nqapia@gmail.com or visit http://www.nqapia.org