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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.