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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.