On October 20th, 2018 around 1am, cops showed up to a call at an apartment above a King St. Shop in Hamilton, Ontario. Inside they found Robyn Garlow, 30yo mother of one, with a knife. They electrocuted her with a taser and, as she was falling to the ground, shot her four fucking times.
Garlow was known to the police. She was a drug user and was recently out of jail. These details have no relevancy to her worth, her inherent right to freedom from state oppression. Yet, they already have been and will be used to justify her murder. Because the police are a violent organization meant to protect property of the rich, they have no humanity for the poor and the working class. Because the police are a patriarchal organization meant to enforce laws that privilege masculinity, they have no room for women who do not submit to their authority.
This was not a tragic mistake, this was murder. Badge or no badge. This was not a case of one bad or inexperienced or over-worked officer, this was an officer carrying out the mandate of the police. Just as, earlier this year, police murdered 19yo Quinn MacDougall in his own apartment after he called the cops for help. And so, on October 28th, Feminist Action Hamilton called a demonstration to protest the ongoing oppression of our communities by this violent organization. Not to demand justice for Garlow – as we know none exists within this judicial system, let alone the SIU – but to mourn and fight for all victims and survivors of police brutality. And to dream of a world without cops or cages.
Around 40 people met and marched down King St, holding up traffic on a busy downtown street for over 20 minutes. We held a banner that read FEMINISTS AGAINST POLICE: COPS DON’T KEEP US SAFE. We stopped to acknowledge a moment of silence at the scene of the murder and then circled around the block for a moment of screaming rage at the Hamilton Police headquarters. We had a marching band in full effect and we handed out over 300 flyers to passersby that listed 12 things you can do besides calling the cops.
As feminists, it is important for us to draw attention to the fact that the police repress, harass, and attack Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities more intensely in order to uphold white supremacy. This is a continuation of the legacy of the police as institutions that, in the United States, were born out of slave patrols to protect white people from Black slaves and, in Canada, were created in order to help put down Indigenous revolt in order to secure white settlement of the plains.
As feminists, it is important for us to draw attention to the fact that the police make sex work unsafe. And that queer, non-binary, and trans people – specifically transwomen – are met with more violence by the police than others. And that the police criminalize and abuse those of us with mental illness and use the prison system as though it were a hospital.
As feminists, it is important for us to draw attention to the fact that police officers often use their undue authority to coerce and rape women on the job. And that police officers go home and extend their undue authority to their households where nearly 40% of them abuse their domestic partners with impunity.
Every assault, rape, or murder of a person by the police is an attack against us all.
Because the authority of the police breeds monsters…
Because all people deserve to be free from state oppression…
Because the system is working exactly the way it was designed to work…
We cannot call for reform or review, but only the abolition of the police and the world it creates.
Feminist Action Hamilton is an autonomous collective of women, trans, and non-binary persons which organizes along anarchist principles both within our communities – forming systems of mutual aid – and outside our communities – empowering ourselves to fight back against patriarchy in all its forms.