Answer Indiana on white supremacist gun violence

Each of us has their own reasons for coming out today. Maybe you’ve been personally affected by gun violence. Maybe you find the NRA’s bigoted fearmongering morally repulsive. Maybe you just really, really hate Donald Trump. I am here today because we need to have a clear and meaningful discussion about gun violence. In order to do that, we must talk about white supremacy.

We’ve seen so many mass shootings that we can now predict the headlines that will follow. The attacker will be called a “lone wolf,” or someone who knew him will say “he was a quiet kid.” Often, they will label the attacker “mentally ill,” and make a passing remark about the poor state of mental health services in America.

It is only recently that we have begun to see a mainstream conversation about the common factors in most of these attacks. Most mass shooters are white men. Many of them have a history of hatred toward Jews, women, people of color, and the queer community. Many of them can be accurately summed up with three words: white supremacist terrorists.

It would be easy to stop there. It would be easy to lay the blame for this violence at the feet of men like Donald Trump and institutions like the NRA. But we are not interested in what is easy.

Two years ago, in late June of 2017, two IMPD officers pulled Aaron Bailey over in the middle of the night. You’ve probably heard his name since. A chase ensued, culminating in Mr. Bailey’s car crashing into a tree. Officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard got out of their car. Aaron Bailey did not. Between the two officers they fired no less than eleven bullets through Mr. Bailey’s back windshield. He was declared dead at Eskenazi thirty minutes later.

Aaron Bailey’s death was devastating – for his family, his community, our city – but in the context of hundreds of police murders every year, it was business as usual. Police violence is primarily and disproportionately leveled at black and brown communities in the US. You can see it for yourself whenever you want: just head over to the near east side and watch how the police treat the community there. This too, is white supremacist terrorism.

Following the Pulse shooting in 2016, Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman currently running for the presidential nomination, tweeted: “I know assault rifles. I carried one in Iraq. They have no place in America’s streets.” He received much praise for his support of gun control in America. He received considerably less pushback for the underlying assumption that assault rifles in the streets of Iraq are no big deal. As a reminder, the death toll of the US’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq is still debated. Low estimates put the number at around half a million people. This too, is white supremacist terrorism.

If we are to talk seriously about ending gun violence, we cannot forget those who have been the victims of state-sanctioned gun violence. Those who face daily racist police terror for having the wrong skin color, or for being born in the wrong country. We cannot forget the millions of people who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, and on and on and on.

It is not easy, to come to terms with the fact that white supremacy undergirds every aspect of our current society. But it is vital. Because white supremacy thrives when it is unexamined. It flourishes in our refusal to confront it head-on. Consider that when the fundraiser went up for the baby Trump balloon, it hit its goal in about three days. In three days, Indy residents donated $2000 to rent a balloon that does nothing to actually fight against Trump or his policies. At most, it gets a few chuckles from white liberals.

Do you know how many organizations there are in Indy led by people of color that could do great work with an extra $2000? There’s IMPD Transparency, Indy10 Black Lives Matter, Indianapolis Undocumented Youth Alliance. The Muslim Youth Collective could fund a fellowship for a full year and still have money left over.

I urge you, if you truly want a better world than the one envisioned by Trump, the NRA, and their supporters who are flooding our city today, support these local organizations. Support the people who are most likely to be impacted by white supremacist violence. Donate to their causes, come out to their events. Help us build a world where every child can go to school without worrying about a mass shooter, or a drone strike, or the cop in the corner who has shown that he has no qualms about using brute force on a teenage girl.

White supremacist violence is police terror. It is foreign wars of occupation. It is mass shooters and church burnings. And it is choosing to care only when those in the crosshairs are white. Let’s do better, Indianapolis.

Photo: ANSWER Indiana