We Need Federal Funds, Not Federal Agents!

Monica Isaac

Photo by Adam Dewey

Notes From The Movement

We Need Federal Funds, Not Federal Agents!

by Monica Isaac

Before attending a mass demonstration at the ATF building on July 29th to oppose Operation Legend (a deployment of federal troops in the city of Detroit, a term coined by Trump), I had watched a video on Instagram of a young trans woman in NYC violently picked up off the street while protesting.  Shouts from comrades and bystanders to let her go fell on deaf ears as she flailed her body to get free. With the direct assistance of NYPD aggressively shielding bystanders from helping her, she was thrown into an unmarked van by several men and whisked away. This was not a Portland issue as we had been seeing through mass media reports. This illegal kidnapping and obstruction of constitutional rights were spreading and inching towards Detroit. 

Brewery Park was bustling and growing with around 100 protesters, camera people, medics, etc. outside the security gate. Protesters were not given access to a press conference (we were also denied access) with U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider to discuss the expansion of Operation Legend in Detroit.  

Nakia Wallace, organizer and co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe, started the rally with passion…”Detroit has made it clear, Federal agents aren’t welcome here!” directing her arms to the crowd in a show of solidarity.  She stressed Black and Brown communities as widely and negatively impacted by police terrorism in Detroit and around the country, “Tough on crime has always meant the murder of Black and Brown people.” What federal funds are needed? Where can this money be in direct (actual and tangible) service to communities? Housing, Education, Mental Health and wellness services, Recreational spaces, Healing spaces (like gardens) were all mentioned throughout the morning from Nakia and several protestors.  It was beautiful to hear what can be imagined when given the space to imagine out loud. 

Protesters began to walk in a circle, picket style, outside the gate at Brewery Park. Horns, drums, rhythmic dancing, and chanting filled the air with repeated calls for the removal of federal troops. These rallies have traditionally been a space for mutual solidarity with volunteers providing medical care, water, and snacks.  

The movement continued to build over the weekend with rallies and speakers from several organizations calling for the abolishment of federal troops, ICE, and all forms of genocidal policing.  In addition, there were many calls to challenge folks to do the work: Finding a political home (organizations spoke from Greenlight Black Futures/313 Liberation Zone to Consuela Lopez of AMANDLA), assisting with community wrap-around services, getting involved in electoral politics, etc. 

The fight continues.