GIMME A BRAKE (LIGHT): MUTUAL AID AS SOLIDARITY
Commentary by Flor M. & Adan O.
As you may have witnessed before, traffic stops can lead to hostile encounters with police, in some cases, even death. These traffic stops too frequently result in violence against our black and brown community members, like the tragic killing of Philando Castile. Police officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled over Castile, driving with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter and shot him 5 times at close range. In another case earlier this year, on April 11, 2021, Duante Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop by police officer Kimberly Potter claiming she meant to use a taser instead of her gun. In 2015, Walter Scott was stopped for a non-functioning brake light and attempted to flee the encounter unarmed and was fatally shot by police officer Michael Slager.
Traffic stops can also threaten the livelihoods of immigrants and those with undocumented status. In the case of Gaspar Rodriguez Garcia on August 23, 2017, Texas DPS trooper Randy Vick pulled Garcia over and harassed him for speaking Spanish, used excessive force, and threatened him to pay his ticket or “la Migra” would get him. Texas DPS shared a list of names of people pulled over for traffic citations to federal immigration. With this information, ICE arrested Garcia on November 2. Traffic stops are used as an excuse for police to wield their power over vulnerable communities to uphold white supremacy and capitalism. In addition to physical violence, there is also economic violence that burdens our community after routine traffic stops. Having to pay ticket fines can result in hungry children, losing electricity, or eviction.