These comments were delivered by NC Piedmont DSA member Jake Stanley at a Durham City Council meeting on April 18.
I am here representing the North Carolina Piedmont chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a sponsoring partner of the Demilitarize Durham2Palestine campaign.
As democratic socialists, we believe in government truly by, for, and of the people. We are fighting alongside the groups here today to transform our country so everyone—particularly Black, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, Muslim, and other oppressed communities—can thrive, not merely survive on the scraps of a wildly unequal capitalist system.
Freedom from the fear of state violence is essential to creating that thriving society. But as we have seen in the past decade in the streets of Ferguson, Chicago, and Baltimore, the sidewalks of Staten Island, the neighborhoods of South Sacramento, and countless places in between, Black and Brown people are disproportionately threatened and killed by law enforcement. The militarization of police—municipal and county forces that look more and more like an army—compounds this systemic problem.
We reject the idea that US police, from leadership to officers, have anything to learn from the Israeli military or police, the enforcement arm of a racist apartheid state and violent settler colonial project. We are encouraged by Durham’s efforts to reform the police toward support of and accountability to Durhamites, especially our communities of color, although we agree with Mayor Schewel and the council that there is much more to do.
We want to focus on improving other measures of public safety, like affordable housing and healthcare, strong public education, and a livable wage.
Therefore, we join the call for the Durham City Council to create a new policy that unconditionally bars police training exchanges with Israel or other foreign militaries and police.
NC Piedmont DSA member