In New York City, two police officers have quit the New York Police Department after they were charged with rape, kidnapping and official misconduct. Prosecutors say former NYPD detectives Edward Martins and Richard Hall arrested an 18-year-old woman after stopping her car and finding a small amount of marijuana and a few anti-anxiety pills in her purse. Testing shows the DNA of both officers was found on the teenager. The former police officers are claiming the acts were consensual as their defense. “Violence is learned,” responds Mariame Kaba, an organizer and educator who works on anti-domestic violence programs. “Of course people exposed to violence all the time will use it.”
AMY GOODMAN: Mariame, as we begin to wrap up, you heard the headlines. You heard the story of the two New York police officers who have now quit—
MARIAME KABA: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —the allegations that they raped this young woman—
MARIAME KABA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —who they handcuffed and brought into their car. You’ve worked on these issues of police brutality in Chicago, now in New York. Can you talk about this?
MARIAME KABA: Yeah. I think, you know, one of the issues that becomes really clear, when we widen our lens to include particularly young people and particularly women and gender-nonconforming people in the conversation of police violence, is that we see a lot of sexual violence being done against people, you know, as a way of kind of controlling them and also kind of continuing that threat, that if you go forward and you let anybody know that this happened, we’re going to come after you. So, the forms of violence become much broader. So you then see that that is possible. So many women and gender-nonconforming people have complained over the years of police sexual violence. It is probably more people are harmed that way than are killed by the police every single year. And yet we hardly ever include that within the larger discussion around police violence. And we have to.
Andrea Ritchie’s new book, Invisible No More, that just came out a couple of months ago, addresses violence against black women and women of color, as well as gender-nonconforming people. I suggest that people who are interested in these topics pick that up and read it. I happen to have written the foreword for that book, so, you know, I have to put that out there. And so I think that we have to look at these issues. We have to look at the inherent, endemic violence of policing. And I think people don’t want to do that. I think people are constantly focused on small, little fixes—body cameras and things like that. That is not going to stop sexual violence by the police officers.
And the last thing I do want to say about this is, I saw yesterday on Twitter Harsha Walia did this amazing piece where she talked about, for several tweets, that, you know, gendered—gender violence and gendered violence is mass violence in and of itself. It is an epidemic in and of itself. It is not a warning sign of future forms of violence. And the conversation that’s being had right now, it troubles me, because I don’t think we’re going to get to a solution unless we treat domestic and sexual violence as mass violence in and of itself, and that we address those head on and that make sure we understand that they’re co-constituted of other forms of violence, white supremacy, other forms of oppression. We have got to get at the root; otherwise, we’re not going to solve this problem.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it is interesting that police officers understand, when they go into a domestic violence situation, it’s the most dangerous situation for them.
MARIAME KABA: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: And at the same time, sadly, police officers have a higher rate of domestic violence in their own families.
MARIAME KABA: Exactly right. And I think, you know, Soraya mentioned that it’s two to four times more likely than the general public of being perpetrators of domestic violence, police officers are, and people in the military, as well. But we shouldn’t be shocked by that, right? Those are forms of violence in and of themselves. Policing is, the military, the war making. And violence is learned, right? And so, in those contexts, of course, people who are exposed to violence all the time will use it. It also attracts people who are particularly interested in being able to practice forms of violence at home that they then take out into the public sphere. And here we are.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you both very much for joining us. Mariame Kaba is organizer and educator who’s worked on anti-domestic violence programs for decades, as well as anti-incarceration and racial justice programs since the late '80s. And Soraya Chemaly, a journalist who covers the intersection of gender and politics. We'll link to your work, director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project. She’s speaking to us from Baltimore.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the great writer Isabel Allende has a new book. It’s called In the Midst of Winter. We’ll talk to her about her book. We’ll talk to her about writing in the era of Trump, as she came to this country from, well, throughout Latin America. In Chile, she grew up. And we’ll talk about what—how she responded to the coming authoritarianism of the Pinochet regime, and also Pablo Neruda, the latest investigation of how he died, soon after another September 11th, September 11, 1973. What happened to the great Chilean poet? Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “The Internationale,” performed by Billy Bragg. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.