On September 16, anarchist, anti-fascist, engineering student, and queer activist Scout Schultz was shot and killed by police on Georgia Tech campus in Midtown Atlanta. This loss has shaken Scout’s friends and family and terrorized many others, including activists, queer youth, and those with mental health concerns across campus and the city at large. Two weeks after Scout’s murder, Scout’s lover and close friend Dallas Punja took their own life. (Both Scout and Dallas used they/them pronouns.) Dallas described being traumatized by police sirens and police lights after Scout’s killing. These two tragic deaths drive home what is at stake in the conflict that pits anarchists and queer youth against police and the repressive society they uphold: it is a question of survival itself.
In the following account, we analyze the strategies that the authorities and their flunkies are using to suppress the reaction to Scout’s murder. The forces of order aim to punish the students and anyone else thought to have participated in the rebellion that took place on the Georgia Tech campus two days after Scout was killed. The long-term goal is more ambitious: they want to make revolt unthinkable, rendering us morally incapable of responding appropriately to the murders and oppression they inflict on us. This is not about the machinations of police and bureaucrats on a single campus, but an entire repressive society.
These reflections are dedicated to angry, scared, and desperate people everywhere. Even if we haven’t met you yet, we care about you. The first and most important thing you can do to help create a better world is to survive. Thank you for everything you’ve done to survive until now, whatever you had to do. Let’s find each other and create a world without police or homophobia, in which education is not a commodity and human life is not held cheap.
On September 16, a phone call was made to the Georgia Tech Police Department describing a “man [sic] with long hair, carrying what appears to be a knife and maybe a gun.” Later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would claim that it was Scout who made this call.
Around midnight, four Georgia Tech police officers encountered Scout, who was walking barefoot and carrying a small multi-tool. In a video posted online, Scout yells at the officers to shoot, and they oblige. Scout is shot in the heart and dies. Suicide notes were found in Scout’s apartment. This immediately became important for the repressive strategy, as the police, administration, and many students began to deploy the narrative of “suicide by cop,” reframing Scout as the attacker and the police as the true victims.
The following Monday, September 18, hundreds of students, workers, faculty, and bereaved friends gathered at the Kessler Campanile at Georgia Tech to hold a vigil for Scout. Many young people were crying and holding candles. It quickly became clear that this vigil was also a part of the repressive strategy, as administrators and student bureaucrats refused to allow Scout’s closest friends to speak. The event became a photo opportunity for an administration determined to conceal Scout’s death beneath a veneer of unity and campus pride.
After twenty minutes, the event managers declared that the vigil was over. Many people in the crowd were confused, others angry. A large section of the crowd began yelling about the police, the underfunded counseling facilities, the toxic culture of campus life. Around 100 people departed from the vigil, most donning masks, and confronted the police outside of GTPD headquarters. There, police attacked the procession and were attacked in return. In the ensuing melee, the police arrested three people and beat many more; a police cruiser was set on fire. The arrestees were charged with felonies and the corporate media posted their mugshots on television and internet outlets.
The following morning, the Georgia Tech Marksman Club was already present on campus with tables and chalk. Their signs read “We Love You GTPD” and similar messages. They encouraged students to chalk positive messages to the police on the sidewalk. Online, a fundraiser was launched for the police department, which raised nearly twice as much money as the fundraiser for the arrestees. T-shirts reading “I ❤ GTPD” began selling.
The campus administrators deployed a disingenuous discourse about “outside agitators,” anarchists, and anti-fascists who had invaded the campus intent on destruction. This justified the mass deployment of alerts and emails to faculty and students framing what had occurred and an intense militarization of campus as police, federal agents, undercover officers, and helicopters encircled the area for the rest of the week.
Starting immediately, the neo-fascist organization Identity Evropa resumed “#ProjectSeige,” posting stickers and posters around campus and the surrounding areas, ostensibly hoping to utilize the outrage drummed up by GTPD and campus administration as a recruitment opportunity. This symbiotic relationship between the administration, the police, and an explicitly white supremacist organization is worth noting.
On the Georgia Tech subReddit, a popular online forum for students and faculty alike, the discourses of police, campus liberals, and neo-Nazis commingled. “Suicide by cop” and “anti-antifa” rhetoric went uncontested for days.
The Daily Caller, a far-right news website run by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, argued that the revolt on campus did not in fact emerge from outsiders, but from the student body itself. Some sections of the far right are interested in fostering the perception that universities across the country are developing an insurgent left-wing culture, typified by the anti-fascist revolts at UC Berkeley. The strategy behind this argument is to plant the idea that in order to defend the “American way of life,” it is necessary to crack down on student organizing groups and supposedly liberal educators and curricula.
Several left-wing and progressive student groups discreetly distanced themselves from any proportional response to Scout’s murder, submitting paltry demands to the administration. Many members of these groups are well-meaning, but any willingness to collaborate with administrators and police will be used to pathologize those who refuse to collaborate, enabling the authorities to portray them as unreasonable, dangerous, and possibly insane.
On Friday, September 22, when a small group of Scout’s friends attempted to hold a vigil and sit-in at the counseling center, police shut down the campus. Classes and interviews were canceled, helicopters circled overhead, and administrators encouraged teachers to cancel classes, claiming falsely that “antifa” was going to start a riot. Instead, undercover police attempted to intimidate the crowd while right-wing students yelled “Harambe” jokes at mourners—an alt-right racist dog whistle referring to a gorilla shot and killed when a child entered its enclosure.
In the days following the revolt, GTPD began posting blurry photos on their Twitter feed of alleged participants. Nearly all of those pictured were black and many of the pictures seemed useless apart from fostering the impression that the crowd was composed predominantly of non-students and “outsiders.” At the same time, campus police directed students to Leedir.com where they could anonymously submit footage and photos of the event.
On September 27, an interdepartmental operation took place in which APD, GSUPD, and GTPD arrested a Georgia State University student on charges of misdemeanor inciting a riot for allegedly participating in the previous week’s demonstration. Two days later, on September 29, another GSU student was pulled from class and given identical charges. On October 2, a third GSU student was arrested.
The GT administration and police department hope to round up as many participants in the September 18 demonstration as they can. Regardless of whether these charges stick, they aim to create a chilling effect on the GT campus and potentially on college campuses across the country.
The administrators want their police to be able to kill a student on campus without any scandal erupting. This is unprecedented in recent US history, but the norm in places like Indonesia and Belarus. Now, they are arresting non-students to play on the fanatical micro-nationalism they have cultivated on campus, which they previously used to rationalize the brutal gentrification of the Home Park neighborhood where GT is located.
The administration on campus and the police have been using LiveSafe and Leedir, two tech startups, to facilitate the repressive process.
LiveSafe: crafting a reactionary narrative in real-time
The administrators are encouraging students, faculty, and campus police to use the LiveSafe platform. According to their website, “students, faculty, and staff are deputized to provide crowdsourced intelligence, while campus security can send mass emergency notifications through LiveSafe’s easily integrated command dashboard.” With this tool, the authorities were able to instruct students to return to their dorm rooms and stay off campus, insisting that a “violent protest” was underway and students were in danger. Across campus, young people could be seen either flocking to the sight of the burning car, or running fearfully to their rooms or cars. In this way, an informal curfew was enforced.
Since then, the authorities have been able to use LiveSafe to draw potential snitches to their other tool of choice: Leedir.
Leedir: weaponizing photography and film
Leedir is a tool developed by CitizenGlobal, an LA tech startup whose claim to fame is using this technology to coordinate data analysis in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing and to repress young people in Santa Barbara for revolting against the police during Deltopia in 2014. Leedir enables a client such as GTPD to refine the data aggregated from social media posts, news articles, online videos and photography, CCTV footage, and anonymously submitted media. Where LiveSafe deputizes individuals directly, hoping to transform everyone into a cop, Leedir weaponizes the data produced even by unwilling collaborators, gathering data and collecting submissions to host “in the cloud” using Amazon Web Services. A few years ago, when campus unrest erupted in Keene, NH, Leedir was used to make 25 additional arrests.
In the weeks following the revolt, a clear picture is beginning to emerge about the “outsiders” that the administration and police are seeking out.
The outsiders are black people. Georgia Tech has already pushed the black population out of Home Park in its attempts to compete with Georgia State and other campuses to gentrify downtown.
The outsiders are queer. Student representatives, administration, neo-fascists, and good liberals have all claimed that it was “outsiders” who started the revolt following the vigil on September 18 and who invaded campus again that Friday for a vigil. The march was led by gender-queer and non-binary youth behind a “DEFEND LGBTIA” banner. Are these people not allowed to react to the execution of their friend?
The outsiders are “crazy.” Online and in official statements to the press, students and authorities have relentlessly argued that Scout’s suicidal demeanor justified their execution. For them, this simple reality closes the book on the incident and anyone who says otherwise is either opportunistically attacking the engineering school or is simply another crazy person in need of a reality check.
The outsiders are anarchists and anti-fascists. Identity Evropa, the GT Marksman Club, GTPD, and the school president were quick to blame anarchists and anti-fascists for the burning of the cruiser and the clashes with police. Liberals and progressive groups have echoed their claims. Is it true that only those without any political convictions have a right to enter Georgia Tech campus?
The outsiders are service workers, unemployed people, homeless people, manual laborers, and single parents. Many GT students aspire to work for weapons manufacturers or technology companies. Their insistence that demonstrators have come from “outside campus” has cultural connotations: now that GT is so expensive, and the adjacent neighborhood so gentrified, and the campus culture so passive and reactionary, it must be the plebian elements in the city at large or even from the suburbs who caused the violence.
In a sense, all this is true. Now that the factories on Howell Mill have been transformed into luxury condos, the manufacturing facilities in Mechanicsville are rotting empty, and public housing is shuttered, it must be the case that many of those enraged by Scout’s murder do not live on campus. Now that the HOPE scholarship has been gutted, anti-immigrant laws continue to drain campuses and neighborhoods of their diversity, and community colleges are being bought by larger universities like GSU, it is probably true that not everyone who showed up to grieve the loss of their friend can afford higher education.
But we cannot look to legitimizing factors like identity, neighborhood, occupation, and the like to justify taking the sort of action that Scout’s death demands of us to ensure that the police never dare murder another person. The “outsiders” who stood up for Scout have justified their own behavior rather than seeking the approval of administrators who wish to excuse murder. It is that fact—the self-legitimizing anarchy of those who rebel—that has made them outsiders in the eyes of authorities who intend to dictate the discourse and monopolize the legitimate use of force.
We have to respond to all these provocations by regaining the initiative. Scout was an anarchist, an anti-fascist, and a queer activist on and off campus. Only by continuing to advance a diverse and multifaceted revolt against all the economic and police controls in this society can we defend ourselves and each other against further repression. When the campus administration and the Atlanta area police are forced to respond to crises of legitimacy, finding themselves embroiled in scandals and hostilities, they will be unable to come knocking on our doors or drag us out of classrooms. Efforts to support arrestees have been ongoing and organized, but they must continue until the charges are dropped or the trials are adjourned. The bail fund must be replenished with donations and fundraising efforts of all kinds. Contribute to it here.
Scout’s memory and the revolt taking place in Scout’s name could be used to blackmail young people across the country into silence, serving as a warning shot against the rebellious energy of the angry and desperate everywhere. Or they could ignite more expressions of love and outrage, becoming an inspiration to revolutionaries for many years. Let’s be intelligent and creative. Rather than waiting for large crowds to join us, we have to create the conditions in which people can come together in mourning and courage, so that no one ever again must die like Scout, Dallas, and all the other people killed by this homophobic, repressive society.
Let’s get going. The past depends on it.
Remembering Scout Schultz, executed by GTPD on 09.16.2017
09.16: Scout is shot and killed by GTPD on campus.
09.18: A massive vigil gathers on campus. Following the vigil, a masked crowd clashes with police and burns a police cruiser.
09.19: The GT Marksman club celebrates the police on campus while administrators and police initiate a repressive campaign against the movement. Throughout the week, the neo-fascist organization Identity Evropa distributes posters and stickers around campus parroting the discourse of administrators and police.
09.22: A small vigil takes place on campus, surrounded by right-wing hecklers and militarized police. A small teach-in occurs at which students and staff vent their frustrations. Over the weekend, a faculty meeting with the administration explodes as teachers and staff yell at the president and board of regents for not taking responsibility for a student’s death.
09.27: A GSU student is arrested on campus for alleged involvement in the vigil and subsequent demonstration. Two anonymous individuals throw hundreds of fliers around the Georgia Tech career fair reading “We Remember Scout Schultz—executed by GTPD” and “No Apologies” with the image of a burning police cruiser.
09.29: A GSU student is pulled out of class and arrested by GTPD.
10.02: A third GSU student is arrested in connection with the demonstration and vigil.
Georgia Tech police have continued to arrest people for their alleged roles in a campus protest more than two weeks ago. Most of them have been students from metro Atlanta colleges.
Tech police have arrested at least six people they say were involved in the protest, including a current Tech student and others enrolled at Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College.
The protest followed a vigil for Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student shot and killed by campus police last month. The most recent arrest was just this Monday, for misdemeanor obstruction of law enforcement.
WABE legal analyst Page Pate says tracking people down after a protest is unusual.
“There’s no ongoing crime,” Pate said. “And even outside of a demonstration like this, you rarely see an active investigation for the misdemeanor offense of willful obstruction of an officer.”
He says the continued arrests are meant to send a message.
“That you better be careful when you show up and protest at the school or about something that the school has done, and I think that’s a disturbing sign,” said Pate, who worried about a chilling effect.
“You show up to something like this, even if we’re not going to arrest you, we may show up at your school weeks later and want to question you or pull you out of class, wanna contact your parents and say we want to interview you,” he said.
Concerns have been ongoing within the Tech community of unwanted radical elements. Posts about “Antifa” populate the school’s social media threads. In a statement following the protest, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson wrote to the school, “We believe many of them were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the event.”
“If this was a legitimate investigation into some sort of violent organized activity, there are ways to handle that other than investigating people for wearing masks and not following orders at the time,” Pate said.
Frank Rotondo, who heads the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said sometimes, arrests are necessary. During the Tech protest, someone set a police car on fire, and two officers were treated for minor injuries. Arrests made that night included charges for aggravated assault on an officer.
Rotondo agrees the police are sending a message.
“To stop the negative activity and to make it safe for all the students, the instructors there and the police themselves,” Rotondo said. “They want the campus to go back to normal tranquility.”
However, he added that more transparency from the school would be ideal.
“I would love for the administration to say, ‘Look, here’s the basis of the obstruction charge; here’s the basis of the inciting to riot charge,’” said Rotondo, who noted the Georgia Tech Police Department’s positive reputation among the state’s law enforcement agencies.
He believes that ultimately the court system is meant to sort out the legitimacy or seriousness of any arrests.
Eugene O’Donnell lectures at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He’s a former NYPD officer and prosecutor who describes himself as a “hawk,” and “no softie” when it comes to arresting people for criminal offenses. He says police should be a last resort when it comes to campus protests.
“There are lots of ways to hold students accountable, and if we don’t have enough with academic oversight, then we can explore other ways,” O’Donnell said. He said that could involve working with other schools in the university system.
“We want to see young people concerned about the society, concerned about things that are larger than themselves. We want to see them speak out when they see injustice. We want to promote that, and the lines of doing that aren’t always clear,” O’Donnell said.
He said the criminal charges that end up on students’ records may become obstacles to future careers and full participation in public life. “It’s a high price for a student to pay for an overzealous expression of concern,” O’Donnell said.
In a statement, Georgia Tech spokesperson Lance Wallace confirmed the school’s police investigations are ongoing.
“Evidence was used to identify the individuals arrested on misdemeanor obstruction charges and indicated that they took physical actions in an attempt to encourage violence and prevent officers from making arrests at the scene. No one is being targeted because they protested,” Wallace said.
Following discussions and demands from student activists, Georgia Tech’s president has announced the formation of campus “action teams,” which will review the school’s mental health access, LGBT support and campus culture.
The arrests are one way Schultz’s shooting death and its fallout continue to be felt across metro Atlanta schools. Mental health impacts could be another.
Friends and family say Schultz’s former girlfriend — they’d broken up over the summer — took her own life this past weekend. They say grief, ongoing mental health issues and a fear of criminal consequences may all have contributed to the GSU student’s state of mind leading up to the suicide.
Naiki Kaffezakis, a Tech student and longtime friend, told WABE the 22-year-old had been at the campus protest.
“There’s definitely a sense that anyone who was there could be arrested,” said Kaffezakis. “Her exact words were ‘Naiki, I’m not strong enough to be arrested.’”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for college-age individuals.
Following the murder of Scout Schultz by Georgia Tech Police, Atlanta universities have been cracking down on protesters and dissent on campus. Several people are facing aggressive prosecution for participating in protests, and students are being kicked out of school based only on the claims of the police.
Police investigators are engaging in a witch hunt to try to identify and persecute activists. We have reports that police have pulled students out of class for interrogation. Cops also came to the home of someone they claim was identified in surveillance video at a protest and arrested them on bogus charges. We expect the police will continue this repression, because it’s an effective way to make people too afraid to continue very necessary resistance organizing.
Georgia Tech will do whatever it takes to make sure nobody mentions the name Scout Schultz ever again. You can resist this intimidation by learning how to deal with political repression, educating each other, and supporting those who are targeted.
The following is information about your rights when dealing with police and investigators. We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. See the last section if you need to consult with a lawyer.
KEEPING SAFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In general, but especially on social media, avoid discussion and speculation about who attended what protests. For example, Georgia Tech Police have released very grainy images of people at a protest. They want to arrest and interrogate them, but it’s not at all clear who the protesters are. Guessing or gossiping about who you think is depicted in these and other pictures could put people at legal risk. Even if you’re joking, mentioning someone’s name could be enough to get both you and them visited by investigators.
IF THE POLICE OR OTHER INVESTIGATORS APPROACH YOU
You do not need to speak with them. You have a constitutionally protected right to remain silent, and the cops can’t punish you for declining to answer questions.
Even if you think that it could be helpful to answer certain questions, avoid doing it without a lawyer present. You should wait until you have legal support with you, and then decide how to handle any questions. Ask for the investigator’s contact information and say you will get back to them. You can then contact Copwatch or the NLG for further advice.
They may try to pressure you, but don’t let them trick you! You can say “I’m sorry, I’ve been advised not to speak to you without an attorney present.” If they press the issue, you can say “I’m going to remain silent and I want to see a lawyer.”
IF THE POLICE COME TO YOUR DOOR
Read this guide for comprehensive advice on how to deal with investigators who may want to arrest someone or search your home: https://crimethinc.com/2017/08/24/when-the-police-knock-on-your-door-you…
IF YOU ARE A STUDENT
University officials may try to threaten you with sanctions or even expulsion if you don’t cooperate with their investigation, but you do not have to. Remember that even if police are not present at university interrogations, all information will be turned over to the police. So the same cautions against answering questions apply.
You have the right to have a lawyer present at all times while dealing with school officials, even if it’s not a criminal matter. As always, you are not required to answer any questions, and should decline any interview without a lawyer present.
IF YOU ARE A WITNESS
If you have witnessed arrests or police violence at any protest recently, it’s very important to document your recollections. Even small details in your statement might be the key evidence to exonerate someone who was falsely accused of a crime. However, keep it private. Do not post pictures, video, or written accounts online. Instead, save it somewhere safe so that it can be provided to defense attorneys if needed. Contact Copwatch for advice on how to get your written statements and recordings to the appropriate lawyers safely.
We are not lawyers, and we can’t offer legal advice. However, we can give you more information about your rights. If you are approached by investigators, you can call Copwatch at any time, even during the incident, to get more information about your rights and options.
If you are in a situation where you need legal advice about political repression, let us know and we will do our best to find someone who can talk to you.
National Lawyers’ Guild
It’s college tour season. On Friday, a dozen prospective students stroll through the Georgia Tech campus. Some pass by colorful chalk messages on the sidewalk that say “We are one GT” and “We love GTPD.”
It’s been just over a week since Georgia Tech police shot and killed a student on campus. Days later, two officers sustained minor injuries during clashes with protesters after a vigil.
An online fundraiser for those campus officers raised more than $10,000 in just a few days last week.
You don’t have to be part of the Tech community to donate, of course, but student Phillip Yamin said plenty are. He started the GoFundMe.
“I see a good number of comments that basically self-declare that they’re either a student, parent of a student or alumnus that go to Tech,” Yamin said.
On social media, hundreds have been sharing stories about positive interactions with campus police. Times they’ve felt protected. Times when officers were lenient with undergrads who maybe weren’t quite behaving like model students.
It’s clear there’s a lot of genuine love and respect for some of these officers, especially after a clash with protesters last Monday.
“We were seeing videos of these protesters ganging up around a squad car and torching it and our reaction, unanimously, is this is not what Georgia Tech’s about,” Yamin said.
His sentiment contains echoes of the school’s president, Bud Peterson, who issued a statement after the unrest.
“We believe many of [the protesters] were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the [vigil],” Peterson said. “They certainly did not honor Scout’s memory nor represent our values by doing so.”
Many students WABE spoke with disagree with Peterson’s characterization of “outside agitators” being behind Monday’s disturbance. Some who were there recognized many of their fellow students.
For those who were close to Scout Schultz, the student who was killed, all the gushing over campus police feels tough.
“It’s impossible to avoid, really,” said August Wagner, a third-year student at tech. He was friends with Scout, and he hasn’t been getting a lot of sleep since last weekend.
“There’s like, banners in some of the residence halls around here that say ‘We support GTPD’ and stuff like that, which is just making it a lot harder to even be here,” Wagner said.
Wagner said it feels like his classmates are thanking the institution that killed his friend.
“I did not think it would be so bad and that people would lack so much empathy, or only have sympathy for a burnt car,” he said.
Investigators found suicide notes in Schultz’s dorm room, and say the student called 911 to report a suspicious person. Schultz described someone who may have been armed with a knife and possibly a gun.
On Friday, a group of concerned Georgia Tech professors organized a teach-in in the student center. About 70 students and faculty discussed policing, mental health access and accommodations for LGBT students with invited speakers.
“What’s the impact been on this campus? What have you felt since Saturday?” asked panel facilitator Che Johnson-Long with Solutions Not Another Punishment Coalition. “Fear, pain, frustration, deep sadness, disappointment,” came the students’ responses.
LGBT students talked about not having anywhere to gather as a community. Pride Alliance, which Schultz was president of, was one of many groups that lost its office space due to a reshuffle last year, according to students. The school’s LGBTQIA Resource Center is a converted closet. Others said the barriers to apply for gender-inclusive housing were unacceptable.
Many described poor access to the school’s counseling center. They talked about waiting more than a month for a first appointment.
An article in the school paper written in 2011 reported that at least one Tech student a year takes their own life. It’s important to note that researchers find people in their college years anywhere are at particular risk for suicidal thoughts.
Georgia Tech launched an initiative called “zero suicide” last year. The school declined WABE’s requests for an interview with the administration or anyone from its counseling center.
As the meeting began to wind down, professor Anne Pollock, who helped organize the teach-in, made an announcement.
“We have just received notification that the building is being closed at 3, which I think is the kind of culture of fear that we’re talking about,” Pollock said.
The student center doesn’t usually close at 3 on Friday.
“They were very worried that Antifa would take over our event or something like that,” said Pollock, who had been in close touch with campus police.
Asked about the building lock-out, Georgia Tech officials put out a statement. “Since Monday’s activities, we’ve had an increased level of security on campus,” it read.
Outside, a police helicopter hovered above a few dozen students gathered in memory of Schultz. They had planned a sit-in in another building, but, like at the student center, police had locked them out.
So the students marched, chanting “Whose Tech? Scout’s Tech!”
“Harambe!” a nearby student shouted, a reference to a gorilla killed last year at the Cincinnati Zoo. His friends giggled at the joke.
Schultz’s friends ignored them and stuck together.
President Peterson released another statement late Saturday after discussions with student groups saying he plans to appoint four “Institute-wide ‘Action Teams,’” to discuss improvements to “counseling and psychiatric services; campus culture; LGBT+ community issues; and campus safety.” Those teams are expected to submit recommendations by November.
It’s hard to be a Tech student right now.
Between the silence of the administration and the outpouring of support for the police department that took the life of one of our peers, it’s hard to find the space – physically, socially, spiritually – to grieve.
In the midst of a university that would rather see police barricade its Student Services building than see its students engage in civil disobedience. Where we feel at risk of investigation, suspension, and expulsion for speaking out against the violence that occurred last Saturday. Where it’s considered appropriate to heckle and intimidate queer, non-binary, and POC students for having the audacity to mourn the loss of their classmate in public.
We applaud everyone who had the courage to come and speak out against what’s happening at Georgia Tech on Friday.
We cannot read thank you notes to GTPD written thousand times on the sidewalk on our way to class without understanding that they are implicitly being thanked for the death of our friend. We do not see what happened to Scout as an isolated incident. We do not see this as “an unstable student who wanted to kill himself,” as one disparager shouted while misgendering our friend. Rather, we see this as the latest victim in a decades long history of police violence against queer folk and as the latest addition to list of people murdered every day by police in this country. We see this as the latest gender non-conforming person who could not bear to continue on living in this hostile society, as the latest student struggling to hold it all together who did not receive adequate care and attention from the institution supposedly designed to foster their growth, and as the latest student at Georgia Tech to attempt suicide – of which there are many.
Their life did not have to end this way.
GTPD tells us they’re here to protect us. Scout’s death shows that they are not. We must learn to protect each other, both emotionally and materially.
The administration wants us to feel safe when GTENS (Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System) tells us to lock ourselves in our dorms when students are protesting. We say we’re safest together, in public, in the courtyards and in the streets.
Thank you to all who have had the bravery to speak out in this tragic moment. Your care and support gives us the strength to keep fighting, as Scout did, for a different world.
Gone but never forgotten,
[12/7/1995 – 9/16/2017]
Scout Schultz Student Alliance
via Rolling Stone
The fatal shooting of a transgender student late Saturday evening rocked Georgia Tech – and left the LGBTQ community searching for answers.
Scout Schultz, who identified as non-binary and used gender neutral pronouns, called 911 around 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 16th to report a suspicious figure on the Atlanta campus. Schultz, who was president of the school’s Pride Alliance, described the individual as “a white male, with long blond hair, a white t-shirt and blue jeans.” The scene that ensued is confusing and is being contested, but video shows that when officers arrived at the scene, there was no mystery figure. Instead, the 21-year-old undergrad appeared to be experiencing some sort of a breakdown.
Some have referred to the incident as “suicide by cop.” Schultz yelled at law enforcement officials who responded to the emergency call, “Shoot me!”
Police claimed that the student had a knife, but the object in Schultz’s hand was later identified as a multipurpose tool. The device’s blade was not extended during the incident. Police ordered Schultz to drop the weapon, to which the 21-year-old did not respond. As Schultz continued toward them, one of the officers fired.
After protests rocked the university on Monday, a critical detail emerged. Officer Tyler Beck, who was identified by the Georgia Tech Police Department as the shooter in the video, did not undergo crisis intervention training (CIT) prior to the incident. The training teaches officers how to respond in situations involving mental health crises. Schultz, who had a history of depression and suicidal ideation, left three notes behind in their dorm room.
Advocates argue that providing competent training in dealing with minority communities is vital in preventing tragedy. Schultz’s death is just the most recent in a series of lethal altercations between the trans community and law enforcement.
Kayden Clarke was reportedly shot and killed in his Mesa, Arizona home after police responded to a domestic dispute in February 2015. The 24-year-old transgender man was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that makes it difficult to read social cues. Ryan Hake, 23, was gunned down in Pennsylvania during a police altercation a year later.
Lou Weaver, the transgender program coordinator for the LGBTQ organization Equality Texas, understands the mentality behind these shootings. He’s the son of a police officer and grew up surrounded by the culture of law enforcement.
“Sometimes it’s life or death for you as a cop,” Weaver says. “When someone has a weapon that they won’t put down, what do you do?”
What complicates things is that transgender people learn to be afraid of police as a result of what advocates claim is routine mistreatment by law enforcement. A 2011 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that more than a quarter of trans respondents report being discriminated against by police. These incidents, Weaver says, can range from misgendering to being called an anti-LGBTQ slur by police.
“These are things that happen over and over again,” Weaver claims. “I’ve heard other stories where people are strip searched on the side of the road.”
This ingrained fear often creates a perfect storm when officers interact with trans people. Weaver says that when cops sense that apprehension, it can trigger alarm bells. Why are transgender people afraid, a police officer might wonder, if they have nothing to hide?
This is why organizations like the Anti-Violence Project advocate implicit bias training for members of law enforcement. Emily Waters, the senior manager of national research and policy, explains that these workshops are designed to address the “unconscious biases” that color our perceptions of others – whether that’s through the lens of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Many people, she says, may not even be aware they hold these views.
By instructing officers in how to recognize these biases, Waters says, these trainings help police keep them in check.
“Law enforcement is often put into situations that are very heightened,” Waters explains. “They’re just in a space of reacting to the situation. That’s when we often find that these implicit biases can be very dangerous – if you don’t have the tools to think through where that thought is coming from.”
Statistics from the Washington Post illustrate that these biases affect a number of minority populations, not just transgender people. Despite the fact that African-Americans make up just 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, black people accounted for 24 percent of all people killed by police in 2016. A quarter of those who lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement last year had a history of mental illness.
“We as a nation are coming to understand and have better conversations around those inherent and systemic biases that exist in law enforcement,” Waters says.
Implicit bias training, however, isn’t the only way to address the mistrust and misunderstanding that exists between patrolmen and the populations they serve. Chanel Haley, gender inclusion organizer for the LGBTQ group Georgia Equality, believes that police departments need to “become more diverse.” Hiring members of marginalized populations, she argues, can help humanize these groups and ensure officers treat them with dignity.
“Police often don’t understand the challenges that come along with being a member of a minority group,” Haley claims, pointing to the fact that Georgia has almost no protections at the statewide level for queer and trans people.
There remain a number of open questions around Schultz’s death, which is currently being investigated to deduce culpability. Weaver wonders why Beck, who has since been placed on administrative leave, didn’t use a less excessive means of force. He says that using a taser instead of a gun “might have ensured their safety and also ensured Scout could get the kind of treatment they needed.”
“We need education of law enforcement officials and good standard operating procedures,” Weaver says. “We need to learn deescalation and more ways to manage an interaction with trans folks – instead of letting fear and anxiety spiral into something that doesn’t need to happen.”
On Wednesday morning, we dropped two banners at the University of Pittsburgh. They read, “From Pitt to Georgia Tech: Disarm the Police, Arm Your Desire” and “Solidarity with St. Louis and Atlanta: Fuck the Police.” The first was hung from student dorms, the second from condemned housing near campus – we hope the symbolism is clear. Later that night, after campus police arrested a student protestor during coordinated disruptions of a right wing “debate” on immigration, we linked up with two other crews to beautify campus with chalk and flyers [just a heads up, the link is from a right-wing student news site, and it’s kinda hilarious]. Another crew from the autonomous student network tells us they also tagged and wheatpasted the Oakland area on Tuesday night.
We are deeply saddened and angered by the murder of comrade Scout Schultz by Georgia Tech campus police. As a small crew of radical queer youth and accomplices, we recognize that Scout could have been any one of us. We too struggle daily with and against our mental health; we take these actions as part of that struggle. We will continue to answer the calls to fight in Scout’s memory [1, 2, 3, 4], one of which reads:
To anyone who is enraged, grieving, or who stands against the police and the murderous system they protect, we call for actions in solidarity with our fight here in Atlanta. To anyone who is fighting for liberation: in the coming days, fight with Scout’s name on your lips, on your banners, and in your hearts.
We are also enraged, but unsurprised, by the continued impunity of racist police in St. Louis. Rest in Power, Anthony Lamar Smith.
We’re profoundly inspired by the uncompromising militancy of the resistance in both these cities. There is no dialogue to be had with those who continue to write our murderers’ paychecks, nor are there negotiations to be made with the forces of hetero-patriarchal white supremacy, capitalism, the state – Power.
To quote This is Not a Dialogue –
Maybe you missed this, but you’re not in a dialogue. Your views are beside the point. Argue all you want—your adversaries are glad to see you waste your breath. Better yet if you protest: they’d rather you carry a sign than do anything. They’ll keep you talking as long as they can, just to tire you out—to buy time.
They intend to force their agenda on you. That’s what all the guns are for, what the police and drones and surveillance cameras are for, what the FBI and CIA and NSA are for, what all those laws and courts and executive orders are for. It’s what their church is for, what those racist memes are for, what online harassment and bullying are for. It’s what gay bashings and church burnings are for.
This is not a dialogue. How could you be so naïve? A dialogue—from which some of the participants can be deported at any time? A dialogue—in which one side keeps shooting and incarcerating the other side? A dialogue—in which a few people own all the networks and radio stations and printing presses, while the rest have to make do with markers and cardboard signs? A dialogue, really?
You’re not in a dialogue. You’re in a power struggle. All that matters is how much force you can bring to bear on your adversaries to defend yourself from them. You can bet that if you succeed, they will accuse you of breaking off the dialogue, of violating their free speech. They will try to lure you back into conversation, playing for time until they need no more stratagems to keep you passive while they put the pieces in place for tyranny.
This isn’t a dialogue—it’s a war. They’re gambling that you won’t realize this until it’s too late. If freedom is important to you, if you care about all the people marked for death and deportation, start taking action.
The early bird avoids the cops,
Queer Coffee Run – Autonomous Student Network [QCR-ASN]
REST IN POWER, SCOUT
IT’S A SIN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
“Love and Rage to student rebels at Georgia Tech – RIP Scout – Fuck Cops (A)”
Click HERE to learn how to support Georgia Tech student rebels.
Flyer spotted on campus.