What is Justice? (Dedicated to Angie Zapata)

April 23, 2009

This is wonderful.

I am *so* glad that the jury understood that killing trans women is wrong, that killing individual trans women to threaten/do violence to the entire community is wrong, is *worse* than a non-bias murder, not more-acceptable.

That it took the jury only two hours makes my relief even greater. For once, it wasn’t (that) hard for people to acknowledge that we deserve to live our lives–that Angie Zapata deserved to live her life–to refute the message that crime was intended to send. In that this action holds Andrade in-some-way-accountable, in that it affirms Angie’s humanity after it had been so brutally stripped from her, and after the defense attorneys continued to deny it to her–I am clichéing with joy over the ruling. To be honest I didn’t really have that much faith in cis humanity. Well done.

What I’m iffy about is the repetition that this is “justice.” That ‘punishment’ and ‘retribution’ posthumously help Angie Zapata.

In the framework of the criminal legal system–and that’s the only framework we’ve got right now–this is ‘best’ outcome we can get, this is what “justice” is, what “justice” for Angie Zapata is. But I can’t help but have misgivings about a “solution” that supports the PIC (prison industrial complex), that rallies support among trans and queer people for an institution that routinely victimizes us, an institution we should be critiquing and finding alternatives for.

I mean, think if one of the components of his sentence was to have to apologize in person, individually, to all of her family, all of her friends, and (not individually, but a large number of small groups) the whole community affected state-/nation-/world-wide, and have to listen to everything they/we have to say. What if one of the components of his sentence was to help erect a building that would be a center for trans people, or to toil at making a monument for her–rather than building Wal-Mart’s (that victimize the poor, and trans folks are disproportionately poor), operating a call center for the GOP (ditto), and making military supplies (supporting the military’s trans exclusion, hypermasculinity-which-breeds-trans-misogyny, sexism, rape, violence, killing untold numbers of brown people all over the world, and supporting US imperialism)? What if we had a vision of justice that didn’t include getting excited about raping people you think ‘deserve’ it? A vision that doesn’t support the very institutionalized violence that victimizes trans people–particularly but not only trans women, particularly but not only of color?

What kind of “justice” furthers the very violence it attempts to punish?

EDIT: Also, WTF is this, Lurleen & Mirelle? …Thank you to the rest of the commenters for not taking the derail bait, (I mean, really, how bald can you really be about it?) but I think I’d’ve moderated that out.
EDIT #2: Apparently this was a person’s signature rather than the comment itself; my WTF was about suddenly-making-it-about-marriage.

h/t Sable_Twilight.

8 Responses to “What is Justice? (Dedicated to Angie Zapata)”

  1. Cheshire said

    Yes, yes yes yes.

    I would add that I also have misgivings about hate crime laws, when killing a women isn’t a hate crime, nor are these mercy killings aren’t, but that is a conversation for another day.

    While I have problems with the PIC it is good to see, given the seriousness of the crime is viewed in society to be given by length of sentence that this crime was taken seriously.

  2. […] how it destroys communities…this was the best outcome of what was immediately possible, but, as Cedar puts it at Taking Up Too Much Space, there are other possibilities. Cedar talks about accountability, and I talk about transformative […]

  3. anarchafemme said

    I linked back to this. You put into words a lot of what I had been thinking, and while I tend to frame it in terms of transformative justice…it’s been something I’ve been quiet about because I don’t know how to say what I want to say.

    It saddens me that this is the best result anyone could realistically hope for.

  4. pandanose said

    (The way comments & handles work over at Pam’s place, I think “R.I.P. Liberty?” is actually part of Lurleen’s signature, and may have absolutely nothing to do with the post. I read it as her just saying “crying” and Mireille agreeing with the crying sentiment.)

    So far the most insightful commentary I’ve seen has been on Twitter. Aside from following @justiceforangie (which, in itself, is an interesting choice of usernames), someone I follow retweeted this:

    “A conviction only acknowledges a specific injustice. Justice requires knowing the lives of trans WOC, not just their deaths.”

    • Cedar said

      The way comments & handles work over at Pam’s place, I think “R.I.P. Liberty?” is actually part of Lurleen’s signature, and may have absolutely nothing to do with the post. I read it as her just saying “crying” and Mireille agreeing with the crying sentiment.)

      Oh, ok. Good to know people aren’t *that* into making everything about cis people.

    • Cedar said

      Also, that does sound insightful (though I actually said it a long time back), but I can’t help cringing at the notion of twitter being the place of insight in the blogosphere.

  5. yeuxdefeu said

    yes to accountability & a more thorough justice & no to the pic. this.

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