On February 23, 2018, Evansville Police Department officer Samuel SeDoris shot and killed 59-year-old Douglas Kemp during a traffic stop. Kemp was the 182nd person killed by police in the U.S. in 2018, and the second person killed by the EPD in 6 months.
Less than a month before, on January 18, 2018, EPD officer Jackie Smith fired two shots at Vincent Bufkin while responding to a "refusal to leave" call; Bufkin survived a gunshot wound to his shoulder and faces several charges related to the encounter.
Six months ago, on August 29, 2017, EPD officer Kenny Dutschke and a yet-to-be-named federal security officer fatally shot 55-year-old Ricky Ard in front of the Federal Building in downtown Evansville.
On Tuesday, February 23, Evansville Letters to Prisoners hosted a benefit at PG on Franklin Street to raise money for folks from the region who are facing charges related to anti-inauguration protests in Washington D.C. this past January. This was the fifth in a series of benefits in the past six months. This event showed how the volunteers who put these on have progressed in their theatrics, ability to engage in anarchist ideas in an accessible manner, and commitment to exploring the experiences of the beneficiaries in a tangible and interactive environment.
In response to the spectacle of Trump’s ascension, anarchists from around the country met in Washington D.C. and made a counter-spectacle. Several of the images that have become iconic from the inauguration day riots were used to theme carnival games for the benefit in Evansville. Attendees were greeted at the door, encouraged to donate some money and then presented with a table of free literature, including analyses and explanations of the black bloc, the tactic of property destruction, rioting and insurrection.
Protest tactics came to life on Saturday at PG, where attendees at Evansville Letters to Prisoners' event could learn how to "lock down" to equipment, create barricades, make face masks out of everyday items, shield themselves from state violence, and compile and use a street medic kit.
Participants could also make prayer ties and participate in a drum circle facilitated by members of a group of native and non-native people who meet regularly to drum. The repeated rounds of drumming throughout the event echoed the role that spirituality has played at Standing Rock. Drummers carried in mind a particular intention during each round of drumming, including positive intentions for water protectors and hope that those seen as enemies--cops, security personnel, politicians--change their minds and hearts.
On Friday, September 1st, the Evansville Police Departmentreleased footage of the execution of Daniel Wooters by police in March.
The release of this footage comes in the midst of a nation-wide wave of protest focused on police murders of black and brown people, which began with the riots that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. These protests and riots have overwhelmingly focused on the murder of black men by police, and rightly so. According to the Washington Post, which has been collecting data on fatal police shootings since 2015, black people in the U.S. are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
But that doesn’t mean that police murder is not a reality for white people in this country as well. The police kill poor, homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable white people shockingly often—Daniel Wooters being only the most recent example. According to the website The Counted, The Guardian’s project devoted to keeping track of fatal police shootings, 368 white people have been killed by police in 2016 at the time of this writing. That’s more than one person per day.
Despite this glaring reality and the obvious points of connection between the experience of working-class white people and working-class people of color, white people continue to swell the ranks of the cop-loving, white-supremacist “Alternative Right.” Inspired by the Trump campaign’s attacks on racial minorities and reacting to the upsurge of black rebellion, many working-class white people are turning to Nazi-style fascism rather than finding a common cause with those fighting against power.
In Madisonville, Kentucky, just an hour south of Evansville, the openly racist and homophobic Traditionalist Worker Party has an active branch. In a recent article, their leader Matthew Heimbach reports going door to door in a trailer park in Madisonville, promoting their fascist ideas among its white working-class residents. The group also recently held a tabling event at Murray State University, in Murray, Kentucky. These efforts must be aggressively countered by white-folks in the Tri-state who do not share their visions of a totalitarian government and the persecution of ethnic and racial minorities. It’s only by hitting the streets, countering their demos and doing our own outreach that we’ll stop them from laying the groundwork for the nightmare world they dream of.
The Evansville Police Department released body camera footage on Friday, September 1st of Evansville cops shooting and killing Daniel Wooters, 38.
The footage is from March 15, 2016, when Wooters stole a police cruiser, was chased by police and eventually shot to death after stopping and getting out of the vehicle.