I want to come, but …
(PDF flyer) Wait, there’s a free dance party that is doubling as a protest calling for abolition of the police? Oh dang, that’s what I have always wanted! Or wait, where is it? How much does it cost? Is this even legal? Will I be safe? Can my kids come? Do I actually have to dance? Do you expect me to be any good at dancing? I actually love to dance, but do I really need to call for something as radical as abolishing the police? Here is where we answer as many questions as possible! (If you are ready to come, let us know on Facebook.)
- When and where is this? At the corner of Rouse and Lamme in Bozeman at tiny Creekside Park, across the street from City Hall, at 5:30 PM on Friday, October 29, 2021. We are not setting an end time, but we expect it would go approximately 90 minutes. It may go longer if the energy is there.
- And why? Aly White has a great write up as to why on our home page. My own take (Jim here) is that communities of people who feel empowered can care for each other and protect each other much better than a police force that has proven that they don’t care about black lives, and in the case of the Bozeman Police Department, have a penchant for punching and hog tying residents. Moreover, many don’t believe we can take care of basic community needs without a police force for fear of what will happen without them. I believe we have this fear and sense of total disempowerment because we no longer practice all that makes us human. We walk in straight lines (not run, not gallop, not skip). We have very rigid ways of communicating with each other. The range of what is considered socially acceptable is small, and so we don’t have any sense that a lot more is possible. Dancing breaks patterns; dancing in public breaks more patterns. In the small act of doing something unusual, you open your bodies to the idea that a lot more is possible than we imagine.
- How much does this cost? It’s free. And no, we have no suggested donations. We aren’t fundraising for anything. This is an entirely free event.
- Are all ages welcome? Yes, all ages are welcome. We do caution parents that some lyrics may use vulgar or sexually explicit language. If that is a concern to you, just note that.
- Is this legal? We are not lawyers, but as we are dancing in a public park, this should be legal under the First Amendment.
- Yes, but is this event safe? Ah, that’s a good question. Aly and I dance regularly just the two of us, and the most we have encountered are some people angry with hostile remarks. A man once spit on Aly during a two-person protest. However, abolishing the police is an emotional issue for people, and what has happened in the past may not happen in the future (particularly as we are being far more public with this event). Therefore, we cannot guarantee your safety. So, we recommend that you come with at least a friend you trust. If for some reason, you feel unsafe either because of an outside threat or by someone who has joined the dance party, you can find me (Jim) and/or Aly, and we will do our best to support you. We think this event should be safe as we are simply calling on people to dance with us, but one never knows in a town where a woman is punched in the face, held down for six minutes, and tied up by our very police force. Moreover, we are not blind to patriarchy, not blind to the ways people of color and women are made unsafe not just by the authorities but by people we encounter every day who assert their privilege in all kinds of unsavory ways. So, while we see no reason for it to be unsafe, we ask that you come with support and hopefully trust that Aly and I will do our best to support you.
- So, if we do feel unsafe, we can reach out to you? How do we find you? It will be obvious. There are pictures of us also on the website.
- What if I don’t want to dance but want to support you with protest signs? We really do encourage you to dance with us, but we don’t own or control the space. We simply are providing it. You may come with any supportive sign.
- Can I dance with you even if I don’t support abolishing the police? If you are generally supportive of restricting police power, we welcome you and welcome your point of view expressed so long as you respect our expression and a place for our sign calling for police abolition.
- How good a dancer do I need to be? We believe that ALL dancing is good dancing. Anyone who has the courage to move any part of their body is a dancer to us, and we encourage support for anyone out there.
- What kind of music will you be playing? Music spans genres. Playlists tend to be heavy in indie, indie pop, pop, punk, hip hop, and funk, but it will be a wide variety.
- Are there any COVID restrictions in place; do I need to be vaccinated or masked? As an outdoor venue, there will be no official restrictions, and people will need to do their best to care for themselves. Aly and I will be masked, but you can do as your conscience calls. We just ask that you respect anyone’s expressed desire for social distance. If you have COVID concerns, please let us know so that we can work with you.
- What other rules are there? We will not dance or share a space with anyone who in any way supports bigotry, whether that be racist, sexist, homophobic, genderist, or nationalist. Everything else should be common sense. Show basic respect for other dancers and people coming to support the action.
- So, BAD (i.e., Jim and Aly) are the leaders of this dance? NO. We have called the space and set the rules for our participation in the space. We will also be providing music. However, once we assemble at the site, we step back and join everyone who participates. We are not spokespeople to talk to police; we do not make decisions on behalf of the group. Once we are there, we are all in this together and will work together to make the space what we want it. And if the space turns into something we don’t want, we will simply walk away, as we encourage anyone else to do based on their conscience. The way to avoid the space disintegrating is to create one based in consensus where we all make decisions together and honor each other. If that’s not happening, bummer, and we go our separate ways. If it does happen, it’s a beautiful expression of what we believe a world without police might actually look like.
- How many people do you expect? We have no idea.
- Are there any rules about engaging police or counter-protesters? We cannot tell you how you should or should not engage, but we encourage no engagement with police, and certainly no one should believe they can engage with police or any other authority on behalf of the entire group. You are under no legal obligation to talk with police, and silence is usually your best defense. As far as anyone who chooses to counter-protest, that’s up to you how you respond. Just be mindful of others in the space and what consequences your actions have on those around you. Please use care and common sense. I plan just to keep on dancing.
- You all call yourselves Bozeman Antifa Dance, and so what is Antifa, and are you from out of town or funded by someone? So, one of the lies of right-wing media is that there is some bogeyman organization called Antifa out to stir up trouble in your communities and that they come from out of town and are funded by billionaires, such as George Soros. Well, BAD is really just Aly White and Jim Macdonald. Aly was born in Bozeman, and Jim has been here since 2007. No one funds us. And antifa simply means “anti-fascist”. So, we are puzzled why anyone wouldn’t be an anti-fascist. Now, yes, we are also anarchists. We do want to stir up trouble and break down the institutions that create the illegitimate hierarchies of classism, racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, abelism, straight-ism, nationalism, or anything else that sets one human up as more worthy and empowered over another. We refuse to hide who we are. We realize most of you probably aren’t with us on that. But if you trust we mean well and that our hearts are in the right place, we’re willing to extend that trust to you. We’re just asking you to dance with us while we have a banner up that says “Abolish the Police”. You all will come with your own reasons. We respect that diversity so long as it is essentially anti-fascist. You all may have your different tactics for getting there; we respect that. We simply ask that you respect ours. Our tiny collective of two is not affiliated with any other group. We are doing this ourselves because that’s what we believe, that anyone can stand and dance for their beliefs. Yes, we hope that is dangerous to a society that is fundamentally built on injustice and disempowerment, but we don’t mean it to be dangerous to you. We aren’t the ones who will shoot you in the name of the law or arrest or imprison you for God knows what. We stand with you as you seek your own form of expression, so that you can self-determine your life and live in harmony with your family, friends, and community.