Black Terps Matter organizes to:

  • call attention to the urgent (though often invisible) problem to law enforcement violence against women of color and trans people of color
  • collect stories from women and men of color and transgender people of color about their experiences with law enforcement violence to use as further evidence of how gender- and race-based oppression are used to target us
  • build strong networks among other Black-led organizations at the University of Maryland to strengthen our ongoing work addressing violence
  • advocate for and develop community-based alternative responses to addressing domestic and sexual violence so that survivors are not forced to rely on police and prisons
  • make critical partnerships with groups organizing against police brutality and prisons to support a critical gender analysis when considering what police and prison violence looks like and how to end it; and with groups addressing “violence against women,” such as anti-domestic violence and anti-rape organizations, to use a critical race analysis and expand our notion of “violence against women” to include state-sponsored violence such as law enforcement violence
  • make connections between all kinds of law enforcement (including local and state police; immigration enforcement such as ICE, Border Patrol, and Customs; Drug Enforcement Agents; the FBI; private security agents; and military forces) so that we better understand - how local police collaborate with immigration police, how local police are often trained by military forces, how U.S. neighborhoods are actually occupied by military forces (such as in post-Katrina New Orleans), how military violence abroad is connected to police and military violence in the U.S., how private security contractors play a critical role in the function and violence of law enforcement
  • make connections between gender-policing and gender violence targeting transgender people of color and non-trans women of color

Gender Violence & Race

What counts as “gender violence”?

Black Terps Matter addresses violence against women of color (including trans women) and trans/queer people of color as a combination of “violence directed at communities,” such as police violence, war, and colonialism, and “violence within communities,” such as rape and domestic violence.

We are told to call the police and rely on the criminal justice system to address violence within our communities. However, if police and prisons facilitate or perpetrate violence against us rather than increase our safety, how do we re-imagine a radical anti-violence movement?

Fact: Although the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, the mass proliferation of prisons has not lead to a decrease in crime rates, or to a decrease in the amount of gender violence. Prisons have never had an effect on decreasing crime in society.

Fact: Over $100 billion is spent each year to support a prison industrial complex from funds that could otherwise go to support education and social services. This money almost equals the amount spent to support the US military industrial complex.

Fact: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. People of color constitute over 70 percent of state and federal prisoners. Also, survivors of domestic & sexual violence represent the vast majority of people in women’s prisons.


As we build a movement to end violence against and within our communities, it is critical that we ask ourselves the following questions:


1. How can we develop an anti-violence movement that simultaneously struggles against state violence, including violence as a result of:

  • prisons and police
  • militarism
  • reproductive violence
  • poverty and economic exploitation
  • environmental violence

2. How can we develop responses to sexual and domestic violence in our communities that do not solely depend on a racist, classist, sexist, and homophobic criminal justice system and fuel the right-wing agenda of “getting tough on crime” through the proliferation of prisons, unrestrained police brutality, and the mass incarceration of communities of color?

3. How do we build coalitions across movements?

Community Accountability

How do we address violence within our communities?


We are told to call the police and rely on the criminal justice system to address violence within our communities. However, if police and prisons facilitate or perpetrate violence against us rather than increase our safety, how do we create strategies to address violence within our communities, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and child abuse, that don’t rely on police or prisons?

Developing community-based responses to violence is one critical option. Community accountability is a community-based strategy, rather than a police/prison-based strategy, to address violence within our communities. Community accountability is a process in which a community – a group of friends, a family, a church, a workplace, an apartment complex, a neighborhood, etc – work together to do the following things:

  • Create and affirm values & practices that resist abuse and oppression and encourage safety, support, and accountability
  • Develop sustainable strategies to address community members’ abusive behavior, creating a process for them to account for their actions and transform their behavior
  • Commit to ongoing development of all members of the community, and the community itself, to transform the political conditions that reinforce oppression and violence
  • Provide safety & support to community members who are violently targeted that respects their self-determination

To learn more about violence against women of color and concrete strategies for community accountability, check out these resources:

Stop Law Enforcement Violence


Law enforcement violence against women of color and trans people of color is largely invisible in discussions about police brutality. Similarly, discussions about “violence against women” rarely, if ever, meaningfully address violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers. As a result, police brutality against women of color and trans people of color is often unacknowledged, leaving our voices largely unheard and our experiences unaddressed.

Yet since the arrival of European colonists on this continent and the creation of slave patrols — the first state-sponsored law enforcement agencies in the U.S. — Native, Black, Latina, Asian, and Arab women and girls have been and continue to be harassed, profiled, strip searched, body cavity searched, raped, beaten, and murdered by agents of the state on a systematic basis. Such abuses remain widespread and entrenched across the country, in the context of the “war on drugs,” policing of sex and sex work, the “war of terror,” “quality of life,” “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” policing.

In addition to breaking the silence around law enforcement violence against women of color and trans people of color, we focus on violence by police and other law enforcement agents for two main reasons:

  • First, to foreground the central role of law enforcement in the prison-industrial complex – they represent the front lines of the criminal injustice system, and are often primarily responsible for determining who will be targeted for heightened surveillance and policing, enforcing systemic oppressions based on race, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, class and ability, and feeding people into the prison-industrial complex.
  • Second, because mainstream responses to violence against women have relied almost exclusively on the police to protect us from violence, when in fact, police not only often fail to protect women of color and trans folks of color from interpersonal and community violence, they often perpetrate further violence against us, including when responding to calls for help.


What is “law enforcement violence”?


We use the term “law enforcement violence” to reflect an analysis that includes police brutality by local, state and federal police, as well as immigration enforcement officers, Border Patrol, private security, and military forces. We use the terms “police brutality” and “law enforcement violence” alternatively to mean the same thing.

We focus on law enforcement violence experienced by women of color and trans people of color of all genders because we recognize that law enforcement agents police race and gender simultaneously, and deem gender non-conformity, be it through acts or expression, a sign of disorder to be punished. As the political group TransJustice asserts, “Gender policing, like race-based policing, has always been part of this nation’s bloody history.”

We integrate an analysis of militarism because of the close collaboration between military and police forces in the “U.S.” and abroad, which involves sharing tactics, personnel, equipment, and targets, which include women and trans people of color at home and around the world.


Stop law enforcement violence against women of color & trans people of color!

Get involved!

Share your story as a women of color and trans person of color who has experienced violence from law enforcement. Organize with a national network of women of color and trans people of color to connect and strengthen our work on law enforcement violence and community accountability. Document violence by police, immigration officers, customs, drug enforcement agents, and the military against women of color and trans people of color using interviews, video, and other forms of participatory action research (PAR). 

Build coalitions between anti-police brutality/prison, immigrant rights, LGBT, and anti-violence grups to prioritize police brutality against women of color and trans people of color. 

Investigate ideas and tools for organizing community-based responses to violence in our homes and communities, such as domestic violence and sexual violence, so that we do not have to rely on police and prisons to create safety in our communities.

Black Terps Matter