January 9, 2020 is an important date in the fight for Justice for Kayla Moore. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, can you come to the court hearing, where the Moore family demand an investigation into Kayla’s death?
In 2013, Kayla was killed in her home in Berkeley, not far from where I lived with my then-girlfriend. We went to the protests that happened at the time, organized by her family. I remember we had balloons and cake in honor of her birthday.
Below, with the light blue background, you can read what I wrote about Kayla Moore’s death in 2015, after I had moved back to Berlin. I wrote it as part of a longer article. It was the article that became my all-encompassing mission, the article where I gave voice to my terror at the world, the article where I experienced how thinking and writing can make me high, the article that landed me in psychiatry. „Antiracism in the Time of COINTELPRO: A #HabeasViscus Production of Race, Gender, Size and Lies“ is its title. I thought it was a stroke of genius, containing everything that I knew about the world, and most importantly, the insight that enables one to let go of it.
I use the concepts „person“ and „flesh“ in ways that will not be familiar to most people. I develop them earlier in the article, building on Alex Weheliye (whose book Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human I credit in the article title) and Hortense Spillers. Those who want can read more about it.
Did you hear how Kayla Moore was killed by police, in downtown Berkeley in the night of February 12, 2013? Her roommate John Hayes called the police and said that Kayla Moore had thrown him out of their apartment in a dispute, that she was schizophrenic and off her meds, and suggested she be taken into custody for a mental-health check-up. When the police arrived, Kayla Moore met them at the door and said that she didn’t think they were real police officers and that she was not feeling safe. Unsurprisingly, the person inside the police armor thought that that made no rational sense. The person inside the police armor had its own rational sense to ride on and started by checking the computer system for outstanding arrest warrants. They found one for John Hayes and promptly arrested him. For Kayla Moore, they found one with a matching legal name, an address in neighboring San Francisco and a date of birth twenty years earlier than hers. They concluded, “we might as well take him.” They ordered her caregiver to leave the apartment and gave the cue for capture.
Kayla Moore’s strength as she fought surpassed all the police persons’ expectations. It probably had something to do with her un-right thinking that she was not dealing with real police. She probably felt the absolute unsafety—not just the unsafety of two police officers in her home who are arresting another innocent person, as it unfortunately happens every day—but the total unsafety that doesn’t know what unfortunately and innocent-person mean because there is no-time for such no-sense. As the person locked their handcuffs around her, Kayla Moore pulled away “like a raging bull.” Maybe it was “the kind of courage that’s borne of resignation” and ignited into electricity by panic. A fear used “for something other than suppressing the self,” for the one-and-only other thing that it impossibly-necessarily needs to be used for. The police later marveled that she must have been under the influence of “some kind of stimulant.“
After calling back-up, the person was literally on Kayla Moore with five or six police officers who used their combined body weight and all their strength and “a little extra” to restrain her kicking legs while she lay face-down and handcuffed with her arms behind her back. Her yells “get off me,” “don’t touch me,” and “you’re hurting me” were heard and not heard and heard and not hear and heard and not heard by the person one time too many. As for the police, they describe it best themselves: “I remember hearing ‘Get off me’ a few times….I don’t remember specifically what he was screaming…I mean, you hear it, I mean you hear certain things, but you don’t—I drown them out.” The neighbors heard Kayla Moore’s calls too, and weren’t called to see that they were answered either. They probably thought rightly that she was yelling vainly at real police, as the police do what they unfortunately do every day. So no back-up arrived for Kayle Moore, and her power short-circuited.
I am in Berlin and cannot come to the court in San Francisco on January 9, but I would love to be there with Kayla Moore’s family and others who demand justice. I send my solidarity from afar. May we pack the court on that day and refuse the coroner’s view that blamed Kayla Moore’s death on obesity.
Please also read the Joint Statement of Solidarity with the Family of Kayla Moore, from Sins Invalid and Fat Rose and visit the Justice for Kayla Moore website. At both places you will find details about the time and location of the court hearing and planned actions.
Berkeley Copwatch. People’s Investigation: In-Custody Death of Kayla Moore (October 2013). Nomy Lamm. “We Remember Kayla Moore.” This Body is Not an Apology, March 2 2015. http://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/we-remember-kayla-moore/. Berkeley Police Department. In-custody death investigation. Xavier Moore. Published by Berkeley Copwatch.
Alix Johnson. “Telling Stories: Secrets, Lies, and Sexual Assault.” The Toast, April 30, 2015. http://the-toast.net/2015/04/30/telling-stories-secrets-sexual-assault/
Ruth Wilson Gilmore “The Economy of Incarceration.” The Laura Flanders Show, May 26, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39Axc3FIu9A