The rise in physical and verbal violence against Black Muslim women and Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is intolerable and calls to the need of dismantling xenophobic, white supremacist, racist, and misogynistic legacies of ‘Canada’ that are evidently active and dangerous in our communities. As the city responds with increased policing and surveillance, Free Transit Edmonton (FTE) recognizes that safety does not come with police, prisons, and surveillance. We must centre the needs of survivors-victims and affected communities, prevent a culture of violence, address systemic forces that enable violence to happen, and create systems of accountability and community care.
Fare-free transit and the right for mobility is entwined in our collective liberation. In fighting for free transit, we must also centre the justice and liberation of BIPOC, disabled people, women, queer, trans, Two Spirit, and all intersections of marginilization. We recognize these communities experience violence in different ways and have experienced different histories of oppression. These injustices are critical to fight against, alongside the work for free transit.
As the city responds with increased surveillance and enforcement, we also must address how these measures do not increase safety, and often create and perpetuate racialized, classed, and gendered violence. Alternatives to policing in public spaces already exist, such as safety in numbers and bystander intervention, however these strategies may work for some survivors-victims, but not all and are heavily context dependent, may not always be viable, and do not change the conditions that permit violence from happening. The systems that allow this violence to occur must change. Creating alternatives to policing that support survivors-victims is crucial in the fight for the right to mobility. This must be accomplished through people-first accountability and community care.
As we move forward, FTE is committed to ongoing accountability to ensure we are responsive to community and we are actively working alongside anti-racist, abolitionist, feminist, queer, environmentalist, Indigenous resistance and Land Back, disability justice, fat liberation, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperilalist movements in Edmonton and globally. As FTE is predominantly a group with racial privilege who have political leverage on public transit, our lack of proactive and ongoing response to address the long history of gendered and racialized violence on public transit is unacceptable. We will work to centre the needs and asks of marginalized community members in addressing violence, in all forms, in all spaces. A city with accessible, good, and fare-free transit is a step of many. We also need to work to dismantle oppression in all forms, and build alternatives and conditions towards a world where everyone can thrive.