A message from Friends: Boycott DM
TW: racially motivated assault. (Austrian) Friends, we need your time and support right now so please read about this terrible incident that just happened today. One of my best friends and guiding light and godmother of Lola Bisi Lalemi was just physically assaulted by DM store employees this afternoon, even though she did not commit any wrongful acts, she did not steal or cause a public disturbance. At 12.30pm she walked to the DM store on Reinprechtsdorferstrasse 34, and the security man at the door tells Bisi she must wear a mask because she did not have one. As the security man was giving her a mask he says “you can get a free mask only if you buy something.” Then Bisi replied “are you telling everybody that or is it because I’m black? Would you say that if I was a white woman? What if i dont want to buy anything?” From this point on everything escalated to the point where the security man physically restrained Bisi from leaving the store by putting her in a chokehold and breaking the 1 meter distance COVID rule. As Bisi, a 60-year old black woman with high blood pressure, struggled, gasped for air and tried to free herself from the chokehold, several witnesses in the store and on the street just watched without any reaction. One of the female employees even assisted the man in the assault. Around 5-6 police officers arrived on the scene after the female employee had called them. The police did a negligent job at handling the case, and treated Bisi as if she were the perpetrator and not the victim, did not give her any sympathetic response although she was suffering emotional and physical pain. The police did not even take the saved security footage, witness statements from civilian bystanders and other employees, nor give Bisi a written report or case number to be followed up on.
It doesnt matter your race class or gender, if you ignore this, YOU ARE COMPLICIT IN THE PERPETUATION OF RACIST PATRIARCHY. We cant live in a society/ i cant raise my child in a society where these acts of violence towards female minority people of color are accepted as normal and unprosecutable. Don’t just read this story and look away. Don’t wait for it to happen to yourself or someone you know. Store employees do not have the right to touch you especially during COVID times, they should not racially target you, and companies and Austrian police should be responsible to give mandatory anti racist training to employees. We all know this would have never happened if Bisi were a white Austrian woman. She should not have to fight for air and fight for her life against this sadistic man who let his authority go to his head. She should not have to be retraumatized by the police who handled her case negligently and without sympathy for her physical and emotional injuries. She should not have to be the scapegoat for people’s COVID anxieties and frustrations.
We have written down an extremely detailed account of the incident in case the police write an insufficient report. We have contacted and notified the Civil Courage and Antiracist work organization to help facilitate the proceedings of this case. We have gone back to the DM store to get pictures and names of the security man and female employee. We will take Bisi to the trauma hospital because she is still experiencing neck and back pain from the assault. We will go with Bisi to the police station to press charges. We will make this story as public as possible. These are some of the actions we can and have already taken as friends and individuals in solidarity with a victim of racially motivated violence living in racist systemic society. But somehow it is simply not enough.
We cannot rest until all of us can restThis was yesterday afternoon, 17 April 2020. Bisi was taken to the hospital, treated for contusions and bruises and released. ZARA has been contacted and she will make a complaint at the police station today.
This is for your information. I would also ask that you boycott dm and inform your friends and network of the unneccessary and dangerous attack on this woman.
Das war gestern Nachmittag, am 17. April 2020. Bisi wurde ins Krankenhaus gebracht, wegen Prellungen und Blutergüssen behandelt und entlassen. ZARA wurde kontaktiert und wird heute auf der Polizeiwache Anzeige erstatten.
Dies dient zu Ihrer Information. Ich bitte Sie auch, dm zu boykottieren und Ihre Freunde und Ihr Netzwerk über den unnötigen und gefährlichen Angriff auf diese Frau zu informieren.