Ramsey Orta is not the revolutionary leader he has been made out to be. He may be another victim of targeted state violence, as Eric Garner was, but he is also a violent abuser.
By Kika D. & Dani
TW: details of state violence, anti-Black violence, domestic/interpersonal abuse, and misogynoir.
“People love evidence. If there is no evidence, then they don’t believe you.”
Bella Eiko wrote these words in a Twitter thread detailing the abuse she experienced at the hands of Ramsey Orta—the man who filmed Eric Garner’s murder by police in 2014.
Since the filming of that moment, Ramsey has been arrested several times for many different reasons. Each time, activists have framed the arrests as retaliation for filming the state’s violent murder of a Black man. Some abolitionist organizations, such as WeCopwatch—who argue that they support Black lives—have even assisted Ramsey in raising $300,000 on GoFundMe.
Ramsey , in turn, used that money to terrorize a Black woman by the name of Bella Eiko. He kidnapped her child for ransom and abused her, both physically and verbally. Ramsey Orta is no martyr. He is no activist, and he is not the revolutionary leader that he has been made out to be. He may be another victim of targeted state violence, as Eric Garner was, but he is also a violent abuser.
Men like Ramsey, violent men who abuse women, are also state agents when they practice violence towards and terrorize Black women. We must understand the level of power patriarchy has over our communities, the aggregated pain it causes, and how it holds us back from real revolution and liberation.
RECOMMENDED: Committing Harm Is Not The Same As Being Abusive
While recounting her story, Bella made sure to reiterate these words: “[I am] not taking away the fact that he has filmed the video… not taking away his victimhood of harassment… but any one of us could have taken that video, any one of us could have been a bystander and we would have done the same thing.”
Bella Eiko is now a retired activist from Oakland, California, who remains wholly committed to a liberatory politic. Her dedication to living by and applying her politic goes beyond organizing and this is why, despite all she has endured with Ramsey’s abuse, there has been no state involvement. She stated clearly, “I have never complied with the state. I did everything I could to make sure that I wasn’t complying but I shouldn’t have to be made to feel guilty of the choices I DID make.”
Bella has her own GoFundMe to support herself and her child, as well as pay for lawyers and the intensive therapy needed to heal from years of stalking and brutal physical abuse, and psychological abuse she survived. In the description of the fund, she states, “In order to talk about police abolition we must also talk about the future we wish to replace it. We will not be able to accomplish that safe future if we do not hold accountable for the actions of individuals that resemble those of the same patriarchal system.”
Bella and Ramsey were both a part of the WeCopwatch community safety organization, led by Jacob Crawford. Jacob led the celebrification of Ramsey and sensationalized his filming of Eric Garner’s death while simultaneously burying Ramsey’s abuse of Bella.
In 2016, Ramsey choked Bella, held a knife to her throat, and kidnapped her son. She called upon her comrade, Jacob Crawford and his reply was, “What do you want me to do?” Jacob had no answers for Bella as she was coatless and out in the streets during New York’s wintertime seeking refuge. Yet, he leads an organization that clearly states on its website, “WeCopwatch supports community forms of justice, whether they be restorative or transformative, that do not involve the police or the criminal justice system.”
The movement for Black liberation fails Black women and other marginalized genders within the community when violent cis het men are not held accountable by their community members. The notions of restorative and transformative justice seem to always be at the forefront when we talk about state violence, particularly against cis het Black men, but communal violence still wreaks havoc on our communities. And it’s killing Black women. What are we fighting for if not the liberation of all Black people?
When asking Bella what she wanted from the people who have failed her and, most importantly, her abuser her first word was accountability. WeCopwatch has protected Ramsey for what is now four years. Accountability is not just stating that one has committed harm. It also involves actively working towards the healing of survivors and oneself, and ensuring that one will no longer be a threat to their community.
Beyond accountability, we must acknowledge that safety within the confines of capitalism is monetary, and the cost of safety goes beyond therapy and lawyers. Bella and other survivors deserve to receive the widespread support that was so easily afforded to Ramsey, and that includes monetary support.
The financial request of reparations is not a reward for her presumed “nobility,” but to shame the culture we live in that asks victims to be modest. Monetary compensation is, unfortunately, often considered a faux-pas. Society tells survivors that their only hope for reparations and justice is through a criminal justice system that was never invested in protecting them in the first place. This leaves survivors with the immense burden of having to pay for the emotional, mental, and financial hardship of what was done to them, instead of being able to focus on their healing.
A real abolitionist politic and practice centers survivors and works to transform the world to be as we imagine it can be. That means accountability for harm doers and abusers, it means offering more than words and paying for the damage they have caused.
Kika is a Black queer writer from Boston who was born in Ottawo, Ontario and partially raised in Montreal, Quebec. This is her first ever published piece, however, Kika spends most of her time drafting screenplays and think pieces while working on her grassroots organization, Auto Angels, that she plans to launch by the summer of 2021.
Dani is an abolitionist organizer and founder of Black Hustlers Mutual Aid, a mutual aid started originally to assist Black sex workers through COVID-19. She loves to discuss Black feminism, gender and queer studies.
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