INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence has a new website

Stop Police Brutality Against Women of Color & Trans People of Color! Let's Organize Safe & Sustainable Communities!

INCITE! is one of my favorite feminist organizing projects and I’m excited to spread the word about their gorgeous new website. If you don’t already know about their amazing anthology, The Color of Violence, I highly recommend picking it up (especially since I helped craft the chapter that intersects with trans issues, toot toot.) Even if you don’t have a copy, the website is right at your fingertips, right now. Go check it out!

I especially want to draw your attention to one of the centerpieces of their website launch, the Organizing Toolkit To Stop Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color & Trans People of Color. If you have any doubts as to whether police brutality is a feminist issue, their analysis does a much better job of explaining than I have recently. Their toolkit highlights the fact that law enforcement violence against women and trans people often becomes invisible, while at the same time stressing the need to work in coalition with other organizations that struggle against the police state, institutionalized violence against people of color, immigrant rights, and so forth. (See in particular the joint statement put out by INCITE! and Critical Resistance, the prison abolitionist organization founded by Angela Davis and others.) They’re simultaneously working to integrate a gender analysis into conversations about police brutality, and also raise awareness that this isn’t just a problem that happens to young, straight black men.

INCITE!’s toolkit addresses everything from law enforcement violence against marginalized women and trans folks on the streets to violence in immigration practices and against native communities, police brutality against sex workers, and strategies for community accountability — which could be an alternative to calling the police, especially for people and communities who can’t always do that. I’ll quote a couple of my favorite sections after the jump.

Also, check out this sweet poster version.

WHY A PROJECT ON 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.

When we think about police brutality, we tend to think primarily about the experiences of young men of color perceived to be heterosexual, and not about police brutality women and trans people of color experience daily. When we think about violence against women, we tend to think about interpersonal and community violence, like domestic violence and sexual assault, and not gender based violence by law enforcement agents. As a result, very little information and very few resources on police brutality and other forms of law enforcement violence against women of color and trans people of color exist at the national level.

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.

Finally, they’re also looking for your feedback on the toolkit. Go to it!


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About Holly

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21 Responses to INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence has a new website

  1. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    I don’t know if all this stuff about Police brutality can be true that singles out woc is true, how come? I mean racism like not being helpful and sterotyping, yes, we got this here in UK, but we don’t have UK Police trying to beat us with sticks and dogs and tasers, no way, if I am telling like this, then this means I am a liar. Now men, of course, this is different, if they are thieves and attacs their wives and beat his daughter then police will not take kindly if he resists arrest, this is sure, but this is not same as Police brutality against Pakistani girls.
    And also, I think police is a very nice and very good role model, this is why I liked to join the Police also. Also I want to really punish criminals and bullies, i don’t like.
    Now we come to America, you saying Police is bruality against women of color, how come, look at all the Pakistani girls and Indian also who is living in America and they are ok, one million times better than before cos we got the police to assist if we getting bullied at home, it’s nice and good, not like in Pakistan, u think the police will have any sympathy, no way. But I admit Police can do more to help maybe, but this is not beating and tear gas etc.
    Another, if you blame for LAPD, NYPD etc, then you also should blame for the people who is destroying fabric of your society, this is a long list of social deviants and criminal elements that must be eradicated, this is what I think, this is why I think radical feminism and the constitution of America, i think it’s not compatible, cos criminals and rapists and pornography persons and religious maniacs etc- these are parasites on black people, enemies of black people, they are posioning the black body and the black mind and the black family and they must be purged, only the state machinery can do this, army and security services of course, this is like a liberation. Like with the case of Ramona Moore, and most crime in America is black on black, what does this tell us? This tells us that to eliminate police brutality, of course, we must eliminate the crime and drugs that leads not only to police demoralization and frustration- but also to social disntegration and horrible crimes and abuses. So what I believe, this is not a very western idea maybe, it is that covil liberty is secondary to public safety, public safety of millions of black persons, this is being violated, first by the criminal classes, then by in a infinetly smaller number of cases- by some police officers. But overall, political leadership, suspension of civil rights for criminal classes and anti social elements works to mobilize the police to liberate black people. This is why I support for Venezueala- with Hugho Chavez and also Fidel Castro, you think they would allow these criminals to terrorize, rob, rape and murder, also in the mighty USSR, or China, huh- how come, they just getting taken off into the fields and machine gunned with a big tanks and shoved in a ditch and finish the problem. Now if people like me get power in America, first people to benefit will be black americans. Another, fair is fair, this is pure revolutionary theory, white people if they doing bad, of course, don’t think they should not get the same. Repression of criminals means freedom from TERROR, and American comrades, now you are living in a terrible situation, like u know, this is why liberal bourgois democarcy, it can be suspended, when all these anti social elements are removed- then we can bring it back, but real people’s democarcy. THE GUN LIBERATES BLACK AMERICA- AND THE GUN IS THE WEAPON OF THE REVOLUTIONARY STATE.

  2. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    In fact, INCITE on their site support me own analysis, this is cos they are revolutionary progressives. Like me, they see police violence all mixed up with domestic abuse and violence within the community.
    What is the purpose of the revolutionary? Activism alone? No, of course not, the purpose is to effect radical change through seizing power. This means that the state means of coercion become the state apparatus of popular resistance, in other words- WE BECOME THE POLICE in a revolutinary state, the logical conclusion of genuine radical activism. This requires, smart, trained and above all personally disciplined fighters, Latin America, really, it’s a fantastic model and it’s also from your own culture and context, and a very good example of me ideas in action would be the, “SANDANISTAS”, so even though I am Pakistani, I got a huge respect for revolutionary movements in Latin America, but again, you got to understand how they operate also, their values and me own, it’s identical.

  3. juju says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!

  4. Holly says:

    TPHG, if you download the poster or any of the other PDFs on that site, there are tons of descriptions of actual incidents that have happened to women — INCITE! is not just promoting a theory, they’re basing their work on things that are happening in communities of color here in the US. I think you may be right that INCITE!’s analysis would agree with you on some points — but I don’t know if they would agree with you that the state should suspend people’s civil liberties in order to crack down on criminals. The thing is, at least in the United States we know that we can’t trust the government to just suspend the rights and use coercion and violence against “criminal classes.” In fact, we know from decades of incidents that the government will use force against all sorts of “anti-social elements,” and that has definitely included, in the past and present, anyone with radical politics especially people of color. Regardless of what INCITE! thinks of revolutionary movements and politics and what kind of government we should ideally have, they definitely have a lot to say about what women of color and our communities can do right now — organizing, activism, education, developing alternatives to reliance on the state — in our current untrustworthy system.

  5. Sarah J says:

    I’m reading The Color of Violence right now, actually, and it’s rocking my world. Haven’t gotten to your chapter yet, though…

  6. Lindsay K says:

    I was wondering, are there anti-brutality (in particular, anti brutality-against-women-of-color) groups that actively promote change to the system itself? I agree with much of what Incite is saying- the problems they point out are real and devestating, and education and banding together in the community to resist and help each other are both powerful and important tactics.

    But- as someone whose career is tied up with law enforcement I can’t help feeling frustrated at times. I believe strongly that it’s important to find ways to alter the injustices in the system itself, and I get frustrated because it seems like groups that talk only about education and in-community outreach (important though these are!!) are stopping one step short of a full solution. Nobody should lie down and accept this sort of treatment- but I also believe that the deep divide between police and the community is exacerbated not just by police brutality, but by community attitudes that the police are an enemy and an occupying force. This divide is dangerous not just because it helps strengthen militirization of minority neighborhoods and further entrench criminal justice system violence, but because it hinders honest efforts to fight crime (for example, making people less willing to bear witness against murderers and other dangerous people) without making the people in the community any safer from police brutality.

    If the most we do is teach people to believe that police are the enemy and criminal justice system involvement in community problems is to be avoided, without taking steps to alter the policies and aspects of the system that foster brutality and teach people how to take back the police force and make them community servants rather than enemies, there’s never going to be a true solution to any issues with police brutality.

    AT any rate, that’s the best I can do right now in trying to define my unease. Does anyone know of any groups, as I said, that focus on the kind of things I’m talking about?

  7. Radfem says:

    They’re simultaneously working to integrate a gender analysis into conversations about police brutality, and also raise awareness that this isn’t just a problem that happens to young, straight black men.

    It’s too bad that many feminists operate under this misperception using this as an excuse not to consider it a feminist issue.

    Lindsey, you raise some good points. The system of law enforcement is such that the “us vs them” mentality that they have is fueled by many things, not just the media that’s out to get them all the time, like they say, not just the community which has little concrete reason to trust LE agencies which utilize occupational and highly-militarized strategies of policing, but a lot of it is because of the entrenched racism, sexism and homophobia in their own ranks. They don’t just “other” communities, they “other” each other. Women of all races, men of color, gay officers are “othered”. Officers who break the code of silence are “othered”. Talk to a few of them if they will talk and they will tell you how they are ostracized, how they’re not assured of backup in dangerous situations, the persecution by the divisions in the department set up to investigate misconduct, NOT punish whisteblowers (but it’s the opposite in practice almost universally). When it comes to community perceptions of LE, the officers are their own worse enemy in large part because of their perceptions of each other.

    And they’re not honest and part of that is b/c their own risk management and legal handlers won’t allow it particularly in excessive force incidents. One recent example here, was a shooting of a man that’s bad on its face. The city paid out a lot of change settling the case but refusing to take any responsibility or say that it was a bad shooting. Yet, one of the undisclosed details of the settlement was the use of the shooting incident as a scenario in training as an example of what not to do. So what are they saying? Is this shooting “good” or is it “bad”? And why did they pick the avenues of expression, one public and one private to send two entirely different answers to that question?

    Oh and speaking of this particular shooting, if police officers want to foster good community relations and trust then it might be helpful if they didn’t frequent businesses onduty where they boast about shooting someone to death. You never know who might be listening.

    If the most we do is teach people to believe that police are the enemy and criminal justice system involvement in community problems is to be avoided, without taking steps to alter the policies and aspects of the system that foster brutality and teach people how to take back the police force and make them community servants rather than enemies, there’s never going to be a true solution to any issues with police brutality.

    It’s very hard to find ones that don’t when challenged retreat into the mantra that the police are always right.

  8. GallingGalla says:

    I also believe that the deep divide between police and the community is exacerbated not just by police brutality, but by community attitudes that the police are an enemy and an occupying force.

    And they’re not?

    Sean Bell? New Jersey Four? Jena Six? POC shot in the back? Refusal to investigate the murders of trans women of color (Erica Keel) or complicity and cover-ups in their deaths (Nizah Morris)? Numerous reports of trans folk being harassed, beaten, and abused by police (including the wonderful case of a trans woman who was hogtied and then carried that way to the cruiser)? Stark County, OH, deputies (including female deputies) carrying out rape-by-strip-search of women who cried or resisted sexual come-ons by said deputies? Judges telling prostitutes that they can’t be raped, that it’s only “theft of services”? Prosecutors who refuse to prosecute rapes and dismiss the testimony of the women who rescued a woman being raped (De Anza)? Massive, punitive raids against “undocumented” immigrants? Separating those immigrants from their children, forcing the children to wear prison jumpers, and imprisoning children who were born in the USA and are therefore US citizens? Prisons and detention centers being run by for-profit companies?

    Sounds like an occupying force to me.

    Being white and middle class, I was raised with the notion that the police were there to help me. But, I’m a trans woman, and I no longer believe that, and will not call the police for anything. If it is like that for me, what is it like for women / trans folk of color?

    for example, making people less willing to bear witness against murderers and other dangerous people

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but can you explain how bearing witness against murderers, etc, has to involve the police? I’m pretty ignorant of the prison abolition movement (I’ve only just started reading some literature) and so don’t know how abolitionists propose to hold those who commit violent acts accountable without law-enforcement involvement, but it seems to me that those two (holding those responsible to account, and law enforcement) do not have to be dependent on each other.

  9. Gwen says:

    TPHG, I don’t know about actual experience of police brutality, but according to the home office, as of June 2001 “ethnic minorities” made up 26% of the female prison population of the UK, whereas of June 2001 only 12.5% of the population of the UK were “ethnic minorities”. So clearly, women of colour are grossly overrepresented in prison in the UK.

  10. Gwen says:

    Edited to add: I forgot to say that most of the women of colour in prison are Afro-Caribbean, and that South Asian women are actually underrepresented. This is probably due to racist stereotyping on the part of the police – Afro-Caribbean women are seen as dangerous criminals, whereas South Asian women are seen as “good” and “submissive.”

    However, these stats are out of date, and I know there’s been a considerable police crackdown in Muslim areas.

  11. Lindsay K says:

    And they’re not?

    I never said that the people who see the police as an occupying force are wrong; you don’t need to cite examples for me to see their point. I was simply pointing out that regardless of whether or not they’re right to see the police as an occupying force, that attitude only helps the police in demonizing members of that community and the criminals in doing whatever they want to do at the community’s expense. My central point is that without an end goal of change to the system (even if you want to abolish the police and replace them with another option, that’s still a change to the system), it seems like encouraging further (perhaps righteous) disgust with the police is merely exacerbating the situation without stopping police violence.

    Again, I’ll reiterate that if I am questioning anything it is the efficacy of a campaign that seems to begin and end with education; I am not questioning the motives or the reasoning of Incite or allied groups. I am also confessing my ignorance insofar as I don’t know if there are groups out there espousing systematic solutions to brutality (in addition to education), or if there’s even something I’m missing when I look at this campaign. That’s why I am asking if such groups exist…It’s not a snide question, I honestly want to know.

    so don’t know how abolitionists propose to hold those who commit violent acts accountable without law-enforcement involvement, but it seems to me that those two (holding those responsible to account, and law enforcement) do not have to be dependent on each other.

    Perhaps not. But I don’t know how they propose to hold people who commit violent acts accountable either! That’s the problem I’m having. There seems to be a message of, “Our system is corrupt and law enforcement officers will screw you. Therefore, avoid them.” Which is all well and good, except that our system of justice as a society is based in the courts and reliant on the same law enforcement and corrections agencies we’re demonizing. Which means, once we recognize the problems in the system and educate people about them, we need to either alter the system such that it is better, or we need to replace the system with something else entirely. Otherwise, what are we actually accomplishing? The problem I was raising is that it seems, looking at the Incite campaign as a specific example, we’re leaving out the second step. Again, unless I’m missing something, which is always possible. :)

  12. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    In fact, Pakistani women are almost totally absent in the UK prison population. The Police crackdown in Muslim areas is seen as ‘hostile’ by many Muslim women, but this is tempered by a genuine fear of terrorism. Again, u must avoid racist steretypes that see all Muslim women as passive agressive or if not in outright support of extremists like Al Muhajiruun and Hezb Al Tahrir, we are not. What is most annoying is the sese that we are being abandoned to underachievment and gender streaming, in other ways- the racist bigotry of low expectations. There could arise in the future a situation where racial polarization and the perception that the police is anti community create a situation not unlike that which seems to exist with woc in America- which is why a group like incite- might be us too, 10 years down the line. So yes, despite the very low prison statistics u quote, INCITE and its message could potentially intersect with our reality at some point in the future. Regarding the low statistics, most women are in detention here not for murdering their children for honor or for terrorism, but for falling foul of the UK’s complex immigration regulations. There is however a hidden problem of sexual exploitiation by gangs of us and a growing drug problem; young women run away from Islamic repression, end up on the streets as sex workers and are then punished by the state that failed to protect them in the first place. This very slow process of crimianlization is also something that intersects between woc in the United States and immigrant Muslim communities in the UK.

  13. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    And the implication is therefore that if black women in America were basically well behaved angels- the social and political context of their reality WOULD STILL MEAN THAT THEY WOULD BE CRIMINALIZED by the state.

  14. Kakalina says:

    There’s a lot of discrimination against disabled people as well (I heard recently about a case of police brutality against a deaf man simply because the cop thought that the man was hearing and was just trying to be difficult–then the police arrested the poor man on charges of resisting arrest scowl). I’ve experienced some on the annoying level like when a hearing person asks me a question and I ask them to repeat it more slowly, and they just blink and go “Oh, deaf” and walk away. I can lip-read, that’s not the problem. I just need them to speak a little more slowly sometimes (especially if they have a mustache lols). I actually speak very well (though I increasingly depend more on signing as I get older), so I can communicate with others without a problem. I’m patient with them, so hearing people seem to assume that I’m doing fine and they don’t need to extend the courtesy to me. Say WHAT?! Hmph
    There’s an interesting academic paper called “Conflict Resolution Among Peaceful Societies” which is what it sounds like, an analyses in the differences in Conflict Resolution between peaceful and non-peaceful societies (US is classified as non-peaceful).
    I’m not especially surprised that Pakistani women aren’t found very often in the UK prison system. Immigrants (in almost any country) tend to have a record better than native citizens smiles. They also have a record of being more patriotic lols. It’s like hearing people worrying about deaf people on the highway when deaf people percentage-wise have a better record than many hearing people (this is obviously not a universal winks).
    So, yeah, I think minorities in general have a harder time with the police than majorities do. *bleh* :P

  15. nadia says:

    lindsay, you are talking about a difference between *reform* and *abolition*. i don’t think the function of any of INCITE!’s work is to help change or reform the existing system; the goal is to dismantle it.

  16. foxybrown says:

    lindsay, actually incite seems to be addressing the issue of “if not prisons/police, then what?” I think nadia’s right, they want to dismantle the prison industrial complex (including policing), and they are working with communities to develop alternative strategies for addressing gender violence within communities.

  17. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    I told you, we can not dispense with policing, if we did, we would just lose power within 5 minutes and u will get policing back- only we will have no say, that’s quite apart from the chaos and anarchy of anti social criminal elements terrorizing poor communities. See, any slight loosening of the security apparatus upon society- we get pure mayhem and panedemonium, like that mess after hurricane Katrina, or when America foolishly disbanded the Iraqi army. You dismantle the police where will u be, this is like in the famed American movie, “ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK”, like when they built a huge wall around New York and inside was all these criminals, and the leader, who was that? His name was ‘the Duke’, and he had a huge white limo with crystal glass chandeliers, the Duke ruled Manhattan, like a sultanate, he was king of criminals and it was like the hell of Dante. So it will be like a hell if we remove the police, no, our system is another, we are the police and we rule cos we are the poor and the oppressed and all exploiters, abusers, criminals, they all getting removed, permanently.
    Now about “Escape from New York”, I saw it when i was maybe 9 and me mum told me like this, “See how Americans live, they are anarchy and crime and drugs and they have these walled cities.” And so we thought the wall was real actually, I mean, as Pakistanis, we looking at America and seeing like chaos and anarchy, it’s scary. But actually, like i know now, there is no wall in New York, it’s just a story, but it is hard to seperate fiction from fact when u don’t know, this is how we getting such myths about America, but it stays in ure mind even when u grow up. Anyhow, if we remove the police, it WILL be like that movie, no way, and all the poor people and women will be living a horrible life.
    For me, it’s a idealogical point also, LAW AND ORDER, this is the absolute basis of society, very strict order and utter obedience to the state, this is the ideal of revolution, i want smart, brave, nice people, not drugs and rubbish, no.
    Now did u see the Communist movie “the battle of Algiers”, there was me favorite cinematic scene in the anti colonialist movie, there was a brothel and inside hundrds of girls and outside there was a pro french mafia boss and he was like Al Capone and shouting how big he is and how these women are his and how he rules Algiers, blah blah blah. What happened? A young Algerian revolutionary, just 14 years old strolled up and gunned him down with a AK-47. See, this is what I am talking about. Now we got all these no go areas and drugs barons and crime lords etc etc, and they are shouting like this, “I am the king of the world, I am the big boss.” Now how long do u think he can last if i get the power, can he argue with a tank? See, i would love to have a war with America and America loses and then I get made like Commissar for America Occupied Territories and I swear, really, i would love love love that job of just crushing criminals, tanks sweeping into these areas and just pacifying them and liberating the people and then I would parade all these rapists, drug lords, criminals, all these parasites who made people afraid and I would have all loudspeakers telling them all their crimes and then just machine gun them in lines, this is what I would do, enjoy it also and all people of America like from “Incite” and nice people, they will be cheering cos we are the police, yes, but we are the PEOPLE’S POLICE.

  18. exholt says:

    organizing, activism, education, developing alternatives to reliance on the state — in our current untrustworthy system.

    Holly,

    I find it very interesting that this is a quasi-libertarian idea on a blog that tends to vehemently disagree with that political ideology.

    It is also one I’ve frequently heard from older Chinese immigrants who still held deep fears of the state from their experiences with tyranny from both domestic and colonial occupations. Considering my older relatives’ accounts of living under Imperial Japanese occupation and/or under Maoist rule during the 100 Flowers campaign and the Cultural Revolution, I cannot blame them.

    It is one reason why TPHG’s enthusiasm for a violent Marxist/Maoist revolution is very disquieting. This enthusiasm is similar to ones held by many ignorant sheltered upper/upper-middle class American classmates at my college who never lived or knew someone who lived under such regimes.

    Hate to break it to ya, but the Maoist era was no paradise with the crush of dissent in the 1950’s in events such as the 100 Flowers campaign which foreshadowed the Cultural Revolution where greater witchhunts for “Capitalist roaders” and “counterrevolutionaries” caused great bloodshed and a complete shutdown of society.

    While many privileged Westerners celebrate the Cultural Revolution as part of Marxist/Maoist chic, it is regarded by most Chinese as a bloody chaotic period and a great waste, especially for the adolescents and young adults whose lives and education were interrupted for 10+ years.

    Personally, I would regard these examples of brutality in Marxist/Maoist inspired regimes along with the imperialist and fascist colonialists as good cases for reducing state policing power and trust….not the strengthening of them.

  19. Holly says:

    1) I don’t think INCITE! (or any prison abolitionists that I’m aware of) really advocate abruptly “turning off” the police state or replacing it with pure anarchy. That’s not how sustainable change is built; it’s not an overnight process. So that’s basically just a classic straw argument.

    2) exholt, I hate to break it to you, but reduction of state control over people’s bodies is not exclusively a libertarian idea, it’s a very common theme in a lot of classic radical left-wing politics even if you see it as being at odds with “big government” centrist liberalism. The difference with libertarianism is that there tends to be a focus on economic justice and economic equality of outcome as well, as opposed to free market rule. But this is definitely not the thread for that series of arguments.

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