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Friday, November 28, 2014

Protesters are vilified, but violence stems from police

Editor,

In response to today’s headline, “Protesters hijack City Council meeting:” When will the media stop portraying protesters exercising their civil rights as terrorists?

And in response to other media accounts that have described the meeting as “descending into chaos:” What is “chaos” and what is “order?”

Is a group of citizens — armed only with their voices, some signs made of paper and cardboard, and a willingness to risk their freedom to bring real change — is this chaos? Is this a swarm?

Or is a police department, truly ARMED with guns, tanks, tear gas, dogs, flashbang grenades and an all-too-ready willingness to use them (a “pattern and practice” of the use of excessive force) the true chaos and threat to a safe and civil society?

Protesters who took control of the Abq City Council Meeting last night are described by media as a swarm bringing chaos and blamed for disrupting the city’s business.

Many of these same protesters have been talking to the police dept. and the city for years (or longer), going through ‘proper’ channels (of power) and we have seen little real change. Instead, we have seen more deaths (or extreme violence) at the hands of police.

And yet, the City Council President stated that he adjourned last night’s meeting for everyone’s safety.

No one was violent.

No one had a gun.

No one was physically assaulted.

In the face of 25 deaths at the hands of APD since 2010 (more than New York City!), 4 in the last 6 weeks (since James Boyd’s death) and TWO since the Dept. of Justice issued its report on April 10, finding APD to have a “systemic problem in the use of excessive force” (and including citing the attempts at oversight of APD as ineffective), where, truly, is the threat to public safety?

I ask readers to consider this as you consider what happened at ABQ City Council Monday night.

Yes, there was shouting (and some profanity). Yes, there was anger. It was imperfect in some ways. It’s easy to forget that sometimes democracy is messy.

But again, please consider: Where is the real violence and what will it take to stop it?

It’s also important to point out that words like chaos and swarm are racially coded words that stand in for more overt racist language, attitudes and practices that denigrate and dehumanize people and communities of color.

White society used to use more overt language (like “savage” and even more offensive terms I’d rather not repeat), but the fact that we now use ‘nicer’ words makes it even harder to see.

Much of the problem with APD stems from decades (if not centuries) of oppression of and violence toward people and communities of color. We (white folks) need to learn to SEE what’s really going on.

Sincerely,

Tina Kachele

Alumna