This story was originally published by Source New Mexico Celerah Hewes lives in southeast Albuquerque. On Aug. 6, she was driving home from the grocery store and happened to see the smoke plume from the Atkore United Poly Systems fire. “Otherwise I would never have known,” she said. “I would have stayed in my house, my swamp cooler on, and maybe had no idea that there was an air quality issue.” As of Tuesday, city and state authorities still have not said publicly how much smoke the fire generated. They also have not provided any detailed documentation of where the smoke went. Through a spokesperson, the city of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department said the smoke drifted south by southeast “away from populated areas.”
In the wake of KUNM news director Hannah Colton’s death, a common refrain by friends, loved ones and community members circulated: “Check on your friends, and reach out if you need help.” As two people who were very close to Hannah, we hear and appreciate the gesture. Creating communities of care and resilience is important. But checking on Hannah, asking that she reach out, did not solve the underlying problems that led to her death. Hannah was a journalist who led a chronically understaffed and resource-deprived newsroom, no different than most other newsrooms and many nonprofits. Every day she confronted very real structural violences of a world organized around profit and white supremacy.