Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Not Counting Mexicans or Indians": The Many Tentacles of State Violence Against Black-Brown-Indigenous Communities

...On January 26, 2015, Jessica Hernandez, 16, was shot to death purportedly for striking a Denver police officer in the leg with a vehicle. This adds to the spate of shootings over the past year by Denver Police Department officers. On December 24, 2014, Francisco Manuel Cesena was tasered to death at the Tijuana border crossing by Customs and Border Protection agents. Two days earlier, a Lakota man, Allen Locke, was shot five times and killed by Rapid City, South Dakota, police officers, a day after attending a Native Lives Matter rally in Rapid City. Across the country, five other native people were killed in the same two-month period, while others were attacked by vigilantes. Two weeks before that, a Victoria, Texas, police officer was caught on videotape unjustifiably taking down and injuring a 76-year-old man, Pete Vasquez, then tasering him twice. A few days earlier, in December, Rumain Brisbon was killed by Phoenix police. Two weeks prior to that, in mid-November, sheriff's deputies in East Los Angeles shot Eduardo Bermudez and Ricardo Avelar-Lara to death.

There has never been a time in the history of this country in which people of color were treated by the legal system as full human beings with corresponding full human rights.

...There is a crisis of state violence directed at Black peoples in this country. While the mainstream media still presents the issue in an extremely biased and ahistorical manner, at least the conversation of police abuse, due to the Black insurrection Black Lives Matter, is on the table. It is incumbent upon those who also live marginalized realities to both offer critical support to this Black insurrection and to also step forward about the state violence against their own communities.

Many from communities targeted by state violence have been working toward building much-needed Black-Brown-Indigenous coalitions. There is precedent for this. At the behest of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many Brown people were part of the Poor People's March of 1968. And Ron Espiritu - who has been teaching a ground-breaking Chicano/African-American Studies class for the past seven years at Animo South Los Angeles High School - notes that the United Farm Worker's movement itself was heavily supported by both King and members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In To March for Others, Lauren Araiza chronicles these alliances, which included all the major Black civil rights organizations supporting the struggle of the UFW. Most Native American activists of that era also joined in supporting the UFW's movement...

Today, too, the silencing and invisibilization of subject populations is unacceptable. The federal government, elected officials, the states, municipalities and other institutions that hold power over law enforcement must be confronted. The mass media must also be confronted: Silencing and invisibilization also take place as a result of where the lens is focused or where the microphones are placed. As the Zapatistas have proclaimed in their struggle: "Never again a world without us."


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