Once again, the police killings of Kennan Anderson, Manuel Esteban Paez Teran ‘Tortuguita’, and Tyre Nichols have become a topic of national discourse and our “leaders” are stepping into their performative routines. The Fresno Mayor, the Fresno Police Chief and the Fresno County District Attorney, along with their political allies, stood before the steps of Fresno City Hall to ask the general public to remain peaceful in response to these horrific events of state sanctioned violence. This ask is coming on the heels of MLK Day where these same leaders purportedly endorse King’s vision for peace. We can’t stand by and let these “leaders” gaslight us and our community anymore. Let us remind you it was King who said, “Without justice, there can be no peace.”
“Without justice, there can be no peace.”
Fresno’s mayor was the former Chief of Police and under his leadership the department has a long and sordid history of police corruption, violence and killing. The Fresno County DA has a record of racially biased prosecutorial practices and failed many times to persecute officers from the Fresno Police Department and Sheriff Department that have killed members of our community, including minors. The families of those killed by law enforcement are still seeking justice. The new Fresno Chief of Police remains to implement all 73 recommendations proposed by the Fresno Commission for Police Reform. The City of Fresno’s Office of Independent Review (OIR), which is supposed to investigate police wrongdoing, has no real power or mechanisms to hold these institutions accountable.
The unforgivable failures of the so-called justice system which led to the killing of Tyre Nichols at the hand of law enforcement have happened here in our City and County of Fresno. Yet no real change or accountability comes. For too long, the community keeps getting lip-service from leaders who fail to hear us. For too long, these leaders have taken part in harming us while posing as protectors. The recent press conference in front of Fresno City Hall was a performative propagandist bit that exposes a greater strategy. Our city leaders and institutions recognize the collective power of the people. And, they are afraid of our growing strength. That fear was clearly illustrated when they shut down an entire city block and had dozens of officers block the streets in order to do their press conference.
They want us to heed their message. We want to remind them of our communities’ call for Justice.