The more I read articles and see photographs from the continued demonstrations of protest of the asphyxiation and other killings, I feel compelled to amend my hopeful writing below. Sadly, the effort to completely dominate our community and discouragement, if not suppression, of our rights to assemble and seek redress includes all the various highly militarized agencies of law enforcement found here in la frontera. Of which there are many, and all apparently believe we live in a Constitution-free zone.
The brutal attacks on young and peaceful people merely calling out for justice cannot be exaggerated. So I amend my post to include acknowledgement of my nausea and grief, and a demand for immediate cessation of such unlawful acts.
Donna Snyder Thursday June 4, 2020
UPDATE: Today I learned that a few hours after the march on my street, police used tear gas on individuals who were still at Memorial Park. Media reports that the position of the El Paso Police Department is that unknown people “escalated” tensions, justifying the use of tear gas against not only whoever remained in the park but those of us who lived near by. Now I understand why I had an unusually severe attack of coughing and choking as sirens were blasting and choppers were circling outside my house.
The people I saw were serious young people crying out for an end to state violence and white supremacy. The thought of them kneeling with EPPD in peaceful protest was both beautiful and inspiring.
I am still happy I experienced the protest and was able to shout for “Justicia” and “Libertad.” My earlier sense of pride, excitement, and unity at the time I wrote and posted the article below, however, has dissipated like a sweet dream.
Donna Snyder Monday June 1, 2020
I’ve been one morose social justice warrior. (Yeah, I know that term is a target for unreasoning derision, but you can kiss my fanny. Say it loud and proud.)
Morose. Despondent. Despairing unto death. I am not indulging in hyperbole All these sins against the earth and all its people will never be righted in my lifetime, I worry. What few helpful things I’ve ever seen accomplished in my life all seem reversed. I spend all together too much time wailing. Because the martyrs are falling, and their numbers are the great shame of all of us, both as individuals and as a society.
But right now I feel something I rarely acknowledge: vivified and cautiously optimistic, as they say. All because the revolution came to my front door.
The revolution came to my front step a few hours ago. Hundreds of kiddos yelling and shaking signs. Constant choppers over head. Drones.Sirens. Trains.
The whole demonstration demanding truth and justice, and universal humanity, went up my street, disappeared for awhile over in Cinco Puntos, then awhile later all went back down my street.
I couldn’t hear what they were saying so I ran out in my doing-laundry tunic, an above-the-knee faux tie dye smock and bare feet, both age appropriate and yet not. I ran to the fence, said, “Hey,” to some folks and asked if they were for the human right to life and liberty for all. Everybody had on masks, although they were clearly young, I could not hear clearly the chants, and I didn’t have my glasses. I had just seen a picture online of some monstrous arm holding an assault rifle with a purported quote from a purportedly El Paso person boasting of heading to the demonstration to harm people marching for justice. But thank goodness there were no thugs ready to rock and roll for totalitarianism on my street.
A boy smiled (it looked so even with a mask) and assured me. These kiddos were standing up and demanding justice.
Both elated and crying, I was now hearing the chants, joining in, and holding up my fist. I did so for a long while, filled with glee, until the phone rang. It was a social worker investigating an adoption by a friend so I had to provide a statement before tomorrow. As I went in to take my call the El Paso Police Department came up behind the marchers, headed west in front of my mesquite trees.
After a lengthy conversation with the social worker, I returned to the front door. And they were back! Now going the other way, toward the park three blocks away. A substantial portion of the 1000 protesters who had appeared at the headquarters of the El Paso Police Department were crowding past my house. They stretched from sidewalk to sidewalk.
I yelled and ululated, chanted and threw gritos, gave rebel yells, holding my fist high.
But I had to go back in. Too many guys were taking my picture. Me, looking like a hippie grandma. Over the knee smock with its faux tie dye print. Frizzy hair. Bare feet. A disgrace! Worse, a stereotype.
I understand that there was tension when they got to Memorial Park. I read that the peace officers defused the confrontation when they took a knee with the demonstrators, showing respect and grief for the heroes and martyrs of this great movement for justice.
Almost five hours later and still the choppers and sirens and revving engines are passing near my house, but I am no longer as scared of facing the future all alone. I feel better than I have in a long time. The kiddos. They are taking it to the streets. And here in El Paso, on my street tonight, we were a people united in our respect for life and justice. Young people. Old people. Activists. Peace officers. And it doesn’t matter if the revolution won’t be televised, as long as you join when it comes to your front door.
Donna Snyder Sunday May 31, 2020