Friday, May 4, 2012

Somewhere I Read Of the Freedom of Assembly

Somewhere I Read Of the Freedom of Assembly
Beto's Bridge & The Audacity of People of Color to Call for a Public Meeting

"But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right." 


                        -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I've Been to the Mountaintop"


It struck me curious as to why some would doubt that people of color would call for a public meeting to address grievances, especially grievances that include demolition of their homes, health of their children, and increased traffic in their community. Are not our children and homes of utmost importance to us, maybe even at the top of the list of our priorities?


The racial aspect of the recent public meeting regarding Beto's Bridge at Yarbrough Drive are very interesting. As portrayed by some, the sitting congressman coerced over 300 residents to come to a meeting and coerced these residents to speak out. As if people of color cannot make their own decision on what to attend and why. Valley residents requested YISD hold this meeting and YISD trustees as elected officials, responded to their constituents.


But some say you should not have these public meetings because it involves a billionaire's son-in-law who is running for congress, someone who evades the issues, will not take a stand against Beto's Bridge. 

The answer to that is clear in simple: when it involves the health and children and the demolition of neighborhoods, NOW is the right and only time to have a public meeting.

I wonder if this issue would have arisen in a White part of El Paso. Would we have questioned the attendees or portrayed them as ignorant residents, easily taken in by conspiracy theories? The El Paso Times has yet to interview one resident who lives in the valley or along Yabrough. Instead they have quoted only White-rich El Pasoans.

Could it be that people of color in El Paso can do their research, can do open records requests, read through tons of minutes and tax records, land ownership documents, and more?

Nevertheless, we are still portrayed as ignorant. We can't think for ourselves. It's also sad how it is often some other people of color that make these statement to that idea.

We have a right to assemble and a right to address our grievances because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly." 


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