EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Black and Latino leaders here observed Juneteenth with a show of solidarity against police brutality.
Members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) gathered in front of the El Paso County Courthouse on Friday to call for mandatory use of police body cameras, a community rights training course and the establishment of a citizens review board.
“I believe that all officers in our police force should be carrying the body cams for their own protection and also protection of the citizens and documentation and transparency,” said Mary Yañez, El Paso district director for LULAC. She was surrounded by other group members carrying Black Lives Matter posters.
She was joined by the Rev. Michael Grady, senior pastor at Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship, which calls for unity to eradicate police abuse.
“This is a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution. We must walk in lockstep […] the whole transformation of our communities and our cities now stands on our shoulders,” Grady said.
This is the second time in June that Latino rights organizations in El Paso have shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement. On June 8, the Border Network for Human Rights, which is known for its pro-immigrant activism, marched to the doors of El Paso City Hall demanding justice for George Floyd.
Yañez said Hispanics, too, have been killed by white police officers through the use of excessive force over the past few decades, so it makes sense to show unity.
“We express our deep outrage at the long and troubling history of police brutality in the United States,” she said. Floyd’s death and other recent cases of abuse “have awakened our social consciousness to honor the lives of those whose lives have ended at the hands of law enforcement (officers) who were hired and trained to protect us.”
Grady said racism doesn’t differentiate between black, brown or other minorities. He has experienced this personally. His daughter, Michelle, was among the injured when a gunman from North Texas came to El Paso last Aug. 3 to “kill Mexicans.”
Michelle Grady was among the 23 injured survivors. Twenty-three others didn’t make it out alive of the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall that day.
“For too long we’ve been separate because of race, creed and color. We’ve separated ourselves, so I wanted to stand with our LULAC partners and friends” he said.
The Floyd movement has brought together people from many states and many backgrounds to try to end police brutality. The movement has gathered international attention and created a momentum for change, but community leaders shouldn’t relent, he said.
“Our communities must be reborn with a new vision, a new hope, a new fervor that we can come together,” Grady said. “We stand with LULAC, we stand with right, but we must do it together because a house divided against itself cannot stand.”