Submitted by Anonymous | Originally published on Living and Fighting
On Saturday, November 4, we called for a protest to meet at the corner of 4th and Broadway in response to the murder of Richard Lee Richards, the brutal assault of two people in a restaurant parking lot by Tucson Police Officer Robert Szelewski, and the news of yet another death in the Pima County Jail—the tenth person to die behind its walls this year.
The protest was called by a coalition of individuals and groups in Tucson who are concerned about the effect that law enforcement and their violence have on our communities.
Our call was answered by about 150 people who came with their own goals and intentions, drawn together by the common cause of holding the Tucson Police Department (TPD) and the Pima County Sheriffs to account for their actions. The crowd that gathered marched through the downtown area, eventually meeting up with another group that had called for a protest that met earlier in the evening.
We called for the protest because we’re fed up with the official channels that are offered to us, and because we don’t believe that the cops will ever change until we make them change. On Monday, November 29, Officer Ryan Remington murdered Richard Lee Richards for shoplifting and for disobeying his orders. On November 14, Officer Robert Szelewski pinned two women to the ground because they got in his way in a parking lot. These incidents expose the soul sickness of police, whose jobs warp their psyches and inure them to violence. There’s not a single progressive reform that will solve this problem. We have to be rid of the police once and for all.
Tucson’s government and law enforcement project an image of a “progressive” oasis amidst a red state, but the body count belies the dark reality behind this thin veneer. TPD is out of control, Sheriff Nanos’ jail keeps handing out death sentences to the poor, mentally ill and drug addicted, and all the while our so-called “progressive” prosecutor, Laura Conover, sits on her hands, writing op-eds with the cops, calling for a tough-on-crime agenda. People of conscience are left with little choice but to take matters into their own hands.
In the summer of 2020, people collectively devastated downtown Tucson in response to the national crisis of policing. People then called for Tucson to be a beacon of light to the country by defunding the police and prioritizing our actual needs. Instead, what we got from the mayor and the city council was a $2 million budget increase for TPD and an impotent prosecutor who capitalized on our momentum to build her career. We’re sick of waiting around for them to change things while people keep dying.
We haven’t forgotten Carlos Ingram Lopez, who was murdered by TPD last year by Officers Ryan Starbuck, Jonathan Jackson, and Samuel Routledge in a manner strikingly similar to the murder of George Floyd. We haven’t forgotten Damien Alvarado, who was also suffocated to death by TPD last year. We haven’t forgotten the ten individuals who died in the jail this year who should still be with us.
We believe in a world without the police and we won’t stop until we get it.
The value of individual life a credo they taught us to instill fear, and inaction, ‘you only live once’ a fog in your eyes, we are endless in a sea, not separate, we die a million times a day, we are born a million times, each breath life and death: get up, put on your shoes, get started, someone will finish.”
— DIANE DI PRIMA