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On August 25, 2022, an eviction notice was scheduled to be served at Lind Commons Apartments in Tucson, AZ. Horrifically, the intended eviction ended in the loss of 4 lives.
The events of August 25th are a tragedy from any angle. While some may be shocked and confused at how suddenly 4 people could lose their lives, many of us can’t help but see much of this as inevitable in a city routinely making headlines for its skyrocketing housing costs. Food insecurity, lack of a living wage and critically needed resources, soaring cost of living and rental prices, forced and intentionally sustained houselessness, etc., have devastated Tucson. As cost-of-living climbs, so do eviction rates. Housing insecurity and evictions, where people are literally removed from their homes by force, put people in the most desperate situations.
Yet again, there is no shortage of deniers and opportunists ready with talking points to dismiss the real crises. Mayor Romero, City Council, and the City of Tucson have a long history of refusing to acknowledge the root causes that contribute to violence and so-called “crime” in Tucson.
Instead of acknowledging and addressing the current and increasing real crises in our city, they invent a new one, one they like to call “gun violence”. A dubious title for such various outbursts of violence, from everyday “crime” based on the pressures of intentional poverty and the drug war to school shooters increasingly sympathetic to misogynist and racist opportunism among segments of the far right. Who does the invention of such a sweeping and emotionally loaded term as “gun violence” benefit?
City officials will likely use this as an opportunity, as they’ve done many times before, to pour more money into the Tucson Police Department budget. Tucson Police and Pima CountySheriff’s officers have killed 57 people since 2014. Many were killed during a mental health crisis or call that started as a wellness check. Yet, the city doesn’t increase resources and funding for supportive mental health services. There is a huge gap in the City’s budget between funding for the Tucson Police Department and Housing. From 2017 to 2020 The Tucson Police Department budget skyrocketed, from $159,964,58 to $249,191,000 while the housing budget went from $65,113,000 to $79,253,000.
We know that putting more money into the Tucson Police Department to “combat gun violence” will help nothing. Putting money into police will not address the root causes of violence in our community. In fact, putting more money into police will only exacerbate them. This money removes, decreases, and prevents the creation of vital services. This money puts more dangerous and deadly cops on our streets.
Interestingly when law enforcement or private security shoot multiple people, such as what recently occurred in Denver, CO, when police opened fire on a suspect in front of a crowded bar and shot 6 people, there is no cry for a crackdown on “gun violence”. We wonder, would the 4 lives lost during the eviction notice being served on August 25th get such a statement from Mayor Regina Romero if the constable serving the notice hadn’t been among them? It is not unrelated that the only face the city has chosen to acknowledge so far is that of the constable serving the eviction. They reserve remembrance and honor for those who enforce injustice; they forget and condescend to those forced to live in injustice.
Mayor Romero and city officials will cynically use this incident to build careers on a veneer of progressivism. They will continue to use the backs of the people in this city as a launchpad to climb the ladder of national politics. Meanwhile, real people lose their homes, go hungry, and die in the streets. These progressives have blood on their hands.
We have nothing but contempt for those who play such political games. Hopefully, we can finally turn our backs on those who offer such false hope someday soon, and we will no longer need statements like this.
The task ahead of us is surely immense. We have no easy answers for those worried about the problems heaped on our community. We know only 3 things for certain: there are only false answers offered by those in power in Tucson, our only hope is to get organized together to take care of each other, and through growing our power, we will find the answers we need.