The El Paso Young Democrats, College Democrats at UTEP, the Texas Young Democrats Latinx Caucus, and the Texas College Democrats join in opposing the militarization of El Paso's streets and communities everywhere.
El Paso — Throughout the course of the first major protest in El Paso following the death of George Floyd, many members of the El Paso Young Democrats (EPYD) and College Democrats at UTEP (UTEP College Democrats), experienced a blatant abuse of power by our local police force. Based on a leaked memo from the Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP), we can now confirm that the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) requested support from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the purpose of “crowd control and air support” sometime between May 31 and June 11, 2020. EPYD and the UTEP College Democrats, along with the Texas Young Democrats (TYD) Latinx Caucus and the Texas College Democrats (TCD), condemn this type of coordination between federal law enforcement agencies and local police departments and oppose the militarization of our streets.
It is almost ironic that in the midst of protests against racism and discrimination, the EPPD called in a law enforcement agency that is infamous for targeting immigrant communities and tearing families apart. The moment support from DHS was requested, the EPPD made it clear that they were not interested in protecting our community. Rather, they were eager to terrorize El Pasoans and suppress the voices of those seeking to reform their lethal culture.
When “Open Texas” protestors took to El Paso’s streets, the EPPD didn’t ask for support from DHS or CBP; they didn’t perpetuate violence and aggression. But, when protestors took to El Paso’s streets to march for Black lives and police reform, protestors were met with police in riot gear, large weaponry, and were sprayed with tear gas and hit with rubber bullets, all backed by CBP.
The DHS, also the parent organization of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), has absolutely no place in our city. The El Paso Young Democrats and College Democrats of UTEP call on every elected leader to unequivocally oppose the presence of the Department of Homeland Security within our community and denounce the EPPD’s coordination with them.
Further, it is imperative that our police department is never able to act with such outward aggression towards El Pasoans ever again. City leaders must make it clear that such actions will be met with consequences. The El Paso City Council and mayor have the power to bring fundamental changes to our police department through the allocation of the police department’s budget and the hiring of its leadership. It’s long past time they re-evaluate such.
There must also be a fundamental culture shift within the department itself. This begins with firing City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, who has consistently been resistant to changes in the police department, and Police Chief Greg Allen, who has overseen this aggression and coordination with DHS and CBP. Both must be replaced with individuals who acknowledge the fundamental problems in our policing systems and who are committed to bringing about real reform.
“The confirmed coordination between the El Paso Police Department and CBP is once again a telling sign of our police department’s culture and priorities,” said J.J. Martinez, EPYD’s president. “Make no mistake: it is under this city manager and this police chief that our police used tear gas — a weapon banned in war — on peaceful El Pasoans, and coordinated with federal agents to intimidate those calling for necessary change. No El Pasoan should stand for the militarization of our streets, police-perpetrated violence, or this type of actions from our police.”
“It is incredibly heartbreaking to know that, although we are constantly handed the excuse that 'El Paso is different', we have now confirmed coordination between our police department and federal agencies, coordination that perpetrated violence against peaceful protestors," said Dominique Huerta from the College Democrats at UTEP.
“The Latinx community alongside other marginalized communities have been terrorized by the DHS and the CBP for far too long,” said Santiago Palomino, chair of the TYD Latinx Caucus. “As we head into the November elections it’s time to organize and protect our fellow Americans against these militarized forces. Enough is enough. Our caucus stands with EPYD and the UTEP College Democrats in their demands for change in their communities.”
“The state-sponsored terror we have seen across the country in attempts to quell free speech and criticism of law enforcement should be a wake-up call to Americans everywhere,” said Joe Cascino, TCD’s president. “The Texas College Democrats stand with Democratic values and reject pinochet style law enforcement tactics. What happened in El Paso can happen anywhere across the state and anywhere across the country. We call on our elected officials and our so-called ‘freedom-loving’ United States Senators to speak out against these unaccountable authoritarian actions.”
Our communities must be demilitarized. While that begins with our local police force, it certainly does not end there. The only way we can ensure the safety of all El Pasoans, and Americans everywhere, is to ensure that organizations like the Department of Homeland Security cannot be called in to intimidate and perpetrate violence against civilians.
The El Paso Young Democrats are the official chapter of the Texas Young Democrats — one of the largest partisan youth organizations in the nation — in the Borderland. As the official voice of young Democrats in El Paso County, the organization strives to empower young El Pasoans through community activism and policy involvement locally, statewide, and nationally.