The following essay is by San Leandro citizen Tim Holmes
San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli marched with our San Leandro High School students in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
To claim to honor Dr. King while simultaneously propagandizing the purchase of a Bearcat for local police use (a tank with the lipstick of “medical” slapped on it) is a slap in the face of the memory of a man for whom that tank would represent the very boot of the oppressor.
To claim to walk in Dr. King’s honor while sitting at the helm of a rapidly expanding surveillance apparatus aimed at people not suspected of any crime, is offensive. Even more so as our government used illegal surveillance to gather private information with which they they attempted to blackmail Dr King, demanding he end his political activism under threat of exposing an affair, which is not illegal.
To those who suggest a camera on every block because you “have nothing to hide”, remember that while you may not be a target, those who fought for our freedoms and those who fight today to preserve them ARE targeted and we all pay the price for the squashing of political dissent, as will our children.
To those who say saving even one life is worth the tank and the surveillance state, I would remind you that men and women by the hundreds of thousands have given their lives to get and keep the freedoms and rights you are so casually tossing to the side as if worthless, for a possibility to “save one life.” There are things more precious than our individual selves and the freedom of our people is one for which Americans have and will continue to lay their lives down when necessary. Please, stop disrespecting those who have made such sacrifices by disrespecting the value of the rights the people of our country have earned through blood and loss.
To honor Dr. King would mean to act in a way consistent with his life and work, not pursuing the increase of oppression over the people of our country.
What would the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. feel should be done regarding the tank?
I suspect he’d make a clear case for the injustice and wrong-headedness of escalating a war against our own people and the inevitable impact in particular to the black people of America who have yet to feel relief from the crushing boot of oppression in a police state that has only continued to grow since his death.
Were he here to comment, he might site a psalms and proverb, neither of which would mention getting bigger weapons and putting up bigger walls, but would speak to actions we must take which will lay the groundwork so that equality is possible and so that we can break down the barriers between us: police and citizen, black and white, warrior and victim, oppressors and oppressed, occupiers and the occupied.
I hope Dr. King, his life and his death, is on all the council’s minds when they vote whether to reject the teargas-equipped Bearcat “Medevec” tank.