You have the power. WE have the power. Yes - if we learn how to be citizens, including using the tools of "citizen journalism, then we have that power.
And this potential power is, I believe, amply demonstrated in the events of Albuquerque, plagued with a militaristic police force seemingly on a killing spree, and a corrupt local government not only unwilling to address the problem - but to even hear from the citizenry its concerns.
For the past months, since the fatal shooting of a homeless man, James Boyd, for unlawful camping - the City's officials have done all they can, often violating their own laws, to shut down the protests and shut-up the protesters. Actually "protester" is not the appropriate word. These people are citizens.
On Monday, June 2nd, the citizens once again sought to be heard. They went to the Mayor's office, not with the intent to have a disruptive protest, but merely to meet with the man, or at minimum, personally deliver their grievances in writing.
For the past few months I have been involved, including most of the last month on the ground in Albuquerque, in helping in these efforts in any way I can - given my knowledge, indeed my own intimate experiences with may of the abuses being documented in NM.
Much as happened with me - my position as an academic seemed to engender more of a threat than others - and was deemed an ideal vulnerability to attack. Charged with felony battery on a police officer, University of New Mexico faculty member David Correia, was selectively targeted for different treatment last Monday night.
Twelve people were arrested at the Mayor's office, with the building on "lock-down" by militarily clad and armed S.W.A.T. forces, out of a claimed fear for the safety of the public and the persons working in the local Albuquerque/Bernanillo County Municipal Complex. Although when ordered by the Albuquerque Police to evacuate the building - the County staff defied the "legal order" and refused to leave. None were charged with violating that order or trespassing. That was not the case for the twelve citizens who were locked-in the Mayor's office for holding an impromptu sit-in. They were arrested and charged with Criminal Trespass as well as two other misdemeanors.
But Prof. David Correia was singled out - and charged with Felony Battery on a Police Officer.
The problem was that citizens were there with cell phones and video cameras capturing the truth of what occurred. For the past two weeks I have been analyzing the video and the charges against Correia - proving that they were based on false statements of one officer sworn to by another not even present for the events.
I published my conclusions and an explanatory narrative - together with the videos and the important documents and a second-by-second analysis and triangulation of two of those videos with the sworn complaint filed against Correia.
Meanwhile his opponents were determined to get him fired, as in this Fox News story, originally entitled (until my Sunday evidence and story was published) so as to not only exaggerate the story by referring to a "siege" - but not even getting the location, the Mayor's office not a police station, correct.
I published my story late Sunday night on the Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC)website - an organization dedicated to citizen journalism focused particularly on holding public servants to account under the law for their actions. I recently added my knowledge and skills in open government laws to the team at PINAC.
While in New Mexico I address the University's Board of Regents and met with their Provost on the issues of citizenship, civic virtue, and the role of the University. [You can see part of my speech at the end of this video introducing me to the PINAC readers.]
Knowing the principles of the Provost I contacted him in the early morning hours after first publishing my findings. I asked him to view the evidence himself, rather than the distorted attacks being levied against him in the local media. I urged him to bring the truth to the University's administration and to stand firmly behind Prof. Correia.
To see the extremes the opponents of democracy will go - reporter Nancy Laflin of KOAT sought to condemn Prof. Correia in the public eye in the following story
in which she attacks Prof. Correia by threatening to have a child, whose father was a victim to APD violence, be taken from his mother for "Child Endangerment" for being there last Monday.
How much influence if any my evidence and analysis had I don't know. (To answer some questions asked in the comments - this was not completely out of the blue - the process had already begun long before all of this; what wasn't expected by those seeking his termination was that their actions would be irrelevant to the decision) By the end of yesterday the University did not merely take a stand, firmly behind him; the University announced that it had offered him, when his opponents least expected it, a full tenured position. It was the best birthday wish come true for me when I learned of this late last night - I won't say how old I now am though. But having been through a similar struggle I was exhilarated to learn that, this time, "they" were not getting away with it.
This morning the story I put out was picked up by one of the best in print media, in an era of pseudo-journalism, the Guardian. I deliberately held back my story since last Thursday, when I had obtained all the evidence needed, to ensure that the first story to hit the mainstream - was done properly. Asking all the right - the tough - questions Guardian report Rory Carroll had his story published this morning. Albuquerque police protesters say video acquits man accused of assault.
The story is now out there. And at least one issue, that of the life and livelihood of this truly brave citizen, has been resolved. But the issue is still in need of more help - from all over this country and world - of citizens and citizen journalists.
When Occupy was but a dream of a few on the streets of NYC in the early days of October 2011 a police abuse took place when an officer not only pepper sprayed a set of young women who had been cordoned off while obeying the commands of the police. The now infamous Tony Balogna, as I was to prove here on the pages of DailyKos, had actually only just begun - going on a rampage down the street pepper spraying, at random, whoever he encountered.
More importantly - it was the DailyKos community that not only helped me analyze the evidence and organize a strategy to have it brought to light - it was the late night efforts of a number of Kossacks who made sure that by the following morning this story, in a context where Occupy was not being reported on, became a national scandal. A story that broke the blockade and blackout of the media on what became thereafter the Occupy Movement.
I am calling upon each of you once again - please - take the Guardian story and this diary - and contact the major media outlets. Demand, as we did with those NYC abuses, that the media tell this story to the wider public.
Because we KNOW that WE - as citizens and citizen journalist - CAN make a difference.