A Thursday evening near Las Vegas. November 4th, 2021.
A parking lot enclosed by fencing, well guarded, the gate manually opened and closed for visitors arriving in an array of high end SUVs and finely tuned European sedans.
A sign in sheet. One specifically for those holding office or running for one.
A bar. Guests jostling around it in a crush of humanity.
A Thursday evening in Henderson. November 4th, 2021.
A neighborhood. Sidewalks winding in front of manicured homes, cars parked in driveways and on the street.
A group of (mostly) young people of color. A group of (mostly) white police officers.
A slab of concrete. People crashing onto it in a crush of inhumanity.
Both gatherings focused on the ideals of justice. Equal justice. Justice for all. Justice as guided by, and because of, the rule of law.
As the crowd around the bar increased, free drinks flowed to a variety of Democratic leaders; a mixture of progressives, liberals and moderates all intent on finding a pathway to victory for their chosen District Attorney candidate, another crowd assembled across the Vegas Valley in a nondescript residential area. That congregation, united as one, describes themselves as “A group of Black/Brown members that are forcing change! We are involved in fighting for victims of Police Brutality and Racial Injustice!”
Going by the moniker ‘More than a Hashtag’, this band of activists massed together in front of the home of Andrew Locher, one of four LVMPD officers who took part in the June, 2020 slaying of Jorge Gomez. Gomez, felled by a hail gunfire, mowed down as he walked down the street, bullets ripping apart the flesh of his back as they entered him from behind, became the focus of direct action and cause celebre for the collective from the moment when the current District Attorney of Clark County, Nevada neglected to bring charges against those who took part in what some residents called state sponsored murder. On the night of the 4th, their message was simple. It was time for Officer Locher to see his employment terminated, and indicted on charges of First Degree murder.
While the individuals representing MTAH exercised their First Amendment rights by occupying public space near Locher's domicile, space from which they launched their calls for justice, led by the amplified refrain of “No Justice, No Peace,'' in the private sphere of the the electoral confab, Ozzie Fumo launched into a similar message. The challenger for the powerful post of DA, taking on the polarizing incumbent Steve Wolfson, Mr. Fumo stepped up, sliding in behind a lectern, utilizing a slightly raised stage to give him a commanding view of the audience.
Those in attendance to support Fumo, included cogs in an engine which has powered keen messaging and innumerable victories through the last generation of Nevada politics. Jeri Burton, President of Nevada NOW, the ever present and dialed in “uber activist” Donna West, former Chairwoman of the Clark County Dems, SEIU official Michelle Maese, Cecia Alvarado of Mi Familia Vota, veteran's activist Mikey Kelly, and a contingent of current and former elected officials including Chairwoman Judith Whitmer of the NV Dems, Assemblyman Edgar Flores, Assemblywoman Brittany Miller, Assemblywoman Connie Munk, and Regent Laura Perkins.
This showing of institutional strength and their raucous response to Mr. Fumo’s calls to end “state sanctioned murder,” allowed for visions of change to sweep across the room, a galvanizing moment for those intent on seeing a chief prosecutor sworn in who would bring the impartial ways of Lady Justice to that office.
Those in attendance to support MTAH, included cogs in an engine which has demanded immediate change to the notion of policing due to lived experiences over the course of many cumulative lifetimes. Bearing witness to systemic and institutional racism in the pillars of society and the senseless killings of both peers and strangers at the hands of peace officers, these activists, in choosing not to be individually identified, have visions of galvanizing a movement to bring the impartial ways of Lady Justice to the nation as a whole.
Filtering out after the Fumo kickoff, hugging, fist bumping, knowing that change was possible, many of the politicians and donors who were there left feeling good about themselves, optimistic about their mission, and planning to fight. For them, tomorrow would be bright.
Filtering away from their protest was not an option for MTAH. Nor was hugging, or fist bumping. No politicians were available to call, or donors to raise money from. Due to their attempt at fighting for change, at carrying out their mission, and feeling good about their beliefs, the Henderson police crushed them, beating them down, ignoring the pleas to stop and dismissing the anguished cries of police brutality. For them, tomorrow would be another day.