From the Editor

A Victory and a Tragedy

Eduardo Stanley

In a violent and convulsive world, any good news is welcome. And Fresno got good news on May 17 when Judge Dale Drozd announced his judgment regarding a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Dez Martinez, the Fresno Homeless Union, Faith in the Valley and Robert “Bob” McCloskey (who is a writer for the Community Alliance newspaper) against the City of Fresno.

The legal action was in response to a municipal ordinance authored by Fresno City Council members Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez and approved 6-0 on Jan 27.

The ordinance aimed to ban media and homeless advocates from being present during the City’s “clean-up” operations on homeless encampments. The ordinance went into effect on March 31.

In the introduction of his judgment, the judge stated that “public scrutiny is a powerful antidote to the abuse of power. It is also essential to accountability. This lawsuit seeks to enjoin the recent efforts by the City of Fresno to hide from public view, intensify its misconduct, and then avoid liability for wrongdoing.

“Fresno, one of many places plagued by a severe housing crisis, has a long history of mistreating its unhoused community. Despite the lack of available shelter, the City deems homeless encampments a ‘public nuisance’ and targets these locations for frequent dismantling, or ‘sweeps.’”

A lapidary and unobjectionable opinion. If I was a City Council member who voted for this ordinance, I wouldn’t dare go into the public view for a while out of shame. Or, if I had a bit of dignity, I would resign.

Interestingly enough, this repressive, antidemocratic ordinance brought all the City Council members together, united for a “yes” vote. As somebody pointed out, would the City of Fresno misuse taxpayers money (again!) to appeal the judgment? Nothing would surprise us at this point.

And the bad news is, again and again, a school shooting with several young kids slaughtered by a gunman who easily purchased semiautomatic guns. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. The killer was 18 years old.

Yet, instead of tackling the issue at its roots and putting limits on the purchase of such deadly weapons, Republicans are calling to “arm the teachers to defend themselves and the students.” The bizarre got even worse.

School shootings are becoming “normal” in this country, flooded as we are with guns and a perverse attitude by politicians. conservative politicians—mostly Republicans.

While conservatives claim they protect life by banning women’s reproductive rights, they make it easier for lunatics and terrorists to get guns they use to go out and kill innocent people.

People’s frustration with our government is understandable. We can’t just sit and watch this tragedy repeat itself. The least we can do is to vote out these elected officials—even at the local level: city halls, school districts. The problem is, where are the good replacements?

Of course, we can and should express our outrage about school shootings. Enough is enough. On June 11, several organizations and human rights activists are organizing a national day of protest (“March for Our Lives”) against the relaxed laws allowing the purchase of deadly semiautomatic rifles and the NRA lobby that promotes opposition to weapons’ restrictions. Local community organizations and concerned citizens are working to make Fresno part of this protest. As details are known, the Community Alliance will share the details on our website, www.fresnoalliance.com. Stay tuned.

Till next month.

  • Eduardo Stanley is the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper, a freelance journalist for several Latino media outlets and a Spanish-language radio show host at KFCF in Fresno. He is also a photographer. To learn more about his work, visit www.eduardostanley.com.

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