BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A group of some 128 citizens from Racial Justice Los Alamos has submitted a petition to Los Alamos County requesting the County Council’s partnership in forwarding several initiatives to promote increased racial equity in the community.
The actual petition form is signed by Michael Adams, Jake Green, Erin Green, Megan Green and Tina DeYoe and an additional 123 electronic signatures are attached.
The petition letter reads as follows:
Dear Los Alamos County Councilors,
First, we want to thank you for serving the County of Los Alamos as volunteer local legislators. We know that is a difficult and challenging position. We sincerely appreciate your service. Additionally, we very much appreciate the Council’s statement from the beginning of your June 9 meeting.
As a local group of Los Alamos citizens, we hope to partner with the Council and build on that June 9 beginning. Much has changed since May 25th, when George Floyd died while pleading for his life, as a Minneapolis police officer cut off his airway and he suffocated. Witnesses who observed and recorded the incident are seen in the video trying to intervene, but other officers aggressively rushed them, intimidating bystanders to keep their distance. These officers also failed to protect Floyd’s life. Since those events, this country—and indeed the world—has witnessed countless peaceful protests and demonstrations in support of the idea that Black Lives also Matter. Minneapolis has voted to completely reorganize their police department; Governors, including New Mexico’s, have made statements promising to promote racial justice.
While the Los Alamos County Police Department has an excellent record and rarely uses force, as Chief Sgambellone explained at a June 6 Black Lives Matter protest, policing isn’t the only arena in which people of color are often treated as second-class citizens in this country. The acknowledgment that Black Lives Matter is an outward statement that speaks to the social contract that America has not honored in its treatment of people of color. This outward statement speaks to honoring that Black Lives do matter. When the police are called upon to protect and serve, this outward statement is inclusive of people of color.
We are writing to ask Council’s partnership on forwarding several initiatives to promote increased racial equity in our community:
1) Because research shows that all people have implicit racial biases, we ask that Los Alamos County implements an annual, mandated, stand-alone training, which is separate and apart from the existing harassment training. This training addresses two goals: First, employees and elected officials will recognize how to identify their own implicit biases. Second, attendees will rethink how to create objective systems that minimize the impact of implicit bias in decisions.
2) We would like for the Council to create a county board or committee, composed of concerned citizens, aimed at identifying and proposing actions for how the County can address racial injustices. This board should meet regularly, be open and transparent, and suggestions should be given significant weight by Council in decisions.
3) We would like the Council, as a body, to actively engage in learning more about racial injustice and how it operates in our culture. We would like the Council to actively examine where the County has influence or control that could be leveraged to impact racial injustice, and we ask that the Council enact measures aimed at improving racial equity. These measures should be quantifiable. The means by which actions are taken could include the SMART Performance Management tool in order to measure the success of those defined targets. For example, the Council could start by asking the question, why is the majority of the County’s executive leadership composed of Caucasian men?
4) In the spirit of igniting inclusivity, we ask the Council to officially condemn the killing of George Floyd, along with other ongoing police killings of black and brown people in our state and country. We ask that the Council call for national change in how police interact with people of color. We also ask the Council to adopt a public declaration that Black Lives Matter and commit to anti-racism work, as the schools have done.
We close by saying thank you for your service, thank you for hearing our concerns, and we look forward to your direct response. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The petition, as required by the Los Alamos County Code, has been placed on the agenda for Tuesday evening’s virtual County Council meeting for acknowledgement and possible discussion and/or action.