We condemn the violence the El Paso Police Department perpetrated against peaceful protestors Sunday night and call on our elected leaders and candidates for office to do the same.
El Paso — Following the widely reported events of Sunday's protest at Memorial Park and at the El Paso Police Department’s Headquarters, and the continued actions of police departments across the country, the El Paso Young Democrats (EPYD) call for the immediate demilitarization of the police and formally condemn the actions of the El Paso Police Department that night.
Sunday, members of the El Paso Young Democrats witnessed a use of force by the El Paso Police Department that was not only unnecessary, but incendiary. The protest remained peaceful — at times, protestors interacting civilly with law enforcement — until the unnecessary display of force.
Officers dawned full riot gear, called in a tactical vehicle, marched towards protestors like a small military and boxed them in, flaunted large weaponry, and used tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs. Numerous attendees on social media have posted incredibly disturbing video and photo of the El Paso police, not only employing the tactics mentioned, but shoving protestors, attacking those who attempted to help, and shooting at protestors with rubber bullets as they attempted to leave. This incredible thread posted anonymously on social media is just one example.
Let us be clear: while we denounce any protestors who may have attempted to agitate, the tactics used Sunday night towards a crowd that otherwise remained peaceful are inexcusable. A few plastic water bottles being flung at fully armed officers is no excuse to employ tear gas and rubber bullets.
The El Paso Young Democrats call on every elected official in El Paso, particularly municipal officers who have control over the El Paso Police Department's budget and oversight, to see what protestors saw that night first hand: violence against our fellow El Pasoans perpetrated by our own police department. We call on them to condemn the actions of the department and demand answers from its leadership.
Further, we call on the El Paso City Council and the Mayor to pass legislation which demilitarizes the El Paso Police Department, particularly banning the purchasing of military equipment by the department, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, etc., and establishes an independent civilian review board — such as the one in New York City — which has full authority to investigate complaints, (including the power to subpoena,) mediate, prosecute officers for misconduct, and recommend reforms to the City Council.
We call on House Representatives Veronica Escobar and Will Hurd to commit to supporting the passage of Senator Brian Schatz’s (D-Hawaii) amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which will discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments.
As an organization, we are committed to, in the coming days, publish a comprehensive plan for demilitarization, with input from local organizations and leaders, calling on our elected leaders to further support policies and legislation which accomplish these goals. However, our City Council and the Congress must take steps to address the problem now and must condemn Sunday's actions by the police and ensure such is never perpetrated against El Pasoans ever again.
The El Paso Young Democrats are the official chapter of the Texas Young Democrats — one of the largest partisan youth organizations in the nation — in the Borderland. As the official voice of young Democrats in El Paso County, the organization strives to empower young El Pasoans through community activism and policy involvement locally, statewide, and nationally.