WHAT: Demonstration, Press Conference & Speak Out
WHERE: Intersection of NM Highway 66 and Arnold St. to Gallup McKinley County Chamber of Commerce.
WHEN: Saturday, April 4 starting at 11:00am at the corner of Hwy Route 66 and Arnold. Starting at 12:00 p.m., we will march down Route 66 to the Chamber of Commerce (approximately 2 miles). At 1:00pm we will hold a press conference and community speak out in front of the Chamber of Commerce.
WHY: To stop racist violence against Natives in Gallup, N.M.
McKinley Community PLACE MATTERS
McKinley Community Health Alliance
W.O.R.D. (Women Organized to Resist & Defend)
A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now Stop War End Racism) Coalition
The Party for Socialism and Liberation
Red Student Faction
Stella Johnson: 505-506-5675
Jeremy Yazzie: 505-721-9556
Website: therednation.org (website launches Mar. 29)
Transportation & Security:
If you want to join the caravan, if you need a ride, or can provide a ride for others please contact: Sam Gardipe – 505-818-0698.
The caravan will be leaving from 305 Washington St. SE (between Central and Zuni) at 8:30am.If you need transportation or are able to provide transportation for others please arrive early at 8:00am to make arrangements.
As we march, we will hold signs of the more than 170 Native people who have died unnatural deaths since the closing of the Na Nizhoozhi Center, Inc. (NCI) detox center in July 2013. We hold the City of Gallup responsible for these deaths and for its continued negligence and active discrimination against Native people living in Gallup—especially the poor and homeless.
We demand responsive, humane, and dignified treatment of our Native relatives in Gallup. To accomplish this we call for:
1) an ethical investigation of the Gallup Detox Center to be jointly undertaken by the City of Gallup and the Navajo Nation;
2) the abolition of criminalization and racial discrimination of Native people, especially our poor, homeless and LGBTQ relatives. To accomplish this we call for the repealing of all anti-homeless and anti-poor laws. We demand an end to the aggressive panhandling ordinance in Gallup and the forceful use of the New Mexico Detoxification Act to harass Native people and excessively place them in protective custody;
3) the abolition of economic and cultural exploitation of Native people. We demand the investigation of predatory pawn, lending and car dealerships in Gallup; encouraging and securing Native leadership in local political structures; and encouraging and promoting Native-owned businesses in the City; and
4) the enforcement and examination by the State of New Mexico, McKinley County Commissioners, and City of Gallup regarding the laws regulating and limiting liquor licenses that otherwise profit from the deaths of Native people.
Gallup, N.M.—The Red Nation calls on all people from the city of Gallup, the Navajo Nation, and the Pueblo of Zuni to demand an end to racist violence against Natives in the City of Gallup. Please join The Red Nation Saturday, April 4 to call on the City of Gallup and McKinley County community organizations, law enforcement, state, Navajo tribal officials, business owners, and Native and non-Native people to stop the economic and cultural exploitation of Native people in Gallup.
“An honest discussion of violence toward Natives is necessary to begin change,” Stella Johnson, a Navajo resident of Gallup said. “We need immediate change from these bureaucratic systems that continually belittle and destroy us. This city is costing Native lives.”
Once NCI was no longer responsible for the detox services in Gallup, the Navajo Nation Behavioral Health Department in partnership with the City of Gallup created the Gallup Detox Center. Violence, policing, and death rates for Native people living on the streets and suffering from substance abuse problems have risen sharply in the two years since the Detox Center changed management. The conditions and treatment of Native people at the Center are inhumane and degrading. Many allege mistreatment, physical abuse, racism, cultural disrespect, neglect, inadequate health and rehabilitative services, and the theft of personal property such as money and cell phones while held in custody.
In June 2014, Harold Lee, a Navajo man, was taken into custody with a .483 blood-alcohol level. Instead of receiving medical treatment, Lee was taken to the Center where he was left to die of alcohol poisoning under surveillance in the Center’s crowded concrete holding area.
We believe many would rather risk death sleeping on the streets and in the brush in the dead of winter than face the inhumane and degrading treatment at the Gallup Detox Center. During the 2014-2015 winter, 15 Native people—many of them elders—died of exposure in and around Gallup.
This has been one of the deadliest winters on record for Native homeless people in the City of Gallup.
In 2014, 36 unnatural deaths were officially recorded for Native people in Gallup. The leading causes of death were exposure and pedestrian deaths caused by vehicles. These numbers do not include all unnatural deaths such as suicides and drunk driving accidents.
While elected officials have cast “the alcohol problem” as resulting from individual moral failings, historic and structural studies suggest otherwise. Since the 1970s, many activists and grassroots organizations have challenged the elected leaderships of Gallup, McKinley County, and New Mexico to address the rampant violence and exploitation of Native people in the city.
Not only has very little changed, but violence and discrimination against Native people has actually increased.
“Racism contributes to violence and discrimination toward our Native relatives through criminalization, deliberate targeting of the ‘drunk Indian’ from Gallup business owners, [and] lack of response to the unnatural deaths of Native homeless,” Johnson stated. “Natives are merely the productive mechanical components to the economic power of Gallup. This needs to stop. We need to respond to our oppressors. We need change now.”
Gallup sees itself as a cultural capital of Navajo and Zuni arts, crafts, and culture. It hosts the annual Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial and profits from Native artists and cultural workers who feed a lucrative arts and crafts industry represented by the city’s many pawn shops and trading posts. The city was long-known as “The Indian Capital of the World.”
The number of liquor licenses per capita in Gallup exceeds allowable limits according to New Mexico state law. The city has 39 liquor establishments, a number that far exceeds these limits. These establishments enjoy disproportionate profits for a population of 22,000 wherein many customers and consumers of alcohol are Native.
Whether the arts and crafts industry, liquor sales, auto sales, or loans, it is clear that Native people are the heart of Gallup’s economy. Yet, white business owners and the Chamber of Commerce almost exclusively enjoy these profits while the most vulnerable of the city’s Native population are abused, ignored, harassed, killed, and brutalized on a daily basis.
Why is this the case?
“Easily the many lucrative businesses could contribute back to its Native citizens,” Johnson said, “but they choose not to. They point the finger back to our unstable Native governments. This is not taking responsibility for Gallup’s deep-rooted problems. This is whitewashing. This is structural racism. The mayor stating that there is no such thing as racism is the lack of acknowledgement of the Native voice. This city continually abuses us. This city eats and consumes our lives, relatives, identities, and voices.”
In short, Gallup is a racist city.
The Red Nation invites all members of the press and media to join Gallup community members on April 4 as they demand the City of Gallup and the Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce to end this racist violence against Native people.
“Our stories matter,” Johnson said. “I want us all to not be silent anymore.”