When you’re walking across the street you’re not always cognizant of who might be walking with you. On June 30, 2014, when the dash cam video that had originally gone missing reappeared about a month after my May 20, 2014 incident, I came to realize that I had not been walking alone.
Standing up to, and publicly denouncing the abuse of power is frightening. One individual described me as a “reluctant fighter.” And to a degree, I am. No one wants to be targeted as a threat, no one wants to be worried about whether it's safe to leave home, no one wants to stand before cameras and be asked why the institution you work for doesn’t support you. I am reluctant because I am scared of the consequences of fearless speech. I am reluctant because I am fearful of how I will be scapegoated. I am reluctant because despite claims of a post-racial society, I know that my words will be challenged because the body from which they originate has historically, and continues to be, de-legitimized. But while I might be reluctant, and while I might be fearful, I still choose to demand that justice be served. I thank, and stand in solidarity with those who seek answers, and with those who recognize that the issue at hand is not simply about race, or class, or gender, or orientation, or whether or not you speak with an accent. The issue at hand is about all of those things and more, for at the interaction of these attributes is the body of every citizen. While I do not encourage anyone to do what I did, I do encourage you all to consider what’s at stake for each of us.
Thank You to Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies for getting the word out and calling us all to action.
Thank You to The Friends of Ersula J. Ore Committee for helping to oganize my ongoing defense.
Thank You to the friends, family, and concerned citizens for thier donations to my ongoing defense.
Thank You to Phylissa Deroze, David Ikard, and the 15,000+ people from around the world who drafted and signed the petition in support of justice for me and others like me.
Thank You to each and every individual who emailed me their support, voiced their outrage, and reminded me I wasn’t alone.
Thank You to the young lady who stopped me in Sprouts, to say “I Support You.” And to my neighbors who've time and time again said, “I’ve got your back.”
Thank You to the concerned parents; to the ASU faculty; to my students at ASU, Penn State, and Towson High School; and to the efforts of academics, parents, friends and family members, and outraged students nation-wide for communicating your support for me and your discount with the university, its police force, and the state of Arizona.
Thank You National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Thank You Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)
Thank You Rhetoric Society of America (RSA)
Thank You National Action Network (NAN)
Thank You to Jason Heckendor for speaking out. I’m sorry for the abuses you’ve suffered.
Thank You to Faith Maxson for speaking out. Your prayers are ones I repeat often.
Thank You Alane Roby, Danielle Ortega III, and Benjamin Taylor.
Thank You all for championing my efforts, and most importantly, Thank You to the passersby who upon witnessing Officer Ferrin's hostility and unlawful actions pulled out their camera-phones, documented the event, called 911, and substantiated my story. I am, and forever will be, deeply greatful.
I trust that your support not only stems from your compassion and desire to see an injustice righted, but also from your understanding that the person being assaulted could be your mother, your brother, your sister, your aunt, your uncle, your neighbor, your friend. Thank You for seeing that the body in the street and the face on television could be yours. The issue of police brutality is larger than me. The outpour of national and international support, the text messages, phone calls, emails, and comments vocalizing solidarity for my plight confirm that I am not alone and that this is larger than me. Consequently, we must keep the pressure on ASU, ASU Police, and the state of Arizona as citizens. We must continue to demand accountability.
I follow suit with Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies' questions regarding the Announced External Audit of the University and its Police department. ASU says that the FBI will investigate the situation. We have contacted the FBI assigned investigator and he has communicated he does not want to see our independent videos, he does not want our witness statements. He does not wish to speak with the several other citizens of every color and gender that came forward and told us about the abuse they suffered at the hands of ASU Officer Ferrin.
We have yet to be told when, in what ways ASU will remain transparent (particularly in the face of damaging findings), and how the university aims to address the number of concerns highlighted by this incident and voiced by its faculty.
Here are just a few questions we can ask together:
- What will the FBI be reviewing given we have contacted them and they have declined to review the independent witness video, statements, or additional citizen reports?
- What standards will the FBI use to evaluate officer conduct? How many similar audits have they conducted in the past and what have been the outcomes of their investigations?
- What policies and practices are in place at ASUPD regarding accountability for racial profiling and use of force? How are complaints filed and investigated? What is ASUPD’s record of complaints? What kinds of training are in place to ensure police conduct that upholds the rights and dignity of all ASU community members?
- What are the policies and practices for oversight and accountability?
- Will investigators consider the actions of Officer Ferrin alone or will they be examining the ASUPD practices, policies, etc. as well?
- How will the results of this investigation be shared with the public and will any ASU community members (faculty, students, and staff) be participating in conducting or overseeing the review?
We believe these are the questions that need to be answered to provide legitimacy to this “investigation.”
As a result of going public others too have raised their voice. Thank You for reminding me that I am not alone, that we as citizens stand together. Thank You for all for walking alongside me. Thank You all for your ongoing efforts. Thank You for standing in solidarity with me. I stand in solidarity with you.