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An Open Letter and Call to Action to White North Texans

An Open Letter and Call to Action to White North Texans

Your Silence is Your Violence.

Read this and use the language within to start speaking up and out against white supremacy.

Your Apathy is Your Complicity.

Read this for a deeper understanding of how your white comfort contributes to racial tyranny. 

Your Inaction is Your Reaction.

Read this and be moved to respond to the simple calls to action provided at the end.

In late May this year, as various versions of the gruesome video made their persistent circulations, we all witnessed, some of us more than once, as George Floyd’s life was slowly crushed out of his body by the full weight of Officer Derek Chauvin.

We watched as several other officers failed to voice concern for Floyd’s life, how they all failed to act, how they all failed to intervene, even as onlookers screamed and begged for someone to provide life-saving aide. Undoubtedly, the sheer vileness of this morbid display of police brutality and overt white violence upon a helpless black body was surely a motivating precipice for many white persons who have since been publicly acknowledging the systemic nature of racism in our country at an ever-increasing rate.

But what we have to understand is that this recognition comes with an additional, obligatory responsibility to acknowledge that POC, black persons in particular have been experiencing and telling us George Floyd’s story for more than a century.

Since the rise of the NAACP in 1909, black people have collectively used their voices to explain how these instances of extreme police incompetence and brutality, which are disproportionately directed at black and brown bodies are not distant, disparate or fluke events.

It is white people who have failed to listen and understand.

Quite simply, it took the morose public sacrifice of George Floyd’s black body to conjure the beginnings of a mass white recognition of the institutionalized nature of racial inequality in our country, and it is for this reason that each and every white identifying person in this country bears a certain amount of responsibility for his murder. At some point, and likely on more than one occasion, we whites have all been silent when we should have been the loudest in the room. We have all enjoyed the privilege of our own ignorance in moments when we could have chosen to see, and even worse, when we should have chosen to act.

Whites in North Texas especially have been given multiple opportunities to face the truth.

Let us remember that on January 21 in Denton, Texas, just a few months prior to George Floyd’s murder, University of North Texas student of criminal justice Darius Tarver was brutally assassinated by police while unarmed and suffering a mental health crisis instigated by a severe head injury sustained during a car crash. To this day, the identity of the Denton officer who murdered him remains withheld as he continues to prowl the streets on the taxpayer’s dime.

Just three months prior to Darius Tarver’s murder, Fort Worth resident Atatiana Jefferson was murdered in her home, shot through a window by police officer Aaron Dean.

The irony in her tragic murder rests in the fact that police were dispatched to conduct a welfare check after a neighbor called a non-emergency line concerned that the front door of the house was open. Atatiana Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew who witnessed his aunt’s execution by cop later explained how they left the door ajar so as to enjoy the cool autumn breeze in the house as they played video games together late into the evening. While Officer Dean was indicted for murder just a few days after he shot Jefferson, he has still yet to go to trial. 

Just a year before Jefferson’s murder, on September 6, 2018, off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger illegally entered the apartment of Botham Jean where she fatally shot him, then failed to offer lifesaving aide of any kind.

Officer Guyger claimed she mistakenly thought she had entered her own apartment to find an intruder and was not arrested for several days. Though, she has never been able to explain how from the entryway she could clearly see a man in the apartment but could not make out the fact that the furniture and décor within looked nothing like her own.

Initially charged with manslaughter, it was only after extended weeks of mass protests that Guyger was eventually charged with murder. More than a year after she shot and killed Botham Jean in his own home, and after a full-fledged smear campaign issued against Jean by the Dallas Police Union, Guyger was ultimately found guilty but sentenced to only ten years in prison. 

As Tragic as these murders of black people by white cops are, what white identifying Americans must also understand is that these are not the only habitual injustices people of color in our communities face on a regular basis.

Recall that in November 2018, the body of Lermont Stowers-Jones, a 17 year old Senior of Denton High School known to his loved ones as Mont was discovered in the murky waters of Hickory Creek beneath Goat Mans bridge, a site notoriously associated in the community with hate crimes and Ku Klux Klan activity.

Nearly two years later, Mont’s family has been forced to conduct their own investigation into what now looks to be the racially motivated murder of their son. Even worse, this discovery is based on recovered evidence initially withheld by local authorities so as to mislead the public and Mont’s family regarding the circumstances surrounding his death.

While the Denton County Sheriff’s Office has officially declared the case closed with a declaration that Mont died by accidental drowning, his death certificate only recently obtained clearly lists his cause of death as “unknown.” The disparity here lies in the fact that the Denton County Sheriff’s Office comprised of an all-white investigative force feel that this black family does not deserve a full and proper investigation into their son’s death. Furthermore, what else are the authorities hiding and who are they hiding it for? (Stay tuned for an in-depth write-up and more details regarding Mont’s story coming soon.)

These are just a few stories from north Texas from the last two years but they are prime examples of the trauma black, brown, and indigenous communities have been navigating in this country for centuries.

While the increasing ability to document and share these experiences has brought them more to the forefront of the white public’s knowledge, many whites are now experiencing shock as they wake up to a tragic and omnipresent American reality which they have been shielded from for most of their privileged lives.

Now is the time for white identifying Americans, those in North Texas in particular to transition their understanding of the existence of racial inequality into an understanding for the imperative need for anti-racist activism.

The wounds of systemic racism go deeper than just police brutality and ineptitude, as the protest movements sparking up in small, rural communities throughout out North Texas have proven beyond a doubt. Over the course of just the last few months, activists have repeatedly exposed how local authorities in these communities have conspired and colluded with unlawful, all-white armed militias in coordinated campaigns meant to intimidate and harrass protestors engaged in First Amendment protected activities.

In early June, PRO Gainesville, a small black led community organization began to host regular protests within the city of Gainesville against the predominating white supremacist culture which reigns over their community in the form of multiple Confederate tributes and a black community ravaged by systemic economic oppression.

Not a month into their activism, as residents from within the community and surrounding areas became increasingly inspired to turn out for weekly protests coordinated with local authorities, city police issued a last minute permit to a non-local militia, though, militia leaders clearly stated on their application how they planned to counter peaceful protests with an armed “show of force.”  A few days later, social media comments were discovered on the Gainesville Police Department’s Facebook page calling for this armed militia. Family members of Cooke County Sheriff’s deputies even engaged with the post. 

Every Sunday for weeks thereafter, multiple all-white, armed militias were allowed to enter and surround areas permitted to the PRO Gainesville organization so as to intimidate and harass protesters. These armed racists made blatant threats against unarmed and non-violent protesters and all in the presence of city and county law enforcement who refused to take reports or respond appropriately.  

Make no mistake, these were coordinated campaigns designed to terrorize people of color and their allies in order to suppress First Amendment protected protests for racial equality.

Despite these consistent threats of violence, PRO Gainesville organizers continue to network and build coalitions of support. They have sustained their weekly protests to demand the removal of Confederate tributes and the dismantling of the white supremacist stranglehold over their community. But the more black leaders push, the more local authorities and elected officials have firmly planted themselves on the wrong side of history.

As the President’s racialized rhetoric becomes increasingly antagonistic towards protesters in general, the more emboldened white officials become in their flagrant disregard for laws that do not fit their white supremacist narrative.

Every anti-racist in north Texas should be highly alarmed and called to act by what is happening in Gainesville.

Most recently, on September 2, Gainesville police issued arrest warrants for three PRO Gainesville organizers for class B misdemeanor charges of “obstructing a highway,” an offense punishable by up to 180 days in jail, $2,000 in fines or both. According to a statement issued by Police Chief Phillips, his department issued warrants instead of citations for these supposed crime because, “The unauthorized obstruction of any roadway presents a serious public safety risk to the citizens of Gainesville and those participating in the obstruction activity.”

These arrest warrants issued days after the protest had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with retaliation. They serve as yet another prime example of official abuse of power, and the harassment and intimidation of protesters while simultaneously attempting to delegitimize their activism. If local officials in Gainesville were truly concerned with protecting public safety at large, they would enforce Texas laws equally and target the groups of people parading in public with firearms to intimidate peaceful protesters.

They would arrest white counter-protesters who point guns at black protesters and charge them with hate crimes. They would arrest white militia members when they “accidentally” discharge their weapons at protests. They would act on reports of terroristic threats made by protesters who fear for their lives. They would prevent police officers from stalking and harassing community organizers. They would stop criminalizing Gainesville residents for simply demanding that black Lives, black voices, and black experiences matter. 

NOW is the time for white anti-racists in north Texas to act. Here are three things you can do:

First

SHOW UP to protest in peace and solidarity at 6PM this and every Sunday at 101. S. Dixon St. in Gainesville, Texas. Wear a mask. Bring a sign. Respect social distancing. Listen to black leaders.

Second

Donate to the North Texas Protestors Protection Fund.

Help keep organizers targeted by racists in their communities safe by funding licensed and state registered security officers committed to protecting protestors with their lives in the face of lethal threats and willing to afford written affidavits when they witness rights violations committed by on duty LEOs. 

Third

Contact the fine white men listed below and let them know that the normalization of racial tyranny in Cooke County and Gainesville, Texas will no longer be tolerated. Send all of the following demands to the contacts below:

Demand the immediate resignation of Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips for his failure to protect all Gainesville residents and his persistent infringements on Civil and First Amendment Rights.

Demand that Cooke County and Gainesville authorities immediately halt their infringements upon First Amendment protected activities in the community.

Demand that the frivolous charges filed against PRO Gainesville organizers on Sept. 2, 2020 be dropped immediately.

Demand that Cooke County and Gainesville authorities immediately halt all harassment of PRO Gainesville organizers and their allies before, during, and after protests.

Demand that Cooke County and Gainesville officers take immediately begin taking reports of threats during protests.

Demand that Cooke County Attorney Ed Zielinski immediate press Terroristic Threat charges against those persons already reported to him and all future credible reports.

Demand that the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department immediately begin the enforcement of Section 437.208 of the Texas Government Code, which bans any “body of persons” other than the regularly organized Texas military forces or armed forces of the United States from assembling any “organization or parade in public with firearms“ so as to prevent the terrorization of non-violent protestors.

Contact Information

Gainesville Texas Chief of Police Kevin Phillips
940-668-4774
Kphillips@gvps.org

Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy
https://www.facebook.com/jim.goldsworthy.79
940-665-7777
jgolds6@yahoo.com

Cooke County Sheriff’s Office – Sheriff Terry Gilbert
https://www.facebook.com/SheriffTerryGilbert101
940-665-3471
terry.gilbert@co.cooke.tx.us

Cooke County District Attorney’s Office – Attorney Ed Zielinski
https://www.facebook.com/Ed-Zielinski-Cooke-County-Attorney-1647980875449606
(940) 668-5459

Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley
https://www.facebook.com/jasonbrinkley
940-668-5435
jason.brinkley@co.cooke.tx.us

Cooke County Commissioner Gary Hollowell
https://www.facebook.com/gary.hollowell.1
940-668-5481
ghollowell@co.cooke.tx.us


Cooke County Commissioner Jason Snuggs
https://www.facebook.com/jason.snuggs.5
940-726-3390
jason.snuggs@co.cooke.tx.us


Cooke County Commissioner John Klement
https://www.facebook.com/john.klement.39
940-668-5483
john.klement@co.cooke.tx.us


Cooke County Commissioner Leon Klement
940-668-5484
leon.klement@co.cooke.tx.us

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