One Tucsonan's Perspective on Saturday's Mass Shooting
By Nancy Hill on January 10, 2011
News and Politics
I'm trying to be calm, and to carefully measure my words because I'm caught in a whirling mixture of emotions, including a good deal of anger. A lunatic shot my Congresswoman on Saturday. He killed six people, he wounded many, many more, and he forever changed the perception of Tucson, a liberal enclave in a very conservative state, a city I've grown to love in the over twenty plus years I've called Tucson, "home." I have to be upfront about this, it is difficult to be neutral when I write. But now more than ever I want to work for peace. I also want people to know the truth about what has been happening here. At times it does seem that Southern Arizona is a proving or testing ground for extreme right wing tactics.
I am angry that both the Governor of our state and another Representative from our state said, within hours of the shooting, that we should all just "move on."
I am angry that many people are attempting to tell those of us who live in this community that an attempted political assassination in our community has no political components.
I am angry that people on the right are equating drug use by the shooter with liberal politics. Drug use has no political affiliation.
I am angry that Jesse Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords' opponent in the November '10 election, was allowed to exacerbate an already polarized atmosphere. People are talking about gunsight cross hair targets placed over AZ District 8 by the Sarah Palin campaign. That is significant context, but it goes much further than than. Jesse Kelly had an ad on the local Republican website in early June 2010 that read, "Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly". Last year I was within inches of a semiautomatic weapon being carried in a crowd by a civilian outside a venue in Phoenix at which President Obama was speaking. That man was exchanging friendly banter with another man who carried, in a way that protruded above the crowd, a large black and gray stuffed animal that was being lynched. My husband was spat upon by a young skinhead and called a "F*****g Communist" while holding a Giffords sign after a political debate at the University of Arizona last fall.
At peaceful protests here in Tucson I personally have received thinly veiled threats of lynching. A co-founder of a peace group here has received death threats. I've had the police (city, not from the sherriff's office) call me on to private property and then arrest me for trespassing. I have decreased my public activism here as the city police often will not respond when calls for protection come from protests. There is routine corruption, fear, and intimidation in this community. Flag waving protesters have shoved elderly people into traffic on the busy street where weekly protests are held in front of a recruiting center. Raul Grijalva, the other Congressperson from Tucson, has had his office shot at, and staff endangered when they were sent an envelop containing white power and has swastikas drawn on it. A nut job arrested in D.C. with large numbers of guns and munitions was from Pima County.
People who don't live here cannot possibly understand how hateful and polarized the political atmosphere in this community has become over the last few years. I've written about it in my blog, Build Peace, time and time again. Sheriff Dupnik of Pima County was responding to this atmosphere and the effect it has had on our community when he used the wordv vitriol and for which he has been accused of being partisan. If you haven't been in the trenches here as he has, and to which I have been to a far, far lesser degree, I think you cannot really know how appropriatre our opinions are to share with the world. It is just a shame it had to come this far before anyone would listen to us when we talk about gun control, the lack of access to mental health, and the dangerous situation that exists here in Arizona due to extreme Right Wing dismantling of the infrastructure of our state under the banner of states rights. I have rights under federal law that mean nothing in this state because of the degree to which right wing anarchy has been allowed to run rampant.
Before you make any comments, especially ones that take issue with my opinions, I would ask you to check out at least one of the following sites, and also check out gerrymandering and election integrity problems in Arizona.
If you have corresponding, accurate, info on left wing violence I would like you to share them here.
Mainly, I want all of us to stop supporting idiocy of any sort, of any extreme, and to stop jumping on bandwagons, and to be civil, well researched, and tolerant in our writings.
Nancy N. F. Hill