Ayotzinapa y Ferguson:

Sanctioned militarized murder of black and brown students must be stopped

By Yajaira Peralta

Guerrillera

On September 26, a group of 43 college students from Iguala, Mexico attending Raul Isidro Burgos College of Ayotzinapa went “missing.” These students dreamt of becoming teachers. They filled buses to protest against the cuts to their state-financed college at at a public event featuring a speech by Iguala’s mayor’s wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa. Students hoped that this protest would help them raise money that would allow them to continue their schooling. Unbelievably, this lawful protest resulted in the “disappearance” of 43 innocent students just 77 miles from Iguala.
Police officers who confronted these students on their way to protest reported it was Iguala’s Mayor Luis Abarca’s intent to stop the student protestors. Abarca wanted to detain the rioters to prevent interruptions to his wife’s speech. It turns out that the police officers violently stopped the buses and shot six of the passengers, including three students. Seeing how determined these students were and not wanting to have the mayor go after them, police officers turned the students over to gang members on cartel property. It is believed that once in the hands of the gang members, these innocent students were executed in Coluca, burned in a garbage incinerator and dumped carelessly into a river. According to CNN news, it is estimated that more than 75 people have been arrested in regards to this mass murder. Mayor Abarca has taken a leave of absence after having been charged with six counts of aggravated homicide, so there has been some accountability to these horrific acts. However, this atrocity begs the question: Will these arrests lead to justice? What is going to happen to prevent such rampant abuses of power? Will Mexico’s government continue to be complicit to the violence that occurs everyday, or will they step up and hear the cries of their country? Enough is enough.
In fact, I would like to argue that this incident was a wakeup call, not only to Mexico, but also to the United States. The United States has also had multiple protests in communities of color showing support to the families of the 43 students. Many Latino communities have felt the disappearance and apparent death of these students as if it were their own children killed.
The police brutality that happened in Mexico sounds a lot like many of the issues with law enforcement that the United States has been dealing with in the past years. The police officers in Iguala turned over 43 students over to a gang without regard for their lives or the anguish and terror it would cause thousands. This incident of excessive police brutality can be compared to the recent unjustified deaths of young Black men. Michael Brown was also a student with dreams and a family, yet the police officer who shot him carelessly was blinded by Michael’s color and was not thinking about Michael’s future. The line between protecting the peace and militarization has been violted by police too often.
One example of this extreme militarization can be seen in regards to the peaceful protests in Ferguson, Missouri where the police are armed as if they were going into battle. Many protesters were hurt by the police including a toddler that had his face severely burned when a flashbang grenade was fired near his crib by police officers during a paramilitary raid. This siege on communities of color has been going on for a long time and isn’t simply a U.S. issue. The 43 lives of those Mexican students lie underneath the same umbrella of black and brown bodies being militarized by the police. It’s time to stand up stop assuming that police officers are there to simply protect and that they don’t have their own opinions about race or color because clearly that is not the case.