On July 1, 2020, I was made aware - via a constituent call to the Ward 4 office - of a group called “Tucson Back the Blue” that had sent multiple inquiries to city officials with no response. Their request was to get permission and permits to safely paint a single blue line in front of the Main Police Station on Stone Ave. to illustrate their support of Tucson police officers who are in the line of duty. After receiving no response from any of their inquiries, they reached out to my office because we have a reputation for being responsive. My staff, with my support, forwarded the questions of the constituent to the City Manager and Transportation Director - which is our job - and asked that the correct department respond to him with the information he had requested. Within hours, the Transportation Department had contacted him and gave him information regarding the permit process.
Unfortunately, in doing my job of being a responsive local government official and escalating constituent concerns/questions, I have been accused of supporting white supremacists and white supremacy organizations. I am disgusted at this allegation, and equally disgusted at the continued tactics at play to divide our community for the sole purpose of pushing political agendas forward.
I remember when I was first stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. I was often thanked for my service while out in the Tucson community in uniform. Many of those who thanked me didn’t support the Global War on Terrorism, or the US military’s presence in Afghanistan or Iraq, but they stood by the troops offering their support. They saw us as people. People from a very small segment of America’s population who stepped up and took an oath to protect and defend our country and our constitution. A small segment of our population who signed up to die - if necessary - so that others have the great freedoms that we have as Americans.
It is possible to support our Black community and support police officers at the same time. It is possible to acknowledge the racism that exists in so many of our American systems and institutions, while appreciating the willingness that women and men have to step into a career with no guarantee they will come home alive after their shift. It is possible to demand change while supporting the very people whom we demand the change from.
An antiquated approach - like divide and conquer - will not work today if we seek meaningful change. The only way we can successfully approach these complex issues is by viewing the challenges from all sides and making sure all voices in our community are truly heard. In order to get through these challenging times we must unite as a community and work toward comprehensive solutions that include everyone.