To Dr. Pushpa Iyer, Professor Edward Laurance and anyone else it may concern:
On October 9th, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin is scheduled to speak on a panel titled “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” presented by the Center for Conflict Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Under Chief McMillin’s command, four unarmed Salinas community members — all Latino men — were shot and killed by officers in a span of four months. Between March and July of 2014, Salinas police officers shot and murdered Angel Ruiz, Carlos Mejia, Osman Hernandez, and our dear friend and activist Frank Alvarado. Mejia and Hernandez were allegedly shot because officers felt threatened by work tools that they were carrying. Ruiz had a pellet gun, and Alvarado had a cell phone.
We believe it is unethical and disrespectful to give Chief McMillin such a privileged voice in a space that is uncritical of his department’s policies and the violence he has continually justified. None of the community activists, family and friends of the murdered men were invited to present on the panel and likely view the space as hostile — given that they would have had to sit across from the person ultimately responsible for these deaths.