Saturday, August 23, 2014

At the End of a Long and Lawless Day, Burque Media Represents in Ferguson

Article and images (unless noted) by Frances Madeson
New Mexico is love-bombing Ferguson.

One of the most positive concrete outcomes of the police brutality movement in Albuqerque this season is the founding of a community media outlet whose focus is media justice. With all due respect, we in the activism community refer to the local corporate paper as The Albuquerque Urinal, and the alternative press while seeming to engage with many issues of concern also manages to stop well short of providing information and perspectives that would fundamentally challenge the status quo. Into this gaping void Burque Media, whose tagline is Countering Lies, Exposing Truths, was born.

Image by Dinah Vargas. "A visual exploration of what it means to be from somewhere."

Along with the state flag, the Desert Spirits banner is representing New Mexico on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri this weekend.

"I almost feel like I'm going to war, like it's a duty," Dinah Vargas, co-founder of Burque Media Productions told me about the impulse to join the fray in Ferguson. "The violence, the threat is very real. But Albuquerque's still in this. No one said we're out. I feel called to go."

Partners in Media Justice--Dinah Vargas and Steve Kramer
1,037 miles separate Albuquerque from St. Louis County, but that isn't stopping Steve Kramer. He says he's primarily impelled by a desire to demonstrate reciprocity, solidarity. "We've had people come here to join us in our struggle. It was important to us, it meant a lot. Likewise, we will go there.

"As organizers ourselves, we're sensitive to the fact that they don't want troublemakers who can hurt their cause. We understand about outside agitators. But we reached out to organizers there on the ground, and got positive feedback as to our coming. We bring that sensitivity being involved in our own community."

Within hours three vast coolers were filled with supplies for the people on the ground contributed by people in the Albuquerque Police Violence movement. Medical supplies too.

Among the truckload of contributed goods, Nora Anaya, one of the Burque 13, made sure there were healing roots and herbs used by the Curanderas healers of New Mexico. Nora explained to me:

"The healing herbs I sent were what was used in times of old, when there were no doctors for thousands of miles--roots and herbs from the cabinet. For instance clove that you might use to spice a ham could take the pain from a toothache until they could find a way to pull the tooth. Or eucalyptus oil for asthma, a few drops under the nose helps clear the passageways.

"I sent contra yerva, one of the most powerful herbs that I've encountered. When you pull it out of the earth and it dries, it becomes almost rock like. It's grated and used in powder form and would be very helpful in healing wounds from rubber bullets, for instance. I sent two bags of contra yerva, and a parmesan cheese grater.

"And I meant to give them a quick lesson on healing facial wounds before they left. The best band-aid on the face is the skin of the shell of an egg. It has proteins and you can use a little of the egg white for adhesive. Hold it down with a little bit of pressure and it becomes like a second skin."

At the Enterprise Car Rental where we went to rent the truck--rows of vehicles from various law enforcement agencies.

"We're fighting a system of unlimited resources," says Steve Kramer.

"We'll have a different presence, being from Albuquerque," Dinah explained. "We're coming as citizen journalists, community people who have been through it. When the tear gas clears, the rubber bullets have been picked up off the street, and the press goes away, it doesn't mean that the problems go away. They remain."

Joining the entourage, Ledford Thomas who will be radio blogging on Burque Media. Thomas hopes to meet the Brown family while in Ferguson.

Thomas, a retired Account Manager for Sprint, sees this moment as a "defining moment." He sees "a Nation of People coming together around this." He hopes to document "the historical moment when change DID happen. I want to be able to tell my grandson that I was there."

Our friend Isaac Mitchell, who thanks to the APD will have no grandsons from Jonathan. (Dinah's image, I think)

After hours of preparation (including picking up gas masks, just in case), it soon came time to pack up the truck. Vi from Burque Media came with her young son to give her friends a sendoff of hugs, smiles and fine words. "These are my brothers and sisters in the fight," she told me brimming with a current of high emotion. "I want to be here with them before they go. The National Guard is in Ferguson, and that's bad."

"The police are shooting people," Vi continued. "Because they feel threatened by the color of their skin, or their clothes, all these superficial reasons. This is a Class War we've been engaged in for many years now, and it's all over the country. At Burque Media we're just trying to wake people up, and bring visibility to experience and knowledge from other places."

In addition to the many visitors who had come by to drop off supplies, many emails and other messages of support were conveyed. "This is a peoples' effort," Dinah explained. "We wouldn't be on our way if it weren't for the many contributions of cash and Western Union wires we received from about fifteen contributors so far. Every time someone said I wish I could give even more, I said What you gave is exactly what we needed. And it's true.

"We're going out there, and we might not see any action," Dinah said. "But we're going to get that second story, the one from the people, the story of the community. We live the struggle every day. City Councilman Dan Harris whined that he was tired of the public comments. He doesn't know what tired is. It isn't ever over for us, it doesn't ever end for us. And I don't think it can."

To help bring our friends home from Ferguson on Monday and to support the continued work of Burque Media, won't you please consider making a generous contribution. A Go Fund Me campaign has been established HERE.

Update: Watching the raw footage Burque Media has been sharing via Ustream is everything I personally hoped for. Dinah and Steve are bringing love, soothing people with their voices, words, handshakes, embraces. I can only imagine the richness of experience they will be bringing home to New Mexico, and am so deeply and hugely proud that they are our ambassadors to Missouri.

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