Wyoming City Commission doesn’t really want diversity and they don’t practice democracy: Movimiento Cosecha GR and the fight for Driver’s Licenses for All
On Monday night, Movimiento Cosecha GR went back to the Wyoming City Commission meeting to continue to press for that commission to pass a resolution in support of Driver’s Licenses for All.
We reported on their first attempt to get a resolution passed by the Wyoming City Commission, which was two weeks ago, on February 3rd. At that meeting, several commissioners made it clear that they were not hearing what the immigrants were sharing during public comment. One after another, members of the immigrant community shared with the commissioners that they live in constant fear of police. Several of the commissioners commented that the Wyoming police were not to be fear and were good public servants.
A similar reaction was made by several commissioners and the Mayor of Wyoming, to those who spoke in favor of Driver’s Licenses for All on at the February 17th meeting. Movimiento Cosecha GR had asked on February 3rd to have Driver’s Licenses for All on the agenda for the February 17th meeting. It was not on the agenda for the February 17 meeting.
When it came time for public comment, the Mayor reiterated that public comment was not meant for dialogue, rather it was for people to make statements about issues they were interested it. However, the Mayor also told those present that the Wyoming City Commission discussed the Driver’s Licenses for All resolution request prior to the February 17 meeting and that they decided that this was not a local matter and that state policy makers should deal with state matters, not the Wyoming City Commission.
So, not only was the issue of Driver’s Licenses for All not on the agenda, the commission made a decision without consulting those who presented the issue on February 3rd. There was no public hearing on this critical issue and in the minds of the Mayor of Wyoming and the City Commission, this matter was taken care of. Without missing a beat, the Mayor of Wyoming then told the who came with Movimiento Cosecha GR that they could still share their thoughts with the commission during public comment. In other words, “you can tell us what you think, but we already made the decision to say no to your request.”
Members of Movimiento Cosecha GR still got up to speak during public, with most of them speaking in Spanish and using a translator. This was important to note for three reasons. First, some people who were in the audience did not understand English, so speaking in Spanish benefitted those who were participating in the democratic process. Second, this issue was important to raise, because the City of Wyoming does not provide translation for those who attend public meetings, even though there are 16,600 Latinos that live in that city, according to recent census data.
The third reason why this issue is important is because the City of Wyoming would only give people who spoke in Spanish 3 minutes to speak, which included the amount of time it took for people to translate. This means that those relying on a translator would only have half as much time as those who spoke English during public comment. How can anyone claim that this is fair and equitable?
Members of Movimiento Cosecha GR continued to present information about the importance of Driver’s Licenses for All and the fear that they experience without having a driver’s license. Many who spoke did not feel that adhering to the 3 minute time limit, since they were relying on translation, was fair, so several of them continued to speak about the need for a resolution from the Wyoming City Commission. The Mayor kept interrupting and trying to cut them off for going over the 3 minute timeline, even going as far as to call members of Movimiento Cosecha GR “rude.”
Another member of Movimiento Cosecha GR pointed out that during the February 3rd Wyoming City Commission meeting, the Mayor had said that he welcomed input from “minority” communities and that having more diverse people participating in civic matters was good for the city. Well, here was Movimiento Cosecha GR participating in civic matters, reflecting the diversity of the community and the Mayor shut them down.
These kinds of meetings are always presented as democracy in action, yet it has been the experience of Movimiento Cosecha GR that these kinds of meetings are really about local government control, where local governments get to decide what is best for people and where anytime people challenge business as usual they are labeled as disruptive. La Lucha Sigue y Sigue!
This content was originally published here.