OLÉ Statement on Pat Davis

Regarding Power, Lessons Learned, & Speaking Up

5 min readJul 30, 2020


The word requires all of the mouth muscles and a force of breath when spoken aloud. Strong consonants and vowels to create this two syllable sound. Power. There is so much meaning attached to power, so much time invested in attaining power, so much energy resisting power. There is also the long term task of building power, and when we build power, we must reconcile what we give up along the way.

It is often clear who wants to keep Black and Brown people from building power. Policy makers who put corporations over people.

OLÉ is an organization committed to building power with Black and Brown communities. We organize with workers, early educators, new citizens, and those fighting for an inclusive democracy. Building power among Black and Brown communities is a slow process — one that is often impeded by larger forces who use their power to silence our communities. That silence happens through police violence and mass incarceration, stripping away voting rights, stripping away workers rights (and most often not even recognizing them) and keeping our communities poor, sick and hungry.

It is often clear who wants to keep Black and Brown people from building power. Policy makers who put corporations over people, those who vote in favor of their largest donors and those who use policy to enshrine white supremacy and patriarchy. Those who are blatantly against Black and Brown people are easy to spot, and we work to hold them accountable, take them out of their positions of power and make space for people from our communities. When there are people who are supposed to be “with us,” however, it is harder to recognize their resistance to Black and Brown communities building power, but the same sabotage exists.

We are in a moment in time that will be looked back upon as one of the most important moments in the 21st century. In the midst of a global pandemic, there is an uprising led by Black people who have endured state sponsored violence for centuries. While Black communities have resisted throughout history, this moment is the biggest in this nation’s history. What is unique about this moment is that while Black communities are leading, we see Indigenous and People of Color joining the uprising with the acute knowledge that our liberation is tied to each other and fueled by resistance to anti-Black and anti-Indigenous practices and policies. To be silent in this moment is to be complicit with white supremacy, and OLÉ will not be complicit.

When our colleagues at ProgressNow New Mexico released a statement calling for the resignation of city councilor Pat Davis, OLÉ arrived at a moment of reckoning. It is no secret that our organization endorsed Pat Davis -twice- in his bid for city council, despite our misgivings. In his first bid, we were uneasy that the only “progressive” in the race was a white, cis-gendered man running to represent the most diverse district in the city.

In his second bid for city council, we were less than impressed with his performance as a councilor. Between Councilor Davis not challenging the Republican effort to rig an unfair election on the sick days ballot initiative, supporting the Berry administration with other development projects such as the disastrous A.R.T. and feeling like we didn’t have a solid relationship with him, we were not sure how to proceed. Councilor Davis also did some good work on the council and we figured our shaky relationship was better than no relationship, so we made the decision to endorse both Davis and his opponent, Gina Dennis, a Black woman in her first bid for city office. We made a mistake in doing so.

We have learned the hard way that proximity to power is not the same thing as building power.

We have made the grave mistake of silence which translates to complicity. We, in good conscience, cannot stand with the Movement for Black Lives and be silent about Councilor Davis’s past as a police officer who shot a Black man, or the serious complaints against him when he was an officer with UNM police. We cannot sit idly by and watch Black and Brown workers be exposed to the risks of Covid-19 and receive nothing — no hazard pay, no paid sick leave.

Councilor Davis, along with Councilors Bassan, Borrego, Gibson, Harris, Jones, and Peña, voted against hazard pay after telling our members -essential workers — that he would be with them and support these measures.

The fact that Councilor Davis, as president of the council, has not made paid sick leave a priority during a global pandemic signals to our members that no, in fact, he is not with them. One cannot claim solidarity with Immigrant communities and utter the words “Black Lives Matter” and then do nothing to ensure that the very policies that would save Black and Brown lives pass the council.

We recognize that, as is the case when speaking out against powerful people, we risk losing any kind of policy gains that we have been working toward for five years, but a win cloaked in silence is not a trade-off we are willing to make. There is a deep rooted, systemic problem on city council, one where Black and Brown people in our city bear the brunt of the council’s unwillingness to serve them, and one where city councilors say one thing, and have quite obviously done the opposite.

While we join our colleagues’ call for Councilor Davis to resign his seat, he has already been clear that he is not going to do so, and there have been a few people who have publicly defended him and his politics. We are not interested in engaging in a litmus test to gauge one’s progressiveness, because Councilor Davis’s ideology is not the issue — it’s his actions, and in the case of sick leave and hazard pay, inaction that are the issues at hand.

As the debate over and defense of Councilor Davis continues, workers are still exposed to COVID-19 without paid sick leave and hazard pay, and now families face eviction and unemployment. Our energy will be used to organize and win on these issues, despite the council politics that have blocked passage over and over again.

As our communities build power, we learn that true change comes from our people, not the nine councilors on the dais, who are always up for re-election.

Photo by James Eades on Unsplash




OLÉ is a community organization, who uses grassroots organizing within the local community of working families in New Mexico.