Editor’s note: Oriana Farrell, of Tennessee, submitted a hand-written op-ed piece shortly after her arrest via an acquaintance. The Taos News does not publish op-ed pieces on open legal cases. But given the national attention given her case, in which a state police officer shot at her vehicle as she fled a traffic stop, we have decide to publish it unedited.
After witnessing uniformed police officers fire shots at a van carrying my five children, I have learned that the value of their lives only matters so much as criminal charges against me are concerned. A uniformed officer can shoot three bullets at my van and be considered to be “doing his job”, but my doing what I can to get my own children away from such a terrifying individual has been termed “child abuse” and “endangerment,” according to New Mexico law.
An officer can use a baton to smash a glass window directly into the faces of my four young sons who were riding in the backseat, but somehow my attempts to protect them from further harm are dismissed because the perpetrator wore an official “state uniform,” and has been hired to “protect and serve.” The media has been given authority to defame my character and to erroneously report partial facts pertaining to my case because an officer of the law was said to be “doing his job.” Injustice at its best.
For the past 16 years of my life, I have devoted my everyday to parenting and to educating my wonderful children. Anyone who knows me will tell you this. I graduated my daughter from high school at the age of 15 as her home educator. I have educated all five of my children for the duration of their educational journey. I have shaped my entire life around their well-being.
Serving and protecting them is something that I do naturally — without pay. Being a “peace officer” is who and what I have been out of my obligation and responsibility as a parent. Law enforcement — I do that too within our unit every day.
As a single, African-American mother of five in this country, things are tough enough I should not have to endure harassment at the hands of someone who has been hired to protect the citizens of this land over an alleged “speeding offense.” No one should.
As a tourist who came to Taos, New Mexico, with the intention of supporting the wonderful sights and offerings of this city, I should not sit in jail right now for continuing to do the best by my children as their mother.
There are hundreds of people across the world who can attest to the great commitment I have to the health, well-being, and safety of my children. I am considered a mothering mentor to many, and a model parent to most.
This realization did not come at the hands of my incarceration, this is the reality of my life. So much so, that even in the Taos Adult Detention Center, the women view me as an encouraging mother/sister figure who loves on and cares about even those who society unfairly casts aside. I write none of these things to pat myself on the back, rather to paint a true and accurate picture of who I really am — not what a system that knows nothing about me portrays me to be.
Ask the superintendent of Memphis City Schools who I am. Or you can inquire about my person from the many Memphis City Police chaplains that I have worked alongside in various capacities. You can always speak with the families of the homeschool groups that I have run, as well as the many community service agencies I have worked and implemented programs with. Any number of these individuals will tell you that I am a most loving, caring and peaceful person who helps others daily, and that my own children are at the top of that list.
I hope that someone reads this editorial and comes to know more about the real me, and not the one misportrayed and demonized by the Taos media. I hope that someone takes the time to think about how this ordeal is affecting myself, and most importantly my children. They do not deserve this and neither do I.
I hope that the city of Taos chooses to be fair in judgment of this situation, and that a light be shed on the true injustices of this horrifying nightmare.
Finally, I speak a word of peace to the officers and other officials involved. It is my prayer that your families never be made to endure that which mine has, as a result of this terrible situation. May you never be put in a position to protect your children from your “own kind.”