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Healthy Debate

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It’s wonderful that your paper is aware and following both the Tongan and the legal community’s questioning whether excessive force was used on Siale Angilau, who was shackled at the ankles and, as pointed out by Miss Uluave, “armed” with merely a pen [“Community searches for answers in courtroom shooting of Siale Angilau,” May 8, City Weekly].

The excessive use of force is an open question and has not yet been determined, since the federal marshal is still, to my understanding, on paid administrative leave while an investigation is underway, although the FBI has been mum on that issue, according to community activists.

The battle to find justice for Angilau has just begun, as evidenced by continual community meetings since April 21 and traditional means of reconciliation between the two youth gangs during Angilau’s funeral. Thank you for contributing to this healthy discourse in allowing the public to decide in a more informed way whether or not Angilau was truly “armed” and/or “dangerous.” You have done a great deal for the Tongan community.

I am writing a final chapter on this and other encounters I have researched with other media outlets on Angilau’s death in a monograph soon to be submitted to Duke University Press on the topic of media representations and Pacific Islanders in the United States, with a focus on the framing of gang discourse in the public sphere. I am appreciative that City Weekly has allowed me evidence of a healthier public sphere in Utah than was formerly considered. I was an avid reader of your paper while I was growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1990s and have found your content always to be a cut above the rest. Your paper is the first, to my knowledge, to engage in a healthy public debate on Angilau’s death that has sadly been missing or silenced by the other papers.

To provide this space is not only healthy, but necessary in a democratic society.

Lea Lani Kinikini-Kauvaka, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies
University of the South Pacific

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