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Austinites support independent police oversight. In this round, the battle was, as usual, shrill and bloody, with activists accusing the police of declaring war on the citizenry and the ACLU labeled anti-union cop bashers. In particular, the Austin Police Association pulled out all the stops, including intensive behind-the scenes-lobbying, a vituperative opinion piece in the Austin American Statesman, and the airing of a radio ad as craven as any attack the ACLU has ever received. The ad begins with stirring martial music. \(One can almost see the flags officer’s wife: “I watch my husband getting ready for work, he fastens on the body armor, pulls on that dark blue uniform, straps on his gunbelt, and I am so proud. He is an Austin Police Officer.” A man then intones: “Not everyone supports the police. Maybe that’s why the American Civil Liberties Union and other anti-police groups are trying to cut a secret deal with city council members, asking them to turn their backs on your police officers?’ The worried wife continues: “I know it hurts him that the ACLU and other folks want to destroy the police contract and talk council members into hurting officers and their families, but my husband just keeps on doing his job, because he’s not a politician, he’s a policeman!’ The man then returns to say that even though some form of oversight has been enacted, the ACLU is still are trying to sneak in two secret charter amendments through the city council that would strip away civil service protection that was enacted by the voters of Austin?’ Finally the wife returns with the kicker, standing on top of the bodies of those who died during the attack on the World Trade Center: “After September 11, you’d think they would show some respect, but you know, some people just don’t care?’ Will Harrell, executive director of the ACLU was not amused. “They try to drive a wedge between our constituency by calling us anti-union which has nothing to do with police oversight;” says Harrell. “It tells me we must have hit a pretty sensitive nerve if they were prepared to go to such depths?’ NEW FACTS, NO CULPRITS Mexico City attorney Barbara Zamora, who represents the family of slain human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa, wants to set the record straightshe has no plans for suicide, now or ever. Zamora made that statement after receiving an e-mailed death threat similar to the many that Ochoa had received before she was found shot to death in her office last October. On March 12, the Mexican daily Reforma ran a frontpage story suggesting that Ochoa had, in fact, not been murdered, but had committed suicide. Citing unidentified sources within the Mexico City Attorney General’s office, the frontpage story said “new facts” in the investigation were leading to a strong possibility that the human rights defender had taken her own life. Ochoa was shot with her own gun. One bullet entered her head above the left ear; another struck her left thigh. A third bullet was found in the Digna Ochoa couch where her body was discovered. Investigators found the weapon under her body; red latex gloves had been pulled onto her hands. Starch, used to slip her hands into the gloves, was scattered on her clothes and around her body. Human rights organizations, friends, and family members have categorically rejected the suicide theory, saying that anyone who knew Ochoaa former nun, who had battled with high military officials, including Mexico’s current Attorney General in the defense of her clients \(See “Remembering Digna,” Novemsuch an idea. Even city prosecutor Bernardo Batiz agreed that the suicide theory was the least convincing. He noted she had had death threats in the past and was a fighter for human rights in the prime of her life. “It’s not easy to imagine” she would take her life, he said, and called the informer who leaked the information a “traitor” and a “mercenary?’ A special prosecutor is heading up the case; among those who have been called in for questioning are several military officers. The day after the Reforma story was published, Zamora accompanied Ochoa’s family in accusing the police of dragging their feet in the investigation. Days later she received an e-mail message consisting only of scattered words: “car crash:’ “accident’ ,’ “lawyer,” and “urgent?’ A similar note had been found in the office where Ochoa was killed, with threatening words cut from a newspaper, pasted on a sheet of paper. While Zamora had received numerous death threats in the past because of her involvement in politically sensitive cases, the e-mail message was the first she had received since Ochoa was killed. The Reforma story has prompted a wave of conflicting and confusing reports in the Mexican media. A suicide theory, Zamora observes, “means there are no culprits.” 3129/02 . THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15